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self to attempt an argument which I think fitted to soften and subdue those prejudices which lie at the bottom of what may be called the infidelity of natural science; if possible to bring over to the humility of the Gospel, those who expatiate with delight on the wonders and sublimities of creation; earth, and rise in lofty abstraction above and to convince them that a loftier wisdom this little theatre of human passions and still than that even of their high and hon-human anxieties. The mind abandons itourable acquirements, is the wisdom of him self to reverie, and is transferred, in the ecwho is resolved to know nothing but Jesus stacy of its thoughts, to distant and unexplorChrist, and him crucified. ed regions. It sees nature in the simplicity of her great elements, and it sees the God of nature invested with the high attributes of wisdom and majesty.

But what can these lights be? The curiosity of the human mind is insatiable, and the mechanism of these wonderful heavens has, in all ages, been its subject and its employment. It has been reserved for these latter times, to resolve this great and interesting question. The sublimest powers of philosophy have been called to the exercise, and astronomy may now be looked upon as the most certain and best established of the sciences.

It is truly a most Christian exercise to extract a sentiment of piety from the works and the appearances of nature. It has the authority of the Sacred Writers upon its side, and even our Saviour himself gives it the weight and the solemnity of his example. "Behold the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin, yet your heavenly Father careth for them." He expatiates on the beauty of a single flower, and draws from it the delightful argument of confidence in God. He gives us to see that taste may be combined with piety, and that the same heart may be occupied with all that is serious in the contemplations of religion, and be at the same time alive to the charms and the loveliness of nature.

of the firmament. And there is much in the scenery of a nocturnal sky, to lift the soul to pious contemplation. That moon, and these stars, what are they? They are detached from the world, and they lift you above it. You feel withdrawn from the

We all know that every visible object appears less in magnitude as it recedes from the eye. The lofty vessel as it retires from the coast, shrinks into littleness, and at last appears in the form of a small speck on the verge of the horizon. The eagle with its expanded wings, is a noble object; but when it takes its flight into the upper regions of the air, it becomes less to the eye, and is seen like a dark spot upon the vault of heaven. The same is true of all magnitude. The heavenly bodies appear small to the eye of an inhabitant of this earth, only from the immensity of their

The Psalmist takes a still loftier flight. He leaves the world, and lifts his imagination to that mighty expanse which spreads above it and around it. He wings his way through space, and wanders in thought over its immeasurable regions. Instead of a dark and unpeopled solitude, he sees it crowded with splendour, and filled with the energy of the Divine presence. Creation rises in its immensity before him, and the world, with all which it inherits, shrinks into littleness at a contemplation so vast and so overpow- distance. When we talk of hundreds of ering. He wonders that he is not over-millions of miles, it is not to be listened to looked amid the grandeur and the variety as incredible. For remember that we are which are on every side of him, and pass- talking of those bodies which are scattered ing upward from the majesty of nature to over the immensity of space, and that space the majesty of nature's Architect, he ex- knows no termination. The conception is claims, "What is man that thou art mind-great and difficult, but the truth is unquesful of him, or the son of man that thou tionable. By a process of measurement shouldest deign to visit him?" which it is unnecessary at present to explain, we have ascertained first the distance, and then the magnitude of some of those bodies which roll in the firmament; that the sun, which presents itself to the eye under so diminutive a form, is really a globe, exceeding, by many thousands of times, the dimensions of the earth which we inhabit; that the moon itself has the magnitude of a world; and that even a few of those stars, which appear like so many lucid points to the unassisted eye of the observer, expand into large circles upon the application of the telescope, and are some of them much larger than the ball which we tread upon, and to which we proudly apply the denomination of the universe.

