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HITHERTO we have only been considering this globe, which is but a speck in comparison of the immense universe. Let us now raise our thoughts to those innumerable worlds, at the sight of which, this spot that we and millions of other creatures inhabit
, will appear as nothing. Let us examine, reflect, and adore. The sun, which gives life to every thing, is almost in the centre of the system; and, without changing place, it turns round its own axis, from east to west, in twenty-seven days and twelve hours. All the planets, from Mercury Saturn, move round the sun in an oblong orbit or ellipsis. Mercury, which of all the globes is nearest to the sun, performs its revolution in nearly eightyeight days, but at so small a distance from the sun, that it is generally concealed in its rays, so as to be invisible to us. Venus describes a larger ellipsis, and finishes her course in little more than 224 days, *The earth requires a year to perform its revolution; and in this annual journey it is attended by the
Mars finishes his course in 687 days; Jupiter, with his four moons, in twelve years, or thereabouts; Saturn moves, with his five satellites, round the solar circle in the space of thirty years. And the Georgium Sidus, with his two satellites (already discovered, and it is probable he has many more) which, of all the planets known to us, is furthest from the suri, in about eighty-two years,
ens possible that remain fixed in
of the world? Do we not in the morning see it in the east, and in the evening in the west? Could the earth move round the sun
med in the centre of
-without our perceiving it? This objection, founded on the illusion of our senses, is of no weight. Do we perceive the motion of a boat in sailing upon a river? and, when we are in a boat or carriage, does it not seem as if every thing round us moved, and as if all the objects went back out of their places, though, in reality, they never move? However our senses may be deceived in this respect, our reason forces us to acknowledge the truth and wisdom of the system which supports the motion of the eartlı. Nature always acts in the shortest, easiest, and simplest ways. By the single revolution of the earth round the sun, we can account for the different appearances of the planets, their periodical motions, their situations, their direct and their retrograde motions. And is it not much more natural and easy, that the earth should turn round its axis in twenty-four hours, than that such great bodies as the sun and planets should move round the earth in that space of time? One undeniable proof of the sun, and not the earth, being in the centre of the world, is, that the motions and distances of the planets depend upon the sun, and not upon the earth.
These reflections on the system of the universe are calculated to give us the highest idea of our adorable Creator, and to make us sensible of our own insignificance.
LESSON CXXXIV..., pielt
. Greatness of God even in the smallest Things
WHOEVER loves to contemplate. the works of God, will trace him not only in those immense globes which compose the system of the universe, but also in the little worlds of insects, plants, and metals. He will acknowledge and adore Divine Wisdom as much in the spider's web, as in the power of gravitation which attracts the earth towards the sun. These researches are now the easier, as the use of microscopes discovers to us new scenes and new worlds, in which we behold, in miniature, all that can excite our admiration. Let us, in the first place, observe the mosses, and the grass, which are produced in such abundance. Of how many fine threads and little particles are those plants composed! What variety in their forms and shapes! Who could count all their sorts and kinds? Think of the multitude of little parts which any one is composed of, and into which it may be divided. If an hexagon, of the size of an inch, contains some millions of visible particles, who could calculate the parts of which a mountain must be composed ? If thousands of particles of water may be suspended on the point of a needle, how many must there be in a fountain ! how many in the rivers and seas! and if a grain of sand contains several thousands of particles of air, how many must there be in the human body! If we pass next to the animated creation, the scene will in a manner extend to infinity. In the summer-time the air swarms with living creatures. Each drop of water is a little world inhabited, and each leaf of a tree is a colony of insects. We see the vast numbers of flies, gnats, and other insects, which collect together in a very small space; what prodigious shoals must there be in proportion over the whole earth, and in the immense expanse of the atmosphere! Does not the power of the Creator strike us with astonishment, when we reflect on the multitude of parts of which these little
e creatures are composed, whose existence is scarcely known? If we could not any time prove it by experiments, should we imagine that there were animals a thousand times less than a grain of sand,
with organs of nutrition, motion, &c. There are shell-fish so small, that even through a microscope they scarcely appear so large as a grain of barley; and yet they are living animals, with very hard houses, in which there are different apartments. How extremely small is a mite, and yet this almost imperceptible atom, when seen through a microscope, is a hairy animal, perfect in all its limbs, of a regular form, full of life and sensibility, and provided with all the necessary organs. Although this animal is scarcely visible to us, it has many parts still smaller. One circumstance particularly admirable is, that the glasses which discover so many defects in the best finished works of man, show us nothing in these microscopic objects but regularity and perfection. How inconceivably fine and tenuous are the spider's threads! It has been calculated, that 36,000 of them would only make the thickness of common sewing silk. How must this strike the mind with astonishment! But could we magnify a mite to appear as large as a grain of bárley, what wonders might we not then discover? Even then we should not be able to see to the end; for the more we contemplate the works of God, the more will the miracles of his power multiply in our sight.
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Reflections on Snow.m49 perustein,
985 arada DURING winter the ground is often covered with snow: every body sees it fall, but very few take the trouble to enquire into its nature and use. Such is our inattention to objects which we have daily before us, that those things most worth attending to are
often what we least value. Let us learn to be wiser, and employ some moments in reflecting upon snow. It is formed of very light vapours, which congeal in the atmosphere, and fall again in flakes more or less thick. In our climate the snow is pretty large; but travellers assert, that in Lapland it is sometimes so small that it is like a fine dry dust. This certainly proceeds from the great cold of those countries. We observe, that the flakes are larger with us in propor. tion as the cold is more moderate, and they become smaller when it freezes hard. The little flakes of snow are generally like hexagon stars; but there are some of eight angles, others of ten, and some of an irregular shape. The best way of examining them is to receive the snow on white paper. But there has not hitherto been any satisfactory cause given for the variety of forms.
As to the whiteness of this meteor it is not difficult to explain. Snow is very thin and light, consequently it has a great many parts which are full of air. It is besides composed of parts more or less close and compact: such a substance does not admit the rays of the sun, or absorb them; on the contrary, it reflects them very strongly, which makes it appear white to us. Snow newly fallen is twenty-four times lighter than water. If twenty-four measures of snow were melted, they would produce but one of water. Snow is not frozen water, but only frozen vapours. It evaporates considerably, which the most intense cold cannot prevent. "It has been doubted whether it snowed at sea; but those who have gone voyages in the winter on
the northern seas, assure us they have had a great deal of snow there. It is known that the high mountains are never entirely free from
The air being much warmer in the plains than on heights, it may rain with us while it snows heavily on high mountains.
Snow is of use in several ways. As the winter cold is much more hurtful to vegetables than to animals, the plants would perish if they were not