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I.

THE CONSTITUTION OF NATURE.

WE cannot think of space as finite, for wherever in
imagination we erect a boundary we are compelled to think
of Space as existing beyond that boundary. Thus by the
incessant dissolution of limits we arrive at a more or less
adequate idea of the infinity of space. But though com-
pelled to think of space as unbounded, there is no mental
necessity to compel us to think of it either as filled or as
empty; whether it is filled or empty must be decided by
experiment and observation. That it is not entirely void,
the starry heavens declare; but the question still remains,
Are the stars themselves hung in vacuo .9 Are the vast
regions which surround them, and across which their light
is propagated, absolutely empty ? A century ago the
answer to this question would be, “ N o, for particles of
light are incessantly shot through space.” The reply of
modern science is also negative, but on a somewhat differ-
ent ground. It has the best possible reasons for rejecting
the idea of luminiferous particles; but, in support of the
conclusion that the celestial spaces are occupied by matter,
it is able to ofi'er proofs almost as cogent as those which
can be adduced for the existence of an atmosphere round
the earth. Men’s minds, indeed, rose to a conception of
the celestial and universal atmosphere through the study
of the terrestrial and local one. From the phenomena of
sound as displayed in the air, they ascended to the phe-

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