« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
light into the habitations of thankless man.
“ He cometti forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, or as a strong man to run his race; his going forth is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the end of it.” When he has completed his daily round, he gradually drops out of view, and sinks into the bosom of night and darkness. But which shall we most admire — The glory that attends him in his decline, or that with which he opens the day? Even after he is out of view, the moon and stars which God hath ordained, are ready to supply his place, and diminish the gloom of night. “ Thou makest the outgoings of the evening to rejoice."
Think it not beneath your notice to remark these daily changes; the more you are thus employed, your souls will exa pand in more exalted conceptions of God. These changes are not the effects of chance; they are not the result of any uniform principle indirected by the Supreme; they are the effects of his power , still exercising a providential care over all.
. He hath given forth his law, by which all things more and mutually operate ; and he preserves them in their being and motions. It is the same voice that at first said, “ Let there be light,” that every morning bids the sun rise, and the shadows of night flee away: and can you see the sun shining in his strength, or behold the moon walking in brightness -- can you witness the beauty of the dawn, or of the decline of day and not be led to admire the glory of him, by whoin the Heavens were made, and light brought into being ?
The Psalmist observing the most common changes, adores God in all of them. « Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice :--Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it:-Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water :- Thou preparest them corn, when Thou hast so provided for it:- Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly:- Thou settlest the furrows thereof :-Thou makest it soft with showers :- Thou blessest the springing thereof':- Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, and thy paths drop fatness !” How worthy of the Christian's employment, to observe the same things, and lift up his soul to God, who giveth rain and fruitful seasons, who empties or restrains the bottles of Heaven at his pleasure! Unless God visit the earth, and water it, inaking it soft with showers, the most fertile soil would remain barren; it would soon be beyond the power of man to cultivate. By the frosty incrustations of winter, and the parching heat of suiumer, it would become as iron under our feet; but that Wisdoin which overruleth all things, so orders heat and cold, light and darkness, moisture and drought, that, in the proper season, the earth can be opened with the ploughshare, and the grain committed into the furrow with safety. These, ye thankless sons of men, and careless observers of the works of God, these are the fruits of that indulgent bounty OBSERVATIONS ON THE STUDY OF NATURE. 195 and patience, which, notwithstanding your evil hearts, still wait to do you good. The clouds move not at random, nor are tossed to and fro in our atmosphere without design ; the hand of God disposes them for the refreshment of the earthi
, and watering it when it is weary; and if they distil not the rain in plenty, they restore through the night, the exhalations of the day, and sprinkle the surface of the earth with drops of dew. The softening influence of the rain in mouldering down the clods of the valley, and filling up every opening in the soil, that a noxious vapour may not hurt the tender seed in the moinent of vegetation, was not unworthy of David's notice :-" Thou makest it soft with showers, thou blessest the springing thereof.” Boast not, O men, that you have filled the bosom of your farm with plenty to enrich it ; boast not that you have opened it to the purifying air of winter; boast not that you have been liberal in throwing the grain into the furrow, and purged the field of every noxious weed : after all the toil and expence you have bestowed, you cannot moisten a single ridge, nor vegetate a single grain; you cannot bid a single cloud drop, nor a single day be warm : after all you have done, God may send excessive beat, or excessive cold, and all your labour is lost; he may withhold rain, and your prospects are blasted; or he may send rain in such abundance, that the earth may disgorge from every furrow both your grain and your manure, sweep it into the rivulets that run by, to be carried along by the next streain into the bosom of the ocean. God alone blesses the springing of the year ; he makes day and night, seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, to observe their appointed seasons.
What care does God not take of thankless man! He inakes every season, every day, every hour, minister to our wants, and confer delights. In spring, we soon see every soil put forth its natural fruit, and every mountain its shrub and its tree. All things freshen and revive after the storms of winter are past. The nourishing heat and fertilizing showers basten all things to maturity ; summer clothes all in blossom, and autumn loads all with fruit; even the heath in the desart, that knows not when good comes, puts forth its flowers, and shakes its little grains of seed. By whom is the earth adorned in summer, and enriched in autumn? By him who clothes the lily, and feeds the raven of the field; by him who visits the earılı, and waters it with the river of God. - Thou, O Lord, blessesi the springing of the year, and crownest the year with thy goodness.”
When you survey the fields around you in spring, in summer, or in autumn, say not that the sources of your delight are few, or that scanty are the means of your supply. This earth is like a large storehouse, over which there are many stewards, under one gracious and generous Lord, who allows this magazine of his mercies to be ever open, and ever full of every thing useful for the supply of man. “ He crowns the year with his goodness, and all his paths drop fatness.” Say, O Christian, whatever may have been your fears, have you ever seen, or ever heard, that for one year the distributions of his goodness were restrained ? No; his mercies are over all his works, and the earth is full of his goodness. Ascend the highest eminence within your view, direct your prospects eastward and westward, southward and northward, and say if you can discern any spot of earth that is not loaded with fruit, or ornamented with a flower, that is not bearing something useful for man or for beast. Nay, the untutored cottager, in his obscure hamlet, is surrounded with the beauties of nature, which for their being common do not attract his notice; but the little flower that grows wild by the door of his dwelling, presents a richer colour and a finer texture than all the art of man can produce. Every wise Cliristian, in observing the face of nature, will see the finger of God, and must in devotion, lift up
eyes to Heaven and say, O Lord, “ all things are full of thee ! Thou crownest the year with thy goodness!"
