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person, (admitting that such an one | rather too serious for such a ludicrous could be found) to wish it to be true, process. Others, with more decency we think the answer is very obvious. at least, have gone to work in order It claims to be a remedy for certain to undermine its foundation, and with evils which, as no human being is a view to that, they have industriously wholly exempt from them, so no laboured to subvert the various rational one will ever dispute their branches of evidence by which it is existence! That sin is in the world supported. Its miracles and propheis a fact beyond dispute that misery cies; the resurrection of its divine has followed in its train, and that founder; and the testimony of his both these evils are as prevalent and Apostles, have all been made to pass extensive as the existence of the through a fiery ordeal ; but the faith human race, needs no other proof once delivered to the saints has surthan the testimony of our senses, vived the process, and come out of and the records of our species. It the crucible like gold from the furis a fact too, that we must all die! nace; purified and rendered more “ The fathers, where are they? And brilliant than ever. the prophets, do they live for ever?" Yet the ingenuity of its enemies “What man is he that liveth and was not fully exhausted. After being shall not see death?” Here then foiled in all their former attacks, revelation comes in, arrayed in all the there still remained an objection majesty of divine truth-not to deny against its pretensions, founded on the existence of evil, either natural | the discoveries which have recently or moral; but to ratify and confirm been made in the science of Astroour strongest impressions of it, and nomy. This objection which is spestrengthen our fears of its conse- cious and imposing, is thus stated quences hereafter ; yet at the same by Dr. Chalmers, p. 97. of the volume instant, opening up an unexpected before us. “ Such a humble portion source of relief to the view of the of the universe as ours, could never guiltiest of the human race, and have been the object of such high and bringing “ life and immortality to distinguishing attentions as Chrislight." But here arises the perplexity; tianity has assigned to it. God 'How shall we account for the con would not have manifested himself duct of those persons, who instead of in the flesh for the salvation of so hailing with every grateful emotion paltry a world. The monarch of a of the heart, a discovery so full of whole continent, would never move mercy and goodwill to men, are con- from his capital; and lay aside the tinually raising objections against it ; splendour of royalty; and subject and whose conduct would induce the himself for months, or for years, to persuasion, that their first wish con- perils, and poverty, and persecution; cerning it is, that they could prove and take up his abode in some small it to be false ! Such is the fact; but islet of his dominions, which, though the Bible gives a satisfactory solution swallowed by an earthquake, could of this difficulty. It declares that not be missed amid the glories of so “ light is come into the world ; but wide an empire; and all this to rethat men love darkness rather than gain the lost affections of a few light, because their deeds are evil ; families upon its surface. And neither come they to the light, lest neither would the Son of God-he their deeds be reproved.” Awful who is revealed to us as having made infatuation, which leads us to despise all worlds, and as holding an empire, our own mercies! Christianity is of amid the splendours of which the an humbling tendency; it calls for globe that we inherit, is shaded in self-denial, the mortification of every insignificance; neither would he strip sinful propensity, and the pursuit of himself of the glory he had with holiness and this is at the founda- the Father before the world was, and tion of every cavil against it.
