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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Whereas instead of this, vvnich would be infinitely per-
nicious, they coalesce into globules, and ajre dispensed
in gentle showers. They spread themselves as if strained
through the orifices of the finest watering pots, and form
those small drops of rain which the clouds distil upon
man abundantly. Thus instead of drowning the earth,
aud sweeping away its fruits, they cherish universal

nature, aocl (like their great master) distribute tlierr
?tres, to men, animals, ami -vegetables, as ihty are alls
to bear them.

ft But brside waters,, here are'cantoned various par-
ties of winds,, mild- or fierce-,- ireuht' or boisterous, fur-
nished with hixezy wings, tojfa/r 4 he glowing firmament",
or else fitted to act as- an universal keeioirr-,- and by
jiweeping the chambers or" the atmosphere to cleanse the
line aerial fluid. . \Vithou4 this wholesome agency of tiie
winds, the air would stagnate and become putrid : so-
tluit ail the threat cities 1*1 the world, instead of being
seats of elegance, would decent rat^'iato sinks of -corrup-

" At sea, the winds swell the mariner's sails, and
speed his course along the watry way By land they
perform the office of an immense seed\ man, scattering
abroad the setds of .numberless plains, which, though
the support of many aninr<us r .are too small for the nia-*
nagement, or too mean for the attention of man.

" Here are lightnings stationed, in act to spring when-
ever their piercing flask ia iu ees^ry, either ts deshoy
the sulphureous vapour : or disiocige an v other noxious
matter, wiucii might prejudice the delicate temptrdture
of tiie ether, and obscure it^ m)re.tUan cr^staline tra-iis*

" Above all is sitiu^e a radiant and inajestic orb>
\vhich enil^tsi, is ai-d c'u-ers ti:- inhabitants of the eartii :
\v_hile ihe ^;. t y a scalar address, an. p.tifits \*..* us^tul-
Jiets. Its njlecting power au^meiits I'-ii-it L^-ui, wiiich is
the life of iiucure : ii re fry ding powc-r prolongs that
splendor, wi> n \^ the utc -. v of UK- creation.

" I say augments the ii^at. For the air is a ewer-
\vhich, .\vitlu-.ut opprt-ssing us with any percciva!;.
cenfine*, reLects, and tliert -by increases the vivifying i
of.lhe suiu Ti.e i'ir iiic.^ases ^-.13 r^urh in tne

as our clothes give aikhtiGiiui titat to our bodj :


re as '^ hen it is less in quantify, when it is attenuated,
tbesoferh< vifcry sensibly dijriinishecL Travellers on

The lofty mountains of America, sometimes experience
this -to their co^t. Though the dime at. the foot of those
Tast mountains, is exiieiijcly hot and sultry, yet at the
top the cold is so excessive, as often to freeze both the
. horse and rider to death. We have the re Tore great reason
to praise God, for placing us in the commodious conca-
-yily, the cherishing wings of an atniosphtie.

"' The emanations of light, though formed of inactive
matter, yet -(astonish ji<f power of divine wisdom!) are
.refined almost to the subtiiity of spirit, a:>d are scarce
; -/inferior even to thought in speed. By ttiiich means they
-spread with almost instantaneous swiftness, through a
whole hemisphere: and though they fill whatever they
.pervade, yet they straiten no place, emban ass no one,
Cucumber nothing

41 Every where indeed, and in -every element we may
discern the footseps of the (Creator's wisdom. The
spacious canopy over our heads is painted with bine;
and the airpl" carpet under our feet is -tinged with, green.
These colours, by their soft and cheering qualities, yield
a perpetual refreshment to the eye. "Whereas, had the
face of nature glittered with white, or glowed with scar-
let, such d'cizling hues, instead of cheering, vumid have
fatigued ihe sight. Besides, as Ji several brighter
-colours are intersperse^!, and ibnn ine pictures in this
magnificent pirce, the green and the blue make an ad-
.mir'ablv ground, which shews them all to the utmost ad-

" Had the air been mucn grosser , it would have dim-
rned ih?. rays of liie sun, and darkened tJ<e day. Our
lungs would have been clogged in heir vstai function,
and irs^r drowned, or suffocated therein. Were ii much
rrno subtle, bir ! \\<tuld not be ab!e to wing their way
through the firmament : neither could the clouds be sus-
tained, in so thin an atmosphere. It would elude \ike~



\vise the organs of respiration: we should gasp for
breath with as much difficulty, and as little success as
fishes do, when out of their native element.

