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ation, linked backward, indeed, to a previous creation, but to you just as inexplicable as though it were one of the individuals which God first commanded the earth to bring forth.
Magnifiers and telescopes have discovered to us worlds of inquiry in two opposite directions. Through their aid we can count the feet of the centipede, the down of the caterpillar, the particles of gold-dust on the wing of the butterfly. We can count also the rings and satellites of Saturn, and sweep fields of heavenly bodies wholly beyond the reach of the naked eye. But we have sometimes thought that we have around us undiscovered worlds, which we need no powerful glass to penetrate or reveal. The life and growth of a single plant are full of unappreciated mystery and beauty. Here is a vegetable being that feeds itself more unerringly from a soil made up of various different elements, from an atmosphere constantly changing in purity and temperature, than the very creature that God has made in his own image, and constituted an earthly sovereign over all his works. What color of human eye or cheek is like the blue of the violet, the redness of the rose? What skill of human hand, what perfection of human art, has ever equalled the velvet surface of the pansy? What artist has ever put upon canvas such blendings and contrasts, as this vegetable life develops upon every twig and stem? And yet of how many, to whom these sights are so familiar, might it be said, as Wordsworth said of another,
“A primrose by the river's brim,
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more"? To them these vegetable wonders are as so many weeds. There is no mystery or beauty in them. Their language is not of God, his wisdom, his skill, his love.
The Ayreshire ploughman, Burns, found poetry enough to make his name immortal, in the
“Wec, modest, crimson-tipped flower," which his rude ploughshare crushed into the rough soil of his · native Scotland. And another poet has said :
“ Myriads of daisies have shone forth in flower,
Near the lark's nest, and in their natural hour,
Have passed away, less happy than the one
The tender charm of poetry and love." And were it not for the atheism of human nature, and the commonness of such sights, the awakening of the earth in the spring-time, the swelling bud, the blossom, the leaf, the most familiar manifestation of vegetable life, would be a constantly repeated miracle, a perpetual Gospel setting forth afresh and with new emphasis, the attributes of our Maker and Father. We need magnifiers and telescopes, less than a stronger faith. We walk with indifference and insensibility among as great wonders, as we gather into our cabinets from the subterranean vaults beneath us, or discover in the firmament over our heads. We look for God only in the structure that is too intricate for our unaided apprehension and analysis, or too stupendous for our limited powers of achievement; while the very sod beneath our feet throbs with his life, and he carefully compounds every cubic foot of air that we inhale.
A stranger froin the Arctic regions, who should listen to a description of the change to be wrought in these latitudes by the advent of spring, would pronounce the statement fabulous; and this, because he had never witnessed anything analogous to it. That the same sun whose oblique rays scarcely visited his native regions, should have power to break the icy fetters of winter, and liberate the earth from her prison-house; that his genial rays could quicken the frozen soil, until it was clothed with greenness, and blossomed in beauty, he would pronounce a thing incredible. But the wonder is none the less, the power to accomplish it, all the greater, because we behold its annual realization. The uniformity with which this great transformation takes place, while to eyes familiar it may decrease its marvellousness, is really one of the elements of marvellousness by which it is distinguished. For twenty, thirty, forty, sixty years, some of us have seen this periodic change pass upon the whole outward world ; these unrecognized miracles wrought at our feet. Is God any the less in them? Because in his journey southward, the sun does not transcend the limit of his golden chain, and leave us to unbroken winter; because at the season when seeds must germinate in order to reach maturity in
the autumn, he has sufficiently warmed the dark mould in which they are covered; because during the summer months he mounts still higher, and pours his rays still more directly upon the surface of the earth, until the wheat hangs its head from fullness, and the golden corn reaches maturity, is this any the less a wonder?
The power of manifold reproduction which God imparts to every seed, is no less wonderful than its latent life. It has lodged within itself not only this germ of being, so that upon the fulfillment of certain conditions, it establishes itself in the earth, and appears above the soil, and realizes its law of individual life, but it does not terminate its career, until it has reproduced others and perhaps hundreds of seeds similar to itself. In this arrangement of God's material government, consist the promise and profit of agricultural pursuits. It becomes the aim of the husbandman to surround each seed dropped into the earth with those conditions necessary to realize its greatest fruitfulness. And, therefore, he studies its wants and habits and history. And the single kernel of grain which he buries alone in the spring-time, in the autumn brings forth its thirty, its sixty, its hundred fold.
