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servation of planets, signs, and visions. Still the fact is not 80. How many persons the writer has known, whom no considerations short of necessity, could induce to set up the frame of a building, begin a journey, or commence any new enterprise, on a Friday. The reason for this, they tell you is, that Friday is an unlucky day, and that whatever is commenced then will prove disastrous in the issue. But let me ask the observers of Friday, whence come you by such an opinion? Did you learn it from your Bibles? Has God any where informed you that when in the course of the six days of creation, that day first appeared, and when he pronounced his productions of that day "very good" he notwithstanding designed the day itself to be very bad?-Surely you will not charge God foolishly. But will you say, that some evil agent always busies himself in mischief on that day? Then by relinquishing your lawful pursuits through fear of this wicked agent, that is, the devil, you do homage to him. I fear it may be said of you "ye worship ye know not what."
Traces of that idolatrous veneration which our heathen ancestors used to offer to the moon, are distinctly visible among us at this day. People now do not erect temples, nor altars, to that luminary; nor will they be forward to acknowledge themselves its worshippers; but many, by their conduct, pay to it, an indirect homage, nor can they well acquit themselves of the imputation. They ascribe to it, in certain cases, some unknown, undefined, and secret, though real, ageney, not belonging to matter, nor dependent on any of its known properties; and exerted in such a way as must lead you to conclude, if you make any conclusion at all, that some sort of intelligence is concerned in the agency. From the different appearances of this body in the performance of its stated revolutions, they will prognosticate to you the state of the weather, and determine when is the proper time to sow and to plant, and to gather in many of the fruits of the earth. If it is eclipsed, then too we are to expect changes in the weather, and other things which, they will tell you, its eclipses denote, not considering that such eclipses are as much a thing of course, as the alternation of day and night. There are indeed two ways in which the moon has a real influence upon the earth and its productions; in one, by its attraction, a well known property of matter; in the other, by the rays of light which proceed from it, and are well asćertained to have an influence in giving color, solidity, and some other properties, to vegetables. The effect in the first, is mechanical, existing mutually between the moon and the earth, and is common to all matter; the effect in the second
is chemical, as appears from the aforesaid changes which are produced by it on the vegetable structure. But such is not the influence which the people here intended ascribe to the moon; that influence is independent of any known principles, or combinations of matter; being magical, or mysterious, and exciting in the observers of such things, sensations bordering on awe, and superstitious veneration. Take from them these sensations, and you remove every thing which they care for retaining. It is the love of something half mysterious, vague, and capricious, that renders many so much attached to these whimsical idolatries, blended at the same time, with a sort of safety which mankind naturally feel in being idolatrous, while they can be so in disguise and without profession.
The sun, too, is not without its formal observers at this day. Its influence is conceived to vary, as it arrives at certain points in its apparent progress through the heavens; or, in better language, as the earth is in certain parts of its annual revolution about that orb. When in such a sign of the zodiac, it will exert a certain mysterious influence upon particular parts of animal bodies; when in another sign, then another influence upon some other parts of such bodies. One person will not attempt to angle, unless the sign happens that day to be right; and to ascertain this point, will examine his almanac with as much gravity as a Hindoo will peruse his Shaster. Another would consent to let blood, upon no consideration, unless the sign should be favorable. A third would consider flesh to be inferior in quality, if the animal were not butchered under the proper sign, or at a proper period of the moon. A child born at the rising or setting of the sun, will have a more or less favorable prospect of a long life. To those who entertain such opinions, or others resembling them. I will address a single observation. Would you regard your God half as scrupulous as you do the lifeless matter which he has created; and adhere to his precepts and the dictates of well informed reason, with half the pertinacity with which you cling to your prejudices, you would live much more happy and successful in the world, and pursue a conduct much better becoming the character of those who have had a Christian education.
