« PreviousContinue »
The ball allures with meretricious charms; and there innocence of heart is often exchanged for sorrow and disease. At one time feasts invite, at another diversions and public places; all tending to mislead and corrupt. Having enumerated a sufficient specimen of the amusements of winter, let me conclude with reminding my fellow-creatures of the part they ought to act respecting such diversions. I wish not to discourage and repress that inclination for social intercourse which, particularly at this season of the year is highly delightful; but I wish you not to suffer it to take such firm hold of your mind as to become a passion. Allowing that when you meet together nothing passes that can derogate from virtue and good manners, yet such parties may be hurtful by consuming too much of your time, and occasioning the neglect of your domestic economy. Pleasure is not the business of our lives; the power of obtaining it is granted us by a beneficent God, to serve for a relaxation from the severer duties of business or study. To be too eager in the pursuit of pleasure is at the risk of never obtaining your end, or of acquiring that which may ultimately produce sorrow and remorse. careful then with what society you mix; lavish not your time in those amusements which you cannot enjoy without injuring your virtue, your reputation, or the peace of your family. Let not those heedless pleasures that disturb your neighbours, excite their lamentations, and fill them with sorrow, and by which you may be lost to the duties of society and of religion, ever find access to your heart. Suffer not even the most innocent gratifications to render you insensible to the pure and permanent pleasures of Christianity, or to make you dissatisfied with your more serious occupations.
Oh God! govern with thy gracious influence our hearts ; and grant that amidst earthly enjoyments we may never forget thy most holy name. That in our intercourse with men, the remembrance of thy presence may secure us from temptations, and that from day to day we may become more and more devoted to the exercise of our duties as Christians, parents, and citizens; whilst we shun those fleeting pleasures which so easily allure us from the path of rectitude, and diminish our zeal for good works. What inducement can we have to seek for frivolous amusements,
when we possess within ourselves the sources of the most pure and refined pleasures? The contemplation of the great works of nature at all times is grand, and fills the mind with wonder and reverence for the Creator. In winter, as well as in the other seasons, they shine forth equally manifest. The starry heavens, the fields, far as the eye can reach, covered with snow, inspire the noblest and most sublime ideas, create a constant succession of pleasure, and elevate and dignify the soul.
God's providential Cure of the Animal Creation during
Winter. MILLIONS of rational beings, dispersed among the various nations of the earth, are provided at this season with every thing necessary to supply their wants, or add to their com. forts. But Divine goodness is not extended to man alone, it is diffused over the whole creation; and infinitely more numerous than the children of Adam are the animated beings partaking of it. Admirable as is the preservation of the human species, God gives still greater proofs of his wisdom and power in the care which he manifests for the brute creation. That the innumerable tribes of animals existing on this globe find, during the continuance of summer, food and shelter, is not surprising; all nature teeming with fertility conduces to this great end; but that in this season of the year such numbers of creatures birds, quadrupeds, reptiles, insects, and fishes should continue to exist, must demand the admiration of every reflecting being. Nature has provided most animals with a covering to defend them from the winter's cold, as well as from the summer's heat, Those wild animals which dwell amid the forest and the desert are so admirably organized, that their hair, as sum. mer advances, begins to fall from their skin, and grows again in winter with such luxuriance as to become a thick fur, capable of preserving them from the severity of the
When cold renders a place of security requisite, other species of animals find retreats; some under the bark of trees, others in the crevices of old buildings, and some within the clefts of rocks, and in the caverns of mountains. It is there they either live upon the food which instinct has taught them to provide,or they are nourished and supported by the fat which they had previously secreted, or they pass the tedious length of winter in a state of torpescent insensibility, each according to the habits of its tribe. Birds at the approach of winter retire to sheltered places; and some species possess an instinct, which leads them at the commencement of cold to quit the frozen regions of the north, winging their bold and arduous flight for more genial climes.
