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by its rotation has withdrawn our sight from the sun; by which means we enjoy the light much longer.
Thus a bountiful Providence has not only regulated the greater revolutions of the seasons, but also the daily alternation of light and darkness in that way which is most beneficial to us, and which demands our most heartfelt acknowledgments and thanksgivings. Let this gradual approach of night remind us of the evening of life, which advances by slow and certain degrees, till almost imperceptibly the hand of death lies heavily upon us. May the Almighty grant, when the period arrives which is to close our eyes in darkness, that as the measure of our days is full, so also may the measure of our good works be completed! Let us work whilst it is day, for the night cometh in which no man can work.
Magnificence of God displayed in his Works.
WHY are all the works of God so beautiful and magnificent? Why do we every where discover various and innumerable objects, each clothed in peculiar charms, and outvying all the rest in beauty? Whence is it that we every where find new subjects of astonishment and admiration? Doubtless that we may be led unceasingly to admire and to adore that Being, who is so infinitely more beautiful, sublime, and glorious, than all that we can discover or delight in throughout nature. We cannot help saying, If the works are so admirable, what must be the Creator of them! If the beauty of the creatures is so excellent, how inexpressible must be the grandeur and nature of the Being who formed them, and who sees the whole creation at a single glance!
If the meridian sun has splendour, the blaze of which dazzles and confounds our sight, we may well suppose, that He who first imparted life and being to this luminary, dwells in light inaccessible, utterly removed from the penetration of finite mortals. We cannot suppose he is less wonderful than the creatures he has formed; and the more striking and marvellous are his works, the more he must excite our
astonishment and call forth our admiration: could we comprehend at once the totality of his grandeur, he would cease to be God, or we to be men.
There is no better way then of enlarging our views, or gaining a richer treasure of ideas and more ample intelligence, than in contemplating God, the grandeur and mag. nificence of whose works are beyond the limits of comprehension. By such contemplations all the faculties of the soul acquire Strength and vigour, and our capability of enjoying happiness, both here and hereafter, becomes abundantly increased; for the more the capacity of our minds is enlarged here by contemplating the Supreme Being, the more ennobled and exalted will it be, and the greater will be its power of comprehension and of enjoyment in futurity. Let us then divide our attention between God and nature, which last reflects as from a glass the image of that Eternal Being whose presence we only see from the effects produced. We may collect the various beauties and perfections dispersed through the creation, and when their innumerable multitudes have struck us with astonishment and admiration, we may think how little and insignificant are all these compared with the perfections of the Creator; no more than a drop of water to the ocean.
Let us regard the most lovely and beautiful of created be? ings, abstracting what is finite and limited, that we may have more just and exalted ideas of the infinite excellence of the Creator; and when the sight of faults and imperfections in the creatures shall tend to lessen our admiration of their beauty, let us exclaim-If the creation, notwithstanding all its defects, be so beautiful and grand, how great and wonderful must He be whose splendour, ever unobscured, is purer than light, and more brilliant than the sun! Let us then employ all our faculties in contemplating the all-adorable God; and not rest till we have taken our flight to the regions of perfection, where the most perfect of beings reigns in undisturbed felicity. Let our principal study be to learn to know God; for there is nothing so great as he is, and the knowledge of him alone will satisfy our desires, and diffuse through our hearts peace and joy, which nothing can molest or destroy; and it is in some degree aforetaste of that more perfect knowledge which shall constitute our felicity, and be our constant reward through eternity.
Arrangement of the seasons in different Planets. THE diurnal rotation of the earth round its axis, and its annual revolution round the sun, afford us the greatest advantages; which would induce us to suppose that the other planets enjoy similar blessings. All of them, except Mercury, have been observed to turn round their axes in different spaces of time; and most probably he is subject to the same general law, though his precise motion has not yet been determined. All the planets move in their orbits round the sun, and even the secondary planets make a similar revolution round their primaries. And as the diurnal rotation of our earth effects the constant vicissitudes of day and night, and its annual revolution the change of seasons, we have just reason to conclude that similar changes take place in the other planets.
