John Wesley.

A survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryJohn WesleyA survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 24)
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These are thy gloiious Works, Parent of Gopd,
Almighty ! Thine this universal Frame,
Thus wondrous fair ! Thyself how wondrous then ! .



Printed by J. D. Dewick, 46? Barbican,








Of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Meteors.




i. Of the formation of the earth .

Of the earth's movement *

a. Sand, probably the earth's general covei c

3. An inundation of sand



4. Of mountains

5. The benefit of mountains

6. The height of mountains

Particular height of several mountains in France
Th|| of Mount Atlas

Of the formation of mountains after the flood
Of the formation of an iron-mountain in Sweden

7. Of water

The chief properties of water

8. Of ice

Rivers always freeze first at the bottom
Standing waters freeze first at the top ,

Surprising effects of severe frost on trees, and other


The amazing bodies of ice neat Hudson's Bay
Some waters in Scotland which never freeze

9 . Of fountains

Curious experiments, shewing that vapours from
the sea supply all fountains and rivers

10. Of the sea

11. Of rivers and islands

Of the great rivers in Africa
Description of the river Nile
Peculiarities of the Thames wafer .

Of the cataract of Niagara . .

American rivers the largest in the world

The amazing length of the course of the Rhine
Of various fresh and salt water lakes
Of the formation of the main islands of the globe at
the deluge :

12. Of the bason of the sea

Of the little difference there is between the bottom
of the Adriatic Sea and the neighbouring countries
The greatest aud ordinary depths of the sea


13. Of the tides . , ,44

14. Of currents in the sea . . 45
Methods of making sea water fresh . .48
Method of keeping fresh water sweet . 49
Sketch of Mr. Hervey's reflections on what is ob-
servable in the terraqueous globe . 4962

Curious remark or Dr. Cheyne concerning fluids in

general . ib.

Of the islands of Scilly, so noted among the ancients 6i

)5. Of subterraneous trees . . $9

Subterraneous trees rn Italy .. 70

' trees in Ireland , . ib.

in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge,

Huntingdon, &C.&G, . . 72

16. Of the origin of bogs . ib.

Of several bogs in Ireland : , 73

Of somelarge ones in England . 74

A remarkable one in Scotland 77


1. Of the effects and nature of fire . ?
Of heating cold liquors with ice , 81
Different degrees of heat in the same latitude . ib,

2. Of the generation and nourishment of fire . 2

a 2

*- Of smoke and ashes . . 83

Fire is the instrument of all motion ib*

Of elementary and culinary fire * . ib.

How the effects of elementary fire may be increased 84

Of subterraneous fire . . 85

4. Of burning mountains . . 86

5. Of Mount ^tna . . ib.
Recupero's account of Mount ./Etna 87
Kircher's account thereof . t 89
Account of the eruption of it in 1669, and of ano-
ther in 1755 9091

6. Of Mount Vesuvius . ib.
Of an eruption thr reof in 1 ?54 . ib.
Of another eruption thereof in 1700 02
Uncommon fertility near Vesuvius . 94
IVlr. Keyster's account of Vesuvius ib,
Of the desiruc on of Herculaneum, Stance, and

Pompeii, <.uies near Naples, in the reign of Titus

Vespasian . 95

Bracir.i's view of Vesuvius in 1631 . 9*
Probability of the Island of Madeira being thrown

up by an explosion of subterraneous fire . 9ft
?. Of Monte Secco, frequently called Vesuvius in

miniature . ib,

8. Of Monte Nuovo . . 100

9. New islands . f . . ib,

10. Burning islands j . 101

11. Of Mount Hecla: particular account of a journey

thither . f . 102

12. Of Guadaloupe. Volcanos there, and in many of

the American islands . . 103

13. Of the Pike of Teneriffe . . 104

14. Of earthquakes . . . 105
Various causes of earthquakes , . ib.


Of artificial earthquakes . 106
Uncommon accounts of large rivers, and even seas,

communicating by subterraneous passages . '107
Pliny's account of Mount Cymbotus, a town, and a

city, totally swallowed up . . 109
Pliny's relation of rifty-four cities, and a great num.

ber of villages, swallowed by an earthquake in

1693 . . .lift

Father Kiicher's account of a dreadful earthquake

at Calabria, in 1638 . . Ill

15. Destruction of Port Royal, ia Jamaica . 113
Account of that dreadful earthquake in 1692, by an

eye witness . . ib.

The rector of Port Royal's account of it : 114'

16. Destruction of Lima . . 116
17 Callao, the port of Lima * ib,

18. A remarkable deliverance from snow at a village

under the Alps . . ib-.

