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Nature reposes during the Winter.
THE days of winter are the days of nature's rest. In the preceding months she has been exhausted with incessant labour for the good of man. How rich has the spring been in flowers; how the seed have expanded and the foliage sprouted! What abundance of fruits the summer prepares for the autumn's maturing hand! Every month, every day, we receive some fresh gift from nature. As the tender mother provides for her young with anxious care, so nature is busied from morning to evening in supplying our wants, and in procuring us a succession of comforts and blessings to make life's fleeting moments smile with joy and with delight. Food, raiment, and the chief sources of our pleasures, are all derived from her fostering bosom. For us she makes the seeds to open and expand, the herbs to bud, the trees to look gay with foliage, beautiful with blossoms, and to pour forth their riches in fruit of every kind that can please the eye or gratify the taste. For us, the goldengrain waves over the fields, the vine offers her varied treasures, and the whole creation is clothed in verdure, and presents to the delighted observer an infinitely varied and beautiful field of attractions. Wearied by so many labours, nature, for a space, reposes, in order to acquire new force, that she may again be equally fruitful, and again be enabled to assume her wonted resplendency.
Here also, O beneficent Creator! I adore thy wisdom. The repose of nature in winter is not less interesting to us, nor less worthy of entering into the plan of thy Divine Providence, than her utmost activity in spring and summer. Thou hast prepared the different revolutions of the earth; thou hast established the most intimate relation between them; and with an impartial hand hast distributed labour and rest. It is Thou who hast willed that each sun should vary the seasons of nature, in such times and ways as are most fit for the perfection of the whole. If I have ever been foolish enough to blame any thing in the government of the world, O God! pardon my temerity. I now
see, and am fully persuaded, that all the arrangements of thy Providence, however extraordinary they may appear to my feeble intellects, are full of wisdom and goodness, Now, that I see the earth mantled with a deep snow, I think of the good which will result from it, and bless the wisdom of God; for I now know that unless nature, at certain intervals, enjoyed a state of rest, we should no longer see the flowers and the fruits which so beautify the creation and increase the comforts of life; no more would the joyful harvest-home gladden the swain, nor the fields exchange their dusky hue for the sprightly green.
There is a time also, when the labours, the cares, and the vexations of man shall cease, when his sorrows shall be no more. In the spring and summer of life, the greatest activity and exertions are necessary to secure a comfortable existence for ourselves, and to contribute all in our power to the good of our fellow-creatures. The autumn will soon arrive; and may we resemble the luxuriant trees which shed into our lap their ripe and mature fruits! may we be enabled from our own fulness to give to others a portion of our treasures, and make the rich stores of our minds flow into those who have not equal opportunities of acquiring knowledge! so that in the winter of our age, when the measure of our days shall be filled, and our head silvered o'er with time, it may be said, as we pass along, See that venerable man, who has devoted his youth to the benefit of mankind, whose days have been passed in the continued exertion of his faculties, and in the constant pursuit of active good, he is hastening to receive the reward of his good actions in the eternal kingdom of peace, of joy, and of felicity!
Of the Laplanders.
IT is my desire to begin this meditation with a lively sense of gratitude to my Creator, and of compassion for those of my fellow-creatures to whom nature has been less bountiful in her gifts, I shall confine my attention in this day's re
flection to the Laplanders, and to the natives of those countries which border upon the arctic circle; a race of people whose lot, compared with ours, seems to be much less happy. Their country is almost entirely formed of mountains, perpetually capped with snow and ice, the continued chain of which is only interrupted by vast marshes. Winter reigns during the greatest part of the year; the nights are long, and the days have but a feeble light. According to the season, the inhabitants live in houses or in tents. In winter they seek shelter from the cold in their houses, which have neither door nor chimney; the fire is in the centre, and the smoke escapes through a vaulted aperture in front, by which they enter the house, being from the lowness of the passage obliged to creep upon their hands and feet; the roof of the house is covered with furs, and the walls within are lined with the same materials: they also sleep and sit down upon the skins of animals. During six months of the year they are enveloped in the shades of night, and, confined to their houses, hear nothing around them but the whistling of the wind, the roaring of the tempest, and the fierce howling of the wolves, driven by hunger to prowl for their prey near the habitations of man.