Many people who, perhaps, may be free from the imputation of any of the foregoing idolatrous notions concerning the sun, are still of opinion that its eclipses are ominous of disasters to that quarter of the world where they take place. But I know of nothing in Scripture, or in the history of the world, to warrant such an opinion. For aught that appears,
national calamities as certainly foretel eclipses of the sun, as those eclipses do national calamities. One thing however is certain; if these eclipses do denote any such disasters, it is because God has established them for signs of those events; not because they naturally, and of themselves, denote them. But if God has so established them, he must have given some indication of the fact, either by revelation, or by so ordering in his providence that there should be an unvarying connection between the sign, and the thing signified; making the one uniformly consequent upon the other. Should this connection fail but once, it must overthrow the supposition of its existing at all; or else another sign must be required in order to show us when the first one is to be taken as denoting nothing. But what renders such a denoting of events very dubious, when we cast our eyes upon the history of Divine providence, is that an eclipse necessarily extends to a large portion of the globe; and rarely has it happened since the earth was first peopled, that every part of so large a portion has been free from public calamities, for any considerable length of time. Hence it does not easily appear how an eclipse of the sun can be taken for a sure sign of public caiamities, when those calamities almost continually exist, in some parts of the world at least, where the eclipse is perceived; and that, whether there are eclipses, or not. Furthermore, let it be remembered, that eclipses necessarily result from the established laws of the planetary revolutions. Whenever they take place, it is in exact conformity with those laws, being perfectly regular, and at determined intervals; insomuch, that instead of viewing an eclipse of the sun as miraculous and portentous, we ought to consider its failure a miracle and prodigy, astonishing in kind and degree. By the aid of astronomical science, eclipses may be calculated with the utmost precision, for any length of time, past or future. If they are sure prognostics of future events, then those events may be predicted, by the help of astronomy, with as much certainty a thousand years beforehand, as they can at the time when the eclipse happens. But should an astronomer thus undertake to turn prophet, there would be, I think, but one opinion concerning the propriety and usefulness of his labors. Scripture, I have already observed, gives no warrant, that is, to my knowledge, for any belief in such prognostications; and if none is derived from Scripture, the general course of Divine providence, nor from reason, it is difficult to determine where else to look for one. My apology for these remarks, which to many may appear entirely superfluous, is derived from the well known fact, that many
very worthy men, and Christians, entertain the opinion that eclipses of the sun are unquestionable tokens of the Divine displeasure, and that they ought to be so regarded by all good people. This opinion, or something very like it, was in the course of the last winter, advanced by a very able member on the floor of Congress, Certainly, then, so far as the foregoing remarks are just and pertinent, they are not useless; for it is a matter of consequence that right opinions should be entertained on this subject.
It is by no means the intention of the writer to advance the idea, that there are no possible circumstances under which a solar eclipse could be considered as portentous. A preternatural eclipse ought, no doubt, to be considered as of this character. Such was the preternatural obscuration of the sun's light at the crucifixion of our Savior; which obscuration, as astronomers inform us, could not have happened by the intervention of the moon between the sun and the earth, the regular cause of solar eclipses. But if we undertake to make prodigies out of natural appearances, and such as are the necessary result of those laws by which the Almigty is pleased to govern his material creation, we alike transcend the bounds of reason and Christian discretion. Were eclipses regarded simply as displays of the divine power and majesty, no remarks would have been needed. But would we look for signs of the divine displeasure towards a nation, we can see them, with unfailing certainty, in national sins, and depravity of morals. These inform us, far more emphatically than eclipses, when God has a controversy with us, and is about to inflict upon us the rod of his anger. As for those who regard eclipses of the sun as portending calamities independently of any known commission from Him who made the sun, and appointed all the laws to which it is subjeet; they cannot escape the charge of idolatry, however it may be blended with other correct apprehensions of the Divine providence. Such a mixture of real and false religion, but ill accords with the holy jealousy with which the Most High maintains his truth. It is like the mongrel worship of the Samaritans, a religion allowed of indeed by man, but unauthorized by Heaven. ACLETUS. (To be continued.)
ABUSE OF THE LATE HARVEST.
WHEN I wrote the paper which was inserted in the last umber of the Panoplist,on the late harvest, I was notjinform. most enormous abuse of the fruits of the earth, which
had then but just begun to be practised on an extensive scale, and which has now excited the alarm of all considerate persons, especially of the pious and conscientious. The abuse alluded to will be anticipated by every reader to arise from the distillation of grain and other valuable productions of the soil into noxious ardent spirits. The first reflection which occurs to the mind is, that such an abuse is a heinous act of ingratitude to God. It will not be contended, I suppose, that rye and potatoes are converted into whiskey as a medicine, and from a pure regard to the health of the community. If this should be urged, it will be admitted by all that the quantity necessary as a medicine is extremely small;-so small that a single distillery would supply all the apothecaries' shops in the United States. It follows, then, that the distillation of immense quantities of baneful spirit from grain, which was bountifully given to support life, is an act of heinous ingratitude to God. Whatever might be said of conducting distilleries of grain on a small scale, it is beyond all question extremely pernicious, when the business is carried to such an extent, as to raise the price of provisions, fill all our retailers' shops with a noxious liquor, and furnish the vicious with the means of ruining themselves and their families. What can be done to remedy this evil is not so easy to specify, as it is to estimate the magnitude of the evil itself. In its first beginnings, the price of several most important articles of food was nearly doubled. If it should progress as it has begun, a very large proportion of the industrious and temperate members of society will be severely straitened to procure bread for their families; and all this after one of the most abundant seasons which this country ever experienced.
Let us seriously consider how odious and abominable it must appear in the sight of God, that the rich supplies of his bounty should be immediately converted into the means of sinning against him into the means of increasing and perpetuating sin and misery without limit and without end. The sound part of the community should see and lament this ungrateful and unnatural conduct; they should regard it as a national ealamity of no ordinary magnitude, and as a national sin which sheds a melancholy gloom over our future prospects. From a share in the guilt no individual can be free who does not engage zealously in every promising scheme of counteracting and suppressing so great an evil. It is difficult, as has been intimated, to prescribe adequate remedics for so dangerous a malady. The following are suggested as the only practicable means of effectuating a change for the better, which have presented themselves to my mind.