« AnteriorContinuar »
being the chief of whatsoever he has formed for the manifestation of his glorious attributes. It is for thee that all nature labours; in the earth, the air, aud the waters. For thee the sheep is clothed with wool; the horse by his horny hoofs is enabled to bear heavy loads, and climb the most rugged steeps; the silkworm spins her soft web; the fishes in the ocean are nourished; the bee burrows in the bosom of the sweetest flowers, and extracts their treasures; the stubborn ox submits to the yoke: and for thee the forests, the fields, and the gardens, are exuberant in riches, the very mountains are fruitful, and the depths of the earth reward the toil of him who explores their recesses.
It is true that, compared with other animals, thy wants are very numerous; but thou art infinitely better provided with faculties, talents, and industry, to make every thing around thee subservient to thy utility and pleasure. Thousands of creatures contribute to nourish thee, to clothe, to make thy habitation, and to furnish thee with comforts and conveniences innumerable.
But the bountiful Creator has not rested here; he has not merely provided for thy wants, he has condescended to procure thee every variety of charms: for thee the lark carols her lay, and Philomela makes the groves echo to her song; the meads and the lawns charm thee with their varied beauties; and the air far round smells sweet with the flower-scented breezes. But thou art infinitely blessed beyond all these, in that noble faculty of reason, which makes the haughty lord of the forest crouch at thy feet, and the monarch of the ocean contribute to thy riches; which enables thee to walk abroad through nature and contemplate the grandeur, beauty, and magnificence, of her works, and not to rest satisfied in the admiration of their order and harmonious catenation, but to reflect upon the first cause of their being; and though, removed from their presence, to be still able to enjoy endless delight, from the pleasing recollection of their beauty and sublimity, heightened by the power of imagination.
Such meditations as these could not often fill the mind, without our hearts being warmed with the sensations of love and of gratitude for the Divine Creator. When we look around us, and contemplate the vast spectacle of nature; if we soar into the heavens, or dive down into the deep;
we shall find all created things ultimately conducing to our good. And surely we cannot more effectually answer the great end of our being, and in some degree requite the goodness of God, than by cultivating those talents which he has been graciously pleased to confer upon us, and call forth all those finer feelings of the heart which he has permitted us to enjoy. Without the one, we shall never be enabled to comprehend any portion of the sublimity of nature and nature's works; without the other, in vain will the sighs of the miserable break upon our ear, or the pangs of the afflicted meet us in the way. The storm may howl around, and the tempest roar, but secure in ourselves we shall be regardless of another's suffering. The consequences must then be, a conscience seared, a mind weak and contracted, and a heart alive only to villany and ingratitude. Can such ever be the language of Christianity, or the conduct of Christians; of men for whom ineffable happiness and joy is in store, who are looking forward to the holy kingdom of Christ, 'where shall be alone found pleasure without alloy?'
Of the influence which Cold has upon Health. IN these severe winter months, it is not unusual for many people to be lavish in their praises of the other seasons. Spring, summer, and autumn, whilst we enjoy their blessings, are little attended to; but when we no longer profit by their advantages, we praise them beyond measure. It is usual with men to disregard their present benefits, and only begin to feel their value when they can no longer enjoy them. But is it true that those three seasons alone possess every advantage? Is winter really so great an evil as some represent it to be? These are important questions, as they considerably influence our content and repose.
Spring and autumn are sometimes dangerous from the great and sudden changes of temperature, and the frequency of epidemic diseases; and in summer the heat is very oppressive, and productive of debility and various maladies. In winter these inconveniences are not expe
rienced, the health is generally better, the body more vigorous, and the spirits cheerful. In summer, when sinking under the fervency of the sun's rays, how we sigh for the shady retreat, and the evening breeze to refresh our languid frame; whilst during the cold of winter we are active and alert, and rarely find the cold so intense that exercise will not procure us a grateful warmth.
