Page images

the glittering of the diadem, which alone procure these de, lights, that often cheer the peaceful breast of the cottager, who cannot penetrate the abode of royalty, nor find entrance amid the busy sons of traffic. The arrival of spring is attended with a thousand new delights; the beauty and fra. grance of the opening blossoms, the warbling of the birds, and the widely diffused joy and gaiety that smile around. In general our terrestrial hopes are damped by anxiety and repressed by doubt, but the hope of spring is no less certain and satisfactory than it is pure and innocent. Let us then, whilst the stormy days of March shall continue, instead of repining and being chagrined, indulge the fond hope of spring, and suffer its pleasing influence to cheer our souls.

Hope is one of the choicest gifts which Heaven mercifully deigns to mortality ; when the storms roar and the tempests howl, hope still supports our drooping spirits, and the rays of consolation gladden our hearts. Without this pleasing emotion how sad and dreary would have passed many of the winter hours! Cheered by the hope of spring I have borne with patience, and endured without complaint, the ri. gours of winter and the hardships of the season, and now I am upon the eve of seeing it realized : a few more boisterous days passed, and all the beauteous pictures my imagination has so brilliantly painted will be confirmed ; the sky will become serene, the air mild, the sun return with power, and the earth resume her long-lost beauty. Gracious God! I humbly thank thee, and bow before thee in the fulness of my joy and the overflowing of my gratitude, for the source of that consolation, which, in the hour of distress, warms my heart and softens the asperities of life. With what providential care and merciful regard thou hast veiled the evils which hover around me, whilst the pleasures which await me are seen far off, and smile upon my exertions !

Without hope, how dreary would be the world; appearing to the care-worn pilgrim one wide desert, all the paths of which are surrounded with misery, beset with trouble, and embittered with sorrow! But hope lights us on our way; when darkness lowers and gloom oppresses, hope strengthens our faltering steps, collects our scattered senses, and presents to our view a pleasing prospeet lying before us and just within our reach; we spring forward with alacrity, and often pass our lives in the eager pursuit, with as much pleasure as if we had obtained the object of our wishes. Hope raises the sinking heart, and restores the courage which begins to droop; and each time I feel the magic influence of her rays, I will bless thee, O my God! and thank thee for the daily benefits I receive, as well as for those reserved for me at a future time. Blessed for ever be thy divine mercy, which permits me to hope that when time here shall be no more, my glad soul shall quit these narrow confines, to repose in the bosom of its Creator through the countless ages of eternity. Were it not for this certainty of immortality, this fond hope of eternal life and happiness, few would be the incitements to virtue, and weak the inducements to mental improvement; when oppressed by care and weighed down by misery, we should have little encouragement to continue longer in a world chequered by misfortune; or, did affluence favour us, we should be tempted to indulge in the thoughtless round of continued dissipation. But with the expectation of a future glorious state of existence, we can smile at care and trouble, arm ourselves against the fleeting pleasures of this life, and pity the deluded disciples of folly and dissipation.


Hoar frost.

At this season of the year we very frequently observe the bushes, and other matters exposed to the morning or evening air, acquire a sort of crust on the surface, as if they were candied. This is what is called hoar-frost, which is merely the exhalations and moisture condensed and frozen by the coldness of the surrounding air. The dew which during the day has evaporated from the earth descends in the night, and in cold weather becomes congealed, putting on that white appearance we so often observe in a morning; and as the large bodies retain their heat the longest, we generally see more of the frost upon the hedges and grass than on the larger trees. The dew coming in contact with bodies colder than itself imparts to them a portion of its heat, the

loss of which, if considerable, occasions it to lose its fluidity; when its particles condensed unite more closely, and form a slender coating of ice. In this manner our hair, as well as that of animals, is sometimes covered with hoar frost; the perspirable matter exposed to the cold air becomes congealed, and this effect is produced. Thus also are formed the isicles we see hanging from the houses in winter: the water dropping down imparts the heat it contains to the colder air, and thus losing its fluidity becomes congealed.


Means which contribute to fertilize the Earth. The wisdom of God employs a variety of means to render the earth fruitful. At one time the opening clouds shower down the rain, which softens and nourishes the earth; at other times, when deprived of the benefit of rain, a gentle dew refreshes its surface, and animates the feeble plants, languishing for want of moisture. Each season has its peculiar means of fertilizing the earth. The snow, which, during the winter, covered our fields and our meadows, not only preserved them from the effects of the cold, but tended to their subsequent fertility. The frequent tempests in the spring preserve the purity of the air, dry the earth, and disperse the rain more generally over its surface : with each storm of wind and of rain the Creator scatters his blessings upon the earth.

