« AnteriorContinua »
OBSERVATIONS ON THE STUDY OF NATURE. . Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.
Psalm lxv. 8.
CHRISTIANS, it is not a vain exercise to make nature and providence your study. Yon delight, we hope, to dwell on the page of inspiration, and by it you are directed to consult the volume of nature, and to read in it the wonderful works of God. Think not the employment below you ; it was the delightful exercise of David, the son of Jesse, and king of Israel: a man who might have delighted himself with the ornaments of finery, and fared sumptuously every day. He is found contemplating the works of God, and admiring those beautiful changes in nature as the effect of the Divine Hand, which men, in general; totally overlook. “ Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.” Pause here, and learn the propriety and the usefulness of David's employment. When light arose out of darkness, at the Almighty's command, the angels, the sons of the morning, sang together; man was not yet brought into being; and though he beheld not the first dawn of light, he no doubt, at first beholding the sun, was delighted with that emblem of perfection and purity. What a glorious change, when order rose out of confusion, when light sprang out of darkness, and the sun came forth from the womb of the morning, rejoicing as a strong man to run his race!
The same Almighty Power is unceasingly employed in overruling the changes of day and night. The operations of the divine arm were not suspended when creation-work was finished. In the heavens he set the sun for a sign, and he marks his daily course. “ Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.” What might not God do unto us for all the evil we have done against him? He might hide the face of the sky, and spread a thick cloud over it for forty days and forty nights, till the bottles of Heaven were emptied on our guilty world.
ile might allow the sun to rise upon the earth, and smile upon the footsteps of a Lot till be entered his Zoar, and then impregnate the air with sulphurous particles, collect these in clouds of vengeance,-rain them down on our Sodom till the inhabitants were destroved, and the place of their abode turned into a nauseous lake. But how different are his ways toward us! When man, having rested from his labour, awakes from sleep, he opens his eyes to behold - what? The heavens and the earth passing away, and the elements melting with fervent heat?-the Judge clothed in awful majesty, coming to take vengeance on the wicked inventions of men No: he behoids the sun looking from the east, smiling over the face of the heavens and the earth, and pouring his numberless rays of light into the habitations of thankless man. « We cometir forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, or as a strong man to run his race; his going forth is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the end of it.” When he has completed his daily round, he gradually drops out of view, and sinks into the bosom of night and darkness. But which shall we most admire - The glory that attends him in his decline, or that with which he opens the day? Even after he is oat of view, the moon and stars which God hath ordained, are ready to supply his place, and diminish the gloom of night. “Thou makest the outgoings of the evening to rejoice.”
Think it not beneath your notice to remark these daily changes; the more you are thus employed, your souls will expand in more exalted conceptions of God. These changes are not the effects of chance; they are not the result of any uniforin principle undirected by the Supreme; they are the effects of his
power; still exercising a providential care over all. He hath given forth his law, by which all things move and mutually operate ; and he preserves them in their being and motions. It is the same voice that at first said, “ Let there be light,” that every morning bids the sun rise, and the shadows of night flee away: and can you see the sun shining in his strength, or behold the moon walking in brightness - can you witness the beauty of the dawn, or of the decline of day - and not be led to admire the glory of him, by wlloin the Heavens were made, and light brought into being?
The Psalmist observing the most common changes; adores: God in all of them. « Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice :
-Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it :- Thou greatly enrichest it with the river oť God, which is full of water - Thou preparest them corn, when Thou hast so provided for it :- Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly:- Thou settlest the furrows thereot :-Thou makest it soft with showers :- Thou blessest the springing thereof:- Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, and thy paths drop fatness!" How worthy of the Christian's employment, to observe the same things, and lift up his soul to God, who giveth rain and fruitful seasons, who empties or restrains the bottles of Heaven at his pleasure! Unless God visit the earth, and water it, making it soft with showers, the most fertile soit would remain barre ; it would soon be beyond the power of man to cultivate. By the frosty incrustations of winter, and the parching heat of summer, it would become as iron under our feet; but that Wisdom which overruleth all things, so orders heat and cold, light and darkness, moisture and drought, thrat, in the proper season, the earth can be opened with the plongh share, and the grain committed into the furrow with safety.
thankless sons of men, and careless observers of the works of God, these are the fruits of that indulgent bounty
and patience, which, notwithstanding your evil hearts, still wait to do you good. The clouds move not at random, nor are tossed io and fro in our atmosphere without design ; the hand of God dispos.s them for the retreshment of the earth, and watering i when it is weary; and if they distil not the rain in plenty, they restore through the night, the exhalations of the day, and sprinkle the surface of the earih with drops of dew. The softening influence of the rain in mouldering down the clods of the valley, and filling up every opening in the soil, that a noxious vapour may not hurt the tender seed in the moment of vegetation, was not unworthy of David's notice :-" Thou makest it soft with showers, thou blessest the springing thereof.” Boast not, O men, that you have filled the bosom of your farm with plenty to enrich it; boast not that you have opened it to the puritying air of winter; boast not that you have been liberal in throwing the grain into the furrow, and purged the field of every noxious weed : after all the toil and expence you have bestowed, you cannot moisten a single ridge, nor vegetate a single grain ; you cannot bid a single cloud drop, nor a single day be warm : after all you have done, God may send excessive heat, or excessive cold, and all your labour is lost; he may withhold rain, and your prospects are blasted; or he may send rain in such abundance, that the earth may disgorge from every furrow both your grain and your manure, sweep it into the rivulets that run by, to be carried along by the next stream into the bosom of the ocean.