light on this lower scene, for the The gospel has been attacked in purpose imputed to him in the New ways as multifarious, as are the Testament. Impossible, that the weapons that have been used to over-concerns of this puny ball, which turn it. Adopting the foolish maxim floats its little round among an infinity that “ridicule in the test of truth," of larger worlds, should be of such some of its adversaries have tried it mighty account in the plans of the by that touchstone; but the subject is Eternal, or should have given birth
in heaven to so wonderful a move- , arguments which are employed in ment, as the Son of God putting on each separate division of the subject. the form of our degraded species, In attempting to furnish our rcaand sojourning amongst us, and ders with such an account of the sharing in all our infirmities, and volume before us as shall do any crowning the whole scene of his thing like justice to the subject, we humiliation, by the disgrace and feel to be a task of no ordinary magthe agonies of a cruel martyrdom. nitude. For whether we consider the
“This has been started as a dif- sublimity of the topics which are ficulty in the way of the Christian illustrated in these Discourses; the Revelation; and it is the boast of | irresistible torrent of masterly reamany of our philosophical Infidels, soning that pervades the whole that by the light of modern discovery, volume; or the fascinating eloquence the light of the New Testament is of the preacher's style ; we are at a eclipsed and overborne; and the loss which of them most to admire, mischief is not confined to philoso- and do think that, taking it all in all, phers; for the argument has got into the whole round of English literaother hands, and the popular illus ture cannot produce any thing equal trations that are now given to the to it. This is not the languaye of sublimest truths of science, have panegyric-it is the sober verdict of widely disseminated all the Deism truth; and we must pity the dulness that has been grafted upon it, and of that man, who can go through the high tone of a decided contempt the volume, as we have done, and for the Gospel, is now associated with hesitate a moment to yield his assent the flippancy of superficial acquire- to what we have now said of it. ments; and, while the venerable In the first Discourse, Dr. ChalNewton, whose genius threw open mers has given a Sketch of the Modern those mighty fields of contemplation, Astronomy, founded on the Newfound a fit exercise for his powers tonian discoveries, with which he in the interpretation of the Bible, has fully evinced his intimate acthere are thousands and tens of thou- quaintance, in all its ramifications. sands, who, though walking in the Adopting as the foundation of his light which he holds out to them, discourse, the fine address of the are seduced by a comp acency which Psalmist,“ When I consider thy he never felt, and inflated by a pride heavens, &c. &c.” he, in a striking which never entered into his pious exordium, pertinently remarks that and philosophical bosom, and whose only notice of the Bible, is to de
" It is a most Christian exercise, to ex preciate, and to deride, and to dis
tract a sentiment of piety from the works own it."
and appearances of nature. It has
the authority of the Sacred Writers The present performance of Dr.
upon its side, and even our Saviour Chalmers, consists of seven Dis
himself gives it the weight and the courses, and an Appendix. Diss. I. solemnity of bis example. “Behold the is entitled A Sketch of the modern lilies of the field; they toil not, neither Astronomy, text, Ps. viii. 3, 4. Diss. do they spin, yet your heavenly Father II. The modesty of true science, careth for them.” He expatiates on the i Cor. viii. 2. Diss. III. On the ex
beauty of a single flower, and draws from tent of the divine condescension, Ps.
it the delightful argument of confidence
in God. He gives us to see that taste cxiii. 5, 6. Diss. IV. On the know
may be combined with piety, and that ledge of man's moral history in the
the same heart may be occupied with all distant places of creation, 1 Pet. i.
that is serious in the contemplations of 12. Diss. V. On the sympathy that religion, and be at the same time alive to is felt for man in the distant places the charm's and the loveliness of nature. of creation, Luke xv. 7. Diss. VI. | “ The Psalmist takes a still loftier On the contest for an ascendancy flight. He leaves the world, and lifts his over man, amongst the higher orders imagination to that mighty expanse which of intelligence. Čol. ii. 15. "Diss. VII. | spreads above it and around it. He On the slender influence of mere
wings his way through space, and wanders
in thought over its immeasurable regions. taste and sensibility, in matters of
Instead of a dark and unpeopled solitude, religion, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. The Ap-|
he sees it crowded with splendour, and pendix is intended to supply a series filled with the energy of the Divine preof passages of Scripture, which serve sence. Creation rises in its immensity to illustrate or to confirm the leading before him, and the world, with all
which it inherits, shrinks into littleness at | take hundreds of thousands of years be a contemplation so vast and so overpower-fore it described that mighty interval ing. He wonders that he is not over which separates the nearest of the fixed looked amid the grandeur and the variety stars from our sun and from our system, which are on every side of bim, and pass If this earth, which moves at more than ing upward from the majesty of nature to the inconceivable velocity of a million the majesty of nature's Architect, he ex and a half of miles a-day, were to be claims, What is man that thou art mind hurried from its orbit, and to take the ful of him, or the son of man that thou same rapid flight over this immense tract, shouldest deign to visit him:'”
it would not have arrived at the terminaThis leads the preacher to some
tion of its journey, after taking all the
time which has elapsed since the creation very just and pertinent remarks on of the world. These are great numbers, the magnificent objects that present and great calculations, and the mind feels themselves to our contemplation on its own impotency in attempting to grasp a survey of the firmament-" the them. We can state them in words. We scenery of a nocturnal sky." " That can exhibit them in figures. We can moon and these stars, what are they?