Now, what is the fair and obvious pre

It is not for us to say, whether inspiration revealed to the Psalmist the wonders of the modern astronomy. But even though he mind be a perfect stranger to the science of these enlightened times, the heavens present a great and an elevating spectacle; an immense concave reposing upon the circular boundary of the world, and the innumerable lights which are suspended from on high, moving with solemn regularity along its surface. It seems to have been at night that the piety of the Psalmist was awakened by this contemplation, when the moon and the stars were visible, and not when the sun had risen in his strength, and thrown a splendour around him, which bore down and eclipsed all the lesser glories

as to us, has God divided the light from the darkness, and he has called the light day, and the darkness he has called night. He has said let there be lights in the firmament of their heaven, to divide the day from the night: and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven, to give light upon their earth; and it was so. And God has also made to them great lights. To all of them he has given the sun to rule the day; and to many of them has he given moons to rule the night. To them he has made the stars also. And God has set them in the firmament of heaven, to give light unto their earth; and to rule over the day, and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God has seen that it was good.

sumption? The world in which we live, is a round ball of a determined magnitude, and occupies its own place in the firmament. But when we explore the unlimited tracts of that space, which is every where around us, we meet with other balls of equal or superior magnitude, and from which our earth would either be invisible, or appear as small as any of those twinkling stars which are seen on the canopy of heaven. Why then suppose that this little spot, little at least in the immensity which surrounds it, should be the exclusive abode of life and of intelligence? What reason to think that those mightier globes which roll in other parts of creation, and which we have discovered to be worlds in magnitude, are not also worlds in use and in dignity? Why should we think that the great Architect of nature, supreme in wisdom as he is in power, would call these stately mansions into existence, and leave them unoccupied? When we cast our eye over the broad sea, and look at the country on the other side, we see nothing but the blue land stretching obscurely over the distant horizon. We are too far away to perceive the richness of its scenery, or to hear the sound of its population. Why not extend this principle to the still more distant parts of the universe? What though, from this remote point of observation, we can see nothing but the naked roundness of yon planetary orbs? Are we therefore to say, that they are so many vast and unpeopled solitudes; that desolation reigns in every part of the universe but ours; that the whole energy of the divine attributes is expended on one insignificant corner of these mighty works; and that to this earth alone belongs the bloom of vegetation, or the blessedness of life, or the dignity of rational and immortal existence?

In all these greater arrangements of divine wisdom, we can see that God has done the same things for the accommodation of the planets that he has done for the earth which we inhabit. And shall we say, that the resemblance stops here, because we are not in a situation to observe it? Shall we say, that this scene of magnificence has been called into being, merely for the amusement of a few astronomers? Shall we measure the counsels of heaven by the narrow importance of the human faculties? or conceive, that silence and solitude reign throughout the mighty empire of nature; that the greater part of creation is an empty parade; and that not a worshipper of the Divinity is to be found through the wide extent of yon vast and immeasurable regions?

It lends a delightful confirmation to the argument, when, from the growing perfection of our instruments, we can discover a new point of resemblance between our earth and the other bodies of the planetary system. It is now ascertained, not merely that all of them have their day and night, and that all of them have their vicissitudes of seasons, and that some of them have their moons to rule their night and alleviate the darkness of it. We can see of one, that its surface rises into inequalities, that

But this is not all. We have something more than the mere magnitude of the planets to allege, in favour of the idea that they are inhabited. We know that this earth turns round upon itself; and we observe that all those celestial bodies, which are accessible to such an observation, have the same movement. We know that the earth performs a yearly revolution round it swells into mountains and stretches into the sun; and we can detect in all the valleys; of another, that it is surrounded planets which compose our system, a revo- by an atmosphere which may support th lution of the same kind, and under the same respiration of animals; of a third, that circumstances. They have the same suc- clouds are formed and suspended over it, cession of day and night. They have the which may minister to it all the bloom and same agreeable vicissitude of the seasons. luxuriance of vegetation; and of a fourth, To them, light and darkness succeed each that a white colour spreads over its northother; and the gaiety of summer is followed ern regions, as its winter advances, and by the dreariness of winter. To each of that on the approach of summer this whitethem the heavens present as varied and ness is dissipated-giving room to suppose, magnificent a spectacle; and this earth the that the element of water abounds in it, encompassing of which would require the that it rises by evaporation into its atmoslabour of years from one of its puny inhabi- phere, that it freezes upon the application tants, is but one of the lesser lights which of cold, that it is precipitated in the form of sparkle in their firmament. To them, as well snow, that it covers the ground with a

fleecy mantle, which melts away from the heat of a more vertical sun; and that other worlds bear a resemblance to our own, in the same yearly round of beneficent and interesting changes.

