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many for our industry. In those great outlines of nature, to which art cannot reach, and where our greatest efforts must have been ineffectual, God himself has finished every thing with amazing grandeur and beauty. Our beneficent Father has considered these parts of nature as peculiarly his own; as parts which no creature could have skill or strength to amend: and he has, therefore, made them incapable of alteration, or of more perfect regularity. The heavens and the firmament show the wisdom and the glory of the workman. Astronomers, who are best skilled in the symmetry of systems, can find nothing there that they can alter for the better. God made these perfect, because no subordinate being could correct their defects.
When, therefore, we survey nature on this side, nothing can be more splendid, more correct, or amazing. We there behold a Deity residing in the midst of an universe, infinitely extended every way, animating all, and cheering the vacuity with his presence! We behold an immense and shapeless mass of matter, formed into worlds by his power, and dispersed at intervals, to which even the imagination cannot travel! In this great theatre of his glory, a thousand suns, like our own, animate their respective systems, appearing and vanishing at divine command. We behold our own bright luminary, fixed in the centre of its system, wheeling its planets in times proportioned to their distances, and at once dispensing light, heat, and action. The earth also is seen with its twofold motion; producing, by the one, the change of seasons; and, by the other, the grateful vicis
situdes of day and night. With what silent magnificence is all this performed! with what seeming ease! The works of art are exerted with interrupted force; and their noisy progress discovers the obstructions they receive; but the earth, with a silent, steady rotation, successively presents every part of its bosom to the sun; at once imbibing nourishment and light from that parent of vegetation and fertility.
But not only provisions of heat and light are thus supplied; the whole surface of the earth is covered with a transparent atmosphere, that turns with its motion, and guards it from external injury. The rays of the sun are thus broken into a genial warmth; and, while the surface is assisted, a gentle heat is produced in the bowels of the earth, which contributes to cover it with verdure. Waters also are supplied in healthful abundance, to support life, and assist vegetation. Mountains rise, to diversify the prospect, and give a current to the stream. Seas extend from one continent to the other, replenished with animals, that may be turned to human support; and also serving to enrich the earth with a sufficiency of vapour. Breezes fly along the surface of the fields, to promote health and vegetation. The coolness of the evening invites to rest; and the freshness of the morning renews for labour.
Such are the delights of the habitation that has been assigned to man: without any one of these, he must have been wretched; and none of these could his own industry have supplied. But while many of his wants are thus kindly furnished, on the one hand, there are numberless inconveniences
to excite his industry, on the other. This habitation, though provided with all the conveniences of air, pasturage, and water, is but a desert place, without human cultivation. The lowest animal finds more conveniences in the wilds of nature, than he who boasts himself their lord. The whirlwind, the inundation, and all the asperities of the air, are peculiarly terrible to man, who knows their consequences, and, at a distance, dreads their approach. The earth itself, where human art has not pervaded, puts on a frightful, gloomy appearance. The forests are dark and tangled; the meadows are overgrown with rank weeds; and the brooks stray without a determined channel. Nature, that has been kind to every lower order of beings, seems to have been neglectful with regard to him: to the savage uncontriving man, the earth is an abode of desolation, where his shelter is insufficient, and his food precarious.
A world thus furnished with advantages on one side, and inconveniences on the other, is the proper abode of reason, and the fittest to exercise the industry of a free and a thinking creature. These evils, which art can remedy, and prescience guard against, are a proper call for the exertion of his faculties; and they tend still more to assimilate him to his Creator. God beholds, with pleasure, that being which he has made, converting the wretchedness of his natural situation into a theatre of triumph; bringing all the headlong tribes of nature into subjection to his will; and producing that order and uniformity upon earth, of which his own heavenly fabric is so bright an example. Goldsmith.
FURTHER PROOF OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS IN THE SCALE OF BEINGS.
THOUGH there is a great deal of pleasure in contemplating the material world; by which I mean, that system of bodies, into which nature has so curiously wrought the mass of dead matter, with the several relations that those bodies bear to one another; there is still, methinks, something more wonderful and surprising, in contemplations on the world of life; by which I intend, all those animals with which every part of the universe is furnished. The material world is only the shell of the universe: the world of life are its inhabitants.
If we consider those parts of the material world, which lie the nearest to us, and are therefore subject to our observation and inquiries, it is amazing to consider the infinity of animals with which they are stocked. Every part of matter is peopled; every green leaf swarms with inhabitants. There is scarcely a single humour in the body of a man, or of any other animal, in which our glasses do not discover myriads of living creatures. We find, even in the most solid bodies, as in marble itself, innumerable cells and cavities, which are crowded with imperceptible inhabitants, too little for the naked eye to discover. On the other hand, if we look into the more bulky parts of nature, we see the seas, lakes, and rivers, teeming with numberless kinds of living creatures. We find, every mountain and marsh, wilderness and wood, plentifully stocked with birds and beasts; and every part of matter affording proper necessaries and
conveniences, for the livelihood of multitudes which inhabit it.
The author of the Plurality of Worlds draws a very good argument, from this consideration, for the peopling of every planet; as indeed it seems very probable, from the analogy of reason, that if no part of matter, with which we are acquainted, lies waste and useless, those great bodies, which are at such a distance from us, are not desert and unpeopled; but rather, that they are furnished with beings adapted to their respective situations.
Existence is a blessing to those beings only which are endowed with perception; and is in a manner thrown away upon dead matter, any further than as it is subservient to beings which are conscious of their existence. Accordingly we find, from the bodies which lie under our observation, that matter is only made as the basis and support of animals; and that there is no more of the one, than what is necessary for the existence of the other.
Infinite goodness is of so communicative a nature, that it seems to delight in conferring existence upon every degree of perceptive being. As this is a speculation which I have often pursued with great pleasure to myself, I shall enlarge further upon it, by considering that part of the scale of beings which comes within our knowledge.
There are some living creatures which are raised but just above dead matter. To mention enly that species of shell-fish which is formed in