Изображения страниц

mers have arrived in their investigations in reference to the solar universe, for the purpose of illustrating my present argument. They follow:








[blocks in formation]



Jupiter, with

four moons 11 314 Saturn, with

seven moons 29 169 Uranus, or Herschell, with six


4 220

4 221





Not known.




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

51 22


9 56

10 16

Distance from
the Sun.


[ocr errors]

Cubic Contents.

[blocks in formation]


84 9

1800,000,000 83

do: do.

All the above heavenly bodies are in one system; and this, as before remarked, we call the solar system, because governed by Sol, or the sun. The sun stands in the centre of this system, and has little or no motion, except upon its own axis. The other bodies revolve around the sun at regular distances, one above, and farther from the other, in the ord set dow in the above table. They all travel in very nearly the same apparent path in the heavens, like a wheel within a wheel," in concentric circles, or like so many hoops one within and smaller than the other; and this path is the apparent path of the sun and moon. As they seem to travel through space, so move the planets.


As a part of the argument is based upon the motion of the planets, I will present, for the satisfaction of those who are not familiar with the subject, the following diagram by which to illustrate it:-








+ The actual cubic contents of the earth are 170,195,852,160 cubic miles.
B Distance from the earth.
VOL. IX.-April, 1838.


The above diagram is intended to be slightly elliptical; that is, not quite circular. All the planets move in the same kind of orbits; so that, in giving one specimen, the whole may be explained. The preceding may, therefore, represent the Sun and Mercury, which is the nearest planet to the Sun; or the Earth and the Sun; or, indeed, either of the planets. Allowing the preceding circle, for the present, to be the orbit of Mercury; we may add, that in another circle above, or more properly without this, (for above in this science is merely a relative term,) at the distance of thirty-one millions of miles, is another orbit of similar character, where revolves Venus ; and at a distance from Venus of twenty-eight millions of miles farther out, or above, is the Earth, travelling in another orbit of a similar kind, and around which it passes once in a year. And thus of the rest, until we arrive at the borders of Herschell, or Uranus, at the immense distance from the Sun of eighteen hundred millions of miles. And this immense globe travels around its vast orbit once in eighty-four years.

All of the above orbits, I remark once more, may be represented by so many imaginary hoops, one within the other, of the size of the different orbits, placed like concentric circles, with the Sun nearly in the centre.

The grand principle which controls the above mighty orbs-that mysterious cord which preserves them in their journeys through space-that which keeps them from falling into, or flying off from the Sun, is GRAVITATION or ATTRACTION. And it is on this law that we found our demonstration of the being of a God. Gravitation or attraction (for I use the terms as synonymous) pervades all matter yet discovered. It is the grand controlling agent in the material universe. It alike sways the single mote and the largest bodies of which we have any knowledge; acting in the same mysterious manner upon the slab in the mill pond, and upon the sea in controlling its tides. And it does this always in an exact ratio. Even liquids cohere in their parts, and oppose any endeavor to separate them. The minute particles unite into drops; drops, if they are brought into contact, into larger masses; and larger masses into rivulets, rivers, lakes, and seas. On this principle clouds move, gather their aqueous particles, and, when they are full, empty themselves upon the earth. Every man tends to the earth, and knows well, if raised from it, he falls back again in an exact ratio to the distance raised, and his own specific gravity. On this principle the child receives his ball back again that he had sportingly tossed into the air. The plumb line, which is usually vertical, by this universal law takes an oblique direction in the vicinity of high mountains. The sea tends to the moon; the moon itself is constantly drawn toward the earth, and the earth and other planets toward the sun. And the power with which this principle operates, we have remarked, is ascertained, and is invariable. If a falling body near the earth, descend toward it sixteen feet the first second, it will fall through three times this space in the next second; five times this space in the third second; seven times this space in the fourth second; nine times this space in the fifth second, or one hundred and forty-four feet; and so on in the

same ratio.