the concave of their firmament. They let us know, that though this mighty earth, with all its myriads of people, were to sink into annihilation, there are some worlds where an event so awful to us would be unnoticed and unknown, and others where it would be nothing more than the disap

Who shall assign a limit to the discoveries of future ages? Who can prescribe to science her boundaries, or restrain the ac-pearance of a little star which had ceased tive and insatiable curiosity of man within from its twinkling.. We should feel a senthe circle of his present acquirements? We timent of modesty at this just but humilimay guess with plausibility what we can- ating representation. We should learn not not anticipate with confidence. The day to look on our earth as the universe of may yet be coming, when our instruments God, but one paltry and insignificant porof observation shall be inconceivably more tion of it; that it is only one of the many powerful. They may ascertain still more mansions which the supreme Being has decisive points of resemblance. They may created for the accommodation of his worresolve the same question by the evidence shippers, and only one of the many worlds of sense which is now so abundantly con-rolling in that flood of light which the sun vincing by the evidence of analogy. They pours around him to the outer limits of may lay open to us the unquestionable ves- the planetary system. tiges of art, and industry, and intelligence. But is there nothing beyond these limits? We may see summer throwing its green The planetary system has its boundary, but mantle over these mighty tracts, and we space has none; and if we wing our fancy may see them left naked and colourless af- there, do we only travel through dark and ter the flush of vegetation has disappeared. unoccupied regions? There are only five, In the progress of years, or of centuries, we or at most six, of the planetary orbs visible may trace the hand of cultivation spreading to the naked eye. What, then, is that multia new aspect over some portion of a plan- tude of other lights which sparkle in our etary surface. Perhaps some large city, firmament, and fill the whole concave of the metropolis of a mighty empire, may ex- heaven with innumerable splendours? The pand into a visible spot by the powers of planets are all attached to the sun; and, in some future telescope. Perhaps the glass circling around him, they do homage to that of some observer, in a distant age, may en- influence which binds them to perpetual able him to construct a map of another attendance on this great luminary. But the world, and to lay down the surface of it in other stars do not own his dominion. They all its minute and topical varieties. But do not circle around him. To all common there is no end of conjecture, and to the observation, they remain immoveable; and men of other times we leave the full assu-each, like the independent sovereign of his rance of what we can assert with the high-own territory, appears to occupy the same est probability, that yon planetary orbs are inflexible position in the regions of immenso many worlds, that they teem with life, sity. What can we make of them? Shall and that the mighty Being who presides in we take our adventurous flight to explore high authority over this scene of grandeur these dark and untravelled dominions? and astonishment, has there planted wor- What mean these innumerable fires lighted shippers of his glory. up in distant parts of the universe? Are they only made to shed a feeble glimmering over this little spot in the kingdom of nature? or do they serve a purpose worthier of themselves, to light up other worlds, and give animation to other systems.

Did the discoveries of science stop here, we have enough to justify the exclamation of the Psalmist, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou shouldest deign to visit him?" They widen the empire of creation far beyond the The first thing which strikes a scientific limits which were formerly assigned to it. observer of the fixed stars, is their immeaThey give us to see that yon sun, throned surable distance. If the whole planetary in the centre of his planetary system, gives system were lighted up into a globe of fire, light, and warmth, and the vicissitude of it would exceed, by many millions of times, seasons, to an extent of surface several hun- the magnitude of this world, and yet only dreds of times greater than that of the earth appear a small lucid point from the nearest which we inhabit. They lay open to us a of them. If a body were projected from the number of worlds, rolling in their respect-sun with the velocity of a cannon-ball, it ive circles around this vast luminary-would take hundreds of thousands of years and prove, that the ball which we tread before it described that mighty interval upon, with all its mighty burden of oceans which separates the nearest of the fixed and continents, instead of being distinguished stars from our sun and from our system. from the others, is among the least of them; If this earth, which moves at more than the and, from some of the more distant planets, inconceivable velocity of a million and a would not occupy a more visible point in half miles a day, were to be hurried from

