Page images

contrary, we have just reason to conclude, from what we see of the power and wisdom of God displayed in his works, that it is impossible for him to have created any thing without design or without utility ; though, from our imperfect nature, we are not always able to perceive the object and use of some of his works.

This firm persuasion will contribute to our peace and happiness; for there daily occur in nature, and in the course of human life, events, whose connexions, relations, and designs, appear to us incomprehensible and of no utility, and which might otherwise weaken our faith in God, as well as hurt and distress our feelings. But the more we are convinced by reason, observation, and experience, and confirmed by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, that God, as he is infinitely wise and powerful, so also he is infinitely merciful and just; the more contented and cheerful shall we be in adversity as well as in prosperity. We shall then see and acknowledge, that all that God effects, or permits to be accomplished, is for the wisest purposes, and always for the universal good of mankind. And when we observe in nature so many trifling objects, apparently useless, and so many inexplicable events, seemingly repugpant to the di. vine plan, far from finding cause to complain, let us rather adore the wisdom of God, and ascribe unto him the glory which is his due ; ever trusting to him for safety and support, and confiding in his power without the folly of cavil. Fing at his dispensations. This submission to his will is the way to happiness here, and eternal felicity hereafter.


Harmony between the Moral and Physical World. THE wisdom of God has established so great an affinity between the earth and its inhabitants, that they seem to be formed for each other. There is a certain connexion and harmony which links together all the works of the creation. There is an evident analogy between the human body and the surface of the earth: as the bodies of plants and animals are formed, and come to maturity, then perish:

so also are the bodies of men subject to similar changes. Such is the plan of the Creator, and it is pregnant with wis dom and goodness, adorned with perfection and beauty ; it is only our imperfect knowledge which prevents our seeing it as it is.

If any one objects, “Why then has not God given to every one the same faculties and the same degree of intellect?' we may answer-Who art thou, blind mortal, that callest God to an account for his works? Shall the creature dictate to his Creator, or question his powers? As well might we ask, Why God has not so ordered, that all countries on the earth, that every field, should be equally pleasant and fertile ? Why do we find in some parts a rich and fruitful soil, whilst others are so sterile and desert that all attempts to improve them are in vain? There can be no doubt that this diversity is highly beneficial, and worthy of our warmest admiration, though not always conformable to our mode of thinking. The niost desolate and barren re. gions, as well as the most wild and uncultivated nations, have their beauty and use in the eyes of God; all hold that place which has been assigned them, and which is best adapted to their nature, in the immensity of created beings; and their variety serves still to manifest the wisdom of God, which is infinitely diversified.

But as it is manifestly the intention of Providence that the earth should be cultivated, and produce fruits in abundance for the preservation of its inhabitants; and as for this end he has given us corn to sow the earth, and seeds of various kinds to supply food and nourishment; so also be has given to each individual a mind, wbich, according as it is cultivated, will bring forth fruit; it possesses all the capabilities of virtue and of happiness, and only requires the seed to be sown to produce a harvest rich and abundant. With this view he has given to us lessons of true knowledge and religion, which, when received in a mind properly disposed and regulated, will produce exquisite fruit, and abundant as the corn planted in a fruitful field.

There are vast tracts of uncultivated and barren lands. where po verdure smiles, nor fruit refreshes, though they receive the fostering rays of Heaven; so also, not with. standing the general diffusion of the Gospel, there are coun. tries which still remain in darkness, and there are people

yet besotted by ignorance and infidelity. And among the civilized nations of the Christian world the influence of the Gospel is often very slightly felt; many people know not what it is, do not comprehend it, nor have any idea of the saving power, and sublime truths, of a pure and holy religion. Others receive it with eagerness and joy, and for a space acknowledge its influence; but the impression is not lasting, and soon becomes obliterated. Some are too much agitated by the passions and concerns of the world to attend to the gentle monitor : but there are some who receive the Divine word with a heart pure and incorrupt; they hear its dictates with pleasure, and, by following them with perseverance, become of the happy number of the wise and prudent, whose steps are marked by virtue, sincerity, and peace, to whom it is indeed the power of God unto sal. vation.

