- I would advise you not to expect too much happiness, even from the fulfillment of all your wishes. The moment you have distinguished yourself you become an object of envy and malice ; men whom you believed to be lovers of knowledge you will then find to be lovers only of fame, and haters of all knowledge that has not come from themselves. You will find that a life of science has in it no superiority to any other, unless it is pursued from a higher principle than the mere ambition of notoriety, and that demagogue or a philosopher differ only in the objects of their selfishness. As you will now have experienced how unsatisfying even the pursuit of knowledge is when insulated from higher objects, I hope, if you have not been fortunate enough to begin the study earlier, that you will devote yourself to the most extraordinary of all subjects, one which infinitely surpasses the mechanism of the heavens or the chemistry of the material world, the revelation of your duty and the destiny of man as contained in The Bible — a book which occupied the best hours of the manhood of Newton, of Locke, and of Euler.'
- In a 1830 letter to James David Forbes, as found in Life and letters of James David Forbes p. 40.
- Truth has no greater enemy than its unwise defenders, and no warmer friends than those who, receiving it in a meek and tolerant spirit, respect the conscientious convictions of others, and seek, in study and in prayer, for the best solution of mysterious and incomprehensible revelations.
- In his Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: 1855)
- It is not easy to devise a cure for such a state of things (the declining taste for science). The most obvious remedy is to provide the educated classes with a series of works on popular and practical science, freed from mathematical symbols and technical terms, written in simple and perspicuous language, and illustrated by facts and experiments which are level to the capacity of ordinary minds.
- "The human voice may be denominated the music of the mind; language, a figurative mode of expressing our ideas and sentiments. The effects of flowing from this beneficent endowment are overwhelming in contemplation and almost infinite in extent. It is principally instrumental to all the moral and physical improvements of man, and enables him to pour forth his otherwise invisible, inaudible, unfathomable thoughts, to his fellow-man and to his God.
- Philosophical Magazine and Journal Of Science (July-December 1836), p. 346
- Truths physical have an- origin as divine as truths religious, In the time of Galileo they triumphed over the casuistry and secular power of the Church ; and in our own day the incontrovertible truths of primeval life have won as noble a victory over the errors of a speculative theology, and a false interpretation of the word of God. Science ever has been, and ever must be the safeguard of religion. The grandeur of her truths may transcend our failing reason, but those who cherish and lean upon truths equally grand, but certainly more incomprehensible, ought to see in the marvels of the material world the best defence and illustration of the mysteries of their faith.
- More Worlds Than One: The Creed of the Philosopher and the Hope of the Christian (1856), p. 132
- Man, made after God's image, was a nobler creation than twinkling sparks in the sky, or than the larger and more useful lamp of the moon.
- More Worlds Than One: The Creed of the Philosopher and the Hope of the Christian (1856), p. 207
- Amid the destructive convulsions of the physical world, even pious minds may have for an instant questioned the superintending providence of God. In the midst of famine, or pestilence, or war, they may have stood horror- struck at the scene. In the triumphs of fraud, oppression, and injustice, over honesty, and liberty, and law. Faith may have wavered, and Hope despaired; but in no condition, either of the physical or the moral world, does the mind question the POWER of its Maker. The omnipotence of the Creator, and the exertion of it in every corner of space, — His care over the falling sparrow, and His guidance of the gigantic planet, are the earliest of our acquired truths, and the very first that observation and experience confirm. When Reason gives wisdom to our perceptions, omnipotence is the grand truth which they inculcate. Whatever the eye sees, or the ear hears, or the fingers touch, — every motion of our body, every function it performs, every structure in its fabric, impresses on the mind, and fixes in the heart the conviction, that the Creator is all-powerful as well as all-wise. Omnipotence, in short, is the only attribute of God which is universally appreciated, which skepticism never unsettles, and which we believe as firmly when under the influence of our corrupt passions, as when we are looking devoutly to heaven. All the other attributes of God are inferences. His omnipresence, His omniscience, His justice, mercy, and truth, are the deductions of reason, and, however true and demonstrable, they exercise little influence over the mind; but the attribute of omnipotence predominates over them all, and no mind responsive to its power will ever be disturbed by the ideas which it suggests of infinity of time, infinity of space, and infinity of life.
- More Worlds Than One: The Creed of the Philosopher and the Hope of the Christian (1856), "Religious Difficulties", p. 152-153
- The history of the human species is the history of a variety of races in every stage of civilization and barbarism, and the great majority of which have neither an intellectual, nor a moral, nor a religious progressive history. Progression has not been the character of the history of man. Without alluding to his primeval fall from his high estate, we have only to cast our eyes over the globe, and look at the intellectual, moral, and religious catastrophes which it presents to us, — at ages of light and darkness, — at alternations of progress and decline, — at the highest civilization sinking into the lowest barbarism. Mark those eastern lands, now involved in darkness, from which the beams of knowledge first radiated on mankind. Study the extinction of morality in many regions of the earth where its great lessons were first taught by our Saviour and His apostles; and above all, mark the total suppression of the Christian faith in European communities, where it has been displaced by a religion whose doctrines were preached by conquest, and whose decalogue was dictated by the sword.
- More Worlds Than One: The Creed of the Philosopher and the Hope of the Christian (1856), "Religious Difficulties", p. 157-158
Last modified on 30 November 2013, at 23:26