T. H. (Thomas Hopkins) Gallaudet.

The youth's book on natural theology online

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It is believed that good service may be rendered to
many, by republishing here, this concise and impres-
sive view of some of the evidences of NATURAL
THEOLOGY ; combining, in a simple and attractive
form, much and varied useful knowledge, with the
elements of SACRED TRUTH. The Author has es-
tablished, at home, a high reputation for benevolent
and skilful labour in educating the deaf and dumb ;
and he has learned, by experience, what gentle patience,
and what clear and precise explanation, must be used
to convey instruction to, and to fix correct ideas in,
minds not yet unfolded, nor imbued with knowledge.

The judicious writer has done no more than he
professed to do. Natural Theology is, in this book,


his end and aim ; but lie mentions Revealed Theology
as a more advanced division of sacred study. He
gratefully acknowledges the well-head and fountain of
divine instruction ; and points to the inspired word of
Scripture, as the visible channel by which it is conveyed
to man. And we trust that they, who have been made
familiar with our pages, will be well disposed, opening
the sacred volume, reverently to admit, that, " In the
beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth."
A foundation thus laid; the mind thus prepared ;
hope is given of a progressive advance in understanding
and knowledge, until the saving mysteries of gospel
truth are happily received and established.

London, August, 1832.


SOME may deem it almost unnecessary,
to go into an argument, with children
and youth, to prove to them, that there
is a God ; a truth which seems, too often,
to be taken for granted, not only in the
first stages, but through the whole course.,
of their religious instruction : how wisely,
may admit of very serious doubts.

It is a truth on which all the doctrines
and precepts of religion rest; and, just
in proportion as the belief of it is weak,


or obscure, will all the other truths of
religion fail to have their full effect upon
the heart and the life,

This, like other truths, is founded on
evidence ; the more complete, therefore,
and satisfactory this evidence is ; the
more thoroughly it is considered and
examined ; the more it is made to form
a part of the customary trains of thought
and feeling ; the more distinct and vivid
the conceptions are, which it produces in
the mind ; the more uniform and ope-
rative will be the belief of the truth which
this evidence is intended to establish.

This we find to be the case, even with
regard to those truths which are the most
common, and which receive the uniform
assent of every intelligent mind.

For the practical belief of truth is very


much strengthened by a knowledge of
the nature and certainty of its evidence,
and by the habit of frequently recurring
to this evidence.

After attending to the various, and
interesting, and overwhelming proofs of
design, contrivance, and skill, in all that
we see, within us, and around us, who
can fail to have the existence and agency
of God impressed upon his understanding
and heart, with new freshness and force ?

Let these proofs form a part of the
early associations of thought and feeling,
among children and youth ; and, from the
well known laws of the human mind, the
important truth which they establish, will
so blend itself with the habitudes of the

soul, that God will be seen in all his works


and his presence felt in the exhibitions


which He is continually making to us, of
his power, wisdom, and goodness.

Besides, atheism, theoretical and prac-
tical, is on the alert, to diffuse its baneful
influence. Already, in our own country,
we have seen it attempting to make pro-
selytes. Debating societies, public lec-
tureSj books, tracts, and newspapers, have
been the instruments employed for its
propagation. What parent can tell, how
soon his child may be exposed to this
awful delusion ? Who that knows the
waywardness of the human heart ; the
force of temptation ; the insidious allure-
ments of vice ; the gradual encroachment
which sneers and ridicule, on the one
hand, and sceptical queries and doubts,
on the other, often make upon the consci-
ence, especially when this conscience


relief from the wounds that guilt
has inflicted upon it ; who that con-
siders these thing's, can fail to tremble,
at the exposure of our youth to this
contaminating influence of infidelity and
atheism ?

It has, already, in not a few instances,
withered and blasted the fondest hopes
of the anxious father and mother. If it
does not always destroy, it may often
paralyze, religious belief.

And, if the faith of the youth is secure
against its attacks, how much good this
very faith may do, in rescuing others.
If it is thoroughly furnished with evi-
dence, and arguments, and proofs, its
triumphs, both in private and in public,
may save a companion from ruin, and
hasten the downfall of this bitter enemy
of God and man.

