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The idea of selecting from the Animal World Lessons for the regulation of our own conduct, might naturally occur to any one who has watched the habits and instincts of beasts, birds, and insects. But our attention is more especially called to this subject when we find that many passages of the Word of God refer us directly to natural objects for instruction, commanding us to ask the beasts and the fowls of the air, and they shall teach us,-to gather lessons from the lilies of the field, and to take example from the humble labours of insects.
Natural History, as a science, is the history of the works of the Almighty, “and as such is a demonstration of His existence, intelligible to all mankind" At an early period attempts were made to derive lessons for individual conduct from natural objects, but the favourite form of teaching was that of the FABLE; so that from the time of Æsop, or earlier, birds, beasts, insects, plants, and even inanimate objects, have been represented as speaking and acting like human beings. This form of teaching is often elegant and highly poetical, but is not always in accordance with the truths of Natural History.
In the following pages the valuable qualities of animals are described in strict conformity with the facts recorded by our best naturalists, and a lesson is sought to be drawn from each example, illustrative of the beauty and worth of those dispositions and habits which are constantly practised by inferior beings, while they are too often neglected by those who bear the name, and profess to share the hopes, of Christians.
OF THE FIRST SERIES.