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same hill, but three-quarters of an hour later, because it will have gone toward the east twenty-four times its own breadth, and it will then cover stars much nearer the Alps ; so that you could put twenty-four moons between the place which it will occupy to-morrow in the skies and the place which it occupies to-day.
How beautiful is this all, my young friends! The moon by its four quarters which continue each a little more than seven days, gives us the weeks and the months. The sun by his course in the heavens gives us the four seasons and the years, at the same time that, by the rotation of the heavens above our heads, he gives us days and hours. He gives them so well, too, that all our best watchmakers in Geneva regulate their watches by his noon, and that from the oldest times men have measured on sun-dials the regular course of his shadow. You have all seen some in gardens or in country churches ; and you recollect that in Jerusalem, as early as the reign of Ahaz, or 730 years before Christ, there was one on the palace of the kings.1
But now, what I want you thoroughly to comprehend, my dear young friends, is the utility or rather the necessity of this help for man. Ah ! it is no small thing for him to have continually before him that clock of the heavens to learn how to measure his time, to be regularly reminded of his task, of the rapid course of years, and of the shortness of life. Without this help, man would have been degraded on earth, and his life would quickly have passed away like a useless dream.
When the celebrated Baron Trenck came out of the dark dungeons of Magdeburg, where day and night cannot be distinguished, and where the King of Prussia had kept him ten years, he thought he had remained there only a comparatively short space of time, because he had had comparatively few thoughts, and his astonishment was very great when he was told how many years had passed. Barbarous people are ignorant of the
1 Isa, xxxviii. 8; 2 Kings xx. 11.
value of hours, and as they do not think of counting them, they spend them foolishly. The savages of America, after their hunts and war expeditions, pass whole weeks and months in sleeping or in playing, without suspecting that they are losing anything ; and it has often been said that the progress of a people in civilisation may be measured by the estimate that it makes of time, and by the care it takes to count it. But if that is true of a people, how much more so of a Christian ? You must see the value he sets on time. His hours are no more his own, they belong to bis Master who has redeemed him : he knows that he must give an account of them, and he wishes to do so as a faithful steward ; he remembers that time is short, and that “now is the day of salvation.” How often then will he let the prayer of Moses rise to heaven : “ Lord, teach me so to number my days that I may apply my heart unto wisdom ;" and how often will he look at the clock of heaven to remember the hours of prayer ! Look at that girl who has been converted ; at that man who has become a serious Christian. Ah ! when they think of that word of St. Paul, “ Redeem the time,” they cry out, “O my God, I have indeed much to redeem ! I have lost so much before knowing thee, so much even since I have known thee ; I have lost so much in bad actions, so much in bad words, so much in bad thoughts, so much even in those hours in which I seemed to be doing good ; in prayer while my heart did not pray ; in public worship, while my mind was full of distractions ; in the reading and hearing of thy word, while I did not attend nor pay regard to it, O my Saviour, let me by thy grace redeem this time so precious ! May I be found doing thy work when thou comest in the clouds, and may thy clock in heaven remind me often, as it did the Israelites, of the hour of prayer.
And in fact, dear children, the ancient Israelites, at every sunrise, sacrificed a lamb representing the true “ Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world ;” at every sunset another lamb ; at every return of the sun to the spring equinox, the celebrated lamb of the passover ; at every return to the autumnal equinox, the feast of trumpets ; at every change of moon, the sacrifice of the new moon ; and at each of its quarters the festivals of the Sabbath. Well, my young friends, be yourselves attentive to that clock in the heavens. At evening, when you see that glorious luminary setting behind the mountains, and gilding in our horizon only the highest peaks of Mont Blanc, then say, “ This calls me to prayer. One day more, my God, hast thou given me. O grant that, while I wait for that day when I shall see the sun set for the last time, I may be able to say to thee every evening, as did my dying Saviour, My Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit ; for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.'” And at night, when you see the moon walking silently amid the skies, remember Jesus Christ in Gethsemane praying for you in agony under the rays of the full moon of March ; think also of his return in the clouds of heaven ; for you know not whether that shall be in your case at evening or at midnight, or at cock-crow or at break of day. And then again, when in the freshness of a beautiful morning you see the sun reappear on the horizon of the heavens and awake all nature, say, “ O my Lord and my God, Jesus Christ, be my light. Thou art the light of the world ; thou art the Sun of righteousness ; thou bringest life and healing on thy wings. Come this day to warm and to delight my soul.” Or, say with the pious Drelincourt,
“ On thee, O Lord, I call when I awake;
Let me each morning feel thy goodness near
And ʼmid the dangers of my short career
O may I, for thy truth and goodness' sake,
“ Thy righteousness abhors my guilt, O God,
But wash me freely in that precious blood,
May I, unawed by death and his black robe,
When call'd to quit the day that lights this globe,
You will repeat, next Lord's day, from the 20th to the 25th verse.
“ And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind : and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
“ And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind; and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth on the earth after his kind : and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind : and God saw that it was good.”—GEN. i. 20-25.
I HAVE received this week a letter on the subject of the lecture delivered two Sundays ago, for which I thank the writer without knowing who he is. He blames me for having said of plants that they have life. “To attribute life to plants,” says he, “ is to overthrow at once revelation, science, and philosophy.”
He is mistaken as to revelation, which, on the contrary, speaks to us of the death of plants, and which consequently attributes life to them. He is as much mistaken as to science and philosophy, which speak to us constantly of the life of plants. To quote only three illustrious members of the French Institute (the Academy of Sciences), here is what the learned Babinet said last month in the Revue des Deux Mondes, speak
1 Jude 12.