" The ground also is wrought into the most proper
temperature. Was it of a firmer consistence it would
be impenetrable io the plough, and* unmanageable by the
spade. Was it of a more loose composition, it would be
incapable of supporting its own furniture. The light
mould would be swept away by whirling winds, or
soaked into sloughs by the descending rains. Again, be-
cause every place suits not every plant, but that which
nourishes one, destroys another : the qualities of the
earth are so abundantly diversified as to ar.conrodate
every species. We have a variety of intermediate soils,
from the loose sand to the stiff clay ; from the rough
projection of the craggy rock, to the soft bed of the
smooth parterre.

*' The sea carries equal evidences of a most wise and
gracious ordination. Was it larger, we should have
wanted land for pasturage and husbandry. W r e should
not have had room for mines, and forests, our subter-
ranean warehouses, and aereaf timber-yards. Was it
smaller, it could not recruit the sky with a proper quan-
tity of exhalations : nor supply the earth with a necessary
quota of fructifying showers.

" May we not discover as exquisite strokes of wisdom
in each individual object] All that shines in he hea-
vens, and all that smiles on the earth, speak their infi-
nitely wise Creator. Need we launch into the praise of
the vallies clothed with grass, or of the fields replenished
with corn ? Even the ragged rocks, which frown over
the flood, the caverned quarries which yawn amidst the
land, together with the shapeless and enormous mount-
ains, which seem to load the ground, and encumber the
skies ; even these contribute to increase tlie general
pleasure, and augment the general usefulness. They


add new charms to the wide level of our plains, and
sheltei, like a feci'eeu, the warn! lap of our vales.

" W ho is not charmed with t!ie delicious fruits of
summer emd autumn? But were all our trees and shrubs
t -roducc such fruits, what would become of the birds 1
.itn-ili a part would voracious man resign to their
ekiJTrvHicnt ? To provide therefore for each vagrant of
the air, as well as for the sovereign of a nation, there is
in all places a large growth of shrubs, annually covered
with course and hardy berries : so coarse -in tiieir taste,
that they are unworthy of the acceptance of man : so
hardy in their make, that they endure the utmost seve-
rity of the weather, and furnish the feathered tribes
with a standing repast amidst all the desolatious of

" The Hr, the beech, the elm, are stately decorations
of our rural seats. But if there were no entangling
thickets, no prickly thorns, where would the farmer pro-
cure fences ? How could he secure his vegetable wealth
from the flocks and the herds ? Those roving plunder-
ers, which submit to no laws, but those of the coercive

" We spare no toil, to have useful herbs and plants
in our gardens, and upon our tables. But there are in-
numerable herbs, which pass under the contemptible
character of weeds, and yet are full as desirable to other
classes of creatures, as these are to mankind. Yet who
will be at the pains to plant, to water, to cultivate, such
despicable productions ? Man would rather extirpate
than propagate, these incumbrances of his land. There-
fore providence vouchsafes to be their gardener, and has
wrought off their seeds with such a lightness, that they
are transported to and fro, by the mere undulations of
the air. Or, if too heavy, to be wafted by the breeze,
they are fastened to \viugs of down : or else inclosed
in a springy case, which forcibly bursting, shoots them
out on every side. By some such means, the reprodu-


cing principle of every one is disseminated, the univer-
sal granary -filled, and the universal board famished.
The buzzing insect and the creeping worm, have^each
his bill of fare. Each enjoys a never failing treat, equi-
valent to our greatest delicacies.

" If grass was scarce as the Guernsey lilly, and as dif-
ficultly raised as the tuberose, how certainly, and how
speedily, must many millions of animals perish by. famine.
But as all the cattle owe their chier subsistence to this,
by a singular wisdom in the divine economy, it waiteth
not, like the corn field, and the garden bed, /or the an-
nual labours of man. When once sown, though ever so
frequently cropt, it revives with the returning season,
Wilh a kind of perennial verdure, it covers our meadows,
diffuses itself over the plains, springs up in every glade
of the forest, and spreads a side board in the most se-
questered nook.

" Such is the care of a wise and condescending provi-
dence, even over these lowest formations of nature 1"


"Of the System of the World; Of the Heavenly

-De-dies- ; and of the Properties and Causes

of Natural Bodies.

CHAP. 1.

