And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.…
1. Water is as indispensable to all life, whether vegetable or animal, as is the air itself. But this element of water is supplied entirely by the sea. All the waters that are in the rivers, the lakes, the fountains, the vapours, the dew, the rain, the snow, come alike out of the ocean. It is a common impression that it is the flow of the rivers that fills the sea. It is a mistake. It is the flow of the sea that fills the rivers.
2. A second use of the sea is to moderate the temperature of the world. A common method of warming houses in the winter is by the use of hot water. The water, being heated in the basement, is carried by iron pipes to the remotest parts of the building, where, parting with its warmth and becoming cooler and heavier, it flows back again to the boiler, to be heated anew, and so to pass round in the same circuit continuously. The advantage of this method is, that the heat can be carried to great distances, and in any direction.
3. A third important use of the sea is to be a perpetual source of health to the world. Without it there could be no drainage for the lands. The process of death and decay, which is continually going on in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, would soon make the whole surface of the earth one vast receptacle of corruption, whose stagnant mass would breathe a pestilence, sweeping away all the life of a continent. The winds would not purify it; for, having no place to deposit the burden, it would only accumulate in their hands, and filling their breath with its poisonous effluvia, it would make them swift ministers of death, carrying the sword of destruction into every part of the world at once.
4. It may be mentioned, as a fourth office of the sea, that it is set to furnish the great natural pathways of the world. Instead of a barrier, the sea is a road across the barrier. Hence the ocean has been the great educator of the world. The course of empire began on its shores, and has always kept within sight of its waters. No great nation has ever sprung up except on the seaside, or by the banks of those great navigable rivers which are themselves but an extension of the sea. Had it not been for the Mediterranean, the history of Egypt, of Phoenicia, of Greece and Rome and Carthage, would have been impossible.
5. A fifth office of the sea is to furnish an inexhaustible storehouse of power for the world. Of the three great departments of labour which occupy the material industry of the race, — agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, — we have seen how the first depends upon the ocean, the one for the rains which support all vegetable life, the other for the thousand paths on which its fleets are travelling. We now find that the third one also, though at first appearing not to have very intimate connection with the ocean, does in fact owe to it almost the whole of its efficiency. Ninety-nine hundredths of all the mechanical power now at work in the world is furnished by the water wheel and the steam engine.
6. A sixth office of the sea is to be a vast storehouse of life. The sea has a whole world of life in itself. It is said that the life in the sea far exceeds all that is out of it. There are more than twenty-five thousand distinct species of living beings that inhabit its waters. Incredible numbers of them are taken from the sea; in Norway, four hundred millions of a single species in a single season; in Sweden, seven hundred millions; and by other nations, numbers without number.
7. Omnipresent and everywhere is this need and blessing of the sea. It is felt as truly in the centre of the continent, where, it may be, the rude inhabitant never beard of the ocean, as it is on the circumference of the wave-beaten shore. He is surrounded, every moment, by the presence and bounty of the sea. It is the sea that looks out upon him from every violet in his garden bed; from the broad forehead of his cattle, and the rosy faces of his children; and from the cool-dropping well at his door. It is the sea that feeds him. It is the sea that clothes him, It is the sea that cools him with the summer cloud, and that warms him with the blazing fires in winter.
8. There is a sea within us which responds to the sea without. Deep calleth unto deep, and it is the answer and the yearning of these inward waves, in reply to that outward call, which makes our hearts to swell, our eyes to grow dim with tears, and our whole being to lift and vibrate with such strong emotion when we stand upon the shore and look out upon the deep, or sit in the stern of some noble ship and feel ourselves cradled on the pulsations of its mighty bosom. There is a life within us which calls to that sea without — a conscious destiny which only its magnitude and its motion can symbolize and utter.
Parallel VersesKJV: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.