Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE WORLD OF MATTER.
Gen. 1: 1
ITS IMPLICATIONS. ITS QUALITIES—UNITY, IMMENSITY, BEAUTY, SUBLIMITY, ORDER, WONDROUSNESS, COMPLEXITY.
So far, in discussing God's works of creation, we have, in addition to giving a general introduction to the subject, set forth our understanding of the spirit world as one of the objects of God's creative acts. Next in order for our study come God's works of creation as to the world of matter, which is treated briefly in Gen. 1. We purpose by the Lord's assistance to make a detailed study of God's creative works as they are set forth in Gen. 1, and as the pertinent matters are corroborated by assured scientific findings; and we are glad to be able to say that the record of creation as contained in Gen. 1 is by assured science, as distinct from speculative theories and guesses, thoroughly corroborated. By science we understand the knowledge of facts to be meant, and not speculative theories on the meaning of such facts. Only too often are such theories in the minds of some confounded with the knowledge of facts—real science. If the Bible record of creation is true as to matters of fact, as it must be true, if it is Divinely inspired, which we believe it is, all facts will be found to be in harmony therewith. It is only when people treat their speculative and guessaged theories of facts as science that a conflict between these and the Bible can occur, i.e., when such theories and guesses are untrue. Some of the ablest scientists that have ever lived assert the harmony of the Genesis account of creation with real science. This is as it should be; and the corroborations of the Genesis account by the assured findings of science are a sure evidence of its inspiration; for the
things of which it treats were not witnessed by humans, and hence must have come to man by revelation.
It will be remembered that in discussing the Hebrew word bara, we pointed out that it means, not to make something out of nothing, but to make a new thing out of previously existing things. Hence, we drew the conclusion that the substances out of which the world of spirit and the world of matter were created existed before the act of creating the universe. For a number of reasons we stated that so far as the world of matter is concerned its materials were made out of gases. Thereupon we met the question as to whether original matter was originally created or whether it existed forever. We answered that question as follows: The Bible is silent on that question, and therefore we would do well to follow its example of neither affirming the eternity of matter nor affirming that matter was brought into existence from something else or from nothing. Some have not been so wise as to follow this course, asserting that matter always was and by its own laws and forces brought the universe into existence. Thus they think they can dispense with a Creator, and accordingly are atheists. To their position the answer is simple: The universe is replete with some of the highest expressions of intelligence and some of the highest expressions of purpose and therefore could not have come from unintelligent and unpurposeful forces and laws working in and on matter. Since there is intelligence and purpose expressed in the effect, the universe, there must be intelligence and purpose in its Creator, since what is expressed in an effect must exist in its cause. This leads us to remark that the laws and forces used in creation must have been manipulated by an intelligent and purposeful Being.
But we know that the same forces and laws that underlie the more than 92 substances of which the earth consists are not the same as those that govern the gases
out of which they can be made nor the gases produced by reducing earth's elements to the gases they once were. Hence the forces and laws that were in the gases out of which the universe was made were different from those which control the present universe. This leads us to remark that if the original forms of matter, gases, were eternal, they must have been motionless from eternity until creative processes began to work on them, i.e., whatever forces and laws acted in and upon them must have put them into a condition of absolute equilibrium; for if manipulation of such forces and laws were not required to produce the universe, but merely that it was produced by their own automatic working, they would have produced it infinitely earlier than the universe began to exist, even according to the most unrestrained guesses of the most unbridled of speculative (alleged) scientists, made in their wildest imaginations. Therefore the theory of the eternity of matter implies that in its original forms its underlying forces and laws made it absolutely motionless. Hence it and they had to be worked upon from without by an intelligent and purposeful Agent, to produce the universe. And His working upon such matter and its forces and laws must have been in the comparatively recent millions of years. Hence the theory of the eternity of matter implies an intelligent and purposeful Creator. But we are by no means sure that matter is eternal. God may have created the original gases out of nothing, or out of other substances, for aught we know. We make the above remarks to show that the theory of the eternity of matter does not imply atheism, as some claim, but decidedly implies the existence of an intelligent, purposeful Creator. This being true, either theory (the eternity of matter or the making of matter out of nothing) implies the existence of the Supreme Being.