MARCH XXIII. Of the Nature and Properties of Air. AIR is a subtle fluid, which surrounds our globe, and which all living creatures respire. Although it is so near us, every where surrounds us, and we are continually experi. encing its effects, we are not yet sufficiently acquainted with it to precisely determine its nature. We know that it is a substance, for when we pass our hand rapidly through it we find resistance; and we are certain that it is fluid, its particles are easily displaced, and yield to all kinds of impressions. Were it solid, we could neither inspire it, nor move in it with facility. It possesses weight in common with other bodies, being about 816 times lighter than water. * The force with which the air weighs upon every square foot of the earth is equal to a weight of 2160 pounds. And a man, whose surface is about fourteen square feet, sustains a weight of atmospheric air equal to 30, 240 pounds

* Its specific gravity, according to the experiment of Si. George Shuckburgh, when the barometer is at 30 inches, and thr thermometer between 50 and 60 degrees, is 0.0012. One hundrec cubic inches of air weigh 31 grains troy. Thomson's Chemistry.

This may appear incredible ; but the resistance of the air contained in our lungs prevents our suffering any inconveni. ence from the pressure of the external air, an equilibrium being thus preserved.

The elasticity of the air is equally certain; it is continually making an effort to fill a greater space, and, though capable of compression, as soon as the pressure is removed it again expands. This is sufficiently proved by means of heat, which rarifies it to such a degree, that it may be made to occupy five or six hundred times more space than it did before the heat was applied without losing its elastic power. All these phenomena are highly worthy of ad. miration, and in them we may perceive the causes of many astonishing effects. It is in the air that our globe is sus. pended ; and it is in the air also that the clouds are collected, forming so many beautiful shades and colours, and which, as they are rarified or condensed, suspend the va. pours, or permit them to descend on the earth, in rain, hail or snow. Without air, life cannot be supported, nor fire and water exist.

Thus, then, the air also announces the grandeur, power, and goodness of God, whose infinite wisdom alone could adapt this element to so many and various purposes. God creates and governs the rain, the snow, the winds, the thunder, and the lightning; he measures the quantity, gravity, elasticity, and motion of the air, and mercifully causes it to serve our necessities, and contribute to the general welfare of our globe. Let us, then, who every moment breathe this air which supports our lives, adore the depths of the riches of His marvellous wisdom and under. standing, who alone has created all these things manifested in the whole economy of nature with infinite splendour!


Nothing new under the Sun.

With respect to man, no doubt, there are many new things which take place in the earth : in every season we see new

flowers spring up, new fruits ripen, and the whole face of nature annually changes. Every day is productive of new events and new revolutions; the situation of objects is continually changing, or they present themselves to our senses under different forms. It is only relatively to the limited extent of our knowledge and understanding that there is any thing new under the sun ; and in this light nothing is more true than the saying of Solomon, "What has been will be, and what has been done will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” God has not thought fit to multiply things unnecessarily; there is every thing which can satisfy our wants, gratify our desires, and satiate our curiosity. Far from exhausting, we are scarcely able to acquire a superficial acquaintance with the works of the Creator; our senses are not sufficiently acute and powerful to perceive all the works of nature, and our understanding is too weak to comprehend them; so that we can never form a just and accurate idea of the creation, nor of every created being : hence we often believe many things are new under the sun which are only new to ourselves. As the empire of nature is immense, and as we can grasp only a very small part at one view, we suppose every thing we see for the first time to be new ; because in every part of the world there is an infinite variety of appearance, and diversity of imagery.

Nature does not require a continued and endless creation; it is sufficient that the Supreme Being preserves the order which be established in the beginning. There is no necessity for a number of springs to vary the works already produced; for they succeed each other, and return in regular order, and yet appear so infinitely diversified as to seem always new. The impossibility of our numbering or conceiving the whole extent of the works of nature, whilst it convinces us of the weakness of our capacity, strongly proves the existence of one great first cause of all, an Almighty God.

But are there not many recent discoveries, entirely unknown to the ancients? Are we not now familiar with phenomena in the kingdom of nature of which we formerly had no idea ? Most of these discoveries have proceeded rather from the stimulus of want, than that of arriving at truth. As our wants multiply, new means are necessary to supply them; but these existed long before we knew them. Minerals, vegetables, and animals, that have lately been dis

« PreviousContinue »