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sations of Providence, and cheerfully submit to the evils we cannot avoid: if it please the Almighty Disposer of events that our path through life shall be dark, with few rays of comfort and of happiness to cheer us on our gloomy way, let us not repine; but steadily hold on our course, unmoved by the laugh, the scorn, and the censure of the world, as the rock rears its head above the waves, and remains regardless of their idle foaming, whilst the storm rages around.
The Utility of Mountains.
WOULD it be more advantageous to our globe if the sur. face were more even, and not subject to so many inequa licies? If the superficies of the earth had been smoother, so as to form one vast extended plain, might not our sight have reached farther, and our travelling from place to place been more facilitated, besides many other advantages which we should have experienced? These are important questions, and deserve our serious consideration : let us now, therefore, see whether we have any cause to be discontented with the present arrangement of our globe.
From mountains and hills flow innumerable springs, which uniting, form vast lakes and rivers. Those immense chains of mountains which extend from east to west, traversing a great extent of country, are supposed to condense into water the moist exhalations from the earth, and thus prevent their being dissipated: from the summits of the mountains there is thus a perpetual supply of streams, which descend to irrigate and fertilize the valleys below.
Besides their being the source of fountains and rivulets, they are also of great use in being the abode and shelter of many animals which are of great advantage and service to man. They supply, without its costing us any labour, food and support to many animals which we esteem both for their flesh and their skins. Upon the sides of mountains grow and flourish trees, plants, and a variety of herbs
and salutary roots, which cannot be so well cultivated in the plains. Within their bosom, also, are contained various metals and minerals; and mountains are highly useful in sheltering us from the cold piercing blasts of the north and east winds; and to many countries they are more effectual and durable barriers against the inroads of hostile nations than the strongest ramparts and most powerful engines of war; and they are, at the same time, the most sure bulwarks against the ravages of the sea, the inundation of floods, and the devastation of the winds.
They form the most grand and striking objects of nature; for who can contemplate the Alps, the Cordeliers, and the Andes, without feeling emotions of sublimity? or view, without astonishment and rapture, Plinlimmon and Benlomond, whose summits are lost in the clouds? It is true that some mountains, such as Ætna and Vesuvius, are terrible from their explosions, and dreadful from the materials they contain; causing horrible shakings of the earth, and hurling fire and destruction far around. But as we have reason to believe this partial evil is for the general good and advantage of man, we have no cause to complain of this peculiar arrangement of the earth.
Mountains then, we find, are essential to the due preser vation of the earth; procure us numberless advantages; and display, equally with the rest of the creation, the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. On the heights, as well as in the depths; on the mountains, and in the valleys; above the earth, as well as beneath it; the Lord manifests himself the benefactor of his creatures, and gives occasion to bless and celebrate his name for ever and ever.
Powers of the Mind enlarged by contemplating God in the Works of Nature.
LET those who wish to worship the God that made the heavens and the earth go forth and view his works, and see, and acknowledge with gratitude, the wonders he has wrought. Of all the species of knowledge we can acquire,
none is more important, more agreeable, or more interesting, than that we gain from studying the works of nature; and, properly to answer the great end for which we were created, it is essential to become acquainted with the Divinity by considering his works: it will ensure us present as well as future felicity. It is certainly right to seek for a know. ledge of God, as revealed in his divine word; but we shall scarcely embrace, with full conviction of heart, such a revelation, if we do not join to it that other revelation by which he is manifested to us in nature as the Creator of all things, and as the common Father, Lord, and Benefactor of the creation. And we find our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, when opening to his disciples the great truths of religion, often made mention of the works of nature, and conducted his hearers from a consideration of the subjects which the moral and the physical world present to the meditation of things spiritual and heavenly.