Of the System of the JFo'rld.

t!. ^The General Phenomena of 6. The Coperntcan.

the Sun and Mr, -on. 7. The System of TychoBralie,

2. Of Meicury and Verms. 8. The Hutchinsonian System.

-3. Of the other Planets. 9. Advantages from the Rotation

4. Of the Comets and fixed Stars. of the Eanh,
- 5. The Ptolemaic System,

. H

. AVING considered the earth, with the bodies
that are therein, let MS now look up to those that sur-
round it. The world is a congeries of innumerable
bodies, many ot which are supposed to equal, or
exceed the* size olf the earth : yet by reason of their
distance, most of them are invisible to the naked

The nearest 'to Us is the moon, which moves round
the earth in sonieihin more than twenty-eight days from
west t( rust. The sun likewise seems to move from east
'to we-i, Hnd shiueb successively on all parts of the ^iobe.

VOL. iii. L


It appears also to us to move every year obliquely
from west to east, coming twenty-three degrees and
a half to the north, and then going just as tar to the

2. Some of the stars keep always the same distance,
\vith respect to each other, and are termed fixed. Others
are continually changing their situation, .whence they are
termed planets. Two of these, Mercury and Venus,
are frequently between the earth and the sun : of which
the former being generally hid by the rays of the sun, is
seldom visible : but Venus, commonly called the even-
ing star, is very conspicuous. The earth is never be-
tween them and the sun. They are sometimes between
us and him. Sometimes the sun is interposed between
us and them.

3. The upper planets are Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
The sun is sometimes between these and the earth. But
none of them is ever interposed between the earth and
the sun. Mars has different appearances, like the moon,
as it is differently situated, with regard to the sun :
whereas Jupiter and Saturn always appear with the same
aspect, ar.d have smaller planets revolving round them.
All these revolve round the sun, in their several stated

4. Beside these, there is another kind of stars called
comets, vulgarly blazing stars. These do not revolve
round the sun, in so regular orbits as the planets. The
fixed stars are above these: about 2200 are visible to
the naked eye. These have a vivid light, and always ap-
pear with the same face towards us: they seem to have
a twofold motion, a slow one from east to west in a
year, and a swift one round the earth with all the other
stars in four and twenty hours. But there are some of
them which never set, namely those near the north or
south pole.

5. To explain these phenomena of the heavenly


bodies, various systems have been invented. The Ptole*
male supposes the earth to be fixed in the centre of the
universe, round which all the heavenly bodies move, each
affixed to a solid sphere which moves with it : first the
moon, then Mercury, thirdly, Venus, next the sun, fifthly,
Mars, then Jupiter, seventhly, Saturn. In the eighth place
is the firmanent, or sphere of fixed stars ; then the crvs'
talline heaven; and last of all the primum mobile, which
is supposed to move from east to west in twenty-four
hours, whirling all the other spheres with it. But this
system, being in some respects obviously false, in
others utterly improbable, and likewise insufficient to
account for many phenomena, is now universally ex-

6. In the room of this, Ihe Copernican system is now
generally received, which supposes the sun to be fixed
in the centre, without any other motion, than that round
his own axis. Next him is Mercury, then Venus, thirdly, '
the earth, (round which the moon 'revolves) above the
earth, Mars, then Jupiter, and Saturn, with their atten-
dant moons. This system is extremely simple and natu-
ral, and easily accounts for most phenomena. As to the
objection, that it is contrary to the testimony of our
senses, it is easily answered. They who are in a ship
seem to see the shore and the land moving along, al-
though it is really the ship that moves. Yet let it move
ever so swiftly* it displaces nothing, provided it move
smoothly. So neitber does the motion of the earth dis-
place any thing on its surface, because it is equable and

Not that Copernicus was the inventor of this system.
It was in great part known long ago. Pythagoras taught,
" that the earth was carried about the sun among the
stars, and by turning round its axis, caused day and
night." Yet by degrees it sunk into oblivion, till it was
revived by cardinal Cusa. However the Ptolemaic sys-
tem still prevailed, till Nicholas Copernicus, a canon of
Thorn, in Polish Prussia, born in the year 1473, had re-
solution to examine it thoroughly, and learning enough

