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The scenes indeed all around us, which we lately beheld, have assumed a new and chilling appearance. The trees are shorn of their foliage. The hedges are laid bare. The fields and favourite walks have lost their attractions: and the garden, now it yields no perfumes, and offers no fruits, like a friend in adversity, is forsaken.The vegetable creation looks dead. The tuneful tribes are dumb. The cattle are grave, and no longer play in the meadows. The north wind blows; "He sendeth abroad his ice like morsels, who can stand before his cold?"-We rush in for shelter.
But let us take some particular views of this subject. And, first, winter belongs to the plan of Heaven, and is a season indispensably necessary. It aids the system of life and vegetation. It kills the seeds of infection, and destroys pestilential damps. It refines the blood. It gives us vigour and courage. It confirms the nerves, and braces up the relaxed solids.
Snow is a warm covering for the corn: and while it defends the tender blades from nipping frosts, it also nourishes their growth. Isaiah remarked this long ago; and speaks of "the snow -coming down from heaven, and watering the earth, to make it bring forth, and bud." The case is this. When the snow thaws, it melts into genial moisture; sinks down into the soil, and leaves the nutritious particles with which it is charged in the pores. Thus, the glebe is replenished with that vegetable nutriment which will produce the bloom of spring, and the fertility of autumn.
Winter, therefore, is only the needful repose of nature, after labouring for the welfare of the
creation. But even this pause is only to acquire new strength; or rather it is a silent and secret energy of preparation to surprise and charm us again with fresh abundance. Nor has the Creator forgotten our well-being, and comfort during this period.
For winter is, secondly, a season which has its pleasures. I love to hear the roaring of the wind. I love to see the figures which the frost has painted on the glass. I love to watch the red-breast with his slender legs, standing at the window, and knocking with his bill to ask for the crumbs which fall from the table. I love to observe the husbandman carrying forth the provender for his harmless charge while the creatures of his care, not with boisterous impatience, but with waiting eyes turned towards the place of their supplies; ask for their meat in due season-and I see here one of the many ways in which " HE openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."
Is it not pleasant to view a landscape, whitened with snow? To gaze upon the trees and hedges dressed in such pure and sparkling lustre? To behold the rising sun labouring to pierce a fog, which had enveloped the heaven and the earth, and gradually successful in dispersing these vapours-so that objects by little and little emerge from their obscurity, and appear in their own forms, while the mist rolls up the side of the hill, and is seen no more!
A few things also brave the rigour of the season, and remain evergreen. The box, the laurel, the yew tree, the lauristinus are grateful exemptions from the law of desolation. Nor should we
forget the curling ivy, nor the crimson berries of the wild hawthorn.
Winter affords recreation for the understanding, as well as for the senses. If we are less abroad, we have more intercourse within. If rural pleasures are diminished, social ones are increased.
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st,
"Compensating his loss with added hours
Yes, there are amusements to be found, without having recourse to noisy, public dissipations, in which health, innocency, and peace are frequently sacrificed; where vicious passions are cherished, and persons are rendered incapable of relishing genuine pleasure
"Cards were superfluous here, with all the tricks
To fill the void of an unfurnished brain,
Thirdly. Winter is a season in which we should peculiarly feel gratitude, for our residence, accommodations, and conveniences.Things strike us more forcibly by comparison. Let us remember how much more temperate our climate is than that of many other countries.Our winter is nothing when we turn to the frigid zone. Think of those who live within the polar circle; dispersed; exposed to beasts of prey; their poor huts furnishing only a miserable refuge; where linger months of perpetual night and frost; and, by the absence of heat, almost absolute barrenness reigns around.
When the French mathematicians wintered at Tornea in Lapland, the external air, suddenly admitted into their rooms, seizing the moisture, became whirls of snow: their breasts were rent when they breathed it; and the contact of it with their bodies was intolerable. We read of seven thousand Swedes who perished at once, in attempting to pass the mountains which divide Norway from Sweden.
And while our winter reigns here with great comparative mildness, how many blessings distinguish our portion from that of others around us, and demand our praise! We have a house to defend us. We have clothes to cover us. We have fire to warm us. We have beds to comfort We have provisions to nourish us.-What shall we render? "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
Fourthly. This season calls upon us to exercise benevolence. Sympathy is now more powerfully excited than at any other period; we are enabled more easily to enter into the feelings of others less favoured than ourselves. And while
we are enjoying every conveniency and comfort which the tenderness of Providence can affordO let us think of the indigent and miserable. Let us think of those whose poor hovels, and shattered panes cannot screen them from the piercing cold. Let us think of those whose tattered garments scarcely cover their shivering flesh. Let us think of the starving poor, who, after a struggle which to relinquish, give up their small pittance of bread, to get a little fuel to warm their frozen limbs. Let us think of the old and the infirm; of the sick and the diseased. When evening draws on, let us reflect upon the scene so exquisitely touched by the pencil of sensibility:
"Poor, yet industrious, modest, quiet, neat,
Olet "the blessing of them that are ready to perish come upon us!" Who would not "labour that he may have to give to him that needeth!" Who would not deny himself superfluities, and -something more-that his bounty may visit "the fatherless and the widows in their affliction?"
Ah! ye unfeeling, ye worldy-minded, that