Page images

sea has

of all bogs, which are formed by the putrefaction of vegetable substances, mixed with the mud and sliine deposited by waters, and at length acqu’ring a sufficient consistency for cultivation.

From this we see what powerful effects the sea is capable of producing upon its shores, either by overflowing some, or deserting others; by altering the direction of these, and rendering those craggy and precipitate, which before were shelving. But the influence which the

upon its shores, is nothing to that which it has upon that great body of earth which forms its bottom. It is at the bottom of the sea that the greatest wonders are performed, and the most rapid changes are produced; it is there that the moi on of the tides and the currents have their whole force, and agitate the substances of which their bed is composed. But all these are almost wholly hidden from human curiosity; the miracles of the deep are performed in secret; and we can have bug little inforination from its abysses, except what we receive by inspection at yery shallow depths, or by the plummet, or from divers, who, with the help of a diving bell are known to descend from twenty to fifty fathoms deep The

eye can see but a very short way into the depths of the sea, and that only when its surface is glassy and smooth. In many seas, nothing is perceived but a bright sandy plain at the boottom, extending hundreds of miles, without any intervening object. But in others, particularly in the Red Sea, it is very different: the whole bottom of this extensive bed of water is, literally speaking, a forest of submarine plants, and corals formed by insects for their habitation, sometimes branching out to a great extent. Here are seen the madrepores, the sponges, mosses, sea mushrooms, and other marine productions, covering every part of the bottom; so that some have even supposed this sea to have taken its name from the colour of its plants below. But this is evidently not the case, for these plants are by no means peculiar to this sea, as they are found in the Persian Gulph, along the coasts of Africa, and those of Provence and Catalonia.

Some divines have piously considered the Red Sea as a type of the blood of Christ in our redemption, from an ungrounded supposition that its waters are of a red colour ; but herein they are under a mistake.

The Hebrew scriptures call it the weedy sea, from the vast quantity of sea weeds, or plants, with which its bottom is covered. They sometimes also call it the sea of Edom, because it bordered upon the fountry of Edom. The septuagint translators mistook this epithet for a proper name, and rendered it the Red Sea. From this mistake has arisen all the pious nonsense which has been written upon this subject, by those who have treated upon the types of the Old Testament.

The bottom of 'many parts of the sea near America, presen's a very different, though a very beautiful appearance. This is covered with vegetables, which make it look as green as a meadow, and thousands of qurules, and other sea animals, are often seen feeding upon these plants.

In order to extend our knowledge of the sea to greater depths secourse has been had to the plummet; which is generally made of a Jump of lead of about forty pounds weight, fastened to a cord. This,


however, only answers in moderate depths; for when a deep sea is to be sounded, the matter of which the cord is composed, being lighter than the water, floats upon it, and when let down to a considerable depth, its length so increases its surface, that it is often sufficient to prevent the lead from sinking; so that this may be the reason that some parts of the sea are said to have no bottom.

The bottom of the sea, generally speaking, appears to have the same uneven surface as the land we dwell upon. Here are extensive plains; there vallies; and, in many places, mountains of amazing height. Mr. Buache has actually given us a map of that part of the botiom of the sea, which lies betwixt Africa and America, taken from the several soundings of mariners : in it we find the same eminences, and the same depressions, upon

the face of the earth. There is this difference, however, that as the tops of the land mountains appear the most barren and rocky, the tops of the sea mountains are the most fruitful and verdant :, hence the great quantities of fish of various kinds which are found upon sea mountains, such as the banks of Newfoundland and elsewere. Some of which flock 'thither to feed upon the plants which abound on those places, and others to prey upon such fishes as feed on vegetables.

The plummet, which gives us some idea of the inequalities of the Bottom, leaves us totally in the dark as to every other particular ; recourse, therefore, has been had to divers: these, either bred up to this dangerous way of life, and accustomed to remain some time under water without breathing; or assisted by a diving-bell, have been able to return some confused and uncertain accounts of the places below.

