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will teach us to “eschew the evil, and to do the good ?" that so we may not fall into the sin of our first parents by taking of forbidden knowledge. And if any species of knowledge can do this, surely it must be that which makes us familiar with the wonders of creation, and the infinite goodness of the Creator. In all we do, we should seek to animate the coldness of our love towards our heavenly Father, and to promote his glory. The study of nature, I believe, is eminently calculated to produce these effects; and therefore I am always anxious to make any branch of it more understood, that of insects especially, as being perhaps the most wonderful of all. I will therefore proceed to give an account of a class of insects generally hated and contemned.
There are several hundred kinds of spiders, but all of them do not spin webs. The thread which spiders spin is the same sort of stuff as the silk made by silk worms, only wonderfully finer. Yet fine as these threads are, they are made exactly in the same way as our coarsest ropes. By watching with a powerful microscope one of the smallest spiders spinning a thread which looks to the naked eye as fine as possible, it has been discovered that it is a kind of rope, composed of 4000 strands. I dare say you may have observed spiders not much bigger than a grain of sand. Well, if you had looked through a very good microscope at the thread which they spin, you would have seen, that what a great naturalist tells us is very true; namely, that it would take sixteen thousand millions of their threads to make a line as big as a human hair! This is an astonishing fact. We see all the attributes of God, his power and wisdom, his love and mercy, only " through a glass darkly” in this world; and yet what wonders do we discover. These, his lowest works, surpass our powers of comprehension; and therefore we may well believe that heaven contains more of wonder and delight than hath ever entered into the heart of man to conceive. A French naturalist considers that spiders are good barometers, or weather glasses, for if the weather is going to be changed, the main threads of their nets are short, if it is settled weather they are long. Perhaps you have heard that bees follow different trades.
Spiders also have their different occupations. Some are ragrants who lie about, and watch for their prey. Vagrant spiders get their livelihood in an honest way, for they wander about in order to find their proper food. When men turn vagrants it shows they are idle, and it almost always follows that they become dishonest, and disregarders of truth. Other spiders are hunters, roaming every where for their prey, and seizing it by force. Some are swimmers, who catch their prey on the waters; and others are weavers, who spend their time in forming and repairing their webs. We may imitate insects in their diligence, but we must at the same time beware, that we who have souls to provide for, do not spend all our time and labour in seeking for that “meat which perisheth."
This division of the spider tribe gives a general idea of their manners and habits. One of the vagrant species conceals herself in the cup of a withered flower, and pounces on the flies who come for honey. A flower, even when decaying, is found to have honey in it. And so to the Christian there is a sweetness in life, even amid infirmity and old age, for to him “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The irreligious often find life a burden (for there must be sorrows in this world), and they say they have nothing to live for; and no wonder, for miserable must he be indeed who cannot look forward to another world, where all “ tears are wiped from every eye.
The swimming species chase their prey on pools, and skate, as it were, after it on the water, with the same kind of motion with which we skate on ice.
The out-door spiders, who spin their web on bushes, always have to renew the greater part of them every twenty-four hours, even when the weather is fine. And the reason of this is, that the threads which cross the circles in straight lines are of a different nature to the rest of the web. The circles are of a very gluey nature, but they lose this property, by being exposed to the air, and therefore require to be frequently renewed. The world has an equally damping effect on our spiritual affections, and without great care and watchfulness will loosen our religious principles, so that we shall be “ tossed to and fro with every breath of wind.” The only way to prevent this, is by cleaving unto our God, with “full purpose of heart," continually “waiting on him to renew our strength.”
I would finish these observations on spiders, by a few words to any young friend who may have read my account of them. You see what care and labour they bestow on their work, therefore never brush away any of their webs out of mere wantonness. But if they come and spin in our houses, we are not only at full liberty to show them the way out, and to demolish their work, but we are bound to do so, because we must keep our houses “well swept and garnished.” That it is our duty to do so, we may learn from the injunction which the prophet Isaiah conveyed to Hezekiah even when on his deathbed, " Set thy house in order.” Even in the near prospect of an eternal home, we are not to neglect the one which God has given us for our probation, and if our hearts are clean, and if we have cleansed our way, we shall also “ make the outside of the platter clean."
