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But our Milky Way, vast as it is, can only be considered as constituting a very small portion of the whole stellar universe, even as far as it has been revealed to us by the best optical instruments yet in our power to employ. Scattered at various distances throughout the heavens, but still within the reach of our telescopes, are inany cloud-like appearances, which have been called Nebulae, and whose nature has long been a puzzle to Astronomers. Until lately they were supposed to be collections of a soft and diffused matter, called “starry dust,” out of which, when condensed and conglomerated, the different heavenly bodies are composed; so that it was conjectured, that we actually beheld around us new suns and systems in the process of formation. One of the most remarkable of them is located near the sword-hilt in the constellation of Orion; and it has lately been resolved by Lord Rosse's Titanic Telescope, not into grains of “ starry dust,” but into an innumerable multitude of stars. In fact it is itself a Galaxy similar to our Milky Way but of immensely vaster proportions. About three thousand of these Nebulae have been observed and catalogued; and doubtless all of them are equally resolvable as that in Orion, did we but possess instruments capable of accomplishing a work so sublime. In other words, the universe, so far as man has yet been able to examine it, consists of at least three thousand Galaxies, each, computing by our own, with its twenty millions of suns, and seven hundred and twenty millions of planets. The Creator formed these enormous hosts of suns and systems; He fixed and maintains thein in their present relative positions; He gave
preserves to them all their peculiar motions. These considerations enable us to form some faint idea of what OMNIPOTENCE is, so far as man has yet been able to number the globes which it created and upholds.
It were idle and presumptuous to suppose that man has yet discovered, or that he ever will discover, the full extent of the stellar universe. Suppose we could reach the remotest Nebula, which now appears as an indistinct speck even to the most powerful of our telescopes; suppose we could travel to the most distant sun it contained, and turning our backs on all that is now known to exist in the heavens, could look forward in a completely new direction into immensity; it is most probable that we should behold suns upon suns, constellations upon constellations, and galaxies upon galaxies, as numerous, as vast, and as magnificent as
those we had left behind. In fact no limit can be assigned, even in fancy, to the extent of creation; and, as all depended for its existence and its motions, and still depends for its maintenance, on the Power of the Creator, no limit can be assigned, even in fancy, to that Power; and we say well that the “ things which he has made” declare him to be AlMIGHTY, OMNIPOTENT.
The view so long dwelt upon of the inconceivable extent of the universe, enables us, moreover, to form an idea, however weak and inadequate, of the OMNISCIENCE of the Great Being who willed it into existence. He must know, perfectly know, all that He has made. He is of necessity acquainted with all the innumerable globes which crowd the firmament, and with the various kinds of matter to be found in each, and with all the properties of that matter, and with all the effects produced by the action of those properties. He must be completely familiar with the nature, the structure, the habits of all the living beings on the earth, whether animals or vegetables, the number of whose species alone is to be reckoned by hundreds of thousands; for He bestowed the nature, the structure, and the habits. And if the other Planets connected with our system be also inhabited, as is rendered highly probable by their possession of mountains and valleys, land and water and an atmosphere, night and day and seasons, heat and light and colour; He must equally know the physical, intellectual and emotional peculiarities of all the creatures who dwell there, for from Him those peculiarities were derived. Multiply the animals and plants of earth by thirty-six, and we approximate the number belonging to the planets of the Solar System; multiply these by twenty
millions, and we approximate the number belonging to the Milky Way; and multiply these again by three thousand, and we approximate the number belonging to the Stellar Universe, so far as we have discovered its extent, and supposing Life to be only as abundant in its various portions, as it is upon this our Earth. Of all these, God must know the form, the organisation, the habits, the instincts, the feelings, the uses, their effects upon other things and beings, and the effects of other things and beings upon them; and He must of necessity have all this knowledge, for this simple and obvious reason, that He could not impart aught, without knowing that He imparted it.
So far we have contemplated the Divine Knowledge in its relation to Space, but it is similarly related to Time, and Prescience is but a sub-division of Omniscience. It is evident, that when the Creator formed inorganic matter and its nature, plants and their natures, animals and their natures, man and his nature, He must have foreseen all the results of their actions upon each other, in different language, all the events of every kind and character, which should at any time occur in every spot of the universe; for these results are the necessary effects of those various natures, and those natures are the products of his Volition, and He could not will, without possessing a knowledge of what He willed. Knowledge of all the beings and wants that now exist, that have existed, and that shall exist, thus pertains to the Most High, and this knowledge is styled by us OMNISCIENCE.
Religion has no better friend than Science. With every new discovery of the extent of creation, or of the qualities of the objects and living creatures by which we are surrounded, onr conception of the attributes of God is proportionally exalted ; and while our notions of His perfections can never be complete or adequate, they are each year
destined to become truer and worthier.
C. Y. M.
EDUCATION, NATIONAL EDUCATION, THE EDUCATION OF THE ENTIRE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND, WITHOUT
DISTINCTION OF SECT OR PARTY.
This great subject has been most ably, lucidly, and powerfully brought before the inhabitants of LEICESTER by its present respected Chief Magistrate, William Biggs, Esq. In the Town Hall, on the 23d of April, a crowded assembly convened to hear the Mayor deliver a lecture on Education. It was replete with information, statistical facts, sound argument, benevolent aspiration, Christian principles and spirit
. We gladly avail ourselves of an excellent report of the lecture given in “ The Leicester Mercury," to select its most important details. They merit the widest circulation, they demand most attentive consideration.
