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race of men shall look back upon our generation with as much compassion as we now feel for the victims of oppression and monkish superstition, in what we are pleased to call the dark ages.
ISTITIQE TE ashed 33
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of the Tides, The greatest part of the surface of the earth is covered with water, which is called sea, and is very distinct from lakes and rivers. These contain more or less water as the season is dry or humid, whilst the vast body of the ocean ever preserves its bulk unaffected by such contingencies. Twice in the day it ebbs and flows according to certain rules; when at its greatest height on any shore it begins to decrease, which lasts about six hours, and is called the ebb. At the end of six hours it begins again to flow, and continues to in. crease six hours longer, when it gains its greatest elevation; it then again retires, and rises again in the same space of time; so that in twenty-four hours the sea has twice ebbed and twice flowed.
This regular and alternate motion of the sea is called its flux and reflux, or ebbing and flowing, and constitutes the tides. When it rises and flows towards the coast it is called Aux, when it retires from the shore reflux. These tides are chiefly influenced by the moon, and in some degree by the sun, and are greatest during the new and the full moon, and least in the quarters. When both the luminaries are in the equator, and the moon at her least distance from the earth, the tides rise the highest. The greatest tides do not happen till after the autumnal equinox, and return a little before the vernal. Their motion is more remarkable in the ocean than in small seas, and would continue for a great length of time though the sun and the moon were to be annihilated. There is some little variation in the flux and re'flux, which causes the tide of the succeeding day to be rather later than that of the preceding one; and they do not return at the same hour till the expiration of thirty days, the period of a lunation,
Thus we find the tides are affected by the changes of the moon, and influenced by its power of attraction; the sun also contributes to their production, and the combined action of these two luminaries furnish a complete solution of all the phenomena presented to us by the flux and reflux of the sea. The advantages arising from the tides are great ; by their means, the streams of rivers being checked in their course to the sea, the bed of the river becomes deeper, and ships of the largest burden are enabled to sail up their channel with safety; vessels approaching bays wait for this increase of water, and then enter in security : aided too by the tides, they sail up rivers against their natural course, and carry the means of plenty and abundance into the interior of countries. Another great advantage in the tides is, that by their means the waters of the ocean continually roll to and fro, and are thus preserved fresh and free from putridity and stagnation ; for though frequently agitated by the winds, and often perturbed by a storm, the waves would soon recover from such partial interruption, and regain a state of calm, were it not for the continued flux and reflux of the tides. From this ebbing and flowing of the sea we may call to mind the fluctuation of life, which increases to a certain height and then declines. Every thing in this state of probation is fluctuating, and of uncertain tenure; no joy, no pleasure is permanent; the gayest moments of happiness, the hours of mirth and of festivity, suddenly depart; and man, in the despondency of his heart, feels the misery of his existence, and sighs for a state of purity and of happiness, where the troubles, the cares, and the sorrows which here afflict and render comfortless his being, can never intrude to disturb his felicity, or molest his repose. Let us then, by the integrity of our conduct, the propriety of our actions, and the humanity of our hearts, merit the reward of a hope-inspiring certainty of obtaining such a happy abode, to cheer us on our way through this dreary pilgrim age; and when anxious and ready to faint, to gladden our souls with some bright gleams of the heavenly regions, where bliss, and ecstacy, and perfect felicity, for ever dwell.
The sun is not always apparent. The heavens are not continually obscured by clouds of rain and snow. After showering down their contents upon the earth, they sometimes separate, and serenity again diffuses her cheerful smiles throughout the sky. The aspect of the sun, after an obscurity of many days, again ani. mates life, and fills the creation with joy and youth; from his appearing so seldom in winter, and then for only a very short space, we better know how to appreciate his blessings. And, perhaps, this will hold good with regard to many other gifts of Providence: we are too apt to consider the choicest blessings of life with indifference, if constantly in our possession. Health, repose, friendship, and affluence, with many other benefits which we daily enjoy, seldom appear to men as valuable as they really are; and their true worth is often never felt till they are irrevocably lost. Rightly to know and sufficiently to feel the happiness of a bosom friend, per fect health, and an independent income, we should first have been stretched on the bed of sickness, deserted by our dearest friends, and reduced to the miseries of hopeless poverty.
