« PreviousContinue »
in painting, and enters into the composition of pitch, tar, and balsams. Turpentine is used as a medicament, and colophonia (hard resin) to varnish, to solder, and to rub the strings of unusical instruments; and mastic is used in perfumes.
Flowers, delightful both for their beauty and fragrance, are very useful in medicines, and supply the bees with their wax and honey. Fruits are singularly beneficial and grateful, whether fresh from the trees, boiled, dried, or preserved. But it is not man alone which receives advantage from the vegetable kingdom ; the greater part of animals derive their nourishment from that source. For this purpose we find fields and meadows innumerable, covered with every variety of plants and vegetables. The wants of every individual are provided for; each knows the kind of vegetables most suited to its nature ; and no one can number the blessings afforded by this kingdom, nor find expressions to celebrate the goodness of God.
Structure of the Human Heart.
How wonderfully and exquisitely formed is that muscular body, situated within the cavity of the chest, and called the heart? Its figure is somewhat conical, and it is externally divided into two parts: the base, which is uppermost, and attached to vessels ; and the apex, which is loose and pointing to the left side, against which it beats. Its substance is muscular, being composed of fleshy fibres, interwoven with each other. It is divided internally into cavities, called auricles and ventricles; from which vessels proceed to convey the blood to the different parts of the body. The ventricles are situated in the substance of the heart, and are separated from each other by a thick muscular substance; they are divided into right and left, and each communicates with its adjoining auricle, one of which is situated on each side the base of the heart. The right auricle receives the blood from the head and superior parts of
the body, by means of a large vein; and in the same man ner the blood is returned to it from the inferior parts, by. all the veins emptying their stores into one, which termi. nates in this cavity ; which, having received a sufficient portion of blood, contracts, and by this motion empties itself into the right ventricle, which also contracting propels the blood into an artery, which immediately conveys it into the lungs, where it undergoes certain changes, and then passes through veins into the left auricle of the heart, thence into the left ventricle, by the contraction of which it is forced into an artery, through whose ramifications it is dispersed to all parts of the body, from which it is again returned to the rigbt auricle; thus keeping up a perpetual circulation : for, whilst life remains, the action of the heart never ceases. In a state of health the heart contracts about seventy times in a minute, and is supposed at each contraction to propel about two ounces of blood; to do which, the force it exerts is very considerable, though neither the quantity of force exerted, nor of blood propelled, is accu. rately determined.
The heart comprises within itself a world of wonders; and whilst we admire its admirable structure and properties, we are naturally led to consider the wisdom and power of Him who formed it, from whom first proceeded the cir. culation of the blood and the pulsations of the heart; who commands it to be still, and all the functions instantly cease to act: in God alone we live, move, and have our being : and may we never, whilst the vital stream flows through our veins, forget his goodness, or repay his love with in. gratitude !
The Change of Seasons. The coldest as well as the warmest climates have but two seasons in the year, which are essentially different. In the coldest countries the summer continues about four months, during which the heat is very powerful; the rest of their
year may be considered as winter. Their spring and au. tumn are scarcely perceptible, because in the space of only a few days an excessive heat succeeds the greatest degree of cold, and the extreme of heat is succeeded as rapidly by the extreme of cold. The hottest countries have a dry and scorching season for seven or eight months; when the rains descend, and continue four or five months, this being the only distinction between their summer and winter.
It is only in temperate climates that we find four distinct seasons in the year. The heat of summer slowly de. parts, by which the fruits of autumn are rendered mature, without suffering from the winter's cold. And in spring plants are enabled to germinate, uninjured by remainiog frosts, and not hastened into premature efflorescence by too early warmth. In Europe, we observe these seasons most distinctly in Italy and the south of France. In the temperate regions summer and winter generally commence with abundant rains, which continue for a considerable tinie, From the middle of May to the latter end of June it seldom rains; but after this time heavy rains sometimes set in, and continue till the end of July. The months of Febru. ary and April are usually very variable.