to explain and defend it. Some of the reasons on
this system is ' founded are, . 1. This is most simple and
agreeable TO the whole tenure of nature : tor by the t\vo
motions of the earth,- all the phenomena of the heavens
are resolved,, which on any of the other hypothesis are
.utterly inexplicable. 2. It is more rational to suppose
the earth moves round the sun, than -that the huge bodies
of the planets and of the sun itself, and the immense
firmament of stars, should all move round the 'inconsider-
able body of earth every four and twenty hours. 3. The
earth's moving round the sun is agreeable to that general
harmony and universal law, -which ail other moving
bodies of the system observe, namely, that the squares
; of the periodical times are as the cubes of the distances.
But if the sun move round the earth, that law is de-
stroyed, and the general order and symmetry of nature
interrupted ; = because according to that law, the sun
would be so far from revolving about the earth jn 365
clays, that it would, require not less than 5106 years, to
..finish one revolution. 4. The sun is the fountain of
light and heat, which it darts tjiroiurh the *v hole system,
and therefore it ought to be placed, as the heart in the
centre, that so all the planets may at all times have them,
in an uniform and equal manner. .5. If the
placed in the centre of tire system, we have then the ra-
tional hypothesis of the planets being all moved about
the sun, .by the universal law of gravity : and every thing
.will answer to that law; but otherwise we are wholly ia
the dark. 6. But we need not rely upon corj jactures.
: \Ve have demonstrative proofs, that the sun possesses the
centre, and that the planets move round it, in the order
above mentioned. For example. Mercury and Venus
are ever observed to have two conjunctions with the sun,
but no opposition, which could not happen unless the
orbits of those planets lay wJthiitthe, orbit of the earth,
A !(i in the same manner it may be demonstrated, that
th * orbits ot Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, lie. without tue
orbit of the earth.

7, After Copernicus, came Tycho Brahe, a noble

; \vlio endeavoured to compound a system of the
Ftblemaic and Copernioan put together ; but it was
quickly found by all OH prejudiced judges, to be so in-
tricate -and perplexed, that it had not many asset tors
even while he. lived, and is now \veil nigh sunk into .obli-

8. Mr. Hulchinsori (not the professor of Glatgotor, but
a private English gentleman) supposes the constituent
parts of iicaven to be, l.The darkness, or dark air,
which is no other than the line ether in a state of stagna-
tion : 2. The -spirit, or the air in a sensible motion: 3.
The Hqht, the finest part of the heavens, the pure ether
in motion 4. The luminaries, and their jinxes. Under-
stand by the luminaries, Lie ladies of the sun, moon,
and blurs: by their Jinxes the ilow of light tl at rouses
from each of them. .Revelation constantly distinguishes
these. Therefore it is very improper for us to con-
found them together, Indeed every one knows, that
though the bodies of the sun, moon, and stars, take
up but a small part of the heavens, yet the fluxes of
light from them diffuse themselves throughout all na-

The springing forth of the solar light causes the
Hkornmg; its going off, the evening. Its being inter-
cepted by the body of the earth causes night 5 its shin-
ing causes day. It acts in a mechanical way, and is
part of the great machine of nature. It is in continual
motion to, and from the body of the sun,: going out
from the centre to the circumference of the heavens,
and returning to the centre again. The solar light,
along with the spirit, which continually attends it,
is the cause of the regular returns of morning and
evening, summer and winter. The spirit and light are
properly the agent, and the earth only the patient. Its
motion round its axis, and round the sun, and its inclin-
ing northward and southward at different times, are all
produced by the action of the light goini^ outward, aud
liie spirit returning inward. 5. The densities, vvhick
L 3


form the extremity of the whole system of nature ; the
dense, gross air, out of which the tine ether is extracted,
and into which it returns. The heavens will naturally be
grosser and grosser, the farther from the sun, till per-
hapSj at the utmost extremity, they are condensed into
an immoveable solid.

These are the constituent parts of the heavens. And
hence we have reason to conceive, that ail these parts,
(the sun, nioon, and, stars excepted)are no other than the
different states into which the ethereal fluid does, or may
pass. For the darkness is _the fine atoms of the heaven
in a state of inactivity. The spirit is the grosser parts
of the heavens, or masses compressed together ; while
the light ii> the atoms or finest part of the ether in swift
motion. At the centre, the commotion is greatest, and
gradually decreases towards the circumference, where
the ether is very much condensed, and this is called the
/ density.

He far; her supposes, that the sun is the centre of the
whole universe; that the fixed stars are all placed in the
.density, not far from each other, and abundantly nearer
the earth z than common astronomers imagine, and that
their use is not to perform the office of suns to other
planets, but to assist in that cold region, to supply in
some decree, the want of the solar fire.

