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might have been frustrated; that the alterations and corruptions to which it appears to lie open, might have proved subversive of its very character as our great spiritual light, and that the forgeries palmed upon the world in the early ages of Christianity might have been received as of equal, if not of greater authority.
Such objections are easily answered by analogies drawn from the natural world ; for these serve to shew that the material creation is subject to the same chances and changes as the written word of God. The very earth itself exhibits abundant proofs that it has not been transmitted to us without undergoing accidents similar to those which might have befallen the sacred scriptures. How many thousands of animals, belonging to perfectly extinct races, are found imbedded in its rocks; how many convulsions have overturned whole mountain-ranges by the roots; and what multiplied changes of a more quiet and gradual, though not less extensive character, have altered the entire aspect of vast districts on its surface? By far more passages have been lost from the records of creation, than even infidelity has had the effrontery to say have disappeared from the oracles of truth. Do not the ordinary processes of nature which are going on before our own eyes depend, in many instances, upon what human reasoning would call the merest contingencies imaginable? The wind, the rain, the sun, the wandering bird, and even the fly and the bee, are God's ministers in working the wonderful and complicated machinery of the vegetable kingdom. Might not the wind, with that caprice for which it is proverbial, “ blow where it listeth," and frustrate the fond hopes of the husbandman? Might not the sun shine only to "smite," or refuse altogether to shew his cheerful face ? Might not the rain deluge and desolate the earth, or fall only on “the desert where no man is,” and where its agency was comparatively little wanted ? Might not the bird cease to become the unconscious instrument of transmitting seeds to the hitherto barren rock, or transferring the never-failing parasite to its proper resting place in the forest, the orchard, or the way-side ? Might not the fly refuse to entangle himself in the bristled calyx of the flower, where his efforts at escape are made the means of dispersing the farina, and causing it to fall upon the very spot prepared for its reception ? And might not the bee neglect to transport from plant to plant, the same “ fertilizing meal,” and thus cause the failure of that seed upon which depends the very existence of the species ?
What answer can we give to all these enquiries, but that which applies with equal force to the word of truth? The only guarantee for the due performance of these apparent contingencies is in the Eternal Power and Godhead of Him who cannot lie. Shall not he who numbereth the hairs of the head, number every jot and tittle of his unchanging law; and the same Omnipotence that keeps the heavens and the earth in store, preserve unmixed and unimpaired the volume of his grace? “FOR THAT HE IS STRONG IN POWER, NOT ONE FAILETH.”
Comparisons and analogies, or resemblances like those we have referred to, necessarily imply a species of association, which is one of the most delightful, and oftentimes a very useful faculty of the mind. When we connect like things with like, as we have just done, we establish a certain contact between them. But there are other kinds of association which are only local, perhaps, or entirely arbitrary; such was that, indelibly established in the mind of Linnæus, between the owl which he shot in Pithæa, and the memorable circumstances under which he procured it. “An owl," says he, “ appeared, flitting every now and then, at short distances, before me. Laying hold of my gun, I ventured to take aim, though my horse kept going on at a good rate. It was a quarter past twelve at night, yet not at all durk. I was lucky enough to hit the bird, but in such a manner that one side of it was too much damaged to allow of stuffing and preserving the specimen.”
It will be easily understood that our young traveller could never afterwards see or think of this owl, without associating with it, the jolting of his horse, or the unprecedented fact of the sun being only just below the horizon at midnight. As the season advanced, Linnæus actually saw it shining at this unwonted hour, and throwing the long quivering shadows of the few flowers that peeped above the snow, over the sparkling mountain-side..
Nor was he content with merely connecting coincident circumstances of this kind, for he sometimes travelled beyond “all visible and vulgar things" to the Great First Cause himself. On the 24th of June, he thus associates the glories that surrounded him, with the God of all his mercies.
“ Midsummer-day. Blessed be the Lord for the beauty of summer and of spring, and for what is here in greater perfection than almost any where in the world—the air, the water, the verdure of the herbage, and the song of birds !".
This is enlightened association, worthy of imitation by our dear young charge. If a heathen could exclaim of his divinity, “All things are full of him !” what shall we say of that Christian heart which shuts God out of his reflections, whilst contemplating the myriad wonders of creation !
Association is a useful exercise, as the handmaid of memory. When any two objects, principles, or feelings are thus knit together, the recurrence of the one, will usually ensure the remembrance of the other. It is on this principle that most of our systems of mnemonics proceed, and though, as systems, they are not so useful as some would pretend, they are not without their value as regards certain points connected with them.