As we stated in Chapter 1, the word creation may mean (1) the process by which the universe was
brought into existence, and (2) the product of that process—the universe itself. In this chapter we are treating our subject from both standpoints, and for the sake of better results obtainable for clearness of understanding, we will first study the world of matter as a product of God's creative acts and afterward the process whereby He brought it into existence. It will be noticed that Gen. 1: 1 states both of these things. By the word, "created," the process of creation so far as the world of matter is concerned, is meant, and by the words, "heavens" and "earth," the product of that process is meant. This is manifest from the literal translation of that verse: "In a beginning God created the heavens and the earth." As shown above, the word beginning (resheth in Hebrew and arche in Greek) does not mean eternity. Nor is the beginning here referred to the first beginning in God's creative operations; for there were at least two other prior beginnings in God's creative work. The first one of these was that in which the pre-human Word, who afterwards became human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, was brought into existence as God's Firstborn. The second of these was that beginning in which the other spirits in the world of spirit were brought into existence. There being various beginnings in God's creative work, it is highly appropriate that the Hebrew of Gen. 1:1 should call the beginning to which it refers a beginning. This beginning was very probably millions of years ago and continued until the first creative day of Gen. 1: 3-5, over 48,000 years ago, as we showed above.
By the heavens of this verse, not the sky, not the clouds and not the atmosphere are meant, but the solar systems, visible to us by eye or telescope or invisible to these, are meant. Apart from the planets of our solar system the stars that we see are other suns than ours, and each of these carries with it its own retinue of planets. Literally billions of such suns have been
discovered and charted by astronomers. And if the number of planets and moons in our solar system averages the number of planets and moons in each of the other solar systems, there are literally many billions of planets and still more billions of moons in the solar systems so far discovered. And there are unnumbered others not yet brought to view by the greatest telescopes so far invented; for the universe is boundless in extent and therefore, as required by the laws of gravitation, there are still other worlds beyond those yet revealed by the most powerful telescopes. Astronomers have discovered thirteen Milky Ways in succession beyond the one we see without telescopes. It is this collection of suns, planets and moons, not to mention asteroids, comets, etc., that are meant by the expression, the heavens, in Gen. 1: 1. By the expression, the earth, of course, the planet on which we live, plant our gardens and build our houses, is meant. As we have shown above, the word create, used in Gen. 1: 1, teaches us that out of previously existing substances the universe was made. Later we showed that these substances were gases, which by manipulation were condensed into the heavens and earth. Then Gen. 1:1 assures us that the blind forces and laws of nature were not the Creator, as atheists hold, though they were undoubtedly used as tools and powers in the creative work, but that God, the Supreme Being, brought the heavens and earth into existence. The sentence of Gen. 1: 1, with which the Bible opens, in very simple language states one of the sublimest facts ever expressed— that the almost infinite universe was in a creative period made by God.
Creation as a product has a number of qualities, on some of which we desire to express some thoughts. We are now, it is to be remembered, discussing creation, not as the world of spirit, but as the world of matter, and as such its first quality on which we desire to make some remarks is that of its unity. This idea is involved
in the name we give it, the universe, which word is derived from a Latin word compounded from the words unus (one) and versus (turned), i.e., all things turned into one. It is also implied in our English word cosmos, derived from the Greek word kosmos, though in the latter word the idea of the universe's beauty and order is also contained. By the unity of the universe we mean nature as a whole, in which all parts are inseparately united by interdependent relations of adaptation that make them one grand system of things. Such a unity we find permeating the universe everywhere. Thus the materials of which the universe consists are a unit, in the sense that they are all derived from one source, gases, and in the sense that its chemical elements, so far as we know them, are of the same kinds everywhere. The unity of the world as one grand system of things is apparent, too, when we consider each solar system. Each one consists of a center, its sun, each sun having its retinue of planets and each of these in most cases having its moon or moons. Each planet has its own orbit, on which it revolves about its sun, as well as its own axis, on which it rotates so as to face on its every side the sun every so often, varying according to its distance from its sun. This unity is seen in the moons, each planet having one or more moving on its orbit or their orbits about that planet.
