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tained in the book of which I have now the honor to request your acceptance, and to recommend to your attentive perusal.
Until about the period of, what has been termed, the revival of learning and the discovery of the art of printing; the first chapters of Genesis, among Jews and Christians, were generally believed to contain faithful accounts of the creation of animate and inanimate things; and, likewise, of the orderly disposition of them, as they appear to us at this day in the great constitution of the universe. Why this venerable and well authenticated account, was so directly opposed, about that particular period, by the revival of the fable of Pythagoras, the magician, is a circumstance which, at this time, is of no great importance to be discussed. One thing, however, is very certain, that the art of printing caused the Bible to be, comparatively, easy of access; and the spread of learning enabled greater numbers of people to examine its contents than at any preceding period of time. It is equally certain, that those writers who first attacked it in its very foundation, by the revival of the greek fable, were not friendly to the circulation of the Holy Scriptures. Why they should have been hostile to its beneficial light and influence, I cannot tell; unless it were that its precepts are favourable to peace and rational
liberty, and that its light exposes to condemnation every thing that is false in principle and unjust in practice. The first, it seems, who attacked it in that way, was Cardinal Nicholas de Cusa; a man who was addicted to mathematics and philosophy. Copernicus, a canon of Worms, soon succeeded him in the work, and laboured with considerable success in giving a degree of plausibility to the scheme. He was followed in the same course by John Kepler, astrologer to the Emperor Rodolf, who appears to have been an apt student in the Pythagorean tenets; teaching that “ all the stars are animated; and that as all animals move by means of their muscles, the earth and planets have also muscles proportioned to their bulk, which are the instruments they move with. The sun has a very noble and active soul: his rays put in action the souls of the planets.” Again, “the faculty of the sublunary world perceives and is terrified at the comet; and together with it, the faculties of all sublunary things. The faculty of the earth being terrified at the unusual appearance of the comet, in one part of the earth, sweats out a great quantity of vapour, according to the quality of that part of its body; hence proceed great rains and floods.” Further, that the earth was “a vast animal, breathing out winds through holes in the mountains,
as it were through a mouth and nostrils." He promulgated many other fictions and astrological notions; for which "absurdities," as they termed them, he was severely censured by Bulialdus and Schookius, by way of apology, perhaps, for their adoption of some others of his curious notions, which I have elsewhere noticed and treated of. Galileo, a Florentine gentleman, co-operated with Kepler in the same cause; but as he could not approve of Kepler's laws of muscular motion in the planetary bodies; he propounded other laws of motion, by which nature never worked. Descartes and Newton afterwards conceived other mediums, powers and laws of motion, and supported them by symbols, diagrams and very
elaborate mathematical ratios. The system these learned men had adopted, being contrary to the scriptures and to the human senses, they found it extremely difficult to set and keep their imaginary machinery agoing: hence the varieties and contradictions in their ideal forces and laws of motion. For, when men abandon the evidences of nature and the lights of experience for the purpose of indulging their fancies in the invention of analogies and curious hypotheses, philosophy then sinks down to the level of romance, and serves to occupy
the time of the indolent, or to amuse and captivate the credulous and ignorant.
But the thing that seems to have caused them the greatest inquietude and trouble, was what they termed the vulgar prejudice in favour of certain opposing passages contained in the Bible. This engaged Kepler, Galileo, Didacus à Stunica of Salamanca, Paolo Antonio Foscarini, a carmelite of Naples, Bishop Wilkins of Chester, and a number of others, to write largely in the way of attempting to reconcile, or rather of explaining away, all such passages as obstructed the circulation of their system. Many volumes were published for this extraordinary purpose; but as some of their explanations are sufficiently noticed in the course of the following pages, it is unnecessary further to advert to them at present.
It is somewhat remarkable, that those who revived the Solar System, should have adopted without hesitation, and without examination, Ptolemy's system of the distances of the heavenly bodies; while at the same time, their imaginations, contrary to the evidence of their sight, placed the fixed stars at rest, and, without the least shadow of proof, set the earth in rapid motion. Would it not have been more rational and prudent, out of respect to the senses of mankind and to religion, to have retained the ancient opinion of the earth being at rest in the centre of the universe; and then to have diligently ex
amined, whether the too great distances which Ptolemy assigned to the heavenly bodies, might not upon scientific principles have been diminished? With this correction, and other improvements that might have been suggested by the accurate observations of modern astronomers, all useful and necessary purposes might have been answered; and Christendom might have been saved from that deluge of scepticism, which, amongst the learned, now so generally prevails. To me it seems a most singular and melancholy fact, that Dignitaries of the Church, and Heads of Colleges, should have been the foremost, and the most active, in this war against the sacred records; which they ought to have guarded as the ark of the holy covenant and by no means to have become instruments to hold them up to the derision of the sceptical Philistines. -For, as an inspired writer emphatically said,—IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED, WHAT CAN THE RIGHTEOUS DO? Psalm xi. 3.
I repeat the words ;-if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do ?-Destroyed, they cannot be; but if, for a time the foundations are even rejected, or removed, and men form codes of laws and systems of morals and philosophy, upon, comparatively, sandy bases, we see by experience the ruinous con