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After these reflections, can we see with the same indifference as formerly, the trees at the season of spring? Will the expected change in them appear so little worth our notice? And, can we observe the renewal of all nature, without thinking of Him who gave life to every creature; who provides the juices analagous to, trees; who communicates to that sap the power of circulating through the veins, and from thence of giving to trees life, nourishment, and growth: alas! that it should be possible to see all these things every year, without giving proper attention to them: it is what I am too strong a proof of.
* At the return of many springs, I have had the opportunity to observe this quickening virtue which appears in plants and trees; but I have thought no more about it than the animals which graze in the field; and, what is still more wonderful, I have been equally inattentive to the preservation of my own life, the growth of my body, and the circulation of my blood. Grant that I may now, at least, as I have the happiness to see the spring again, think in a more reasonable way, and more as a Christian.
Ir 'we are ignorant of future events, we must not seek the cause of it merely in the nature of our souls, the faculties and knowledge of which are very limited; but also in the express and infinitely wise will of the Creator.
Knowledge is to the soul what the light of the sun is to the eyes : a too great, splendour would
hart, without being of use. It would be very dangerous to the virtue of man, if he had the faculty of foreseeing what was to happen to him ; for outward circumstances have generally some influence on the way of thinking, and in the resolutions we form: therefore, the more we know of future events, and the many temptations we have to surmount, the more we should have to fear for our virtue. How wretched also should we be, if we could see into futurity. Suppose, in reality, that the future events were to be agreeable and happy: while we do not
foresee this greater happiness which awaits us, we * enjoy with gratitude the present advantages we possess. But draw the curtain, and discover an agreeable prospect of futurity, and we cease from that moment to enjoy the present. We should no longer be content, happy, or grateful. We should anxiously and impatiently expect the fortune designed us; and our days would pass one after another without enjoying them. But suppose future events are to be sad and melancholy, we suffer, beforehand all the afflictions as soon as we foresee them. Days which might have passed agreeably, in peace and quiet, if the future had been concealed from us, are, as soon as we know it, spent in anxiety-in sorrow. How great, therefore, is the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty, in having thrown a veil over futurity, and only letting us know our fate by degrees, as the events happen to us! Let us never wish to anticipate the happiness which awaits us, nor to feel the weight of evils before they happen, Let us, on the contrary, every time we think on futurity, bless our Creator for having, by this ignorance, spared us so many cares, fears, and sorrows. When we lie, down to sleep, let us recommend ourselves to his care without troubling ourselves about what may happen in the night; and when we awake, let us trust in bim, without being anxious for the events which may mark the day. In the midst even of the dangers with which we are súrrounded, and the mis
fortunes which threaten us, let us remember the goodness of God; let us put our trust in him, believing that he will either remove them, or turn them to our advantage. .. ,
LESSON XXXIV. 18
Paternal Cares of Providence for the Preservation of
, Our Lives in every Part of the World,
We know at present a great part of our globe, and new regions of it are still discovered from time to time. But no place has yet been found, where nature did not produce some of the necessaries of life. We arewell informed of countries where the sun burns up almost every thing; where little is to be seen but mountains and sandy deserts; where the earth is almost entirely stripped of the verdure with which it is so richly adorned in our climates. There are countries, also, which are scarcely ever cheered with the rays of the sun, and where its beneficent warmth is rarely felt; where an almost continual winter benumbs every thing; where there is neither culture, fruit, nor harvest. And yet, men and animals are there, who do not fail of subsistence. The productions denied them by Providence, because they would have been burnt by the sun, or frozen by the severe cold, are supplied by gifts more suitable to those climates, and on which men and animals can: feed. The inhabitants seek with care what nature has in store for them. They know how to appropriate it to their own use: and they thus procure for themselves all they require for their subsistence and convenience of life. In Lapland, Providence has so
contrived, that an evil, in some respects very incon... venient to the inhabitants, becomes a means of their preservation. There is an innumerable multitude of. gnats, which, by their stings, are very troublesome to the Laplanders, and from which they cannot guard themselves, but by keeping up in their cottages a continual thick smoke, and daubing their faces with pitch and tar. These insects lay their eggs on the water, and by that means draw a great number of aquatic birds, who feed on them; and being afterwards taken by the Laplanders, become themselves the chief food of those people. The Greenlanders generally prefer animal food to the vegetable; and it is true there are very few vegetables in that barren country. There are, however, some plants in it, which the inhabitants make great use of; such as sorrel, angelica, and particularly the spoon-herb, cochlearia. But their chief food is the fish which they call angmarset. After they have dried it in the open air upon the rocks, it serves them every day instead of bread or greens; and they preserve it for winter in great leathern sacks. In Iceland, where there is no agriculture, owing to the severe cold, the people live on dried fish, instead of bread.
The Delecarlians, who inhabit the north of Sweden, having no wheat, make bread of the bark of birch and pine, and a certain root which grow's in marshes. The inhabitants of Kamtschatka feed on the stalk or trunk of the bear's-foot plant, which they eat raw, after they have peeled it. In Siberia, they make use of the roots of mountainlily. s
Such are the tender mercies of Providence for our preservation, that his goodness has ; spread over the whole earth such food as is requisite for our subsistence! But by his wisdom, such a relation, connexion, and communication is formed between the inhabitants of the earth, that people u video son')
separated from one another by vast seas, labour, notwithstanding, for one another's mutual ease and subsistence. 1r, if, torri, unda
So improper a use is made of animals, and in so many ways, that it would be difficult to enumerate them. These abuses, however, may be confined to two chief points; that of too much, or too little value being set on them; and, in either case, we aet contrary to the intention of the Creator. On one hand, we lower the brutes too much, when we assume an unlimited power over them, and think we have a right to treat them according to our càprice. All who are not corrupted by passions, or bad habits, are naturally inclined to compassionate every being that has life and feeling. This disposition undoubtedly does honour to man, and is so deeply engraved on our minds, that any one who had rooted it out, would prove to what a degree he was des graded and fallen from the dignity of his nature. He would have but one step more to make, (to refuse to man the compassion he does not grant to beasts, and he would then be 'a monster. Experience but too well justifies this remark, and many examples of it may be recollected. History furnishes us with them; for those nations where the people took pleasure in bull-baiting, distinguished themselves also in cruelty towards their fellow-creatures. So true is it, that our treatment of beasts has an influence on our moral characters, and on the gentleness of our manners. It may be said, that we have a right to destroy, hurtful animals. I confess it: but does it