This unity is seen in the regular relations of these planets to their suns and to one another, maintained by these with mathematical precision, as days, weeks, years, centuries, ages and epochs pass by in endless procession. Not only so, but this unity is seen in that in every solar system the sun, the planets and their moons revolve on their axes and about their orbits in the same direction, thus avoiding friction or collision and maintaining their perfect balance in their mutual relations. Yea, still more wonderful, all of these solar systems maintain their exact distance relationship to
one another in all the mighty and intricate sweeps that they make through the realms of boundless space, so that the precessional cycle of the universes—the period that is required for every part of the universe to make such a round of its courses as to put every part of it in exactly the same position, not only relatively, but absolutely in the same part of space as it was before—comes every so often, i.e., between 25,000 and 26,000 years apart. And, finally, this unity of the universe is seen in the fact that all of these solar systems move about a common center, which astronomers identify with Alcyone, one of the Pleiades. This is in harmony with a hint that God has given, that His gracious power proceeds from the Pleiades, from whence, accordingly, He governs the universe (Job 38: 31). This, of course, is just what should be expected—the Almighty Engineer of the universe controls its throttle from His seat of power. The facts set forth in this and the preceding paragraph show us that the universe as a system of solar systems is a unit, as each of these solar systems is likewise a unit. Wonderful is the power and wisdom of Him who controls and regulates such an intricate system of things!
There are other facts of the universe that reveal this unity. One of these that may be mentioned is the force of gravitation. This is an all-pervading force which has been mathematically demonstrated to act in proportion to bulk and inversely as the square of the distance. It governs the relative movements of every planet, moon and sun and every solar system in the universe and keeps and makes each one of them run in its proper orbit and makes each one of them rotate on its axis. Accordingly, it keeps the universe in perfect balance. It rules the relation of everything on earth to the earth. If it should not operate, people would jump into limitless space and never get back again. The structure of everything in the universe is dependent
upon it. We see it in the cohesion and adhesion of the electrons, atoms and molecules that make matter hold together. Thus it is manifest in inorganic matter, in the vegetable world and in the animal creation. Every rainfall shows it; every waterfall exemplifies it; yea, every drop of water evidences it. It permeates and pervades the three forms of matter: solids, liquids and gases. Its operation in the fall of an apple enabled Newton to discover the mode of its operation—in proportion to bulk and inversely to the square of its distance. In fact every part of our bodies requires its operation; and if it should cease to operate we would fall apart, until nothing but the negative and positive parts of our electrons, separate and distinct, would remain. Perhaps this force is the most controlling of all natural forces, requiring all other forces of nature to be its subordinates; and its presence and operation attest the unity of the universe, showing that each part attracts every other part in proportion to its bulk and inversely as the square of its distance. This force, then, attests the unity of the universe.
Again, the unity of the universe is attested by light. It opens before us everything that by sight we know as being about us. It comes to us from the depths and reveals other heavenly bodies than our earth. It comes to us indeed as a heavenly gift, revealing to us sights of beauty in the glorious hosts of heaven. But for light we could not see day or night, sun, moon and star, or the oceans, seas, and lakes, or the mountains, hills, plains and valleys. The verdure of the earth, its beauties in flower, shrub, bush, tree, fruit and vegetable, its marvels in insect, reptile, beast and man, would be almost a closed book to us, if it were not for the gracious ministry of light. It enables one to see blessings coming, as well as woe, and thus prepares us to receive the former and warns us against the latter. Its connecting almost all things on earth with their environment and helping them to learn some of the
wonders of heaven show its indispensableness, as well as bring its attestation to the intimate interrelations of the things of the universe, as another contribution to the thought of the unity of the world. Gravitation and light are very different in themselves and in our understanding of them. While we know how to measure gravitation, we know almost nothing of the method of its operation. But we know not only the measure of light, but also the mode of its operation. We know that it operates as substances set loose from heavenly bodies and uses the medium of ether for its race courses, over which it speeds at about 186,000 miles a second. Light is not merely a creation of the retina of our eyes. It is a thing that exists as a spiritual substance apart from us, though our eyes apprize us of its presence. By it, among other things, we are made aware of our relation to the rest of the universe of things and beings. Its indispensableness to growth, health and, in the long run, to life, proves it is an element in the unity of the universe.
