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Short Meditations upon the Works of God, taken from the Scriptures.
HEARKEN unto this, stand still, and consider the wonderful works of God.'*
'Jehovah hath formed the earth by his power; he hath established the earth by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his understanding.'+
'And God said, Let there be light, and there was light; and God saw the light that it was good; and God separated the light from the darkness, and he called the light day, and the darkness he called night.'
'Thou art the Lord who hast made the heavens and the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts; the earth, and all things therein; the seas, and all that is therein thou givest life to all things, and the hosts of heaven worship thee.'s
'O Lord, my God! thou art marvellously great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty! Who coverest thy. self with light as with a garment; who stretchest out the heavens as a curtain. The Lord layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters, he maketh, the clouds his chariot; he walketh upon the wings of the wind: he maketh the winds his messengers, and the lightnings his agents. He hath laid the foundations of the earth so that they cannot be shaken. He hath covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains, but at his rebuke they fled; at the voice of his thunder they hasted away.'||
'He hath stretched out the heavens over the chaos, and hath hung the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them. His power raiseth the waves of the sea, and his wisdom restraineth their fury. He raiseth the vapours, and assembleth them in clouds, which pour down in rain upon the face of the earth. He covereth the heavens with dark clouds, and the thunderbolts issue from his tabernacle. He darts his lightnings through the thick clouds, where all the waters of the sea seem to be collected. Thence, as from
Job xxxvii. 14. § Neh. ix. 6.
+ Jer. x. 12.
Gen. i. 3-5.
his throne, he pronounceth judgment upon the nations, or scattereth abundance over the face of the earth."
The thunder peals, and we see the lightnings flash; God announceth his wonders, and performeth things too marvellous for our comprehension. He sayeth unto the rain of winter, Fall down upon the earth; and it inundates the countries. Out of the south cometh the whirlwind, and cold out of the north. By the breath of God ice is produced, and the waters which were spread on all sides are held in chains. He causeth the most clear and serene sky to succeed to that which was most obscured; and his light dispels the clouds. He who holds the reins of the world collects these meteors, that they may fulfil the task which he hath appointed them on the face of the earth; whether he intends that they should punish men, or manifest the effects of his bounty.
'God is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath opposed him and hath prospered? He snatcheth up the mountains, and overturneth them with the breath of his nostrils. He shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. He commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and he sealeth up the stars. He spreadeth out the heavens alone, and walketh upon the waves of the sea. He hath formed the constellations Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.'t
-Thou hast opened the fountain and the torrent; thou hast dried up the mighty rivers. The day is thine; the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the Thou hast set all the borders of the earth; thou hast made summer and winter. He raiseth up the east wind in the air, and sendeth forth the south wind by his power.' He watereth the mountains from his chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of his works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and grain for the service of man, that he may bring forth fruit out of the earth. For thus saith the Lord that created the heaven: God himself that formed the earth and made it, and hath established it, created it not in vain; he formed it to be inhabited. I am the Lord, and there is none else."**
*Job xxxvi. 27. &c.
t Job xxxvii. 5, &c.
Job ix. 4. 9.
Of the Human Voice.
THE human voice, both in its principles, its variations, and its organs, is certainly most admirable, and its nature difficult to be explained. Let us first consider the organs by which we are enabled to emit sounds. The air is received into the lungs through a tube called the trachea or windpipe; this is chiefly formed of cartilages nearly circular, united by an elastic membrane. The entrance from the mouth is singularly formed, so as to admit the passage of air into and from the lungs; but as the smallest particle of food getting into the trachea would be productive of the worst consequences, a valve is placed over the mouth of the tube, which is shut whilst we eat or drink, and only opens to admit the passage of air.* The air being then expelled through this tube into the larynx with a certain degree of force, and thence into the mouth, occasions the voice, which is formed when the air is quickly expelled through the contracted glottis into the larynx, from which the sound arises. The particular formation, and the different degrees of contraction and motion of the larynx, glottis, &c. and the manner in which the air is expelled through their parts, principally conduce to occasion the great variety of sounds and difference of voice we meet with.t
Speech consists in the pronunciation of letters, which are of two kinds: those which are pronounced without the
This valve is called the epiglottis, and the orifice over which it is placed the glottis; there are, besides, cartilages called thyroid, two arytenoid, and the crycoid, all together constituting the larynx, which is the part most essential to the voice.