We may safely affirm that there is no change in the air or upon the earth which does not directly or indirectly contribute to its fertility. Every season brings a succession of phenomena peculiar to it, each of which produces in nature effects, the beneficial influence of which is more or less visible. Even those plagues which desolate certain countries are only partial evils, conducing to fulfil the great designs of Providence, and from which advantages result to the world at large. Every where, and at all times, we have cause to be thankful to our Creator for his tender cares and paternal solieitude.

O Lord, God of times and of seasons ! thy praises reach from the centre of this globe to the heaven of heavens ! Our sphere rolls through the starry expanse ; now blooming with flowers, and now wrapped in snow; here blushing with the vine, there covered with thorns. Yet it still celebrates thy glory, and unites its music to the harmony of the spheres. When the snow and the ice convert our meadows into desert places; when the hurricane gathers in the air, the thunder peals, and the lightning causes the hearts of men to tremble; when rivers, bursting their banks with one vast swell, inundate a country, and all the elements seem to combine and prepare for the final destruction of the world; it is then thou art providing for the inhabitants of the earth life, joy, fertility, and abundance.'

Here we may properly consider the means which God uses to fertilize the moral world. To lead men to a knowledge of his will concerning them; to inspire them with an aversion of sin, and a love for virtue and the practice of good; he sometimes speaks the language of gentleness and persuasion in their hearts, at others in a louder and more terrible tone. Sometimes he appals the guilty by the severity of his judgments; and awakens the indifferent from their slumbers by the force of their sufferings. He declares himself to be hardened and unrelenting, as he formerly appeared to the Israelites upon Mount Sinai, clothed in lightning and speaking in thunder; but the softer heart he gently leads from vice with tenderness and mild persuasion. I am a living witness of his divine beneficence, and I acknowledge, with praise and thanksgiving, that he has exercised all these means to draw me nearer to his presence. Sometimes it has pleased him to confound my pride by chas tisements, and to awaken me to a sense of my duty by various afflictions and trials, which, whilst they softened my heart, tended to wean my affections from the things of this world. At other times he has visited me with his blessings, and his favours have descended upon me more abundant than the vernal showers. But what return have I made for these benefits? Have I brought forth fruit, which a good soil never refuses when cultivated? Alas! my heart rather resembles a rock, which the thunder cannot shake, nor the rain penetrate; yet I hope, O God! the time will arrive, when I shall become more submissive to thy will,

and more disposed to obey thy commands. The longer I put off the hour of repentance, the more my sins multiply, and the more difficult I find it to purify my heart : and I pray to the Almighty God that he will not leave me a prey to my own evil disposition, but that he will graciously condescend yet to bear with my weakness, and enable me to draw nearer to him : whether it will be my lot to experience hardships and misfortunes, or to pass along the vale of years in peace and tranquillity, I will bless the God of my salvation, and pray not that I may pass my days in indolence and vanity, but that I may be productive of good works.


' Of the Advantages derived from the Sea. A MERELY superficial view of our globe might give occasion to believe that there is no proper proportion observed between the earth and the water, the vast expanse of the latter seeming to accord ill with the accustomed wisdom and goodness of God. We think that we should have received more benefit, if it had pleased the Creator to have suffered the great space occupied by the seas and the ocean to have been solid land. Short-sighted and ignorant men! are you get to learn that nature does nothing in vain, and that God has formed this earth with inconceivable wisdom and harmony in all its parts? If the ocean was reduced to only half its present size, half the exhalations which now ascend from it would cease to form clouds, in consequence of which the earth would not be sufficiently irrigated; for great part of the rain which descends from the skies is an effect of the heat causing an evaporation from the surface of the sea. Thus we find the ocean is the grand reservoir, which supplies the earth with moisture, and consequently with ferti. lity. If the extent of the seas should be diminished, great part of the earth would become as a desert, dry and sterile, from the want of rain ; and the sources of those rivers that depend upon the rain would be exhausted. The intercourse between distant nations being cut off, or rendered nearlv

« PreviousContinue »