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support us, and of a companion to cheer our drooping spirit, who can smooth life's rugged path, and heighten all her pleasures. And surely our Heavenly Father has already chosen for us such a friend; one who, when doubt and uncertainty perplex, will advise us how to act, and when misfortune threatens, will be our chief support and consolation; who, during the full tide of prosperity, will partake of our joys and who will assist our reasoning faculties when enfeebled and enervated.
It was not by accident or without design, that we came into the world. As a part of the great system of nature, our destiny is overruled by an all-seeing Providence, of whose designs respecting us we are ignorant, but who knows all, and governs all with wisdom and harmony; and what ever unknown disasters impend, or unexpected benefits await this present year, let us bow down with reverence and with gratitude to his Divine will. Whatsoever be our lot, whether to endure the chilling blasts of penury, or to suffer the heart-rending anguish of a once dear friend forgetting the ties of affection, let us strengthen our belief in the allprotecting arm of God. Though dangers may threaten, and persecutions afflict, we will yet look up to that Almighty Power which raised our feeble frame to its present state of hardihood, which cherished the tender bud from all the storms and perils that frowned upon its expansion; we will believe that He, who thus protected our infancy, will not be less the father and the supporter of our old age.
Winter has blessings which are often disregarded. IF we examine the works of God with attention, we shall find, even in this season, many subjects which may lead us to rejoice in the goodness of the Lord, and to exalt the miracles of his wisdom. During the budding spring, the bountiful summer, and the luxuriant autumn, when Nature, from the most simple, assumes her gayest and most splendid robes, hardened and callous, indeed, must be that heart
which does not throb with pleasure, and pulsate with gratitude, for such choice gifts. But when the north wind blows, when a biting frost stiffens the face of the earth, when the fields, stripped of their fruits, and divested of all their charms, present one wild and desolating view, then it is that men of the greatest sensibility will sometimes forget to be grateful. But is it true that the earth at this season is so utterly destitute of the blessings of Heaven, that it possesses nothing that can excite the emotions of gratitude and of piety in the heart of man? Certainly not. Let us only bestow more attention upon the works of nature, and we shall never find occasion to arraign the wisdom of God.
Reflect for a moment upon the misery of being exposed to the rigours of winter, with no clothes to defend your shivering frame, no fire to cheer and to animate your benumbed body: and then rejoice and be grateful for the favours you receive. You have every thing that can contribute to your comfort. Though you cannot penetrate through the veil which overshadows the creation, though the great First Cause of all things be hidden from your view, rest assured, that nothing is created in vain; all tends to one grand point, the glory of God, and the happiness of man.
God continually presides over his creation.
NOT to acknowledge the greatness and wisdom of God in the least of his works, as well as in great and extraordinary phenomena, betrays alike our ignorance and our weakness. The formation and evolution of the child in the mother's womb displays as much the power of God, as did the creation of the first man from the dust of the earth. Our own individual experience is sufficient to convince us, that a Supreme Being suspends the thread of our destiny. We cannot ensure for ourselves another moment's existence; a thousand unseen causes may hasten the period of its termination; what unknown evils may not be impending to stop the vital current, and forbid the pure air again to renovate our blood!
Every man may say, Alas! I feel my helpless state; I have no power to remove the infirmities that afflict me, nor ability to disperse the dangers that threaten; subject to a heavy train of bodily diseases, and mental imbecility, I feel that, without the support of the Almighty, I should indeed be miserable. The wonderful connexion between my soul and my body, the continual pulsation of my heart, the constant secretion and circulation of various fluids in my body, all depending neither upon my will nor my power, contribute to assure me there is a great and powerful Being, at whose command these functions proceed with order and regularity, or stop, and my present existence ceases. If my breast still continues to heave, if the ruddy stream still warms my heart, if my muscles act with vigour, my senses remain preserved, it is from God alone I derive such choice blessings. Why then do I so seldom think, with gratitude, upon the ways of Providence ?
Ought not the reflections now presented ever to be deeply graven on the tablets of memory; and should it not be our morning and our evening care to muse upon, to admire, and to hail with gratitude, the blessings of our Creator ?
