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The Heavenly Father Lectures on Modern Atheism   By: (1816-1909)

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First Page:

THE HEAVENLY FATHER.

Lectures on Modern Atheism.

BY

ERNEST NAVILLE,

CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE INSTITUTE OF FRANCE (ACADEMY OF THE MORAL AND POLITICAL SCIENCES), LATE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF GENEVA.

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH

BY HENRY DOWNTON, M.A.,

ENGLISH CHAPLAIN AT GENEVA.

"To this deplorable error I desire to oppose faith in GOD as it has been given to the world by the Gospel faith in the HEAVENLY FATHER." Author's Letter to Professor Faraday (v. p. 193).

BOSTON:

WILLIAM V. SPENCER

1867.

CAMBRIDGE:

PRESS OF JOHN WILSON AND SON.

PREFACE.

These Lectures, in their original form, were delivered at Geneva, and afterwards at Lausanne, before two auditories which together numbered about two thousand five hundred men. A Swiss Review published considerable portions of them, which had been taken down in short hand, and on reading these portions, several persons, belonging to different countries, conceived the idea of translating the work when completed by the Author, and corrected for publication. Proof sheets were accordingly sent to the translators as they came from the press: and thus this volume will appear pretty nearly at the same time in several of the languages of Europe.

The hearty kindness with which my fellow countrymen received my words has been to me both a delight and an encouragement. The expressions of sympathy which have reached me from abroad allow me to hope that these pages, notwithstanding the deficiencies and imperfections of which I am keenly sensible, reflect some few of the rays of the truth which God has deposited on the earth, thereby to unite in the same faith and hope men of every tongue and every nation.

ERNEST NAVILLE.

GENEVA, May, 1865 .

NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR.

The appearance of this translation so long after that of the original work is in contradiction to the foregoing statement of the Author, that it would appear at nearly the same time with it. The delay has been due to causes beyond the translator's control in part to the difficulty of revising the press at so great a distance from the place of publication, the translator being resident at Geneva. This latter circumstance causes an exception in another particular as regards this translation, the proposal to translate the Lectures having been made to the Author, and kindly accepted by him, during the course of their delivery at Geneva.

The mere statement by the Author of the numbers, large as they were, of those who formed the auditories, can give but a small idea of the enthusiasm with which they were received by the crowds which thronged to hear them, and which were composed of all classes of persons, from the most distinguished savant to the intelligent artisan.

It is not to be expected that the Lectures when read, even in the original, and still less in a translation, can produce the vivid impression which they made on those, who, with the translator, had the privilege of hearing them delivered, the Author having few rivals, on the Continent or elsewhere, in the graces of polished eloquence; but the subjects treated are, it is to be feared, of increasing importance, not abroad only, but in England; and in fact one Lecture, the fourth, is in a large measure occupied with forms of atheism which owe their chief support to English authors. In that Lecture the Author shows that the spiritual origin of man cannot "be put out of sight beneath details of physiology and researches of natural history," and that these not only "cannot settle," but "cannot so much as touch the question."

The same Lecture is occupied in part by a practical refutation of the prejudice against religion drawn from the irreligious character of many men of science. The Author's subject has led him in the present work to confine his illustrations on this head to the question of natural religion: but the translator will avow that a main motive with him to undertake the labor of this translation has been the wish to prove, in the instance of the distinguished Author himself, that men of incontestable eminence as metaphysical philosophers may hold and profess boldly their faith in doctrines, which many who affect to guide the religious opinions of our youth would teach them to despise as the heritage of narrow minds, and to cast away as incompatible with the highest intellectual cultivation... Continue reading book >>




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