its orbit, and to take the same rapid flight | world. These stars are visible to us, not over this immense tract, it would not have because the sun shines upon them, but bearrived at the termination of its journey, cause they shine of themselves, because after taking all the time which has elapsed they are so many luminous bodies scattered since the creation of the world. These are over the tracts of immensity; in a word, great numbers, and great calculations, and because they are so many suns each throned the mind feels its own impotency in at- in the centre of his own dominions, and tempting to grasp them. We can state them pouring a flood of light over his own porin words. We can exhibit them in figures. tion of these unlimitable regions. We can demonstrate them by the powers of a most rigid and infallible geometry. But no human fancy can summon up a lively or an adequate conception-can roam in its ideal flight over this immeasureable largeness-can take in this mighty space in all its grandeur, and in all its immensity-can sweep the outer boundaries of such a creation-or lift itself up to the majesty of that great and invisible arm, on which all is suspended.

At such an immense distance for observation, it is not to be supposed, that we can collect many points of resemblance between the fixed stars, and the solar star which forms the centre of our planetary system. There is one point of resemblance, however, which has not escaped the penetration of our astronomers. We know that our sun turns round upon himself, in a regular period of time. We also know, that there are dark spots scattered over his surface, which, though invisible to the naked eye, are perfectly noticeable by our instruments. If these spots existed in greater quantity upon one side than upon another, it would have the general effect of making that side darker, and the revolution of the sun must, in such a case, give us a brighter and a fainter side, by regular alternations. Now, there are some of the fixed stars which present this appearance. They present us with periodical variations of light. From the splendour of a star of the first or second magnitude, they fade away into some of the

But what can those stars be which are seated so far beyond the limits of our planetary system? They must be masses of immense magnitude, or they could not be seen at the distance of place which they occupy. The light which they give must proceed from themselves, for the feeble reflection of light from some other quarter, would not carry through such mighty tracts to the eye of an observer. A body may be visible in two ways. It may be visible from its own light, as the flame of a candle, or the brightness of a fire, or the brilliancy of yonder glorious sun, which lightens all be-inferior magnitudes-and one, by becoming low, and is the lamp of the world. Or it invisible might give reason to apprehend may be visible from the light which falls that we had lost him altogether-but we upon it, as the body which receives its light can still recognize him by the telescope, till from the taper that falls upon it-or the at length he re-appears in his own place, whole assemblage of objects on the surface and, after a regular lapse of so many days of the earth, which appear only when the and hours, recovers his original brightness. light of day rests upon them-or the moon, Now, the fair inference from this is, that which, in that part of it which is towards the fixed stars, as they resemble our sun in the sun, gives out a silvery whiteness to the being so many luminous masses of immense eye of the observer, while the other part magnitude, they resemble him in this also, forms a black and invisible space in the that each of them turns round upon his own firmament—or as the planets, which shine axis; so that if any of them should have an only because the sun shines upon them, inequality in the brightness of their sides, and which, each of them, present the ap- this revolution is rendered evident, by the pearance of a dark spot on the side that is regular variations in the degree of light turned away from it. Now apply this ques- which it undergoes. tion to the fixed stars. Are they luminous of themselves, or do they derive their light from the sun, like the bodies of our planetary system? Think of their immense distance, and the solution of this question comes evident. The sun, like any other body, must dwindle into a less apparent magnitude as you retire from it. At the prodigious distance even of the very nearest of the fixed stars, it must have shrunk into a small indivisible point.. In short, it must have become a star itself, and could shed no more light than a single individual of those glimmering myriads, the whole assemblage of which cannot dissipate, and can scarcely alleviate the midnight darkness of our