+ The author divides the trachea into four equal parts, which he says produce the twelve full tones that he asserts the human voice is possessed of; these he subdivides into one hundred more, and hence sets down that a man may produce 2400 different tones of voice, which may all be distinguished by the ear. To say nothing of the very little we yet know respecting the tones of the human voice; which however, we have reason to believe, if accurately investigated, would be found to be very few, though susceptible of infinite variation; I have only to ob serve, that so far from the trachea producing these tones, it may be divided, or wounded, without the voice suffering, whilst the slightest injury done to the larynx will materially affect the voice.-E.
tongue moving against any part of the mouth are called vowels; those which require collision of the tongue with some other part of the mouth, lips, and teeth, are consonants. The communication between the nostrils and the mouth much facilitates our pronunciation; hence when this channel is obstructed we experience a great change of voice.
Having thus generally considered the parts necessary to the formation of the voice, let us reflect a little upon its beauties and advantages. By the means of the voice we have been enabled to become a civilized people, and have obtained all the blessings peculiar to that state. We find when it pleased God to confound the impious builders of Babel, he had only to render their language unintelligible to each other, and the work could not proceed. Consider it in all its consequences with regard to society, and it will be found that, without the means of rendering ourselves understood by our companions, social intercourse must cease. Besides, there is something so fascinating in some of the modulations of the voice that they penetrate our souls, and we acknowledge their influence from the bottom of our heart. A pleasing and soft voice, tuned to the language it utters, is irresistible; and we often, from the tone of the voice, judge of the temper of the mind. Let us then, since experience teaches us this pleasing gift may be improved by attention, spare no pains in its cultivation, and offer up our thanks to the Almighty for bestowing upon us a treasure without which life would not be desirable; a treasure which by our own exertions we can make still more estimable and may we never be found amongst the number of those who misapply this heavenly gift, but ever convert it to the benefit and pleasure of our fellow-creatures!
Necessity of reflecting upon God.
I ADDRESS myself to those who seek with laudable solicitude to derive edification from every occurrence. I wish to induce you, by regarding the different changes of nature at this season, to be led to reflect upon the wonders of God
whose glory shines now equally manifest as at every other time. Whilst you behold the earth covered with snow, rivers arrested in their course by the frost, the trees stripped of their foliage, and all nature wild and desolate, think of the reasons which alone can influence Providence in this change, which you will find to be for the benefit of the whole creation. If, from the contraction of your mind, the narrow limits of your faculties, you can scarcely comprehend the smallest part of the designs of God, let it satisfy you to know that the snow, the ice, and all the phenomena which winter presents, are comprehended within the plan of Supreme Wisdom for the well-being of created nature.
You can no-where cast your view, but objects present themselves to call forth your piety; when you see the snow melt, the ice dissolve, and day after day glide with rapidity, you may reflect upon the short and uncertain span of life. If all the comforts which ease and affluence can impart are within your possession, think of those unfortunate people who, destitute of the common necessaries of life, are sinking beneath the rigours of the season, and whom you are loudly called upon to assist with a portion of your superfluities. But above all, cultivate your mind; supply it with those rich materials of knowledge which no earthly power can bereave you of; and whilst you thus enlarge your mind, keep alive all the feelings of your heart, let it ever pulsate to the happiness of your fellow-creatures, and never die but from the misery you cannot relieve. You will then be able to regulate your passions, to disregard sensuality, and rise superior to all trifling and sordid emotions. You will never have occasion to fly to dissipation to enable you to pass the tedious length of the day; whilst others are indulging in debauch, and in sinful pleasures, you will, from the workings of your mind, and from the contemplation of the works of God, whether you are in the privacy of retirement or in the company of those whom you love and esteem, find pleasures the most exquisite, because they are pure and unalloyed, and permanent, because they are furnished by the mind, which lives for ever. Whatever tends to abstract our thoughts from the petty occurrences of terrestrial objects, and fix them upon God and the effects of his wisdom, advances the dignity of our nature, renders our minds noble and elevated, and diffuses over the soul a sen