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therefrom deduce their proper connections, so, from the my- Course of thologies of various races of men, a Comparative Theology is tive Theo

logy. to be constrụcted. Alone through such a science can correct conclusions be arrived at respecting this, the most important of the intellectual operations of man, the definite process of his religious opinions. But it must be borne in mind that Comparative Theology illustrates the result or effect of the phase of life, and is not its cause.

As man advances in knowledge, he discovers that of his pri- Corrections mitive conclusions some are doubtless erroneous, and many pocentric

ideas. require better evidence to establish their truth incontestably. A more prolonged and attentive examination gives him reason, in some of the most important particulars, to change his mind. He finds that the earth on which he lives is not a floor covered over with a starry dome, as he once supposed, but a globe selfbalanced in space. The crystalline vault, or sky, is recognized as an optical deception. It rests upon the earth nowhere, and is no boundary at all; there is no kingdom of happiness above it, but a limitless space, adorned with planets and suns. Instead of a realm of darkness and woe in the depths on the other side of the earth, men like ourselves are found there, pursuing, in Australia and New Zealand, the innocent pleasures and encountering the ordinary labours of life. By the aid of such lights as knowledge gradually supplies, he comes at last to discover that this, our terrestrial habitation, instead of being a chosen, a sacred spot, is only one of similar myriads, more numerous than the sands of the sea, and prodigally scattered through space. Never, perhaps, was a more important truth discovered. All Conse

quence of the visible evidence was in direct opposition to it. The earth, discovering which had hitherto seemed to be the very emblem of immo- the earth. bility, was demonstrated to be carried with a double motion, with prodigious velocity, through the heavens; the rising and setting of the stars were proved to be an illusion; and, as Detection respects the size of the globe, it was shown to be altogether nificance. insignificant when compared with multitudes of other neighbouring ones,-insignificant doubly by reason of its actual dimensions, and by the countless numbers of others like it in

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form, and doubtless, like it, the abodes of many orders of life.

And so it turns out that our earth is a globe of about twentyfive thousand miles in circumference. The voyager who circumnavigates it spends no inconsiderable portion of his life in accomplishing his task. It moves round the sun in a year,

but at so great a distance from that luminary that, if seen from Other solar him, it would look like a little spark traversing the sky. It is systems.

thus recognized as one of the members of the solar system. Other similar bodies, some of which are of larger, some of smaller dimensions, perform similar revolutions round the sun

in appropriate periods of time. Magnitude If the magnitude of the earth be too great for us to attach of the uni

to it any definite conception, what shall we say of the compass of the solar system ? There is a defect in the human intellect which incapacitates us for comprehending distances and periods that are either too colossal or too minute. We gain no clearer insight into the matter when we are told that a comet which does not pass beyond the bounds of the system may perhaps be absent on its journey for more than a thousand years. Distances and periods such as these are beyond our grasp. They prove to us how far human reason excels imagination ; the one measuring and comparing things of which the other can form no conception, but in the attempt is utterly bewil

dered and lost. The infinity But as there are other globes like our earth, so too there

are other worlds like our solar system. There are self-lumi. nous suns exceeding in number all computation. The dimensions of this earth pass into nothingness in comparison with the dimensions of the solar system ; and that system, in its turn, is only an invisible point if placed in relation with the countless hosts of other systems which form, with it, clusters of stars. Our solar system, far from being alone in the universe, is only one of an extensive brotherhood, bound by common laws and subject to like influences. Even on the

very verge of creation, where imagination might lay the beginning of the realms of chaos, we see unbounded proofs of order, a regularity in the arrangement of inanimate things, suggesting

of worlds.

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to us that there are other intellectual creatures like us, the tenants of those islands in the abysses of space.

