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we understand so much of astronomy as we do. That a being confined to the surface of one of the planets, bearing a less proportion to it than the smallest microscopic insect does to the plant it lives upon; that this little, busy, inquisitive creature, by the use of senses which were given to it for its domestic necessities, and by means of the assistance of those senses which it has the art to procure, should be enabled to observe the whole system of worlds to which its own belongs; the changes of place of the immense globes which compose it; and with such accuracy, as to mark out beforehand the situation in the heavens in which they will be found at any future point of time; and that these bodies, after sailing through regions of void and trackless space, should arrive at the place where they were expected, not within a minute, but within a few seconds of a minute, of the time prefixed and predicted all this is wonderful, whether we refer our admiration to the constancy of the heavenly motions themselves, or to the perspicacity and precision with which they have been noticed by mankind. Nor is this the whole, nor indeed the chief part, of what astronomy teaches. By bringing reason to bear upon observation (the acutest reasoning upon the exactest observation), the astronomer has been able, out of the "mystic dance," and the confusion (for such it is) under which the motions of the heavenly bodies present themselves to the eye of a mere gazer upon the skies, to elicit their order and their real paths.
Our knowledge, therefore, of astronomy is admirable, though imperfect; and, amidst the confessed desiderata and desideranda, which impede our investigation of the wisdom of the Deity in these the grandest of his works, there are to be found in the phenomena ascertained circumstances and laws, sufficient to indicate an intellectual agency in three of its principal operations, viz. in choosing, in determining, in regulating; in choosing, out of a bound
less variety of suppositions which were equally possible, that which is beneficial; in determining what, left to itself, had a thousand chances against conveniency for one in its favour; in regulating subjects, as to quantity and degree, which, by their nature, were unlimited with respect to either.'-Natural Theology, p. 380, ed. 12.
Our limits preclude us from following this excellent reasoner through the arguments he adduces to establish these propositions; and we shall therefore only remark, that it would be easy to shew that the following demonstrated facts include the whole.The planets all move round the Sun, or, more strictly speaking, round the centre of the system, in the same direction; though, in this respect, a vast variety was equally possible. They all move in nearly circular orbits; and this fact embraces three circumstances; the particular law of gravity, the first projectile direction, and the projectile velocity; each of which was subject to an infinite number of modifications different from that adopted, and any one of which would have caused the orbit to which it applied to have been different from what it really is. And they all move nearly in the same plane, notwithstanding all that diversity that might equally have taken place in this respect also.
Notwithstanding these, however, and a thousand other cogent arguments that might be urged in favour of creative intelligence, it is still to be lamented that there have been, and perhaps still are, men who are so absorbed in the contemplation of second causes, as to overlook the FIRST and efficient Agent in the formation of this inconceivable assemblage of wonders; by supposing that the same powers which now govern the material universe were at first capable of calling it into existence. But the inadequacy of these will immediately appear, if we consider that each of these immense bodies must either have been formed at its exact distance from their common cen
tre of motion, or carried thither prior to receiving its projectile velocity. On the efficiency of these powers to produce the first of these effects, we apprehend the most strenuous advocates for mechanical agency will not insist; and with respect to the last, the reasoning of an eminent mathematician and philosopher will, therefore, not be unacceptable to our readers.
"If we suppose the matter of the system to be accumulated in the centre by its gravity, no mechanical principles, with the assistance of this power of gravity, could separate the vast mass into such parts as the Sun and planets; and, after carrying them to their respective distances, project them in their several directions, preserving still the quality of action and reaction, or the state of the centre of gravity of the system. Such an excellent structure of things could only arise from the contrivance and powerful influences of an intelligent, free, and most potent agent. The same powers, therefore, which at present govern the material universe, and conduct its various motions, are very different from those which were necessary to have produced it from nothing, or to have disposed it in the admirable form in which it now proceeds.'-Maclaurin's Account of Newton's Philosophy.
Who then, that studies these magnificent works of creation with a simple, unprejudiced, and unperverted mind, but will frequently be inclined to exclaim, with the enraptured YOUNG,
Who turns his eye on Nature's midnight face,
Or to join with THOMSON, in adoring that Being who formed them all by the breath of his mouth ;'
though without participating in the Stoical or Platonic sentiment his exquisite lines express:
Hail! source of being! universal soul
The Naturalist's Diary.
The cherished fields
Put on their winter robe of purest white:
WINTER, to an inattentive eye, presents nothing, as it were, but the creation in distress: the orchards are stripped of their golden fruit; and harmony is extinct in the groves, now bending with the snow, ⚫ their beauty withered and their verdure lost.' Yet, when we explore these dreary scenes, the mind is amply gratified in the contemplation of the various phenomena peculiar to this inclement season. Winter, ushered into existence by the howling of storms and the rushing of torrents, manifests, not less than the more pleasing seasons of the year, the wisdom and goodness of the great Creator.
At this time, indeed, scenes are presented to the view, which, were they less frequent, must strike with wonder and admiration the most incurious spectator. The solid crystal of our ponds and small rivers, the beauties communicated to every tree and bush on a clear morning succeeding a night of hoar frost, and the lustre of a field of snow, just glazed over with a frosty incrustation, are all pleasing objects to the attentive observer of Nature in all her varied forms of beauty. But, when their utility is considered, emotions of delight give place to those of gratitude to the Divine Arbiter of the seasons.
The great use of snow is to furnish a covering to the roots of vegetables, by which they are guarded from the influence of the atmospherical cold, and the internal heat of the earth is prevented from escaping. The internal parts of the earth are heated uniformly to the 48th degree of Fahrenheit's thermometer. This degree of heat is greater than that in which the watery juices of vegetables freeze, and it is propagated from the inward parts of the earth to the surface, on which the vegetables grow. The atmosphere being variably heated by the action of the sun in different climates, and, in the same climate, at different seasons, communicates to the surface of the earth, and to some distance below it, the degree of heat or cold which prevails in itself. Different vegetables are able to preserve life under different degrees of cold, but all of them perish, when the cold which reaches their roots is extreme1. Providence has, therefore, in the coldest climates, provided a covering of snow for the roots of vegetables, by which they are protected from the influence of the atmospherical cold, and the internal heat of the earth is preserved. This is most strikingly exemplified in the following brief calendar of a Lapland year :—
June 23. Snow melts.
1. Snow gone.
9. Fields quite green.
10. Plants shed their seeds.
From this time to the 23d of June, snow and ice resume their dominion; the plants, from the coming
the hep a
▪ The winter aconite, liverworts of various kinds, tica nobilis, a species of narcissus, black hellebore, and the terrestrial mosses, only flourish, become impregnated, and fructify, amid the rigours of winter.