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Nor would we be understood to entertain a prospect that difcoveries and demonftrations of truth will be made, which will lead to univerfal
how they were put in motion-he could not by theory, explain Noah's flood, the future diffolution of the world, or how it muft exift after the conflagration. He went, however, as far, perhaps, as it was poffible to go, without difcovering the divine theory; for, as the natural world depends abfolutely on the divine will; the divine will, in reality, is nature's law ; and it is evident, that nature's law must be discovered and explained, in order to explain fully the fyftem of nature.
In fome theological writings, Mr. Newton difcovers that he apprehended this defect in his fyftem; and, in treating of the doctrine of the Trinity, particularly of the Father and the Son, it is apparent, that he was led to fuppofe fomething exifted in that relation, which was neceffary to be unfolded, in order to complete the great object of his refearches; but inftead of taking up the divine will as being conftituted effentially, of diftinct parts in union, and therefore offering the ground of a theory in itself, he understood it to be fimple, or without parts; and, fo understood, it was incapable of being a ground from which he could rationate the existence and ftate of the worlds, and open to the bottom, nature and her law. And therefore, in this attempt, inftead of gaining, he lolt ground.
Mr. Newton difcovered nature-attraction and repulfion is nature herself-It is certainly an effect, or fecondary operation; and, when we come to the fecondary operation, we find it manifold.
The late learned James Tytler, read in manufcript the first part of this theory; and, in the margin, made in this connection the following remark. Perhaps, on ftrict examination, it may be found, that fome other fecondary operation may claim high prerogatives in nature's family. The extenfive modes of operation, afcribed to the electrical fluid, may be feen described in the Encyclopedia Britannica, under the articles electricity, attraction, atmosphere, aftronomy, chemistry, deluge, cohefion, fire, flame, heat, cold, aurora "borealis, earthquake, lightning, meteorology, &c. Electri"cians have confidered this fluid as the chief fecondary agent "in producing all the phenomena of nature. And at prefent "this appears to be the prevailing doctrine of natural philofophy. See a fhort abftract of these opinions in Walker's fyftem of geography, lately pubiifhed."
conviction; the most palpable facts in nature, and the most easy to be understood, have been doubted and denied; there exists in the world a criminal infidelity the prejudices of men are harder to be removed than mountains, and their disinclination to thinking is a difficulty ftill more infurmounta ble. And, believing that a principle of fuch allpowerful effect does exift, and that we have fixed upon the truth, ftill we fhall not impute all remaining doubt and dispute respecting this work to unbelief, prejudice and floth; for, after all, in thẹ prefent state, we fhall know but in part, and fee darkly; the principle of knowledge will be but partly defcribed, and its application fometimes will be obfcure, if not mistaken. In making use of a thousand cafes in the works and providence of God to illuftrate the truth of our theory; and in applying numberlefs texts of fcripture, no profpect is entertained that a cafe will not fometimes be mistaken, and a text be mifapplied.
But this imperfection of all human minds and works, in many cafes produce groundless doubts, difputes and difbelief; for, if the imperfections of our fenfes and performances afford just ground to difcredit facts, we are incapable of knowledge; and, in the prefent cafe, we appeal to facts; facts which, we prefume, all men are in fome degree conscious of, however imperfe&ly they may be discovered or defcribed; and it cannot be denied, that the body of the evidence adduced in fupport of the theory, is of the fame nature, and is drawn from the fame fources; and, indeed, is the very Tame evidence which has principally fupported the cause of Christianity in the world,
As to the form of this work, I am sensible that one more fyllogiftical would have been better adapted to the habits of fome improved minds; but my study has been to make it eafy to the most common understanding, and therefore I have divided it into numerous fhort fections, each illuftrating, agreeably to the theory, fome one establifhed fact or doctrine of the creation, providence, or revelation of God. This refpect has been paid to this ftate of the human mind, not only as it is the most common, but also as it will ever have the moft weight and decifion in forming a judgment. And I have endeavored to make the argument to confift of the fimple facts; for it must be acknowledged, that an argument by way of inference from facts, however clear, cannot be fo clear and convincing as the internal evidence, or the discovery of the truth in the facts themselves.
The most material points of the theory I had observed and arranged before entering into the miniftry, and they were advanced in my first fermons; but fuch difficulties appeared in the way of their coming to the public through my hands, that, till lately, it has not been remotely contemplated, and therefore no provifion had been made for its being done; and, at prefent, the slenderest natural conftitution, and daily growing weaknesses, and the paftoral charge of a large people, leave no profpect of my finishing the work. All I am encouraged I shall be able to offer, is a compend of the divine theory, a statement of the principle, and a
* Some remarkable changes in the circumstances of the author, which took place foon after setting about this work;
brief statement of some leading known facts in the creation, in order to illuftrate it, and fhew how it theorizes in the works of God.-What remains of the work more than this must be left to other hands, and them God will provide.-The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that published it.
his being difmiffed from his charge, and, in fome measure gaining his health by travelling, enabled him very confiderably to enlarge his plan; but the fame being accompanied with oppositions from various quarters, threw difcouragements in the way, and retarded the publication; and, at last, he confiders the object very imperfectly accomplished.
STATING AND DEFINING
i. THE divine principle, which may be ftated and defined, must be the discoverable divine Being.-To offer a difcuffion of what is undifcoverable would be abfurd. No statement or definition can be rationally given of the invifibility of God. It muft, therefore, be understood (for no more can be rationally meant) that our principle is merely the vifibility of God, or the principle of divine knowledge.
2. As to the invifibility of God we make no enquiry. For as this bears no letters or characters, to angels and to men, both in time and eternity, it must be equally unknown. But there is a legible divine character-an alphabet which may be read and underftood. This belongs to us. Here is an Alpha with which we may begin, and an Omega with which we must end. And what is offered to us in this lettered D
name, we are