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a very little part of the grand machine of the universe. The stars which we behold in the firmament, though owing to their immense and inconceivable distance they appear very small, are no less fpacious and luminous than the radiant source of our day. Every star, as was before mentioned, is the centre of a system,--has a retinue of worlds enlightened by its beams, and revolving round its attractive influence.
Were it poslible that we could be conveyed to the most diftant of those twinkling luminaries, that are within the reach of our sight, even when assisted by human art, we should there fee other skies expanded, another fun distributing his inexhaustible beams by day, other stars that gild the horrors of the alternate night, and other, perhaps nobler, syftems establifhed, in unknown profusion, through the boundless dimenfions of space.
Job, after a most beautiful dissertation on the works of God, as they are distributed through universal nature, closes the account with this acknow
ledgment, “ Lo! these are parts of his ways ;" or, as the original word more literally signifies, and may perhaps be more elegantly rendered, “ These are only the outermoft borders of his works;" no more than a small province of God's universal empire.
It is observed by a very judicious * writer, “ That if the sun himself, which enlightens this part of the creation, was extinguished, and all the host of planetary worlds, which move about him, were annihilated, they would not be missed, any more than a grain of sand upon the sea-Ahore. The bulk of which they consist, and the space which they occupy, is so exceedingly little, in comparison of the whole, that their lofs would scarce leave a blank in the immensity of God's works. The chasm would be imperceptible to an eye, that could take in the whole compass of nature, and pass from one end of the creation to the other."
A celebrated + philosopher carries this thought so far, that he does not think it impossible there may be.stars, so far removed from this earth, that their light has not as yet reached to us, since their first creation.
There is no question but the universe has certain bounds set to it; but when we consider that it is
* Mr. Addison,
the work of infinite wisdom, prompted by infinite goodness, with an infinite space to exert itself in, how can our imagination set any bounds to it?
What an august, what an amazing conception, if human imagination can conceive it, does this give of the works of the Creator! Thousands and thousands of suns, multiplied without end, and ranged all around us, at immense distances from each other, attended by ten thoufand times ten thouJand worlds, all in rapid motion, yet calm, regular and harmonious, invariably keeping the paths preseribti them; and these worlds, in all probability, peopled with myriads of intelligent beings, formed for endless progression in perfection and felicity.
If so much power, wisdom, goodness, and magnificence are displayed in the material creation, which is the least considerable part of the universe, how wise, how good must he be, who made and governs the whole !
C H A P. XVII.
ON THE ATMOSPHERE, OR SURROUNDING AIR.
THE atmosphere is a thin, invisible fluid, which
is surrounds the earth to a considerable height. It accompanies it in its diurnal motion round its
own axis, and in its annual motion round the sun. The vapours float in it. The clouds are fuspended by it. It furnishes wind and rain. In short, it is that in which we live and breathe.
According to Dr. Keill, and other astronomical writers, it is entirely owing to the atmosphere that the heavens appear bright in the day-time. For, without the atinosphere, only that part of the heavens would shine in which the fun was placed; and if we could live without air, and should turn our backs towards the sun, the whole heavens would appear as dark as in the night, and the stars would be seen as clear as in the nocturnal lky.
In this case we should have no twilight. There would be a sudden transition from the brightest funMine to the blackest darknefs, immediately after fun-fet; and from the blackest darkness to the brightest funshine, at fun-rising. This would be extremely inconvenient, if not blinding to all mortals. But, by means of the atmosphere, we enjoy the sun's light, reflected from the aërial particles, for some time before he rises, and after he sets. For when the sun has descended below the horizon, and consequently is out of our sight, the atmosphere, being higher than we are, has his light still imparted to it, and rei'ects it to us.
This light, or rather twilight, gradyally decreases, till the sun
has got eighteen degrees below the horizon; and then all that part of the atmosphere, which is above us, is dark.
From the length of the twilight, the Doctor has: calculated the height of the atmosphere (so far as it is dense enough to reflect any light) to be about forty-four miles. But it is seldom dense or heavy enough, at two miles height, to bear up the clouds. . The higher it goes, the thinner and lighter it becomes, and a smaller quantity of it occupies a larger fpace. Its real height, however, cannot be ascertained.
CONCERNING THE INHABITANTS OF THE
HE magnificence of Nature shines forth in all
her works. Could that all-powerful hand which weighed the foundations of the universe, which suspended from the lamp of heaven millions of luminous globes, which gave them the first-impulse, and which created planets like those which we inhabit, find obstacles to prevent it from peopling these orbs, as it has peopled ours? с 4