Attraction, therefore, we take for granted, is a universal law of

nature-a primitive impression upon all matter; and so invariable that the descent of all bodies toward each other may be determined with mathematical accuracy.* We may know by it, and do know by it, the rise of tides when they enter the mouths of rivers, and when full tides will occur at sea. In a word, all those calculations of the heavenly and terrestrial bodies depend upon it, which guide man in fixing data for most of his movements upon the sea, and much upon the land.

Now, if attraction is a universal law of nature; if it binds with a strong arm all the material universe; if it actuates the smallest particle of matter, and the remotest orb in our system, so as to bring it back in its appointed place in its season; if it guides the comet in its course, and holds it steady in its path during a journey of five hundred years, notwithstanding its amazing speed, and the silken cord neither breaks nor loses its power of tension, but in due time returns the wanderer;—if this principle floats in the clouds and plays in the sunbeam, rides on the storm, and directs in some degree the whirlwind-what is the inevitable result? It is this: Could we suppose a thing so absurd as that matter sprang into existence of itself! the inevitable conclusion is, that the power of attraction, the original or primitive law of matter, would have cONSOLIDATED THE WHOLE MASS OF MATTER, so that there would have been but ONE SOLID GLOBE. In all the universe there would have been but ONE World.

But matter IS DIVIDED, cut up into huge orbs that roll at great distances from each other, and yet not beyond the reach of the attracting power. And this is done contrary to this known and universal law of nature, and done in such a manner as could only be effected by a sÚPREME INTELLIGENT CAUSE. The conclusion, therefore, does not admit of error-THERE MUST BE A GOD.

Again: As all matter tends to the centre, the whole mass of matter must have remained consolidated; and perpetual stillness would have been stamped upon the whole material universe: and motion could not have been produced without separating these particles, and placing them at some distance from each other. But, in that case, motion would have been begotten by foreign aid: motion, therefore, in such instances, is not and cannot be peculiar to matter. Motion must have had a CAUSATOR; and, in this case, it could have been nothing less than the Supreme Being.

But again: Should we allow that the planets sprang into existence of themselves, and took their station in all the order and harmony that they now exhibit in the heavens-save their motionwhat would have been the inevitable result? Why, every planet in the solar system would have immediately fallen into the sun! By the preceding table, it will be seen that the sun contains four or five hundred times as much matter as can be found in all the other

* If a planet be projected in a direction exactly perpendicular to the line of attraction of the central body, with a velocity equal to what it would acquire by falling half way to the centre by attraction alone, it will describe a circle around the central body. If the velocity of the projection be greater than this, but not equal to what the planet would acquire in falling to the centre, it will move in an elliptical orbit, more or less eccentric according to the greater or less degree of projectile force. If the velocity of projection be equal to that which the planet would acquire in falling to the central body, it will move in a parabola; if greater than this, in a hyperbola.

bodies connected with the solar system. Its attractive power would, therefore, at once swallow up every other body! the nearest first, and the remote last. The sun could contain the whole solar system, and five hundred more just like it—itself excepted: inevitably, therefore, it would draw that amount of matter into its own vortex. This would have been the case (and would now be the case, but for an impulse which I shall in a moment explain) had the planets been placed as far from the sun as the outer border of the most distant comet, and as much more remote as they could feel the slightest attracting influence of the sun. Yes; now-but for a circumstance which demonstrates the being of a God-every planet in the solar system-every comet, however remote, would rush with a velocity inconceivable toward the sun as a common centredash into its bosom with the shock of worlds, and there remain for ever. And the fact that this is not the case, can only be accounted for from a circumstance which we now proceed more particularly to explain; and which, aside from any other consideration, proves the interposition of a great supernatural Cause.

