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Upon Life and Death. God has observed the most exact and wonderful order in the life and death of man; both are measured and regulated in the best manner; and nothing is more evident than the wisdom of God in the population of the world. In a given number of years, a proportionable number of people of every age dies. Out of thirty-five or thirty-six living persons, one dies each year: but the proportion of births is rather greater; for ten who die, in the same period of time, and among the same number of persons, twelve are born. In the first year, one infant out of three generally dies; in the fifth year, one out of twenty-five; and so on, the number of deaths lessening till the age of twenty-five, when they again begin to increase. How evident is the care which Divine Providence extends over his creatures! From the very moment of their entering the world be protects and watches over them; the poor as well as the rich enjoy his protection. Let us then not anticipate the hour of death with fear, nor render unpleasant our time with apprehension; but firmly rely upon the all-sufficient arm of God, who will support us through life with tender care, and when it seemeth meet, enable us to resign our bodies to their native dust with firmness, in the confidence of our soul, divested of its cupibrous load, winging its flight with joy to the regions of eternal glory. Let not the supposition of a long life, arising from a present good state of health, make you forgetful of the duties you owe to God and to one another, under the idea that there will be time enough allowed you to prepare for the awful change. Life is extremely uncertain : though from strength of constitution some individuals may not be so liable to illness, they may be hurried off by accidents ; and no man, however strong, is secure from contagion. But a much more powerful motive than fear should excite us so to act, that our deeds shall always find favour with the Almighty; the pleasure arising from good actions, which is a constant reward and source of pure delight to the virtuous, the sensations of which are unknown to the wicked, who ex
change the only true enjoyment we are capable of for false and freeting pleasures, whose consequences are sorrow, disease, and death.
Formation of Ice. WHEN water is exposed to the influence of cold air, it gra. dually loses its fluidity, and becomes a solid body, which we call ice. This change, which at this season of the year comes so frequently under our notice, is well deserving of attention. Ice is of less specific gravity than water; for if we put a vessel containing water, the surface of which is frozen over, into a temperate heat, the ice soon detaches itself from the sides of the vessel, and floats on the top of the water. One cause of its lightness is the increase of volume; for although the general law of cold is to contract, in this instance, at the time of congelation, such an expansion takes place, that vessels are frequently broken by the power of the dilatation, the violence of which is sufficient to cleave a globe of copper of such thickness as to require a force of 28,000 pounds weight to produce a similar effect.
When the ice first shoots in crystals over the surface of the water it is transparent, but as it increases in thickness becomes opaque, which is owing to the air contained in the ice occasioning a more frequent refraction of the rays of light. Exhalations continually arise from the ice, even during the greatest cold. It is found from experiments that, during the most intense cold, four pounds of ice lose one pound weight by evaporation in the space of eighteen days.
The manner in which ice begins to form is very curious; when it slightly freezes, a number of needle-shaped crystals shoot in all directions from the inner circumference of the vessel, making numerous angles, and uniting together, form upon the surface of the water a very thin pellicle of ice; to these succeed more, which multiply and enlarge in form of plates, and being increased in number and thickness unite to the first pellicle. As the ice thickens, a multitude of air bubbles are seen, and the greater the degree of cold, the more these increase. When it freezes very strongly, a thin crust is formed, which shoots from the circumierence to be centre ; under this others are seen of a triangular shape. with the base parallel to the sides of the vessel, and these soon increase so much that a very thick mass of ice is formed.
By frequently reflecting upon these phenomena, we shall be more and more convinced of the beauty of nature, and of the harmony and regularity that pervade her minutest productions, ail tending to fuifii the views of a just and wise God; and though we have not the satisfactory consolation of knowing the full extent of those views, the little we are permitted to understand of them is enough to excite in us the desire of adoring the ail-wise Creator, and celebrating his power, whilst we magnity huis holy name.
