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monitor, whing, that his workas past midnight mb of the
The Romans peopled their fields with imaginary deities, each of whom presided over the corn in every state of growth and preparation. Stercutus directed the manuring, Occator the harrowing, and Sator the sowing ; Seia watched the seed while it remained in the earth; and, when the blade sprung up, Runcina directed the weeding; Robigus warded off both blasts and mildew; the joints of the stalks were guarded by Nodosus; and Volusia folded the tender blade around the ear. When the wheat began to blossom, Flora presided over it with guardian care; Patelina watched it on emerging from the pod; Hostilina observed that the ears grew long and even ; and, when fully ripe, it was the office of Matura to guard it from every threatened danger.
Many ancient superstitions appear to have originated from the best feelings of the heart. The Roman husbandmen must have often felt that their utmost care was insufficient to bring to maturity the fruits of the earth, unless the operations of nature accorded with their own. Hence arose in them a feeling of gratitude to some unknown cause; and, as they were unacquainted with that Being “who covereth the heavens with clouds, prepareth rain for the earth, and causeth grass to grow upon the mountains," they naturally concluded, that subordinate agents were necessary to perfect the progress of the blade. Higher feelings should arise spontaneously in the bosom of the Christian, when he thinks
“ How good the God of nature is to him,
Who sheds abundance o'er his flowing fields." I have recurred to the elegant observations of St. Pierre, on the tranquil pleasures of a country life. Forgive me if I bring them to your recollection in a more compressed form. They may, perhaps, beguile some evening walk.
The husbandman, in the abundance of the joyous season, discovers a visible token of the benevolence of God. Successive harvests bring to his remembrance the cheerful moments of his past existence, and inspire him with gratitude to the great Being, who has united the transient race of men by a continual chain of blessings. The direction of the shadow is a silent monitor, which reminds him of the hour of the day ; at noon it warns him to retire from the sultry heat; in the evening, that his work is done, as Humboldt, whilst crossing one of the vast rivers of North America, was admonished that it was past midnight by the bending of the southern cross. The guiltless harvests which he has reaped, successively remind him of the years which have already passed away. When the sun in his annual course arrives at Virgo, and the cool fresh morning invites him to the labour of the field, he rises refreshed from his tranquil slumber, and hastens to cut down the ripened corn. His heart exults as he binds up the swelling sheaves; whilst his children dance around him, crowned with garlands of corn cockles and wild poppies. Their harmless play recalls to recollection the amusement of his early days, the parents whom he has lost, and all those indefinable associations which brighten as they take their flight. Thus far St. Pierre. Other thoughts might also occupy the bosom of his virtuous husbandman. He is naturally admonished, by his daily occupation, to perform as an hireling his appointed duty; that, when the shouting for the summer fruits and for the harvest, is ended, he may be gathered to his fathers, as a shock of corn fully ripe.
The great Author of our religion continually exemplified the important truths which he delivered, by a reference to natural objects; those especially of pasturage and husbandry, as peculiarly calculated to make an impression on the mind. An harvest-field was by him compared to the world, in which both bad and good are permitted, under the similitude of tares and wheat, to grow together; angels are the reapers; and the solemn day of final retribution, is the gathering of the wheat into the garner. Even the solitary blade which springs by the way-side, or grows upon a rock, or brings forth abundantly in rich and cultivated soil, though unnoticed by the casual observer, speaks in forcible language to the ear of the Christian. It also tells of the resurrection, and the life; “For verily, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
I shall now take my leave of you, my friends, with this reflection, that, if you are really unfortunate, religion will be your only consolation ; if you merely sigh for pleasures which are not within your reach, rural occupations, books, and flowers, will afford you sources of enjoyment which the world can neither give, nor take away. “Nature never did betray
And let the misty mountain winds be free
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations !"
nds up the swelliis tranquil and the coo