Perhaps it may not be unacceptable to the serious
reader, to give a more particular account of this ingenious
hypothesis, in the words of a late writer. The sum of
what Mr. Hutchinson avers, is, that beside the differ-
ently formed particles of which the earth, and the
.several solid substances in it, and in the other orbs, are
composed, God at rirst created all that subtle fluid which
DOW is, and from the creation has been, in the condition
of^re, light) or air, and goes under the name of the

Tiie particles of this fluid (which he calls atoms),
when they are single and uncompounded, are inconceiv-
ably minute, and so subtle as to pervade the pores of all
substances whatever, whether solid or fluid. When they


are pushed forward in strait lines, by the action of fire,
or are reflected, or refracted in strait lines, they produce
light, and are so called. When the interposition of
opake bodies hinders their progress in strait lines, they
pass, but cease to produce light.

These particles, which when moving in strait lines pro-
duce light, and when collected and put into another sort
of motion, produce fire, when the force impelling them
ceases to act with vigour, and when their motion is re-
tarded, cohere in small masses or grains, which Mr.
Hutchinson calls spirit, or air, and is of the same
kind and texture with that air which we daily

The sun fixed at the centre of this system, is included
111 a vast collection of this subtle matter, iu the form of
fire, which continually melts down all the air that is
brought into it from all parts or the system, into atoms,
and with an immense force, sends it forth in perpetual
streams of light, to the circumference. The whole space
comprehended within this, is absolutely full.

The matter thus melted down at the orb of the sun,
moves outward to the circumference, and being forced
by the particles which are concreted into air at the ut-
most extremities, returns toward the sun, where the fluid
being most subtle, gives least resistance, ami takes up the
place that the ligiit left.

And therefore this uninterrupted flux of matter from
the sun in light, in place of being an expense whiclr
would necessarily destroy that orb (an insupportable ob-
jection, Mr. Hutchinson thinks, to Sir Isaac Newton's
scheme,) is ihe very means of preserving it, and every
thing else in this ssste , in its aciioti and vigour, by pres-
sing back perpetual supplies of air. to be melted down
inta I gut, which produces a continual circulation. These
perpetual tides of matter outwards and inwards, in
every point from tue centre to the circumference, pro-
duce that constant gyration in the earth, and the planets
round their own centre, and round the sun.

Besides the rotation of the orbs, the adverse motion
of the ligiit pushing toward the circumference, aud the
l* 4


air pushing toward the centre with immense
that com pressure on all the bodies it meets, that binds
together solids, keeps fluids as they we-re, causes th<3
rising of water, the production of vegetables and an-i-
mais, and in short, produces- all the effects- usually as-
cribed to gravitation or- attraction ; continues motion -,
without the assistance of the unmechanical principle of
projection, and is indeed the real cause of almost all the
effects and phenomena iu nature.

As immensely different as this is,- from all the other-
systems of astronomy, very probable arguments are al-
ledged in confirmation of it. And more than proba-
bility, I doubt, we shall never .attain, .with regard to
things at so great a distance from ivs.

But v. hat a strange discovery is tlrat, which lias been
lately communicated by an eminent professor to the Royal
Society? " Having carefully examined the modem
observations of the sun, with those of some centuries
past, though I have gone no farther back than the fif-
teenth century, yet I have observed that the motion of
the sun, (or of the earth) is sensibly accelerated since that
time, so that the years are shorter now than formerly.
The reason of- this is very. natural. . For if the -earth in
its motion suffers some resistance (which cannot be
doubted since the. space through which the planets pass,
is full of some subtle matter, were it ne other -than light)
this resistance will gradually bring the planets nearer
and nearer the sun. And as their orbits thereby become
less, so their periodical times will be diminislied*. Thus
in time the earth would conie within the regions of Ve-
nus, then of Mercury, where, it would necessarily be
burnt. Hence it is manifest, that the planetary system
cannot last for ever in its present state : as also that this
system must have had a beginning; otherwise there must,
have bern-a time when the earth was at the distance of
Saturn : consequently no living creature could subsist
there. This then is a clear proof, that the world -
in its present .state had a begi.ntiing, and must Lave. an -<


'v. - ^ i

We may likewise find reason to think, from tfie action

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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 19 of 24)