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contemplated with such delight, there are others which are infinitely greater, which no cloud can obscure or conceal, and which will amply reward us for the privation of every other. What then are all the beauties of nature united, in comparison of the lustre of that Being, the contemplation of whom will create the felicity of eternity, and form the chief delight of immortal spirits!
If at any time we are deprived of those things which cause our greatest pleasure here, we are more disposed to search in almighty goodness for that joy and felicity which we could not find in the perishable things of the world. And often those very privations which we regret are productive of essential good. The clouds which sometimes veil the beauty of the heavens are the sources of those refreshing showers which fertilize the earth. When misfortune hangs heavy upon your soul, and adversity darkens your horizon; when your days are passed in tribulation and sorrow; remember there is an all-seeing Providence, who regards you as his children, and in the midst of evil is still working your good. Let us ever cheerfully submit to the dispensation of a God, who never acts but mercy tempers his justice, and wisdom regulates his motions; and he alone knows how to distribute his benefits, and where to shower down his blessings. At his command the clouds come from afar to execute his will, and who else shall dare to direct their course? Let no one then shew his folly and impiety in arraigning the wisdom of Providence, and disputing the infinity of God!
RESPIRATION is the most principal and essential function of animal life: without it we could not exist; and speech and the various modulations of voice could not take place. It assists us in smelling, and imparts the beautiful florid colour to the blood, whilst at the same time it renews its vitality. But whence does this great source of life proceed?
How is it that we breathe? The lungs are the chief organs by which we are enabled to inspire and expire the air. This viscus something resembles a bag, to the upper part of which is attached a tube, through which the air enters, and is distributed throughout the substance of the lungs by an immense number of minute ramifications of vessels. When the air is received into the lungs, the abdomen is distended, the ribs expand, and the lower part of the sternum or breastbone advances forward. When we expel the air in the act of expiration, the abdomen is drawn in, the ribs are depressed, and the sternum retires towards the back.
To facilitate these operations, nature has admirably ar ranged the internal parts of the body; numerous muscles are continually employed during the act of respiration in dilating and contracting the cavity of the chest. The structure of the wind-pipe is very remarkable; at the upper part the entrance is defended by a valve, which during deglutition closes, and thus prevents any particles of matter entering to interrupt respiration and destroy life. The lower portion of this organ is equally curious, whether we con sider the branches of the wind-pipe ramifying through the lungs, or the distribution of the veins and arteries which accompany them, that the blood they contain may receive the beneficial influence of the air.
Let us then bless the God of nature who has not only given us the faculty of respiration, but continues to preserve it free from interruption. How grateful ought we to be for such a merciful preservation, when so many accidents, without the protection of Providence, might destroy this source of life! Respiration is one of those blessings which we every moment enjoy, which claims all the gratitude we are capable of feeling, and which merits our constant attention; for were we more frequently to meditate upon the favours we daily receive from God, we might be enabled to contemplate with more profit and delight the whole of the creation. And may the great God of heaven, in whose hands are our lives, our breath, and all that we enjoy, be pleased to inspire our souls with those sentiments which dignify our nature, and give us the power as well as the will to celebrate his infinite goodness, and glorify his name by the purity of our actions!
Proofs of the Goodness of God derived from the
THE most frequent and most striking phenomena which we see, either on the earth or in the air, have a manifest tendency to promote the advantage and the utility of the animal world. Ail that we see around us, above our heads, or beneath our feet, conduces to our comfort and to our pleasures. What is more necessary for the preservation of our life than food? and we find the earth every where covered with alimentary matter. Herbs, grain, and fruits, the support of man and beast, are so abundantly diffused over the surface of the earth, that there is scarcely any part of it where animals may not find suitable nourishment. God has not confined his bounty merely to provide for our subsistence and to relieve our necessities; he has condescended to give us every thing that can contribute to our comfort and convenience. If it was only necessary that our lives should be preserved, water and common roots would be sufficient; but we are provided with a variety of aliment in a most liberal profusion: we do not experience in the Creator a rigid economist, who distributes to his dependents barely sufficient to preserve them from famishing; but we meet with a profusion of generosity and an abundance of gratifications.
