« PreviousContinue »
ever be progressive; and he who attempts to read the characters by which the wisdom, power, beneficence, and eternal nature of God, are stamped upon every thing here below, will not do it in vain. For it is equally apparent on the ground beneath our feet, as on the face of heaven, spangled over with countless millions of stars, and in every object by which we are surrounded.
He who makes no attempt of this interesting, this important nature, whilst yet in the morning of his existence, and whilst the power is still mercifully delegated to him, cannot expect or hope for that increase of intelligence of light and joy, which will assuredly be the reward of those who have sought after the knowledge of God and his glorious works; when the veil of mortality shall be rent, and the delighted spirit shall be led to the fountains of Omniscience, whose waters are eternal life and bliss.
The beauties of Nature are open to all, and may be relished and enjoyed by all. A taste for them is highly desirable, and we should cherish it as the source of real pleasure. The scenes of Nature contribute powerfully to inspire that serenity which heightens their beauties, and is necessary to our full enjoyment of them. By a secret sympathy, the soul catches the harmony which she contemplates; and the frame within assimilates itself to that without.
In this state of sweet composure, we become susceptible of virtuous impressions from almost every surrounding object. The patient ox is viewed with generous complacency; the guileless sheep with pity; and the playful lamb with a motion of tenderness and love. We rejoice with the horse in his liberty and exemption from toil, while he ranges at large through enamelled pastures. We are charmed with the songs of birds, soothed with the buz of insects, and pleased with the sportive motions of fishes, because these are expressions of enjoyment; and, having felt a common interest in the gratifications of inferior beings, we shall be no longer indifferent to their sufferings, uro become wantonly instrumental in producing them.
But the taste for mental beauty is subservient to higher purposes still. The cultivation of it not only refines and humanizes, but dignifies and exalts the affections. It elevates them to the admiration and love of that Being, who is the author of all that is fair, sublime, or good in the creation.
Scepticism or irreligion is hardly compatible with the sensibility of heart which arises from a just and lively relish of the wisdom, harmony, and order, subsisting in the world around us. Emotions of piety must spring up spontaneously in the bosom that is in unison with all animated nature. Actuated by this beneficial and divine inspiration, man finds a fane in every grove; and, glowing with devout fervour, he joins his song to the universal chorus, or muses the praises of the Almighty in more expressive silence! The man who is truly virtuous and devout sees God in all things, and all things in God. In all created nature he recognizes the wisdom, power and goodness of the great Creator.
He suits to nature's reign th' inquiring eye,
DR. L. BROWNE.
When the mind becomes animated with a love of nature, nothing is seen that does not become an object of curiosity and inquiry. A person under the influence of this principle can converse with a picture, and find an agreeable companion in a statue. He meets with a secret refreshment in a description; and often feels a greater satisfaction in the prospect of fields and meadows, than another does in the possession. It gives him, indeed, a kind of property in every thing he sees ; and makes the most rude uncultivated parts of nature administer to his pleasures ; so that he looks upon the world, as it were, in another light, and discovers in it a multitude of charms, that conceal themselves from the generality of mankind. A river is traced to its fountain; a flower to its seed ; an animal to its embryo ; and an oak to its acorn. If a marine fossil lies on the side of a mountain, the mind is employed in the endeavour to ascertain the cause of its position. If a tree is buried in the depths of a morass, the history of the world is traced to the deluge; and he who grafts, inoculates, and prunes, as well as he who plants and transplants, will derive an innocent pleasure in noting the habits of trees, and their modes of culture; the soils in which they delight, the shapes into which they mould themselves; and will enjoy as great a satisfaction from the symmetry of an oak, as from the symmetry of an animal. Every tree that bends, and every flower that blushes, even a leafless copse, a barren plain, the cloudy firmament, and the rocky mountain, are objects for his attentive meditation.
Nature! thy charms let other men forego,
For man will worship thus his fellow-man,
CAREY, The works of God on earth are fraught with beauty. Consider the outline, the form, the hues, the infinitely-blending shades of colours, the delicate texture, the artificial structure, the arrangement and composition of the several parts of every herb, every Aower, every leaf, every tree, every plant, every greater or smaller, visible and invisible, animal: consider the beautiful raiment of the spring, the various charms of a flowery mead, the magnificence of a field gilded with ripening corn, the grandeur of a stately tree 11.
spreading refreshment around in the shade of its branches, or perfuming the air with its blossoms, or laden with fruit; ascend the acclivity of some mountain or lofty hill, and from its summit contemplate thy dwelling-place, the earth, when first greeted by the orient orb of day, or when its parting beams fall askance upon it, playing in the dew-drop as in the sparkling diamond, distributing light and shade in endless contrasts, and presenting to thy ravished eye a picture, changing as it were at every moment, and at every moment glowing with new attraction.
Thou art the priest of nature, O man! and the temple of thy God, the gorgeous fabric of the universe, is every where filled with votaries who ask thy ministration. The hill, the grove, the plot of corn, the field, the flowery mead, the cool sequestered bower, each spot where thou seest and feelest the force and loveliness of renovated nature, and canst lift up thy eyes and thy heart to heaven, is an altar consecrated by nature herself, whereon it is thy office to perform the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise to their Creator and Father.
STUDY OF NATURE-continued.
In nature's temple, built by art divine,
BRETTELL. What can be more gratifying than an acquaintance with the wonderful laws of matter and of motion ; with the grand mechanical powers; and the ingenious