For these reasons,, the author can-
not but think, that the evidences of
the existence of God, are too much over-
looked in the early, religious education of
children and youth. He could wish, for
one, that they might form a part of the
regular course of instruction in Sunday
Schools, and of the religious reading in
families. The subject may be made
deeply interesting. Many of the facts
connected with it, are as really entertain-
ing as most of the incidents in the books
of religious fiction, with which children
have been so extensively supplied. They
are vastly more instructive ; and tend,
too, to form a taste for useful knowledge,
which, if confirmed into a habit, is of
unspeakable value.

The author will only add, that having


intended what he has written for quite
young persons, he has gone into a mi-
nuteness of analysis, and a specification
of details, which, his own experience has

fully convinced him, is the only sure

mode of conveying distinct ideas to those,

whose powers of generalizing are but,
as yet, very imperfectly cultivated and


I DARE say, many of you who are not
more than eight, or ten years, of age,
will be able to understand this book;
particularly, if you are very attentive in
reading it, and if you, always, ask some
older person to explain to you a few things,
which, at first, may be difficult to be

Those who are a few years older will,
I think, find no difficulty at all in under-
standing it.

You may not, however, know exactly

the meaning of the term Natural Theo-
logy, which forms a part of the title of
the book. I will endeavour to explain it
to you.

Theology is an English word, made by
putting two Greek words together, with
a little alteration. Theo comes from the
Greek word, Theos, which means God ;
and logy, from the Greek word, logos,
which means, a discourse, or speaking,
or teaching, about any ming.

All that is known about God arranged
in order, so that it can be taught clearly,
and distinctly is called Theology.

In the Bible, God has made known to
men a great deal about Himself, which
they did not know before, and which they
could not have learned in any other way ;
or, what means the same thing, He has


revealed the knowledge of Himself to
them, in the Bible.

The Bible is a revelation from God;
and from what it teaches us about Him,
\ve gain that knowledge which, when ar-
ranged in order, so that it can be taught
clearly and distinctly, is called revealed

Natural Theology is not learned from
the Bible. It is all that can be known
about God, merely by examining the
beings and things which He has made,
without the aid of revealed Theology.

The beings and things which God has
made, and causes to be, or live, or grow,
are called natural, to distinguish them
from the things that men make.

The things that men make, are called
works of art ; but all that God has made

we call the works of Nature. By ex-
amining and studying the works of Nature,
we can see that there must be a God, who
made and preserves., all beings and things ;
and we can learn many things about Him,
which will show us his great power, and
wisdom, and goodness.

All the knowledge which we can thus
gain about God, is called Natural Theo-
logy ; and it is this knowledge, my young
friends, which I wish, in some degree, to
give you in this book that I have written
for you. I hope you will be so much in-
terested in gaining this knowledge, that
you will seek for more of it, as you grow
older, in larger books which have been
written on the same subject, but which it
might now be difficult for you to under-


I have written the book in dialogues,
between a lady, whom I call Mrs. Stan-
hope, and her son, Robert. If any of
you have read ''''the Child's book on the
Soul," it is the same Robert who is men-
tioned there, only, in this book, he is sup-
posed to be a few years older.

That you may all make a great im-
provement in useful knowledge, and es-
pecially in the knowledge of God, and
of your duty, and learn both to be good,
and to do good, is the sincere wish of

Your friend,






MOTHER. Did you ever make any thing, Robert ?

ROBERT. I made a kite, once, mother, and it flew
very well. Uncle John showed me how to make it.

M. Out of what did you make it ?

R. Out of paper, and sticks, and thread

M. How did you put them together ?

R. With some paste ; and, then, I let the kite
dry in the sun, and put the tail on, and fixed the
twine to it, and it was all ready to fly.

M. How long did it take you to make it ?

R. I should think, almost two hours, mother.
I spoiled one or two, before I got right. I think I
could make one now, a good deal quicker.