God alone blesses the springing of the year ; he makes day and night, seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, to observe their appointed seasons.
What care does God not lake of ihankless inan! He makes every season, every day, every hour, minister to our wants, and confer delights. In spring, we soon see every soil put forth its natural fruit, and every mountain its shrub and its tree. All things freshen and revive afier the storms of winter are past.
The nourishing heat and fertilizing showers hasten all things to maturity ; summer clothes all in blossom, and autumn loads all with fruit; even the heath in the desart, that knows not when good comes, puts forth its flowers, and shakes its little grains of seed. By whom is the earth adorned in summer, and enriched in autumn? By him who clothes the lily, and feeds the raven of the field; by him who visits the earth, and waters it with the river of God. « Thou, O Lord, blecsest the springing of the year, and crownest the year with thy goodness.”
When you survey the fields around you in spring, in summer, or in autumn, say not that the sources of your delight are few, or that scanty are the means of your supply. This earth is like a large storehouse, over which there are many stewards, under one gracious and generous Lord, who allows this magazine of his mercies to be ever open, and ever full of every thing useful for the supply of inan. “ He crowns the year with his goodness, and all his paths drop fatness.”
Say, 0 Christian, whatever may have been your fears, have you ever geen, or ever heard, that for one year the distributions of his goodness were restrained? No; his mercies are over all his works, and the earth is full of his goodness. Ascend the highest eminence within your view, direct your prospects eastward and westward, southward and northward, and say if you can discern any spot of earth that is not loaded with fruit, or ornamented with a flower, that is not bearing something useful for man or for beast. Nay, the untutored cottager, in bis obscure hamlet, is surrounded with the beauties of nature, which for their being common do not attract his notice; but the little flower that grows wild by the door of his dwelling, presents a richer colour and a finer texture than all the art of man can produce. Every wise Clıristian, in observing the face of nature, will see the finger of God, and must in devotion, lift up his eyes to Heaven and say, O Lord," all things are full of thee! Thou crownest the year with thy goodness!"
Let us suppose, for a moment, one of God's people alone contemplating the face of nature. When he looks around him, and beholds the earth full of the goodness of the Lord,-evening and morning rejoicing, and the season hastening tbe fruits of the earth to maturity, how devout are his reflections, and in how filial a manner does he express them ! -For me (says be) these clouds drop, and that sun shines ; for me the stores of his goodness are always open; for me, as well as for others, these grapes hang in clusters from the vine, and the corns wave sisty fold upon the stalk; for me the vallies are covered with corn, and the pastures with flocks: all are my Father's who is in Heaven; and he allows me my portion as he sees meet. Blessed, blessed be God, who ministers such abundance and delight! But I shall soon pass from this changing world, and enter the Paradise above, where there is no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to give the inhabitants light; for the Lord shall be their everlasting light, and their God their glory. There also summer and autumn are eternally blended'; the tree of life ever bearing fruit; and, to enrich the beauty of the place, there flows the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, from the throne of God, for ever and ever!"
The subject also serves another valuable purpose. Think then, O saint, how swift are the wheels of time, and how soon the sun makes the circuit of the skies. While you stand and contemplate his glory, he is bastening forward, to measure out your short span of being. The revolutions of day and night are never interrupied : as they alternately return, ihey remind you of your own passing existence below, and that soon that day.will dawn, or the shadows of that night collect, which will issue in your departure from the changes of time. The changes of the seasons teach you the same lesson ; but upon a larger
scale. When the sun is ready to pass out of view, For what purpose has the day been speni? is an enquiry no less important than the issue of the succeeding night is uncertain. Who can tell whether
you shall ever again behold the light of day? The outgoings of the evening which you now admire, may be the last earthly scene your eyes shall behold! Before day returns, you may pass into eternity; and how blessed the change, if you pass into light, as the light of seven days, and have mortality swallowed up of life! Hlow blessed your change, from this mutable state of things, to a new Heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness! There you will have objects more glorious to contemplate; a Paradise rich and fertile to admire. “ You shall hunger no more, neither shall you thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on you, nor any heat ; but the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed you, and shall lead you to living fountains of waters, and God sball wipe away all tears from your eyes!”
THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE BEAVER,
The next day after the before-recited circumstances, to gratify a cruel curiosity, Mr. Du Pratz relates, he shot one of these admirable creatures, and, by the report of his fire-arıns, drove the others to seek shelter in the woods; which gave him and his party full opportunity to examine the structure of their habitation, and their stores ; of which he gives the following account:-
Under one of the houses he found fifteen pieces of wood, wiih the bark in part gnawed off, apparently intended for food : and round the middle of this house, which formed a passage for them to go in and out at, he found no less than fifteen ditferent cells. These habitations were made by posts placed slanting upwards to a point; and in the middle was the Hoor, resting firmly on notches in the posts.
Here we see the Beaver, like the Ant, is taught æconoiny as well as industry; and to provide, while the season perunits, against the severe frost which fasteps them within their habitations, and prevents their seeking more. Surely, this should reinind us of that important maxim of our divine Master, to “ Work while it is day,” because “ the night cometh, when no man can work !"
The harmony in which these creatures live, with one common stock of provisions, is another useful lesson for us, both as men and as Christians.-" Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
Įt is remarkable, however, that there are some Beavers who