« ZurückWeiter »
Acoustic Tunnel*.—By means of the inventions just now adverted to, when brought toperlection, mankind may be enabled to transport themselves to every region of the globe, with a much greater degree of rapidity that has hitherto been attained. By the help of the microscope, we are enabled to contemplate the invisible worlds of life, and by the telescope we can penetrate inte regions far beyond the range of the unassisted eye. By the arts of writing and printing, we can communicate our sentiments, after a certain lapse of time, to every quarter of the world. In the progress of human knowledge and improvement, it would obviously be of considerable importance, could we extend the range of the ftuman voice, and communicate intelligence to the distance of a thousand miles, in the course of two or three hours; or could we hold an occasional conversation with a friend at the distance of 20 or 30 miles. From the experiments which have been lately made, in reference to the conveyance of sound, we have some reason to believe, that such objects may not be altogether unattainable. It has been long known, that wood is a good conductor of sound. If a wateh be laid on the end of a long beam of timber, its beating will be distinctly heard, on applying the car to the ctther end, though it could not be heard at the same distance through the air. In " Nicholson's Philosophical Journal" for February. 1803, Mr. E. Walker describes a simple apparatus, connected with a speaking trumpet, by means of which, at the distance of 17| feet, he held a conversation with another in whispers, too low to be heard through the air at that distance. When tho ear was placed in a certain position, the words were heard as if they had been spoken by an invisible being within the trumpet. And what rendered the deception still more pleasing, the words were more distinct, softer, and more musical, than if they had been spoken through the air.
About the year 1750, a merchant of Cleves, named Jorisen, who had become almost totally deaf, sitting one day near a harpsichord, while some one was playing, and having a tobaccopipe in his mouth, the bowl of which rested accidentally against the body of the instrument, he was agreeably and unexpectedly surprised to hear all the notes in the most distinct manner. By a little reflection and practice, he again ob
and they rise Into the atmosphere, on the same principle as a piece of cork ascends from the bottom of a pall of water. The aerial travellers are seated in a basket below the balloon, which is attached to it by means of cords. The parachute is an Invention, by which the voyager, in cases of alarm, may be enabled to desert his balloon In mid-air, and descend, without Injury, to the ground. They resemble an umbrella, but are of far greater extent. With one jf these contrivances, twenty-three feet in diameter, M. Gamer In, having detached himself from h.s r4a> oon, descended from a height of more than 4000 feet, wd lan led without shock or accident.
tained the use of this valuable sense; for he soot learned, by means of a piece of hard wood, oot end of which he placed against his teeth, while another person placed the other end on his teeth, to keep up a conversation, and to be able to understand the least whisper. In this way, two persons who have stopped their ears may converse with each other, when they hold a long stick or a series of sticks between their teeth, or rest their teeth against thorn. The effect is the same, if the person who speaks rests the stick against his throat, or his breast, or when one rests the stick which he holds in his teeth against some vessel into which the other speaks; and the effect will be greater, the more the vessel is capable of tremulous motion. These experiments demonstrate the facility with which the softest whispers may be transmitted. Water also is found to be a good conductor of sound. Dr. Franklin assures us, that he has heard under water, at the distance of half a mile, the sound of two stones struck against each other. It has been also observed, that the velocity of sound is much greater in solid bodies, than in the air. By a series of experiments, instituted for the purpose of determining this point, Mr. Chladni found that the velocity of sound, in certain solid bodies, is 16 or 17 times as great as in air.
