Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

the wild animals, in searching after their prey, seek their meat from God; and these prefer for the most part to live at a distance from man, in the deepest recesses of the forest and the desert, so as not to disturb us; but other quadrupeds there are that seem intended to live near to us, and are willing to serve us. These, the Almighty has committed to our care, by making them fit for our use; but he will severely punish any cruelty to them. He bas given us that noble animal the horse for the race and for the burden ; he has given us the ox for his labour, and the cow for her milk; the sheep for its fleece, and the dog for its sagacity and faithfulness; but we must treat them with ease, care, and with kindness for their services ; els. He who made them will, in some way or other, heavily avenge their sufferings on us.

14. Man, in consequence of having reason and the faculty of speech, and being able to worship God and Jook forward to a future world, is the chief inhabitant of the earth, and lord of the inferior creation ; but he must not be a tyrant to the dumb animals his servants, but a righteous and merciful master. It is the soul that exalts us above the beasts of the field; and, both in body and soul, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. How wisely, for instance, is the system of our bones, made to bear up our bodies, and provide for their motion. The legs and thighs are like stately columns, and the feet compose a firm pedestal. The ribs form a safe lodgement for the lungs and the heart. The backbone, with the pliancy of an osier and the firmness of an oak, is a master-piece of creating skill. The arms are so placed as to defend and serve the whole body; the hand is a case of the most useful and curious instruments. The head, adorned by the hair,

turns on a pivot; and there the eyes and the ears, like sentinels on a watch tower, direct operations and give notice of danger. All the parts of our frame are nicely fashioned and exactly arranged, else they could not last so long, nor work so well as they do. Our health and life depend on a vast assemblage of complicated parts and moving organs; and when we think that the disorder of a single fluid, or the clogging of a single wheel of the mechanism of our frame, is sufficient to put an end to our existence on earth, to bring our bodies to the dust, and dismiss our spirits to the judgement seat of Him who made them—with what holy fear should we pass all the days of our appointed time; living in peace and love, and doing good to one another, depending on our Creator, preserver, and benefactor, seeking his favour, doing his will, and working his work while it is day, knowing that the night cometh in which no man can work?

15. There is but one species of the human race, though varieties in colour have arisen among them, from the influence of climate, food, and social habits, or some other cause. Some men are white, others olive coloured, others copper coloured, and others have a skin of still darker hue, being dark-brown, or blackish, or black ; but all nations, we know, have been made of one blood, and are descended from one original pair. It is a curious fact and a proof of the divine wisdom, that no two persons in their countenance are exactly alike. Had it been otherwise, the utmost confusion among men would have followed, and the innocent might often have been mistaken for the guilty. We may remark another proof of a wise design in respect to us, when we observe that man is born the most helpless and dependent of creatures, and that his state

D

of dependence and infancy continues the longest. This is wisely intended to strengthen and prolong the ties of attachment between parent and child, and to provide for that education and discipline, which beings, who are destined to act an important part, both in time and eternity, require. Man is a creature designed for two different states of existence, or for two different lives. His first life is short and transient. His second is permanent and lasting. Here, while on earth, like the plants that are around him, having been sown, as it were, he grows up and expands and comes to maturity, then withers and dies; but there is something within him that can think and know, wish and desire, rejoice and be sorry, which his body cannot do. The thoughts of his mind can be directed to the difference between moral good and evil; they can rise to God, and wander through eternity; hence his death is not utter destruction-it is only a passage from one world to another, and a separation for a time between the body and the soul, that loving couple, the one of which takes its Aight to its Almighty source, the witness of its actions, now its judge; while the other drops into the dark and noisome grave, like a disabled pitcher of no farther use, till it be re-modelled and re-united to its partner, at the resurrection. Seventy, or at most, eighty years have been reckoned the extreme term of man's present existence; but it is calculated that of a number of children born together, a fourth part will have died before they arrive at the age of five years a third of them will have died before they come to the age of tenone half will have perished before the age of thirty five-two thirds of them before the age of fifty twoand three fourths before completing the age of sixty one-scarcely one in two hundred will attain to the

age of ninety; and only one in eight thousand may complete a century. Taking into view the whole inhabitants of the earth, it is believed that as many die, year after year, as if, for every second of time or every stroke that is given by the pendulum of a clock, one immortal soul dropped into eternity. How awful is the thought! This world is only a nursery for the next. Death still goes his daily round, and mankind fall like leaves in autumn. The knock that hitherto has sounded at a distance, ere long, will strike our door and summon us to judgment. Then all of us shall find that them who honour God, he will honour, and them only. Therefore, let the young remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and the old be numbering their days, that they may apply their hearts unto wisdom

NATURAL HISTORY.

CHAPTER II.

QUADRUPEDS.

SECTION 1. Of all the branches belonging to this instructive and agreeable study, the natural history of animals is the most entertaining and various; and those tribes or families which, in common language, are called quadrupeds, from the partial resemblance they bear to us in the structure of their bodies, and the many services they are fitted to render us, and the

frequent opportunities of intercourse we have with them, seem to recommend themselves to our notice as the foremost objects of our curiosity, and the most in. teresting part of animated nature. Fishes inhabit an element different from ours. Birds are shy of our acquaintance, and prefer to live beyond our reach. Insects, from their minuteness, are apt to elude our observation ; and reptiles shun our society or repel us by their very aspect. But quadrupeds cannot so easily avoid

Usmany of them, on the contrary, seek our fellowship; and, by their sagacity and the constancy of their attachments, attract our attention and affectionate regard.

2. Apes and monkeys have in all ages attracted the notice of mankind from their playfulness and grimace, and the near approach that they make in their external form to the human species. They are a numerous tribe, and only found in hot climates. Some of them have no tail, and are properly called apes ; others, as the baboons, have it short ; and others have that appendage very long, and often it is fitted for laying hold of objects. It is worthy of remark that apes and monkeys occupy the same climate on the two Continents; and there live, as in colonies, each species in its res. pective haunt and district of forest, without disturbance or confusion. Troops of them, in the forests of America, may be seen flitting from branch to branch, swinging with their tails, assuming a thousand grotesque attitudes, leaping, springing about, and muttering, as if they meditated some important enterprize; while, at the same tine, as if nature had intended to bring together the only quadrupeds which resembleman, and the bird which most readily imitates his voice, flocks of parrots and paroquets alight among the monkeys, chatter in the

« AnteriorContinuar »