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and admirable application of them to numberless purposes of human industry, convenience, and comfort ? What more pleasing than a knowledge of the nature and properties of the element in which we live: of the laws on which the motion and pressure of fluids depend ; and of the specific gravities or the relative weight of different bodies : an acquaintance, in fact, with those newly-discovered principles, by means of which the aspiring genius of man has dared to soar through the trackless regions of the air, and to explore, unhurt, the capacious bosom of the deep? What can be more interesting, or more delightful, than to accompany the rays of light in their rapid journey from the sun; to observe the various effects of reflection and refraction; to analyze distinctly the principle of light; to grasp the fading colours of the rainbow; to understand the laws of vision; and to view the wonderful and happy application which has been made of the grand principles of optics, to the promotion of physical and astronomical science ? What more astonishing than the exquisite nature of that most subtile, all-pervading fluid, which, when collected, produces such powerful effects upon the human frame; which sports in the northern lights, and flashes amidst the storm ; and which, by the penetrating genius and art of man, has even been rendered tractable and obedient to his will! To be made acquainted with the surprising laws of magnetic bodies, with the polarity of the needle, and the amazing changes which a knowledge of this most remarkable property has effected in the widely-extended intercourse of different nations, by means of improved navigation, is certainly an object of the greatest utility, and interesting and instructive in the highest degree. While you contemplate the admirable laws of the planetary system, you will, doubtless, be struck with reverence and awe at the great First Cause, which originally established and which continually main tains them in order and in being:
Curious to search what binds old ocean's tides ;
What shadows darken the pale queen of night;
Whence she renews her orb and spreads her light. You will take a pleasing survey of those grand movements in the heavenly bodies, to which the sweet interchange of day and night, the grateful succession of the seasons, the occurrence of eclipses, and the regular flux and reflux of the tides, may be justly ascribed. With the mind's eye you will even cast a glance into that universe of worlds, which, orbit within orbit, system combined with system, the daring genius of philosophy has ventured to descry in the regions of infinite space; and, while absorbed in these sublime speculations, you will be ready to exclaim with the inspired poet of Israel, " The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaimeth his bandy-work:” or, to break forth in the beautiful strains of Thomson,-.
These, as they change, Almighty Father, these
The learning and philosophy of ages have been employed in exploring the works of Nature, which, the more they are examined, conspire still more to manifest the wisdom and goodness of the Creator; the uses and ends, the objects and organs, in the natural and moral worlds; and both the littleness and greatness of their phenomena. The hand of an Almighty Master being expressed in the formation of an atom, as in the frame of a system, or a universe of systems, all these give such clear, such strong and striking proofs of a beneficent Creator, as none but the most blind and obstinate can overlook and resist. There is not use alone interwoven, but a striking and inimitable beauty painted on the face and in the whole arrangement of Nature. We are struck with pleasing astonishment at the greatness and magnificence; we are entertained with the variety and novelty ; we are charmed with the bloom and splendour, the exact and fine proportions, the extensive and happy prospects, the divine spirit and ineffable air of Nature, in all her works.
A voluntary delight, an enlargement of mind, and a gaiety of heart, a fond admiration arising to enthusiasm, an elevation of soul mixed with rapture and devotion, is apt to seize and transport us, upon a survey of the lovely landscapes, and a pure relish to arise for the genuine blessings with which God has overspread, enriched, and beautified our present world. The universe, seen by a devout or intellectual eye, from the region of pure spirit, may appear an immense sphere, depending by a chain of gold from the throne of God, inscribed on every side with divine characters, moving in divine order and harmony, and resplendent with divine light and beauty.