Then, its presence implies the existence of a medium through which it travels. If the space between the worlds were a vacuum we would be unable to see; for then light, which is the condition of sight, since it manifests material objects to our eyes, could not travel from our sun and other suns to us and, therefore, we would be in the dark— sightless. Ether seems to be the medium through which light passes; for the substances cast off from the heavenly bodies move through the ether as a medium, somewhat after the manner that electricity passes through a wire. The medium is so attenuated that it cannot be seen or felt, even when one moves through it very rapidly. Yet while greatly attenuated it must be inseparably compact to admit of light passing through it without diminution, and that at the enormous rate of speed with which it travels. This fact proves it to be about as compact as any substance that we have felt; and it
thus proves that it is a medium that connects us with other worlds than ours. While light impresses but one of our senses, ether impresses none of them, so far as we are aware. Yet its existence is sure, since light must have some medium through which it passes. This medium cannot be the air, since above our atmosphere and beyond it to the sun there is no air, yet the light has a medium through which it passes while traveling through that space. Our knowledge of it depends therefore on pure reasoning, without the mixture of anything of sense perception. It evidently is a spiritual force or substance, like the light that it brings us and like the life principle that animates us. But the fact that it brings light to us and thus enables us to have one of our most important points of contact with the world about and above us, proves that it is one of the things that reveals the unity of the universe.
Radiant heat is another thing that manifests the unity of the universe. Like light, without it no animal or vegetable life would be possible; for without it all animal and vegetable life would freeze. Its absence is reached at 453°+ below zero Fahrenheit, and, of course, no earthly animal or vegetable life could exist in that temperature. It exists in all animate and inanimate material things, so far as we know; for everything contains some of it. But it is especially in our sun that, for our solar system, its main depository is found, though doubtless some of the planets have it in an intense condition, as can be inferred from Saturn's rings and Jupiter's vast clouds, indicating that they are yet in a more or less molten fiery condition. Ordinarily radiant heat, like light, is also an angel of blessing, giving us comfort amid cold and help for the production and cooking of our food and for our mastery over minerals, to mold and change them for our convenience, though its superabundance quickly becomes an evil to the living. Its presence in every solar system in effective ministry reveals its part in the unity of nature.
It, too, must have a medium through which it passes, apart from the air, and that for the same reason as we saw in the case of light. Its rate of travel is by no means so great as that of light; and, unlike light, going through space, it dissipates rapidly, so that while light reaches us almost undissipated at all from the sun and then rushes past us to almost infinite distances far away, even as it comes to us from some bodies almost infinitely distant from us, this is not true in anything like the same degree of radiant heat. While doubtless the heat of our sun by Divine design is to reach and minister according to the Divine intention to all of its accompanying planets and will forever so do, to minister to the beings that will yet be created on the rest of these planets, its great diversity in degree as it reaches Vulcan and Mercury from what it is when it reaches Neptune and Pluto implies that the bodies to be created will be organized on very different lines and with at least some different elements from ours: otherwise were they to have bodies organized as ours are, whereas those on Vulcan and Mercury would roast, those on Neptune and Pluto would freeze. But these considerations, especially its vehicle of travel and its ministry, prove that radiant heat is another force in the universe that manifests the latter's unity.
Then, the relations of heat and light to each other and in their ministries to the world imply the unity of the universe. That these are related is evident from the fact that they are thrown off by the same bodies. Fire throws off both of them from various bodies, and accordingly the heavenly bodies, afire as they are, throw off both of these. We know by observation and experience that the sun, the mother of our solar planets, is afire and throws off light and heat. Usually intense heat existing in gaseous form is non-illuminous, but let these gases cool off somewhat and they become afire and shed light as well as heat. Thus we
see that they are more or less a unit because of their origin. From this we are not to be understood to identify them; for we believe they are separate and distinct things. They arise from the fact that two different spiritual substances permeating certain materials are loosened from those materials through the agency of fire. Yet they are more or less related and have some substance in common, as is manifest from the fact that parts of each of them have been converted into motion, as Prof. Tindell has shown. We believe that his conclusion, that both of them are merely modes of motion, is incorrect; for there were other parts of them which escaped his converting them into motion, and these parts of them constitute the differences between them. Their different natures, motions, velocities, effects, etc., prove them not to be identical, though they are closely related in the economy of the universe, and thus their relation to each other in these economies proves the unity of the universe.
