Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

the glory of the vegetable creation ; like the nightingale, which delights the ear of men, and displays its skill without a rival, while other birds are silent and at rest.

When we survey the plants of the sea, how discernible is that wisdom which hath provided for their subsistence and safety in that element! Such as have broad leaves, and would be forced from their station by tides or storms, if their roots were fixed into an earthy bottom, are fastened by the root to weighty stones and pebbles; where instead of being driven about at random by the agitations of the water, they lie safe at anchor. That they may not be bruised by lying prostrate on the ground, they are rendered powerfully buoyant, ard kept in an erect position, by ineans of large vesicles of air, variously disposed about their leaves or their stalks, as the difference of their form and structure may require. A similar provision for their preservation is observable in many of the plants which grow upon the land. Such as are tender and flexible, and apt to trail upon the ground, are furnished with spiral tendrils, or other like means, by which they lay hold of such other plants as are firm and upright. What an useful lesson is this to human society! where, according to the ana

logy

ere

logy of nature, the strong ought to support the weak, and the defenceless should rest securely upon the powerful. How different a place would the world be, if this example were religiously followed!

And now if there are so many effects of the divine wisdom visible to us who are confined in a climate remote from the sun; what opportunities must they have, what wonders of the Lord muśt they see, who go down to the sea in ships, and make their observations in happier regions: where the sun, the soil, the air, all things being different, vegetation is on a much larger scale, and presents many grand and glorious objects which can never come to our sight!

In speaking of the growth of plants, which is the second thing to be considered, I inust forbear to attempt a theory. The first particular which meets us is that spoken of in the text; that herbs and trees carry their seeds in themselves : from whence it seems deducible, that the primeval tree or plant, which was contemporary with the first father of mankind, included all the trees that should proceed from it to the end of time: so that the seed which is growing into an herb at this day is but an evolution of something which sub

sisted

sisted in the first plant at the creation. How to get clear of this consequence we do not see; and to pursue it we are not able ; our imagination is bewildered and lost in the idea of such a succession; the rudiments of a future forest included in a single acorn!

It is not so far beyond us to observe, how the elements in their seyeral capacities are made subservient to the life and increase of plants. The soil on which they grow contains a mixture of principles, wisely tempered together, which supply vegetables with matter for their nourishment; and their root with its fibres and lacteals, which takes in this nourishment, answers the same purpose as the stomach in animals. Water is the vehicle which conveys this pourishment into their vessels ; while the sun and air, expanding and contracting, keep up an oscillatory motion analogous to that of respiration. . 's

It is now allowed, that there is both a vital circulation of the juices in vegetables, and a large perspiration from their pores : which latter is become a subject of great curiosity and importance, from the successful labours of those who have cultivated this part of natural philosophy. The circulation in plants is strong in the spring, and languid in the

· winter;

winter; in some it is so forcible and abundant, that if their vessels are opened at an improper season, they will bleed to death, as when an artery is divided in the human body. If the finer spirit evaporates from a plant, and it has no fresh supply, it becomes instantly flaccid and fadeing, as an animal body dies with the departure of its breath. .

The process of vegetation is forwarded in a wonderful manner by the vicissitude of day and night, and the changes of the weather; The heat of the sun raises a moist, elastic vapour, which fills and expands certain vessels in plants, and so gradually enlarges their bulk; while the colder air of the night condenses and digests the matter which has been raised, and so confirms the work of the day, We complain of cold blasts and clouded skies, by the intervention of which vegetation rapidly a tvancing is suddenly stopped and seems stationary: but this may be wisely ordained by Providence: the growth of herbs may be too hasty; they are weak in substance, if they are drawn forward too fast. A cold season prevents this too hasty growth; as in the moral world some seasonable disappointment may give a salutary check to an aspiring mind, and establish it in wisdom and patience, Even

the

[ocr errors]

the roughest motions of the elements have their use. Winds and storms, which agitate the body of trees and herbs, loosen the carth about their roots, and make way for their fibres to multiply, and to strike more kindly into the soil, to find new nourishment. Thus is nature more effectually progressive when it seems to be stationary or even retrograde; * and all things work together for good; which they could never do but under the foresight and direction of an all-wise Providence.

But above all, the showers of heaven, concurring with the sun, promote the work of vegetation. They keep the matter of the soil soluble, and consequently moveable; for salts cannot act but in a state of solution ; they furnish matter for an expansive vapour," which acts internally and externally; and, what is but little understood, though equally worthy of admiration, the rain brings down with it an invigorating ethereal spirit from the clouds, which gives it an ethicacy far beyond all the waterings which human labour can administer. It is here in the kingdom of nature as in the kingdom of grace; nothing can succeed without a blessing from heaven: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of

Lights.

« AnteriorContinuar »