Such is the munificence of God, that there is scarcely upon the face of the whole earth a single tree, herb, or plant, a lake, river, or marsh, that does not supply some. living creature with shelter and nourishment. In a tree, for instance, are contained (besides the fruit) bark, leaves, and wood; and each of these parts supports an infinite multitude of creatures. Caterpillars and various insects feed upon the leaves; others upon the bark and wood there is nothing in nature that is not useful to some species of animal. How benevolent is that God who never forgets any of the creatures his hands have made, and who ever condescends to watch over and provide for their ne cessities!
'What is more pleasing than the light?" (said the Wise Man).
"Truly the light is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing to see the sun,' whose rays illumine the immense space of heaven, and through the day enlighten the earth. Light discovers to us all the riches of nature, which without it would be a desert, and all its beauties would remain unknown. How graciously God has provided,for the pleasure of our senses! He has chosen the softest and most beautiful colours to please and gratify the sight; experience teaches that those surfaces which reflect the blue and the green rays produce the least injury to the eyes, which can bear the sight of them longer than of any others. Hence we find the goodness of God. has clothed the heavens with blue, and the earth with green; these colours are sufficiently vivid and gay to produce an agreeable impression upon the eye, whilst they are not bright enough to injure and fatigue. They have besides a sufficient variety of shades to distinguish objects, and prevent a too great uniformity.
Besides plants of every variety of green, the earth presents us with flowers of the most beautiful tints, which not only rejoice the eye by the pleasing diversity of their colours, but they perfume the air, and regale our smell with the most balmy and odoriferous scents. The ear also has its share of enjoyment; it is gratified with the melodious warbling of the birds, that fill the air with the music of their songs.
With a heart overflowing with joy and gratitude, I venture, O God! to exalt thy name and to celebrate thy goodHow precious is thy bounty! how loving and merciful thy paternal care and tender regard! None of thy creatures are concealed from thy presence, none of them are despised or disregarded; but all without exception are the objects of thy Providence, and the subjects of thy mercy and love. May thy beneficence and goodness ever be the subject of my meditations, and may my soul never cease to bless thy holy name, nor to rejoice in the songs of thy praise !
Beneficial Influence of the Sun upon the Creation.
Ar the approach of spring we behold revolutions which should fill every attentive observer with admiration. Nature gradually resumes the life she seemed to have lost during the winter; the earth is overspread with verdure, and the trees open out in bloom. Every where new generations of insects and young broods of animals spring forth, and, endowed with various degrees of instinet, rejoice in their existence. Every thing is animated, every thing revives; and the new life which is manifested in nature, in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, is produced by the return of warmth which awakens their productions, and puts in motion their recruited powers; the great cause of which is the sun, the source of life, sensation, and joy, whose vivifying rays are diffused through all nature. The grain and seeds feel his influence, and are unfolded in the bosom of the earth; by his power every plant and vegetable springs up and grows. His approach reanimates and strengthens every living creature, and all that live, breathe, feel, or vegetate, experience the influence of this powerful luminary.
What could we do if we were deprived of the light and heat of the sun? How dreary and sad would the earth appear, become an uninhabitable desert! And how miserable and comfortless would be the few creatures that could then exist! What a source of joy and pure pleasure should we be deprived of, if we were never more to feel the genial rays of the rising sun, nor witness the beauty of a serene sky! Nothing could compensate the want of the sun; the mildest night, the most temperate artificial heat, could not supply that vivifying influence which the light of the sun communicates to every being, and which is entirely diffe rent from, and far superior to, any terrestrial fire.
The salutary influence of the sun is well known to men and animals; an invalid shut up in a warm chamber, with every assistance of art, will not gain in many weeks as much strength and vigour as he would in a few days from the mild influence of the sun in fine spring weather. Plants, which an artificial heat forces to spring up, never acquire