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Sacred philosophy of the seasons; illustrating the perfections of God in the phenomena of the year (Volume 2) online

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NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES





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SACRED
PHILOSOPHY OF THE SEASONS;

ILLUSTRATING THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD

IN THE PHENOMENA OF THE YEAR.

BY THE REV. HENRY DUNCAN, D.D,,

KUTirtrEI-L, SCOTLAND.
WITH IMPORTANT ADDITIONS AND SOME MODIFICATIONS TO ADAPT IT TO

AMERICAN READERS.

BY REV. F. W. P. GREENWOOD, D.D.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.

VOL. II.— SPRING.




N E W Y O R K :
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,

82 CLIFF STREET

18 4 7.



fl



Oi.^






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by

Marsh, Capen", Lyon, and Webb,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



SPRING.



" LO ! THE WINTER IS PAST, THE RAIX IS OVER AND GONE J THE FLOWERS
APPEAR ON THE EARTH ; THE TIME OF THE SINGING OF BIRDS IS COME, AND THE
VOICE OF THE TURTLE IS HEARD IN OUR LAND."— 5ong- of Solomon.



^



'I COME ! I COME ! Ye have called me Loxa,

I COME o'er the mountains WITH LIGHT AND SONS '

Ye may trace my step o'er the wakening earth
By the winds which tell of the violet's biriU;
By THE primrose stabs in the shadowy grass.

By the GREEN LEAVES OPENING AS I PASS,"— IVIr*. UtmUV.a.



AUTHOR'S ADVERTISEMENT.



The present Volume is the second of a series, the
object of which is to demonstrate the existence and the
attributes of God, in the various phenomena of the re-
voh^ing year. Each volume contains an argument com-
plete in itself, and pecuhar to the season of which it
treats. The present exhibits proofs of the Divine agency
in the reproductive powers and processes of created
things, with reference to the qualities of the atmosphere,
the diffusion of hght and heat, the deposition and distri-
bution of moisture, the properties of the soil, the nature
of the living principle, the developement of seeds and
plants, the animal structure and instincts, &c. &c. A
similar arrangement is adopted in this Volume as in that
on ' Winter,' the argument commencing with the con-
sideration of the arrangements and adaptations of inorganic
matter, and thence proceeding from the lowest to the
highest orders of organized existences, through the vari-
ous genera of plants and animals.

The latter part of the Volume is devoted to an ex-
emplification of those adaptations and properties in the
soil, and in vegetable substances, which give rise to, and
reward, the labors of the agriculturist, and which thus
lay the foundation of civilized society, and afford a
1*



6 ADVERTISEMENT.

Stimulus to progressive improvement in the arts and
sciences.

The subject possesses greater unity than that of the
preceding volume, and is, at the same time, in its nature,
more copious, as well as more interesting.



CONTENTS,



Page

Author's Advertisement, ..... 5

COSMICAL ARRANGEMENTS.

General Character of Spring in temperate Climates, . 1 1
Increasing Temperature of the Weather, and its

Effects, 17

Color and Figure of Bodies, . . . . .21

Mountains, . . .' . . . . 27

Rain, 31

Fountains and Springs of Running Water, . . 36

I. Sunday. — Advantages of Vicissitude, . . .43
Rivers, ........ 48

REPRODUCTION OF VEGETABLES.

Vegetable Soil, . 52

Vegetation, ....... 57

Preservation and Distribution of Seeds, . . .61

Long Vitality of Seeds, ..... 65

Developement of Seeds and Plants, . . . .69

II. Sunday. — Analos^ij of JYature, .... 74

The Vital Powers of Plants, 78

Flowers. — Their Form, Color, and Fragrance, . 83
Flowers. — Their Organs of Reproduction, and their

Secretion of Honey, ...... 87

Flowers.— The Violet, 90

REPRODUCTION OF ANIMALS.