The devout Psalmist seems frequently to have caught or improved the flame of devotion by a survey of the various works of nature; their grandeur, their magnificence and beauty, no less than their variety, often transport him into warm and happy meditations, and a fervour that breaks out into raptures of gratitude, and songs of praise. He seems to be carried out of himself, while he is celebrating the greatness and goodness, the majesty and mercy, of God, in the works of creation. The 104th Psalm is, among others, a remarkable instance both of the taste, the genius, and the devotion of its author; he here runs over the great master-keys, as we call them, of this harmonious system, the world ; and joins his voice with the whole chorus of nature, to celebrate the praises of its Author. We see him, on this occasion, detached from the grandeur of royalty, and like one who was a stranger to the pomp and pleasures of a court: the mere man, or the enraptured saint, the commoner of nature, or her enthusiastic admirer, attentive to and conversant among fields, mountains, and woods, and transported with the happy prospect around him. He sees nothing but God expressed in all his works. God! thou art become exceeding glorious ; thou art clothed with majesty and honour; thou deckest thyself with light, as it were with a garment, and spreadest out the heavens like a curtain ; who laid the beams of his chambers in the waters, and maketh tie clouds his chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind.”
" O my
From a survey of the heavens, the Psalmist descends to the lower regions of the earth, and celebrates its various productions, and the uses they serve to the support of man and beast. The foundation of the sted fast earth, the expansion and course of the fluid waters; their descent from the hills, their wandering through the valleys, their emptying themselves into the ocean ; the trees planted by the waters, and the birds singing among the branches; the grass for the cattle, the green herbs, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and bread to strengthen his heart; the fruitful trees, the growth of the forest, the cedars of Libanus, and the fir-trees, the dwelling of the stork; the high hills and the rocky mountains, the course and revolutions of the sun and moon, the succession of day and night, with their uses to man and beast, are recited as demonstrations of the divine goodness by the Psalmist, not as a cold philosophic inquirer, but as a charmed spectator, a delighted hearer, and enraptured devotee. In all, through all, and above all, the creator, the supporter, the Father of nature and all her children, is seen, is acknowledged, is adored, and celebrated. And the Psalmist expressed his gratitude, his joy, and a kind of heavenly transport, in seeing himself thus surrounded with the works of God, and with such shining instances of his power, his presence, and providence.
Who can confine the influence of an infinite orb of light, or contract the agency of its rays to a sphere of any given dimensions ? What can be considered as high or low, near or more remote, from an infinite and universal presence; to whose eye the minutest animal in the bowels of the earth or the depth of the sea, is as naked and open as the highest orders of cherubim and seraphim; and into whose sight the hero and the conqueror is not more significant or important, than the sparrow that sitteth on the house-top? It is from a practical sense of infinite power and universal presence, that the Psalmist rises in his devotion, and is transported into warmer and happier raptures in his survey of the works of God : he calls upon not only
the more distinguished parts of the creation, and the utmost efforts, as they might seem, of the divine power, “ Praise him, all ye angels of his; praise him all his host; praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all ye stars and light; praise him, all ye heavens, and ye waters that are above the heavens;" but invokes even the mute creation, and the lowest orders of the creatures, to join with him in celebrating the praises of their Maker :-“ Praise the Lord upon earth, ye dragons and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and vapours, winds and storms, fulfilling his word; mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, worms and feathered fowls :" not only “the kings of the earth, princes and all judges of the world, but all people, young men and maidens, old men and children,” are invited to join in this sacrifice of thanksgiving to their God, “who is good to all, and whose mercy is over all his works;” and “ though the Lord is high above all, and his glory above the heavens, yet humbleth he himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth: he taketh up the simple out of the dust, and lifteth the poor out of the mire, that he may set him with the princes, even with the princes of his people.”
The contemplation of the goodness, the wisdom, and the perfection of the Almighty, will produce no lively effects, where there is not a correspondent habit of mind. To the pure only such studies will be satisfactory; because they will feel no delightful sensations from studying the goodness of God, who are stung with the remorse of guilt, and the consciousness of having forfeited the friendship of the best and most powerful of beings.
But though the greater part of mankind has no leisure to investigate Nature in her secret operations, happily the wisdom and the benevolence of the Deity are so clearly and gloriously displayed in his works, that the most simple and untutor’d mind may comprehend how much the universal Father of men has done, and constantly does, for his ungrateful children. It must be obvious to any capacity, however mean or