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out of the various directions in which the cannon might be pointed, upwards and downwards, every one would fail, but what was exactly or nearly horizontal. The same thing holds true of the planets : of our own amongst the rest. We are entitled therefore to ask, and to urge the question, Why did the projectile velocity and projectile direction of the earth happen to be nearly those which would retain it in a circular form? Why not one of the infinite number of veloci. ties, one of the infinite number of directions, which would have made it approach much nearer to, or recede much farther from, the sun ?
The planets going round, all in the same direction, and all nearly in the same plane, afforded to Buffon a ground for asserting, that they had all been shivered from the sun by the same stroke of a comet, and by that stroke projected into their present orbits. Now, beside that this is to attribute to chance the fortunate concurrence of velocity and direction which we have been here noticing, the hypothesis, as I apprehend, is inconsistent with the physical laws by which the heavenly motions are governed. If the planets were struck off from the surface of the sun, they would return to the surface of the sun again. Nor will this difficulty be got rid of, by supposing that the same violent blow which shattered the sun's surface, and separated large fragments from it, pushed the sun himself out of his place ; for, the consequence of this would be, that the sun and system of shattered fragments would have a progressive motion, which, indeed, may possibly be the case with our system ; but then each fragment would, in every revolution, return to the surface of the sun again. The hypothesis is also contradicted by the vast difference which subsists between the diameters of the planetary orbits. The
tistance of Saturn from the sun (to say nothing of the Georgium Sidus) is nearly five-and-twenty times that of Mercury ; a disparity, which it seems impossible to reconcile with Buffon's scheme. Bodies starting from the same place, with whatever difference of direction or velocity they set off, could not have been found at these different distances from the centre, still retaining their nearly circular orbits. They must have been carried to their proper distances, before they were projected*.
To conclude: In astronomy, the great thing is to raise the imagination to the subject, and that oftentimes in opposition to the impression made upon the senses. An illusion, for example, must be gotton over, arising from the distance at which we view the heavenly bodies, viz. the apparent slowness of their motions. The moon shall take some hours in getting half a yard from a star which it touched. A motion so deliberate, we may think easily guided. But what is the fact? The moon, in fact, is, all this while, driving through the heavens, at the rate of considerably more than two thousand miles in an hour; which is more than double
* “ If we suppose the matter of the system to be accumulated in the centre by its gravity, no mechanical principles, with the assistance of this power of gravity, could separate the vast mass into such parts as the sun and planets, and, after carrying them to their different distances, project them in their several directions, preserving still the quality of action and re-action, or the state of the centre of gravity of the system. Such an exquisite structure of things could only arise from the contrivance and powerful influ. ences of an intelligent, free, and most potent agent. The same powers, therefore, which, at present, govern the material universe, and conduct its various motions, are very different from those which were necessary to have produced it from nothing, or to have disposed it in the admirable form in which it now proceeds." -Maclaurin's Account of Newton's Philos. p. 407. ed. 3.
of that with which a ball is shot off from the mouth of a cannon. Yet is this prodigious rapidity as much under government, as if the planet proceeded ever so slowly, or were conducted in its course inch by inch. It is also difficult to bring the imagination to conceive (what yet, to judge tolerably of the matter, it is neces. sary to conceive) how loose, if we may so express it, the heavenly bodies are. Enormous globes, held by nothing, confined by nothing, are turned into free and boundless space, each to seek its course by the virtue of an invisible principle; but a principle, one, come mon, and the same in all; and ascertainable. To preserve such bodies from being lost, from running together in heaps, from hindering and distracting one another's motions, in a degree inconsistent with any continuing order; h. e. to cause them to form planetary systems, systems that, when formed, can be upheld, and, most especially, systems accommodated to the or. ganised and sensitive natures, which the planets sustain, as we know to be the case, where alone we can know what the case is, upon our earth: all this requires an intelligent interposition, because it can be demonstrated concerning it, that it requires an adjustment of force, distance, direction, and velocity, out of the reach of chance to have produced ; an adjustment, in its view to utility, similar to that which we see in ten thousand subjects of nature which are nearer to us, but in power, and in the extent of space through which that power is exerted, stupendous.
But many of the heavenly bodies, as the sun and fixed stars, are stationary. Their rest must be the effect of an absence or of an equilibrium of attractions. It proves also, that a projectile impulse was originally given to some of the heavenly bodies, and not to others. But farther; if attraction act at all distances,
there can only be one quiescent centre of gravity in the universe: and all bodies whatever must be approaching this centre, or revolving round it. According to the first of these suppositions, if the duration of the world had been long enough to allow of it, all its parts, all the great bodies of which it is composed, must have been gathered together in a heap round this point. No changes however which have been observed, afford us the smallest reason for believing, that either the one supposition or the other is true: and then it will follow, that attraction itself is controlled or suspended by a superior agent ; that there is a power above the highest of the powers of material nature; a will which restrains and circumscribes the operations of the most extensive*.
* It must here however be stated, that many astronomers deny that any of the heavenly bodies are absolutely stationary. Some of the brightest of the fixed stars have certainly small motions; and of the rest the distance is too great, and the intervals of our observation too short, to enable us to pronounce with certainty that they may not have the same. The motions in the fixed stars which have been observed, are considered either as proper to each of them, or as compounded of the motion of our system, and of motions proper to each star. By a comparison of these motions, a motion in our system is supposed to be discovered. By continuing this analogy to other, and to all systems, it is possible to suppose that attraction is unlimited, and that the whole material universe is revolving round some fixed point within its containing sphere of space.
OF THE PERSONALITY OF THE DEITY.
CONTRIVANCE, if established, appears to me to prove every thing which we wish to prove. Amongst other things, it proves the personality of the Deity, as distinguished from what is sometimes called nature, sometimes called a principle: which terms, in the mouths of those who use them philosophically, seem to be intended, to admit and to express an efficacy, but to exclude and to deny a personal agent. Now that which can contrive, which can design, must be a person. These capacities constitute personality, for they imply consciousness and thought. They require that which can perceive an end or purpose; as well as the power of providing means, and of directing them to their end*. They require a centre in which perceptions unite, and from which volitions flow; which is mind. The acts of a mind prove the existence of a mind; and in whatever a mind resides, is a person. The seat of intellect is a person.
We have no autho. rity to limit the properties of mind to any particular corporeal form, or to any particular circumscription of space. These properties subsist, in created nature, under a great variety of sensible forms. Also every animated being has its sensorium ; that is, a certain portion of space, within which perception and volition are exerted. This sphere may be enlarged to an indefinite extent ; may comprehend the universe ; and, being so imagined, may serve to furnish us with as good a notion, as we are capable of forming, of the im
* Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, p. 153, ed, da