And when we consider how much of that which is requisite for the sustenance, as well as the occupation, of earth's myriads is dependent upon the successful operation of this single principle of reproduction; how, in order to the preservation and happiness of these millions of men, women and children, not to speak of the cattle that roam a thousand hills, every single seed deposited in the earth must multiply itself many fold ; that it is this, and this alone which secures us against actual starvation, then we appreciate how directly the food that we eat comes from the hand of our Heavenly Father. Let our Maker for a single year annul his original legislation ; let him separate the connection between the seed sown and the harvest; or let him neutralize man's efforts to provide for it a suitable soil, by changing the character of any one of the seasons, and nothing could avert a famine. This great human family, filling earth's mighty continents, with all the domestic animals dependent upon them, would be destitute of the very commonest necessaries of life. In considering such subjects, we are so accustomed to stop at second causes ; we are so likely to regard God's methods as laws, which, of themselves, have force and vitality, that we fail to recognize his presence and agency in such a calamitous event. And yet he claims to be the author of famines as well as harvests; he sends them upon nations in punishment for national sins. A famine visits the inhabitants of Egypt, because the waters of the Nile fail to inundate the surrounding country. A famine occurs in Judea, because of a failure of the early and the latter rain ; or because swarms of locusts and caterpillars destroy the young vegetation. But these are only second causes. God controls these second causes ; gives them their force ; operates through them. And therefore his servants, the prophets, could predict the coming of such judgments; as Joseph predicted the seven years' famine in Egypt; as Elijah foretold the drought in Syria.
When the Saviour takes those few loaves and feeds the waiting multitudes, we are astonished at the result, and acknowledge the hand divine. But when, after a few years, we stand in autumn beneath a young tree, which has grown from a single seed dropped in the earth by our own hand, and see it weighed to the ground with delicious fruit, all of which originated in that single seed, it awakens no curiosity, no marvel, no surprise at all! And yet, we suppose that the same creative power is the source of each of these results. Without God, it is no more within the compass of possibilities, for a seed to produce fruit, containing other seeds, than for a loaf to produce other loaves. The power in the first instance, is just as divine, as it is in the other. We call the one manifestation natural, and the other supernatural; but they are both alike divine. And to the eye of faith, God annually repeats the miracle of the loaves and the fishes upon a scale infinitely enlarged; making both the material and the animal worlds reproduce themselves, not merely to feed a few thousands, but to feed the countless nations and tribes and families that swarm over the whole earth. The Saviour came working wonders to prove his heavenly errand, not because there were no wonders daily wrought by the hand of his Father before his advent. The world was full of them. And pointing to the lily of the valley and the fowls of the air, he revealed the use which we are to VOL. VI.-NO. XXXIII.
make of them. He came working miracles with his own hand, and in his own name, at once to demonstrate that he came forth from the Father, and that he was one with the Father. But, we mistake, if we conclude that the growth of the lily and the tree is any the less divine, because it is so common and because its laws are so regular and well dcfined.
It is a great misfortune, that scientific studies do not always make reverent men. To philosophize respecting second causes, to study the adaptation of means to ends, seems to materialize the mind. The men that best understand the anatomy of the human body; the men that can best analyze the flower and classify birds, insects, and the lower animals; that are adepts in agricultural chemistry, that are geologists and astronomers, are not always the most devout. And, yet, it should be so. For the footprints of our Maker are planted in the foundations of the earth; he has inscribed all his attributes in the heavens ; the inferior tribes of the animal kingdom all speak his wisdom and his skill; every flower that blooms turns to him, and every bird that wings the air is occupied with his praise. And why should not those who make it their life-long study to comprehend these things be equally loyal to their Maker? It is because they rest satisfied with second causes. Nature does not lead them up to nature's God. They stand in the vestibule of her temple. They do not approach the altar dedicated to the living and true God, her author. They admire his works. They do not worship him.
And it is precisely so with the florist and the husbandman. They come at length to look at the soil, the clouds, the rain, the sunshine, and to think little of that Being, whose ministers they are ; who makes the sun's rays his pencil, as he tints flower after flower; who opens his windows, when the vernal rain descends upon thirsty fields; and who has established it as his ordinance, to furnish us with seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, cold and heat; who makes the clouds his vesture, and rides upon the wings of the wind.
Traversing the earth, the laboratory and storehouse of God's works, what we most need, is the power of lifting the veil of commonness with which they are hidden. How many a man, whose western window commands such sunsets as would defy