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how many more are there yet hidden from our researches ! If we could explore the vast abyss of the sea, or search the bottom of rivers, penetrate within the numerous forests, at present the haunt of savages and reptiles, what additions should we not make to our present limited collection, and find new causes to admire the wonderful works of God!
Advantages of Night.
WHEN the sun hath withdrawn his friendly light from us, and darkness has obscured the face of nature, we are doubtless deprived of some pleasures. Nevertheless we have no cause to complain of this arrangement. As the mixture of pleasure and pain, the alternation of good and evil, are wisely ordered; so also we must acknowledge the wisdom and goodness of God in the remarkable variation which is observed in our climate: and we must allow that the seeming inconveniences of the winter nights are compensated by a thousand advantages. Without an occasional privation of sunshine, should we be so well convinced of its great comfort and utility?
Let each returning night recall to our minds the goodness of God, who, for the benefit of mankind, has diffused light and beauty over the face of the earth; let us reflect upon our miserable condition, if each succeeding morn did not ensure the continuance of light. Is not darkness itself, at certain intervals, pleasing, by inviting us to repose and tranquillity under the sweet influence of sleep? How many labourers consume their days and exhaust their strength in toiling for our services, whose work is often attended with disagreeable and painful sensations; to these night is welcome, and they hail the approaching evening with joy, when, free from the unrelenting frowns of a hard master, or the cries of their feeble and helpless children, they may sink down to rest, and enjoy a sweet oblivion of their cares.
When night has spread her sable mantle over the earth, all the little bubbles which so agitated man during the day cease to disturb him; all his emotions of envy, of jealousy, of pride, and of malignity, yield to the drowsy influence; all his sorrows, his doubts, and his perplexities, for a time, are suspended: stretched on his couch, he only wishes for sleep; his eyelids once safely sealed, the monarch, encanopied with purple, is no more than the beggar nestling in his straw.
What then do we not owe to the Supreme Being who thus has provided for the good of his creatures; who has appointed a time when the weary shall rest, and the oppressed shall be relieved; when millions of human beings, condemned by necessity to drag on a wretched existence, employed in hard tasks and painful toils, or who groan beneath the yoke of slavery, have their allotted hour of ease and freedom; which their cares and their sorrows may sink into soft repose; when the weary traveller shall lie down, and the exhausted peasant gain new vigour and recruited force; and when the philosopher shall be obliged to cease from the intense thinking which would destroy his powers, that he may rise and pursue his investigations with redoubled energy?
Reflections upon Self.
It is reasonable that every man should sometimes withdraw his attention from foreign objects, and fix it upon himself. By continually thinking of the things which surround us, we are apt to lose sight of ourselves, and forget the gratitude which the contemplation of the starry heavens, and the enjoyment of the blessings showered down upon the earth, ought to excite in our bosoms. To be convinced that man is as excellent an example of the perfection of God's divine power and wisdom, as are those objects which by their grandeur astonish the faculties, I wish that every individual would deeply reflect upon all that most intimately
concerns his structure. How admirable is the union of the body and the soul! How incomprehensible their action! We daily experience that when the rays of light, reflected from external objects, strike upon the retina, the mind receives an idea of the size, figure, and colour, of such objects. We find certain vibratory undulations of the atmospherical air convey to the mind, through the medium of the ear, an idea of sound. By this power of perception we obtain the knowledge of all the changes which occur in surrounding bodies, as well as an acquaintance with the thoughts of other men. We find whenever a desire for motion from place to place arises in our minds, the body obeys the impulse; and whether the trunk, the head, or the limbs, arc required to move, obedience follows the will. These are facts well known and daily experienced, but it is beyond the power of man to explain them.