Venus turns round her axis in little more than 23 hours Mars in 24 hours 39 minutes; Jupiter in 9 hours 56 minutes; the Moon in about 28 days. If we were to divide the day, that is, the time in which these revolutions are made, into twenty four equal parts, each of which shall be called an hour, the hours of Venus will be a little less, those of Mars rather greater, and those of Jupiter not half so long as the days in our planet; whilst those of the moon will each be more than equal to one of our days. We may also observe that the axis of each planet is inclined like that of our earth; whence it follows, that during their revolutions round the sun, their north pole is sometimes more, sometimes less, enlightened. It is then reasonable to suppose that they experience a change of season as well as the alternation of long and short days.
Perhaps it will be asked, 'Why all these reflections ? They would be useful, if only to extend our knowledge; but they will be still more important, if we think of the consequences which must result from them. Shall we not have reason to conclude, that other planets besides our own are inhabited by living creatures? All the planets resemble our earth; like it enjoy the light and genial warmth of the sun, have the alternation of night and day, and the succes
sion of summer and winter: but what end would all these phenomena answer unless the planets were inhabited ? Considering them as so many peopled worlds, what a sublime idea we conceive of the grandeur of God, and the extent of his empire! How impossible to fathom his bounty, or penetrate the limits of his power! His glory, reflected from so many worlds, fills us with amaze, and calls forth every sentiment of awe, veneration, and gratitude. Supposing that his praise is celebrated in all the worlds which roll above and around us, let us not be surpassed in our adoration, but in holy emulation mingle our hymns with those of the inhabitants of these numerous worlds, and celebrate the Lord God of the universe with eternal thanksgivings!
Care of Providence for the Preservation of his Creatures experienced in every Country of the World.
By this time we have become acquainted with the greatest part of the earth; and new regions have, from time to time, been discovered; yet no place has been found where nature does not produce the necessaries of life. We hear of countries where the scorching rays of the sun have destroyed all verdure, and where the eye sees little but mountains and vast plains of sand: and there are countries which seldom experience the light of the sun, or feel the grateful warmth of his rays; where a winter, almost perpetual, torpifies, and where no culture calls to cheerful employment, nor fruits or harvest are ever seen. Yet in these both men and animals exist, without any want of nourishment: the productions that nature has denied them, because they would be either parched by the heat of the sun or destroyed by extreme cold, are supplied by gifts adapted to the nature of the climate, and suitable for the nourishment of the inhabitants; who collect with care what nature presents to them, and know how to appropriate it, so as to obtain all that is necessary to their subsistence, or essential to their convenience.
In Lapland, the providence of God has so ordered, that what at first seems to be an evil, and certainly is very troublesome to the people, is the means of their support. The Laplanders are infested with innumerable multitudes of flies, furnished with stings, from which they defend themselves by raising in their huts a continual thick smoke, and besmearing their faces with pitch. These insects deposit their eggs on the water, which attract a great number of water-fowl that feed on them, and, being taken by the Lap. landers, become their principal source of nourishment. The Greenlanders generally prefer animal to vegetable food, and very few vegetables grow in these sterile couptries. There are, however, some plants, of which the inhabitants make great use, particularly sorrel, angelica, and scurvy-grass (cochlearia). Their principal nutriment is a species of fish called augmarset, much resembling the kind known by the name of miller's thumb. When they have dried these upon the rocks, they constantly use them instead of bread, and preserve them for the winter in large sacks of leather, or wrapped in old garments. In Iceland, where also, because of the intense cold, there is no agriculture, the people eat dried fish instead of bread. The Dalecarlians, who inhabit the northern parts of Sweden, having no corn, make their bread of the bark of the pine and birch, and a certain root which grows in the marshes. The inhabitants of Kamschatka feed on the stem of the acanthus, which they first peel and then eat raw. The natives of Siberia make use of the roots of a species of lily, which they call martagon.
Adorable Father of mankind! how tender and merciful are thy cares for our preservation! With what goodness thou hast distributed to every part of the earth all that is necessary for the subsistence of thy creatures! Thy wisdom knew, before the foundation of the world, the dangers to which the life of man must be continually exposed, and ordained that he should every where be supported. Such relations, connexions, intercourse, and communications, are established amongst the inhabitants of the earth, that people separated by the most distant seas labour for the convenience and support of each other.
We have likewise abundant cause to be thankful that we are so constituted as not to be limited to any particular kind of food, but are capable of using every species of ali