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THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D.
PROFESSOR OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ST. ANDREWS.
In dedicating to you this volume, which has for its object to exhibit a popular view of the Philosophy of a Future State, as deduced from the light of science and revelation, -a consideration of a far higher nature than the formal and customary honour of addressing a man of literary and scientific attainments, induced me to shelter it under your patronage.
In the several vocations in which divine Providence has called you to officiate, you have proved yourself the warm and disinterested patron of all that is benevolent and good -of every thing that concerns the present and eternal welfare of mankind: and your praises have been re-echoed from one corner of the land to another, as the champion of the Christian religion,--the doctrines of which, your voice and your pen have done so much to illustrate.
Your writings furnish ample testimony to the world of your earnest, active, and unwearied solicitude for the moral and religious improvement of mankind a solicitude which is not abated by any minor differences of opinion in those with whom you co-operate, where the great object is, to diffuse knowledge and happiness over the face of the earth.
Your kind indulgence to me, on the slight acquaintance I have of you personally, and your approbation of some of my labours, in endeavouring to connect Science with Religion, induce me to hope, that, if the views taken of the present subject, in any measure correspond with your
own, you will countenance my humble attempts to dispel the prejudices which many well-meaning Christians may entertain, as to the beneficial tendency of exhibiting the sciences of a present, as applicable to the circumstances and relations of a future world.
That you may long be spared as the advocate of vital Christianity-as a blessing and ornament to your country —and as a zealous instructor of those who are destined to promote its best interests ; and that you may enjoy, without interruption, the pleasures arising from a consciousness of the esteem and approbation of the wise and the pious, is the sincere prayer of,
Broughty Ferry, near Dundee,
Dec. 28. 127.
The reasonings and illustrations contained in the following pages, are intended to direct the intelligent Christian in some of those trains of thought which he ought to prosecute, when looking forward to the scene of his future destination. The Author was induced to engage in the discussion of this subject, from a consideration, that many vague and errone. ous conceptions are still entertained among Christians in regard to the nature of heavenly felicity, and the employments of the future world.
In elucidating the train of thought which is here prosecuted, he has brought forward, without hesitation, the discoveries of modern science, particularly those which relate to the scenery of the heavens ; convinced, that all the manifestations of himself which the Creator has permitted us to contemplate, are intended to throw light on the plan of his moral government in relation both to our present and our future destiny. He has care. fully avoided every thing that might appear like vague or extravagant conjecture ; and he trusts, that the opinions he has broached, and the conclusions he has deduced, will generally be found accordant with the analogies of Nature and the dictates of Revelation. He is aware, that he has many prejudices to encounter, arising from the vague and indefinite manner in which such subjects have been hitherto treated, and from the want of those expansive views of the Divine operations which the professors of Christianity should endeavour to attain ; but he feels confident, that those who are best qualified to appreciate his sentiments,
will treat with candour an attempt to elucidate a subject hitherto overlooked, and in which every individual of the human race is deeply interested.
It was originally intended to publish what is contained in Parts II. and III. without any dissertation on the evidences of a future state as deduced from the light of nature-taking the immortality of man for granted on the authority of Revelation. But, on second thought, it was judged expedient, for the sake of general readers, to exhibit a condensed view of those arguments which even the light of reason can produce in favour of the immortality of man. In this department of the volume, the Author has brought forward several arguments which, he is not aware, have been taken notice of by ethical writers, when treating on this subject. He has endeavoured to illustrate these and the other arguments here adduced, in minute detail, and in a popular manner, so as to be level to the comprehension of every reader; and he trusts, that the force of the whole combined, will be found to amount to as high a degree of moral demonstration as can be expected in relation to objects which are not cognizable by the eye of sense.
The greater portion of what is contained in Part III. having been written above eight years ago, several apparent repetitions of facts alluded to in the preceding Parts, may perhaps be noticed by the critical reader; but, in general, it will be found, that where the same facts are repeated, they are either exhibited in a new aspect, or brought forward to elucidate another subject.
The practical reflections and remarks embodied in the last Part of this work, will not, the Author is persuaded, be considered by any of his readers, as either unnecessary, or unappropriate to the subjects treated of in the preceding parts of this volume. It is of the utmost importance that
every individual be convinced, that he cannot be supposed a candidate for a blessed immortality, unless the train of his affections, and the general tenor of his conduct, in some measure correspond to the tempers and dispositions, and the moral purity which prevail in the heavenly state.
The favourable reception which the public have given to the volumes he has formerly published, induces the Author to indulge the hope, that the present volume may not be altogether unworthy of their attention. That it may tend to convince the sceptical of the reality of an immortal existence to expand the believer's conceptions of the attributes of the Divinity, and of the glory of “that inherit. ance which is reserved in heaven” for the faithful-and to excite in the mind of every reader, an ardent desire to cultivate those dispositions and virtues which will prepare him for the enjoyment of celestial bliss—is the Author's most sincere and ardent wish, as it was the great object he had in view when engaged in its composition.