Chemical affinity is another force that proves the unity of the universe. All of us know or have heard of the experiments by which light, heat and chemical affinity can be separated from each other in the solar spectrum, and each of them can be made to show its own separate effects. The affinity that various chemicals have to one another is just what we should expect from the common origin of many elements of which our earth and atmosphere consist. And the results for blending various metals, etc., for useful inventions show the good of this force. We might also instance the various characteristics and effects of magnetism as another feature of the universe, in which magnetic forces play many useful parts in the economy of things. This is even more apparent in electricity, of which we know so little, and yet of which we can make so many uses. Its health-giving and disease-destroying effects are well known. It aids the deaf
ear to hear and frequently vitalizes the palsied limbs to activity. It carries our telegraphic and telephonic messages. Converted into light it turns our nights into day and used as power it propels our vehicles, runs our factories and welds our buildings and ships. Radio is another force that the universe brings to us as a ministering angel; and constantly we are finding new agencies that are so many forces of nature, showing its unity in the material universe. In their diversity these forces are separate and distinct, yet they work together. Mechanical motion is necessary to release all of them and in turn they will give rise to mechanical motion. So light and heat will set electricity into activity and in turn electricity will make them active. Electricity will give rise to magnetism and by the use of mechanical motion magnetism will arouse electricity into activity. So, too, with electricity and radio, these forces above all other things set chemical affinity into exercise. So chemical affinity under special conditions will set all these forces into action. And the intimate relations of all of these: gravitation, light, heat, chemical affinity, magnetism, electricity, radio (which, like all the others, finds ether as its medium)and the various rays—all attest with marvelous power and united voice that the universe is made up of a variety of mutually related and interdependent forces and things that make it a unity. The substances of the universe and the forces in, underlying and connected with these substances, are a unity of things not identical, suggested by their superordination, coordination and subordination, as the varying conditions dictate.
Again, this unity is seen in the way sound and life principle are related to the atmosphere. The way that the atmosphere carries sound is very likely the way ether carries light, heat, magnetism, radio, etc. If it were not for this atmosphere all the delights of music, oratory and speech would be lost and we would be
unable to hear one another. Here again is an adjustment that argues the unity of the universe. And what shall we say of life-principle, with which in the oxygen of the air the atmosphere is filled? Without it all life, vegetable and animal, on the earth and in the sea would be extinct. And the breathing apparatus of all things living on earth finds itself fitted to extract life-principle from the atmosphere. Here again the unity of the universe is shown. The minerals of the earth are adapted to nourish plant life, which also feeds on air and water—all placed by the universe at the disposal of plant life for its continuance and propagation. Again, the minerals answer to thousands of man's needs and his organs answer to these for his use of them, for his blessing or woe, as the use may be. They furnish him elements in the way of medicine for supply of deficient bodily elements, and also supply elements for the lower creation under certain limitations. In turn the vegetable world ministers to the animal world in the way of food, even as water and air contribute to these ends. And man, the highest of all earthly creatures, lays them all under contribution for his needs, comforts and joys.
This unity shows itself especially to man in his varied relations to the universe, particularly to the earth, its inhabitants and atmosphere. It is seen in the fact that his body consists of numerous elements of the earth and three gases: oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen, and is instinct with life that he derives from the air. These he must continually appropriate, and his need of them is indicated by hunger, thirst, weakness and often by disease. These drive him to supply them by appropriation. Then this unity, which shows itself in a thousand relations of interdependence and adaptation, is manifest in the organs adapted to appropriation, as hands, mouth, teeth, throat, stomach, intestines, liver. The nourishment thus derived from the earth the blood is adapted to digest, distribute and
assimilate—again a wonderful exhibition of the unity of nature, of which the universe is full. Then, because some elements are unsuitable for appropriation or would act as poisons, the appetite, taste, kidneys, bowels, sweat pores, etc., reject these. Moreover, as there is need that the body have life, it must have organs adapted to absorbing life-principle from the air, and here comes forward for use and adaptation the breathing apparatus: nostrils, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. And, that the life principle thus laid hold on might be assimilated, the blood stands ready with its white and red corpuscles to absorb it; and, to give it to every function of the body for use in exercising its ministry, the blood must carry this vitality to every part of the body.
