Natural Theology. -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:10 (May 1846)
Article: Natural Theology.
Author: Anonymous


Natural Theology.

Furnished by a Society of Clergymen.

It has long been our conviction, that Natural Theology deserves far more attention than it has received from modern divines. In a preceding number of this Review,1 we expressed our regret that so noble a department of study should have fallen in-

to such unmerited neglect. It seems to be regarded by many as, at best, a convenient preparative for sacred science, rather than as an enlarged part of the science itself. By others it is regarded as a preliminary study which may be dispensed with, often without loss, sometimes with positive gain. Several of our modern systems of divinity treat this department in a cursory and illogical manner, and some of them overlook it entirely. Dwight has said but little which Charnock had not said before him. Hill, Dick, Knapp, Storr and Flatt, have done very much less in this branch of their science, than had been accomplished by their predecessors. German theology, as a whole, is deficient in this department.2 Even the systems of German ethics are treatises on biblical theology, rather than on the dictates of our moral sense. We have, indeed, a few recent works on Natural Religion which claim a respectful notice. The Bridgewater Treatises, particularly those of Whewell, Bell, Kidd, Kirby, and Chalmers, are of great value, chiefly however as affording a collection of materials for the formation of a theological system, rather than as of themselves exhibiting such a system in its true proportions. The more extended treatise of Chalmers on Natural Theology is rich in suggestive remark, and affords honorable proof of the comprehensiveness of its author’s intellect, the accuracy of his observations, and the extent of his scientific inquiries. The literary world have been too much astonished at the exuberance of Dr. Chalmers’ fancy, for a proper appreciation

of his philosophical acumen. We think, however, that he has not given so full an analysis as he should have given, of those fundamental principles which must be reasoned upon in Natural Theology, as well as in every other science; and from a failure to recognize these laws of belief, he has formed too low an opinion of the subject on which he so eloquently discourses. He is satisfied with saying, that “the theology of nature sheds powerful light on the being of a God,” that “even from its unaided demonstrations we can reach a considerable degree of probability, both for his moral and natural attributes.” He declares, however, that “Natural Theology is quite overrated by those who would repre...

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