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the barren solitude of the stars which pave Heaven's floor. Shall man arrogate to himself the lordship of the universe, when he finds the distance from the nearest of self-luminous bodies to his own to be all but immeasurable, and perfectly inconceivable? What, was it for me that all the dusted tract of the Milky Way has for ages and ages (if it be yet in existence) poured forth floods of light which is at my distance too feeble to be well perceptible? But perhaps it has ceased, long myriads ago, to exist at all. Supposing it to have done so, it is quite certain that I have no means of knowing it. Not even light itself could be a messenger speedy enough to announce it. Shall I imagine that the hazy fleeces of light, which, till a year or two ago, no telescope had revealed even thus imperfectly, exist but to puzzle my curiosity? Foolish thought! Is it not certain that there are millions of stars in the vaults of space which even the telescope of Lord Rosse will never reveal to me? even as there are multitudes of beasts and plants and monsters which earth and ocean hold beyond my ken below. Is it not possible that worlds have come into being, and have long ceased to be, of which no ray has yet brought intelligence to so remote a corner of space? And shall I imagine that these things exist for me?

We think that such a strain of thought cannot but be obvious to a very common-place thinker. No doubt it will assume different guises in different minds. Perhaps many people have never given it expression or shape, even to so slender an extent. Probably, not a few have developed it far beyond these meagre limits. But there is no doubt that it is immensely enhanced by probabilities of a religious character. It is true that religious thought has also its objections to offer, and its difficulties to suggest. It is certain that a religious frame of mind will rather prefer to stop short of, than to exceed the limits of reverent speculation. But without transgressing these limits, and deferring awhile the discussion of the difficulties which the insignificance of our world is supposed to occasion to pious minds, we may remark, that a vast deal of religious difficulty may find a possible mitigation in the theory to which our hypothetical astronomer cannot fail to have been conducted by such reflections as we have supposed him to indulge, although he may not have ventured to express it. The theory that the population of our globe forms but a mere speck in the intelligent and spiritual Life of the Universe of God, even as they and their abode constitute a mere atom in dimensions, suggests very obvious consolations to a mind overpowered and depressed by the sad aspect of things immediately around it. We do not remember to have seen it suggested in mitigation of the existence of evil, except in a small and ephemeral tract on 'Future Punishment,' which

appeared a few years ago at Cambridge. But the germ of the thought itself is contained in Butler's Works. And we know that the thought itself, that there are other nobler and purer worlds, which are free from taint and misery, has brought solace to minds which might else have staggered at the contemplation of the woe, past, present, and future, which this world holds out to view. This, for aught we know, may be the one stage and battle-field in the universe whereon the contest of right and wrong must be fought out. There may, as Bishop Butler tells us, be some à priori necessity in the very nature of things which renders the existence of evil necessary. That the great battle should be fought, that there should be somewhere exhibited a grand drama of probation, may be the sole condition of the ultimate glory and welfare of the vast majority. What if this small earth be the scene?

We desire to speak with all reverence on a very awful subject, about which God has left us in ignorance, and about which wisdom (if attainable) would perhaps be folly. But surely we shall not offend the most devout and humble mind, by stating the possibilities which have suggested themselves to patient thought, a-weary of a sinful world. Far be it from us to speculate too curiously, far less to utter dogmata on a theme whereon we are confessedly-and not, perhaps, deplorably-ignorant. But to us the perplexity which too dominant evil and pain force upon every thoughtful mind, seems so readily mitigated by the idea that there may be, rather than the belief that there are, multitudes of worlds where no such miseries have place, that we cannot but suffer it to bias the opinion, and to suggest the belief. That this world should be so trifling in magnitude and importance, compared with the countless orbs which throng throughout all space, seems, under such an aspect of things, only to suggest thoughts of grateful adoration. Here only, it may be, within these confined limits, may evil now abound. Here only may that painful sight be witnessed, of wrong and mischief apparently triumphant. And even here we know that fearful victory is but apparent. For here-here only has an incarnate and suffering God deigned to wage the war, and vanquish the giant foe; exhibiting to all creation, by the spectacle of such a contest on such an unimportant world, the awful power and malignity of sin.

But here we pause. Reverence for sacred things, and a vivid sense of the incomparable superiority of revealed truth to speculative possibility, forbids our carrying theory further. Let us leave religious guess-work to the Millenarian.

But we must remark that thus far it would appear we might have been legitimately conducted, even if the existence of other

spheres and systems had been as hypothetical as is their use. Had there been no such science as Astronomy, pious thought might have engendered the wish, the hope, the opinion, that there might be other worlds. When to these possibilities-to say no more-are added the generalisations and analogies of physical science, opinion is strengthened until it becomes, if not belief, yet an impression of no ordinary strength, that the highest of God's known creations, intelligent spiritual natures, find their counterpart, or are far transcended in the inhabitants of starry systems.

To such conclusions, as we before remarked, does a liberal education appear to conduct the individual intellect. Such are the directions in which the drift of well-informed popular conviction has steadily set. Such are the notions which the works before us profess to sift. How do our philosophers discuss them?