19. Of Poole's-Hole, and Elden-Hole, in Derbyshire 2O
Of the Giant's Causeway, in Ireland . ib*
Subterraneous nre of charmless nature, in Persia 121

20. Eaithquakes caused by electricity . 122

21. Account of a burning- well . . 123

22. Of another, at Brosely . ' ib,.

23. A fire of the same kind at Pietta Mala, a village on

the Appenines . .. . 125>
Another of the same kind, called Grotto del Cam',
near Naples, with experiments of an English gen-

tleman . _ .. ib

24. A burning vapour in Wales .- 327
25. Persons consumed by internal fire ,. ib.

Sundry instances thereof abroad * 128
Two instances thereof in England . 129 13O

26. Sparkles issuing from a person's clothes , ib.

217. Of glass . . ib
a 3

i Vlll


Probable discovery thereof, by accident, in some

Sidonian travellers . . 131

28. Of the Bologna bottle; with curious experiments

thereon . . . 132

29. Of the glass-drop . . 133
Of the invention of gunpowder . 334

30. Ot the nature and the properties of air . ib.
The weight or gravity of air . 136
f he elasticity of air , . 138
Experiments on air . . . 141
Of the air pump , . , 142
Farther experiments on air ,143

31. Air is in all our fluids . i 144

32. Air is the cementing^ and dissolving principle ]46"

33. Air increases the weight of oil of vitriol . 149

34. Air is capable of immense expansion . ib.

35. Difference between fixed and common air r iso-


Of Meteors.

J. Of vapours, mists, and clouds , 15*

2. Of dew and rain . , 153

Mr. Kersbaw's observations on dew I 3,54

The various causes of rain - . . ib.

A kind of bloody rain * . 155


Other singularities in rain ; , 15$

3. Of snow and hail . . ib.

4. Of the rainbow * .- 358

5. Of the halo, frequently seen round the sun or moon 150
0. Of mock suns and moons . * Jb,

7. Of thunder and lightning . . 160

8. Of damps . . 162
Peculiar fatal effects of damps . 164

,A kind of murrain ascribed to damps . 165

f . Of ignes fatui ; vulgarly called Will with the wisp ib.

Singular kinds of lambent fires . 167

Water luminous in the Gulph of Venice . ib.

Various sorts of fish that are luminoas * I6fr

Of sundry other luminous bodies , 169

Of the splendor of sea-water . , 172

Of the light of a glow- worn* . , 173

Of falling stars . . 174

10. Of electricity . , ib.

New discoveries in electricity 177

Glass very difficultly electrified * 181
^Many appearances in nature accounted for by elec-

tricity . . 185>

Common, as well as electric fire, is in all bodies 189
Experiment, shewing that electric fire is the same as

lightning r , ib,

Instance of a paralytic disorder cured by' lightning 190

Of the aurora borealis, or northern lights . 192

Of what is termed St. Helmo's fire . 193

Electricity quickens all sorts of motion t 194

Experiments on the electricity of hair . 195
Danger of dressing the head with metal pins, or

wire , . . T08

11. Of ether of plants , , ib.

12. Of wind . r y 200

The heat in the West India islands intolerable,

were it not for the sea-breezes . 200

Extraordinary variation of winds at Aleppo, -from

extreme cold to extreme heat . ib.

A wind of a peculiar kind passed over Rome in 1749 201
Of the motions of hurricanes . ib.

Of one species of hurricanes called water-spouts 202

Distinct account of three water-spouts on the coast

of Barbary . . 203

Singularity of the storms on the Fetter, a lake in

Gothland . . 204

. Reflections . . 205

Of the usefulness of the atmosphere to the whole

globe . . . ib,>

The excellent use of the atmosphere in respect of

two of its meteors, the winds, and the clouds and

rain . . . 20<?

Farther reflections, in the words of Mr. Hervey 21 1 218



Of the System of the World: of the Heavenly
Bodies ; and of the Properties and Causes
of Natural Bodies.


Of the System of the World.

1. The general phenomena of the sun and moon 219

2. Of mercury and venus . . 220

3. Of the other planets : mars, jupiter, and saturn ib.

4. Of the comets and fixed stars , . ib.

5. The Ptolemaic system . . ib

6. The Copernican system . . 221

7. The system of TychoBrahe . . 222

8. The Hu4chinsonian system . 223
$>. The advantages of the rotation of the earth 22?


Of the Heavenly Bodies in particular.

