The stars give us, on land and sea, all our reliable standards of time. There is no other source. They are reliable to the hundredth part of a second.
The Italian physicians, in their ignorance of the origin of a disease, named it the influenza, because they imagined that it came from the influence of the stars. No! There is nothing malign in the sweet influences of the Pleiades.
The stars are of special use as a mental gymnasium. On their lofty bars and trapezes the mind can swing itself higher and farther than on any other material thing. Infinity and omnipotence are factors in their problems. They also fill the soul of the rapt beholder with adoring wonder. They are the greatest symbols of the unweariableness of the power and of the minuteness of the knowledge of God. He calleth all their millions by name, and for the greatness of his power not one faileth to come.
Number the stars of a clear Eastern sky, if you are able. So multitudinous and enduring shall the influence of one good man be.
HELP FROM INSENSIBLE SEAS
Suppose one has been at sea a month. He has tacked to every point of the compass, been driven by gales, becalmed in doldrums. At length Euroclydon leaps on him, and he lets her drive. And when for many days and nights neither sun nor stars appear, how can he tell where he is, which way he drives, where the land lies?
There is an insensible ocean. No sense detects its presence. It has gulf streams that flow through us, storms whose waves engulf us, but we feel them not. There are various intensities of its power, the north end of the world not having half as much as the south. There are two places in the north half of the world that have greater intensity than the rest, and only one in the south. It looks as if there were unsoundable depths in some places and shoals in others.
The currents do not flow in exactly the same direction all the time, but their variations are within definite limits.
How shall we detect these steady currents when wind and waves are in tumultuous confusion? They are always present. No winds blow them aside, no waves drench their subtle fire, no mountains make them swerve. But how shall we find them?
Float a bit of magnetic ore in a pail of water, or suspend a bit of magnetized steel by a thread, and these currents make the ore or needle point north and south. Now let waves buffet either side, typhoons roar, and maelstroms whirl; we have, out of the invisible, insensible sea of magnetic influence, a sure and steady guide. Now we can sail out of sight of headlands. We have in the darkness and light, in calm and storm, an unswerving guide. Now Columbus can steer for any new world.
Does not this seem like a spiritual force? Lodestone can impart its qualities to hard steel without the impairment of its own power. There is a giving that does not impoverish, and a withholding that does not enrich.