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on my left hand.
We know but little about them, Frank; they are innumerable; for example; more than two thousand have been counted in the constellation of Orion.
But why do they call them fixed, Father? Do you not often show me them rising and setting?
Yes; the whole heavens appear to be in motion from east to west. Appear to be in motion ! Did you not the other evening bid me stand still, and look at Arcturus, in contact with the end of our cottage? And did we not soon find that the star had made evident progress towards the west ?
This is true, Frank; but you forgot that I told you that we were, with the earth on which we stood, moving from west to east; and that this made the fixed stars appear as if they were moving from east to west.
But I should like to hear
But the pole-star, Father, does not even appear to revolve. How is that?
Because the point of the earth, called the pole of the globe, always points to it.
How can you measure the distance between one star and another?
By the celestial globe; there the heavens are divided into three hundred and sixty degrees. From the point over our heads,which we call the zenith, it is ninety degrees to the hori
zon on every side. The most northern of the three stars in the belt of Orion, is directly over the equator; therefore, from that to the polar star, it is just ninety degrees.
We have reason to believe that the fixed stars are suns, around which systems of worlds revolve. Herschel is of opinion that our sun is actually one of the stars belonging to the milky way. So great is the distance of the fixed stars, that a cannon ball, moving twenty miles in a minute, would be eighteen hundred thousand years going to the nearest of them.
But light, Father, travels swifter than a cannon ball; you said that it travelled twelve millions of miles in a minute; its rays, then, would not be long in reaching the nearest of the fixed stars, would it?
Longer than you would suppose; it would be full three years before it would reach it.
How amazing are the works of God! How true it is, as the Psalm you gave me to learn expresses it, that "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work."
They do, indeed; especially to the eye enlightened by science. I am always reminded, when I look at the skies, of the sublime reflection of the same beautiful writer: "When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast
ordained; Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him! or the son of man, that thou visitest him!"
And if the stars are suns, and have worlds revolving around them, why, Father, the worlds which God has made must be innumerable. How the thought expands the mind, in reference to the power, the wisdom, the goodness, and the grandeur of God. How delightful it is,Father, to think of such things!
It is. Indeed, Frank, such contemplations gratify the mind, which loves what is vast and infinite. So great is the magnitude and immensity of the divine works, that, "were the sun," (I use the words of Mr. Addison,) "with all the host of planetary worlds that move about him, utterly extinguished and annihilated, they would not be missed by an eye that could take in the whole compass of nature, more than a grain of sand upon the seashore. The space they possess is so exceedingly little, in comparison of the whole, that it would scarcely make a blank in creation."
THE POWER OF GOD.
FATHER, you said one day, that there was a sentiment in the creed which was thought very plain, and yet no one had ever fully understood it. What was it?
That God is Almighty.
But does not that mean that he is all-powerful?
It is easy, Frank, to say, "I believe in God Almighty; " but no one can conceive the full meaning of the sentiment. No one can have an adequate idea of the power of the Most High, even as displayed in the little world in which we live.
I think, Father, that I can; the world is eight thousand miles in diameter; that is, directly through it, and twenty-five thousand miles round it.
It is; and it is easy to talk of eight, and of twenty-five thousand; but a very different thing to have just conceptions of the real magnitude of this immense body. Let us examine the surface of the earth; it contains about two hundred millions of square miles: have you any idea at all equal to this vast extent of country?
I don't know; I think I have, Father.
But I do not think so, Frank. How far does our prospect reach from this eminence?
You said it was forty miles.
Well, let us suppose, that looking on every side, we can cast our eyes over about five thousand square miles. This is a vast tract of country, and we can view it but very indistincly; there are villages, and towns, and streams, and rivers, and a multitude of houses, which we cannot see at all. How many such views, think you, must we take, before we could see all the globe? They are more than you imagine, Frank.
I don't know, Father.
Well, divide two hundred millions by five thousand.
O, I can do that; there are 40,000 five thousands, in two hundred millions.
There are this prospect, then, of forty miles every way, including, as we suppose, five thousand square miles, is but the forty thousandth part of the surface of the globe. How small a part, and how imperfectly it is seen.
Well, this is a surprising calculation! To form a just idea of the surface of the earth, we must see forty thousand such prospects as this! What a thought! How vast are the works of God!
And what must be the power that made such a world! and made it two out of nothing! and recollect, we have been talking only of its sur