Of the sun . . 230

Mr. Huygeas's observations on the sun , 33,



How the sun is eclipsed < .231

2. Of mercury . , 232

3. Ofvenus . S

4. Of the earth . ; . ib.
The different seasons depend on the different posi-
tions of the earth with respect to the sun . ib.

3. Of the moon . . , 2.33

Of the motion of the moon . . ib.

The opinions of various authors respecting the moon 234
The moon supposed to be inhabited as well as the

earth . . . ib,

Mr. Huygens's observations on the moon . 235

The benefit we receive from the moon . 235

6. Of mars . . 23*

7. Of jupiter, and his satellites . ib.

8. Of saturn . ib.
The magnitude of the different planets computed by

miles . . . 239

9. Of comets . ib
Sir Isaac Newton's observations on the extreme heat

of comets . . . 24O

Comets, a peculiar kind of planets . . ib

The great use of comets . . ib.

Of the astronomy of comets ,* . 241
Of the power of attraction and repulsion in various

bodies . . . 243

Of a species of comets that have no tails . 244

Comets with tails seldom visible . 245

10. The fixed stars . . 247
Of the number of stars s' ib.
Of the seven stars . ; ib*
Of the appearance and disappearance of various new

stars % . .24*

11. "Reflections . . ib-
On the situation of the heavenly bodies . ib*



On the motions of the heavens and the earth . 24 g

The diurnal motion of these globes . ib.

The annual motions of the heavenly bodies . 250
Tilt- perpetuity, constancy, and regularity, of those

motions . . ib.

Of the figures of the heavenly bodies . 251

Of the peculiar advantages we receive from the sun 253

Of the need of the absence of the sun in the night ib.

Farther improvements, in the words of Mr. Hervey 255

*2. Doubts concerning modern astronomy . 259
Mr. Kennedy's observations on astronomical chro-
nology . . .265
Scriptural account of the position of the sun and

moon at the creation . . ib.

Mr. Ferguson's observations of the fixed stars 268
Mr. Boyle's remark upon the whole cf natural

philosophy . . ib.
Short observations on the whole present system of

philosophy . . , 373





Of Earth 9 Water) Fire, Air, and Meteors.


Of Earth and Water.

1. Of the Formation of the 8. Of Tee.

Earth. g. Of Fountains.

!2. Sand probably its general jo. Of the Sea.

Cover. 1 1 Of Rivers and Islands.

3. An-Inundation of Sand. 12. Of the Bason of the Sea,

4. Of Mountains. 13. Of the Tides.

5. The Benefuof Mountains. 14. Of Currents in the Sea.

6. The Height of Mountains. 15. Of subterraneous Trees*

7. Of Water. 16. Origin of Bogs.


HE EA&TH or terraqueous globe is a conge-
ries of many different bodies. It contains sand, clay,
various sorts of earth, stones, salts of various kinds, sul-
phur, bitumen, metals, minerals, and other fossils almost
innumerable. Upon the earth are the waters, and on or
near its surface animals and vegetables of all kinds. But
how was this whole mass formed iuto mountains, valleys,
seas, rivers, and islands ] DCS Cartes advances one hypo-
thesis. Dr. Buraet another. Mr. Hutclunson a third.
VOL. in. B

And each world-builder advances plausible reasons for
his own hypothesis. But none of those reasons are de^
fnonstrative : higher than probability they cannot go.

That the earth is round, manifestly appears from the
elipsesof the moon, in all which the shadow appears
circular, v hich way seever it be projected. The natural
cause of its roundness, is the great principle of attrac-
tion, which the creator has stamped on all the mat-
ter of th~ universe, whereby all bodies, and all the
parts of bodies continually attract each other. By this
means, as ail the parts of bodies tend naturally to their
centre, so they take a gk>bous figure, unless some other
more prevalent cause interpose. Hence drops of quick-
silver put on a spherical form, the parts strongly attract-
ing each other. Drops of water Jjave the same form
when falling in the air, but are only half round when
they lie on a hard body, because their gravity o^ 7 erpow-
ers their attraction. Yet the earth is not exactly round,
but swells out towards the equator, and is flutter to-
wards the poles, which is supposed to be occasion-
ed l-\ the diurnal rotation of the earth on its axis.
By tliis means the ?rea1er diameter exceed** the less
about 34 wiles. V*nat the earth loses of its sphericity
x by mountains and vales is nothing considerable : the
highest eminence ben?g scarce equivalent to the smallest
pro* '.Iterance on the surface f ar orange. The diame-
ter of ihe earth is suppi s; d to b< 79^7 ? -i'^-