Though it may take a beam of light a million of years to bring to our view those distant worlds, the end is not yet. Far away in the depths of space we catch the faint gleams of other groups of stars like our own. The finger of a man can hide them in their remoteness. Their vast distances from one another have dwindled into nothing. They and their movements have lost all individuality; the innumerable suns of which they are composed blend all their collected light into one pale milky glow. Thus extending our view from the earth to the solar system,

Insignififrom the solar system to the expanse of the group of stars to man. which we belong, we behold a series of gigantic nebular creations rising up one after another, and forming greater and greater colonies of worlds. No numbers can express them, for they make the firmament a haze of stars. Uniformity, even though it be the uniformity of magnificence, tires at last, and we abandon the survey, for our eyes can only behold a boundless prospect, and conscience tell us our own unspeakable insignificance.

But what has become of the time-honoured doctrine of the Triumphs human destiny of the universe,—that doctrine for the sake of truth. which the controversy I have described in this chapter was raised ? It has disappeared. In vain was Bruno burnt and Galileo imprisoned; the truth forced its way, in spite of all opposition, at last. The end of the conflict was a total rejection of authority and tradition, and the adoption of scientific truth.

of scientific

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE EUROPEAN AGE OF REASON-(Continued).

HISTORY OF THE EARTH.-HER SUCCESSIVE CHANGES IN THE COURSE OF TIME.

A

The

question is im.

Age of the VICTORY could not be more complete nor a triumph earth.

more brilliant than that which had been gained by science in the contest concerning the position of the earth. Though there followed closely thereupon an investigation of scarcely inferior moment,—that respecting the age of the earth,

--so thoroughly was the ancient authority intellectually crushed, that it found itself incapable of asserting by force the Patristic idea that our planet is less than six thousand years old.

Not but that a resistance was made. It was, however, of personally an indirect kind. The contest might be likened rather to a solved.

partisan warfare than to the deliberate movement of regular armies under recognized commanders. In its history there is no central figure like Galileo, no representative man, no brilliant and opportune event like the invention of the telescope. The question moves on to its solution impersonally. A little advance is made here by one, there by another. The war was finished, though no great battle was fought. In the chapter we are entering upon, there is therefore none of that dramatic interest connected with the last. Impersonally the question was decided, and therefore impersonally I must describe it.

In Oriental countries, where the popular belief assigns to

the creation of man a very ancient date, and even asserts for the age of some empires a duration of hundreds of thousands of years,

no difficulty as respects the age of the earth was felt, there

Oriental and Western docthe earth.

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seeming to have been time enough for every event that human researches have detected to transpire. But in the West, where the doctrine that not only the earth, but the universe itself, was intended for man, has been carried to its consequences with exacting rigour, circumstances forbid us to admit that there was any needless delay between the preparation of the habitation and the introduction of the tenant. They also force upon us the conclusion that a few centuries constitute a very large portion of the time of human existence, since, if we adopt the doctrine of an almost limitless period, we should fall into a difficulty in explaining what has become of the countless inyriads of generations in the long time so passed ; and, considering that we are taught that the end of the world is at hand, and must be expected in a few years at the most, we might seem to arraign the goodness of God in this, that He has left to their fate immeasurably the larger proportion of our race, and has restricted His mercy to us alone, who are living in the departing twilight of the evening of the world.

But in this, as in the former case, a closer examination of Correction the facts brings us to the indisputable conclusion that we have European

doctrine. decided unworthily and untruly; that our guiding doctrine of the universe being intended for us is a miserable delusion; that the scale on which the world is constructed as to time answers to that on which it is constructed as to space; that, as respects our planet, its origin dates from an epoch too remote for our mental apprehension; that myriads of centuries have been consumed in its coming to its present state; that, by a slow progression, it has passed from stage to stage uninhabited, and for a long time uninhabitable by any living thing; that, in their proper order and in due lapse of time, the organic series have been its inhabitants, and of these a vast majority, whose numbers are so great that we cannot offer an intelligible estimate of them, have passed away and become extinct, and that finally, for a brief period, we have been its possessors.

Of the intentions of God it becomes us, therefore, to speak with reverence and reserve. In those ages when there was not a man upon the earth, what was the object? Was the twilight only given that the wolf might follow his flying prey,

of the

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