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second pestilence, and the third famine. The rage for predicting future events is carried still farther: other visionaries combine the events of the former prophecy and assert that a swarm of locusts is a certain sign, that the country will be afflicted with these three scourges at one and the fame time. Nay we have seen people mad enough to maintain that they have read on the wings of these insects characters significant of the above predictions.. Ignorance and learning have both contributed to the delusion, there is hardly any thing in life, which does not give notice of something good or bad about to happen. Among our domestic insects there is one that gnaws and beats with so much regularity, that it imitates the beating of a watch, and has accordingly got the name of the death-watch, because when it is heard some foolisti people believe that the death of some person in the family will soon happen. To confirm such predictions, examples are produced; but what reliance can he had on proofs so ill founded? Wheri two things happen in succession -who hath told us that God meant to point out by the peculiarities of the one, the circumstances that would accompany the other? There have been years in which those insects have excessively abounded, which are considered as ominous, but which however have neither produced war, nor famine, nor pestilence nor unusual mortality. These accidents may have occurred a1 long time afterwards, but could not therefore be the consequence of those pretended indications. Many peoplewill forego nothing of their prejudices, but obstinately maintain that this effect flows from the cause they attribute it to j but how will they demonstrate the connection? How will they persuade us thai those insects which appear in one country have beeh the forerunners of calamity in anofher? The world is a great theatre where the scene is perpetually occupied by similar tragedies; so that no time perhaps
will ever occur in which some state will not be the place of action. Thus superstition can never want a pretext; it will always find means either of predicting truly or of excusing its mistakes.
Merchants likewise make a bad use of insects in commerce. We know in what estimation cochineal is held in the art of dying, on account of the beauty of its colour. Those who trade in that article, often mix it with little red beetles, by which means they make a considerable profit. The trick is as diflionest, as if a merchant should sell wine and water for pure wine. When the dyer comes to make use of his purchase, he obtains no more colour, than is produced by the portion of true cochineal contained in the quantity employed.
Are there not many persons, who flatter their vanity, with the use of silk? Raiment is necessary for man, not only as a covering, but as a defence against the inclemency of the air. But might not leaves, or the (kins of animals answer this purpose? The antients contented themselves with these; but, when in course of time, men began to distinguish themselves by magnificent apparel, a thousand ways were invented of ministering to the luxury of dress. , It was then that they found the way of drawing threads from many plants, of depriving beasts of their hair and their wool, of undoing the cones of the silkworm; it was then that they fabricated linen and cotton cloths, that they dyed them of all sorts of colours, and dressed themselves, not so much from necessity, as out of prodigality and ostentation. These inventions superseded the simplicity of nature, every thing was changed, and what ought only to have been used to cover the nakedness of man, was made an engine of his pride* Every age had its different fashions, and so much was good taste overstrained
that it ended in extravagance. The contagion spread far and wide,, and persons, who might have lived easily on their estate, preferred a silken habit to food, and wrapt themselves in poverty like a silk-worm in its cone. Vanity ought steadily to be resisted; and, if a reasonable man is exposed to it, either by his Jjirth or his station, he ought never to lose sight of the origin of a pompous exterior. The reflection will fortify him against the suggestions of pride; if will engage him to turn to God, and to cry with Esther, Xiv. 16. " Thou knowestmy necessity; for 1 abhor the *' sign of my high estate which is upon mine head, *' in the days wherein I stiew myself; and that I abw hor it as a filthy rag, and that I wear it not, when ?c I am private by myself."
If vanity reigns among men, it domineers in the fiearts of women. They not only deck their persons, with the most precious ornaments that art can devise, but they endeavour to brighten their complexion in spite of nature. Missing the grand secret of re juvenescence, they find a remedy for the want of" beauty, in artifice and coquetry, and plunder the hives of bees, for wherewithal to efface the ravages of time. Thus, under a mask, borrowed from the" filth of the earth, they endeavour to fascinate the eye, and inveigle the heart.
The people of Lapland are fuperstitioufly fond of an azure coloured fly. Ihey carry it about with them as a familiar spirit, and think they have such power over it, that, at their command, it will attack cat;le, or any person they chuse. The Danes have as absurd a prepossession, in savour of the Oscabiora. They luppose, that whoever swallows this sea fish, will infallibly see his wishes accomplished.
The Pagans, in making insects the objects of divine worship, have committed a gross outrage on reason. We imitate such idolators, when we substitute the creature for the Creator; or, when we pay those honours to the work of men's hands, which are due only to God. Let us go back to the early ages of" Paganism, and trace the origin of such preposterous blindness. Man, abandoned to himself, is too sensible of his dependance, to doubt that there is a superior Being, to whom he owes love and respect; but, as God is in his nature invisible, and displays himself only by his benefits, man supposes, that he cannot better serve his Benefactor, than by doing him honour, under the form of those objects by which he makes himself known. Thus he came to adore the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, the dead and the living, beasts and infects. St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, Chap. 1. 23. proves this; for, when speaking of the Gentiles, he expresses himself thus; ** They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God, "into an image made like to corruptible man, and "to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping "things." The author of the book of'Wisdom, Chap. xi. 151 16. says the fame thing of the Jews, who were punished by the very objects of their foolish worship. "But for the foolish devices of their
K.k "wickedness, "wickedness, wherewith being deceived, they' wor** stnpped serpents void of reason, and vile beasts* "thou didst fend a multitude of unreasonable "beasts upon them for vengeance; that they might "know that, wherewithal a man finneth, by the "fame also shall he be punished."
The Pagans, beside their sacrifice?, made an offering of honey to their idols, which has made some persons suppose, that this was the reason of the Jevvs being forbidden to offer any in their sacrifices. If we may believe Aldrovandus, the inhabitants of Tlafeala do (not less abuse the produce of their bees. They take the wax, and make candles of it, which they offer to their idols in token of submission. These odious practices are not only strengthened by custom, but they have led the way to more criminal excesses; for solemn feasts have been instituted in honour of insects. Cæ'ius Rhodiginus mentions a day, set apart for the worship of crickets, and fays, that the Pagans of ancient Rome celebrated, with much veneration, the eighth of the calends of December, in order to make these false deities propitious to their country. So superstitious were they, that, whenever a swarm of bees lighted in the neighbour'. hood of their city, they considered it as polluted, and supposed it an omen of misfortunes. To ward-* off these,-they appointed solemn days, in which they deprecated the wrath of their gods: they did so, likewise, when they believed the grasshoppers unpropitious. _ ,
The Jews relate many wonderful things of insects, but which are considered as fables at best, by men of sense. It is said, I. Kings vi. 7. that, " in building "the house, (i. e. the temple) it was built of stone, *' made ready before it was brought thither; so that *s there Was neither hammer nor ax3 nor any tool of