Thus even winter may contribute to our health, and to our pleasures; the Creator has provided for our good in this equally as much as in the other seasons: if we are discontented, if we do not enjoy so good a state of health, the fault probably rests with ourselves. Perhaps we pass the time in idleness and inactivity, and, immured within close and heated rooms, never breathe a pure air, nor go abroad to enjoy many of the days which really are very favourable and mild; or, a prey to anxiety and distrust of the future, our days and our nights are consumed in hopeless lamentations; or we corrupt our morals, and destroy our health and peace of mind, by intemperance. How happy might man be, how regular his health, if he never violated the laws of nature, nor departed from the due bounds of moderatión! if he made repose alternate with labour, and pleasure with business! Let us then henceforth apply ourselves constantly to fulfil the great designs of the Creator towards us; and serenity of mind, and gaiety of heart, will render our days cheerful, whilst virtue and temperance will make our disposition mild, and our health firm.
A Uniformity of Temperature would be disadvantageous to the Earth.
MANY people suppose that the earth would be a paradise if throughout the globe there was an equal distribution of heat and cold, the same degree of fertility, and the same division of day and of night. But admitting that things were thus arranged, and that in every part of the world there was the same degree of cold and of heat, is it true VOL. I.
that mankind would gain by such a regulation more of nourishment, of convenience, or of pleasure? On the contrary, if God had complied with such foolish desires, the earth would have been a miserable and sorrowful habitation. By the present wise arrangement, there is an infinite diversity in the works of nature. But what a sad uniformity would reign, how the earth would be spoiled of her beauties and her charms, if the revolutions of the seasons, of light and of darkness, of cold and of heat, were no longer to take place. Thousands of plants and of animals, which can only multiply in countries where the heat is at a certain degree, would soon cease to exist. Amongst the immense variety of natural productions very few can live in all climates. The greater part of creatures inhabiting cold countries could not support the heat of warm climates; whilst those transported from the torrid zone to the regions of the north could as ill bear the change. If then a uniformity of temperature existed, many natural productions must perish, and nature being deprived of the charms of diversity, we should lose innumerable blessings.
If every country of the earth produced the same things, wore the same appearance, and possessed equal advantages, the necessity of intercourse would be done away; commerce must cease, and many arts would remain unknown: the sciences also would suffer from the want of communication. Besides, how should we able to regulate the degree of heat and fix the temperature? Was it every where as hot as is the torrid zone, who could support the temperature? For those regions which are cold always withdrawing a portion of heat from those which are hotter, the heat diffused through the earth would much exceed that of the torrid zone; and thus men, plants, and animals, must all perish. Suppose again a temperate heat should every where pervade the earth, of such a degree of temperature as should be beneficial to all creatures, the air must then have the same degree of elevation, density, and elasticity. But ifthis were to take place, one chief cause of the winds would be removed, and the most disastrous consequences must result from their cessation. The air would become loaded with impurities, the equable degree of heat over the earth would occasion maladies, contagions, and plagues, and our imaginary paradise would be cond into a desert,
Wise and beneficent Creator! all that thou hast done is good. This confession is the result of the reflections I have made whilst contemplating thy works. I wish always to think thus at the sight of every object which nature presents; and, instead of vainly imagining faults and imperfections, may I ever call to mind thy infinite wisdom, and the weakness of my own capacity !
Many things which at first view appear contrary to the order, and unnecessary to the utility, of the universe, are arranged with wisdom, and regulated by goodness and beauty. What may to me seem insufficient and imperfect, furnishes to men of a more enlarged understanding subjects of just admiration, and calls forth their praises of the infinite perfections of the Creator. As in nature he has made an apparently unequal distribution of cold and heat, of light and darkness; so also he has displayed great diversity in his dispensations towards rational creatures, and has not assigned the lot of each in a similar manner. Yet in this, as in nature, his ways are ever the ways of wisdom and love; all that the Lord has ordered and regulated is perfect and admirable; all his paths are mercy and truth: to kim be glory for ever and for ever.
Consideration of the Stars.
To every person who delights to reflect on the works of God, the firmament of heaven, where the resplendent stars roll their vast orbs, opens a noble field for observation. The harmony, the grandeur, the multitude, and the brilli ancy of these celestial spheres, offer a most enrapturing spectacle to him who loves silently to contemplate the works of nature. The appearance of the stars alone, supposing even that we had no knowledge of their nature and design, would be sufficient to fill the soul with joy and with admiration; for where can we see an object so striking and magnificent as the expanse of æther, resplendent with the varied luminaries, which, in their several degrees of mag