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from any star, or other fixed point in the heavens, the moment when he is departing from the equinox, or from either tropic, he will come to the same equinox or tropic again, 20 minutes, 171 seconds of time, or 50 seconds of a degree, before he completes his course, so as to arrive at the same fixed star or point, from whence he set out. For the equinoctial points recede 50 seconds of a degree westwards every year, contrary to the sun's progressive motion.'
The above fact of the precession of the equinoxes is wonderful, and the proximate cause assigned for it; viz. the greater attraction of the accumulated equatorial parts of the earth by the sun, than of the diminished polar parts, does not appear altogether sufficient and satisfactory to this speculator, to account for the great effects ascribed to it. The said fact seems (after much consideration) to imply, not only a greater attraction, induced by a greater mass of equatorial matter, but also, a greater attraction of a different kind, proceeding, probably, from motives of typical choice, or election, or what the chemists term “natural, elective affinities,” by which, for instance, substances show a preference to combine with one natural principle, rather than with another.
The difference of the sun's attraction, (as induced by the difference of the masses, and expressed by direct measurement,) on the equatorial and polar diameters is (according to Mr. Ferguson) as 230 to 229. This difference, however small, is the root of the whole solid difference, even supposing the polar, or the equatorial diameters to be presented direct to the sun's attraction, if possible; but we must recollect that the position of the earth in its orbit, with respect to the sun, is not directly polar, nor directly equatorial, but a certain medium, viz. 28°, 30'; therefore the difference of attraction upon the polar and equatorial parts by the sun, may be reduced to nearly one half, or 230 to 229. Now, it seems doubtful to this writer, whether so small a fraction of difference in the mere masses could produce such very considerable effects, viz. changing the paralellism of the axis and poles of the earth, as it approaches to the time and place of the true regular equinox, (that is to say, according to the course of this world,) and thereby causing it to arrive prematurely.
But this is not all the wonder; for though one might expect that the earth, in proceeding from the equinoctial to the solstitial points, should regain its former parallelism; or in other words, that the cause being removed, the effect should cease, yet we find that this is not the case; but the axis of the earth retains the new direction it had received from the attraction of the sun, until it comes round to the next
equinox, when it is again attracted in a similar way, and so on continually; by which means there is a perpetual precession of the equinoctial points, and, as Mr. Ferguson says, page 157,) “ The earth's aris (S O N) is in motion upon the earth's centre, in such a manner as to describe the double CONE (N On and S O s) round the axis of the ecliptic, (B 0,) in the time that the equinoctial points move quite round the ecliptic, which is 25,920 years; and in that length of time, the north pole of the earth's axis produced, describes the circle, ABCD A, in the starry heavens, round the pole of the ecliptic, which keeps immovable in the centre of that circle." *
This writer confesses, that the above phenomena, and the doctrine which they now appear to him to involve, (though not to astronomers,) of an elective attraction of some parts of the earth, in preference to other parts, seemed to him at first to be strange. He had formerly supposed, (not adverting to an universal analogy between natural and spiritual things,) that all the parts of the earth were attracted together, as it were in a lump, without distinction, according to the amount of the sum total of gravity, and of the mass of the earth. Also he was induced to think in this way, by higher authority than
If the earth's axis were vertical to its orbit, it could not describe an acute-angled cone, not any cone at all. An acute-angled cone is a false figure according to the analogies of geometry, unless it be the moral angle of 450.
his own notions; for Mr. Ferguson says, page 46 of his Astronomy-" Every particle of matter being possessed of an attractive power, the effect of the whole must be in proportion to the number of attracting particles; that is, to the quantity of matter in the body," &c. Again—“ Hence it is certain that the power of gravity (meaning attraction, for gravity is weakness) is always . proportioned to the quantity of matter in bodies, whatever their BULK OG FIGURES are.” Yet this author was acquainted with the doctrine of specific or comparative gravity in different bodies; but he did not apply this dormant knowledge to elucidate the subject by analogy, until he recollected that all visible things are shadows of those that are invisible; until he brought into use those principles of universal analogy which have already been laid down in this and the former Section!!! So difficult is it to shake off old prejudices.
In order to solve the above enigma, if possible, (that is to say, if it be permitted,) which Mr. Ferguson does not attempt to explain, except by the arbitrary assumption, or supposition, of a greater earthly mass of attraction, between the sun and the equatorial parts of the earth, the author is forced to resort to the light of universal analogy.
Here, as usual, we shall find two cases, which though very different, and even opposite in some respects, are yet both well represented
by the same equivocal, natural symbol; therefore they must both be examined with attention, and with caution.
First, if we suppose and admit that the eliptical orbit (or, figuratively, irregular and imperfect conduct) of the oblique earth (or fallen man) proceeds from the obliquity of its axis, poles, and equator, with respect to the sun, (or, by analogy, the aversion of the human heart and mind, from the Sun of righteousness,) and with respect to the plane of the ecliptic; (or, what ought to be, the true path of religious and moral duty ;) and if we admit, that this oblique, imperfect position is a type or figure, in itself, and in the nature of things, of man's fall from original uprightness of reason and truth, and rectitude of heart; then this view of the facts, will give us, at least, and at all events, a correct solution of the riddle, by the way of analogy; and it will show, at the same time, that astronomers are, generally speaking, right as to the fact which they announce, whether or not they are so, with respect to the manner in which, or the principle by which it is operated, and the spirit or meaning covered by its apparent form.
We are told, in holy Scripture, that it is the heart, or will and affections of man, which the Lord chiefly requires. When the heart is devoted to him in simplicity and sincerity, he ac