Youth's Magazine,  9 (1836), 12–14.

The Heavens



Short Fiction, Dialogue


Astronomy, Piety, Theology of Nature, Extra-Terrestrial Life, Biblical Authority, Utility, Progress, Induction, Feeling

    Emma and Maria admire the heavens, which are 'beautiful evidences' of the creator's goodness. Maria wishes she was 'more conversant with astronomy', but confesses that she 'thinks the modern hypothesis, now so popular, is visionary and romantic'. Emma thinks it 'in perfect harmony with reason'. Maria objects to the supposition that other planets in the solar system are inhabited, and that other suns are also the centres of inhabited planetary systems because she cannot find it in scripture. (12) Emma considers that this objection would apply to all science: 'Experimental philosophy, which has, in so many instances, produced important and beneficial results, is culpable in your estimation, because, though not contrary to it, it is unassisted by revelation'. She also urges that purely theoretical ideas can be of use in elevating and expanding conceptions of God, and observes that discoveries may be 'as stepping stones to nobler attainments'. (13) With quotations from Thomas Chalmers, Emma urges that contemplating a plurality of worlds can have a beneficial effect on one's feelings of piety. They discuss whether or not the inhabitants of other worlds 'are interested in the grand scheme of redemption'. Emma's pious observations cause Maria to declare: 'If this theory produce such a tone of feeling, if not entirely a convert to your sentiments, may I catch the spirit that animates you under such a view of it!'. (14)

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