Natural Theology

Natural Theology

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Natural Theology

Natural Theology

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Excerpt

As a sketch of the life of the author of “Natural Philosophy,” and a list of his principal works, has been given in “The Evidences of Christianity,” the companion volume to this work, it is unnecessary to touch again on these subjects here. There is, however, a matter of much interest connected with this, the most interesting, if not the most important or the most able, of his writings, to which reference must be made, and that is, the charge that has been brought against Paley that he borrowed the general plan and most of the arguments employed in his “Natural Theology from another man’s book without making the slightest acknowledgment of the source from which he derived them.

This grave and serious allegation was first advanced in the Athenœum (see vol. for 1848), a writer in which pointed out that a work by -Bernard Nieuwentyl, a Dutch physician and mathematician, who lived from 1654 to 1718, had served as the basis of Paley’s “Natural Theology,” and that Paley had omitted to confess his indebtedness to the magnum opus of the Dutch philosopher. Nieuwentyl’s work, entitled “The True Uses of the Contemplation of the Universe,” was written in Dutch, and first published in Amsterdam in 1715. Its objects were twofold, for the author first sought to prove to atheists the existence of an almighty and all-merciful Creator, by a review of the mechanism of the heavens, and the structure of man and the lower animals ; and, secondly, to remove such doubts as deists entertain with regard to revealed religion. This remarkable work at once attracted the attention of thoughtful men, and soon appeared in English, French, and German, the English translation, which . . .

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