One of the most distinguished ornaments of one of the most distinguished bodies in the world, has put forth a volume on the opinions in question. Like all his other works, it evidences very great faculties of mind, very comprehensive capacity of intellect, very extensive acquaintance with every branch of physical science; moreover, very clumsy and disorderly notions of logic, and a marvellous inelegance in the use of English. We have a very methodical way of reading books. We first read the title outside; then the title inside; next the preface; and then the contents. We shall say no more respecting the title-page than we have already remarked; only observing, in passing, that the author would appear to consider, from his choice of title, that language is an instrument for the concealment of thought. On passing to the table of contents, we beg leave to submit that it is startling to find all the 'CONTENTS' OF THE PLURALITY OF WORLDS' on a single page! What we had expected were, 'Contents of Of the Plurality of Worlds; an Essay.' We must confess our disappointment at the confused arrangement, and bewildering method, which this table presents to our view. Would that nien would condescend to think according to the obvious laws of thought, or at least to refrain from imposing on others the task of unravelling their own perplexities! Why cannot a man, who has bestowed so much thought on his subject as our author displays, be at the pains to arrange his own ideas before he begins to write? It is perfectly obvious that the author of Or, &c.' never sketches out an analysis of the subject-matter before him, and of the mode in which it shall be handled. His writing reminds one,

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in respect of order, of a foot-ball match, as played at the wall at Eton, but it is destitute of the vigour and force of that onset. As for symmetry, we should sooner look to find it in a potato. If the author's object, in the arrangement of the initial index to matter and form, which one expects in a table of contents, was to hinder one from seeing through his drift without reading his work, he has undoubtedly attained it. If it was to deter one from such perusal, he has certainly done it efficiently. But if it was to clear one's notions of his purpose, and suggest to the gentle reader the expediency of following the wake of his method, then this page is waste-paper.

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'Chapter I. Astronomical Discoveries.'-Very good: what next? Chapter II.' The Conclusions they suggest? Oh no, Astronomical Objection to Religion.'-Why, this must be a treatise on the various fruits and tendencies of Astronomy. Chapter III.' may probably be Astronomy in its Relations to Chemistry, or, Astronomy versus Common Sense. But no, it is, The Answer from the Microscope.' Chapter IV. Further Statement of the Difficulty.' What difficulty? Well, perhaps the objection took the form of a difficulty; and in that case we shall look in Chapter V. for Further Answer from the Kaleidoscope. But no such symmetry prevails. We are now conducted into Geology,' and The Argument [pray, or what?] from Geology;' and next, by a leap, like that with which mathematicians are familiar, from + to∞, we find ourselves in The Nebula-whence we are brought down again, by gradual steps, to The Solar System,' and 'The Argument from Design,'' The Unity of the World,' and The Future;' titles vague enough to be prefixed to chapters in almost any conceivable writing on almost any conceivable subject.

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The work opens with some comments on the sublime passage which we have already quoted from the eighth Psalm, in which natural religion assumes its best and wisest form, and descants on the comparative insignificance of the creature who enjoys God's grace and favour, rather than on his dignity and worth. There is nothing very remarkable in our author's disquisition on this magnificent aspiration; except that, as is usual in paraphrase, commentary, and the like, the grandeur of the sentiment is frittered away, and well-nigh evaporated, in the dissertation; and that there is a most unwarrantable assumption in the observation: We may be certain that the Psalmist regarded 'the stars as things [things!] having a reference to the earth, and yet not resembling the earth; as works of God's fingers, very different from the earth with its tribes of inhabitants; as 'luminaries, not worlds.' We beg to demur to this comment on King David's meaning. We beg to assert, at least, an equal

certainty,' that he understood nothing of the kind. We are far from asserting that inspired authors had necessarily any peculiar insight into the laws of nature; but, at the same time, it is most true that, even under the influence of poetry or enthusiasm, men rise above themselves, and enunciate daring conceptions, which nothing appears at the time to warrant to ordinary minds, but which the progress of science fully justifies. Why less should be attributed to the effusions of men moved by the Holy Ghost, it would be hard for our author to show.

However, this may pass. The author of the essay leaves his criticisms on the astral theology of the royal Hebrew, and proceeds to raise, or, as he would say, to state, a difficulty propounded in the form of an objection to religion. We should imagine that there are very few people now-a-days who would base an objection to revealed truth on the assumption, that other worlds besides our own are inhabited. Such an objector it has never been our misfortune to meet, either in person or in print. However, it seems that Dr. Chalmers considered such a fault-finder as representing a class not unworthy of refutation.

'He supposes an objector to take his stand upon the multiplicity of worlds, assumed or granted as true; and to argue that, since there are so many worlds beside this, all alike claiming the care, the government, the goodness, the interposition, of the Creator, it is in the highest degree extravagant and absurd, to suppose that he has done, for this world, that which religion, both natural and revealed, represents Him as having done, and as doing.

# * * If religion requires us to assume, that one particular corner of the universe has been thus singled out, and made an exception to the general rules by which all other parts of the universe are governed; she makes, it may be said, a demand upon our credulity, which cannot fail to be rejected by those who are in the habit of contemplating and admiring those general laws. Can the earth be thus the centre of the moral and religious universe, when it has been shown to have no claim to be the centre of the physical universe? Is it not as absurd to maintain this, as it would be to hold, at the present day, the old Ptolemaic hypothesis, which places the earth in the centre of the heavenly motions, instead of the newer Copernican doctrine, which teaches that the earth revolves around the sun? Is not religion disproved, by the necessity under which she lies of making such an assumption as this?'

Now the obvious answer to the fancied objector-this man of straw whom Dr. Chalmers erected to knock down, and whom the essayist sets on his legs again, in order that he may have

We believe that there have been such; Tom Paine and, it is said, Horace Walpole raised the difficulty. And there may be some few pious and humble minds by whom it is really felt as one. That it should be a formidable one to any can only arise from a confusion of thought, and a forgetfulness that no guess, however probable it might appear to reason, can be a legitimate stumbling-block to Faith. Nothing but mental infirmity will find scruples in a probability, in which, if a revealed certainty, the mind would humbly acquiesce.

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