Tn the terraqueous globe are, ]. TLe external part,
from which vegetables grow, and asiiuii-.'su-e lu^r isii-ed :
2. The middle part, which is possess* d by l^sils, and
extends l;ii.l' r \\i.\n human labour ran pe tt ate:
5. The inte -nal, whic'u -o^:^ svpose to l>e a orrat load-
stone : some a large miusj of fire : some :: collection of
waters : aiul others, a hollo VN ap,:e iuiv. bited b\
mals, v hich have their sun, moon, and . .i other couve.*
nienCt-s, t ^ culiar to themst5ves. But inoaed of that we
know nothing. The deepest cavities natural or artifi-
cial, known to us, scarce penetrating a mile below the

la the external part we meet with various strata, which

were doubtless formed by the general deluge. TI;e ex-
terior parts of the earth were then dissolved, and mixed
with the waters in one common mass. Afterward they
sunk, nearly according to the laws of gravity, the heavi-
est first,* and the lighter in their order. So were these
strata formed, which hardening by degree?, have con-
tinued ever since. It is probable these lay more regu-
larly at first, bnt have been "much changed in process of
time, and their order disturbed by earthquakes, volcano*,
and -divers other causes.

The earth is nearer the sun at Christmas than at W
summer, as appears both from the sun's apparent <ib.
ter being greater in December th;w June, and from i's
motion being then swifter. Hence it is that there .are
about eight days more in the jammer half ywr, from
March to September, tlum in the winter h
September to March,

That the earth moves round its own axis, not the sun
and stars round the earth, may appear from this single
consideration. AH the planets revolve in more or less
time, as their orbits are greater or less, if then they mo-
red round the earth, they must revolve in unequal tiajes,
recording to their orbits ; not all in the same time, in
Four and twenty hours, as they seem to do. Therefore,
:hey do not move round the earth ; but the earth, as the
*est, round -its own axis.

That it .moves also round the sun appears thus, All
Bodies which turn round each otker, must gravitate to-
varcl* each other : consequently if the sun gravitates to
he earth, so must the earth to the sun. Now it is de*
nonstrable, that when two bodies gravitate to each other,
vithout approaching each other in right lines, they both
urn round their common centre of gravity. But the
arth being no more than a point to the sun, the common
eatre of these two bodies will be within the body of
he sun itself and not far from the centre of it. The
arth therefore turns round a point which is in the sun :
onsequentlj round the sun. Indeed to suppose the
arth at rest, destroys all the order and harmony of tlie
, annuls its laws, and sets every part at


with the others. It renders the motions of the planets
utterly inexplicable, which are otherwise plain and

Sor is the motion of the earth, whatever is -vulgarly
supposed, contrary to any part of the scripture. No
other ideas are to be affixed to the words of scripture,
than such 'as occur to one who looks at the thing
spoken of. By the sun's rising, therefore, when men-
tioned in scripture, we are to understand no more than
the sun's appearing again in the horizon, after he had
been hid below it: and by his setting, his ceasing to
appear. And when the sun and moon are said to stand
still, it means only that they did not change their situa-
tion in respect of the earth : that the sun still appearec
just over Gih j on t and the moon over the valley
djalon. If' it be said, " But David speaks of the Sun
running its course? we may answer over and above, the
v/ord here used does not mean the orb or body of the
stm, but always his rays or beams.

2. It is probable sand was once the exterior cover 01
the whole earth. All our northern mountains are
more or less, covered with it at this day. And the
higher the mountain, the courser the sand. The rivers
rising in the mountains, still daily bring it down ii
large quantises. And that it has been so in all ages
since the iirst nuns fell on the earth, seems highly pro
bable> in that the mouths of rivers, and entrances o
harbours, are usually barred with it. And if you pierce
deep into the low ground near rivers, you find thi
mouii tain-sand in great quantities: it was the more ii
to be the general cover of the earth, because of it
great hardness, and consequently durafeleness, Mouu
taiti sand, above all other, not being made (as mud
sand is) by attrition, steadily keeps its original figur
and magnitude.

All sands are either natural or factitious. Natu?a
sands are those which have been in the same or nearl)
the same state from the creation, diffused through ai
the parts of the earth. Sand, viewed in a microscope

is no more tlrau a parcel of little stones : doubtless,
therefore, they must have begun to exist, and keen
formed by the same laws that stones were formed by.
Now stones were formed first ink) hard and solid
'masses, in proportion to the' quantity of similar "mate-
rials," and proper cement. Where there was a great
quantity*^' lapideous particles, and few heierogenous
mixtures, there strata, rocks, and large stones were
formed. But where the lapideous particles were scat-
tered and disunited by the intervention of other bodies,
there small rubble-stones, grave!, girts, and the smallest
and most numerous of all stones, sand, coalesced into-'
minute glebes. This probably was the process in every
part of the earth ; so that sand is one of the primaeval
bodies, concreted at the same time with stones, upon
the highest mountains as well as in the valleys; and at
the bottom of the sea, as well as upon dry land.