The Animal Structure. — Cellular Texture — Mem-
branes, Tendons, and Ligaments, . . .94

The Animal Structure. — Secretion, Digestion, and
the Circulation of the Blood, .... 97

III. Sunday. — " The same Lord over All," . . 101
The Animal Structure. — Gastric Juice — ^^luscular



8 CONTENTS.

Power — Nature of the Proof of Creative Wisdom
derived from the Animal Frame, . . . 104

The Lower Orders of Animals, .... 109

The Higher Orders of Animals, . . . .113

INSTINCTS CONNECTED WITH THE REPRODUCTION OF
ANIMALS.

General Remarks, . . . . . . .116

Parental Affection, . ... . . .120

Insects.— Their Eggs, 126

IV. Sunday. — 0»i the Umfo7inity or Sameness in the
JVatural and Moral World, . . . .131

Insects. — Care of their Offspring, exemplified in Bees

and Wasps, 135

Insects.— The Moth— The Burying-Beetle— The Ant, 141

Insects. — Gall Flies, 146

Insects. — Deposition of Eggs in the Bodies of Ani-
mals, and in Insects' Nests, .... 151

Birds. — Their Eggs, 155

Birds. — Prospective Contrivances, . . .161

V. Sunday. — On the Domestic Affections in Man, . 164
Birds. — Relation of their Bodies to external Nature, 168
Birds. — Pairing, . . . . . . .173

Birds. — Pairing, continued, . . . . .176

Birds. — Nest-building, 181

Birds, — Nest-building, continued, . . .185

Birds. — Nest-building, continued. — The Grossbeak —

The Humming-Bird, 189

VI. Sunday. — Regeneration, . . . .193

Birds. — Nests of Swallows, 198

Birds, — Hatching of Eggs, and rearing the Brood, 203
Quadrupeds.— The Lion— The Rabbit, . . .208

Quadrupeds, — Instincts of the Young, . . 212

Man, — Effects of protracted Childhood on the Indi-
vidual, ........ 215

Man. — Effects of protracted Childhood on the Pa-
rents and on Society, ..... 219

VII. Sunday. — On Christian Love, .... 223

AGRICULTURE.

The Difference between the Operations of Reason
and Instinct, as affording Arguments in Favor of
the Divine Perfections, 227



CONTENTS. 9

Origin of Agricultural Labor, . . . . .231

Origin of Property in the Soil, and the Division of

Ranks, 234

Effects of Property in the Soil, .... 238

Benetits derived from the Principles which stimulate

Agricultural Improvement, .... 241

The Blessings of Labor, ... . 244

VIII. Sunday. — Spiritual Training by Affliction, . 248
Nature of Soils, .... . . 252

Formation of Soils, ...... 256

Management of Soils, ...... 260

Management of Soils. — Draining — Irrigation, . 264

Blair-Drummond Moss, . . . . . . 268

Products of the Soil. — Dissemination of Plants, . 272

IX. SuxDAY. — The Soive7', 275

Dissemination of Plants. — The Cocoa-Nut Tree, . 279

Mitigation of Seasons occasioned by Cultivation, . 283-—
The Labors of the Husbandman wisely distributed

over the Year, 287 —

Vegetable Substances. — The Corn-Plants. — Their

Mysterious Origin, . . . . . .291

The Corn-Plants. — Their Distribution over the Globe, 295 -
The Corn-Plants.— Wheat, 299

X. Sunday. — Sabbath Morning, .... 303

The Corn-Plants.— Barley, 306

The Corn-Plants.— Oats, 310

The Corn-Plants.— Rice, Maize, and Millet, . .314
Leguminous Plants. — Peas and Beans, . . 318
Esculent Roots. — The Potato, .... 322
Vegetable Substances used for Weaving. — ^The Flax-
Plant, .327

XI. Sunday. — True Science the Handmaid of Religion, 330
Vegetable Substances used for Weaving. — The Cot-

ton-Plant, 335

Vegetable Substances used for Cordage. — Hemp, 340
Vegetable Substances used for Paper, . . . 343

ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF
CHRIST.

