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poses, and that he is worthy of our highest affection, and our incessant adoration.
2. Astronomy displays before us the extent and grandeur of God's universal empire. The globe we inhabit, with all its appendages, forms a portion of the Divine empire, and, when minutely investi gated, exhibits a striking display of its Creator's power, benignity, and intelligence. But it forms only one small province of his universal dominions-an almost undistinguishable speck in the great map of the universe: and if we confine our views solely to the limits of this terrestrial ball, and the events which have taken place on its surface, we must form a very mean and circumscribed idea of the extent of the Creator's kingdom and the range of his moral government. But the discoveries of astronomy have extended our views to other provinces of the empire of Omnipotence, far more spacious and magnificent. They demonstrate, that this earth, with all its vast oceans and mighty continents, and numerous population, ranks among the smaller provinces of this empire--that the globes composing the system to which it belongs, (without including the sun,) contain an extent of territory more than two thousand times larger than our world-that the sun himself is more than 500 times larger than the whole, and that, although they were all at this moment buried in oblivion, they would scarcely be missed by an eye that could survey the whole range of creation.-They demonstrate, that ten thousands of suns, and ten thousand times ten thousands of revolving worlds are dispersed throughout every region of boundlèss space, displaying the creating and supporting energies of Omnipotence; and consequently, are all under the care and superintendence of Him "who doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." Such an empire, and such only, appears corresponding to the perfections of Him who has existed from eternity past, whose power is irresistible, whose goodness is unbounded, and whose presence fills the immensity of space; and it leads us to entertain the most exalted sentiments of admiration at the infinite intelligence implied in the superintendence of such vast dominions, and at the boundless beneficence displayed among the countless myriads of sensitive and intellectual beings which must people his wide domains.
3. The objects which this science discloses, afford subjects of sublime contemplation, and tend to elevate the soul above vicious passions and grovelling pursuits. In the hours of retirement and solitude what can be more delightful, than to wing our way in imagination amidst the splendid objects which the firmament displays-to take our flight along with the planets in their wide career-to behold them running their ample rounds with velocities forty times swifter than a cannon ball-to survey the assemblages of their moons, revolving around them in their respective orders, and carried at the same time, along with their primaries, through the depths of space -to contemplate the magnificent arches which adorn the firmament cf Saturn, whirling round that planet at the rate of a thousand miles in a minute, and displaying their radiance and majestic movements to an admiring population—to add scene to scene, and magnitude to magnitude, till the mind acquire an ample conception of such
august objects to dive into the depths of infinite space till we be surrounded with myriads of suns and systems of worlds, extending beyond the range of mortal comprehension, and all running their appointed rounds, and accomplishing the designs of beneficence in obedience to the mandate of their Almighty Author? Such objects afford matter for rational conversation, and for the most elevated contemplation. In this ample field the most luxuriant imagination may range at large, representing scenes and objects in endless variety and extent; and, after its boldest excursions, it can scarcely go beyond the reality of the magnificent objects which exist within the range of creating power and intelligence.
The frequent contemplation of such objects tends to enlarge the capacity of the mind, to ennoble the human faculties, and raise the soul above grovelling affections and vicious pursuits. For the dispositions of mankind and their active pursuits generally correspond to the train of thought in which they most frequently indulge. If these thoughts run among puerile and vicious objects, such will be the general character of their affections and conduct. If their train of thinking take a more elevated range, the train of their actions, and the passions they display, will, in some measure, be correspondent.
Can we suppose, that a man whose mind is daily conversant with the noble and expansive objects to which I have adverted, would have his soul absorbed in the pursuits of ambition, tyranny, oppression, war, and devastation?
Would he rush like a madman through burning cities, and mangled carcasses of the slain, in order to trample under foot the rights of mankind, and enjoy a proud pre-eminence over his fellows-and find pleasure in such accursed pursuits?
Would he fawn on statesmen and princes, and violate every moral principle, in order to obtain a pension, or a post of opulence or honour? Would he drag his fellow-men to the stake, because they worshipped God according to the dictates of their consciences, and behold with pleasure their bodies roasting in the flames?
Would he drive men, women, and children from their homes, loaded with chains and fetters, to pine in misery and to perish in a distant land, merely because they asserted the rights to which they were entitled as citizens and as rational beings?
