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All the observations of the moderns tend to perfuade us that our moon has an atinosphere ; parts more elevated and enlightened than others; parts lower and obscurer; and others, which reflecting less light, and presenting a surface always equally smooth, are thought to be a large collection of wa
Have we not every reason then to infer, acpcording to our notions of the wisdom of God, that
he has placed there beings of some kind or other, to inhabit that planet, in order that all these phænoinena may not be entirely lost? We can never persuade ourselves that Nature, or the Supreme Architect of the world, should have made any thing in vain.
Father Kircher transported himself in idea to all the planets, and has given a description of their inhabitants according to his exalted imagination. Saturn, he says, is peopled with melancholy old men, who have pale visages and stern looks, and who, cloathed in dismal dresses, march along with a flow pace, bearing in their hands flaming torches. In Venus he observed young people, of the finest figure and most exquisite beauty, some of whom danced to the sound of harps and cymbals, whilst others scattered, in great profusion, odours and perfumes.
The superstition and enthusiasm mixed with these i leas, cannot destroy those truths which are blended, with them.
Whoever imagines that so many glorious suns, were created only to give a faint gliminering light to the inhabitants of this globe, must have a very fuperficial knowledge of astronomy, and a mean opinion of the divine Wisdom. There are many stars which are not visible without the assistance of a good telescope ; and therefore, instead of giving light to this world, they can only be seen by a few astronomers. By an infinitely less exertion of creating power, the Deity could have given our earth much more light by a single additional moon.
Fontenelle has secured himself from the objections of divines, by not placing men in the other planets, but inhabitants of a different nature. But, it was far from being necessary for him to do so. The scripture, indeed, informs us, that all mankind are descended from Adam, but this is only meant of those men who inhabit our glabe.
Other men may inhabit other planets, and may have sprung from some other father than Adam. Dare, we, who, in comparison of the universe, are mere insects, creeping over the surface of that little spot called the earth, prescribe bounds to all Nature !
With With great reason, then, do all philosophers now admit as many folar systems, more or less like ours, as there are fixed stars. Even those minds, which are the least tinctured with philosophy, begin to be fatniliarized with this idea of millions of worlds; which, in fome meafure, may be ascribed to the elegant work of Fontenelle on this fubject.
CH A P. XIX.
CHE CELESTIAL BODIES PROVE THAT THERİ
IS A G.D.
HO that lifts up his eyes to the heavens, and
beholds the wonders of the firmament, can entertain the least doubt of the existence of a Supreme Being?
" There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” To imagine such effects without a cause, or to ascribe them to a cause less than divine, is bidding defiance to the faculty of intelligence, and renouncing the character of a rational being. The reasonings of an ancient philosopher on this point are excellent.
“ Let us suppose,
says he, “ certain persons to have been born, and to have lived in subterraneous habitations, till they came to the years of maturity and discretion, and then to be introduced into this fair world, which we inhabit. Let them be imagined to behold the face of the earth, diversified with hills and vales, with rivers and woods ; the wide extended ocean, the lofty sky, and the clouds carried along by the winds. Let them behold the sun, and observe his transcendent brightness, and wonderful influence, as he pours down the flood of day, over the whole earth, from east to west. And when night covered the world with darkness, let them behold the hemisphere, befpangled and adorned with innumerable stars. Let them observe the various appearances of the moon, in her increase and decrease. Let them have leisure to mark the rising and setting of the celestial luminaries, and to understand that their established courses have been going on from age to age. When, fays he, they had surveyed and confidered all these things, they would infallibly conclude, that they were the workmanship of a Being, poffeffed of all those perfections, which are generally ascribed to the great Creator."
The heavenly bodies speak intelligibly to all mankind. There is no people fo uncivilized, no nation fo barbarous, which may not receive both
conviction and instruction from them. So wonderful and grand a scene must certainly strike even the rudest minds, and produce awful impressions, as well as devout acknowledgments.
c H A P.
ON THE DIVINE WISDOM, DISPLAYED IN THE
CHAT skill less than divine could have poised
the stars with inexpressible nicety, and meted out the heavens with a span? where all is grand, and vast, and various, but yet most exact. All the spheres proceed in eternal harmony ; keeping such time, and observing such laws, as are most exquisitely adapted to the perfection of the whole.
Surely the wisdom of the Deity manifests itself in the heavenly bodies, and shines on the contemplative mind with a lustre incomparably brighter than that, which their united splendors transmit to