The Sacrarhent of the Supper, .... 348

The Crucifixion, ....... 352

The Grave, ....... 357

XII. Sunday. — The Resurrection, .... 359



10 CONTENTS.

Enjoyment equally Distributed, .... 364
The Enjoyments of the Poor in Spring, . . . 368
The Woods, 371

RETROSPECTIVE VIEW OF THE ARGUMENT.

The Power and Intelligence of the Creator, . 376

The Goodness of the Creator, 379

The Use and Deficiency of Natural Religion, . 383



SACRED PHILOSOPHY



SEASONS



SPRING.



FIRST WEEK— MONDAY.

GENERAL CHARACTER OF SPRING IN TEMPERATE CLIMATES.

Spring has been celebrated in glowing terms by the
poets of all ages ; but in the climate of Britain, and of
the Northern States of America, if we count the season
by the calendar, the weather is by no means so mild and
delightful, especially in the early part of this quarter of
the year, as it is painted. In Greece and Rome, indeed,
which were the birthplaces and nurseries of European
poetry, the temperature of the air, the pure blue of the
sky, the soft green of the opening leaves, the thousand
delicate tints of the flowers scattered so profusely over
hill and valley, with the perfume which they exhale, and
the music poured from every grove — all unite to fill every
sense with enjoyment. There, the descriptions of the
enraptured muse are true to nature, and the inhabitants
of such latitudes feel that the language of poetry is only a
transcript of their own sensations. But it is not so in
more northern climates, such as our own. Our bards,
indeed, equally kindle and burn when Spring is their
theme ; but they often glow with a borrowed warmth.
Their taste and fancy, having been moulded by the Greek
and Latin authors, almost unconsciously transport them



12 GENERAL CHARACTER OF SPRING

to the classic ground from which their models drew their
images, causing them to breathe, as it were, the same
atmosphere, and to luxuriate in the same delicious climate.
It would be more gratifying to the acumen of the critic,
than pleasing to the feelings of the man of taste, to ex-
amine how much of the language and imagery of modern
poetry, relative to Spring, is drawn from classic ages and
classic scenery, and then to estimate what remains of
direct inspiration poured into the soul, in this change-
able and backward chmate, from our own earth, and sea,
and sky. 1 have no relish for such an inquiry, though
it seems to be almost forced on the mind, in comparing
the "ethereal mildness" and balmy sweets, which breathe
in Spring, as portrayed by the Northern Muse, with our
actual experience of a northern atmosphere, and of the
vernal productions of a northern soil. The real spring
of our climate can scarcely be said to be fairly set in, till
near the commencement of summer.*

In the month of February, winter not only lingers but
rages. Our rivers, ponds, and lakes, are still either
rigidly bound in icy chains, or only partially disengaged
from them ; and, in some respects, the severity of the
climate is frequently even more intense than during the
depth of winter itself. Sometimes the tempest howls
with redoubled fury, driving broad flakes of snow through
the darkened air, and encumbering the wide earth with
its drifted heaps ; and, while the herds on the low
grounds stand forlorn and destitute of food, the flocks on
the hills are in danger of finding a sudden grave at the
bottom of the precipice, whither they have fled for shel-
ter. At other times, the cold and sleety rain falls in tor-
rents, carrying along with it the snow which it has melted
in the mountains, and spreading dismay and ruin over
the inundated valleys ; and, at other times again, the hoar-
frost lies thick and chill, and spreads its snowy mantle
over fence and field, while the deep blue sky, and the
sun rising in the glowing east, without a cloud, speak
deceitfully of to-morrow's softness and beauty.

* [If so, it is a matter of some wonder that our respected author has
insisted on putting Spring much further back than was necessary, by
making February the first vernal month. — Am. Ed.]



