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tions, may be considered as fitted to enter heaven with peculiar advantages, as they will then be introduced to employments and investigations to which they were formerly accustomed, and for which they were prepared-in consequence of which they may be prepared for filling stations of superior eminence in that world, and for directing the views and investigations of their brethren who enjoyed few opportunities of instruction and improvement in the present state. For we are informed, in the sacred records, that "they who are wise," or as the words should be rendered, "they who excel in wisdom shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."
6. The researches of astronomy demonstrate, that it is in the power of the Creator to open to his intelligent offspring endless sources of felicity. In looking forward to the scene of our future destination, we behold a series of ages rising in succession without any prospect of a termination; and, at first view, it might admit of a doubt, whether the universe presents a scene so diversified and boundless, that intelligent beings, during an endless duration, could expect that new scenes of glory and felicity might be continually opening to their view, or, whether the same series of perceptions and enjoyments might not be reiterated so as to produce satiety and indifference. Without attempting positively to decide on the particular scenes or sources of happiness that may be opened in the eternal world, it may be admitted, that the Deity has it in his power to gratify his rational creatures, during every period of duration, with new objects and new sources of enjoyment; and, that it is the science of astronomy alone which has presented us with a demonstration, and a full illustration of this important truth. For, it has displayed before us a universe boundless in its extent, diversified as to its objects, and infinite as to their number and variety. Even within the limits of human vision the number of worlds which exist cannot be reckoned less than three thousand millions; and those which are nearest to us, and subject to our particular examination, present varieties of different kinds, both as to magnitude, motion, splendour, colour and diversity of surface-evidently indicating, that every world has its peculiar scenes of beauty and grandeur. But, as no one will be so presumptuous as to assert, that the boundaries of the universe terminate at the limits of human vision, there may be an assemblage of creation beyond all that is visible to us, which as far exceeds the visible system as the vast ocean exceeds in magnitude a single drop of water; and this view is nothing more than compatible with the idea of a Being whose creating energies are infinite, and whose presence fills immensity. Here, then, we have presented to our contemplation a boundless scene, corresponding in variety, and extent of space, to the ages of an endless duration; so that we can conceive an immortal mind expatiating amidst objects of benignity, sublimity and grandeur, ever varied and ever new, throughout an eternal round of existence, without ever arriving at a point, where it might be said, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther." And we have reason to conclude that such will be the privilege and enjoyment of all holy beings. For we are informed on the authority of inspiration, that "in God's presence
there is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for ever
7. The science of astronomy is a study which will be prosecuted without intermission in the eternal world. This may be inferred from what has been already stated. For, it is chiefly among the numerous worlds dispersed throughout the universe that God is seen, his perfections manifested, and the plans of his moral government displayed before the eyes of unnumbered intelligences. The heavens constitute by far the grandest and most extensive portion of the empire of Omnipotence; and if it shall be one part of the happiness of immortal spirits to behold and investigate the beauty, grandeur and beneficence displayed throughout this empire, we may rest assured, that they will be perpetually employed in such exercises; since the objects of their investigation are boundless as immensity; or, in other words, astronomy, among other branches of celestial science, will be their unceasing study and pursuit. As it has for its object, to investigate the motions, relations, phenomena, scenery, and the ultimate destination of the great bodies of the universe, the subject can never be exhausted. Whatever may be said in regard to the absolute perfection of other sciences, astronomy can never be said, at any future period of duration, to have arrived at perfection, in so far as it is a subject of study to finite minds; and, at this moment, even in the view of the Infinite Mind that created the universe, its objects may not yet be completed. For we have reason to believe that the work of creation is still going forward, and, consequently, that new worlds and systems may be continually emerging from nothing under the energies of Creating Power. However capacious, therefore, the intellects of good men, in a future world, may be, they will never be able fully to explore the extent and variety, "the riches and glory" of Him "who dwells in light unapproachable;"-yea, the most exalted of created intelligences, whereever existing, although their mental powers and activities were incomparably superior to those of man, will be inadequate to a full investigation and comprehension of the grandeur and sublimities of that kingdom which extends throughout the regions of immensity. And this circumstance will constitute one ingredient of their happiness, and a security for its permanency. For, at every period of infinite duration, they will be enabled to look forward to a succession of scenes, objects and enjoyments different from all they had previously contemplated or experienced, without any prospect of a termination. We may therefore conclude, that, unless the material universe be demolished, and the activities of immortal minds suspended, the objects of astronomy will continue throughout eternity to be the subject of study, and of unceasing contemplation.
Such are some of the advantages attending the study of the science of astronomy. It lies at the foundation of our geographical knowledge-it serves as a handmaid and director to the traveller and navigator--it is subservient to the purposes of universal commerce it determines the seasons, and directs the operations of the husbandman—it supplies us with an equable standard of time, and settles the events of history-it lends its aid to the propagation of religion, and undermines the foundation of superstition and astrology.
Above all, it illustrates the glory of the perfections of the Deity-displays the extent and grandeur of his universal empire-affords subjects of sublime contemplation, enlarges the conceptions, and invigorates the mental powers-counteracts the influence of pride, and promotes the exercise of humility—prepares the soul for the employments of the future world-and demonstrates, that the Creator has it in his power to open up endlessly diversified sources of happiness to every order of his intelligent offspring, throughout all the revolutions of eternity. The moral advantages arising from the study of this science, however, cannot be appreciated or enjoyed, unless such studies and investigations be prosecuted in connexion with the facts and principles of Revelation. But, when associated with the study of the Scriptures, and the character of God therein delineated, and the practice of Christian precepts, they are calculated to make the man God perfect," to enlarge his conceptions of Divine perfection, and to expand his views of "the inheritance of the saints in light."