How uncertain and inconstant is the serenity of the sky in the winter season! How little are we able to rely with certainty upon the possession of the beneficent rays of the sun! At present he shines with unclouded majesty ; but soon the clouds will thicken, and, before noon, the spleddour and the beauty, which in the morning shope upon the earth, will be eclipsed. Such is, likewise, the instability of all human transactions; we can never promise to ourselves durable pleasures, nor uninterrupted felicity. This consideration should render us careful and circumspect in the hour of prosperity, and moderate our desire for earthly joys, since every thing is subject to change and inconstancy. Virtue alone is immutable; virtue alone makes us support with unbending firmness, the vicissitudes and the contingencies of life, unmoved by the frowns or the smiles of fortune ; and enables us to sustain the mocks and the scorn of
the world, whilst we pity and compassionate the weak chil. dren of delusion, who shew their gilded wings in the sun. shine of to-day, and to-morrow are heard of no more.
Of Earthquakes. The earth is subject to two kinds of shocks; one of which is caused by the action of subterraneous fires, and the explosion of volcanoes. These commotions are only felt at short distances, and when the volcanoes act, immediately before a complete eruption. As soon as the materials which form the subterranean fires begin to ferment and inflame, the fire makes an effort in every direction; and, if it does not find a natural vent, throws up the earth with violence, and forces a passage. In this kind of earthquake the shock is more confined, seldom extending for many miles
But there is another species of earthquake, very different in its effects, and most likely produced by very different causes. In this no eruption takes place, but the shaking of the earth is frequently felt at an immense distance ; we have instances of their being felt at the same time in France, England, and Germany: they are accompanied with a deep rumbling sound, and their effects are often dreadfully fatal.
Of all the catastrophes and desolations which have ever visited the earth, none, since the flood, have been so terribly awful in their effects, and destructive in their consequences, as earthquakes. When rivers swelled into rapid torrents burst their banks, and with one immense gush pour upon the neighbouring country, sweeping every thing in their way, there is still some resource; we can fly to the tops of our houses, or ascend the summits of the mountains, and in safety behold the vast deluge, which, soon as its first fury has abated, gently retreats to its former boundaries. But when the earthquake violently perturbs the face of nature, when the earth heaves like the waves of the ocean, agitated by a storm, and opens a tremendous chasm, which receives within its abyss a whole city, vain is the thought of flight, and ineffectual the hope of safety. The thunder roars, and
the red lightnings flash, and desolation marks their course; the plague sweeps through a country, and despair and haggard wretchedness track its wide-wasting progress; but in an earthquake, the earth heaves, opens, and whole provinces are seen no more, whilst the perturbation affects half the globe. Who can stand before the Almighty when he exercises his power? Who can oppose the God of Nature when he rises to judge the nations ? The hills tremble, and the mountains rock to their centre. The foundations of the earth are shaken, and the inhabitants greatly fear. His word consumeth like fire, and the rocks melt at his coming. But let not man vainly imagine that these convulsions of nature are merely to destroy him, when a blast of wind might in an instant lay waste the whole creation. Can any one be so weak as to suppose that the whole artillery of heaven must be employed, when a few individuals are ingulphed in the bosom of the earth ? and that to punish the iniquity of a town, or to strike terror into the inhabitants of the earth, nature is to be thus convulsed ? Consider rather, in these dreadful visitations, a much nobler and more exalted view. Consider them as instruments in the hands of God, working for the general good and advantage of mankind. Earthquakes answer certain ends in the system of nature, without which it probably could not attain its prosent degree of perfection ; and in all great states, it is found that individual must give way to general good : so also with regard to the earth and its inhabitants, it is better that a small part suffer than that the whole be destroyed. Let us then acknowledge that all which appears terrible in nature, all the seeming imperfections in the universe, are necessary for the due order and preservation of the whole; that par tial evils are always to be disregarded; and that all tends to shew the glory and perfections of God. We shall then adore and bless his name, though desolation impend and destruction threaten; we shall repose upon him with confidence, and though the final termination of the world may seem to be at hand, and the mountains, hurled from their bases, be plunged into the sea, He will be our protector, our supporter, and sure resting place.