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is much greater, than between the highest oak and a piece of moss.
Lastly, it is particularly in the form of animals and plants, that the general and most striking difference subsists. Most of the latter, have, in that respect, so distinct a character, that it is impossible to confound them with vegetables. However, let us not imagine we have perfectly discovered the limits which divide the animal from the vegetable kingdom, or, that we have found out all that distinguishes them. Nature, to diversify her works, makes use of almost imperceptible shades. In the chain of beings, perfection increases successively, and rises by millions of degrees; so that a more perfect species differs very little from that which immediately preceded it. How narrow are the bounds which separate the plant from the animal ? There are plants which appear sensible, and animals which seem deprived of sensation. Nothing proves this better than the discoveries made in coral.' Formerly, it was supposed that corals were sea plants, but now there are strong reasons for placing them among animals; for, what was then taken for a flower, has proved to be really an animal.
The more observations are made, the more reason is there to be convinced, that it is impossible to fix the exact limits of the three kingdoms, the mineral, the vegetable, and animal, and that amongst most creatures there is more conformity than dissimilarity. It is at least certain, that the limits which divide the most perfect creatures, from those that are a degree less so, become at last imperceptible to understandings so limited as ours.
These observations ought to convince us that the world, with all the creatures it contains, is the work of an infinite Being. So much harmony and such difference, so much variety with so much uniformity, can only proceed from the almighty, omniscient, and perfect being, who created the universe and all that is in it. Let our hearts rise towards him. If we go from
the stone to the plant, from the plant to the brute, from the brute to man, and from man to heavenly spirits; when we consider his works, they appear to be so immensely great and numerous, that we cannot comprehend the whole of them. Therefore, the less capable we are of conceiving how far the wisdom of God extends, the more we ought to reflect on his greatness! and, above all, to imitate his goodness as much as is in our power. We see that no creature is deprived of the merciful care of the Lord. It is extended to the stone and the plant, as well as to men and animals. In his sight there is no distinction: his "mercy is over all his works. Let us, in this also, endeavour to imitate our Maker. We fill, it is true, a distinguished rank among created beings; but, let us take care not to be cruel or tyrannical towards creatures who appear to be inferior to us. Let us rather endeavour to enjoy, with gratitude and moderation, all those designed by God for our use.
The Uniformity and Variety in the Works of
The sky over our heads, and the earth under our feet, remain always the same from age to age; and yet they afford us, now and then, spectacles as varied as they are magnificent. Sometimes the sky is covered with clouds, sometimes serene, at other times blue, or of different colours. The darkness of night, and the light of noon-day, the dazzling light of the sun, and the paler light of the moon, succeed each other regularly. The immeasurable spare of the heavens appears sometimes a desert,
and sometimes strewed with an infinite number of stars. To how many changes and revolutions also is onr earth subject? For some months uniform, and without ornaments, the severity of the winter robbed it of its beauty: the spring renews its youth; summer will show it still more rich and beautiful; and, in some months after, autumn will pour upon us every sort of fruit.-What variety also on our globe between one country and anoiher! Here a flat level country presents us plains beyond the limits of sight; there high mountains rise crowned with forests; at their feet fertile valleys are watered with brooks and rivers. Here gulphs and precipices; there still lakes; and further off impetuous torrents. On every side is seen a variety which pleases the eye, and opens the heart to sensations of pure and sweet delight. This same assemblage of uniformity and variety is found in all the vegetables on our globe. They take from their common mother all the same nature, and the same food; they have all the same manner of springing up and growing; yet, what a prodigious difference between a blade of grass and an oak! All together are ranged under certain classes. Those of the same species are, indeed, very like one another; and yet what differences we see in them! It is the same in respect to animals. The wisdom of the Creator has divided them also into classes; and whatever variety there is in them, they still preserve essential resemblances.-There is even a certain degree of conformity between man and the lowest class of animals. However superior man may be to animals in many respects, has he not in common with them, and even with plants, the same means of food? Is it not the sun, the air, the earth, and water, which provide it for them all alike? The plants grow, ripen, fade, and die; and those laws of nature extend to animals, and even to mankind.
If we next examine the variety of the human species, what an astonishing assemblage of con
formity and diversity! Human nature, in all times, and among all people, is ever the same; and yet we find, that of all this innumerable multitude of men spread over the earth, each individual has a form peculiar to himself; particular talents and countenance, which, to a certain degree, serve to distinguish him from any other. It seems as if the wisdom of the Creator chose to vary, in the highest degree, all his works, as far as 'was compatible with the essential construction peculiar to each species. All the creatures on our globe are divided into three classes, minerals, vegetables, and animals." These classes divide into kinds; the kinds into numberless sorts of individuals. From whence it is, that there is no creature on earth alone, or without resemblance to its own species. There is no species which has not some connexion with others, or a general affinity with the rest of the world. From this assemblage of uniformity and diversity, ' (which is of infinite extent,) is derived the order and beauty of the universe. The difference observable in the various countries of our globe, proves the wisdom of the Most High, who chose that each being should have its certain place, and has so wisely ordered the whole, that it would be impossible to change the connexion or distinction he has made between them; for, even the minutest works of nature, such as only can be seen through a microscope, discover such union and variety together, as must necessarily raise our souls to the contemplation of the infinite wisdom of the Creator.
Seeds. All vegetables spring from seeds; but the greater number of these are not sown, and are even invisible to us. It is nature that disperses them. With this view she has furnished some seeds with a sort of light down, or little feathers, which serve as wings for the wind to carry them away, and spread them every where. Other seeds are small, and heavy enough to fall perpendicularly on the earth, and to sink of themselves into it. Others of a larger or lighter sort, which might be carried away by the wind, have one or more little hooks, to catch, and prevent them from going too far from their place. And what is still more admirable, is, that nature seems to have given to some birds the care of planting trees: they gather gooseberries, currants, cherries, nuts, and various kinds of fruit, and carrying them to a place of security for food, some of them are scattered on the earth, where they shoot, take root, and become fruit-bearing bushes or trees. Ravens have been thus seen to plant oaks; and this is their method: they make a hole in the ground with their bill, and drop an acorn into it, which they afterwards cover with earth and moss. It must not be supposed they do all this with an intention to plant trees; it is instinct alone which prompts them. They bury the acorn for their food :-it shoots, and becomes an oak. If the sowing of seeds in meadows and forests had been entirely left to mankind, how insufficient would have been the means! Observe, how, at the return of spring, the grass and flowers shoot up and adorn the earth, without our having, in any degree, contributed towards it. But this is not all that is to be admired in respect to seeds. It is remarkable that the whole plant, however great it may be, is all concealed in the narrow space of the seed. The whole trunk of the oak, its leaves, branches, and roots, are already in the acorn.