Such being the advantages to be derived from the study of this science, it ought to form a subject of attention in every seminary intended for the mental and moral improvement of mankind. In order to the improvement of the young in this science, and that its objects may make a deep impression on their minds, they should be directed to make frequent observations, as opportunity offers, on the movements of the nocturnal heavens, and to ascertain all the facts which are obvious to the eye of an attentive spectator. And, while they mark the different constellations, the apparent diurnal motion of the celestial vault, the planets in their several courses, and the moon walking in her brightness among the host of starsthey should be indulged with views of the rings of Saturn, the belts and satellites of Jupiter, the phases of Mercury and Venus, the numerous groups of stars in the Milky Way, the double and treble stars, the most remarkable Nebula, the mountains and plains, the caverns and circular ridges of hills which diversify the surface of the moon, as they appear through good achromatic or reflecting telescopes. Without actual observation, and the exhibition of such interesting objects, the science of astronomy makes, comparatively, little impression on the mind. Our school books on astronomy should be popular in their language and illustrations, but, at the same time, they should be comprehensive in their details, and every exhibition should be clear and well defined. They should contain, not merely descriptions of facts, to be received on the authority of the author or the instructer, but illustrations of the reasons or argu ments on which the conclusions of astronomy are founded, and of the modes by which they have been ascertained. And, while planetariums, celestial globes, and planispheres of the heavens are exhibited, care should be taken to direct the observations of the pupils as frequently as possible, to the objects themselves, and to guard them against the limited and distorted notions which all kinds of artificial representations have a tendency to convey.
There is still room for improvement in all the initiatory books on this subject I have examined; but such books are now rapidly improving, both as to their general plan, and the interesting nature
of their details. I have seen nothing superior in this respect, or better adapted to the purpose of rational instruction, than Mr. Burrett's excellent work entitled "The Geography of the Heavens," second edition, comprising 342 closely printed pages. It contains, in the first place, a full and interesting description of all the constellations, and principal stars in the heavens, interspersed with a great variety of mythological, historical and philosophical information, calculated to amuse and instruct the general reader, and to arrest the attention of the young. The descriptions of the bodies connected with the solar system, are both popular and scientific, containing a lucid exhibition of the facts which have been ascertained respecting them, and a rational explanation of the phenomena connected with their various aspects and motions. The Celestial Atlas which accompanies the work is varied, comprehensive, and judiciously constructed, and forms the most complete set of planispheres, for the purpose of teaching, which has hitherto been published. It consists of four maps about fourteen inches square, delineated on the same principles as geographical projections, exhibiting the stars that pass near the meridian at a certain hour, along with the circumjacent constellations for every month, and for every day of the year. Besides these there are two circumpolar maps of the northern and southern hemispheres of the heavens, and a planisphere on the principle of Mercator's projection, which exhibits at one view the sphere of the heavens, and the relative positions of the different constellations and principal stars. With the assistance of these maps, which in a great measure supersede the use of a cclestial globe, an intelligent teacher may, at certain intervals in the course of a year, render his pupils familiar with most of the visible stars in the heavens; and they will make a deeper impression on their minds when taught in this way, than by the use of a globe. This work, on the whole, indicates great industry and research on the part of the author, and a familiar acquaintance with the various departments of the science of the heavens. He has derived his materials from the most valuable and modern works of science, and has introduced not a few illustrations and calculations of his own, which tend to enhance the general utility of the work. The moral and religious reflections which the objects of this science naturally suggest, have not been overlooked, and, I trust, will have a tendency to raise the minds of the young to that Almighty Being whose power, wisdom, and superintending providence are so strikingly displayed throughout the regions of the firmament.
In entering upon this study, the phenomena of the heavens, as they appear in a clear evening, are the first objects that demand our attention. Our first step is to learn the names and positions of the heavenly bodies, so that we can identify, and distinguish them from each other.
In this manner, they were observed and studied ages before books were written, and it was only after many, careful and repeated observations, that systems and theories of Astronomy were formed. To the visible heavens, then, the attention of the pupil should be first directed, for it is only when he shall have become in some measure, familiar with them, that he will be able to locate his Astronomical knowledge, or fully comprehend the terms of the science.
For the sake of convenient reference, the heavens were early divided into constellations, and particular names assigned to the constellations and to the stars which they contain. A constellation may be defined to be a cluster or group of stars embraced in the outline of some figure. These figures are in many cases, creations of the imagination, but in others, the stars are in reality so arranged as to form figures which have some resemblance to the objects whose names have been assigned to them.
These divisions of the celestial sphere, bear a striking analogy to the civil divisions of the globe. The constellations answer to states and kingdoms, the most brilliant clusters to towns and cities, and the number of stars in each, to their respective population. The pupil can trace the boundaries of any constellation, and name all its stars, one by one, as readily as he can trace the boundaries of a state, or name the towns and cities from a map of New England. In this sense, there may be truly said to be a Geography of the Heavens.
The stars are considered as forming, with reference to their magnitudes, six classes; the brightest being called stars of the first magnitude, the next brightest, stars of the second magnitude, and so on to the sixth class, which consists of the smallest stars visible to the naked eye. In order to be able
Why, in entering upon the study of Astronomy, should the attention of the pupil be first directed to the visible heavens? Why were the heavens early divided into constellations, and names assigned to the constellations and the stars? What is a constellation? Do these figures really exist in the skies? In what sense may there truly be said to be a Geography of the Heavens? How many classes are the stars considered as forming with reference to their magnitude.