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rience much fog, we may expect a wet summer; if in the spring there are great floods, we may be apprehensive in the summer of violent heats and multitudes of insects. When storms have been frequent in spring, we have no rẹason to fear the return of hoar-frosts.
But supposing that we had no power of predicting the weather, we might still be perfectly easy on that head: the variations of weather, considered as a whole, depend upon fixed laws established by the Creator from the beginning of time; and we may with certainty assure ourselves, that, however unfavourable it may seem, every change of weather is advantageous to the earth, and contributes to its fertility. Let us, then, in every alteration the temperature of the air undergoes, repose in confidence upon that God, who never acts but wisdom and mercy mark his progress: whose every dispensation is wise and beneficent, whether he rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm, or smiles in the beauty of serenity. All his ways declare his goodness, and all his paths display his glory; wisdom and benignity manifest him in all his works, and the continued experience of his benevolence evinces his heavenly care and fatherly love. Let us for ever bless and adore, whilst we admire with awe, the sublimity of his grandeur, and the incomprehensibility of his mercy; and from generation to generation let every one enjoying the breath of life sing his praise and exalt his name.
Position of the Sun.
THE sun is placed by the Creator in that part of the heavens which is best adapted to its nature, and to the great offices it performs. It possesses a determinate volume, and is placed in a space proportioned to the motions it was appointed to execute. It is fixed at a proper distance from those planets upon which it is to act; and this position, arranged so many thousand years ago, he has retained uninfluenced by the wreck of empires and the revolutions of ages. Nothing short of infinite power could have effected
such a miracle; nothing less than an Almighty God could have created this immense globe, placed it in a suitable situation, defined its limits, determined its motion, subjected it to invariable laws, and preserved it through the lapse of ages in that position and order which in the beginning he had prescribed to it. And the wisdom and advantages of this arrangement, whether we consider this earth alone, or the whole system of worlds encircling the sun, the experience of centuries amply testify.
The burning rays that issue from a globe of fire a million times larger than the earth must be inconceivably active, if in falling they continued close to each other; but as they separate more and more in proportion as the distance from the common centre increases, their force will be diminished in the ratio of their diverging. Had our earth been placed in a point where these rays acted upon it in a greater number, or at a less distance, the intensity of the heat could not have been endured; or had it been thrown to the very extremity of the solar system, it would have received only a faint light, and not warmth enough to ripen its fruits and ordinary productions. The sun then is placed in that part of the heavens where it can be most beneficial, by which it communicates to our world a light and heat sufficient to penetrate and vivify the earth by its salutary rays, rarify the atmosphere, and produce all those happy effects without which we should neither receive the benefits of dew and of rain, nor the blessings of clear and serene days. But arranged as it is, it causes the alternation of day and night, and the vicissitudes of the seasons.
It is not to the sun only, but to every planet and star that shines in the firmament, that God has allotted a place suited to its nature and adapted to the ends it has to perform in the creation. Every human being has likewise a place assigned him in the creation, and certain duties to fulfil. And may we each attempt to act in our station, and perform the duties there allotted us, with as much exactitude and fidelity as that with which the sun throughout his course discharges his important functions, according to the immutable laws prescribed to him from the beginning of his creation! As the sun imparts his blessings freely to the whole earth, and all created beings; so let every one, according to his power and capacity, exert himself for the
good of mankind, share and divide with his fellow-creatures the advantages he enjoys, communicate to the ignorant the knowledge which he may have acquired, impart strength and comfort to the feeble, and bountifully distribute to the indigent those blessings which the favour of Heaven has granted to him. The man who thus acts may feel a confi. dence that he is in some degree answering the great end of his creation.
The Permanency of Corporeal Beings.
NOTHING perishes in nature; from the beginning of the world to the present period not a single atom has been annihilated. The first groves produced by the power of God were clothed with rich verdure and beautiful leaves: these withered, fell, and ceased to be leaves; but the particles of which they were composed remained, and were converted into dust, clay, or earth. The matter of which the first leaves and herbs were formed still exists, and has lost none of its essential parts; and the constituent part of the plants, which now flourish, will exist whilst the world shall endure. It is true the wood which we burn ceases to be wood; but its particles do not cease to exist, being dispersed into ashes, soot, and smoke. And though nature is subject to constant changes, every thing that is decomposed is regenerated, and nothing finally perishes.