All these are the elements of which reason is made up, though some make this a distinct faculty of the mind. No term, perhaps, has been more shamefully perverted and abused. We ought never to forget that, in the words of one of our noblest divines, it was "made to learn, and not to teach." Causation, or the tracing of effects to their causes, is the peculiar province of reason; and that man is altogether unworthy to be called rational, who does not see God to be all in all. What can be more ridiculous and pitiable than to see a fellow creature refusing to submit the reason that God has made, to the teaching and discipline of its very Maker? “Come," says the True Wisdom Himself, " and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and they shall find rest that learn of me.” Did the philosopher ever find rest out of God? We do not mean out of his god, but out of the God of revelation-God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself by the blood of the Cross? He never did. Every system is a scheme without head or tail, beginning or end, premises or conclusions, that does not spring from God, and lead to him. He is the true ALPHA AND OMEGA, THE FIRST AND THE LAST! Look for him in every book you read ; in every observation you make; in every comparison that comes before you; in every inference you deduce; in every analogy you draw; in every association that flashes through your mind : make him the subject of your sweetest memories, and the object of your loftiest reasonings ; and then you will discover in all your studies and researches what it is that really constitutes “ the art of enjoying a book.”
ACCOUNT OF THE FLYING SERPENT. :.
(From the Missionary Herald.) The following highly interesting account of the flying serpent was communicated to the directors of the Baptist Missionary Society in a letter, dated 30th July, 1840, from the Rev. N. M. .Ward, one of their missionaries stationed at Padang, on the west
coast of Sumatra ; and independently of the high character of the writer, possesses such claims to the fullest credence, that we only regret it should have so long escaped our notice.
“In the early part of 1833, a native chief of Limo Manis, in the vicinity of Padang, named Tam Basar, in company with another person, mentioned to Mrs. A. F. Vandenberg and myself, that they had just before seen a serpent flying, and, as it was considered dangerous, had killed it. We smiled at them as romancing, but they affirmed positively they had seen it fly, and offered to take us to it. We accordingly went and examined it, and finding no appendage of the nature of wings, we again laughed at them, as attempting to impose on our credulity. They however continued positive that they had seen it fly, and explained the mode of flying, by saying it had power to render the under part of the belly concave, instead of convex, as far as the ribs extended, whence it derived its support in the air, whilst its propulsion was produced by a motion of the body, similar to that of swimming in water. We, however, continued incredulous and took no further notice of the circumstance.
.“ In January, 1834, I was walking with Mr. P. Rogers in a forest near the river Padang Bessie, about a mile from the spot where the above was killed, when, stopping for a moment to admire an immense tree, covered as with a garment of creepers, I beheld a serpent fly from it, at the height of fifty or sixty feet above the ground, and alight upon another at the distance of forty or fifty fathoms. Its velocity was rapid as that of a bird, its motion that of a serpent swimming through water; it had no appearance of wings. Its course was that of a direct line, with an inclination of ten or fifteen degrees to the horizon. It appeared to be three or four feet long. The one killed by the native chief was about the same length, was of slender proportions, dark coloured back, light below, and was not characterized by any peculiarity which would make it remarkable to a stranger.
- “ Thus was I convinced of the existence of flying serpents; and, on inquiry, I found some of the natives, accustomed to the forests, aware of the fact. Those acquainted with the serpent, call it, “Ular tampang hari,” or “ Ular upie,"—the fiery serpent, from the burning pain, and mortal effect of its bite. So that the fiery flying serpent of the Scriptures was not an imaginary creature, though it appears now extinct in the regions it formerly inhabited.
"I have delayed the present notice, in hope of obtaining a specimen, which I could offer as a more convincing proof than my bare assertion, but further delay may possibly, with some, weaken even this testimony on a point which appears to have been long disputed, and which has not been credited by any of the Dutch gentlemen employed in collecting specimens of the natural history of these parts, to whom I have mentioned it. I learn from the natives, however, that this is not the only species which flies. There is one called “ Ular Tadung,” with a red head, and not exceeding two feet long, seen sometimes about cocoa-nut trees, whose bite is instantly mortal, and which has the power of flying or rather leaping a distance of twenty fathoms, for it is described as not having the waving motion through the air of the one I saw.
“The power of flying without wings appeared interesting to me at the time, from its affording a practical illustration of a position I saw advanced in one of the periodicals, on the art of flying. I think it was the “ Mechanics' Magazine,” where the writer maintained that the power of support in the atmosphere might be derived from mere propulsion. This was chiefly the case in the present instance, and the propulsion seems to have been generated by the waving action of the sides of the body on the atmosphere. A practical application of the principle to aerial vehicles, I should think by no means impossible; and having seen an animal, so destitute of every claim to the rank of an aerial being, as a serpent, traversing the atmosphere with speed and safety, I see no reason to doubt that the ingenuity of man, exercised as it now is upon every possible subject, will, ere long, raise him also to a similar grade in the order of creation."
This circumstantial and very satisfactory statement, will, we are confident, prove highly attractive to all lovers of natural history; and especially to the Bible student, though for our own part, we have never been disposed to question the actual existence of the