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Here pause, and wonder !--then reflect again. Almighty wisdom nothing makes in vain : The smallest fly, the meanest weed we find,
From its creation had some use assign'd,
since they alone are the causes of these divisions; so that, God made the stars also, serves indeed to remind us of his being the Creator of all things, but can never imply, that the whole Universe was created, or disposed of in its present order at that time.
That there are frequent changes, and perhaps new creations amongst the celestial bodies, is more than probable, from the disappearing of several stars, and the new appearance of others, which have been observed in different parts of the heavens, almost in every age; and if we may have leave to guess, were old worlds destroyed in some places, and new ones created in others.
Since then this orb (with all the planets of our system)was created much later than many of the other heavenly bodies, we have no reason to believe that the rest shall partake of all the revolutions it must undergo. Whatever sball become of it, (for that it must change its present appearance, the very nature of things does clearly evince) the rest will still roll on in their appointed courses, till the same God, in his allotted time, shall make them also undergo changes appointed for them.
Essential to its Being, still the same,
And can those everlasting founts of light,
Consult with Reason. Reason will reply,
*Each lucid point which glows in yonder sky,
* That each fixed star we see is a sun, round which a set of planets take their regular courses, and are from thence enlighten'd, as those of our system are by our sun, is an opinion now so generally agreed to by the learned world, that it is almost needless to endeavour its defence. They shine by their own light 'tis certain : since 'tis not possible the light of the sun should be sent to them, and transmitted again to us. For the sun's rays would be so dissipated, before they reached such remote objects, that the best eyes in the world could not thereby discover them. We see, for all his bulk, how faintly saturn shines in respect of the fixed stars; and yet his distance from the sun is almost nothing compared with that of the nearest of them. Their distance is so immense, that the best telescopes shew them but as mere points, instead of mag.
Informs a system in the boundless space,
And fills, with glory, its appointed place :
nifying them, as they do'any objects within a measurable distance, how great soever. Mr. HUYGENS computes, that the sun's distance from the earth, to the distance of the nearest fixed star, is as one to twenty-seven thousand six hundred and sixty four: according to which, the nearest fixed star is distant from us, at least, two billions, four hundred and four thousand five hundred and twenty millions, nine hun. dred and twenty-eight thousand miles. A cannon ball would spend almost seven hundred thousand years in passing through this space, even with the same velocity it goes from the cannon's mouth.
Thirty years ago, the opinion of astronomers, respecting the distance from the earth to the nearest fixed star, was as above stated. But improvements in telescopes, since that time, bave given us Nearer and better views of the heavenly bodies, and enable us to conclude that the distance from the earth to the nearest fixed star is not less than seven billions, six hundred thousand millions of miles.
If we would conceive a more familiar idea of this vast distance, we may compare it with the velocity of some known moving body: such as a ray of light, for ipstance, which flies at the amazing
Heed well this orb, where fate has fix'd thy lot: Seest Thou one useless or one empty spot??'s À Observe, the air, the waters, and the earth, i li
Each moment gives ten thousand creatures birth. . A
swiftness of eleven millions, eight hundred and fifty thousand miles: in a minute of time ;--yet, even with this velocity, it would take nearly a year and a quarter in coming from the nearest fixed star hither. Compare it with the velocity of a ball issuing from the mouth of a cannon, at the rate of twenty miles in a minute, it's would be more than seven hundred thousand years in its flight from hence thither. -Compare it, also, with the velocity of sound, which flies at the rate of twelve miles and half in a minute, and we shall find it would take one million; one hundred and fifty-six thousand years in passing from hence thither.
In the calculations which lead to these results, regard has been had only to the nearest fixed star we perceive : but some there are whose vast distances are such, that the celebrated HUYGENSdeemed it not impossible that their light had not yet reached the earth since their creation.
Then, since the fixed stars are at such immense distances, and shine by their own light, 'tis plain they must be bodies like our sun in size and glory. Nor are they all placed in one concave surface of the same sphere, and equally distant from us; but
Here, ev'ry place, so far from lying waste,
Nor can those other worlds, unknown by thee,
Less stor’d with creatures, or with beauty, be.
For God is uniform in all his ways,
And every where his boundless pow'r displays :
His goodness fills immensurable space,-
Is not restrain’d by time, or limited to place :
spread every where through the indefinite expanse, and as far from one another as this sun of our's is from the nearest of them. Were we removed from the sun as we are from the fixed stars, the sun and stars would seem alike: Our planets would not be seen at all, their light being much too weak to affect us at such a distance, and all their orbits would be united in one single point. Hence a spectator who is near any one sun, will only look upon that as a real sun, and the rest but as so many glittering stars fixed in his own heaven or firmament.
By the eye, unassisted with glasses, the greatest number of stars we can see at one view, is no more than about five hundred; hence, in both hemispheres, the number would not far exceed a thousand :--but by the help of telescopes, a far greater number