THE manual of Natural Theology which now makes its appearance before the English-speaking public, existed in manuscript substantially ready for print in the year 1889. Through a combination of untoward circumstances its publication has been delayed till now. The delay in its appearance has not been without advantage for the book itself. Its subject makes it most suitable to be the last in order of publication among those volumes of the Stonyhurst Series which are concerned about Speculative Philosophy; for though the utmost care has been taken to make it intelligible even to those who have studied no other branch of Philosophy, yet minds prepared for the reading of this manual by a careful perusal of its companions in the department of Speculative Philosophy, will arrive at a far deeper and fuller understanding of its contents. The better readers are versed in the laws of right reasoning by the study of Logic, the more thoroughly convinced they are of the absolute necessity for the human mind to admit the existence, sources, and criteria of Certitude, as laid down in the First Principles of our Series, the greater diligence they have bestowed upon acquiring a firm grasp of the fundamental notions and principles treated of in General Metaphysics, and the more solid the knowledge is they have gained of the moral freedom, spirituality, and immortality of the human soul expounded in Psychology, the greater will be their ability to appreciate and to turn to practical account the doctrine about God which is explained and defended in the present volume.
This manual embraces not only those questions which in our Latin compendia usually are treated of under the heading Theologia Naturalis, but also those which commonly are discussed as a part of Cosmologia. This was done in order to give the necessary completeness to the treatment of my subject. Our English volumes are in the first place intended to help those who do not intend to study in detail Catholic Theology to a sound understanding of the most important questions of Philosophy, and particularly to show them the way to judge intelligently and to solve clearly modern difficulties against those natural truths which form the basis of Christianity.
In the celebrated Catholic controversy about the manner of Divine foreknowledge of and concurrence in human actions, it has been my endeavour to give a good account of the opposite opinions and of my own position. I have purposely avoided quotations, as often as I could conveniently without doing harm to the cause of truth, in order to eliminate any element of prejudice or party strife.
B. BOEDDER St. Mary's Hall, Stonyhurst April 4, 1891.
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