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    NATURAL PHILOSOPHY

    From any part of creation there are open doors inviting the open-eyed student into every other part. An exceedingly pleasing one of these is from botany to natural philosophy. There are flowers which produce no seed, but grow only from the roots of their kind. There are flowers also which have their seeds in themselves after their kind. Of this latter kind is the innocent and chaste snowdrop. “Botanists tell us that the constitution of this plant is such as to require that, at a certain stage of its growth, the stalk should bow its head, that an operation may take place which is necessary in order that the herb should produce seed after its kind; and that; after this fecundation, its vegetable health requires that it should lift its head again and stand erect.” And in this delicate balancing of that little flower there is wrapped up the philosophy of gravitation, which is simply the balancing of the universe. For “if the mass of the earth had been greater or less [than it is], the force of gravity would have been different; in that case the strength of fiber in the snowdrop, as it is, would have been too much or too little; the plant could not bow or raise its head at the right time; fecundation could not take place; and its family would have become extinct with the first individual that was planted, because its ‘seed’ would not have been ‘in itself,’ and therefore it could not have reproduced itself, and its creation would have been a failure.”PBE 203.1

    Therefore, “philosophy teaches us that, when was created the little snowdrop which in our garden walks we see raising its beautiful head, at ‘the singing of birds,’ to remind us that ‘the winter is over and gone,’ the whole mass of the earth, from pole to pole, and from circumference to center,must have been taken into account and weighed, in order that the proper degree of strength might be given to its tiny fibers.” And one of the Scripture texts that tell this philosophical truth is Isaiah 40:12: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” The hills are balanced with the mountains, the mountains with the earth, the earth with the waters, with the air, and also with the tiny flower that grows from its bosom, and all with the grand universe throughout.PBE 204.1

    “God made the earth, the air, and the water; and the whole arrangement of the animal and vegetable kingdoms; just as they are and in exact counterpoise. If it were not so, why was power given to the winds to lift up and transport moisture, and to feed the plants with nourishment? or why was the property given to the sea by which its waters may become vapor, and then fruitful showers or gentle dews? If the proportions and properties of land, sea, and air were not adjusted according to the reciprocal capacities of all to perform the functions required by each, why should we be told that He ‘measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance’? Why did He mete ‘out the heaven with the span,’ but that He might mete out the atmosphere in exact proportion to all the rest, and impart to it those properties and powers which it was necessary for it to have, in order that it might perform all those offices and duties for which He designed it?”PBE 205.1

    “In contemplating the system of terrestrial adaptations, these researches teach one to regard the mountain ranges and the great deserts of the earth as the astronomer does the counterpoises to his telescope—though they be mere dead weights, they are, nevertheless, necessary to make the balance complete, the adjustments of his machine perfect. These counterpoises give ease to the motions, stability to the performance, and accuracy to the workings, of the instrument. They are ‘compensations.’PBE 205.2

    “Whenever I turn to contemplate the works of nature, I am struck with the admirable system of compensation, with the beauty and nicety with which every department is poised by the others: things and principles are meted out in directions apparently the most opposite, but in proportions so exactly balanced and nicely adjusted that results the most harmonious are produced. It is by the action of opposite and compensating forces that the earth is kept in its orbit, and the stars are held suspended in the azure vault of heaven. And these forces are so exquisitely adjusted that, at the end of a thousand years, the earth, the sun, the moon, and every star in the firmament, is found to come and stand in its proper place at the proper moment.”PBE 206.1

    This law or system of compensations is called gravitation. The word “gravitation” is derived from the word gravitas,*The original publication had the spelling “gravus.” signifying “weight.” The law of gravitation is the law by which each particle of matter in the universe draws with its full weight upon, attracts, or is balanced with, every other particle. Another Scripture text that tells this truth of natural philosophy, and also defines what gravitation is, is Hebrews 1:1-3: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power:”PBE 206.2

    This “power” of the creative and mighty Word of God is the true definition of gravitation. For gravitation is that by which all things are balanced and held in place: that by which all things are held up. Yet in the field of accepted science alone, that is as far as a student is generally allowed to go. He may ask, What holds all things up? The answer is, Gravitation. He may then ask, What is gravitation? The answer usually is, That which holds all things up: or its equivalent. But that is not a valid answer: it is only asking him to move in a circle, and find no goal. Now, in a Christian school, when it is taught that the law, or system of balances, according to which all things are held up and in their relative places, is gravitation; and then the earnest student honestly asks, But what is gravitation itself? the answer is, The present, immanent power of the living Word of God. In Christian education no student is ever left in a maze, nor is he asked to move in a circle. He is taught to the limit, and caused to stand face to face with God, in whom mind and heart find rest and satisfaction as the Fountain of knowledge.PBE 207.1

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