« PreviousContinue »
sacrifice of individual interest or principle, and with unspeakable advantage to the common welfare.
By far the greater part of the treatise, however, relates to subjects, which respect the general order of Nature and of Providence-and, as such, fall more directly under the class of purely philosophical disquisitions. These the author ventures to believe belong to a class of topics on which the speculations of reflecting minds ought to have been more diligently employed, than, so far as he is aware, they have ever yet been—and he is equally certain, that the views which they suggest, are such as are fitted immeasureably to enlarge and to purify our conceptions of the entire order and progress of things.
At the same time, the author is far from thinking that he has been able to present these important topics in a style at all approaching to their true grandeur or interest-but minds of greater power may unfold his ideas more fully, or give to their particular aspects more beauty and depth of colouringand his ambition will be fully gratified, if he has been able to draw the notice of philosophical inquirers, to a track of thought, which has not yet been sufficiently explored - and if at the same time he has been fortunate enough to sketch the great
outlines of the prospect, and to point out the manner in which it may be most successfully prosecuted.
At all events, the investigation of the subject has not been without many advantages to himself, both in amusing his leisure, and in suggesting hints which future investigation may enable him to place in more expanded and captivating aspects -for it has been beautifully remarked by Plato 66 that while we sit still we are never the wiserbut going into the river and moving up and down is the way to discover its depths and shallows.”
be proper only farther to observe, that from the size to which the volume has extended, many of the topics which the author had discussed under the head of “ Notes and Illustrations,” have of necessity been omitted. The completeness of the work, he laments, has been in some degree affected by this omission—but he trusts also that what he has retained will be sufficient to indicate the general character of his views--and, it may be, to suggest to others the greater number of the topics which he has been forced to suppress.
EDINBURGH, September 1835.