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Pages of so-called 'extracts' from our book have been strung together, now by some writers of the High Church school, anon by writers of the very lowest Evangelical type, in each case with absolute disregard of their original collocation and surroundings, and the result is of course as utterly unfair a representation of our meaning as could possibly be given. These 'extracts,' which are always scrupulously enclosed in inverted commas, are not merely altered in meaning by being arbitrarily detached from the context-they are often altered by the insertion of terms (e.g. luminiferous force !) which we, as scientific men, could not possibly have employed.
People who adopt a system like this deserve. to have, once for all, thoroughly brought home to them the bitter rebuke administered to their analogues long ago by a witty if semi-profane divine, who proposed to choose his text on their principle, and gave out, to the astonishment of his audience, part only of a verse, viz., ‘Hang all the law and the prophets'!
We have placed at the commencement of this Preface the only words of ours which appear to commit us to controversy, and we trust that a study of them will convince our readers, as it has convinced us, that we do not stand committed to the hopeless task of entering the lists against this species of controversialist.
It is with reluctance that we have felt ourselves compelled to allude to a method of controversy, in our opinion, as deficient in Christian courtesy as it is powerful to stifle the interests of truth,
The attacks which have been made on our work since the sixth edition was published, are (all at least that we have seen) completely met by the Introduction. Their basis, when such exists, has usually been some short passage, arbitrarily detached from its context, and thus made susceptible of any gloss desired.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
FORGETFUL of the splendid example shown by intellectual giants like Newton and Faraday, and aghast at the materialistic statements now-a-days freely made (often professedly in the name of science), the orthodox in religion are in somewhat evil case.
As a natural consequence of their too hastily reached conclusion, that modern science is incompatible with Christian doctrine, not a few of them have raised an outcry against science itself. This result is doubly to be deplored; for there cannot be a doubt. that it is calculated to do mischief, not merely to science but to religion.
Our object, in the present work, is to endeavour to show that the presumed incompatibility of Science and Religion does not exist. This, indeed, ought to be self-evident to all who believe that the Creator of the Universe is Himself the Author of Revelation. But it is strangely impressive to note how very little often suffices to alarm even the firmest of human faith.
Of course we cannot, in this small volume, enter
upon the whole of so vast a subject, and we have therefore contented ourselves with a brief, though, we hope, sufficiently developed discussion of one very important—even fundamental-point. We endeavour to show, in fact, that immortality is strictly in accordance with the principle of Continuity (rightly viewed); that principle which has been the guide of all modern scientific advance. As one result of this inquiry we are led, by strict reasoning on purely scientific grounds, to the probable conclusion that‘a life for the unseen, through the unseen, is to be regarded as the only perfect life.' (See Chap. VII.) We need not point out here the bearing of this on religion. Incidentally, the reader will find many remarks and trains of reasoning which (by the alteration of a word or two) can be made to apply to other points of almost equal importance.
We may state that the ideas here developed-very imperfectly of course, as must always be the case in matters of the kind-are not the result of hasty guessing, but have been pressed on us by the reflections and discussions of several years.
We have to thank many of our friends, theological as well as scientific, for ready and valuable assistance. The matter of our work has certainly gained by this, though it is likely that the manner may have suffered by the introduction, here and there, of peculiarities of style which could not easily be removed without damage to the sense.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
As a preface to our Second Edition, we cannot do better than record the experience derived from our first. It is indeed gratifying to find a wonderful want of unanimity among the critics who assail us, and it is probably owing to this cause that we have been able to preserve a kind of kinetic stability, just as a man does in consequence of being equally belaboured on all sides by the myriad petty impacts of little particles of air.
Some call us infidels, while others represent us as very much too orthodoxly credulous; some call us pantheists, some materialists, others spiritualists. As we cannot belong at once to all these varied categories, the presumption is that we belong to none of them. This, by the way, is our own opinion.
Venturing to classify our critics, we would divide them into three groups :—
(1.) There are those who have doubtless faith in
revelation; but more especially, sometimes solely, in their own method of interpreting it; none, however, in the method according to which really scientific men with a won