Spherical Figure of the Earth. Ir was once generally supposed that the earth is a vast plain : but were this the case, its external boundaries might be arrived at, and in approaching any place we could not discover the tops of towers and mountains till we had seen their bases. The earth is incontestably proved to be 2 globe, though not exactly spderical, for it is rather more elevated under the line, and flattened towards the poles, something resembling the figure of an orange. But this deviation from a true sphere is very slight; about fifty miles, a difference scarcely perceptible in a globe whose circumference is 25,020 miles, and diameter 7964. The rotundity of the earth is demonstrable from its shadow in eclipses of the moon being always bounded by a circular line, and by its having been frequently circumnavigated; besides, if it was not spherical, how would the stars appear to rise and to set sooner to the countries eastward than to those more to the west.
Here we have fresh cause to admire the wisdom of the Creator, who has organized this earth with the greatest perfection, with a form so well adapted for the benefit of the
inhabitants. Light and heat, which are so necessary to the creation, are by this means distributed with uniformity, and in a more equable degree throughout the earth. It is from this that the due return of day and night is ensured, and that the degrees of heat and of cold, of moisture and of dryness, are rendered so regular and constant. The water is equally distributed over the earth, and the winds every where cause their salutary influence to be felt. Had the earth any other figure, we should be deprived of all these advantages: some countries would be like a paradise, whilst others would be in a state of chaos; one part would be buried by the waters, and another parched by the fervour of the sun, Some countries would be exposed to furious tempests, which would devastate and destroy them; whilst others would be exhausted for want of fresh currents of air. One part of the world would be condemned to endure a perpetual beat, and another would be entirely deprived of the sun's rays. · If we did not here acknowledge the all-powerful hand of a wise and beneficent Creator, we must be guilty of the greatest pride and most consummate ignorance! Should we deserve to be the inhabitants of an earth so admirably arranged and exquisitely fashioned, if, upon seeing its beauties and matchless order, and enjoying a thousand blessings, we denied the existence of an all-creative Power, or were wanting in acknowledgments for his mercy and goodness ? May we never be guilty of such base ingratitude; but, filled with sentiments of awe and sublimity at the sight of God's wonderful works, may we elevate our thoughts to Heaven, and fixing our minds upon the Divine Power, humbly adore his wisdom and goodness.
Short Duration of Snow.
WE see the instability of the snow, and the rapidity with which it disappears when played upon by the sun-beams, or exposed to the effects of a humid mild air, and frequent showers. Frequently the whole aspect of nature, in a few hours, assumes a new appearance, and scarcely a trace of snow is left behind. By these sudden changes we may justly be reminded of the inconstancy and vanity of all human affairs. Every season, and every variation that their succession induces, declare to us with a loud and impressive voice, that all is uncertain, all vain, and of short duration. If we look around us through the vast field of nature, shall we find any thing which is not fragile and perishable? How soon are we bereft of the pleasures of sense ; scarcely do we begin to enjoy them when they elude our eager grasp! Often when the sun first gilds the earth we are light, easy, gay and content, smiling with comfort and plenty; but ere night has drawn her sable curtain, our pleasure is fled, our enjoyment ceased, and grief weighs heavy on our aching heart. Where exists the individual who, at some period or other, has not cruelly felt the uncertainty and short duration of terrestrial joys, and who has not known the pangs of disappointed hope? What is more in. constant than the favours of fortune, or more uncertain than the continuance of life and the blessings of health ? Yet whilst we are in possession of these benefits, such reflections seldom or never occur ; like those who, tempted by the beauty of some winter's morn, sally out unprepared for the storm, which at that season they ought to expect. Whilst fortune smiles, and we live in a round of gaiety and pleasure, we laugh at all fears of their ever failing, and de spise all thoughts of preparing for an evil day. But fleeting as the snow beneath the sun-beams are all the enjoyments and gratifications which do not arise from the influence of religion, the exercise of the mind, and the feelings of the heart; cultivate these, and you will be enabled to enjoy a portion of that felicity which endureth for ever-the sure reward of virtue and a well-spent life,