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viate Difficulties regarding the Wisdom and the Goodness of the Deity; and this, in the first place, from Considerations independent of written Revelation ; and in the second place, from the Revelation of the Lord Jesus : and from the whole, to point out the Inferences most necessary for, and useful to Mankind." The Ministers of the established Church, and the Principals and Professors of King's and Marischal colleges of Aberdeen, and the Trustees of the Testator, were appointed to nominate three Judges who should decide upon the comparative merits of the Treatises that might be laid before them, with sealed mottos, by the 1st of January 1814.
In this liberality the following Treatise originated, to which the premium of 4001. was awarded by the judges chosen according to the instructions of the Testator; namely, the late Professor Gerard, whose death the university has since had to lament, and Professors Hamilton and Glennie, of Aberdeen.
The first view of the subject thus proposed for consideration, presents the appearance of a country, every spot of which is appropriated and pre-occupied. The EVIDENCES of religion, it is true, were not the earliest objects of British theology. The great divines who led the Reformation, and those who followed their steps during the first half of the succeeding century, were chiefly employed in clearing the majestic fabric of Christianity, from the weeds and rubbish by which it had been so long obscured. Attention is first due to those within the Church: it was, therefore, for some time a sufficient labour to extricate the true doctrines of the Gospel from the errors which had long overrun them : and when a right faith had been once laid as a
-foundation, and an Apostolical worship established, to raise
it that pure and holy practice which is its fit and proper ornament, instead of that lax and compromising morality which is the decisive condemnation of the church of Rome, and the inveterate scandal of its professors.
When, however, the genius of this illustrious
the Protestant faith, and the rule of life belonging to it, on an immoveable basis, the attention was naturally directed, in the next place, to those without the pale of Christianity. Accordingly, its agreement in all points, with the universal tenets of natural religion; the insufficiency, at the same time, of natural religion both to inform and to sanction; the acquaintance we derive from reason with the Creator and his attributes, and the conformity of the appearance of the universe with the conclusions at which reason arrives : these subjects of perpetual interest have called forth talents worthy of their importance, and have received an accession of light from learning, genius, and industry, through the successive generations of Stillingfleet, Clarke, Butler, Warburton, and Paley.
If it is hopeless to look out for a vacant spot in a district so fully occupied, the next object is to fix upon ground which stands most in need of farther cultivation.* This view of the subject determined me, among the various lines of argument which all tend to the same point, to rest my principal evidence of the existence of the Creator, upon the credibility of the Mosaic records of the creation. Neither does it appear that the most unanswerable argument,
* When the plan of this work was arranged, and the first part of it written, Dr. Graves's learned Discourses on the Pentateuch had not appeared; nor Dr. Ireland's equally able Lectures on Christianity and Paganism compared.
or irrefragable demonstration, can produce a conviction at all comparable to that which arises from a firm belief that the fact in question has been made known to us by revelation.
I am aware that it may be urged as an objection to this plan, that it carries us away from NATURAL theology. But, if it does šo, we are only following the course to which the subject itself must lead every reflecting mind. That there is a Creator,
All Nature cries aloud in all her works;
but Nature, though she always proclaimed the same truth, yet spoke in vain to the sages of antiquity, who either altogether failed to interpret her language, or suffered the still whisper of “ Divine Philosophy" to be lost amidst the various bustle of the world. It is true, we understand astronomy better than Thales or Pythagoras, and natural history and anatomy better