In the great diving bell improved by Dr. Halley, which was large enough to contain five men, and was supplied with fresh air by buckets that alternately rose and fell, they descended fifty fathoms. In this huge machine, which was let down from the mast of the ship, the Dr himself went down to the bottom, were, when the sea was clear, and especially when the sun shone, he could see perfećily well to write or read, and mu h indre to take up any thing that was underneath: át other times, when the water was troubled and thick, it was dark as night below, so that he was obliged to keep a candle burning in the bell. "One thing was very reinarkable, which is, that the water which from above was usually séén of a green colour, when looked at from below, appeared to him of a very different one, casting a redness upon his hands, like that of damask roses-A proof that the sea takes its colour from the different reflections of the rays of light, and not from any thing floating in it.

Upon the whole, the accounts which we have received from this contrivance, are but few. We learn from it, and from divers in geậeral, that while the surface of the sea may be tempestuous, it is usually calm below; that some divers who have gone down when the weather was calm, and came up when it was tempestuous, were surprised at their not perceiving the change at the bottom. This, however, does not apply with regard to the tides, and the currents, as they are known constantly to shift their bottom; taking their bed with great violence froin one place; ! and depositing it at another. We are informed, also, "by' divers, that the sea grows colder in proportion as they descend; that as far as the sun's

räys pierce, it is influenced by their warmth; but that lower down the cold is alm. ist intclerable.

A person of quality, who had been himself a diver, as Mr. Boyle informs 4s, declared, that he seldom descended more than three or four fathoms, yet he found it so much colder than near the top, that he could not well endure it; and that being let down in a great diving-bell, although the water could not immediately touch hin, he found the air extremely cold upon his first arrival at the bottom. After all we know but little of the depths of the sea.

The diving bell does not enable us to do more than cautiously to descend a few fathoms; and even ihe improvements of that machine by Mr. Spalding, and others, and the inven'inn of the diving-bladder, by Bore il, have not much enlarged our powers or traversing the bottom of the deep.

As or natural divers, their powers are but small; such of thein indeed as have been accustomed to diving from their infancy, may be able to continue Fr ten or fifteen minutes under water, and but very few of the most expert can do this: and even those that can, seldom go to a depth further than six or eight fathoms, the pressure of the water at this depth being so great upon the body that it is difficult for the blood to circulate, the eyes of the divers become blood-shotten, and a fatal spitting of blood often follows.

The account which the learned Kircher gives of the famous Sicilian diver, nained Nicholas the fish, is doubtless a fable, we will not therefore trouble our readers with it, bui such of them as wish to see it, may consult Encyclopedia Britannia, under the article, divixg.

From divers, however, we learn, tinat the sea in many places is filled with rocks at the bottom; and among their cliffs, and upon their sides, various plants and substances sprout out, of different colours and sizes.

Some of these assume the shape of beautiful flowers, and though soft, when taken up, soon harden and become like stone: many such seen by the curious, in the British and Leverian Museums.

Thus have we attempted to explore the recesses of the great deep. Huinan curiosity is never satisfied; whatever object it is acquainted with, it turns from it to the contemplation of something else. The eye takes in the circuit of the horizon and the expanse of the heavens; but not content with this, it calls in the assistance of art, to enable it to discover the heavenly orbs, which elude the penetratio of its natural sight. li turns its attention to the bowels of the earth, and to the bottom of the sea; it surveys each, with their forms and productions, both in their larger exhibitions, and in their smaller objects. Not content with the objects which are visible, the imagination stretches itself to those which it supposes to exist whether in earth, sea, or air. The


also, is open to the report of others, whether of the traveller, or the philosopher, who relate with credibility, what as fallen under their observation. Thus the

eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing: the curiosity of man is boundless. This principle is implanted in the human heart, by the Creator, for wise purposes, and, when duly exercised, will be a source of info: mation to the mind: it will make us acquainted with God in the works of his hands : it will shew us the impress of his perfections

Inay be

in the wonders of creation: and if we rightly improve the principle, we shall contemplate, adore, and love the great fountain of existence, the Lord and Father of all!




THE years roll round, and eternity hastens ; every breath we draw,

and every action we perform, brings us pearer and nearer to the end of life; nay the moment we begin to live, that moment we begia to die: no sooner is a child born into the world, than it finds a feeble and corrupt body to enter; so that most children come into the world with cries and groans.