The frequent study of the great volume of nature is sufficiently noble, and worthy the attention of man? by it we learn those truths which declare to us the immense grandeur and glorious attributes of God; we are taught to know, and properly estimate, our own limited powers and faculties, and become better acquainted with the obligations we owe for the blessings we receive. Those who despise this study, and think it beneath their notice, only draw down upon themselves shame and disgrace, and deserve the compassion of their fellow-creatures. The advantages of reason are never more felt than when our faculties are employed in meditating upon the perfection of God displayed in his works: never does the mind so expand, and the imagination take such bold flights, as when, ranging abroad through nature, we view her works: whether the constellations and the luminaries of the heavens; the hills, and the distant mountains; the wide-extended valleys, the groves, and the meandering streams; or listening to the sighing of the wind, or the hoarser cadence of the swelling wave, now foaming beneath the hoar cliff, or vainly breaking against the rock, whose dusky top sullenly peers above the spray; and, glowing with rapture, our soul then feels there is something more than all this; sensations arise too sublime for utterance, and we are immediately brought as into the presence of God: all meaner things, in those glorious
moments of true delight, find no place in our bosom, which is filled with ecstacy and inexpressible felicity. These joys are not like the pleasures of the world, fleeting and transitory, but they are ever fresh and ever young; they never disgust with satiety, nor weary with reiteration: and when retired to our habitations, the mind formed for greatness, instead of being occupied with the trifles and frivolities of the day, looks back with fond delight upon the past scenes, which the imagination depicts in the purest and most glowing colours; and, safe from the dangers of his voyage, the traveller remembers the objects which once forcibly arrested his attention.
We cannot long be in the habit of thus exercising our fa. culties without their being much benefited and improved : whatever calls forth the powers of the mind tends to elevate and enlarge its capacity: and nothing contributes more to this noble purpose than the study of nature and of God: from our imagination we receive our greatest pleasures, and it never takes higher nor more brilliant flights than when ranging through nature; but we have reason to believe, that the power we are permitted to enjoy of obtaining a degree of pure happiness here is not to be annihilated or lessened when the soul is released from those incumbrances which now so much shackle and retard her advancement in wisdom and in perfection; but that this kind of pleasure and true enjoyment will be continued in a future state; and he who has most cultivated the faculties of his mind and cherished the virtues of his heart will have these faculties increased according to his desert in the world to come, where we are told, in the language of Scripture, saints and angels of light continually rejoice in the presence of God, and are never weary with contemplating his glory and hymning his praises. And such even in this world is the reward of those who are continually reflecting upon the Almighty Power, as manifested in his works.
NATURE is still drooping; deprived of her beauties, her aspect seems wild and dreary; the sky is obscured with clouds, and the atmosphere loaded with vapours. A thick fog conceals the morning sun from our view, and prevents our receiving his salutary influence; his warmth is feeble, and scarce a solitary herb peeps above the ground; all is dull, lifeless, and without charms. Some will be ready to exclaim, When will the lovely spring appear? When will those happy days arrive when the first flowers shall invite us forth into the fields and the gardens? But let us remember that before these pleasing effects can take place, such a state as we now experience must occur. Such is the plan of nature, that without these days, which we think so disagreeable, all our hopes of summer must vanish. Storms and tempests are beneficial, and frosts ultimately tend to fertilize the earth. If the air was now mild and more temperate, millions of insects would be generated, to the great injury of the seed which is sown, and the plants ready to bud. And if the weather should now be mild, and blossoms be put forth, how they would suffer should a frost return to nip the tender shoots!
Yet such is our blind obstinacy, that we murmur against God when we ought to adore and to bless him; and we set down for imperfect what should make us acknowledge the wisdom and goodness of the Creator. In short, we know not what we ask, nor what we desire; and it would be a sufficient punishment if all our prayers were to be granted. It is for the wisest purposes that the approaches of spring are gradual. The frequent rough and boisterous weather of March is generally the last remains of winter, prepares us for the enjoyment of finer days, and is the forerunner of the delightful verdure which the spring spreads over our fields. Therefore, O my God, will I continue to exalt and to bless thee. In these stormy days I will be more and more convinced that thy government is wise, and thy arrangements of nature just and beneficial; and that in all times and in