How thankful ought we to be that we do not live in such a climate, where, far as the eye can reach, extends one vast chain of icy mountains and immense deserts, covered with snow! where the cold is intense, the habitations miserable, and no means of subsistence but such as are offered by the dangerous and toilsome chase can be obtained! where we should be deprived of all the pleasures and comforts procured by the arts, and all the charms and blessings of a cultivated society! Let us then feel and know the value of our own climate, and glorify God, who has made our condition so much superior, and distinguished us with such numerous advantages. Yet the hardy inhabitant of these northern regions is not the unfortunate being we may suppose. It is true that he wanders exposed to every inclemency of sky, through a dreary and rugged country; that he is poor, and deprived of many of life's choicest blessings; and that for months together he is never cheered by the sun-beams. But his frame is strong and capable of enduring much fatigue, his wants are few, education and habit inure him to the rigours of the clime, and the gloom of his
long nights is rendered supportable by the moon and frequent glimmering of the aurora borealis. The Laplander is extremely agile, and glides over the snow, upon skates, with a velocity which frequently outstrips the fleet deer: in these expeditions, a stranger to fear, he will scale the hills or fly down the precipice. The rein-deer is subservient to his use, and yoked to the sledge this swift animal will draw him over immense tracts of country; and when worn out with age or fatigue his skin supplies clothing and furniture.
In the beginning of the spring, when the melting snow penetrates their humble roofs, these people quit their houses to pass the summer in tents, which they find more convenient for their mode of living; these they make as comfortable as possible, and smile at the accounts of travellers who attempt to persuade them it is possible to enjoy greater happiness than they experience in what we call their miserable situation. They are hospitable, and lovers of peace; but prone to revenge, and extremely superstitious: they have their feasts and their entertainments, with different diversions; and were the rays of knowledge and of a pure religion ever to irradiate their minds; their idle dreams of witches, of spirits, and of hobgoblins; their belief in magic and in charms; to be dissipated by the torch of truth, they might, indeed, since happiness is not confined to any particular country, be a happy and an independent race of
Wisdom displayed in the Structure of the Globe. HOWEVER limited the human capacity may be, and confined the understanding; and though we are unable to comprehend the great plan of the universe, we may yet, through the medium of our senses, and by the exertion of those faculties which we all enjoy, discover enough to know and to admire the wisdom of God. To be convinced of this we have only to consider the figure of the earth, which we shall find to be that of a sphere, a form the best adapted for
its surface, to be every where inhabited by living creatures. This end could not have been accomplished if the inhabi tants of the earth did not experience a sufficient degree of light and heat; if water could not, in every part, circulate without impediment; and if the winds were not suffered to blow unretarded by obstacles. For all these purposes the rotundity of the earth is admirably adapted; it is owing to this that the light and heat are so readily diffused throughout the globe. Were it not for this form, the succession of night and day, the different changes of the temperature of the air, of cold, of heat, of moisture, and of dryness, could not have occurred.
If we consider the immense body of the earth and its excellent degree of consistence, neither too hard nor too soft, we have still more cause to admire the Supreme wisdom. Was it more hard, more compact, and less penetrable, it would be incapable of being converted to the purposes of agriculture, and we should not enjoy the plants, the herbs, the roots, and the flowers, which now beautify its surface, and are nourished within its fostering bosom. The earth is formed of different strata, consisting of fossils, bituminous and calcareous matters, metals and minerals; the water which we drink and convert to so many useful purposes is rendered limpid by filtrating through beds of sand at a great depth within the earth; the mountains and the valleys, the plains and the hills, which diversify its surface, whilst they contribute by their beauty to the pleasure of man, promote his health as well as the salubrity of the various species of plants and animals which exist in every situation of the earth.
Who is there that will not acknowledge that the whole plan of the earth, its form, its exterior and interior structure, are all regulated by the wisest laws, and all tending to promote and to increase the happiness of animated beings? Wherever we direct our attention, whether to examine the beautiful and grand objects diffused over the face of nature, or whether to penetrate within the interior of the earth, we perceive that every thing is arranged with wisdom, and we every where discover the legible characters and broad stamp of an Infinite, Almighty, and Supreme Being.