demonstrate them by the powers of a They are detached from the world,
cia most rigid and infallible geometry. But
no human fancy can summon up a lively and they lift you above it. You feel withdrawn from the earth, and rise in
or an adequate conception-can roam in
its ideal flight over this immeasurable lofty abstraction above this little largeness can take in this mighty space theatre of human passions and human in all its grandeur, and in all its immenanxieties. The mind abandons it sity_can sweep the outer boundaries of self to reverie, and is transformed in such a creation-or lift itself up to the the ecstacy of its thoughts to distant majesty of that great and invisible arm, and unexplored regions. It sees on which all is suspended. nature in the simplicity of her great
“ But what can those stars be which elements, and it sees the God of
are seated so far beyond the limits of our
planetary system? They must be masses nature invested with the high attri
of immense magnitude, or they could not butes of wisdom and majesty.” But be seen at the distance of place which now comes in the interesting enquiry,
they occupy. The light which they give " What can these lights be?” The must proceed from themselves, for the answer to this question naturally feeble reflection of light from some other leads Dr. Chalmers, to remark the quarter, would not carry through socb numberand magnitude of the planets. | mighty tracts to the eye of an observer. and the grand and interesting dis
and interesting die' A body may be visible in two ways. It coveries that have been made res
may be visible from its own light, as the
filame of a candle or the brightness of a pecting them by means of the Teles
fire, or the brilliancy of yonder glorious cope. But there are only five, or at sun'which lightens all below, and is the most six of the planetary orbs visible lamp of the world. Or it may be visible to the naked eye. What then is that from the light which falls upon it, as the multitude of other lights which body which receives its light from the sparkle in our firmament with innu- taper that falls upon it or the whole merable splendours? The planets assemblage of objects on the surface of are all attached to the sun ; and in the earth, which appear only when the circling around him, they do homage
light of the day rests upon them-or the to that influence which binds them
moon, which, in that part of it that is to perpetual attendance on this great
towards the sun, gives out a silvery white
ness to the eye of the observer, while luminary: but the other stars do not
the other part forms a black and invisible own his dominion-they do not space in the firmament-or as the planets, circle around him what mean these which shine only because the sun shines unnumerable fires lighted up in the upon them, present the appearance of a distant parts of the universe? In dark spot on the side that is turned away answer to this let Dr. Chalmers speak from ii, Now apply this question to the
fixed stars. Are they luminous of them“ The first thing which strikes a scien selves, or do they derive their light from tific observer of the fixed stars, is their the sun, like the bodies of our planetary immeasurable distance. If the whole system? Think of their immense displanetary system were lighted up into a tance, and the solution of this question globę of fire, it would exceed, by many becomes evident. The sun, like any millions of times, the magnitude of this other body, must dwindle into a less apworld, and yet only appear a small lucidparent magnitude as you retire from it. point from the nearest of them. If a At the prodigious distance even of the body were projected from the sun with very nearest of the fixed stars, it must the velocity of a cannon-ball, it would have shrunk into a small indivisible point, In short, it must have become a star it-tre of his own system, and give light to self, and could shed no more light than a his own worlds. It is true that we see single individual of those glimmering them not, but could the eye of man take myriads, the whole assemblage of which its light into those distant regions, it cannot dissipate and can scarcely alleviate should lose sight of our little world, bethe midnight darkness of our world. fore it reached the outer limits of our These stars are visible to us, not because system--the greater planets should dis. the sun shines upon them, but because appear in their turn-before it bad des they shine of themselves, because they cribed a small portion of that abyss are so many luminous bodies scattered which separates us from the fixed stars, over the tracts of immensity--in a word, the sun should decline into a little spot, because they are so many suns, each and all its splendid retinue of worlds be throned in the centre of his own domi- lost in the obscurity of distance-he nions, and pouring a flood of light over should, at last, shrink into a small indihis own portion of these unlimitable visible atom, and all that could be seen regions.