We must not always judge from appearances: when revolutions and convulsions agitate the face of nature, we are induced to believe that many beings are totally destroyed: but this is an error; they are only differently modified, and become the materials which enter into the composition of other beings. The water which exhales in steam and vapour is not lost; it only leaves one place to increase in another. Thus what from want of information we regard as being entirely destroyed, has only undergone a change of parts; and the world, considered in the whole, is now what it was in the first day of its being, though many of its component parts have experienced very considerable alterations.
These considerations may induce us to reflect upon the revolution our bodies must undergo in the grave; though they will entirely dissolve into dust, they will not be annihilated, but their component parts will continue to exist. The conviction of this truth may fortify us against the fear of the grave and the dread of corruption, whilst it will strengthen our belief in the resurrection.
'Why then shall my heart sink at the thought of the grave, or my mind suffer from the terror of annihilation? What is deposited in the tomb is not the only possession we have worthy of our regard and solicitude; it is merely the earthly tabernacle, which returns to its native dust, whilst the soul is incorruptible and endures for ever.'
From the continual duration of corporeal particles, we may rationally conclude that the soul also is immortal. Seeing that none of our earthly parts can be annihilated, can we suppose that our souls should be the only created thing which shall perish? Impossible! Sooner would the whole material world sink into annihilation, than one soul which has been redeemed by Christ Jesus should perish.
Advantages of Rain.
RAIN' is truly a gift from heaven, by means of which the blessings we receive from God are equally manifold and indispensable. Widely desolating as the effects of a continued drought would be to us, as extensively beneficial are the refreshing effects of showers upon the earth. Who can describe or even know all the advantages which result from them? Though we may not be able to describe all, we may at least consider some of the principal benefits afforded by rain.
The heat of the sun acts without interruption upon the earth and the different bodies upon its surface, and continually detaches from them subtile particles which fill the atmosphere in form of vapour. We should inspire along
with the air those dangerous exhalations, if they were not from time to time precipitated by rain, which, by drawing them down upon the earth, purifies the air. It is not less useful to us in moderating the burning heat of the atmosphere; the reason of which is obvious, for the nearer the air is to the earth, the more it will be heated by the reflection of the sun's rays, and the farther it is from the earth the colder it becomes. The rain which falls from a high region brings a refreshing coolness to those below, the agreeable effects of which we experience as soon as it has fallen. To rain is partly owing the origin of fountains, wells, lakes, rivulets, and rivers. Every one is acquainted with what abundance these different waters are supplied in humid and rainy seasons, whilst during a long drought they evaporate and become dry.
But in order to estimate the utility and necessity of rain, we have only to observe how the earth and the different species of vegetables all languish for want of the fertile showers, which, when they have fallen, produce new life and reanimated beauty. Rain is in some respects the aliment of vegetables, and without it they would all perish: it moistens and softens the earth, which would otherwise become dry and hard from the action of the sun; it circulates in the minute vessels of plants and trees, and conveys to them those nutritious juices which support their life and promote their increase. When it washes the mountains it detaches from them a soft, rich, and friable earth, which it deposits in the valleys where it falls, and thus contributes to their fertility.
Thus we find every thing is arranged for our advantage, and the whole earth is filled with the bounty of Heaven. Such will be the conclusion that every thinking mind will draw from the above meditation; and still more to excite the adoration and praises of the Creator, I shall add some other reflections inspired by the subject of which we have been treating, and which I hope will make some impression upon the minds of my readers.
What spectacle is so noble as the azure vault of heaven viewed upon a calm serene day? Our hearts rejoice, and we regard it with admiration, till the thick clouds gather and darken all its beauties. This ought to teach us, that however admirable were those charms which we had just VOL. I. I