When we go from the cradle, we get into the life of a school boy: here is trouble indeed; hard words to learn, and difficult languages to master. The next scene is that of being at trade or business; and then, the reasoning powers being fixt, we ought, in a more especial manner, to adore our God, and admire the works of creation. It would be thought natural that children, as soon as they could speak, would enquire, Who made me? Who made the earth ? the heavens? the stars, &c. and such enquiry is often made; let us then take a view of the wisdom of God in the works of creation.

God having finished the works of creation, we read, that, on the seventh day he rested from all his works that he had made. “ And Go saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good.” If we take a view of the works of creation in order to know the wisdom, the power, but above all the goodness of our Maker, let us survey the heavens, and ask, what power suspended this nighty arch over our heads, and spread out the heavens like a curtain? Who embellished the heavens with such a multiplicity of objects, all regular in their motions and floating in the air? Who painted the clouds with such a diversity of colours and shades? No human artist; it not being in the power of the pencil of a Reynolds or a West to emulate. Who formed the sun, that source of light and heat? and placed it at so convenient a distance? For if it were nearer, we should be burned to death; if farther off we should be frozen. Has it ever failed rising and setting at the usual time? By whom is it sent in its diurnal and annual course to give us the blessed vicissitudes of the day and night, and the regular succession of different seasons : that it should travel on its course, and not be known to step aside, and in its return back, in the same constant and regular pace, to bring on the seasons by gradual advances ? That the moon should supply the absence of the sun in' illuminating the earth. That it should regulate the sea in its fluxes and refluxes, and keep it in constant nouon, whereby the water is kept from putrefaction, and accomodated to the conveniences of man: and that the planets, and innumerable host of heavenly bodies in their courses and revolutions, are so exact as not to fail for these six thousand years.

These are plain proofs of an Almighty Creator, and of the wisdom with which he governs the universe; the consideration of which made Tully, the Roman philosopher conclude, that “ Whoever imagines that the wonderful order, and incredible constancy, of the heavenly bodies, and their motions, (whereupon the preservation and welfare of áll things depend) are not governed by an intelligent being, he himself is destitute of understanding. For shall we, when we see an artificial engine, acknowledge, at first sight, that it is the work of art and understanding, and yet, when we behold the heavens moved and whirled about with incredible velocity, most constantly compleating their anniversary vicissitudes, make any doubt that these are made by feason, yea, hy Divine Reason?"

If Tully, by the little light he had of astronomy, in the age in which he lived, affirmed that the man who denied that the heavenly bodies are framed by a divine Architect, and governed by infinite wisdom, must be destitute of understanding, what would he say now, in this enlightened age, on the contemplation of the amazing velocity with which modern discovery assures us the earth moves on its axis ! What would he conclude from a consideration that the planets, which are at such an immense distance from us, should be supplied with moon's like the earth on which we live? What from the amazing discovery that the Tevolutions of comets round the sun are found to be as regular as those of other planetary bodies ? Would not he, contemplating on the regularity and exactness of these things, instead of saying 'what he did, have said, that, to deny their divine origin, was atheism? But the atheist cannot withstand the force of these arguments; he must be forced to acknowledge the wisdom of an eternal and almighty God.

If we descend from the heavens to the orb on which we live, we are compelled to acknowledge the proof therein exhibited of the divine wisdom in the expansion of the air, which is so wonderfully contrived as to support clouds for rain, and winds for the health of animated nature, without which the humın race could not exist. By what wondrous power is the water drawn from the sea, and, by a natural distillation, made fresh, and condensed in the clouds, to be sent, upon the wings of the wind, to divers countries, and distributed over the face of this our earth in gentle showers! St. Paul says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdoin and knowledge of God! how ünsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"

What power, what wisdoin was it, that suspended the earth on its axis, in a spherical figure? Which weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? which gave the seasons for the pleasure and use of man? which spread the earth with shrubs, plants, and flowers innumerable, clothed with exquisite beauty? which decorated the carth with various species of beasts, the groves with birds that fill the creation with harmony, and the waters with innumerable fisbeth AD

« PreviousContinue »