But what has a more particular bearing on the object hinted at above, is, Ihe experiments lately made by M. Biot," on the transmission of sound through solid bodies, and through air, in very long tubes." These experiments were made by means of long cylindrical pipes, which were constructing for conduits and aqueducts, to embellish the city of Paris. With regard to the velocity of sound, it was ascertained that "its transmission through cast iron is 10) times as quick as through air." The pipes by which he wished to ascertain at what distance sounds are audible, were 1,039 yards, or nearly five furlongs, in length- M. Biot was stationed at the one end of this series of pipes, and Mr. Martin, a gentleman who assisted in the experiments, at tha other." They heard the lowest voice, so as perfectly to distinguish the words, and to keep up a conversation on all the subjects of the experiments. "I wished," says M. Biot, "to determine the point at which the human voire ceases to be audible, but could not accomplish it: words spoken as low as when we whisper a secret in another's ear, were heard and understood; so that not to be heard, there was but one resource, that of not speaking at all. This mode of conversing with an invisible neighbour is so singular, that we cannot help being surprised, even though acquainted with the cause. Between a question and answer, the interval was not greater thar was necessary for the transmission of sound. For Mr. Martin and me, at the dislonce of 1.039 yards, the time was about b\ seconds." Reports of a pisto* fired tX one end, occasioned
considerable explosion at the other. The air wa* driven out of the pipe with sufficient force to give the hand a smart blow, to drive light substances out of it to the distance of half a yard, and to extinguish a candle, though it was 1,039 yards distant from the place where the pistol was fired. A detailed account of these experiments may be seen in Nicholson' a Phil. Jour, for October, 1811. Don Gautier, the inventor of the telegraph, suggested also the method of conveying articulate sounds to a great distance. He proposed lobui'd horizontal tunnels, widening at the remoter extremity, and found that at the d is ranee of 400 fathoms, or nearly half a mile, n - ticking of a wateh could be heard far better than close to the ear. He calculated that a series of such tunnels would convey a message 900 miles in an hour,
From the experiments now stated, it appears highly probable, that sounds may be conveyed to an indefinite distance. If one man can converse with another at the distance of nearly mthree quarters of a mile, by means of the softest whisper, there is every reason to believe, that ihey could hold a conversation at the distance of 30 or 40 miles, provided the requisite tunnels were constructed for this purpose. The latter case does not appear more wonderful than the former. Were this point fully determined, by experiments conducted on a more extensive scale, a variety of interesting eflects would follow, from a practical application of the results. A person at one end of a large city, at an appointed hour, might communicate a message, or hold a conversation with his friend, at another; friends in neighbouring, or even in distant towns, might hold an occasional correspondence by articulate sounds, and reeogntxe each other's identity by their tones of voice. In the case of sickness, accident, or death, intelligence could thus be communicated, and the lender sympathy of friends instantly exchanged. A clergyman sitting in his own room in Edinburgh, were it at any time expedient, might address a congregation in Musselburgh or Dalkeith, or even in Glasgow. He might preach the same sermon to his own church, and the next hour to an assembly at forty mile* distant. And surely there could be no valid objection to trying the effect of an invisible preacher on a Christian audience. On similar principles, an apparatus might be constructed for augmenting the strength of the human voice, so as to make it extend its force to an assembled multitude, composed of fifty or a hundred thousand individuals; and the utility of such a power, when the mass of mankind are once thoroughly aroused to attend to rational and religious instruction, may be easily conceived. In short, intelligence respecting every important discovery, occurence, and event, might thus be commuricated, through the extent of a whole kingdom, •uhin the space of on hour after it had taken place.
Let none imagine that such a project is either chimerical or impossible. M. Biot's experiment is decisive, so far as it goes, that the softest whisper, without any diminution of its intensity, may be communicated to the distance of nearly three quarters of a mile; and there is nothing but actual experiment wanting to convince us, that the ordinary tones of the human voice may be conveyed to at least twenty times that distance. We are just now acting on a similar principle, in distributing illumination through large cities. Not thirty years ago, the idea of lighting our apartments by an invisible substance, produced at ten miles' distance, would have been considered as chimerical, and as impossible to be realized, as the idea of two persons conversing together, by articulate sounds, at such a distance. It appears no more wonderful, that we should he able to hear at the distance of five or six miles, than that we should be enabled to see objects at that distance by the telescope, as distinctly as if we were within a few yards of them. Both are the effects of those principles and laws which the Creator has interwoven with the system of the material world; and when man has discovered the mode of their operation, it remains with himielf to apply them to his necessities. What the telescope is to the eyes acoustic tunnels would be to the ear; and thus, those senses on which our improvement in knowledge and enjoyment chiefly depends, would be gradually carried to the utmost perfection of which our station on earth will permit. And, as to the expense of constructing such communications for sound, ihe tenth part of the millions of money expended in the twenty-two years' war in which we were lately engaged, would, in all probability, be more than sufficient for distributing them, in numerous ramification, through the whole island of Great Britain. Even although such a project were partially to fail of success, it would be a far more honourable and useful national undertaking, than that which now occupies the attention of the despots on the continent of Europe, and might be accomplished with far less expenditure, either of blood or of money. Less than the fourth part of a million of pounds would be sufficient for trying an experiment of this kind, on an extensive scale; and such a sum is considered as a mere item, when fleets and armies are to be equipped for carrying destruction through sea and land. When will the war madness cease its rage! When will men desist from the work of destruction, and employ their energies and their treasures in the cause of human improvement! The most chimerical projects that were ever suggested by the most enthusiastic visionary, are not half so ridiculous, and degrading to the character of man, as those ambitious and despotic schemes, in which the powers of the earth in all ages have been chiefly engaged. But on this topic it is needless tu
enlarge, till more extended experiments shall have been undertaken.
In the preceding sketehes I have presented a few specimens of the relation which the inventions of human ingenuity bear to religious objects I intended to have traced the same relation in several other instances; in the invention of the electrical machine, the air-pump, mills, clocks and watehes, gas-lights, chymical fumigations, inventions for enabling us to walk upon the water, to prevent and alleviate the dangers of shipwreck, &c. &c. But, as my prescribed limits will not permit farther enlargement, I trust that what has been already slated will be sufficient to establish and illustrate my general position. From this subject we may learn—
1st. That the various processes of art, and the exertions of human ingenuity, are under the special direction of Him who arranges all things "according to the counsel of his will." As '' the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, and, as the rivers of waters, he turns it whithersoever he pleases," so all the varied schemes and movements of the human mind, the discoveries of science, and the diversified experiments of mechanics, chymists, and philosophers, are directed in such channels as may issue in the accomplishment of His eternal purposes, in respect to the present and future condition of the inhabitants of our world. This truth is also plainly taught us in the records of inspiration. "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow? Doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitehes, and scatter the cummin,* and cast in the wheat in the principal [place,] and the barley in the appointed place, and the rye in its proper place? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth tiach him. This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.*' Agriculture has, by most nations, been attributed to the suggestions of Deity; for "every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights." It is he who hath taught men to dig from the bowels of the earth iron, copper, lead, silver, and gold, and to apply them to useful purposes in social life; and who hath given them "wisdom and understanding" to apply the animal and vegetable productions nf nature to the manufacture of cloths, linen, muslin, and silk, for the use and ornament of man." For "all things are of God." "Both riches and honour come from him, and he reignoth over all, and in his hand is power and might; and in his hand it is to make groat, and to give strength to all." When the frame of the Mosaic tabernacle and all its curious vessels were to be
"Fitches is a kind of seed frequently sown In Judea, for the use of cattle: and cummin Is the seed vf a plant somewhat Ukc fennel.
constructed, the mind of Bezaleel "was fu'vu with the spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, and in knowledge, and in all mann,-i of workmanship, to devise curious works in gold, and in silver, and in brass." And, when the fabric of the New Testament church is to be reared, and its boundaries extended, artificers of every description, adequate for carrying on the different parts of the work are raised up, and inspired with the spirit of their respective departments—some with ihe spirit of writing, printing, and publishing; some with the spin* of preaching, lecturing, and catechising; some with the spirit of fortitude, to make bold and daring adventures into distant and barbarous climes; and others with the spirit of literature, of science, and of the mechanical arts—all acting as pioneers "to prepare the way of the Lord," and as builders for carrying forward and completing the fabric of the Christian church.
2dly. All the mechanical contrivances to which I have adverted, all the discoveries of science, and all the useful inventions of genius which may hereafter be exhibited, ought to be viewed as preparing ihe way for the millennial era of the church, and as having a certain tendency to the melioration of the external condition of mankind during its continuance. We are certain, from the very nature of things, as well as from scriptural predictions, that, when this period advances towards the summit of its glory, the external circumstances of ihis world's population will be comfortable, pro«perous, and greatly meliorated beyond what they have ever been in the ages that are past. "Then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us. Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow thy ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth; and it shall be fat and plenteous. In that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures; the oxen likewjso and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat savoury provender, which haih been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan. And the inhabitants shall not say, I am sick. They shall build houses and inhabit ihem, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, an i another inhabit; they shall nui plant, and another eat; for as the days of a trts are the days of my people, and mine elect shall iong rnj'ty the work of their hands. They shaft not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. Ths seed anal be prosperous, the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens stiall give their dew; the evil beasts shall cease out of tho land, and they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and none shall make him afraid ; for wars shall cease to the ends of the world, and the know ledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover t!ie sea."* Diseases will be, in a great measure, banished from the world, and the life of i..an extended far beyond its present duration —agriculture will be brought to perfection— eommodious habitations erected for the comfortable accommodation of all ranks—cities built on elegant and spacious plans, adapted to health, ornament, and pleasure; divested of all the tilth, and darko«ss, and gloom, and narrow lanes, which now disgrace the abodes of men— roads will be constructed on improved principles, with comfortable means of retreat for shelter and accommodation at all seasons; and conveyances invented for the ease, and safety, and rapid conveyance of persons and property from one place to another. Either the climates of the earth will be meliorated, by the universal cultivation of the •oil, so that storms an i tempests, thunders and lightnings, shall no longer produce their present ravages , or chymical and mechanical contrivances will be invented to ward off their destructive effects. The landscape of the earth will be adorned with vegetable and architectural beauty; and, instead of horse-raring, demoralizing plays, routs and masquerades, boxing and bull-bails— artificial displays of scenery will be exhibited, mure congenial to the dignity of rational, renovated, and immortal minds. For " ihe knowlege tf lhe Lord," and the "beauties of holiness," will pervade men of all ranks and ages, "from the least even lo the greatest."!
Now, as we have no reason lo expect any miracttluu* interference, we must regard the past and the future useful inventions of philosophy and mechanics, as having a bearing on this glorious period, and a tendency to promote the improvement and the felicity of those who shall
. Psalm Ixvii. Isaiah xxx. 23, 24, xxxlll. 24. lxv.
* The various circumstances above stated may be eonsidercd as the natural rreulte of a state of society on which the light of science and of revelation has diffused its full Influenre, and where the active powers of the human mind are invariably directed by the pure principles and precepts of Christianity. That the duration of human life, at the era referred to, will be extended beyond its present boundary, appears to be intimated in some of the passages above quoted particularly the following—" At the dayt ofa tree tkatl be the days of my ptople, and mine elect sh*ll tony enjoy the work of their hands." And, If the life of man will be thus protracted to an indefinite period, it will follow, that those diseases which now prey upon the human frame, and cut short Its vitaI action, will be in a great measure ex i: i Both these effects may be viewed twithout supposing any miraculous Interference) as the natural consequence of that happiness and equanimlty of mind which will flow from the practice of Christian virtues, from the enlargement of our knowledtre of the principles of nature, and from the physical enjoyments which such a state of society
live during this era of Messiah's reign. If diseases are to be generally abolished, it will bs owing lo the researches of the scientific physician in discovering certain antidotes against every disorder, and to the practice of temperance, meekness, equanimity of mind, and every other mean of preserving the vigour of the animal frame. If the earth H to produce its treasures in abundance, and with little labour, it will bt. owing in part to the improvement of agricultural science and of the instruments by which its operations are conducted. If the lightnings of heaven shall no longer prove destructive to man and to the labours of bis hands, it will be effected either by machinery for drawing ofi* the electricity of a stormy cloud, or by the invention of thunder'guards f which shall afford a complete protection from its ravages. In these, and numerous other instances, the inventions of men, under the guidance of the Spirit of wisdom, will have a tendency to remove a great part of the curse which has so long hung over our sinful world. And since the inventions of human skill and ingenuity for the melioration of mankind, and for the swift conveyance of intelligence, have, of late years, been rapidly increasing, at the same time when the Christian world is roused to increased exertions in disseminating the Scriptures throughout all lands, when general knowledge is increasingly diffused,and when the fabric of superstition and despotism is shaking to its foundations—these combined and simultaneous movements seem plainly to indicate, that that auspicious era is fast hastening on, when " the glory cf Jehovah shall be revealed; and all flesh shall see it together," when " righteousness and praise shall spring forth before all nations," and when "holiness to the Lord" shall be inscribed on all the pursuits, and implements, and employments of men.
