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DAVID BREWSTER, LL. D.
Fellow of the Royal Society of London ; Secretary to
the Royal Society of Edinburgh ; Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy; Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Lyons, &c. &c.
Intended to illustrate the connection of science and philosophy with religion, and with the moral improvement of mankind, is inscribed, as a testimony of respect for the acquisitions which science has derived from his philosophical discoveries and literary labors, by his most obedient, and humble servant,
TO THE FOURTH EDITION.
The following pages were written under the impression, that the visible manifestations of the attributes of the Deity are too frequently overlooked by Christians in their views of the great objects of Religion, and in the worship they offer to the Father of their spirits; and are intended to show, that the Teachers of Religion, in imparting in. struction either to the old or to the young, ought to embrace a
wider range of illustration, in reference to Divine subjects, than that to which they are usually confined.
Throughout the whole of the discussions contained in this work, the Author has pursued his own train of thought; and, in so doing, he trusts that he has been enabled to render some of his illustrations more interesting to the young and untutored mind, than if he had adhered rigidly to the sentiments of others, and to the technical language of science. The sketches of the different sciences are not mere extracts or compilations, but are, for the most part, original composition--in which it has been his main object to embody as many facts as his limits would permit
-in order to excite the inquiring mind to further investi. gations into the different departments of physical science.
It is presumed, that no Christian reader will for once imagine, that the views illustrated in this work are intended to be substituted in place of the peculiar revelations of the Bible. The object of the volume is to illustrate the harmony which subsists between the system of nature and the system of Revelation ; and to show, that the manifestations of God in the material universe ought to be blended with our views of the facts and doctrines recorded in the volume of Inspiration.
It is taken for granted, throughout the whole range of the following illustrations, that the Scriptures contain a Revelation from Heaven; and, under a firm belief of this important truth, the Author has embellished his work with frequent quotations from the energetic and sublime language of this Sacred Book. It would, therefore, be unfair in any critic, who entertains doubts on this point, to find fault with such quotations, or with the allusions to Bible-phraseology which occur, unless they can be shown to be introduced without judgment or discrimination.
The Author has carefully revised every portion of the present Edition, and introduced a variety of corrections and modifications. He has likewise introduced additional matter, to the extent of between 40 and 50 pages, and also several illustrative engravings. In its present form, the Author trusts, that, independently of the moral reflections it contains, it will be found to comprise popular descriptions of a greater number of scientific facts, than is to be found in any other volume of the same size.
Various topics, originally intended to be illustrated, have been unavoidably omitted. Some of these are stated in the last paragraph of Chapter IV, the illustration of which, in combination with other kindred topics, would fill a volume of nearly the same size as the present. This subject (for which the Author has abundance of materials) will be prosecuted in another Volume, under the title of The Philosophy OF RELIGION; and will comprise, among many other subjects of discussion, illustrations of the moral relation of intelligent beings to their Creator, and to one another—the physical and rational grounds of those moral laws which the Deity has promulgated—the views which science affords of the incessant energies of Creating Power, and of the grand and multifarious objects over which Divine Providence presides—the relation of science to a future state, and of the aids which the disco. veries of science afford, for enabling us to form a conception of the perpetual improvement of the celestial inhabitants in knowledge and felicity. These subjects will be illustrated by a variety of interesting details of facts, in relation to the system of nature, the history of nations, and the moral state of Christian and general society.
Perth, December, 1824.