« AnteriorContinuar »
the fashion of a cone; that grows to the surface of several rocks; and immediately dies on being severed from the place where it grew. There are many other creatures but one remove from these, which have no other sense than that of feeling and taste. Others have still an additional one of hearing; others of smell; and others of sight. It is wonderful to observe, by what a gradual progress the world of life advances, through a prodigious variety of species, before a creature is formed, that is complete in all its senses: and even among these, there is such a different degree of perfection, in the sense which one animal enjoys beyond what appears in another, that though the sense in different animals is distinguished by the same common denomination, it seems almost of a different nature. If, after this, we look into the several inward perfections of cunning and sagacity, or what we generally call instinct, we find them rising, after the same manner, imperceptibly one above another; and receiving additional improvements, according to the species in which they are implanted. This progress in nature is so very gradual, that the most perfect of an inferior species, comes very near to the most imperfect of that which is immediately above it.
The exuberant and overflowing goodness of the supreme Being, whose mercy extends to all his works, is plainly seen, as I have before hinted, in his having made so very little matter, at least what falls within our knowledge, that does not swarm with life. Nor is his goodness less seen in
the diversity, than in the multitude of living creatures. Had he made but one species of animals, none of the rest would have enjoyed the happiness of existence: he has, therefore, specified, in his creation, every degree of life, every capacity of being. The whole chasm of nature, from a plant to a man, is filled up with diverse kinds of creatures, rising one after another, by an ascent so gentle and easy, that the little transitions and deviations from one species to another are almost insensible. This intermediate space is so well husbanded and managed, that there is scarcely a degree of perception which does not appear in some one part of the world of life. Is the goodness, or the wisdom of the divine Being, more manifested in this his proceeding?
There is a consequence, besides those I have already mentioned, which seems very naturally deducible from the foregoing considerations. If the scale of being rises by so regular a progress, so high as man, we may, by parity of reason, suppose that it still proceeds gradually through those beings which are of a superior nature to him; since there is infinitely greater space and room for different degrees of perfection, between the supreme Being and man, than between man and the most despicable insect.
In this great system of being, there is no creature so wonderful in its nature, and which so much deserves our particular attention, as man; who fills up the middle space between the animal and the intellectual nature, the visible and the invisible world; and who is that link in the chain of
being, which forms the connection between both. So that he who, in one respect, is associated with angels and archangels, and may look upon a being of infinite perfection as his father, and the highest order of spirits as his brethren, may, in another respect, say to 'corruption, thou art my father; and to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister.' Spectator.
THE BOUNTY OF GOD IN THE ECONOMY OF VEGETABLE PROPAGATION.
It was curious to observe that the greatest part of the plants found on these islands [St. Paul and Amsterdam in the Indian ocean] were products of Europe; and the question was equally difficult of solution, how any plant, European or Indian, should first have been brought upon two little specks of land in the middle of the ocean, at the distance of two thousand miles from the nearest shore. Were they borne on the wind, wafted on the waves, or carried by the fowls of the air? or were their rudiments, after lying for ages dormant in the bowels of the earth, thrown up, by the agency of subterranean fire, into a situation favourable for vegetable life to burst forth?
The natural historian, in contemplating facts like these, cannot fail to be most forcibly impressed with the wise and benevolent designs of the great Author of the universe, which are so apparent in all the works of the creation, and in none more so than in the providential means he has
thought fit to employ for the wide dissemination of plants. Some he will perceive to be supplied with such multitudes of seeds, others so completely protected against injuries, some so amply provided with hooks to hold with, and others with feathers to bear them through the air, that by the assistance of the wind, rain, rivers, birds, and insects, a single pair of plants of every species, according to the opinion of Linnæus, growing on the first little island, that may be supposed to have peeped out of the universe of waters, will be deemed sufficient, without human aid, to stock the whole surface of the globe.
Barrow's Voyage to Cochin-China.
OMNISCIENCE AND OMNIPRESENCE OF THE DEITY.
I WAS yesterday, about sun-set, walking in the open fields, till the night insensibly fell upon me. I at first amused myself with all the richness and variety of colours, which appeared in the western parts of heaven: in proportion as they faded away and went out, several stars and planets appeared one after another, till the whole firmament was in a glow. The blueness of the ether was exceedingly heightened and enlivened by the season of the year, and the rays of all those luminaries that passed through it. The galaxy appeared in its most beautiful white. To complete the scene, the full moon rose at length in that clouded majesty which Milton takes notice of,
and opened to the eye a new picture of nature, which was more finely shaded, and disposed among softer lights, than that which the sun had before discovered to us.
As I was surveying the moon walking in her brightness, and taking her progress among the constellations, a thought arose in me, which I believe very often perplexes and disturbs men of serious and contemplative natures. David himself fell into it in that reflection, 'When I consider the heavens the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou regardest him? In the same manner, when I consider that infinite host of stars, or, to speak more philosophically, of suns, which were then shining upon me, with those innumerable sets of planets or worlds, which were moving round their respective suns; when I still enlarged the idea, and supposed another heaven of suns and worlds rising still above this which we discovered, and these still enlightened by a superior firmament of luminaries, which are planted at so great a distance, that they may appear to the inhabitants of the former as the stars do to us: in short, while I pursued this thought, I could not but reflect on that little insignificant figure which I myself bore amidst the immensity of God's works.
Were the sun, which enlightens this part of the creation, with all the host of planetary worlds that move about him, utterly extinguished and annihilated, they would not be missed, more than