An Essay on the Existence of a Supreme Creator Possessed of Infinite Power, Wisdom, and Goodness; Containing also The Refutation, from Reason and Revelation, of the Objections urged against His Wisdom and Goodness; and deducing from the whole subject, The
Brown, William Lawrence.

Aberdeen: 1816. First edition of an uncommon book. Inscribed on the half-title of Volume II: “W. Laurence Simpson/Great grandson of/William Laurence Brown/also godson/donated to W.L.S. by his great uncle George Gilbert Brown, fifth son of William Laurence Brown.” (Volume I has a briefer inscription). Half calf over marbled boards, rebacked, with burgundy morocco spine labels. Marbled edges. A little foxing. Very good. Two volumes, octavo. ], lv, [1], 342; [4], ii (Item ID: 14304)


Brown (1755-1830) was born in Holland, but came to Aberdeen in 1795 to succeed George Campbell as Professor of Divinity. This was just after the publication of his most important book, An Essay on the Natural Equality of Men, which won a prize for the best book on its subject in 1793. The present work was also an award-winner, capturing the £1,200 prize given by John Brunett of Dens for and essay on “The Evidence that there is a Being, all-powerful, wise and good, by whom every thing exists; and particularly, to obviate difficulties regarding the wisdom and goodness of the Deity…” Brown includes a long memoir of John Burnett in the prefatory material here. In one of his footnotes, Brown recounts the story of David Hume’s dining with les Philosophes in Paris, where the existence of God was questioned and atheism affirmed. According to Brown, Hume supported “the affirmative side of the question, which les Philosophes found a bit superstitious. “This supersitition he afterwards overcame, and left as a Legacy to the world, a Book on Natural Religion, in which Atheismis maintained. I must be allowed to say that the metaphysical writings of this Philosopher have done more mischief to the religion and morality of his country, than any other writings have ever effected. Thanks to God! they are, now, very seldom perused, and will soon be forgotten.” Brown never mentions Hume by name, calling him “Le Philosophe Anglois” and the “English philosopher.” It seems to have escaped Brown’s notice that Hume was in fact Scottish.

Jessop, p. 107. See Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century British Philosophers

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