By the diagram preceding, it will be perceived that the nearest point of Mercury, marked A, or the earth-whichever we may call it

for the motion of all the planets is adjusted upon the same principle-the nearest point of Mercury, we say, to the sun, in its passage around the sun, and in its own orbit, would be at C, and its most distant point at B. The power of attraction, therefore, (which always lessens in proportion to the distance of an object, and increases with its approximation,) would be least when the planet was at B, and strongest when at C. Allowing the earth, or any other planet, to come in contact with the attracting power of the sun at B, while it was passing from A to D on a straight line, the earth would be drawn, as with a secret cord, in a curved line down to C, with an increased velocity every second, in proportion to its distance from the central body. Although at B its motion were quite gentle, at C its velocity would be amazing. Now, it is by this increase in velocity, this constant accumulation of power, arising in a great degree from what may be called added momentum, that the planet is prevented from falling into the sun. It has, in its approach to the sun, increased its velocity at every step-travelled swifter and swifter, till its speed has become so amazing that the power of attraction itself, vested in the sun, is no longer able to hold the planet: hence it passes by; but receives a gradual check, as one would check an ungovernable steed—not in a moment, but by degrees. And every second it advances toward the point from which it first felt the attractive power, it is checked in the same ratio that, in the other case, it advanced; and at the point B, the attractive power is sufficient, not only to stop its progress outward entirely, but also to curve it around again as before-when it commences its return to the sun. This is the principle, and this the explanation of the motion of every planet and comet in our sysAnd I hope it is made plain to the humblest capacity.*


* That the accumulation of power of which I have spoken, in falling bodies, does not arise solely from the increase of attraction as an object approaches the central body, is seen by the fact, that after a body had fallen one second, if we were to withdraw the attracting power entirely, it would still fall. And this accumulation, it will be recollected, increases with every moment.

But now a question of infinite interest comes up. How did the earth and the other planets first receive their impulse or motion in a direct line toward D? Not from attraction, most certainly. For it will be perceived, that had the planets been at rest in any part of space, whether at A, B, D, or C, and only been moved upon by the attracting power, they would not have described a curve, but would have fallen in a direct line into the sun. Just as a rock, when permitted to drop from the hand from a window, falls in a direct line to the earth, so would have fallen the planets to the sun. It will be recollected that there is nothing in matter first to impel it in an opposite direction, or nearly so, from other matter, when speaking of its connection with great central bodies; but all the tendencies of matter are toward each other.* Hence place the bodies where we may in space, if they are first moved by the attractive influence, the motion must invariably be in a straight line toward the attracting object. Look where we may, then, for this foreign aid to give the first opposite impulse to matter, we can find it only in GODmatter has it not.

And what makes this conclusion more certain, if that were possible, is, that the first throw, or projectile force of every orb, must have been in a direction that would cross the line of attraction, not necessarily in the direction from A to D. Had it been in an exactly opposite direction from the sun, the planet would have proceeded in its course until the attracting power had checked its progress, when it would have returned directly to the sun. Had its motion been toward the sun directly, it would only have hastened its descent to that body. But by giving the planets a throw at right angles with the line of attraction, or from A to D, the object of harmony and perpetuity is given to the universe. But we challenge the world to account for this first motion without acknowledging an almighty agency. And what seems to impress this truth upon the mind with great force is, that this first projectile force or throw of the planets must have been such as would exactly, to a pound's weight, balance the attracting power: not the same in every planet, because the farther the planet was removed from the sun, the less would be the attractive force. Hence a different impulse must have been given to each one that perfectly balanced the attractive power. And here it is necessary to remark, that one of the laws of gravitation is, that the attractive force decreases as you recede from the central body, in an inverse ratio as the squares of the distance increase. For instance; a body weighing ten tons at the surface of the earth, will weigh only five and a half pounds at the height of the moon. If let fall near the surface of the earth, it would descend about sixteen feet in the first second of time. If dropped from the height of the moon, it would fall about sixteen feet in the first sixty seconds, or one minute of time. Near the earth, it would require a projectile force (the resistance of the atmosphere being taken out of the way) of five miles per second to make it revolve in a circle around the earth. At the height of the moon, it would require a projectile force of but little more than half a mile per second to produce such a revolution.

* By centrifugal force, we understand no quality in matter, no tendency to fly off. This first impulse is a tendency to a direct line.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »