Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
The Lesson of the Solid Earth
By Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel (1810?1862)
[Born in Union Co., Ky., 1810. Died at Beaufort, S. C., 1862. The Astronomy of the Bible. 1868.]
IF supreme intelligence have superintended the organization of the universe, then will the evidences of this august power be stamped on every part and portion of the celestial organisms. Even here on earth, within the range of the dominion governed by the intelligence of the human mind, how infallibly do we pass from the effect to the cause, from the thing fashioned to the framer, from the design to the higher intelligence which planned and executed the design.
Who has ever stood within the portals of the lofty St. Peters, that majestic temple of the living God, and gazed upon its vast proportions, its mighty columns, its interminable arches, its viewless dome, rising grand, majestic, and overwhelming; who, I say, has gazed upon those wonders of art, without reverting to the godlike mind that conceived this stupendous fabric, and fashioned its vast proportions in beauty and strength? Mind is there radiant in every form, pervading every curve of beauty, beaming from every shape of strength and perpetuity. If in this earthly structure, this beautiful atom on the broad bosom of our mother earth, we discern that which bespeaks the immortality of mind, what doth the solid earth itself declareradiant with power and beauty, teeming with life, and not lifes images, verdant with beauty, diversified with every variety of grandeur, rolling ever on its firm axle, irradiated with a flood of splendor and alternately canopied with jewelled glories, sweeping onward freighted with its nine hundred millions of intelligent beings, its myriads of sentient creatures, circling forever in its appointed path? Springtime and harvest, summer and winter do never fail. There is bread for the eater, and seed for the sower. Poise yourself in empty space and behold this revolving world, with its rocks and mountains, its forests and oceans, its life and energy sweeping by you, swiftly revolving, and swiftly flying, growing, swelling, expanding, as it approaches, till as it flashes by you, the imagination is overwhelmed with the amazing grandeur!
Is there here no evidence of mind? whose hand fashioned this stupendous globe, and filled its mighty cavities with the heaving deep? who painted with glowing tints its limitless expanse; warmed, and vivified, and fructified its teeming bosom; filled its surface with life and energy, with hope, and love, and happiness; launched it flaming through the abyss of space, firm fixed in its appointed course as though linked by chains of adamant, never, never to be moved? The swelling mind answers, It is God, it is God alone!
But this is mere external examination. Let us penetrate still deeper into the arcana of this wonderful exhibition, and mark the admirable adaptation of all its parts. Living, sentient intelligence seems to be the grand aim of the mighty architect;the sustentation of man, the monarch of creation. For him the earth teems with fruit and flower, with the rich harvest and the golden grain. For him the fresh fountains leap from the solid rock, and the cattle feed on a thousand hills. To lull him to repose the solid earth turns away from the too brilliant sun, and the gentle stars light the nocturnal sky. To wake him to vigor, the morning dawns and the light of day, tempered by a provision of admirable efficiency, swells gently into brighter and still brighter effulgence, until the full-orbed sun bursts in splendor upon the world.