IN TEMPERATE CLIMAl?**. ^

But, notwithstanding the rigors of the clKnr^^, Uior©
are not wanting, even at the commencement of tliC sea-
son, interesting proofs of the advancing year, and harbin-
gers of a more genial season. The day has akeady en-
croached on the long and dreary night, and the sun takes
daily a wider circuit in the heavens. The buds of many
trees and flowers have begun to swell ; the catkins of the
hazel and willow throw their tiny but elegant forms on
the sight. The anemonies are in flower in our gardens ;
and the crocus,

The first gilt thing

That wears the trembling pearls of spring,

spreads its cloth of gold on the sheltered borders, along
with the hepatica and the white Butter-bur ; and most
interesting of all, the snowdrop, which had for weeks
burst through the rigid soil, has now opened its chaste
and delicate blossoms to the chilly breeze, and seems to
vie in whiteness with the winding-sheet of winter, from
which it derives its name.

" Already now the snowdrop dares appear,
The first pale blossom of the unripened year ;
As Flora's breath, by some transforming power.
Had changed an icicle into a flower ;
Its name and hue the scentless plant retains,
And winter lingers in its icy veins."*

Among the feathered tribes, the rooks are stirring, and
their incessant notes of enjoyment, mingled with the bus-
tle of preparing for the important duties of incubation,
everywhere attract the attention of the lovers of Nature.
The croaking raven, led by a congenial instinct, selects
some venerable tree where she may build her nest, and
the sweet songs of the woodlark and chaffinch, mixed with
the mellow tones of the blackbird and thrush, from the
neighboring groves, delight the ear ; while the wren, the

* Mrs. Barbauld. — [It will be borne in mind that the above account
is of the English spring, which opens much earlier than ours in New
England, though it corresponds more nearly with the spring of our
Middle States. Our readers must introduce their own wildflowers
into the scene, to make it American ; and omit the rook, which is no!
one of our birds, unfortunately, for he is a very sociable and agreeable
fellow. — Am. Ed.]

II. 2 VIII.



14 GENERAL CHARACTER OF SPRING

redbreast, the titmouse, and the hedge-sparrow, flutter
from spray to spray, and utter their varied notes of glad-
ness, as the sun sheds his warmer rays on wood and field,
giving the promise of approaching mildness and fertility.
" Turkey cocks now strut and gobble ; partridges begin
to pair ; the house-pigeon has young ; field-crickets open
their holes, and wood-owls hoot ; gnats play about, and
insects swarm under sunny hedges ; the stone-curlew
clamors, and frogs croak."*

These indications are observed in Britain during the
month of February ; and, as spring advances, more un-
equivocal symptoms of awakening Nature daily aj)pear.
The sun continues longer above the horizon, and the
weather, though still unsettled, is sufficiently dry to evap-
orate the superabundant moisture, poured on the earth at
the commencement of the season in the form of rain or
snow, and thus to favor the various processes of vegetable
life which are in active operation, while it prepares the
soil for the labors of the husbandman.

The animal tribes now find a delicious repast in the
sweet and tender herbage, which begins to clothe our
sheltered valleys with its soft verdure ; and, among the
innumerable sources of enjoyment which this most inter-
esting of all the seasons aftbrds, perhaps there is none
which sheds so sweet a pleasure over the benevolent
mind, as the universal gladness which, as the weather
becomes more genial, sensibly pervades every thing that
lives. There is a kind of mysterious sympathy which
seems to pass from tribe to tribe of the animated world,
and to unite them all, in one common hymn of gratitude
and praise to the bountiful Giver of all good. The lowing
of the cattle as they luxuriate in the green fields ; the
bleating of the sheep from the hills, while their new-dropt
lambs sport around them, exulting in the consciousness
of young existence ; the hum of the industrious bees, as
they fly from flower to flower collecting their sweet food ;
and the varied notes of love and joy, pouring from bush
and brake, all unite in one harmonious and spirit-stirring

* Hewitt's Book of the Seasons.



IN TEMPERATE CLIMATES. 15

chorus. Nay, inanimate Nature itself seems conscious of
the general joy, — and as the sun breaks forth from the
April shower, every blade of grass sparkles in his beams,
wood and mead smile, and the very silence of the clear
heavens and swelhng earth utters the voice of enjoyment.