In this reciprocal influence of the soul upon the body, and the body upon the soul, there is a wisdom displayed which we cannot search into, and the result of our profoundest investigations into this exquisite union of body and soul must be admiration and astonishment,
If we consider the body separately, we find it every where displays the power of the creating Hand; each limb is ordered in the most convenient manner for utility as well as beauty; no change that man can devise will be of benefit to him, so admirably is the human frame organized-so wisely is it constituted. Its internal arrangement is still more wonderful. The body has different ends to answer, different functions to perform; it is the medium through which the soul receives cognizance of external objects. For this great purpose we find it furnished with the organs of sight, of hearing, of taste, of feeling, and of smell, each in itself worthy the highest admiration. But to enable the body to transmit to the soul the sensations of external objects, it is necessary motion should be readily performed, for which purpose we find various parts provided by nature: the bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, and cellular substance, all exquisitely arranged, give the power of moving in every direction: but a machine like this, in frequent motion, must be liable to a continual waste; to supply which loss, and keep it in proper order, it will be necessary to receive comminute it, to separate its nutritious juices,
to circulate them through the whole machine with such proportion and regularity that each part may receive the quantity necessary for its due support; for all which purposes suitable functions are provided.
We have reason then to praise the Lord, who has thus wonderfully formed us, all of whose works are so admirable. To thee, O God! be rendered all adoration and thanksgiving. Let us celebrate thy praises with the sound of the harp, and with the song of joy and of gladness. We are the prodigies of thy power; all our faculties and our senses display thy Divine wisdom. May we ever be permitted to glorify and exalt thy holy name; and may we, when time here shall be to us no more, rejoice in thy goodthrough a blessed eternity!
The Damage occasioned by extraordinary Cold. WHY do we so readily notice those effects of nature which seem to be injurious? Why do we so willingly dwell upon and even murmur at them, whilst we slightly pass over all the striking advantages which they procure us? Men in such cases act towards God as they are accustomed to do with their fellow-creatures. A trifling offence, a slight injury they may have received from their best friend or benefactor, often effaces from their memory the essential benefits they have received; their pride and their ingratitude cause them to overlook the benefits, while they magnify the injury. At this season of the year we have a memorable instance of their disposition: men seem only to regard the evil . which may result from the cold, and never consider the good it may produce. If they discover the least injury, if some parts of the great whole suffer, they think themselves authorized to murmur against God, without at all considering that nature, taken as a whole, deduces great advantages from the cold. If we weigh with impartiality the advantages and the evils which may be attributed to it, the result will convince us how little cause we have to arraign the government of the Almighty.
It is true a severe season causes many inconveniences, and induces some distressing consequences. Sometimes the water is frozen to such a depth that it is not possible to obtain a supply of this necessary article; the fish die in the ponds; rivers swelling above their banks, their torrents increased by the melting snow, and containing vast masses of floating ice, burst their boundaries and devastate the neighbouring country. The working of water-mills is stopped; vegetables suffer; wood and fuel entirely fail, or become excessively enhanced in price; grain, potatoes, &c. if not well covered, are spoiled, and plants and trees die. Many animals perish from cold and hunger, and the health and safety of man is often endangered.
These are some of the most striking evils which the rigour of a severe season may produce; but how many winters do we not pass without witnessing such a degree of extreme severity? Admitting, however, that these disastrous effects oftener occurred, what right have we to complain, when the advantages much more than compensate for any evils we may endure? Knowing so little of the great chain of causes which links together this world, how are we poor finite beings to pronounce and decide upon what is best for nature, or upon what is most prejudicial to her? Let us not then expose our ignorance and absurdity by blaming or condemning the laws of nature, because we see but a very minute part, and are totally incapable of grasping the whole. Let us rather acknowledge our incapacity, and acquire a confidence in the ways of Providence which shall induce us to believe and to feel assured, that He who has created the heavens and the earth has likewise ordained a portion of happiness and of good sufficient for our present condition, and far exceeding all the accumulated evils we can possibly endure. With this reliance upon the rock of ages, we shall remain firm and unmoved, amid the warring of elements and the general wreck of nature; whilst we ascribe praise, honour, and thanksgiving, to our wise and beneficent Creator.