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pounds inflicted on us by insects either on our bodies or on the goods we possess, proceed from an Almighty hand which knows when to strike, and which cures when it fees fit. What a shame is it for man that the vilest animals of the earth should teach him to remember God, and to respect his, power!
The justice of the supreme being displays Itself in the punishment of the crimes of a whole nation. He excites against them voracious enemies which swallow up all expectations from the fruits of the earth. This is founded on the authority of Scripture. Among other maledictions with which the deity threatned the Israelites if they disobeyed his voice, this ishot one of the least; Deut. xxviii. 38. " Thou shalt carry much feed out into the field, but malt gather little in j for the locust mail consume it." Such in effect was the instrument he made use of to punish the iniquities of that people. Ioel i, 5., "The locust hath eaten what the palmer-worm hath left; and that which the locust hath left, hath the canker-worm eaten; and that which the canker worm hath left, hath the caterpillar eaten.1' This chastisement was as real as the threat had been positive: but as famine awaited the crime, plenty succeeded repentance; Ioel ii. 25. 26. "I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker worm and the caterpillar and the palmer-worm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty." Of the different plagues with which God visited the sews, thiswas always one of the most considerable. When the armies and the chiefs trangressed his commands, he sent against them a host of foes which human power was totally unable to resist. "I have smitten you with blasting and mildew; when your gardens and your vineyards, and your figtrees, and your olive trees increased the palmer-worm devoured them. Amos i'v. 9. '- -' The, The Jewish nation is not the only one which have been persecuted by insects; their ravages have often astonished and desolated the countries of the heathen. After diligently searching into the nature and reason of such phenomena, nothing appear more probable, than to attribute the cause of them to the anger of the Gods. This sentiment ought to make atheists suspect themselves; the more so, as without the aid of Scripture, without any motive of interest, without any propension but that of the heart,without any lights but those afforded by their own minds, these Pagans acknowledged the existence of a Deity in whom resides the supreme right to chastise vice, and to reward virtue.
If we examine attentively what we suffer from infects, far from finding any thing to blame in the conduct of the Supreme Being, to whom we owe obedience, we shall find nothing but striking instances of infinite wisdom. The very fear which these an*mals inspire us with has its uses > it serves to make us more attentive, more prudent, more careful. They oblige the gardener to provide' the proper means for preserving the precious fruits of his care and toil. Vermin excite us to the cleanliness of our persons j the spider to that of our houses; and the moth to that of our furniture and clothes. Besides, by a marvellous disposition of Providence, there is not an insect on the face of the earth whose poison has the fame degree of strength on creatures in general; that is, it does not affect all bodies equally as it affects some. The caterpillar and spider may be fatal to man, while they not only prove delicate morsels to many birds, but even specific remedies against their diseases; so that it may with truth be said that some things which are poison to one animal become salutary to others, she rule is not even general in the human species. There are instances of people who have lost their life by having had the misfortune to swallow insects which others have eaten from a capricious taste without feeling' the smallest inconvenience. Such is the profound wisdom of the Creator, who hath introduced into this lower world such admirable order, that the same thing which tends to the prejudice of one contributed to the advantage and happiness of another;
Lastly, the goodness of the first mover is conspicuous in the bounds which he has prescribed to the life of those insects which are dangerous to us. By limiting their duration to a few months, or a few days he has been careful for our peace, as well as for our necessities. For who doubts that instead of momentary evils we would have been subject to perpetual torments, had these animals been generated with us, if they attended us during life, and had survived us or our descendants ? One insect which commits depredations cart act only in a certain time; another which would eat incessantly is obliged to wait till night before it can appease its hunger; a third seeks its subsistance during the day; but when night comes it i can neither find nor devour any thing. What would be the consequence could all these voracious insects satisfy their hunger at all times and in all places? And if they can give us pain, many methods concur to defend us from them, or to prevent their hurtir,g us beyond a certain degree. The openings of the eats, and of the nostrils, for instance, have their natural means of defence. The,one is covered with a skin, and furnished with small glands, which exude a bitter substance, disagreeable to insects: the others are furnished with hairs, which cross, and form a fort of barrier, to defend the entrance. Let us add to thisj that all countries are not equally favourable to insects. There, are some, in which they rather languish than live j some, which do not seem at all
H h. made made for them, fending forth vapours, which arc absolutely noxious to them. Even in their favourite regions, they are not protected fr<>ra many dangers which threaten them. Wind, rain and moisture weaken and kili them, when in their greatest strength ; sometimes the North wind and frost surprise them in the midst of warm weather, or before they have had time to fortify themselves against the approach of winter. Some vegerables are prejudicial to them, certain animals feed on them, and one species of insect sometimes hinders another from multiplying. On the earth the spider eats the fly. and the chafer the gnat; ki the water, the crab devours the leech; on the surface of rivulets, the trout seizes the fly; in the fields and about towns, the swallow clears the grananaries and farm yards; the torn-tit the gardens ; the sparrow and the wagtail, the lower grounds. The Lizard and the Chameleon likewise live on insects. Who is there that will not acknowledge in all these particulars, an over-ruling providence? Who is there who will not look up to the existence of a first causer who hath aranged all things with such order and goodness, that while so many insect- are of such real advantage to us, so many different animals, and even insects concur in preventing the excessive multiplication of those which might hurt us, so that in every view, the good overbalances the evil i
Of The Proper Means Of Exterminating
Ave have seen, in the preceding Chapter, obvious" •traces of the wife conduct of the Deity in the creation and government of this world. Some others remain to be pointed out in the present. The faculty which God has bestowed on man, of contriving different means of defence against the injuries caused by insects, is one very evident mark of his beneficence. Nature is a school; but how sew people incline to study at it! We wish ourselves enriched by its treasures, we wish to be ignorant of no mystery which it teaches; but no sooner do, we encounter its difficulties, than we turn our back and refuse tp return. One is discouraged on the road, indolence prevents others from setting out. -Far .from attempting to gain the source by a glorious but difficult road, we turn aside, and content ourselves with foolish fancies* which absurd custom only hath sanctioned. And indeed we are at this day still almost in the dark with regard to those means by which we may deliver ourselves from the depredations of insects. In" the Church of Rome, recourse has been had to different exorcisms, other people have fabricated amulets and talismans to which great virtues have been attributed.
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