[Some idea of the great variety of spring weather, to
be found within the territorial limits of the United States,
may be formed from the following pleasant extract,
which we take from a March number of the New York
Knickerbocker Magazine. — Am. Ed.

' ' \ye found at our desk, on one of the cold mornings
of the past month, two letters, that afford a forcible ex-
ample of the striking contrasts in chmate and scenery,
which this country presents. The first was from a cor-
respondent in Maine, who, for the sake of adventure, had
joined a band of backwoods' loggers, in one of their
' professional' excm'sions into an untracked wilderness,
for the purpose of felling timber. Nothing can be more
wintry than his pictui'e of the solemn forests of pine and
hemlock, their branches bending with snow, which the
wild wdnd ever and anon dislodges, in masses, to descend
' hke a great white sheet, let down from heaven ;' the
gleaming tent-fires, lighting up the silent arcades of the
woods ; the cold aurora-borealis,

" ' That trembles in the northern sky,
And glares on midnight's startled eye,'

shimmering uncertainly high up the zenith ; the tramp of
deer in herds, the while, with the short quick bark of the
fox, ajid the long howl of the wolf, ringing in their ears.
Look on that picture, and then on this, drawn by the
hand of a favorite contributor to these pages, now so-
journing at Jacksonville, Florida : ' Our spring has
commenced ; and while you are pitching Lehigh or black
Newport into the glow^ing grate, I am listening to the
notes of the mocking-bird, watching the flowers unfoW,
or marking the course of flocks of paroquets, that whiz
by, like winged creatures carved from rainbows. Every
thing here is different from the North ; man, soil, chme,
and sky ; wind, flower, herb, and tree. Here you see



16 GENERAL CHARACTER OF SPRING.

the raw material of manhood ; the semi-barbarian, re-
gardless of personal right, and the restraints of law; there
a son of southern chivalry, hospitable, generous, and brave.
The sunshine is pleasant ; the live oaks, streaming with
moss, are venerable ; and winter reigns divested of ter-
ror ; instead of frosty crown and icy sceptre, wearing a
wreath of orange blossoms, and wielding in his effeminate
hand a wand of sugar-cane.' "]

The gradual progress of Spring indicates beneficent
design. There is an obvious and studied preparation
conducive to the salubrity both of animal and vegetable
life. Were the change from winter to spring to be sud-
den, the constitution of organized existences, such as we
find it in our own latitude, would receive so violent an
impulse, as would be attended with many injurious con-
sequences. There is here, therefore, a wise adaptation ;
but the proper way of viewing it is, not so much to con-
sider the chmate adapted to these existences, as them to
the climate. There are necessarily great varieties of
chmates from the Equator to the Arctic circle, and, in
them all, we discover a most admirable fitting of the pro-
duce and living inhabitants to the conditions of their re-
spective localities ; insomuch, that changes, which would
utterly destroy the plants and animals of one chmate,
only tend to give vitahty and health to those of another.
For example, we have stated that fatal effects would en-
sue in our own climate, w^ere the alteration from winter
to spring to be sudden ; and yet nothing can easily be
conceived more rapid than the change of temperature
from intense cold to genial warmth, in Siberia and other
regions verging on the polar circle ; and there the condi-
tions of the animal and vegetable world are such, that the
violent impulse is just what was required to bring them
hastily into life, and enable them quickly to fulfil their
various functions, during their few and fleeting weeks of
summer. In the whole economy of Nature, there is
scarcely any thing more worthy of remark, as indicating
a Designing Cause, than this species of adaptation, by
which the powers of life are suited to the varying con-
ditions of climate. There is, indeed, something ex-



INCREASING TE3IPERATURE OF THE WEATHER. 17

tremely satisfactory, as well as peculiar, not only in this
respect, but in the whole plan of creation, exhibiting as it
does so much uniformity, combined with such variety, —
a uniformity as to general design, which might even be
supposed to indicate poverty of invention, were it not
for the amazing skill with which that general design is
modified and altered, so as to be rendered suitable to
change of circumstances and conditions, — the former, by
its strict analogy, marking unequivocally One contriving
Mind, — the latter, by its endless variety, displaying the
all-pervading wisdom and beneficence of unwearying en-
ergy and never-exliausted resources.