Or, would he degrade himself below the level of the brutes by a daily indulgence in rioting and drunkenness, till his faculties were benumbed, and his body found wallowing in the mire?
It is scarcely possible to suppose that such passions and conduct would be displayed by the man who is habitually engaged in celestial contemplations, and whose mind is familiar with the august objects which the firmament displays. "If men were taught to act in view of all the bright worlds which are looking down upon them, they could not be guilty of those abominable cruelties" which some scenes so mournfully display. We should then expect, that the iron rod of oppression would be broken in pieces-that war would cease its horrors and devastations-that liberty would be
proclaimed to the captives-that "righteousness would run down our streets as a river," and a spirit congenial to that of the inhabitants of heaven would be displayed by the rulers of nations, and by all the families of the earth. For all the scenes which the firmament exhibits have a tendency to inspire tranquillity—to produce a love of harmony and order, to stain the pride of human grandeurto display the riches of Divine beneficence-to excite admiration and reverence-and to raise the soul to God as the Supreme Director of universal nature, and the source and centre of all true enjoyment; and such sentiments and affections are directly opposed to the degrading pursuits and passions which have contaminated the society of our world, and entailed misery on our species.
I might have added, on this head, that the study of this subject has a peculiar tendency to sharpen and invigorate the mental faculties. It requires a considerable share of attention and of intellectual acumen to enter into all the particulars connected with the principles and facts of astronomical science. The elliptical form of the planetary orbits, and the anomalies thence arising, the mutation of the earth's axis, the causes of the seasons, the difficulty of reconciling the apparent motions of the planets with their real inotions in circular or elliptical orbits, the effects produced by centrifugal and centripetal forces, the precession of the equinoxes, the aberration of light, the method of determining the distances and magnitudes of the celestial bodies, mean and apparent time, the irregularity of the moon's motion, the difficulty of forming adequate ideas of the immense spaces in which the heavenly bodies move, and their enormous size, and various other particulars, are apt, at first view, to startle and embarrass the mind, as if they were beyond the reach of its comprehension. But, when this science is imparted to the young under the guidance of enlightened instructors-when they are shown not merely pictures, globes and orreries, but directed to observe with their own eyes, and with the assistance of telescopes, all the interesting phenomena of the heavens, and the motions which appear, whether real or apparent-when they are shown the spots of the sun, the moons and belts of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, the rings of Saturn, and the mountains and vales which diversify the surface of the moon-such objects tend to awaken the attention, to expand the faculties, to produce a taste for rational investigation, and to excite them to more eager and diligent inquiries into the subject. The objects appear so grand and novel, and strike the senses with so much force and pleasure, that the mind is irresistibly led to exert all its energies in those investigations and observations by which it may be enabled to grasp all the principles and facts of the science. And every difficulty which is surmounted adds a new stimulus to the exertions of the intellect, urges it forward with delight in the path of improvement, and thus invigorates the mental powers, and prepares them for engaging with spirit and alacrity in every other investigation.
