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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 ac
customed 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
the less divine, because it is so common and because its laws are so regular and well defined.
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 winys 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 the genius of Claude Lorraine, has spent thousands of dollars to hang his parlor-walls with paintings, of which the most that can be said is, that they are good imitations or reproductions of what is in fact inimitable, of what can not be truly repeated; he admires and patronizes the art of the copyist, while the original of such copies he almost never notices. The sun rises and sets, and he never dreams of remarking the effect of light and shade upon dwelling, tree, hill-top and cloud. But, let the artist arise who can transfer this effect to canvas, and his admiration can find no expression in words.
Precisely so, to appreciate the advent of spring, and the wonder-working power of our Creator in grass and plant and tree, it is not needful to migrate permanently to the country, and surround ourselves with forests and orchards and meadows. A single flower, a single grassy sod, a single tree, may speak to us more emphatically than the country's richest profusion of greenness, foliage and bloom is accustomed to speak to the .unreflecting husbandman. We need only the power to notice and appreciate what is passing around us. And if we have this power, even the daisies and buttercups which grow by the wayside, the trees that spread their arching branches over our more favored streets, will be sufficiently eloquent of the wisdom and goodness of our Maker.
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth!” This original mandate of Jehovah has already gone forth again, and the grass, the herb, the tree respond. The earth acknowledges her Maker, and
“Fair-handed Spring unbosoms every grace;
And full ranunculus of glowing red.” The sower goes forth, as in the parable, sowing his seed; the gentle rains descend; the pastures are repeopled with flocks and herds ;
Is prodigal of harmony." And shall man be mute? Shall he fail to recognize his Father's hand ? Bowed down by the burdens of life, ensnared in its cares and toils, shall he have no voice of gratitude and praise ?
TRENCH derives the word “amusement" from "a" and “musis," from the Muses, and supposes it to mean the turning off the mind from severer studies to lighter enjoyments. The correctness of this etymology may, however, be doubted. The word would seem to have meant originally something, wliether a pleasure or a care, which might lay hold of and engross the mind's attention. The word is not found in the English Bible, though used in the English language, long before our present version of the Scriptures was formed.
The following are some examples of its use among old Enylish writers. Says Fleetwood, in the preface to his "Lay Baptism”: “Here I fell into a strong and deep amusement, revolving in my mind, with great perplexity, the amazing change of our affairs.” Says Holland, in his translation of Plutarch : “One day Alcibiades knocked at Pericles' door, and answer was made him that he was not at leisure to be spoken with, for that he studied and was amused how to render up his accounts to the Athenians." Says South, in his sermons (Vol. vii, Ser. 1): : “Reason would contrive such a religion as should afford both sad and solemn objects to amuse and affect the pensive part of the soul.” Says Milton, (Paradise Lost, B. vi):
Study of Words, p. 219. In a later book, "Glossary of English Words," etc., p. 4, the author himself objects to this derivation.