M. Do you remember that beautiful large kite
which the boys raised, in front of the school house
last spring ?



R. Yes, it was as tall as a man. It took several
boys to hold it, when it was high up in the air.

M. Do you know who made it ?

R. Some one of the boys, I suppose, mother ;
but I do not know which.

M. Are you sure, that one of the boys made it ?

R. I think so ; but perhaps some mau made it,
it was so large and strong.

M. Are you sure, that any body made it ?

R. Yes, mother, just as sure as I am, that /
made the little kite that we were talking about.
Somebody must have cut out the paper ; and cut th3
sticks right, and tied them together ; and put the
thread round ; and pasted the paper ; and fixed on
the tail ; or the kite never would have been made.

M. Yes, my son, and the tail must have been
made just long and heavy enough, or the kite would
not have flown.

R. I remember, mother, I made the tail to my
kite, too short, at first, and as soon as it got a little
way up into the air, it began to go round and round,
and fell down to the ground. It would not fly at
all, till I made the tail longer.

M. I suppose, Robert, that some boys have made
kites so often, that they can make a very good kite
at once, without any mistake.

R. Yes, mother, I am pretty sure that / co'uld.

M. If you could, my dear, and make it quick,
and exactly right, so that it would fly very well,
you would be said to be skilful in making a kite.


And as it flew finely in the air, it would show your
skill in making it.

R. Mother, it takes most skill to fix the tail.

M. I suppose so. And you have to think before
hand, do you not, of what shape you will make the
kite ; and then, how much paper it will take ; and
how many sticks there must be ; and how you will
tie them together ; so as to make the kite of just
the shape and size that you want ?

R. Oh, yes, mother. I have to think all about
that. For, you know, we can make kites of many
different sizes and shapes. I should have to think
a great deal before hand, how to make a kite like
that tall one which the boys had.

M. Yes; and, perhaps, you would have to get
your uncle John, to think for you.

R. I think I should, mother.

M. Well, if your uncle John should think before
hand how to t make the kite, and tell you how to go
to work, and do exactly every thing that ought to
be done ; he would contrive the kite. When it was
done, it would show your skill, in making it ; and it
would show his contrivance, in thinking before hand
liow it should be made.

R. Mother, I can contrive a little kite. Will
you let me make one this afternoon ?

M. Yes; after you have said your lessons. What
will you make the kite for ?

R. I will make it to fly, mother. What else


should I make it for ? You do not think, I would
make a kite just to look at.

M. I did not know, Robert, but you would make
one to show me that you could contrive a kite, and
that you had skill to make one.

II. But how could I show that, mother, if the
kite would not fly well ? No ; I should make the
kite on purpose to fly. And, indeed, I was not
thinking at all about making it, to show you my
contrivance or skill.

M. Your purpose, or design, then, in making the
kite, would be, that it might fly well.

What was your design, in making that little boat,
the other day ? What did you make it for ?

R. My design was, that it might swim in the
small pond, at the back of the garden.

M. Did you make it as you do a kite ?

R. Oh, no, mother. You know a boat swims in
water, but a kite flies in the air.

M. Which did you have to contrive most about,
in making, the boat, or the kite ?

R. I think, the kite, mother, for the tail troubled
me a good deal, before I got it exactly right.

M. What if you should get your uncle John to
make a boat large enough to carry you ; and then
fasten the string of the kite to it, when it was high
up in the air ; and so the kite draw you in the boat,
quite across the pond. How prettily you would sail.

R. Yes, mother. But the kite would have to be


a very large one, and uncle John would have to
think a long time to contrive it, and to be very skil-
ful in fixing it all right, so as to make the boat go.

M. There is a little fish, which is a great deal
more curious than such a boat and kite would be.

R. Do tell me about it, mother. What is it called ?

M. It is called a nautilus. Nautilus is a Latin
word, the language of ancient Rome, and it means,
a sailor, or more exactly, a little sailor.

