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fade ; the pride of youth, beauty smiling with every grace and symmetry of form, flutter awhile amid the sun-beams, and are seen no more; but the charms of virtue last for
The man who fears God 'resembles a tree which, planted on the banks of a rivulet, as it grows to maturity expands, and stretches forth its branches far round with unfading verdure, and produces its fruits in season ; it of. fers an ever-refreshing shade, and the weary traveller biesses it.'
How amiable is the truly pious man! His ornaments are within, and his virtue shines forth with beauty unborrowed of the external and adventitious smiles of fortune. The storms of adversity may shake, but can never overpower him; though for a moment cast down, his bold front soon towers above the tempest. If misfortune darkens his horizon, and poverty frowns, he is still blessed with riches that wealth cannot purchase the love of God, a good conscience, and the bright hope of a glorious immortality.
This reflection leads me to the idea of a benevolent old man, who in the winter of his life resembles those plants which at that season still preserve their verdure. How many storms of fortune has he not braved with constancy! How many dear attracting objects have withered in his sight! He yet exists, whilst many of his contemporaries are mingled with the silent dust. A mild cheerfulness still plays on his cheeks. Though his forehead be wrinkled, and the strong hand of time mark his venerable countenance, and render feeble his frame, his virtues recompense his lost vigour, he lives again in his offspring, and his wisdom, his integrity, and his experience, are held up as a noble example to his children's children.
Singular State of Man during the time of sleep.
We need not have recourse to extraordinary events to be convinced of the inconceivable power and wisdom of God;
we have only to look around us. He shines conspicuously in the least of his works. Of the many remarkable things of which he is the author, I wish to call your attention to one, which, because it daily occurs, is not the less deserva ing of your observation. Often as you have been refreshed by sleep, perhaps you have never reflected upon this singular state, nor regarded it as one of the most extraordinary effects of Divine goodness. When sleep overpowers us with a pleasing forgetfulness, we do not think it wonderful; we believe our body is formed for such a state, and that the inclination, prompting us to indulge in sleep, proceeds from natural causes. But perhaps we may with propriety consider sleep under two points of view. On the one hand, there is nothing to be observed which may not result from the peculiar nature of our organization; on the other, there is something so striking and wonderful in this natural effect, that any labour bestowed upon the consideration of it will be amply compensated.
Sleep comes upon us imperceptibly; if we endeavour to ascertain the exact moment, the attention we give will be an obstacle to its approach; nor shall we be able to sleep till all such ideas are dissipated. Sleep comes unsoli. cited; the more efforts we make to obtain it, the less likely are we to succeed. God has so appointed sleep that it becomes an agreeable necessity; and he has rendered it independent of our reason and of our will. Let us pursue this consideration, and muse upon the wonderful state we are in during sleep. We live without being conscious of our existence. The functions all act with their wonted regularity. The activity of the soul, for a space, seems to be suspended; the senses are benumbed, the muscles inactive, and all voluntary motion ceased. In short, the state of sleep is truly wonderful, and very much resembles that of death : who can think of sleep without being at the same time reminded of death; which, sooner or later, will imperceptibly steal upon us, or seize us without warning, unwished for and unexpected ?
The senses, whose functions are suspended during sleep, are equally incapable of action at the near approach of death. The ideas also are clouded; we notice not sur. rounding objects, and a dark oblivion veils our faculties. Let devotion often present this meditation to our minds. Whenever we seek for repose upon the downy pillow, let us reflect upon the blessings of sleep, and look up with gratitude to Him, who, during our seclusion from toil and la. bour, watches over our slumbers, and preserves from dan. gers our helpless condition. For, if a protecting hand did not shield us, to how many perils might we not be subjected during the night-season!
Of the Advantages of our Climate.
