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ment. And let us adore the inexpressible goodness of God, who has permitted us to receive his all-sustaining word; for which, and the various blessings and abundant means of subsistence with which his liberal hand has supplied us, let us offer up praise and thanksgiving with our latest breath, and for ever rejoice in his holy name!
Hymn for the Commencement of Spring.
PRAISE ye the Lord, who has created the spring, who has adorned the face of the earth! To him belongeth all glory, honour, and power; for he maketh the beings which he has formed happy. The Lord has created, has preserved, and still loves and blesses, this world, the work of his hands: celebrate him all ye creatures!
In those days of felicity when men had not yet rebelled against his Maker, free from the pollutions of sin and its consequences, the earth resembled a paradise. Even now, though deformed by sin, and the reward of sin, we still see the hand of the Divine Author, and the earth is still the entrance to Heaven.
The fields, which have so long seemed dead, begin to revive and bloom; every day produces new blessings, and all created beings rejoice in their existence. The face of the earth is renewed; the sky is pure and serene; the mountains, the valleys, and the groves, resound with melody: and the Lord of the creation regards with an eye of mercy all his works.
But the fields are destitute of intelligence, and the irrational part of the creation know not the Being which formed them; man alone rejoices in his God, experiences his existence, and aspires to live for ever in his presence.
Let us celebrate the God of nature; he is nigh unto us: let all his hosts praise him! He is present every where; in heaven, on earth, and in the seas. Let us for ever glorify him and sing his praises; for wherever we are, there also He is, ever near us by his power, his love, and his bounty!
The Lord commandeth the clouds to extend themselves over the fields; he watereth the thirsty land, that man may be enriched by his gifts. He commandeth the hail, the winds, and the dew, to become sources of happiness to mankind.
Even when the tempest rises, and the thunder peals terror through the heart of man, fertility and blessedness spring forth out of the bosom of storms and darkness. The light of the sun returns with increased splendour, and songs of joy and harmony succeed the roaring of the thunder.
It is in the Lord alone we find true happiness; in Him who is the Author of all good, who enableth us to derive salvation from the eternal springs of light and truth. And blessed is the mortal who submits to his government with resignation, and who is prepared to leave this world, in the joyful hope of being united to his Father and Creator by the redeeming power of Jesus Christ!
Abuse of Animals.
MEN abuse animals in so many different ways, that it is very difficult to enumerate all of them; and for the sake of perspicuity, I shall at present comprehend them in two classes. They are generally too much or too little valued; and in either case we act with impropriety. On the one hand, we have too little regard for the brute creation, when, presuming upon the authority God has given us over them, we exercise that power with arrogance and caprice. But allowing that we possessed this absolute dominion over them, is it just that we should exert our right with cruelty and tyranny? All who are not the slaves of passion, and are not corrupted by vicious habits, are naturally inclined to have compassion for every being that has life and feeling. This disposition does honour to human nature, and is so deeply implanted in our hearts, that he who has unfortunately stifled it is regarded with aversion, and shews how much he has fallen beneath the dignity of man. He will then have to make but one more step to become a monster; which is, to deny to men the compassion he refuses to brutes.
Experience justifies me in this assertion, and my readers will recollect examples enough of this species of ferocity. History furnishes us with many: we there find that the people who delighted in the combats of animals were remarkable for their cruelty towards their fellow-creatures, so true is it that our treatment of animals has an influence, upon our moral character, as well as upon the mildness of our manners. Though it may be urged we have the right of destroying hurtful animals, will it follow that we have a right to tear from them, without compassion or remorse, that life which is so dear to all creatures? or, when neces sity obliges us to take such a step, are we justified in taking a pleasure and barbarous joy in their sufferings; and, in depriving them of life, making them suffer a thousand tortures more cruel than death itself? I grant that the Creator has given us animals to serve our necessities, to conduce to our comforts and pleasures, and to relieve our toil by their labour; but it does not thence follow that we are to fatigue them unnecessarily, or to make them labour beyond their strength, refuse them that subsistence which is their due. or increase their sufferings by hard treatment.
