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and it inhabits a region somewhere within the bounds of the material creation, but its distance from the sphere in which we
now reside removes it from our view; and we want that vigour and energy of our corporeal organs which the martyr Stephen seems to have enjoyed, when the heavens were opened, and “ he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”
In certain pools of water, animalcules are found, whose bodies, when magnified a hundred thousand times their natural size, are visible only as so many moving points. A considerable portion of the watery element on our globe is filled with such invisible inhabitants, which have never been perceived by the millionth-part of mankind. In this and similar instances, we have an invisible world of animated beings existing around us, but no one calls in question their existence because they can only be observed by powerful microscopes, and are not perceptible by the majority of mankind. In short, the Divine Being pervades every part of space with his essence, and is intimately present with every one of his creatures, yet remains for ever invisible to mortal eyes. But, on this ground, no one but an atheist ever calls in question his existence. In like manner, the invisibility of the objects connected with a future world ought to form no ground of doubt respecting the certainty and reality of their existence.
2. We may learn what ought to be our great
object in the study of the sciences, and in the investigation of the phenomena of nature.
Some persons are disposed to consider science and natural history merely as genteel studies; others apply their minds to such subjects with the view of bearing a part in the conferences of men of learning. Some, again, prosecute such pursuits for the purpose of making collections of scarce and valuable curiosities, and of displaying a degree of knowledge and taste superior to those of their neighbours ; and the greater part of mankind consider such studies as only an amusement, or a relaxation of mind from the fatigues of their daily avocations. But the study of nature and of science is highly dishonoured by such grovelling and contracted views. The prospect of the universe was exposed to our view for more noble and exalted purposes--to make us wiser and better men, to expand our views of the perfections of our Creator, and to inspire us with a grateful sense of all the blessings we daily receive from his bountiful hand.
There are two great objects which we ought always to keep in view in our investigations of the laws of nature and of the principles which operate in the material world. In the first place, to deduce from our observation of physical facts, those principles by which the powers of man may be extended--the useful arts improved and carried to perfection--and the comforts and enjoyments of mankind promoted and increased. In the next place, and
chiefly, that our conceptions of the Creator's power, wisdom, benevolence, and superintending providence, may be enlarged, and that we may be more disposed to pay him that tribute of adoration and gratitude which is due to his name.
Every study which sets the supreme Being on one side and nature on the other, is nothing more than an idle amusement -it is lost labour, and productive of little else than ignorance and error, pride and arrogance. To employ our thoughts on a thousand particulars in nature without directing them to the great Creator of all things—to profess to adinire the displays of his wisdom, omnipotence, and goodness, while we violate his laws, and persist in a course of avarice or of dissipationto be conscious of the blessings we every moment receive, and, at the same time, to be utterly unmindful of the hand from whence they flow-are a most glaring inconsistency, a shameful abuse of our understanding, and an act of the most flagrant ingratitude. All our knowledge is of no farther importance to us than as it has an influence on our affections and conduct, and leads us to entertain impressive and reverential ideas of that almighty Being, in whose hands our breath is, and whose are all our ways."
Let us, then, for the air we breathe, and the numerous benefits we derive from the surrounding atmosphere, display our gratitude, and consecrate all our powers and faculties to the service of Him who “ made the earth by
his power,” and “hath established the world by his wisdom;"—who “causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth ;" who “maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth the wind out of his treasures," and whose "tender mercies are over all his works." To Him who hath created and redeemed us, all our powers
and energies ought to be devoted from henceforth and for ever, for he is worthy to receive all praise, honour, and dominion from men, from angels, and from the inhabitants of all the worlds dispersed throughout the regions of the universe.
This is a subject which would admit of illustration sufficient to occupy a distinct volume ; but the present limits will admit of only a very condensed and superficial view of the diversified objects connected with the phenomena of the atmosphere.
The atmospherical phenomena may be arranged under the following heads :1. Aqueous meteors; as evaporation, rain,
snow, hail, clouds, etc. II. Winds, sea and land breezes, monsoons,
hurricanes, etc. III. Luminous and fiery meteors, as fire-balls,
falling-stars, thunder and lightning, luminous arches, fata morgana, aërial spectres, etc.
1. EVAPORATION. — This is a process by which water and other substances are converted into elastic fluids by the influence of heat or caloric.