Besides this natural sand, there is also a factitious one,
which owes its origin to the fretting of river or sea- ,
water. For water, always in motion, preys upon the
stones and grinds them by degrees into stony powder,
which we call sand; hence it is that the sand of a par-
ticular stone, cove, or bay, has generally the same
colour, and, in a microscope, the same structure, as the
rocks and stones of the adjacent cliff, and the strata
under the sea, upon which the waves are perpetually
working, and driving into the sea what they dash off
from those strata.

3. We have heard of large bodies of sand moving
together in the Deserts of Arabia. But has any thing
of the kind been know in England 1 There has, and
that very lately. It is not a century, says Mr. Wright,
since our sands, wear De>vnham, in Suffolk, first broke
prison. la a warren near Lakenheath, an impetuous
south-west wind having broken the sand of some sand-
hills, the sand blew upon the adjacent grounds, -which
being much of the same nature, the thin crust of
barren earth was soon rotted and dissolved by this
sand laying upon, it, and thereby fitted to bear it


company in its strange progress. At its first ernpfTom

the whole magazine of sand could ot cover above

eight or ten acres of land. But it increased inlo a

thousand acres before the sand hivd travelled four

miles Above thirty years since it rochet! the bounds

of this town, where for ten or twelve years it did BO

considerable mischief: because , its course was then

down the bill, which sheltered it from the wind that

gave it motion. But the valley once past, it went

above a mile (uphill) hi two months-time. It over-run

tv/o hundred acres of good corn that same year. It is

now got into the body of this little town, where it has

buried several houses ; and the remainder have been-

preserved at more expcnce than they were wdlth. At

the other uwl of the town divers houses are buried,

aad our pastures and meadows destroyed. A branch

of the river Ouse, upon which we border, for three

* together is more thaa half filled up with sand*

And had r.ofc this interposed to stop its passage into

Norfolk, doubtless a considerable part of that county

Lad e'er now been left a desolate trophy of this coa~

quericg enemy.

4. One cf the most considerable parts of the earth f*
the nioantaics. There is a remarkable irregularity in
tfaeir figure, and (so far as we can judge) an entire-
neglect of order in their situation. The far greater
farf of them are hollow, and contain beds of stone*
ifret'ais or uiiiienjls. And doubtless such there were
ih ; ihfc ci-ealiov;, i-o though not so high, steep, or rugged

For thee vast rmvs^es aren.t, ss s< vac have supposei\
janere iiicumbiances cf the creatioii: rude and useless
excre&ceiises of ihegiole; but Uiiswer many excel t
oses.' They are contrived and ordered 6y the \v\ae
Creator for this grand use in particular, to dispense the
Kiost nef-i. i?ion of water to aii the parts o:

'.tliout wbicli neitiHir auiau?ls could live, plants
grew, nor |trhaps fossils receive any increase. "For
tiie surface of tke earth even and level, there could be \
no descent for the waters, but instead of gliding along

those gtrttle declivities, quite down to the sea, they
would drown large tracts of land, and then stagnate and

Indeed, without hills, as there could be no rivers, so
neither could there be any springe, which we continually
6nd in or near high grounds, very rarely on spacious
plains. When we do iind any there, it is generally at
great and inconvenient depths. And even these are
probably owing to hills, cither near or at some distance :
es we may gather from the impetuous manner wherein
these subterraneous waters break out, when wells are
dug in the Lower Austria, or in several parts of Italy.
A ad if there are some islands, which seem void of
xnountains, and nevertheless fire well watered ; in
reality, the whole mass of land is no other than one
niouhtaip, descending gently <ind imperceptibly down,
from tlie midland parts to the sea.

5. The benefit of mountains in general js not only,
that Vapours driven against them are condensed, so as* to
be precipitated through the chinks of the rocks, but that
afterwards in their bowels they are preserved till they
form rivulets, and then rivers. Vapours would fall ia
ram or dew though there were no mountains, but then
they would fall equally, over considerable places of the
globe at once, aijd so would be sucked deep in the
ground, or make an universal puddle ; whereas by
means of mountains they are perpetually pouring down
in particular places, and treasuring up a. constant supply
to the rivers. Another considerable use of them is
the determination of these rivers; for if . there could

Online LibraryJohn WesleyA survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 24)