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"There is a philosophy which nobly exercises our reasonable faculties, and is highly serviceable to religion :-Such a study of the works of God as leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in Him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful, which sets up the wisdom of man against the wisdom of God, and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith.'-DAVENANT.
Of all the works on Natural Theology, which, in former or recent times, have enlightened and delighted the pious mind, none of any great extent, or of much importance, have been devoted to the illustration of the Divine perfections, in connexion with the Seasons of the Year. Yet this is a view at once interesting and popular. The changes of the seasons display, in themselves, a remarkable and beneficent arrangement; and the adaptations by which vegetable and animal life are fitted to exist, and to fulfil the end of their creation, during these changes, afford ample materials for a beautiful and striking exhibition of the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator.
In investigating this subject, we meet every where also, with the most remarkable analogies in the character of the material world, with that which is so distinctly impressed on Revealed Truth; and, while we hence derive a very satisfactory argument in proof of their origin from the same Almighty and Intelligent Author, we find that these kindred sources of information continually throw a light, clear, consistent, and useful on each other, the latter exalting the former, and raising it to the dignity of a perfect science.
The attention of scientific men, while it has of late been very successfully, has, perhaps, been too exclusively, directed to the book of Nature, in illustration
of the Divine perfections; and those, who peruse their writings, may be induced to overlook the highly important truth, that, after all, natural religion affords but an imperfect glimpse into the moral attributes of the Eternal; and that, without the aid of a direct communication from Heaven, a most ominous gloom hangs over these attributes, and sheds mystery, anxiety, and doubt, on the future destiny of man.
One great object of the Author, in the following pages, is to counteract this unhappy tendency, and to show that the God of Nature can only be known, in the perfection of his character, when regarded as the God of Grace; and that it is not till the light of Revelation shines on the Divine operations, that the clouds and darkness, which surround the throne of the Most High, are dispersed. Under the illumination of this celestial light, the study of creation is, in the highest degree, calculated to expand the understanding, enlighten the judgment, and improve the heart. If it be true, that the human mind takes its character from the nature of the subjects with which it is conversant, we may assuredly expect that it will be ennobled and refined, when it is humbly, judiciously, and piously occupied in investigating the attributes and works of Him, who is the First and the Last, the Greatest and the Best.
The most important and animating views of the Creator and His operations, in reference to the Seasons, are found scattered through many publications, which it has been the agreeable task of the Writer to combine in a new series, and render generally accessible. In doing this, he has frequently quoted the precise words of the various authors from whom he has borrowed his facts. He has no ambition to acquire fame as an original writer; his more humble, but perhaps not less useful aim, being to instruct and edify
those who may not be in possession of inany works on Natural Theology, by rendering them acquainted with the discoveries, which have been made by others, in the most interesting of all sciences.
The plan adopted by the well-known, but somewhat antiquated, German author, STURM, in his "Reflections,' has been so far imitated, that the Work contains a paper for every day of the year, and is thus well suited for stated family reading. The chief reasons which induced STURM to give his Work this form, as he himself observed in the advertisement to the first German edition, were,—-'First, to provide a sufficient variety; and, secondly, that the reader might be led to sanctify each day, by contemplating the works of God.' These are also the motives of the present writer; but the desultory manner and declamatory style of this author he has endeavoured to avoid ; and a more systematic method has been attempted, replete with facts and illustrations, so as to form a whole, containing, what the title expresses, the "SACRED PhilosOPHY OF THE SEASONS.'
It is customary, in enumerating the Seasons, to commence with Spring ; and it may be proper, in a few words, to state one or two reasons which induced the Author to depart from that order, and begin with Winter.
Winter is not the death of Nature, neither is it merely the season of Nature's sleep, after the labours of the vegetable world are finished : It is much more. It is the season of gestation, when nature is preparing in her womb the embryo of the coming year. A thousand secret operations are in progress, by which the seeds, buds and roots of future plants and flowers, are not only preserved but elaborated, that, when the prolific months of Spring arrive, they may burst into life in all