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vailing so far as to subdue and destroy the other; which would produce universal ruin and destruction. The gravitating and projectile forces, the causes of heat and cold, of moisture and drought, of storms and calms, are balanced against each other; by this perpetual, equal strife the world subsists; and, from this incessant war, are derived the peace and order of the creation, and the security of life. In like manner there are in human nature various coun terpoises between the bodily appetites and the mental principles, between self-love and social kindness, between fear and hope, affection and resentment, the desire of ease and of advancement, of saving and of expending; and, from this perpetual discord, spring the harmony and the variety of human life.
The whole process of Nature is an endless series of causes and effects ; because all the parts of the world have a local relation to, and dependence on preceding causes, as well as a relation to succeeding effects. Though all things proceed from omnipotence originally, yet every thing that comes to pass in the creation is more immediately derived from subordinate causes. The world is of an exquisite mechanism; the springs and powers contained in it are mostly concealed from all human search, and are too complicated to admit of our explication. It is sufficient if we understand so much of it, as to be fully convinced that no chance, but divine art and a wisdom surpassing our comprehension, at first erected this stupendous frame, gave motion to its various parts, and appointed the unsearchable series of events dependent on and succeeding one another. And so much knowledge is not difficult to be acquired; for though we cannot trace the process of Nature beyond narrow limits; yet we plainly see many and great effects following from causes equally apparent to human sense and knowledge.
For instance:-To how great a variety of effects does the heat of the sun sensibly contribute? Not only to the life of numberless animals, but to the growth of every plant; the ripening of all kinds of whole world framed and disposed, and all the elemental parts of it contending and co-operating in a perpetual motion, to please and benefit the human race! Such inquiries and observations are not to be considered as mere speculative amusements : they not only afford the greatest admiration and pleasure to an ingenuous mind, but are the very foundation of all religion. For, until men are convinced of the intentions of divine wisdom and goodness in making the world and mankind, they cannot possibly have those sentiments of gratitude, esteem, and confidence, in return, which are the essence of religion; nor are they capable of receiving the faith, and entering into the spirit, of the gospel. A general belief of the existence of God, of the exercise of his wisdom, and of the intentions of his goodness, arising from a view and knowledge of the constitution of Nature, is a necessary preparation, and the best qualification, for a particular belief of that constitution of divine wisdom and goodness revealed in the gospel.
It merits our particular observation, that our blessed Saviour, that great teacher sent from God, and who taught religion in a manner no other person ever did or could do, in his discourses and parables not only imitates, as far as human language can imitate, the dignity and simplicity, the uniformity and variety of Nature, but instructs his disciples by frequent and various allusions to the process of Nature in the vegetable world, and in the course of human life; appealing to their common knowledge and experience of the world around them. He collects images,—from the sower going forth to sow; the growth of the corn; the whitening harvest; the intermingled weeds; the separation of grain and chaff; and the repository of the granary. He bids his disciples to behold the fowls of the air, the lilies of the field, the tree putting forth its branches and leaves, the vine bringing forth fruit : he introduces the shepherd dividing his flocks, the king going forth to war, the bridegroom entertaining his friends, the master examining his servants, the thief breaking into a house, the traveller robbed and wounded on the highway, and passengers discovering him; with many other scenes and characters of vegetable and animal life: in a word, whenever he intended to convey some memorable instruction to those about him, he immediately draws a picture of some part of Nature, and requires them to look upon it, and find out the meaning. The more, therefore, we attend to and understand the operations of Nature, the better we shall be qualified to understand and receive the instructions of the gospel. Such is the wisdom and philosophy of our holy religion., But our minds are so corrupted, and our taste so vitiated, by the artificial inventions and sophistry of men, that we neglect to study, and do not enter into the natural sentiments and spirit of our divine teacher's discourses. They deserve more attention than any other portion even of holy scripture itself; but often meet with less than the vainest dictates and emptiest declamations of ignorant or presumptuous men.
Almighty goodness, pow'r divine,
The fields and verdant meads display,
With various charms profusely gay.
Above the faint attempts of art;
It is very beautifully observed by Dr. Smith, that the student in Botany has a rich source of innocent pleasure. He would find himself' neither solitary nor desolate, had he no other companion than a “ moun 12.
tain daisy,” that "modest crimson-tipped flower," so sweetly sung by one of nature's own poets. The humblest weed or moss will ever afford him something to examine or illustrate, and a great deal to admire. Introduce him to the magnificence of a tropical forest, the enamelled meadows of the Alps, or the wonders of New Holland; and his thoughts will not dwell much upon riches or literary honours. Whether we scrutinize the damp recesses of woods in the wintry months, when the numerous tribes of mosses are displaying their minute but highly interesting structure-whether we walk forth in the early spring, when the ruby tips of the hawthorn bush give the first sign of its approaching vegetation, or a little after, when the violet welcomes us with its scent, and the primrose with its beauty--we shall always find something to study and admire in their characters. The yellow blossoms of the morning, that fold up their delicate leaves as the day advances,others that court and sustain the full blaze of noon, and the pale night-scented tribe which expand and diffuse their sweet fragrance toward evening, -all have peculiar charms. The more we study the works of the Creator, the more wisdom, beauty, and harmony become manifest, even to our limited apprehensions; and, while we admire, it is impossible not to adore.
Soft roll your incense, herbs, and fruits, and flowers,
To the contemplative mind, the vegetable kingdom presents a never-failing spring of innocent recreation and pure delight.
Your contemplation, reader, thus pursue ;
On smiling meads unfold their gaudy pride.
charms; even those who have dared to dispute the utility of this study, are compelled to bear witness - to its innocent and amusing influence over the mind of man.
This delightful science furnishes a fund of the most agreeable emotions; it opens to our view order and beauty in objects deemed worthless by careless observers; and renders the most insignificant vegetables objects of pleasing contemplation. In every excursion, in every country, and on every soil, the lover of Botany finds many objects that amply repay his labours, and reward his curiosity. Even when disease, infirmity, or the winter of age, prevents the healthful ramble, the Botanist, over his books, engrayings, and particularly his collections of dried specimens of favourite and curious plants and flowers, can still participate in the pleasures of this enchanting science, while his heart is led to adore the benevolent Creator of all.
The Rose has ever been a fruitful subject for the display of poetical talent; and various are the applications of the accidents of this delightful flower to the varying circumstances of human life. The following is Cowper's application of it.
The Rose had been wash'd, just wash'al in a show'r,
Which Mary to Anna convey'd;
And weigh'd down its beautiful head.
And it seem'd, to a fanciful view,
On the flourishing bush where it grew.
For a nosegay, so dripping and drown'd;
I snapp'd it-it fell to the ground.
Some act by the delicate mind,
Already to sorrow resign'd.
Might have bloom'd with its owner a while ;