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that by this condescension he has raised humble origin, poverty, manual labor, and the lower orders of society, to a dignity and sacredness never known before, and has revolutionized the false standard of judging the value of men and things from their outward appearance, and of associating moral worth with social elevation, and moral degradation with low rank.
THE STARRY HEAVENS.
BY THE EDITOR.
To Kant the remark is attributed: “Two things overwhelm me when I attempt to contemplate them—the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” The sublime grandeur of the moral law, however, is not so readily perceived by all men as is the “dread magnificence” of the astronomical heavens. Even without the aid of science, the glory of a starry night powerfully affects the contemplative mind. No marvel that, under its awe-inspiring influence, the ancient Chaldeans kissed their hands and worshipped.
Modern astronomical investigations have enabled mortal vision and mortal minds to penetrate farther into the fathomless mysteries of the heavens, than could ever have been dreamed of, without the reality. With even a deeper awe and wonder than that which possessed the mind of the Psalmist, may we say:
6. When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and stars, which Thou hast ordained: what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him.”
“In 1837 Professor Bessel, of Germany, commenced a series of astronomical measures for getting the exact distance of the fixed stars, a thing that had never been done. The instrument which he used in connection with a powerful telescope, in his experiments, was called the great Konigsburg heliometer. After three years' hard labor, he was so fortunate as to obtain a parallax, but so minute that he could hardly trus reputation upon it. But after repeated trials and working out the result, he was fully satisfied that he could give the true distance to 61 Cygni. But who can comprehend this immense space? We can only convey an idea to the mind of this distance by the fact that light, which travels 12,000,000 of miles in a minute, requires not less than ten years to reach us. Just let any one try to take in the idea. One hour would give 720,000,000 of miles; one year, then—8700 hours--this gives 6,307,200,000,000, and this multiplied by ten, gives 63,072,000,000,000. This, according to Bessel, is the distance of the nearest fixed sta to the sun.
All the astronomers confirm the correctness of Professor Bessel's calculations.
“But this distance, great as it is, is nothing to be compared to the distance of the Milky Way. Sir William Herschell says that the stars, or suns, that compose the Milky Way, are so very remote, that it requires light going at the rate of 12,000,000 miles in a minute, 120,000 years to reach the earth. He says there are stars, or rather nebulæ, five hundred times more remote. Now make your calculation; 120,000 years reduced to minutes, and then multiply the sum by 12,000,000, and the product by 500. What an overwhelming idea! The mind sinks under such a thought; we cannot realize it; it is too vast even for comprehension.”
How small a part of this vast universe is taken up by the planet on which we dwell, yea even by the solar system to which the earth belongs ! “Our earth,” says Kurtz, “must revolve eighteen million times around the sun before the sun itself and its entire system completes a single revolution, in that movement in which it is involved along with the other fixed stars, about the throne of cosmical powers, which lies in the centre of the system of the Milky way.” According to Mädler one great year of the universe, therefore, comprehends eighteen millions of terrestrial years. How insignificant, in this respect, appears our earth; how paltry, compared with that sweep of time is the period during which our present earth and its inhabitants have existed! What are six thousand years compared with 18,000,000 of years! How long is it to continue till the great day, when heaven and earth shall be changed, and a new and never-ending period commenced? On this subject we are told that “to know the times or the seasons, the Father has put in his own power. Of that day and that hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven.'” (Mark xii. 32, 33; Acts i., 7.)
The Church' has from the beginning had in its bosom students of prophecy, who have been diligent and professedly wise above all others, and who have not hesitated to fix times and seasons for the consummation of all things. But the steady advance of time has always exploded their theories. We propose no answer to such speculations. The Scriptures themselves furnish that, by informing us that they know nothing about it. But may not the grand scale on which astronomy shows the heavens to be constructed, suggest to us that the sublime designs of God, with this earth, are not likely to be consummated before the system, of which it is a part, has completed at least the first of its magnificent revolutions? Man's own schemes are soon wound up, and it becomes him to be always ready for his own consummation; but he must not be hasty by his own narrow cycle to measure the sublime
sweep In view of the comparative insignificance of the earth, amid the immensity of the divine works, some have stumbled at the idea that God should become incarnate on this small speck of the universe. The incarnation has been thought to be too great an event to be connected with our earth--making the earth, thus, the theatre of the greatest and highest conceivable manifestations of God.