Written for the Cottage Visitor by C. W. P.
CHRIST THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH.
Eph. i. 22. When the apostle declares that Christ is the Head of the Church, doubtless his first and most obvious intention is to mark his pre-eminence, to demonstrate, as he has elsewhere declared, that “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." But this is far from being all that is involved in the relationship. And this the same apostle distinctly illustrates; when speaking of Christ as the Head, in the Epistle to the Colossians, he immediately adds, - From whom all
1 Phil, ii. 9–11.
the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” It is clear, then, from this passage “having nourishment ministered," that it refers to Christ as our Head, not only in point of pre-eminence, but in point of influence. For as in the human body, all the nerves spring from the brain, and yet communicate life and feeling to every part of the body, down even to the smallest and remotest member, so all spiritual life, and all - spiritual feeling in the Church of God, take their rise from one great and glorified Head, and spread downwards from that source of influence into the heart of vidual member.
Observe, not only the doctrinal truth, but the practical - lesson, which immediately flows from this important fact. Until you are spiritually united by a true and living faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, you must inevitably be as destitute of spiritual life and feeling, as a human body, from which the head has been separated, would be destitute of all sense and of all motion. While, on the other hand, when by a living and obeying faith (for none other is a living faith,) you are united to our adorable Redeemer; when you have been led to choose Him for your portion, to accept Him in all his offices for your full and sufficient Saviour, casting your soul unreservedly upon the promises of God in Christ Jesus, you become spiritually members of his body, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. Your “life is hid with Christ in God." All that you need of strength, of light, of grace, of guidance, are treasured up for you in Him, and are to be daily drawn out by you from Him, according to your daily wants, your daily sorrows, and your daily temptations and trials.
We have said that this is the practical lesson to be deduced from the spiritual relationship of the Redeemer to the Church which He has purchased with his own blood. Now let us mark the great encouragement to this lesson which may be drawn from the employment of the Redeemer, as thus described by the apostle,-He“ filleth all in all.” If you are a true and sincere follower of God, you well know your own emptiness. You are making larger discoveries of it every day and every hour. When
you would do good, evil is present with you. When you should enter into good resolutions you are deficient in the will to do so; and when you have entered into them, you are destitute of the power of accomplishing them; and all this is matter of personal and individual experience, just as certainly as of the divine declaration, “ Without me, ye can do nothing." Under this feeling then, of utter incapacity, look upward to your great and glorified Head; and as you have already heard the nature of his relationship to his Church, hear also, for your encouragement and consolation, the nature of his employment, that “He filleth all in all." What a delightful view does this present to the Christian of the Christian's Lord! He is for ever employed in filling up all graces, all wants, all imperfections, in all his members, by the prevailing power of his intercession, by the continual outpourings of his Spirit, by the constant impartings of Himself. To make this still more plain ; you possess an understanding, a will, an imagination, a memory, and a heart; all these, then, the Lord Jesus Christ has undertaken, from the character in which the text pourtrays Him, to fill even to overflowing; your understanding with spiritual thoughts, your will with heavenly desires, your memory with holy recollections, your imagination with glorious anticipations, your heart with Himself. It is true, that to effect this great work in every individual member of his blessed body, much time, much teaching, and, in many instances, much affliction, much trial, will be needed, but it is not the less true that it will be done; to the true and sincere Christian we would say, The Saviour whom you serve, and who has reconciled you to your Heavenly Father, is engaged to "fill all in all;" to fill up all wants in all his members, to support every broken reed, to kindle into a flame every smoking flax; therefore you, although the feeblest, have no cause to despond; or you, although the youngest, the weakest, the most empty, have no cause to despair. As long as there is on your part humble and holy walking, sincere and faithful seeking, earnest and conscientious acting, according to the light and grace which God has given you, so long will there be, on his part, a fulfilment of this most blessed of his offices, the