The change of seasons deserves our utmost attention and admiration : it is not effected by blind chance, for in for. tuitous events there is neither order, constancy, nor regularity; whereas in every country of the earth the seasons suc. ceed each other regularly as the day follows the night, and precisely in the expected time the aspect of the earth changes. We see it successively adorned with herbs and leaves, with flowers and fruits: it is then deprived of its ornaments till spring returns to restore them with increased beauty. Spring, summer, and autumn, nourish and gratify the ani. mal creation by the fruits which blossom, increase, and ripen in luxuriant abundance. And though in winter nature seems to droop and to be dead, this season is not without its benefits.
Now that this month is so far advanced, we may begin to hail the near approach of spring, and all its accompanying pleasures, with transport and delight. How many are there who have longed to see this restoration of nature. and hoped to be recovered from the sufferings they endured during the winter, to whom this consolation has been de.
nied, the thread of their lives being snapped ere the sernal breezes have refreshed the earth! Perhaps this is the last spring we shall be permitted to see, the last time we shall enjoy the freshness of the morning air, breathing the sweets of the opening flowers. Before the return of the equinox we may be mingled with the dust, inhabitants of the silent tomb. May this reflection dispose us to feel the true value of life, and teach us that serenity of soul and Christian fortitude, which will enable us to receive the awful messenger without fear, and hear the summons without regret !
Every Thing created has its Use. If there is a superintending Providence which governs the world, the smallest things and most trifling events must feel its influence, and nothing under the agency of this Power will occur without some evident utility. Perhaps it will be said, “What a number of things there are in the world of no use whatever! The north-wind blows, and the blossoms of trees are scattered ; they wither and are useless. Seeds, which might have produced new plants, perish without bringing forth fruit. Multitudes of insects are not only useless, but extremely injurious to man, beasts, and vege. tables. Many men and animals scarcely shew themselves upon the earth, when they disappear ; others are born monsters, impotent, and deformed. How many faculties and talents are lost for want of being called forth! How many doble projects and bold enterprises miscarry before they arrive at maturity! Would all this take place, if a Being infinitely wise and provident governed the universe ?
But have you who thus dare to doubt the being and providence of God a perfect knowledge of all things, with their relations and dependencies amongst each other, to pro. nounce your decisions with certainty, and promulgate such sentim ents with confidence ; to say. This can do no good. that is absolutely wrong, or of no use? Never forget the narrow limits of your knowledge, nor the feeble rays of your light. It is your duty to observe in silence the ways of God, and to admire and adore him in those works ; which so far from justly criticising, you are not able to comprehend: all those which you do know you will find contain proofs of infinite wisdom, and are of a certain and manifest utility. A thing may be useful in different ways, and whilst it is serving one purpose we cannot expect that at the same time it should serve another. The insect, which at its birth becomes the prey of swallows, cannot produce a new generation. The researches of alchymists for the philosopher's stone have not, it is true, made gold more plentiful ; but through their means many valuable discoveries have been made, and the insect supplies the swallow with its food. Your tears may not soften the callous un feeling man, who abuses his power in oppressing the weak; but though your intercessions in favour of the unfortunate are fruitless, your tears are not lost, nor shed in vain : they tend to call forth the finer feelings of the heart, and increase that sensibility which is the source of true knowledge and virtue ; and there is a Being who hears your sighs, and to whom all your efforts on behalf of suffering humanity are known, and received as the most grateful incense.
Never let us suppose, then, that there exists any thing in the universe entirely useless. It is true there may be certain things which do not seem to succeed, nor answer ex. actly the end we expected them to perform ; but they undoubtedly fulfil the purpose for which providence designed them, and that belief is sufficient for us. For certain things to take effect and be realized, perhaps, it is requisite that others should fail and appear defective. If it is true that wisdom is not entirely engrossed about the present, but ex. tends its views to the future; if God is infinitely wise, and if his wisdom is to be manifested to the world as in a mir. ror; there must occur many things which, separately considered, do not perfectly appear to accomplish their desti. nation, because they required other causes to co-operate with them. The part which these have in the execution of the whole plan may be so imperceptible and so little under. stood, as entirely to escape our notice. But surely it does not follow, that because we cannot perceive the end they answer in the great system of nature, they do not contri. bute to its perfection, and are therefore useless; on the