Let us suppose, for a moment, one of God's people alone contemplating the face of nature. When he looks around him, and beholds the earth full of the goodness of the Lord,-evening and morning rejoicing, and the season hastening tbe fruits of the earth to maturity, how devout are his reflections, and in how filial a manner does he express them !--For me (says he) these clouds drop, and that sun shines; for me the stores of his goodness are always open; for me, as well as for others, these grapes hang in clusters from the vine, and the corns wave sixty fold upon the stalk; for me the vallies are covered with corn, and the pastures with flocks: all are my Father's who is in Heaven; and he allows me my portion as he sees meet. Blessed, blessed be God, who ministers such abundance and delight! But I shall soon pass from this changing world, and enter the Paradise above, where there is no need of the
sun, neither of the moon, to give the inhabitants light; for the Lord shall be their everlasting light, and their God their glory. There also summer and autumn are eternally blended; the tree of life ever bearing fruit; and, to enrich the beauty of the place, there flows the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, irom the throne of God, for ever and ever!”
The subject also serves another valuable purpose. Think then, O saint, how swift are the wheels of time, and how soon the sun makes the circuit of the skies. While
stand and contemplate bis glory, he is hastening forward, to measure out your short span of being. The revolutions of day and night are never interrupted : as they alternately return, they remind
your own passing existence below, and that soon that day will dawn, or the shadows of that night collect, which will issue in your departure from the changes of time. The changes of the seasons teach you the same lesson ; but upon a larger
OBSERVATIONS ON THE STUDY OF NATURE. 197 scale. When the sun is ready to pass out of view, For what purpose has the day been spent ? is an enquiry no less important than the issue of the succeeding night is uncertain. Who can tell whether you shall ever again behold the light of day! The outgoings of the evening which you now admire, may be the last earthly scene your eyes shall behold! Before day returns, you may pass into eternity; and how blessed the change, if you pass into light, as the light of seven days, and have mortality swallowed up of life! How blessed your change, from this mutable state of things, to a new Heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness! There you will have objects more glorious to contemplate; a Paradise rich and fertile to admire. “ You shall hunger no more, neither shall you thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on you, nor any
but the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed you, and shall lead you to living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes!"
THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE BEAVER,
[Concluded from our last Magazine.] The next day after the before-recited circumstances, to gratify a cruel curiosity, Mr. Du Pratz relates, he shot one of these admirable creatures, and, by the report of his firearms, drove the others to seek shelter in the woods; which gave him and his party full opportunity to examine the structure of their habitation, and their stores ; of which he gives the following account:
Under one of the houses he found fifteen pieces of wood, with the bark in part gnawed off, apparently intended for food : and round the middle of this house, which formed a passage for them to go in and out at, he found no less than fifteen ditferent cells. These habitations were made by posts placed slanting upwards, to a point; and in the middle was the floor, resting firmly on notches in the posts.
Here we see the Beaver, like the Ant, is taught economy as well as industry; and to provide, while the season permits, against the severe frost which fastens them within their habitations, and prevents their seeking more. Surely, this should remind us of that important maxim of our divine Master, to "Work while it is day,” hecause “ the night cometh, when no man can work !”
The harmony in which these creatures live, with one common stock of provisions, is another useful lesson for us, both as men and as Christians.““ Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
It is remarkable, however, that there are some Beavers who
live in solitary holes by themselves, and are called Hermits: whether these have been crossed in their affections, or are in a state of widowhood, or whether they have for some crime been banished from their colony, is unknown; but as they are all distinguished by a black mark, called a saddle, upon their backs, it should rather seem, they are somewhat different in their species.
They bring forth their young towards the end of June, and generally have two at a time, which are, nine times out of ten, a male and a female. These continue with their parents till they are full thvee years old; when they pair off, and form houses for themselves. If, however, they are undisturbed, and have plenty of provisions, they remain with the old ones, and thus form a double society.
We cannot wonder that such sociable animals as the Beavers are, should also exhibit great attachment to each other. Two young ones that were taken alive, and brought to a neighbouring factory in Hudson's Bay, were preserved for some time, and throve very fast, till one of them was killed by an accident. The survivor instantly felt the loss, and abstained from food till it died.
Instances have occurred of Beavers having been perfectly domesticated. Major Roderfort, of New York, related to Professor Kalı, that he had a tame Beaver above balf a year in his house, where he went about, quite loose, like a dog. The Major gave hiin bread, and sometiines fish, of which he was very greedy: As much water was put into a bowl as he wanted. All the rags and soft things he could meet with, he dragged into the corner where he was accustomed to sleep, and made a bed of them. The cat in the house, having kiutens, took possession of his bed; and he did not attempt to prevent her. When the cat went out, the Beaver often took the kitten that was preserved, between his fore-paws, and held it to his breast to warm it, and seemed to doat upon it. As soon as the cat returned, he always gave her the kiiten again. Sometimes he grumbled; but never did any harm, nor attempted to bite.
Sunilar instances of attachment, apparently unnatural, have been often observed among the brute creation; but the principal circumstance which seems to render this account doubtful is, Captain Cartwright asserts, the Beaver will not eat either fish or any animal food. The contrary has been asserted, however, by Buffon; and perhaps both assertions may be founded in fact, as it relates to different species, or in different circumstances. It is even possible, that a domesticated animal may be taught to love food, for which, in its wild state; it had no relish.
Such instances of extraordinary friendship and affection among different species of the brute creation, should at least teach us humanity and gentleness to them. “ A merciful man is tuerciful to his beast.” And cruelty is so far from being com