Uses and advantages of Fire.
FIRE is a very universal agent in perfecting the arts, and contributing to the comforts of life; and we find the principles of it are diffused throughout nature in water as well as in air, and in all oleaginous substances. How useful to man are those combustible matters which supply him with fuel, and without a sufficiency of which he must suffer the greatest inconvenience, and lose incalculable advantages. Were it not for the fire which cheers us in winter, a great portion of our time must be passed in dreary darkness: without artificial light all our occupations and our amusements must cease with the departing sun; we should be obliged to remain at rest, or to wander with uncertainty and danger in midnight gloom. Consider how melancholy our
lot must be, had we been obliged to pass the long evenings of winter without the enjoyments of society, and those superior sources of pleasures and instruction derived from reading and writing. How many of the productions of the earth would be useless to us were they not softened and prepared by means of fire! If fire was not had recourse to by artists, how many necessities would be unprovided for, and of what benefits should we not be deprived! Without this element we should not be able to give to our garments the brilliancy of the scarlet, nor the richness of the purple; our metals incapable of being melted, would remain useless in the depths of the earth glass could not be formed from the sand; the beautiful utensils now in common use could not have been fashioned from the yielding clay; nor could our stately edifices rear their tops among the clouds, and bid defiance to the elements. Without fire, in vain would nature teem with riches; all her treasures would be useless, and her charms of no avail.
But we have no necessity to traverse nature to prove the blessing of fire! let us return from our flight, and contemplate our own apartment. Here, the fire diffuses a genial warmth through the whole room, and the air is rendered mild. Without the stimulating influence of fire, during the strong frosts, we should become inactive, and subject to many unpleasant sensations; the aged and the weak would perish and what would become of the little infant, if the chilly blasts were not tempered to its delicate limbs? Oh! unfortunate poor! ye who, with scarcely bread to support your miserable existence, are at this severe season obliged to deprive yourselves of a portion of that pittance to procure fuel to warm your shivering body; how I feel for your wants! how my heart bleeds for your distressed condition! But your hard lot recalls to my mind the great favours I have received from Heaven, for which I am not sufficiently grateful. I feel the obligation I am under to a gracious God; who, I pray, as he has given me the means will open my heart to relieve those afflictions in others from which I myself am exempt. O God, my Creator and Benefactor, condescend still to look down upon me! Behold my heart swells with praises and thanksgivings to thee my Eternal Parent, the Author of all the comforts which I now enjoy. Continue to grant me the benign influence of
fire; and may this element never become the instrument of vengeance to me or my brethren!
Amusements of Winter.
DURING this season, which many people imagine possesses few charms, each individual following his inclination endeavours to find amusements to enliven the long winter evenings. Many pursue one continual round of riot and dissipation. It is indeed truly lamentable to see so many people by indolence, or frivolous pursuits, contriving to lose the days already too short. The course of the day is commonly filled with a circle of occupations, which neither correspond to the dignity of man, por the destination of his soul. Late in the morning the voluptuary rises from his bed; during breakfast he plans out the amusements of the day; then abandoning himself to every species of idleness, awaits the hour of dinner; which arrived, he gives himself up to the pleasures of the table. Gorged with excess, he throws himself upon a couch to recruit his exhausted powers. The hour comes when he is to meet a numerous party. He sits down to play. For the first time since the sun-beams irradiated the east, he appears to possess a soul: with cards in his hand the hours fly rapidly. At length this sensual wretch quits his cards for another debauch, and reels from table to bed; but sleep does not gently overpower his senses, and wrap his soul in sweet forgetfulness. Pain and watching oppress him, or frightful dreams disturb his troubled slumbers.
How ingenious is man in devising trifling amusements to abridge the few moments allotted him! Sometimes the pleasures of the chase call him from his home, that he may enjoy the gratification of seeing the timid hare, and the panting deer, fly with the speed of wind to escape their cruel pursuers; or that he may have the satisfaction of viewing them in their last sad agonies, torn and mangled, and hear their piercing cries, mingled with the savage howl of dogs and men, reverberated from the neighbouring hills.