FIRST WEEK— TUESDAY.

THE INCREASING TEMPERATURE OF THE WEATHER, AND ITS
EFFECTS,

When we observe the earth gradually exchanging its
winter robes for a mantle of the hvehest green, the flow-
ers springing up in fresh luxuriance at our feet, and every
shrub and tree putting forth its buds, which are soon to
be beautifully expanded into blossoms and leaves, our
first feelings are those of wonder and delight at the mar-
vellous change produced in the general aspect of Nature ;
and we then naturally seek to contemplate the causes of
such a universal transition. By what agency, we ask,
does the vegetable world suddenly start from apparent
death into all the beauty and exuberance of another
spring ? What second cause, under the direction of
the Great Ruler of the year, works the magnificent effect?

The means by which this sudden burst of vegetation
is produced, are, hke most of the other great agencies
of Nature, extremely simple. It is merely the increased
•temperature of the earth and atmosphere, assisting the
natural tendency of the plants to awake from the lethar-
gic state into which they are thrown during winter. The
progress of the earth in its orbit towards its aphelion, or
2*



18 THE INCREASING TEMPERATURE OP

greatest distance from the sun, causes that luminary to
ascend higher in the heavens, and to be longer above the
horizon, and thus produces longer and warmer days. It
is a welllmown physical fact, formerly noticed, that the
more perpendicularly the sun's rays fall upon the surface
of the earth, the greater is the heat they excite. Hence,
as the sun, in his northward progress in the ecliptic, daily
ascends higher above the horizon, and consequently darts
liis rays upon our hemisphere in a more perpendicular
direction, the temperature of the earth and air gradually
increases, and milder and more genial weather ensues.
The effect upon the economy of vegetables is more or
less rapid, according to their difierent structures ; but in
no long period the increased and increasing heat produces
a universal developement of foliage and flowers. The
earth opens, as it were, her bosom to the sun ; all her
veins feel the genial influence ; and a vital energy moves
and works in all her blossoms, buds, and leaves. What
was lately barrenness becomes fertility ; from desolation
and death start up hfe and varied beauty, as if beneath
the reviving footsteps of a present Deity. Hence result
all the beautiful and amazing phenomena of spring.

As it is a general property of heat to expand ah bod-
ies, so the fibrous and cellular substance, of which vege-
tables are mainly composed, is now subjected to a grad-
ual expansion ; and hence the sap ascends from the roots
through the innumerable minute tubes and cells in the
trunks and branches, and circulates through the finest
veins of the leaves and flowers. There is a curious
species of attraction, in virtue of which the sap of plants,
and liquids in general, ascend through tubular substances,
in seeming contradiction to the law of gravity. It is
called capillary attraction, that is, the attraction of hairs,
from the hairlike smallness of the tubes in which its ef-
fects are greatest and most visible. Its very remarkable
phenomena are not yet satisfactorily accounted for ; nor
have its laws been fully investigated. It has been clearly
ascertained, however, that the ascent of liquids is high in
proportion to the fineness of the tubes through which
they rise. Now, as the tubes of plants are perhaps the



THE WEATHER, AND ITS EFFECTS. 19

finest that exist, the effects of capillary attraction are
more striking in trees than in any other substances ; for
in them the hquid juices frequently ascend to a height of
more than a hundred feet, and circulate to the extremi-
ties of their largest branches and leaves.

It may be difficult to say how much of this process is



Online LibraryHenry DuncanSacred philosophy of the seasons; illustrating the perfections of God in the phenomena of the year (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 34)