This is sufficient to shew the nature of the first species of abuse; but some people fall into the opposite extreme. Those animals of a social nature which are most connected with us, which live in our houses, and are continually in our presence, which amuse and contribute to our diversion or utility, sometimes inspire us with a ridiculous and extravagant affection. I am grieved to say that there are both men and women so absurd as to love their domestic animals to such an extravagant degree, as to sacrifice to them those essential duties which they owe to their fellowcreatures. War may send its plagues through nations, and whole armies destroy each other, without making any impression upon the lady who, some days after, is inconsolable for the loss of her lap-dog. Much more might be said upon this subject; however, I will not weary my readers with such absurdities, but conclude this meditation with a very important remark. Parents, and those who are entrusted with the care and education of children, in their presence cannot too scrupulously avoid every abuse of animals. It is the more necessary to insist upon this, because the practice of it is very often neglected, and the
children, influenced by such pernicious examples, often imbibe the worst of passions. No animal should be put to death in their presence; much less should they be commissioned to perform a task of such cruelty. Let them always be accustomed to treat animals as beings which have life and feeling, and towards which they have certain duties to observe. Whilst we thus prevent their feelings from becoming brutified, let us guard against their being too much attached to animals, to which they are often very much inclined; but let us teach our children the right method of behaviour to this part of the creation, that they may, from their earliest infancy, be accustomed to acknowledge, even in these creatures, the visible impression of the Divine Perfections.
Motion of the Earth.
WHEN the delightful spectacle of the rising sun renews each morning in our souls the gratitude and admiration which we owe to the sublime Author of the universe, we may at the same time observe that the situation of this magnificent view changes with the seasons. Thus, if we mark the place where the sun rises in spring and in autumn, we shall find in summer it is more to the north, and in winter more to the south. It is reasonable to conclude that some motion must occasion these changes; and many naturally suppose it is the sun which moves, and thus occasions us to see it sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other. But as the same phenomena would take place though the sun were to remain immoveable and the earth to turn round it, and that we neither perceived the motion of the sun nor that of the earth, we ought to give less weight to our own vague conjectures than to the repeated observations that astronomers have made in the heavens; which sufficiently prove that the rotatory motion of the earth alone effects the changes we remark in the situation of the sun.
In the first place, let us represent to ourselves the im
mense space in which the heavenly bodies are placed: it is either empty, or contains a very subtile fluid, called ether, in which this globe, and all the planets composing the solar system, move in their different orbits; in the centre of which shines most conspicuously the sun, of whose grandeur above all the planetary system we have spoken in a preceding discourse. The gravity which our globe has in common with all other bodies directs it towards the centre, or the sun attracts the earth by the superior force which greater bodies possess over smaller, and by which the latter are attracted; so that, as the earth tends to fly off from the sun, it is counteracted by the superior attractions of that luminary: by this means the earth is made to describe a circle round the sun, somewhat analogous to the curve described by a cannon-ball; which, though it soon falls to the earth, yet might prolong its course for the space of some miles, if it had been projected from the top of a high mountain. Suppose the elevation were still greater, it would fly proportionably farther; continue adding to this imaginary height, and it would go as far as our Antipodes, in order to return to the point whence it set out.
All these effects take place from the laws of gravitation, or the attractive force of our globe; and in this manner is caused the revolution of the earth round the sun. The orbit it describes is not, however, entirely circular, but an ellipsis, in one focus of which the sun is placed, by which ar rangement we are farther from that star at one period than at another. This orbit is 44,000 semi-diameters of our earth; and to make its revolution round the sun, the earth employs 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 43 seconds, being the space of time which completes our year, after which revolution we find the sun in the same part of the firmament: for in every part of the earth's orbit we see the sun in the opposite side of the heavens, so that though the earth is continually moving, we imagine it is the sun which is in motion. In spring, the sun being equally distant from the two poles causes the equality of day and night. In sum mer, it is twenty.three degrees thirty minutes nearer the north, which occasions the greatest length of our days; in autumn, it returns to an equal distance between the poles; and in winter it is as far towards the south as in summer it was towards the north, thus occasioning our shortest days.