Mr. Biggs proposed to lecture that evening on the subject of Unsectarian National Education. He was induced to do so in consequence of his official position having brought him in daily contact with crime and its consequences, and having so strongly and painfully forced upon his mind a conviction of the close connection which existed between ignorance and crime, and the equally intimate connection between the education and morality of a people. It was a singular and melancholy fact, that England, though so far advanced in civilization, political power, and the arts and sciences, should be so far behind other countries as to rank only fourth or fifth in the scale of education. It only required, in his opinion, more attention to be paid to the question, to have this state of things remedied; and it was with this view that he now begged to call their attention to what was known as the Lancashire Plan. The objects of that plan might be thus briefly stated: To obtain an Act of Parliament for the establishment of schools all over the country, such schools to be supported by local rates, governed by local authorities popularly elected ; and to exclude all theological or sectarian tenets from the instruction communicated. Society recognised this duty to educate, though but partially, even in this country ; for here, in our workhouses at least, the children of the poor were educated as a duty, though but very imperfectly. And had those children, a large portion of whom were the children of vice and crime, higher rights and claims upon society than the children of the honest poor? Again, in our prisons and gaols. Before it became an inmate of them, the outcast child might go on unheeded in its career of ignorance, vice, and crime. But let it once be detected in the commission of an offence, it was then sent to prison, where the schoolmaster and the chaplain were set to work to give that instruction, which, if given previously, would have preserved it from contamination and disgrace. Why, he asked, was not this done before, why was it so partially done, why was this duty performed in particular instances, when it ought to have been done to the whole ?
But he contended for this not merely as a duty. It was also expepedient, it was the interest of society, in an economical point of view, to educate the people. Education, as he had before observed, was the best security for the morality of a people and therefore the strongest safeguard of property. At present, owing to our neglect of this duty, the cost of prosecutions and the maintenance of prisoners was enormous; and if more efficient means of education than those in existence were not soon devised, our expenditure for gaols, prisoners, and transports, would go on increasing to an alarming and overwhelming extent
Mr. Baines had lately stated at a meeting at Manchester, as he had done more than once before, that the number of children educated on the voluntary principle, in this country, was much greater than his (the Mayor's) official experience led him to think was the fact. Now from the American, as well as Prussian statistics, they found that if all the children at educational ages, i. e. from five to fifteen, were under course of instruction, 1 in every 4 persons would be educated: so that they might fairly assume, that, in any country where the proportion was under this, there the means of popular education were deficient. Mr. Baines, however, in his statistics, had taken all the children in the infant schools as day scholars, as going from day to day; and though this was not a correct mode, he (the Mayor) would give him the benefit of it. But as to Sundayschool education, no one surely would say it was sufficient for the wants of the people. There was no one who valued more highly than he (the Mayor) the noble exertions of the Sunday-school teachers throughout the land ; than whom a more ingenuous and selfdenying band it would be impossible to find; and whose voluntary labours, were, in the absence of any settled and general system, as valuable as they were exemplary. But Sunday-school instruction was given but once a week, and he believed, that, taking their average stay at five years, one-half of the children taught in these schools did not attend altogether more than 260 days, or three-quarters of a year. And ought the British nation to be satisfied with such a provision for the mental wants of the rising generation? In the year 1818, Mr. Brougham moved for some returns of the amount of population, and the extent of education. From these returns it appeared that the population then was 11,398,167. Taking the average number which ought to be educated at 1 in 4), this would give 2,532,914 children receiving education. Instead of this, it appeared that the number in infant and day schools was 674,803, and in Sundayschools, 477,222: making the total educated, 1,152,028. The number of children, therefore, then uneducated, was 1,380,889, or calculating day-scholars alone, 1,858,111, who of course grew up without the least education. Fifteen years after (in 1833), Lord Kerry moved for fresh returns on the same subject. The population by that time was 14,400,000. Taking the same average, the number of children in process of education ought to have been 3,200,000. The number in infant and day-schools was 1,276,947; in Sundayschools, 1,548,890; total educated, 2,825,837; leaving uneducated, 375,263, or, if only day-scholars calculated, 1,923,153.
We now come to the year 1846, the time of the publication of the Minutes of Council on Education. From 1831 to 1841, the population had gone on increasing, as the meeting have seen, at the rate of 127 per cent. every ten years. Taking this, therefore, as the rate of increase from 1841 to 1846, it would make the population of England and Wales, at the latter period, 17,038,041; and dividing this again by 41, to ascertain the
number of children at educational ages, it would produce 3,786,231. Now, Mr. E. Baines, after stating that the rate of increase in numbers, and day-school accomodation, had gone on from 1818 to 1833 at the rate of 111 per cent., assumes further that the number of day scholars had increased from 1841 to 1846 to the extent of 600,000. Add these to the number educated in 1833, and it would make a total of 1,876,947 day scholars. He further states, in his various letters, that the increase in Sunday scholars from 1818 to 1833, was at the rate of 264 per cent., and that the whole increase of school accomodation for the last thir. teen years, can scarcely be less than 70 per cent. Now, allowing him his premises, and applying this rule to the probable increase of Sunday scholars, it would produce, from 1833 to 1846, an addition of 1,084,223 scholars, or say 1,000,000 in round numbers. Adding these again to the amount of Sunday scholars reported to be in course of education in 1833 (i. e. 1,548,890), it would make a total of 2,548,890. If these Sunday scholars and day scholars are now added together, it will make a total of 4,425,837; or, in other words, it will show that there are 639,606 children being educated MORE than there are in the country to educate. So that there is evidently a fallacy somewhere. But supposing, for the sake of the argument, that for the last thirteen years, the number of Sunday scholars has not increased beyond the corresponding amount of day scholars during the same time, or increased only 600,000, even then the Sun. day scholars, when added to the day scholars, would make a total of 4,025,837; or, again, 239,606 children in process of education MORE than there are children in the country to educate. So that Mr. Baines, in his anxiety to prove his case, to show that there is a large and sufficient provision for education in the country, has really