R. Why ? does this little fish sail in a boat ?

M. Yes, my son, and it lives in the same boat in
which it swims and sails.

R. What is the boat made of?

M. The boat is a thin shell, round and hollow.
It is as thin as paper, and very light, so that it will
float on the top of the water, as your little boat
does. The shell is a part of the fish ; and inside of
the shell is the living part, soft and slimy, like a
snail. It is a good deal softer than the inside, and
living part, of an oyster.

When this little fish wishes to sail, it raises up
two short arms which it has ; and between these
arms, there is something stretched, very thin like a
web, which the wind blows, and so away it sails on
the top of the water.

It has, also, two other arms, which it lets down
into the water, one on each side of the shell ; and it
paddles with them; and makes itself go along faster;
and turns itself with them, and goes one way or
another, as it chooses.

B 2


You know if you fill your little boat with water,
it will sink. So, when the nautilus, about which I
have been telling you, wishes to go down into the
deep water, it first draws in its two arms that have
the sail between them, and the other two that it
paddles with. Then it has a way of drawing in the
water, and filling all the inside of the shell, which
makes it so heavy, that it sinks away down to the

When it wishes to rise again, it throws out the
water through the little holes of which its arms are
full, and makes itself light, and soon it rises, and
keeps rising, till it reaches the top of the water.

When the weather is pleasant, and the water
smooth, the people that are in the ships on the great
ocean, often see a great many of these little shell-
fish, or sailors in their boats, with their sails up,
and sailing all about, as happy as can be. But if
the wind blows hard, or any thing disturbs them,
they take in their sails, and draw in their arms, and
fill themselves with water, and away they go, down
into the deep ocean, and are not seen again for
some time.

R. Mother, I never heard of such a curious
thing before. It is, indeed, a great deal more curi-
ous than a boat would be, large enough to carry
me, with a kite fixed to it, so that I could sail
across the pond. How large is the nautilus ?

M. A gentleman who had seen one, told me,
that it was about as large as a bowl which he could


hold in his two hands. But it was not shaped like
a bowl.

Here is a picture of one, as it appears when its

sail and arms are all drawn inside of the shell. I
could not find a true picture of one as it appears
when it is sailing.

R. Oh ! I wish I had a little nautilus, mother.

M. Suppose you ask your uncle John to make
you one ; he knows how to make a great many
curious things.

R. He could not make one, mother. He would
not know what to make the shell of.

M. Suppose somebody should give him the shell
of a nautilus. Could he not make the other parts,
and put them inside of it ?

R. Perhaps he might make something like the
sail, mother. But how could he make the two
little arms that carry the sail, and the two arms
that paddle, and make them stretch themselves out,
and draw themselves in ? Besides, the little nauti-


lus is alive. Uncle John, if he was to make some-
thing almost exactly like the nautilus, could not
make it live, so as to move itself about, and go
down under the water, and rise up again, just as it

M. Suppose your uncle John had never seen a
nautilus, or heard about one ; and should make
something almost exactly like one ; and fix some
little wheels inside, like those inside of a watch,
and have a spring to make the wheels go ; and,
then, wind it up with a key, and put it on the water ;
and it should raise up its sail, and work with its
paddles, and sail away, for some time, a good deal
as a nautilus does.

Would you not wonder at your uncle John's
contrivance and at his skill too ?

R. I should, indeed, mother. But do you sup-
pose, that any body has contrivance and skill enough,
to make such a little nautilus ?

M. When you was in the steam-boat, Robert,
you was in something like a great nautilus. Do
you not remember, how many, many wheels there
were, and iron things that moved up and down, and
many different ways ?

I showed you the wooden wheels, like paddles,
on each side of the boat, going round and round in
the water, and told you, that it was the other wheels
that made them go, and move the boat along.

It must have taken a great deal of contrivance
and skill, to make a steam-boat ; and I think the


man that contrived the steam-boat, might also con-
trive a little nautilus, with wheels inside of it, to
sail on the water.