Again, we must be brought into contact with the things in the earth and air, otherwise we could not lay hold on its stores adapted to our needs. These must in most cases be seen and our eyes are adapted to this, and this exhibits another of the unities of the universe. So, too, sound in the universe often calls in invitation to appropriate and often to warn of danger, and the unity of the universe is manifested in that we are capable of taking in sound for the positive and negative purposes just stated. Other dangers or blessings can appeal only to the scent, which accordingly works by adaptation on things of this kind, giving its pertinent warning to avoid or invitation to accept. Still other conditions can manifest themselves only by an appeal to or warning against taste, which, being present to deter or encourage, points out another feature of the unity of the universe. Then there are still other things that can appeal to feeling alone, and the unity of the universe is manifest in our having the feeling called into action by these things, whose workings are either to bless or to injure. Thus our five senses point out a vast set of five kinds of points of adaptation showing the unity of the universe.
This unity is manifest in our intellectual perceptions of things in sky, earth and atmosphere, wherein the perceptive faculties are adapted to these things and they to our perceptive faculties. How well adapted to remembering and reasoning on the universe in its diversities our intellects are, needs no details to illustrate. They connect us not only with the inanimate, but also with the animate universe. How many similarities there are between us and the lower animals! All have at least three things in common: body, life and soul powers, however much diversified. All have been built on the same general principle and all are endowed with powers adapted to their varying needs, capacities and designs, and this again shows the unity of the universe. As to bodily functions they have great similarity and this manifests itself in most cases in similar structure of organs and sometimes in form. All of these animals are adapted to avoid or associate with one another as the case may require. This unity is manifest in man's relation to the vegetable world, which is adapted to supply his need in the form of grains, vegetables, nuts and fruit, for which he has all the necessary organs to make them available for appropriation. Thus the whole animal and vegetable creation has mutual adaptations which exhibit the unity of the universe.
This unity is manifest in man's social and moral relations to his fellows and in his relations to God. The family relation is adapted to him and he to it. Here come in the existence of sex and the relations of attraction between the sexes, marriage, support, mutual helpfulness, propagation, raising of families, the headship of the man, the bodyship of the woman, the subserviency of the children. To these relations man is adapted physically, mentally, morally and religiously by his make-up. Then; he is adapted to a communal life, exhibited in community, state, industry, business, recreation and religion. Indeed, on lower planes mammals,
reptiles, fish, fowls and insects are more or less adapted to certain of these conditions, as can be seen, e.g., in ants and bees, herds and flocks. Everywhere and along countless lines we see these adaptations so suggestive of the unity of the universe. In the widest sense of the word universe (as including the world of spirit, as well as the world of matter) the adaptation of God, angels and men to one another carries the idea of unity of the universe to its utmost limits; and in this respect both spirit and human beings can well say, almost in the words of Augustine, "O, Lord, Thou hast made us for Thyself, therefore we can have no rest unless we rest in Thee." Hence the idea of the unity of the universe implies, leads up to, flows out of, and demonstrates the universe as the product of the one and only God, Jehovah, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, and through Him and in Him our God and Father. Verily, unity is one of the qualities of the universe.
It will be recalled that we are now discussing creation as a product, viz., the universe, having reserved for later treatment creation as a process. That feature of creation as a product occupying our attention is the attributes of creation as an entirety. Of these we have so far discussed its unity. We will next discuss its attribute of immensity. And certainly when we consider the universe, its immensity is borne in upon us with deep impressiveness. Such immensity is present in the vastness of the universe's space, in the numbers of its heavenly bodies, in its great age, in the great bulk of the heavenly bodies, in the immense sweep of the solar, planetary and asteroidal orbits, in the great rapidity of their movements in their orbits and on their axes and in the great distances of the heavenly bodies from one another. As to the immensity of creation in space: we are warranted in assuming that space is infinite, for, like time, it can have no beginning or ending. In imagination we can take our
stand on the outmost planetary system brought to view by our most distant reaching telescope; and with a telescope as great as our greatest one we would see as many worlds beyond and as far away as we see in that same direction from the earth. Already fourteen Milky Ways have been brought to our view, each succeeding one being twice as far away from its preceding one as the Milky Way visible to our naked eye is from us. Indeed we cannot imagine an end to space, for there must be space endless beyond the furthermost stretch of our space imagination. We could measure off 999 vigintillions endlessly in our imaginations, but could not come to a place beyond which there is no space. Like eternity, space can have no beginning and no ending. And we know from the laws of gravitation that infinite space must contain an almost infinite number of solar systems; otherwise those in existence could not hold their places, but would "smash up in a wreck of matter." But this very thought makes our minds dizzy, since we cannot fathom it. In contemplation of it we can only bow and worship Him who is so great as to have made and to preserve so large a universe.
