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Confirm the tidings as they roll,
What though in solemn silence all
It is true, in the delightful seasons, His tenderness and His love are most eminently displayed. In the vernal months, all is beauty to the eye, and music to the ear: The clouds drop fatness; the air softens into balm; and flowers in rich abundance spring wherever we tread, bloom wherever we look. Amidst the burning heats of summer, he expands the leaves and thickens the shades; he spreads the cooling arbour to receive us, and awakes the gentle breeze to fan us: The moss swells into a couch for the repose of our bodies; while the rivulet softly rolls and sweetly murmurs, to soothe our imagination. In autumn, his bounty covers the fields with a profusion of nutrimental treasure, and bends the boughs with loads of delicious fruit; he furnishes his hospitable board with present plenty, and prepares a copious magazine for future wants. But is it only in these smiling periods of the year that God, the all-gracious God, is seen? Has winter, stern winter, no tokens of his presence? Yes; all things are eloquent of his praise: "His way is in the whirlwind;" storms and tempests fulfil his word, and extol his power; even piercing frosts bear witness to his goodness, while they bid the shivering nations tremble at his wrath. Be winter, then, for a while our theme.* Perhaps those barren scenes
* A sketch of this nature, I must acknowledge, is quite different from the subject of the book; and I cannot but declare, was as far distant from the thoughts of the author. But the desire of several acquaintances, together with an intimation of its usefulness by a very
may be fruitful in intellectual improvement; perhaps that rigorous cold which binds the earth in icy chains, nay serve to enlarge our hearts, and warm them with holy love.
See how the day is shortened! The sun, detained in fairer climes, or engaged in more agreeable services, rises, like an unwilling visitant, with tardy and reluctant steps. He walks with a shy indifference along the edges of the southern sky: casting an oblique glance, he just looks upon our dejected world, and scarcely scatters light through the thick air. Dim is his appearance, languid are his gleams, while he continues; or, if he chance to wear a brighter aspect, and a cloudless brow, yet, like the young and gay in the house of mourning, he seems uneasy till he is gone, is in haste to depart. And let him depart : Why should we wish for his longer stay, since he can shew us nothing but the creation in distress? The flowery families lie dead, and the tuneful tribes are struck dumb; the trees, stript of their verdure, and lashed by storms, spread their naked arms to the enraged and relentless heavens. Fragrance no longer floats in the air; but chilling damps hover, or cutting gales blow. Nature, divested of all her beautiful robes, sits like a forlorn disconsolate widow in her weeds; while winds in doleful accents howl, and rains in repeated showers weep.
We regret not, therefore, the speedy departure of the day. When the room is hung with funeral black, and dismal objects are all around, who would desire to have the glimmering taper kept alive, which can only discover spectacles of sorrow, can only make the horror visible? And since this mortal life is little better than a continual conflict with sin, or an unremitted struggle with misery, is it not a gracious ordi
polite letter from an unknown hand, prevailed with me to add a few descriptive touches, and improving hints, on what is so often experienced in these northern regions. I hope the attempt I have made to oblige these gentlemen, will obtain the approbation, or at least the excuse, of my readers.
nation which has reduced our age to a span? Fourscore years of trial for the virtuous, are sufficiently long; and more than such a term allowed to the wicked, would render them beyond all measure vile. Our way to the kingdom of heaven lies through tribulations. Shall we then accuse, shall we not rather bless the Providence, which has made the passage short? Soon, soon we cross the vale of tears; and then arrive on the happy hills where light for ever shines, where joy for ever smiles.
Sometimes the day is rendered shorter still; is almost blotted out from the year. The vapours gather; they thicken into an impenetrable gloom, and obscure the face of the sky. At length the rains descend; the sluices of the firmament are opened, and the low hung clouds pour their congregated stores. Copious and unintermitted, still they pour, and still are unexhausted. The waters drop incessantly from the eaves, and rush in rapid streams from the spouts: They roar along the channeled pavements, and stand in foul shallows on the village streets. Now, if the inattentive eye or negligent hand has left the roof but scantily covered, the insinuating element finds its way into every flaw, and, oozing through the ceiling, at once upbraids and chastises the careless inhabitant. The ploughman, soaked to the skin, leaves his halftilled acre; the poor poultry, dripping with wet, crowd into shelter; the tenants of the bough fold up their wings, afraid to launch into the streaming air; the beasts, joyless and dispirited, ruminate under their shades; the roads swim, and the brooks swell. The river, amidst all this watery ferment, long contained itself within its appointed bounds; but, swollen by innumerable currents, and roused at last into uncontrollable rage, bursts over its banks, shoots into the plain, bears down all opposition, spreads itself far and wide, and buries the meadow under a brown, sluggish, soaking deluge.
How happy for man, that this inundation comes when there are no flowery crops in the valley to be
overwhelmed, no fields standing thick with corn to be Jaid waste! At such a juncture, it would have been ruin to the husbandman and his family; but thus timed, it yields manure for his ground, and promises him riches in reversion. How often, and how long, has the divine Majesty borne with the most injurious affronts from sinners! His goodness triumphed over their perverseness, and graciously refused to be exasperated. But, O presumptuous creatures, multiply no longer your provocations; urge not, by repeated iniquities, the almighty arm to strike; lest his longsuffering cease, and his fierce anger break forth; break forth like a flood of waters, (Hosea v. 10.), and sweep you away into irrecoverable and everlasting perdition.
How mighty, how majestic, and O! how mysterious are thy works, thou God of heaven, and Lord of nature! When the air is calm, where sleep the stormy winds, in what chambers are they reposed, or in what dungeons confined, till thou art pleased to awaken their rage, and throw open their prison doors? Then, with irresistible impetuosity, they fly forth, scattering dread and menacing destruction.
The atmosphere is hurled into the most tumultuous confusion. The aerial torrent bursts its way over mountains, seas, and continents. All things feel the dreadful shock; all things tremble before the furious blast. The forest, vexed and torn, groans under the Scourge: Her sturdy sons are strained to the very root, and almost sweep the soil they were wont to shade. The stubborn oak, that disdains to bend, is dashed headlong to the ground, and with shattered arms, with prostrate trunk, blocks the road; while the flexile reed, that springs up in the marsh, yielding to the gust, (as the meek and pliant temper to injuries, or the resigned and patient spirit to misfortunes), eludes the force of the storm, and survives amidst the wide-spread havock.
For a moment the turbulent and outrageous sky seems to be assuaged; but it intermits its wrath only