of this magnificent system, should be re* At such an immense distance for ob- duced to the glimmering of a little star, servation, it is not to be supposed, that Why resist any longer the grand and inwe can collect many points of resem-teresting conclusion ? Each of these stars blance between the fixed stars, and the may be the tokeo of a system as vast and solar star which forms the centre of our as splendid as the one which we inhabit. planetary system. There is one point of Worlds roll in these distant regions; and resemblance, however, which has not these worlds must be the mansions of life escaped the penetration of our astrono- and of intelligence. In yon gilded mers. We know that our sun turns round canopy of heaven, we see the broad upon himself, in a regular period of time. aspect of the universe, where each shinWe also know, that there are dark spots ing point presents us with a sun, and scattered over his surface, which, though each sun with a system of worlds-where invisible to the naked eye, are perfectly the Divinity reigns in all the grandeur of noticeable by our instruments. If these his attributes--where he peoples imspots existed in greater quantity upon mensity with his wonders; and travels in one side than upon the other, it would the greatness of his strength through the have the general effect of making that dominions of one vast and unlimited side darker, and the revolution of the monarchy. sun must, in such a case, give us a brigh- “ The contemplation has no limits. If ter and a fainter side, by regular alter-we ask the number of suns and of sysnations. Now, there are some of the fixed tems, the unassisted eye of man can take stars which present this appearance. in a thousand, and the best telescope They present us with periodical varia- which the genius of man has constructed tions of light. From the splendour of a can take in eighty millions. But why star of the first or second magnitude, subject the dominions of the universe to they fade away into some of the inferior the eye of man, or to the powers of his magnitudes—and one, by becoming in- genius? Fancy may take its flight far visible, might give reason to apprehend beyond the ken of eye or of telescope. that we had lost bim altogether-but we It may expatiate in the outer regions of can still recognize him by the telescope, all that is visible-and shall we have the till at length be reappears in his own boldness to say, that there is nothing place, and, after a regular lapse of so there? that the wonders of the Almighty many days and hours, recovers his origi- | are at an end, because we can no longer gal brightoess. Now, the fair inference trace his footsteps ? that his omnipotence from this, is, that the fixed stars, as they is exhausted, because human art can no resemble our sun in being so many lumi-longer follow him? that the creative energy nous masses of immense magnitude, they of God has sunk into repose, because the resemble him in this also, that each of imagination is enfeebled by the magnitude them turns round upon his own axis : so of its efforts, and can keep no longer on that if any of them should have an the wing through those mighty tracts, inequality in the brightness of their sides, which shoot far beyond what eye hath this revolution is rendered evident, by the seen, or the heart of man hath conceivedregular variations in the degree of light wbich sweep endlessly along, and merge which it undergoes.