R. You have forgotten, mother, that the steam-
boat did not hoist any sail up, as the nautilus does.
I think, that part of the little nautilus would be
very difficult to contrive. And, then, I do not be-
lieve any body could have contrivance and skill
enough, to make it take in its sail, and its arms, and
fill itself with water; and go down to the bottom,
and afterwards, come up again.

It would puzzle uncle John, and every body
else, even the man that contrived the steam-boat,
to do that.

M. Well, I think it would, Robert. And for
any body to make a live nautilus, you know, that
would be impossible.

R. Yes, mother, and / am astonished at the won-
derful contrivance and skill which we see in the
nautilus !

M. So am I, my son. The more I think of it,
the more I wonder at it.

If you was to live a thousand years ; and study
ever so much ; and make thousands and thousands
of curious things ; you never would have contri-
vance and skill enough, to make any thing so won-
derful as a living nautilus.

R. Mother, nobody can make a living thing, that
will move of itself.

M. That is true, Robert. But, it is almost time


for us to stop talking. I wish, however, to ask
you, first, one or two questions.

You said, that you would make a little kite, on
purpose to fly, and I told you, that it would be your
design, in making it, to have it fly.

If you had seen a nautilus out of the water,
without ever having seen it before, or heard any
thing about it, do you think you could tell what its
different parts were designed for ?

R. I think, I could, mother. The shell would
look so like a little boat ; and there would be some-
thing so like a sail ; and the two little paddles, one
on each side ; that I am sure, I should think it was to
go and move on the water. I should know it would
not be, to fly in the air, or to crawl on the ground.

M. And, if you should see it hoist up its little
sail, and put out, and move, its little arms, like
paddles : you would feel quite certain, that the
design was, that it should sail about on the top of
the water would you not ?

R, I should, mother.

M. Well, you see, my son, not only that there
is wonderful contrivance and skill, in the different
parts of the nautilus, but a wonderful design, too, in
putting these parts together, and having them act
upon each other just as they do.

If the nautilus had not a way of throwing out the
water, and rising to the top, it could not sail on the
top of the water; and there would be no use in
having any of its parts, so as to help it to sail.


If the shell was not thin and hollow, it could not
float, even after it rises to the top of the water.

There would be no use, in its raising iip its arms,
and stretching them out, if there was not a thin,
web-like something between them, as a sail, for the
wind to blow against.

And it would do but little good to hoist its sail,
and be blown about, if it could not guide itself by
the two little paddles, and so determine which way
to go.

And it would not be best for it, to come up to
the top of the water, and sail about, if it could not
make itself sink, and go down again, when there is

You see what a wonderful thing the nautilus is !


ROBERT. I have thought a good deal, mother,
about the nautilus. I want to see one, very much.

MOTHER. If you should ever go on the ocean,
in a ship, when you grow up to be a man, you will,
probably, see many of them.

But there are some things which you see every
clay, which are as curious as the nautilus is.

R. Mother, a chicken is a curious little animal.

M. Yes, my dear ; and if you could look inside
of a chicken, you would find a great many parts,
quite as curious as the sail and paddles of the nau-
tilus. And you would see as much wonderful design,


in the way in which these parts are put together,
and what they are made for.

Look, too, at the outside of a chicken. Stroke
its little feathers. How smooth, and light, and
warm they are. What a good covering they are,
for the little creature. How many feathers there
are, all lying one way, and every feather itself is
very curious.

The mouth of a chicken is very different from
the mouth of a dog or of a cat. It has a long bill,
made sharp, and opens so that it can pick up the
corn and little seeds, very easily, like a pair of

It has claws, too, just right for scratching in the
ground, to find its food ; and for keeping fast hold
of the branch of a tree, when it grows older, and
goes there, to roost at night.

I think, a chicken has as many curious parts as
the nautilus.

R. I do not know but it has, mother; and I think,
it WQuld be a great deal more difficult for any body
to make a little chicken, with wheels inside, so that
it could walk, and scratch in the ground, and pick
up corn and seeds, than it would be to make a nau-

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Online LibraryT. H. (Thomas Hopkins) GallaudetThe youth's book on natural theology → online text (page 1 of 11)