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movements of the several parts or members of minute animals, or the motion of the fluids contained in either animal or vegetable bodies. Under one or other of these three heads, almost every thing around us affords matter of observation, and may conduce to our amusement and instruction.
AUGUSTA. From what I have heard this evening, I expect to be highly entertained to-morrow, and hope, on some future day, you will favour me with more information on these subjects.
MR. HARCOURT. It always affords me peculiar pleasure, to communicate any thing to you, my dear children, that may enlarge and exalt your ideas of the Great First Cause, from whom every thing proceeds, and by whom every thing is arranged and governed in the most perfect order: whether we reflect on the heavenly bodies, those stupendous instances of his omnipotence; or consider the insect, almost imperceptible by its minuteness, yet perfect in all its parts, both internal and external, we are led equally to admire and adore the same power, wisdom, and goodness,
that are manifested in each extreme of his works.
MRS. HARCOURT. The order of the universe is an inexhaustible theme of wonder and admiration, to all who consider it attentively. The wisest and most virtuous men of all ages, have uniformly agreed in admiring the connexion of its parts, and the correspondence of means to the end designed. Of what use would the eye have been, with all its curious mechanism, if there had been no light to render objects visible? The more extensive our knowledge of nature, the more capable we are of tracing the wisdom and intelligence that are visible in every part of the creation.
CHARLES. Notwithstanding the harmony of the works of Providence is so obvious to the most superficial observer, I have heard that there have been men so pitiably blind, as to suppose that this beautiful world, with all its various inhabitants, as well as the other parts of the universe, were produced by mere chance, or the accidental assemblage of atoms; and so sceptical, that they have refused to acknowledge the existence of one Supreme Intelligent Being.
MRS. HARCOURT. If any man indeed ever doubted that awful truth, he must have first bewildered his mind in useless and unprofitable speculations on metaphysical and àbstruse subjects, beyond our limited capacities to explore, and ill suited to make us either wiser or better.
SOPHIA. Let such a one observe the texture of the simplest blade of grass, or the gauze wing of a common fly, without extending his researches to the economy of either the animal or vegetable world, and compare it with the most exquisite specimens of imitative art. He will find that it baffles every attempt, even in its external structure; but when he examines the internal organization and uses of the parts, he must acknowledge it to be the work of a Divine Artist.
MR. HARCOURT. The various degrees of instinct in animals, and the intellectual powers of man, will be still more difficult to account for, as originating from any inferior cause than that of an Infinitely Wise Almighty Being.
MRS. HARCOURT. Natural religion, or the belief of the existence of a God, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe, (for the mani
festation of his power, wisdom, and goodness, is not confined to the globe which we inhabit, but extends to the remotest point of created space,) is so congenial to our rational nature, that it is surprising that any one ever dared to acknowledge a doubt of it.
MR. HARCOURT. The united testimony of all ages and nations, concurs to render such men suspected of professing a belief, which in the privacy of their own minds they deny; or of wilfully refusing to open their understandings to the convictions of truth. The most savage and ignorant tribes, in every part of the globe, not only acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Cause, (though they worship him under different names, and frequently mistake very absurd objects for his representatives,) but also a universal belief of his divine influence upon the human mind. From this conviction arises the idea of prayer, a custom confined to no particular country, but the universal refuge of the human species in moments of distress and anguish. An assurance that he graciously condescends to hear the petitions of his creatures, and bene
volently relieves their affliction, must give encouragement to these applications.
MRS. HARCOURT. If we deprive mankind of this consoling hope, our present state is a deplorable one indeed. Beset with temptations, surrounded by difficulties and trials, to what power could we flee for succour? Wretchedness, with despair, would be thy portion, O man! bereft of the consolation of natural religion; which not only teaches us to believe in the existence of an Almighty God, but also to adore his infinite perfections, and to rely upon his goodness for preservation from the evils of the present life. It also prepares us for the reception of the truths of revealed religion: by which are meant, those manifestations which have been revealed to man supernaturally, by various means; but in a most especial manner by the coming of Jesus Christ, who was sent on earth to introduce a more pure and holy religion than that given to the Jews, or any that had ever been contrived by human wisdom. He might properly be called the messenger of glad tidings, offering peace and immortality to all the human race, with