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star. Whereas, if we are deprived but a few minutes of this, we sicken, we faint, we die. The same universal nurse has a considerable share in cherishing the several tribes of plants. It transfuses vegetable vigour into the trunk of an gak, and a blooming gayety into the leaves of a rose.
"The air likewise conveys to our nostrils the extremely subtile effluvia which exhale from odoriferous bodies : particles so small, that they elude the most careful hand. But this receives and transmits the invisible vagrants, without losing even a single atom; entertaining us with the delightful sensations that arise from the fragrance of flowers, and admonishing us to withdraw from an upwholesome situation, to beware of pernicious food.
“The air by its undulating motion conducts to our ear all the diversities of sound. While danger is at a considerable distance, this advertises us of its approach; and with a clamorous, but kind
importunity, urges us to provide for our safety.
“ The air wafts to our sense all the modulations of music, and the more agreeable entertainments of conversation. It distributes every musical variation with the utmost exactness, and delivers the message of the speaker with the most punctual fidelity : whereas without this internuncio, all would be sullen and unmeaning silence. We should neither be charmed by the harmonious, por improved by the articulate accents,
“How gentle are the breezes of the air when unconfined! but when collected, they act with such immense force, as is sufficient to whirl round the hugest wheels, though clogged with the most incumbering loads. They make the pondrous millstones move as swiftly as the dancer's heel; and the massy beams play as nimbly as the musician's fingers.
" In the higher regions there is an endless succession of clouds, fed by evaporations from the ocean. The clouds are themselves a kind of ocean, suspended in the air. They travel in detached parties, over all the terrestrial globe. They fructify by proper communications of moisture, the spacious pastures of the wealthy, and gladden with no less liberal showers the cottager's little spot. Nay, they satisfy the desolate and waste ground, and cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth :' that the natives of the lonely desert, the herds which know no master's stall, may nevertheless experience the
care of an all supporting parent. “How wonderful! That pendent lakes should be diffused, fluid mountains heaped over our heads, and both sustained in the thinnest part of the atmosphere, How surprising is the expedient, which, without vessels of stone or brass, keeps such loads of water in a buoyant state! Job considered this with holy admiration,
Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds ? How such pondrous bodies are made to bang in even poise, and hover like the lightest down? He bindeth up the waters in his thick cloud;"
and the cloud, though nothing is more loose and fluid, because by his order tenacious, as casks of iron, 'is not rent under all the weight.
“When the sluices are opened and the waters descend, one would think they should pour down in torrents. Whereas instead of this, which would be infinitely pernicious, they coalesce into globules and are dispensed in gentle showers. They spread themselves as if strained through the orifices of the finest watering pots, and form those 'small drops of rain' which the clouds distil upon man abundantly.' Thus instead of drowning the earth, and sweeping away its fruits, they cherish universal nature, and (like their great Master) distribute their stores to men, animals, and vegetables, as they are able to bear them.'
“But besides waters, here are cantoned various parties of winds, mild or fierce, gentle or boisterous, furnished with breezy wings, to fan the glowing firmament, or else fitted to act as an universal besom, and by sweeping the chambers of the atmosphere to cleanse the fine ærial Auid. Without this wholesome agency of the winds, the air would stagnate and become putrid : so that all the great cities in the world, instead of being seats of elegance, would degenerate into sinks of corruption.
“At sea, the winds swell the mariner's sails, and speed his course along the watery way. By land, they perform the office of an immense seedsman, scattering abroad the seeds of numberJess plants, which though the support of many animals, are too small for the management, or too mean for the attention of man.
“ Here are lightnings stationed, in the act to spring whenever their piercing flash is necessary, either to destroy the sulphurous vapours, or dislodge any other noxious matter, which might prejudice the delicate temperature of the ether, and obscure its more than chrystalline transparency.
“ Above all is situate a radiant and majestic orb, which enlightens and cheers the inhabitants of the earth : while the air, by a singular address, amplifies its usefulness. Its reflecting power augments that heat, which is the life of nature : its refracting power prolongs that splendour, which is the beauty of the creation.
" I say, augments the heat. For the air is a cover, which, without oppressing us with any perceivable weight, confines, reflects, and thereby increases the vivifying heat of the sun. The air increases this, much in the same manner as our clothes give additional heat to our body : whereas when it is less in quantity, when it is attenuated, the solar heat is very sensibly diminished. Travellers on the lofty mountains of America, sometimes experience this to their cost. Though the clime at the foot of those vast mountains is extremely hot and sultry, yet at the top the cold is so excessive, as often to freeze both horse and the rider to death. We have therefore great reason to praise God, for placing
us in the commodious concavity, the cherishing wings of an 'atmosphere.
"The emanations of light, though formed of inactive matter, yet (astonishing power of divine wisdom !) are refined almost to the subtility of spirit, and are scarce inferior even to thought in speed. By which means they spread with all most instantaneous swiftness, through a whole hemisphere : and though they fill whatever they pervade, yet they straiten no place, embarrass no one, encumber nothing.
Every where indeed, and in every element, we may discern the footsteps of the Creator's wisdom. The spacious canopy over our heads is painted with blue; and the ample carpet under our feet is tinged with green. These colours, by their soft and cheering qualities, yield a perpetual refreshment to the eye. Whereas had the face of nature glittered with white, or glowed with scarlet, such dazzling hues, instead of cheering, would have fatigued the sight. Besides, as the several brighter colours are interspersed, and form the pictures in this magnificent piece, the green and the blue make an admirable ground, which shows them all to the utmost advantage.