Shall we say, then, of these vast luminaries, that they were created in vain? Were they called into existence for no other purpose than to throw a tide of useless splenbe-dour over the solitudes of immensity? Our sun is only one of these luminaries, and we know that he has worlds in his train. Why should we strip the rest of this princely attendance? Why may not each of them be the centre of his own system, and give light to his own worlds? It is true that we see them not, but could the eye of man take its flight into those distant regions, it should lose sight of our little world, before it reached the outer limits of our system-the greater planets should disappear in their turn-be

fore it had described a small portion of that | impulse; or, this movement may be coeval abyss which separates us from the fixed with his being, and he may have derived stars, the sun should decline into a little both from an immediate fiat of the Creator. spot, and all its splendid retinue of worlds But there is an actually observed phenomebe lost in the obscurity of distance-henon of the heavens which advances the conshould, at last, shrink into a small indivisi- jecture into a probability. In the course ble atom, and all that could be seen of this of age, the stars in one quarter of the celesmagnificent system, should be, reduced to tial sphere are apparently receding from the glimmering of a little star. Why resist each other; and in the opposite quarter, any longer the grand and interesting con- they are apparently drawing nearer to each clusion? Each of these stars may be the other. If the sun be approaching the fortoken of a system as vast and as splendid mer and receding from the latter, this pheas the one which we inhabit. Worlds roll nomenon admits of an easy explanation, in these distant regions; and these worlds and we are furnished with a magnificent must be the mansions of life and intelligence. step in the scale of the Creator's workmanIn yon gilded canopy of heaven we see the ship. In the same manner as the planets, broad aspect of the universe, where each with their satellites, revolve round the sun, shining point presents us with a sun, and may the sun, with all its tributaries, be each sun with a system of worlds-where moving in common with other stars, around the Divinity reigns in all the grandeur of some distant centre, from which there emahis attributes-where he peoples immensity nates an influence to bind and to subordiwith his wonders; and travels in the great-nate them all. Our sun may, therefore, ness of his strength through the dominions be only one member of a higher family of one vast and unlimited monarchy. -taking his part, along with millions of

The contemplation has no limits. If we others, in some loftier system of mechanism, ask the number of suns and of systems, the by which they are all subjected to one unassisted eye of man can take in a thou-law, and to one arrangement-describing sand, and the best telescope which the the sweep of such an orbit in space, and genius of man has constructed can take in completing the mighty revolution in such a eighty millions. Fancy may take its flight period of time, as to reduce our planetary far beyond the ken of eye or of telescope. seasons and our planetary movements, to a Shall we have the boldness to say, that very humble and fractionary rank in the there is nothing there-that the wonders of scale of a higher astronomy. There is room the Almighty are at an end-that the creative for all this in immensity; and there is even energy of God has sunk into repose, be- argument for all this in the records of actual cause the imagination is enfeebled by the observation; and, from the whole of this magnitude of its efforts? speculation, do we gather a new emphasis to the lesson, how minute is the place, and how secondary is the importance of our world, amid the glories of such a surrounding magnificence!

There are two points of interesting speculation, both of which serve to magnify our conceptions of the universe. If a body be struck in the direction of its centre, it obtains a progressive motion, but without any movement of revolution being at the same time impressed upon it. But, again, should the stroke not be in the direction of the centre-should the line which joins the point of percussion to the centre, make an angle with that line in which the impulse was communicated, then the body is both made to go forward in space, also to wheel upon its axis. Thus, each of our planets may have had their compound motion communicated to it by one single impulse; and, on the other hand, if ever the rotatory motion be communicated by one blow, then the progressive motion must go along with it. In order to have the first motion without the second, there must be a twofold force applied to the body in opposite directions. It must be set agoing in the same way as a spinning-top, so as to revolve about an axis, and to keep unchanged its situation in space.

But at this stage of the argument, the matter only remains a conjectural point of speculation. The sun may have had his rotation impressed upon him by a spinning


Another very interesting tract of speculation, has been opened up to us by the more recent observations of astronomy, the discovery of the nebula. We allow that it is but a dim and indistinct light which this discovery has thrown upon the structure of the universe; but still it has spread before the eye of the mind a field of very wide and lofty contemplation. Before this the universe might appear to have been composed of an indefinite number of suns, about equidistant from each other, and each encompassed by such a planetary attendance as takes place in our own system. But, it now appears instead of lying uniformly and in a state of equidistance from each other, they are arranged into distinct clusters-that, in the same manner as the distance of the nearest fixed stars, marks the separation of the solar systems, so the distance of two contiguous clusters may be so inconceivably superior to the reciprocal distance of those fixed stars which belong to the same cluster, as to mark an equally distinct separation of the clusters, and to constitute each of them

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