Lastly,—If the remarks suggested above be well founded, we may conclude, that the mechanical and philosophical inventions of genius are worthy of the attentive consideration of the enlightened Christian, particularly in the relation they may have to the accomplishment of religious objects. He should contemplate the experiments of scientific men, not as a waste of time, or the mere gratification of an idle curiosity, but as imbodying the germs of those improvements, by which civilization, domestic comfort, knowledge, and moral principle may be diffused among the nations. To view such objects with apathy and indifference, as bcneath the regard of a religious character, argues a weak and limited understanding, und a contracted view of the grand operations of a superintending Providence.
SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINES AND FACTS ILLUSTRATED FROM THE SYSTEM OF NATURE.*
Without spending time in any introductory observations on this subject, it may bo remarked in general,
I.—Thai scientific knowledge, or an (acquaintance with the system of nature, may frequently serve as a guide to the true interpretation of Scripture.
It may be laid down as a universal principle, that there can be no real discrepancy between a just interpretation of Scripture and the facts of physical science; and on this principle, the following cm.m is founded, which may be considered as an infallible rule lor Scripture interpretation, namely,—That no interpretation of Scripture ought to be admitted which is inconsistent with any well-authenticated facts in the material world. By well-authenticated facts, I do not mean the theories of philosophers, or the deductions they may have drawn from them, nor the confident assertions or plausible reasonings of scientific men in support of any prevailing system of aatural science; but those facts which are universally admitted, and the reality of which every scientific inquirer has it in his power to ascertain: such as that the earth is not an extended plane, but a round or globular body, and that the rays of the sun, when converged to a focus by a large convex glass, will set fire to combustible substances. Such facts, when ascertained, ought to be considered as a revelation from God, as well as the declarations of his word. For they make known to us a portion of his character, of his plans and his operations.—This rule may bo otherwise expressed as follows '.—Where a passage of Scripture it of doubtful meaning, or capable of different interpretations, that interpretation ought to be preferred which will best agree with the established discoveries of science. For since the Author of revelation and the Author of universal nature is one and the same infinite being,—there must exist a complete harmony between the revelations of his word, and the facts or relations which are observed in the material universe. To suppose the contrary, would be to
* Under this head, It was originally Intended to embrace an elucidation of a considerable variety of he Tacts recorded In sacred history, and of the allusions of the Inspired writers to the system of feature; but as the volume has already swelled beyond the limits proposed, I am reluctantly compelled •o confine myself to the Illustration of only two or tfurue topies
suppose the Almighty capable of inconsistency, a supposition which would go far to shake our confidence in the theology of nature, as well as of revelation. If, in any one instance, a record claiming to be a revelation from heaven were found to contradict a well-known fact in the material world; if, for example, u asserted, in express terms, to be literally understood, that the earth is a quiescent body in the centre of the universe, or that the moon is no larger than a mountain; it would be a fair conclusion, either that the revelation was not divine, or that the passages imbodying such assertions are interpolations, or that science, in reference to these points, has not yet arrived at the truth. The example, we are aware, is inapplicable to the the Christian revelation, which rests securely on its own basis, and to which science is graduually approximating, as it advances in the amplitude of its views, and the correctness of itsde ductions;—but it shows us how necessary it is, in interpreting the word of God, to keep our eye fixed upon his works; for we may rest assured, that truth in the one will always correspond with fact in the other.
To illustrate the rule now laid down, an example or two may be stated. If it be a fact that geological research has ascertained that the materials of the at rata of the earth are of a more ancient date than the Mosaic account of the commencement of the present race of men; the passages in the first chapter of Genesis, and other parts of Scripture, which refer to the origin of our world, must be explained as conveying the idea, that the earth was then merely arranged into its present form and order, out of the materials which previously existed in a confused mass, and which had been created by the Almighty at a prior period in duration. For Moses no where asserts, that the materials of our globe were created, or brought into existence out of nothing, at the time to which his history refers; but insinuates the contrary. "Forthe earth" says he, prior to its present constitution! "was without form and void," &c. Again, ifit be a fact that the universe is indefinitely ex tend* ed, that, of many millions of vast globes which diversify the voids of space, only two or three have any immediate connexion with the earth, then it will appear most reasonable to conclude, that those expressions in ihe Mosaic history of the creation, which refer to the creation of me fixed stars, are not to be understood as referring