HAVE we a proper sense of the great happiness which we enjoy in so many respects? The blessings of our Heavenly Father are every where poured out upon us. The view of ample forests, of the rising hills, and the extended meadows; the pure and temperate breezes we inhale, the seasons, with their accompanying variations, and different attractions, all denote the unspeakable beneficence of God, and his wish for the happiness of man. How then can we ever complain of the hardness of our condition, accuse the Almighty of a partial distribution of his favours, or murmur because the summer declines, and the rays of the sun do not for ever beam upon our soil, nor an equal degree of warmth cheer the inhabitants of our zone? What ingratitude, and what ig. norance ! We know not what we desire, nor of what we complain. Seeing that God has peculiarly favoured our climate, is it through pride or inadvertency that we acknow. ledge not his goodness? We often repine at the rigours of winter, and envy those who know no vicissitude of season ; but let us remember, that what we most dread, the keen air of winter, perhaps, renders our climate the most salubrious of any on the globe. Observe the languid, exhausted frame of the inhabitants beneath a cloudless sun, the diseases that prey upon them, and the indolence which they are of necessity obliged to endure. When even the cold in our climate is felt most severely, we may comfort ourselves that this, compared with the cold of more northerly countries, is no more than the temperature of autumn. How different is our lot from that of the shivering natives near the north pole! Here, even in winter, the friendly rays of the sun enliven the days, and incite universal gaiety. There, the day, dreary as the night, receives no light from the sun. Here, in perfect security, whether reposing in our beds, or indulging over the blazing hearth, we defy the rigours of the season ; the charms of society soften its asperities, and the constant succession of day and night cheers and revivés ; but in those frozen regions, the miserable huts form a poor shelter from the pitiless pelting of the storm, and the wild savages of the woods and the deserts keep the starved inhabitants in a state of constant alarm and danger, by the loudness of their roar, and the frequency of their wild horrific cry; and with them a perpetual winter reigns. Whilst we, after a few stormy months, are visited by a season whose charms console us for all that we have suffered, and amid the joy and harmony inspired by a vernal sun, we forget the name of winter. Let us then bless the beneficent hand which has assigned us so happy an inheritance; let us glorify God, who has regulated our present allotment with so much wisdom and goodness : and let us joyfully render thanks unto Him who has fixed our abode in a climate, where, in each succeeding season, his bounty is displayed with magnificence, and diffused with abundance, throughout the creation.
Snow conduces to the Earth's Fertility.
REGARDING appearances only, we might be induced to say, that snow, so far from being useful to the earth, was by its cold and moisture of detriment to trees and plants. But the experience of centuries teaches us, that to preserve grain, plants, and vegetables, from the effects of cold, nature can give no better protection than by shielding them with snow, which, though seemingly cold, yet shelters the earth's surface from freezing winds, and preserves a due degree of heat for the preservation of seeds.
Thus God provides what is necessary for the support and nutriment of the works of his creation. Nature is al. ways active, even when she appears in a state of perfect quiescence, and renders us real services at the time she appears most to deny them. Observe the providence of God exerted for our good in the roughest season, and preparing, without any assistance on our part, all the treasures of nature.
With such proofs of Divine protection, who can doubt or mistrust? The wonders that God performs in nature every winter, he also daily effects for the preservation of mankind. What at first often appears useless or preju. dicial, ultimately contributes to our felicity; and often when we imagine that God has ceased to interest himself in our welfare, he is, perhaps, completing a part of his glori. ous scheme, impenetrable to our view, but which unfolding, may be the means of delivering us from some impending calamity, or procure us some benefit beyond the fight of hope to aspire after. Snow, however, is not merely destined as a covering to the earth, it tends also to assist its fertility, by penetrating beneath the surface, and supplying a proper degree of moisture.
*As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither again, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it.'- Isaiah lv. 10, 11.
We live in an age in which this prediction, through the mouth of the prophet, is accomplished in a remarkable man.
Whole provinces and kingdoms, wbich formerly, shrouded in the gloom of ignorance, of superstition, and of credulity, were oppressed by slavery, and deluded by the dreams of idolatry, in this glorious day of gospel dispensation, cheered by the blessed light from heaven, have emerged from darkness and obscurity, have aroused their slumbering faculties, and have embraced the great truths of Christianity. Over how many obdurate hearts has it tri. umphed! How many good works, how many blessed fruits