The resources of those animals which do not change their abode in winter are various. Birds feed upon the insects which they are taught to peck among the moss and in the clefts of the bark of trees; many animals live upon the provisions they have providently stored in their dens during the summer, others are obliged to burrow beneath the ice and the snow to find support. Many species of insects and of fishes, though confined within marshes stiff by the frost, and in rivers whose surfaces are frozen, yet preserve their
Let us then unite in adoration to the all-powerful and merciful Creator, whose majesty and whose grandeur cover all the creatures of the earth; all of which, from the stately elephant to the most feeble and minute animal under the heavens, owe to him their life, their abode, and their support. Where nature seems barren and destitute of resources, he still finds means to make her productive. Let these considerations strengthen our confidence in God, and banish from our minds all doubts of the continuance of his protection and support during the rigours of winter.
That God who provides a covering for animals, who points out to them secure retreats in the caves of the moun. tains, will also know how to clothe thee, O man! And he who supplies them with food and with warmth, even beneath the ice and the snow, will ever be thy support, and thou wilt find a sure harbour, where thy days may glide in peace and in tranquillity, safe from storms and commotions. Let such reflections as these raise in thy bosom a desire to imitate, as far as thy abilities permit, the generous cares of Divine Providence, by contributing to the preservation and happiness of thy fellow-creatures, and of the whole animal creation,
The Beauties of the Winter. EVERY season has its peculiar pleasures and beauties; and however destitute of charms winter may appear to some people, it has still a portion to interest the feelings. For the benefit of those who, from prejudice and ignorance, murmur and repine against this season, I will here enumeTate some of the particular pleasures which it offers us.
How delightful is the face of nature when the morning light first dawns upon a country embosomed in snow? The thick mist which obscured the earth, and concealed every object from our view, at once vanishes. How beautiful are the tops of the trees, hoary with frost! The hills and the valleys, reflecting the sun-beams, assume various tints : all nature is animated by the genial influence of the bright laminary, which now invites the warbling songsters from the groves to make jocund the day with their harmonious notes. If nature, during the absence of the sun, droops and is overspread with gloom; when the horizon is again illumined with cheering rays she resumes her wonted gaiety, and, robed in white, delights the traveller with her novel and delicate appearance. How beautiful to see the white hills, the forests, and the groves all sparkling! What a delightful combination these objects present! Observe the brilliancy of those hedges! See the lofty trees bending beneath their dazzling burden! The surface of the earth appears one vast plain mantled in white and splendid array.
Little, indeed, are the feelings of those to be envied upon whom these grand phenomena make no impression ; beings who can contemplate with indifference a spectacle which ought to gladden their hearts and fill their souls with the
majesty of Heaven, and the boundless wisdom and immeasurable goodness of an all-powerful God. Such reflections, arising from the contemplation of his works, always produce satisfaction and delight. The heavens may lower, the agitation of the air portend a storm, and nature, losing her sweetest attractions, appear bleak, wild, and desolate ; yet the soul, retiring within itself, derives energy and an exalted pleasure in tracing, by his works, the power, the wisdom, and benignity of the Godhead.
Of the Vegetables which preserve their Verdure
through the Winter. At this season of the year the earth, losing the variety of charms which so lately beautified her surface, seems solitary and destitute ; and may be compared to a tender mother, who has been bereft of her dearest children, and is seen to mourn and lament. But she is not deprived of all her offspring; here and there plants are seen to brave the rigours of winter, and by their verdure relieve the sterility of the scene. Here the hawthorn's tempting berries offer the feathered race a sweet repast; the ever-verdant laurustinus now delights with its clustering flowers; and the never-fading yew-tree forms a dark shade. The creeping ivy still winds round the mouldering battlements, and defies the whistling wind and the storm's loud roar; the laurel blooms with verdure undiminished; and the lowly box looks green above the snow. These, with many other plants, preserve their verdant hue amid every severity of season and rigour of climate. They may present a pleasing emblem to the ever-durable advantages he possesses, whose mind is amply stored, and whose amiable disposition makes all around him smile with joy and pleasure. The splendour of dress, and the profusions of ornaments, which daz. zle and fascinate the weak and the vulgar, are vain and transitory ; colours that vie with the rainbow in brilliancy