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LESSON XCVI.

Moral Reflections on seeing a Field of Corn.

This field was lately exposed to great danger: impetuous winds whistled round it, and the storms often threatened to beat down and destroy the wheat. However, Providence has preserved it hitherto. It is thus that the storms of affliction often threaten to overwhelm us. But this very tempest is necessary; it purifies and roots out the tares of vice. In the midst of trouble and sorrow, our knowledge, faith, and humility, increase and strengthen. It is true, that, like the weak ear of corn, we sometimes bend and are bowed down to the ground; but the merciful hand of our Father supports and raises us up again. Towards harvest-time, the corn ripens fast. The dew, the heat of the sun, and the rain, all combine to hasten it. Oh! that we may, from day to day, grow ripe for heaven. May all the events of our lives lead to that salutary end. Whatever be our situation here, whether the sun shines upon us, or is wrapt up in clouds: whether our days be gloomy or serene: no matter, provided all concur to increase. our piety, and dispose us better for eternity. It is very remarkable, that the ears of corn loaded with grain differ considerably in height from those that are poor and thin. The latter are upright, rise high, and overlook the whole field; whereas the others bend under their own weight. Behold the emblem of two sorts of men! The vain and presumptuous, who do but little, set themselves above others, and look with contempt on the truly humble. A foolish presumption blinds them, and makes them despise the means of salvation. Those, on the contrary, who are rich in virtue and good works, humbly bend down like the well-filled ears of corn.

How many tares and weeds are mixed with the corn! Such is the situation of a Christian in this world. There is always a mixture in him of good and bad qualities; and his corrupted nature, like the tares, often interrupts the progress of virtue. A field of corn is not only the image of one individual, but. also of the church in general. The profane and. the wicked often, by their bad example, sow tares in: a field where there ought to be none but good seed. The great Lord of the field permits the tares to remain some time. He tries patience and forbearance; and it will not be till the time of harvest, in the great day of retribution, that he will give free course to his justice.

Behold with what eagerness the country people run to gather the fruits of the earth! The scythe cuts all before them. Thus death sweeps all away, the high and the low, the saint and the sinner. Then let us hope we shall meet in the blessed society of angels! that we shall gratefully recollect our past labour and pain, the dangers and storms we have experienced, and that we may be able to raise our voices, with one accord, to bless the beneficent Father who watched over us. May this sweet hope support us in the time of trouble. Let it comfort us in our sorrow, and make us wait with patience for the day of harvest.

LESSON XCVII.

- The Beauty and Variety of the Butterflies: Let us reflect on these little creatures before they are gone. Perhaps our observations will interest both the heart and the mind. Of some the dress is plain and simple; others have a few ornaments on their wings; but some have a profusion and are all over covered with them. How beautifully the shades variegate! With what delicacy has nature penciled them! But, however great our admiration in seeing this insect with the naked eye, how much it increases when examined through a microscope! Would any one ever have imagined, that the wings of butterflies were covered with feathers? And yet nothing is more certain. What is commonly called dust, is found in reality to be feathers. There is as much symmetry in their construction and form, as there is beauty in their colours. The parts which make the centre of these little feathers, and are next to the wing, are the strongest. Those, on the contrary, which form the exterior circumference, are much more delicate, and wonderfully fine. All these feathers have quills at bottom; but the upper part of them is more transparent than the quills. If the wing is touched roughly, the most delicate part of the feathers is destroyed by it; but if all that we call dust should be rubbed off, there would only remain a fine transparent skin, in which we might distinguish the little cells or hollows, wherein was stuck the quill of each feather. This skin, from the manner in which it is composed, may be distinguished from the rest of the wing, nearly as we distinguish a fine lace from the linen on which it is sewed: it is more porous, more delicate, and edged with a fringe, regular, and exquisitely fine. What are our most elegant dresses, in comparison with that which nature has given to this insect? How very delicate does a fine cambric appear to us! How fine the threads, how regular the weaving; and yet, through the microscope, they appear like packthread; and we should rather suppose they were interwoven by a basket-maker, than produced from the loom of a good weaver : yet this beautiful insect proceeds from a mean-looking worm. How much it has changed, since, in the form of a reptile, it crawled in the dust, and was frequently in danger of being crushed ! In this extraordinary insect, we may see the emblem of the transformation which awaits us. A day will come, when, quitting our present form, we shall cease to crawl upon the earth. Being made perfect, and having nothing to set bounds to our flight, we may then soar beyond the stars themselves.

LESSON XCVIII.

The Formica Leo, or Lion Ant.

No insect is more famous for its dexterity than the formica leo, although its appearance promises nothing extraordinary. It is something like the wood-louse. It has six feet, and its body (which is composed of several membraneous rings) terminates in a point. Its flat, square head is armed with two moving, hooped horns, the singular construction of which shows how admirable nature is, even in its smallest works. This insect is the most cunning and dangerous enemy the ant has. The plans he forms to catch his prey are most ingenious. He undermines à piece of ground, in the shape of a funnel, in order to stay at the bottom of it, and draw down any ants which may chance to come to the brink of this precipice. The method of digging it, is first to trace a circular ridge in the sand, exactly the size of the funnel, the diameter of which is always equal to the depth he chooses to make it. When he has fixed on the size of this opening, and traced the first ridge, he immediately digs a second, concentric to the other, in order to throw out all the sand enclosed in the first circle. He performs all this with his head, which is like a shovel: the flat and square shape makes it fit for the purpose. He also

takes up sand with one of his fore-feet, and throws it over the first ridge; and this he repeats till he bas got to a certain depth in the sand. Sometimes in digging he meets grains of sand rather large, or little particles of dry earth, which he cannot bear in his funnel, and gets rid of it by a quick well-measured motion of his head. If he finds still larger pieces, he endeavours to put them away with his back; and he is so earnest in this labour, that he repeats it six or seven times. His traps once laid, he is on his watch. Quite still and concealed at the bottom of the hole which he has dug, he there waits for the prey which he could not pursue. If an ant come to the brink of the precipice, it seldom fails of falling to the bottom, because the edge goes sloping, and the loose sand which gives way under his feet, draws down the insect into the power of his enemy, who drags him, by the help of his horns, under the sand, and feasts upon him. When there remains nothing but the dry carcass, he throws it out of the hole; and if the bank is hurt at the top, he puts it in order again, and lies in ambush as before. He does not always succeed in catching his prey the moment it falls, for it often escapes, and endeavours to run up again to the top; but the formica leo works with his head, and throws up a shower of sand higher than the ant, which drives it down again into the hole. All the actions of this little animal contain such wonderful art, that we can scarcely tire of examining him. He prepares the hole even before he sees the insect destined to become his food, and yet his actions are so regulated, that they prove the surest means of providing for his subsistence. According to the make of his body, he is obliged to work backwards, and to make use of his horns as tongs, to throw up the sand to the edge of the funnel.

The instinct which directs this insect, discovers to us a First Cause, whose foresight knew and ordained all that was necessary for the preservation and welfare of this animal. The dexterity it shows

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