“Had the air been much grosser, it would have dimmed the rays of the sun and darkened the day. Our lungs would have been clogged in their vital function, and men drowned or suffocated therein. Were it much more subtile, birds would not be able to wing their way through the firmament: neither could the clouds be sustained in so thin an atmosphere. It would elude likewise the organs of respiration : we should gasp for breath with as much difficulty, and as little success as fishes do, when out of their native element.
“ The ground also is wrought into the most proper temperature. Was it of a firmer consistence it would be impenetrable to the plough and unmanageable by the spade. Was it of a more loose composition, it would be incapable of supporting its own furniture. The light mould would be swept away by the whirling winds, or soaked into sloughs by the descending rains. Again, because every place, suits not every plant, but that which nourishes one, destroys another: the qualities of the earth are so abundantly diversified as to accommodate every species. We have a variety of intermediate soils, from the loose sand to the stiff clay: from the rough projection of the craggy rock, to the soft bed of the smooth parterre.
“The sea carries equal evidence of a most wise and gracious ordination. Was it larger, we should have wanted land for pasturage and husbandry. We should not have had room for mines and forests, our subterranean warehouses and ærial timber yards. Was it smaller, it could not recruit the sky with a proper quantity of exhalations: nor supply the earth with the necessary quota of fructifying showers.
May we not discover as exquisite strokes of wisdom in each individual object? All that shines in the heavens, and all that smiles on the earth, speak their infinitely wise Creator. Need we launch into the praise of the vallies clothed with grass, or of the fields replenished with corn? Even the ragged rocks, which frown over the flood, the caverned quarries which yawn amidst the land, together with the shapeless and enormous mountains, which seem to load the ground, and encumber the skies; even these contribute to increase the general pleasure, and augment the general usefulness. They add new charms to the wide level of our plains, and shelter,
like screen, the warm lap of our vales. " Who is not charmed with the delicious fruits of summer and autumn? But were all our trees and shrubs to produce such fruits, what would become of the birds? How small a part would voracious man resign to their enjoyment? To provide therefore for each vagrant of the air, as well as for the sovereign of a nation, there is in all places a large growth of shrubs, annually covered with coarse and hardy berries: so coarse in their taste, that they i are unworthy of the acceptance of man: so hardy in their make, that they endure the utmost severity of the weather and furnish the feathered tribes with a standing repast amidst all the desolalions of winter.
“The fir, the beech, the elm, are stately decorations of our rural seats. But if there were no entangling thickets, no prickly thorns, where would the farmer procure fences? How could he secure his vegetable wealth, from the flocks and the herds? Those roving plunderers, which submit to no laws, but those of the coercive kind.
“We spare no toil, to have useful herbs and plants in our gardens, and upon our tables. But there are innumerable herbs, which pass under the contemptible character of weeds, and yet are full as desirable to other classes of creatures, as these are to mankind. Yet who will be at the pains to plant, to water, to cultivate, such despicable productions? Man would rather extirpate than propagate, these incumbrances of his land. Therefore Providence vouchsafes to be their gardener, and has wrought off their seeds with such a lightness, that they are transported to and fro, by the mere undulations of the air. Or, if too heavy, to be wafted by the breeze, they are fastened to wings of down : or else enclosed in a spring case, which forcibly bursting, shoots them out on every side. By some such means, the reproducing principle of every one is disseminated, the universal granary filled, and the universal board furnished. The buzzing insect and the creeping worm, have each his bill of fare. Each enjoys a neverfailing treat, equivalent to our greatest delicacies.
“ if grass were scarce as the Guernsey lily, and as difficultly raised as the tuberose, how certainly and how speedily, must many millions of animals perish by famine? But as all the cattle owe their chief subsistence to this, by a singular wisdom in the divine economy, it waiteth not, like the corn field, and the garden bed, for the annual labours of man. When once sown, though ever so frequently cropped, it revives with the returning season. With a kind of perennial verdure, it covers our meadows, diffuses itself over the plains, springs up in every glade of the forest, and spreads a sideboard in the most sequestered nook.
“Such is the care of a wise and condescending Providence, even over these lowest formations of nature !"
ANECDOTES OF THE REV. J. FLETCHER.
In addition to the anecdotes of Mr. Fletcher inserted in the number for July, page 250, we select the following from the same work :Specimens of MR. FLETCHER's Preaching, &c. communicated by
the Rev. MELVILLE HORNE. “On my occasional visits I was struck with several things. Preaching on Noah as a type of Christ, he was in the midst of a most animated description of the terrible day of the Lord, when he suddenly paused. Every feature of his expressive countenance was marked with painful feeling; and, striking his forehead with the palm of his hand, he exclaimed, Wretched man that I am ! Beloved brethren, it often cuts me to the soul, as it does at this moment, to reflect, that while I have been endeavouring, by the force of truth, by the beauty of holiness, and even by the terrors of the Lord, to bring you to walk in the peaceable paths of righteness, I am, with respect to many of you who reject the Gospel, only tying mill-stones round your neck, to sink you deeper in perdition!' The whole church was electrified, and it was some time before he could resume his subject.
“On another occasion, after the morning service, he asked if any of the congregation could give him the address of a sick man whom he was desired to visit. He was answered, 'He is dead, Sir.' •Dead! dead! he exclaimed; "Another soul launched into eternity! What can I do for him now! Why, my friends, will you so frequently serve me in this manner? I am not informed you are ill, till I find you dying, or hear that you are dead!' Then sitting down, he covered his head with his gown ; and when the congregation had retired, he walked home buried in sorrow, as though he had lost a friend or a brother.” (pp. 145, 146.)