In considering the immensity of the universe let us study some of its details, beginning with our solar system, considering first the earth as a part of it, and then considering it in its other parts. Our earth is almost a perfect sphere, being a few miles less from pole to pole than from the equator on one side to the equator on the opposite side. Its longest diameter, i.e., at the equator, is nearly 8,000 miles; and its diameter from pole to pole is only a few miles less. Its surface is about 200,000,000 square miles, a fourth of which is land. It is a solid to approximately 26 miles deep, and within this outer shell it is a huge cavern nearly full of a molten, burning mass. Its surface is a plane furrowed by beds of streams, lakes, seas and oceans, and bulged by mountains and hills, which in turn are
severed by valleys. Its greatest circumference (at the equator) is about 25,000 miles. While it is one of the smaller planets of our solar system, it is very large. This can be seen from the fact that if people traveled from east to west, if they were able to see 15 miles north and south of themselves, and if they would travel around the earth 30 miles further north and 30 miles further south each trip that they would take, they would have to encircle the globe no less than 417 times to see all its surface. To accomplish this would take a lifetime or more. Yet how imperfect would one's view be of the earth at say a few miles on either side of his 417 lines of travel! Or, take another illustration: Suppose one should remove an immense mountain like Mt. Rainier, leaving the place where it stood a level plane, it would, compared to our earth, be like removing a flea from the middle of an elephant's side; yet in Mt. Ranier there is more material than has ever been used by man in all his building operations since Adam's time. When we stand on a huge sea liner and view a vast ocean, when we stand at the foot of an Everest and behold its mass, when we stand at a sublime Niagara and watch its endless flow of unmeasured bulk of water falling over its precipice, we get but a faint impression of earth's immensity. Surely our earth is immense!
Much more so is our solar system. So far as our present knowledge goes, it consists of our sun, ten planets, at least twenty-six moons and over a thousand asteroids. And these deepen within us the thought of its immensity. This will appear from a brief description of our solar system: The sun is the center of this system, and around it all of the planets of this system revolve, carrying severally with them their moons. Each of these so revolves at a very precise time and yet the length of these revolutions varies with each planet. Our naked eye can scarcely look at the sun when it shines with its full strength upon us.
But looking at it through a darkened medium or when it is otherwise shaded, it seems to us to be no larger than an automobile wheel. It rotates about its axis every 26 days, running, because of its greater bulk, about four times as rapidly as our earth does about its axis, i.e., it travels about 4042 miles every hour at its equator. It is 700 times larger than its combined ten accompanying planets with their 26 known moons and its, perhaps, thousands of asteroids. It is 1,300,000 times larger than our earth, i.e., 1,300,000 of our earths could be crowded into the space that the sun fills in the universe. Its diameter is 880,000 miles, as against the earth's diameter of 8,000 miles. Its circumference is nearly 2,522,000 miles, as against the earth's of 25,000 miles. These numbers fail to tell the full story of the sun's immensity. If we would imagine the sun to be a hollow sphere except that it is solid a thousand miles deep on all sides below its surface, and if we would imagine the earth as being placed in the center of this hollow sun, with the moon 240,000 miles from the earth, as it actually is, and then have it revolve about the earth, it would make the revolutions just as far from the assumed inner solid side of the sun as from the earth, i.e., 240,000 miles. The immensity of the sun's power of gravitation can be seen in that it attracts and holds in perfect balance and exact relative position its retinue of planets, moons and asteroids, making them revolve in their orbits and rotate about their axes in perfect time to the fraction of a second for endless years. It pours out light undiminishably and its heat inexhaustibly. It rules its empire, our solar system, in unchanging order, and will forever so do. It is intimately connected with life in all its forms on earth and in due time will have such a connection with life on the other planets of its system as these, one after another, will become perfect and inhabited. Surely the sun is immense from many standpoints!