To this it has been well replied, that we have no right thus to prescribe to the free wisdom and grace of God. What seems to us strange and unlikely may be to Him the highest wisdom and the sublimest reason. Is it not God's way to “make foolish the wisdom of this world ?” We must not, it has been forcibly said, “measure His free grace by cubic miles, and His love by the size of the fixed stars.”
Dr. Kurtz properly asks: "What if the earth alone, of all worlds, stood in need of such manifestation of deity ?” Then, even reason and the unbiased sense of man's nature would approve of God's choosing to pass by all other worlds, however great, to select this. , On this kind of wisdom is
of God's ages.
the parable based : “What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.” (Luke xv. +-6.)
Moreover, is it not the way of Christianity to exalt the humble? Should ever the earth be the lowest of God's world's—the one farthest removed from His glorious, peculiar, central habitation and throne, may He not here begin a manifestation of Himself, of Ilis glory, wisdom and love, which in its complete fulfilment shall be transferred to His central heaven, there to be for all His intelligences not only the highest, but the eternal manifestation of His glory? Do we not know that what He begun in the obscure Virgin, and in a spot small among the thousands of Israel, has already become central for humanity, and for all the world, and for all history? In this view the representations of Scripture, to the effect that the perfected Church and kingdom of Christ shall at last be absorbed or caught up into what is called heaven, the imperial Salem of God's holy and universal kingdom, have true significance. What is potentially, and, therefore, truly great, may begin in obscurity—and there, generally, does actually begin—but it finds its way, by a necessity which it carries in itself, to higher position and place. We must remember also, that greatness in the world of spirit is not necessarily measured by greatness in the world of matter and space. It is the adaptation of the created for the divine, of matter for spirit, independent of its bulk or size, which constitutes its true greatness. Homer, “the blind old man of Scio's rocky isle,” was greater than all Greece geographically,
In regard to the God-man himself, the Scriptures clearly teach, that having accomplished His work in the sphere of His humiliation, He has been exalted to the right hand of power, that there “ He might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him”—that He is now there head over all things to the Church, which is his body, and that this body is "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” His fulness, by which He filleth all in all, is His Church and body; so that though the Church had its beginning on earth, and has here its base and history, it will be re centred in that place to which the Head has been transferred and exalted. Should even the earth be destroyed and wholly pass away, it would still have been worthy of the honor which was conferred upon it by the Incarnation, as having been the means to so great an end. Let it perish; it perishes as the seed perishes in the earth when it has fulfilled its mission of furnishing the germ
of a history so great that it continues for ever in heaven, taking in its development "all things that are in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth.”
Should even the earth be comprehended in the final glorification which is to be wrought out in Christ, so that there be literally a new or renovated earth, as well as new heavens, it does not follow that the earth must necessarily be the centre of the universe, nor yet the centre of the eternal manifestation of Christ's incarnate glory. The earth may still for ever remain a spot of interest, and as such be preserved, and honored with renovation and glorification by the Son of man, even as Bethlehem remains such a cherished spot to the Church, even though the Church has long since out-grown.the cradle of its infancy.
FROM THE GERMAN IN NOVEMBER NUMBER, 1861.
BY THE EDITOR.
I know not what the reason is :
Where'er I dwell or roam,
To my old childhood home.
No legacy, no gold-
I'm evermore controlled :
I often have been told.
As nearer to the spot I come
More sweetly am I drawn;
To urge me faster on.
You'll smile at me, I ween !-
To catch the view serene-
With shutters painted green!
That ofttimes gave me joy ;
I witnessed as a boy!
They seem as red as blood.
But guess it, never could.
Did it, it were not good !
How do I love those poplar trees;
What tall and stately things!
A starling sits and sings.
He likes that danger best.
Dark shining is the rest.
On that same tree her nest.
0, I remember very well,
When those three poplar trees
And could be bent with ease.
And trees like these had he:
Boys, plant them there for me." Can you believe—they grew so tall
And made the trees you see !
See! really I am near the house;
How short the distance seems!
Goes musing in his dreams.
The cider-press—just see!
Hung up against the tree.
Just where it used to be.
All, all is still! They know not yet
That there's a stranger near;
Or barking, he'd appear.
Whene'er he heard the gate ;
He bounced at such a rate;
The bite was never great!
All, all is still! The door is shut.
I muse with beating heart;
Back in the kitchen part.
I'm overcome, I fear!
I'll rest a little here.
The falling of a tear!
Two spots on this old friendly porch
I love, nor can forget,
My life's last sun shall set !
One summer morning bright,
Till I was out of sight!
Shines in this world's dull night.
Still, still I see her at that spot,
With handkerchief in hand;
There, there I see her stand !