| into an awful and mysterious infinity;" *** Shall we say, then, of these vast From this our eloquent divine luminaries, that they were created in
extends his vieu
extends his view to a consideravain? Were they called into existence
tion of the nebulæ, which constitute for no other purpose than to throw a tide
| what is commonly termed “the of useles splendour over the solitudes of immensity ? Our sun is only one of these
milky way"-a field of expansive and luminaries, and we know that he has lofty contemplation, where the mind worlds in his train. Why should we strip is left wildering in the uncertainty, the rest of this princely attendance? | whether here the wonderful progres Why may not each of them be the cen- sion be ended,
“ And, after all, though it be a mighty myriads which people this little leaf, an and difficult conception, yet who can event as terrible and as decisive as the question it? What is seen may be noth- destruction of a world. Now, on the ing to what is unseen; for what is seen grand scale of the upiverse, we, the occuis limited by the range of our instru- piers of this ball, which performs its ments. What is unseen has no limit; little round among the suns and the sys. and, though all which the eye of man tems that astronomy has unfolded-we can take in, or his fancy can grasp at, may feel the same littleness, and the same were swept away, there might still remain insecurity. We differ from the leaf only as ample a field, over which the Divinity in this circumstance, that it would require may expatiate, and which he may have the operation of greater elements to peopled with innumerable worlds. If destroy us. But these elements exist. the whole visible creation were to disa The fire which rages within, may lift its appear, it would leave a solitude behind | devouring energy to the surface of our it--but to the Infinite Mind, that can planet, and transform it into one wide take in the whole system of nature, this and wasting volcano. The sudden forsolitude might be nothing; a small un mation of elastic matter in the bowels of occupied point in that immensity which the earth-and it lies within the agency surrounds it, and which he may have of known substances to accomplish this-filled with the wonders of his omnipo may explode it into fragments. The extence. Though this earth were to be halation of noxions air from below, may burned up, though the trumpet of its impart a virulence to the air that is dissolution were sounded, though yon sky | around us; it may affect the delicate prowere to pass away as a scroll, and every portion of its ingredients; and the whole visible glory. which the finger of the of animated nature may wither and die Divinity has inscribed on it, were to be under the malignity of a tainted atmosput out for ever-an event, so awful to phere. A blazing comet may cross this us, and to every world in our vicinity, by fated planet in its orbit, and realize all which so many suns would be extinguish the terrors which superstition has coned, and so many varied scenes of life and ceived of it. We cannot anticipate with of population would rush into forgetful- | precision the consequences of an event ness-what is it in the high scale of the which every astronomer must know to Almighty's workmanship? a mere shred, | lie within the limits of chance and prowhich, though scattered into nothing, bability. It may hurry our globe towards would leave the universe of God one en the sun--or drag it to the outer regions tire scene of greatness and of majesty. | of the planetary system-or give it a new Though this earth, and these heavens, | axis of revolution--and the effect, which were to disappear, there are other worlds, I shall simply announce, without explainwhich roll afar; the light of other suns ing it, would be to change the place of the shines upon them; and the sky which ocean, and bring another mighty flood mantles them, is garnished with other upon our islands and continents. These stars. Is it presumption to say, that the are changes which may happen in a sinmoral world extends to these distant and I gle instant of time, and against which unknown regions ? that they are occupied nothing known in the present system of with people that the charities of homne things provides us with any security. and of Deighbourhood flourish there : They might not annibilate the earth, but that the praises of God are there lifted they would unpeople it; and we who up, and his goodness rejoiced in that tread its surface with such firm and aspiety has its temples and its offerings : sured footsteps, are at the mercy of deand the richness of the divine attributes vouring elements, which, if let loose upon is there felt and admired by intelligent us by the hand of the Almighty, would worshippers ?
spread solitude, and silence, and death, “ And what is this world in the im- ) over the dominions of the world. mensity which teems with them-and “Now, it is this littleness, and this inwhat are they who occupy it? The security, which make the protection of universe at large would suffer as little, in the Almighty so dear to us, and bring, its splendour and variety, by the destruc- | with such emphasis, to every pious bosom, tion of our planet, as the verdure and sub the holy lessons of humility and gratitude. lime magnitude of a forest would suffer The God who sitteth above, and presides by the fall of a single leaf. The leaf in high authority over all worlds, is mindquivers on the branch wbich supports it. ful of man; and, though at this moment It lies at the mercy of the slightest acci- bis energy is felt in the remotest prodent. A breath of wind tears it from its vinces of creation, we may feel the same stem, and it lights on the stream of water security in his providence, as if we were which passes underneath. In a moment the objects of his undivided care. It'is of time, the life, which we know, by not for ụs to bring our minds up to tbis the microscope, it teems with, is extin mysterious agency. But, such is the inguished; and, an occurrence so insignifi comprehensible fact, that the same Being, cart in the eye of man, and on the scale whose eye is abroad over the whole uniof bis observation, carries in it, to the verse, gives vegetation to every blade of