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Wesley on Geology and Rousseau

Tuesday, December 26.--I read the letters from our preachers in America informing us that God had begun a glorious work there; that both in New York and Philadelphia multitudes flock to hear and behave with the deepest seriousness; and that the society in each place already contains above a hundred members.

Friday, 29, 2929     Correct we observed as a day of fasting and prayer, partly on account of the confused state of public affairs, partly as preparatory to the solemn engagement which we were about to renew.

1770. Monday, January 1.--About eighteen hundred of us met together; it was a most solemn season. As we did openly avouch the Lord to be our God, so did He avouch us to be His people [see Deut. 26.17, 18].

Wednesday, 17.--In a little journey which I took into Bedfordshire, I finished Dr. Burnet’s Theory of the Earth. He is doubtless one of the first-rate writers, both as to sense and style; his language is remarkably clear, unaffected, nervous, and elegant. And as to his theory, none can deny that it is ingenious and consistent with itself. And it is highly probable 1) that the earth arose out of the chaos in some such manner as he describes; 2) that the antediluvian earth was without high or abrupt mountains, and without sea, being one uniform crust, enclosing the great abyss; 3) that the flood was caused by the breaking of this crust and its sinking into the abyss of waters; and 4) that the present state of the earth, both internal and external, shows it to be the ruins of the former earth. This is the substance of his two former books, and thus far I can go with him.

I have no objection to the substance of his third book upon the general conflagration, but think it one of the noblest tracts which is extant in our language. And I do not much object to the fourth, concerning the new heavens and the new earth. The substance of it is highly probable.

Saturday, February 3, and at my leisure moments on several of the following days, I read with much expectation a celebrated book—Rousseau upon Education. But how was I disappointed! Sure a more consummate coxcomb never saw the sun! How amazingly full of himself! Whatever he speaks, he pronounces as an oracle. But many of his oracles are as palpably false, as that "young children never love old people." No! Do they never love grandfathers and grandmothers? Frequently more than they do their own parents. Indeed, they love all that love them and that with more warmth and sincerity than when they come to riper years.

But I object to his temper, more than to his judgment: he is a mere misanthrope; a cynic all over. So indeed is his brother-infidel, Voltaire, and well-nigh as great a coxcomb. But he hides both his doggedness and vanity a little better; whereas here it stares us in the face continually.

As to his book, it is whimsical to the last degree, grounded neither upon reason nor experience. To cite particular passages would be endless; but anyone may observe concerning the whole that the advices which are good are trite and common, only disguised under new expressions. And those which are new, which are really his own, are lighter than vanity itself. Such discoveries I always expect from those who are too wise to believe their Bibles.

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