By Blakeman & Mason., LL. D. 12mo. New York :
THIS work contains seven Lectures, in which the distinguished and lamented author has undertaken to prove not only that the science of Astronomy does not discredit the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures, but that it affords many clear evidences that they are a Divine Revelation. The first demonstrates, against the Atheist, the being of God. The second adduces evidence that the God of the universe is the Jehovah of the Bible. The third considers the cosmogony revealed by the present state of astronomy ; and the fourth compares the Mosaic account of creation with the theory advanced in the preceding lecture. The fifth is devoted to the ancient and venerable Book of Job with reference to the astronomical allusions it contains. The sixth is on the astronomical miracles of the Bible; and the seventh is on the language of the Bible with reference to astronomy.
This brief statement of the subjects discussed is sufficient to show that the work is one of no ordinary character. The interest the publication of these lectures will awaken will be intensified by the considerations, that they contain the matured views of one of the first astronomers of the age, on a subject of transcendent importance, — and that they are the last contributions to the cause of science and religion from his gifted pen. They were delivered within the last few years, in our principal cities, to very large and deeply interested audiences; and their appearance in print just now is most timely. The question respecting the relations of Christianity and Science to each other is now exciting a very general and intense interest. The Bible was written during a period in the history of the world when true science was almost unknown. The writers of the several books which compose the sacred volume, with scarcely an exception, made no pretensions to scientific investigation ; and they did not so much reason out as announce great truths and principles intimately related to almost every department of human knowledge. These venerable writings have been and now are subjected to a test which no other professed revelation has been able to bear. If, then, it shall be found that their direct teachings and their numerous references to the works of Nature harmonize with the averments of science in this age of its greatest achievements, — still more, if it shall appear that the different sciences, unknown when they were written, strongly corroborate their teachings, direct and indirect,— it will be difficult for candid minds to resist the conviction that their origin is Divine.
No one of the sciences was less understood, in those remote ages, than Astronomy ; and yet to no part of the works of Nature does the Bible make more frequent references than to the heavenly bodies. In this department, therefore, if anywhere, we might expect to find discrepancy between the teachings of science and revelation. But the impartial reader will rise from the perusal of this volume, not only with his faith in the inspiration of the Scriptures confirmed, but with the conviction that the sublime science of Astronomy affords a far more just conception of the pregnant meaning of the eloqueut language of Job, David, and Isaiah, than without it we could attain.
These lectures will be regarded as the more valuable, because they are the voluntary contribution of a Christian layman, as well as of a man of eminent scientific attainments, to the great argument on which depends the religious faith of mankind. Possessing a mind of extraordinary powers, trained under the promptings of an intense thirst for knowledge to patient and thorough investigation, he made for himself a reputation which secures the strongest confidence in his ability to treat the momentous and difficult questions he undertook to discuss in these lectures; whilst the remarkable clearness of his views, his brilliant imagination, and an extraordinary affluence of language and felicity of expression, both enlighten the understanding and gratify the most cultivated taste. Professor Mitchell did more than any other man to popularize the science of Astronomy ; and the use he has made of it in defence of Christianity seems a fitting termination of his noble labors.