THREE important subjects of enquiry in Natural Theology come under consideration in the present Treatise.
The first regards the inorganic Elements of the Mineral Kingdom, and the actual dispositions of the Materials of the Earth: many of these, although produced or modified by the agency of violent and disturbing forces, afford abundant proofs of wise and provident Intention, in their adaptations to the uses of the Vegetable and Animal Kingdoms, and especially to the condition of Man.
The second relates to Theories which have been entertained respecting the Origin of the World; and the derivation of existing systems of organic Life, by an eternal succession, from preceding individuals of the same species; or by gradual transmutation of one species into another. I have endeavoured to show, that to all these Theories the phenomena of Geology are decidedly opposed.
The third extends into the Organic Remains of a former World the same kind of investigation, which Paley has pursued with
[viii PREFACE.] so much success in his examination of the evidences of Design in the mechanical structure of the corporeal frame of Man, and of the inferior Animals which are placed with him on the present surface of the Earth.
The myriads of petrified Remains which are disclosed by the researches of Geology all tend to prove, that our Planet has been occupied in times preceding the Creation of the Human Race, by extinct species of Animals and Vegetables, made up, like living Organic Bodies, of " Clusters of Contrivances," which demonstrate the exercise of stupendous Intelligence and Power. They further show that these extinct forms of Organic Life were so closely allied, by Unity in the principles of their construction, to Classes, Orders, and Families, which make up the existing Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms, that they not only afford an argument of surpassing force, against the doctrines of' the Atheist and the Polytheist; but supply a chain of connected evidence, amounting to demonstration, of the continuous Being, and of many of the highest Attributes of the One Living and True God.
The scientific Reader will feel that much value has been added to the present work, from the whole of the Palæontology, during its progress through the Press, having had the great advantage of passing under the revision of Mr. Broderip, and from the botanical part having being submitted to Mr. Robert Brown. I have also to acknowledge my obligations to Mr. Clift for his important assistance in the anatomy of the Megatherium; to Professor Agassiz of Neuchatel for his unreserved communications of his discoveries relating to Fossil Fishes; to Mr. Owen for his revision of some parts of my Chapter on Mollusks; and to Mr. James Sowerby for his assistance in engraving most of my figures of radiated animals, and some of those of Mollusks.[x.]
To all these Gentlemen I feel it my duty thus to offer my public acknowledgments.
Many obligations to other scientific friends are also acknowledged in the course of the work.
The Wood-cuts have been executed by Mr. Fisher and Mr. Byfield, and most of the Steel plates of Mollusks by Mr. Zeitter.
THE series of Treatises, of which the present is one, is published under the following circumstances:
The RIGHT HONOURABLE and REVEREND FRANCIS HENRY, EARL of BRIDGEWATER, died in the month of February, 1829; and by his last Will and Testament, bear ing date the 25th of February, 1825, he directed certain Trustees therein named to invest in the public funds the sum of Eight thousand pounds sterling; this sum, with the accruing dividends thereon, to be held at the disposal of the President, for the time being, of the Royal Society of London, to be paid to the person or persons nominated by him. The Testator further directed, that the person or persons selected by the said President should be appointed to write, print, and publish one thousand copies of a work On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation; illustrating such work by all reasonable arguments, as for instance the variety and formation of God's creatures in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms; the effect of digestion, and thereby of conversion; the construction of the hand of man, and an infinite variety of other arguments; as also by discoveries ancient and modern, in arts, sciences, and the whole extent of literature. He desired, moreover, that the profits arising from the sale of the works so published should be paid to the authors of the works.
The late President of the Royal Society, Davies Gilbert, Esq. requested the assistance of his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury and of the Bishop of London, in determining upon the best mode of carrying into effect the intentions of the Testator. Acting with their advice, and with the concurrence of a nobleman immediately connected with the deceased, Mr. Davies Gilbert appointed the following eight gentlemen to write separate Treatises on the different branches of the subject as here stated:
THE REV. THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D.
PROFESSOR OP DIVINITY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH.
ON THE POWER, WISDOM, AND GOODNESS OF GOD
AS MANIFESTED IN THE ADAPTATION
OF EXTERNAL NATURE TO THE MORAL AND
INTELLECTUAL CONSTITUTION OF MAN.
JOHN KIDD, M. D. F. R. S.
REGIUS PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
ON THE ADAPTATION OF EXTERNAL NATURE TO THE PHYSICAL CONDITION OF
THE REV. WILLIAM WHEWELL, M.A. F.R.S.
FELLOW OP TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
ASTRONOMY AND GENERAL PHYSICS CONSIDERED WITH
REFERENCE TO NATURAL THEOLOGY.
SIR CHARLES BELL, K. G. H. F. R.
L. & E.
THE HAND: ITS MECHANISM AND VITAL ENDOWMENTS
AS EVINCING DESIGN.
PETER MARK ROGET, M.D.
FELLOW OF AND SECRETARY TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY.
ON ANIMAL AND VEGETABLE PHYSIOLOGY.
CANON OF CHRIST CHURCH, AND READER IN GEOLOGY AND
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
ON GEOLOGY AND MINERALOGY.
THE REV. WILLIAM KIRBY, M. A. F. R. S.
ON THE HISTORY, HABITS, AND INSTINCTS OF ANIMALS.
WILLIAM PROUT, M. D. F. R. S.
CHEMISTRY, METEOROLOGY, AND THE FUNCTION OF
DIGESTION, CONSIDERED WITH REFERENCE TO
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUKE OF SUSSEX, President of the Royal Society, having desired that no unnecessary delay should take place in the publication of the above mentioned treatises, they will appear at short intervals, as they are ready for publication.