4. The study of astronomy has a tendency to moderate the pride of man, and to promote humility. Pride is one of the distinguishing characteristics of puny man, and has been one of the chief causes of all the contentions, wars, devastations, oppressions, systems of
slavery, despotisms, and ambitious projects which have desolated and demoralized our sinful world. Yet there is no disposition more incongruous to the character and circumstances of man. Perhaps there are no rational beings throughout the universe among whom pride would appear more unseemly or incompatible than in man; considering the abject situation in which he is placed. He is exposed to innumerable degradations and calamities, to the rage of storms and tempests, the devastations of earthquakes and volcanoes, the fury of whirlwinds, and the tempestuous billows of the ocean, the ravages of the sword, pestilence, famine, and numerous dis eases, and, at length, he must sink into the grave, and his body be come the companion of worms. The most dignified and haughty of the sons of men are liable to such degradations, and are frequently dependent on the meanest fellow creatures whom they despise, for the greater part of their accommodations and comforts. Yet, in such circumstances, man, that puny worm of the dust, whose knowledge is so limited, whose follies are so numerous and glaring -has the effrontery to strut in all the haughtiness of pride, and to glory in his shame. When scriptural arguments and motives produce little effect, I know no considerations which have a more powerful tendency to counteract this deplorable propensity of human beings than those which are borrowed from the objects connected with astronomy. They show us what an insignificant being-what a mere atom, indeed, man appears amidst the immensity of creation. What is the whole of this globe, compared with the solar system, which contains a mass of matter ten hundred thousand times greater? What is it in comparison of the hundred millions of suns and worlds which the telescope has descried throughout the starry regions, or of that infinity of worlds which doubtless lie beyond the range of human vision in the unexplored regions of immensity? What, then, is a kingdom, or a province, or a baronial territory, of which we are as proud as if we were the lords of the universe, and for which we engage in so much devastation and carnage! What are they when set in competition with the glories of the sky! Could we take our station on the lofty pinnacles of heaven, and look down on this scarcely distinguishable speck of earth, we should be ready to exclaim with Seneca, "Is it to this little spot that the great designs and vast desires of men are confined? Is it for this there is so much disturbance of nations, so much carnage, and so many ruinous wars? O folly of deceived men, to imagine great kingdoms in the compass of an atom, to raise armies to divide à point of earth with the sword!" It is unworthy of the dignity of an immortal mind to have its affections absorbed in the vanishing splendours of earthly grandeur, and to feel proud of the paltry possessions and distinctions of this sublunary scene. To foster a spirit of pride and vainglory in the presence of Him who "sitteth on the circle of the heavens," and in the view of the overwhelming grandeur and immensity of his works, is a species of presumption and arrogance of which every rational mind ought to feel ashamed. And, therefore, we have reason to believe, that those multitudes of fools, "dressed in a little brief authority," who walk in all the loftiness of pride, have not yet considered the rank they hold in the scale of universal
being; and that a serious contemplation of the immensity of creation would have a tendency to convince us of our ignorance and nothingness, and to humble us in the dust, in the presence of the Former and Preserver of all worlds. We have reason to believe that the most exalted beings in the universe-those who are furnished with the most capacious powers, and who have arrived at the greatest perfection in knowledge-are distinguished by a proportional share of humility; for, in proportion as they advance in their surveys of the universal kingdom of Jehovah, the more will they feel their comparative ignorance, and be convinced of their limited faculties, and of the infinity of objects and operations which lie beyond their ken. At the same time they will feel, that all the faculties they possess were derived from Him who is the original fountain of existence, and are continually dependent for their exercise on his sustaining energy. Hence we find, that the angelic tribes are eminently distinguished for the exercise of this heavenly virtue. They "cover their faces with their wings" in the presence of their Sovereign, and fly, with cheerfulness, at his command, to our degraded world, "to minister to the heirs of salvation." It is only in those worlds where ignorance and depravity prevail (if there be any such besides our own) that such a principle as pride is known or cherished in the breast of a dependent creature-and therefore every one in whom it predominates, however high his station or worldly accomplishments, or however abject his condition may be, must be considered as either ignorant or depraved, or more properly, as having both those evils existing in his constitution, the one being the natural and necessary result of the other.
5. The studies connected with astronomy tend to prepare the soul for the employments of the future world. In that world, the glory of the Divine perfections, as manifested throughout the illimitable tracts of creation, is one of the objects which unceasingly employ the contemplation of the blessed. For they are represented in their adorations as celebrating the attributes of the Deity displayed in his operations: "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! thou art worthy to receive glory and honour and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Before we can enter that world and mingle with its inhabitants, we must acquire a relish for their employments, and some acquaintance with the objects which form the subject of their sublime investigations; otherwise, we could feel no enjoyment in the society of heavenly intelligences, and the exercises in which they engage. The investigations connected with astronomy, and the frequent contemplation of its objects, have a tendency to prepare us for such celestial employments, as they awaken attention to such subjects, as they invigorate the faculties, and enlarge the capacity of the intellect, as they suggest sublime inquiries, and desires for further information which may afterwards be gratified; as they form the groundwork of the progress we may afterwards make in that state in our surveys of the Divine operations, and as they habituate the mind to take large and comprehensive views of the empire and moral government of the Almighty. Those who have made progress in such studies, under the influence of holy disposi