Thursday, January 07, 2010

Contemplation on Snow

The following Contemplation by Augustus Toplady is very appropriate at the moment and may help us learn from our providence in the UK at present. I cannot guarantee how metereologically accurate it is but it is spiritually helpful.


"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?" JOB 38:22.


THE whole world of nature, no less than those of grace and of glory, is under the absolute dominion and the never ceasing direction of God. Every wind that blows is of his breathing; and every drop, whether fluid or condensed, that falls from the sky, is of his sending. At this very time must the adoring nations confess that he giveth snow like wool; and he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes; he casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand against his cold? Psalm 147:16. "He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength". Job 37:6.


Let the same question be put to my readers which speaking Omnipotence once put to Job "Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Hast thou considered its nature, its proper ties, and its uses?


Dew, mist, rain, snow, hail, and clouds are no more than coalitions of watery vapours which have been partly forced towards the surface of our terraqueous globe by the latent fires with which its bowels are fraught; and partly drawn up from it by the insinuating, attractive agency of the sun. The humid particles thus exhaled naturally ascend ; as being in their uncombined state lighter than the surrounding air : and persist to soar, until they arrive at a region of the atmosphere where their flight is stopped by other preceding vapours already exhaled and condensed into clouds. Thus arrested and detained, they unite (like coalescing spherules of quicksilver, .or like the contacting globules of water in a containing vessel) into floating masses; and remain in a state of literal suspense and fluctuation until, by accumulated compression, and by their own collected weight, they become specifically heavier than the sustaining air, and fall in larger or smaller drops to the earth and ocean whence they sprung. Striking representation of man in his best estate of moral excellence! Are you rich, or exalted, or prosperous, or gay? remember, that you are under as absolute obligation to Providence for these glittering distinctions, as a rising vapour is indebted for its transitory elevation to the action of the solar beams. And, vapour-like, you too must fall, after having hovered your few destined moments: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. An inspired pen has both started and resolved the question: What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14). If so, "Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour? What though we wade in wealth or soar in fame the Earth s highest glory ends in, Here he lies! And dust to dust, concludes her noblest son.


Be wise, therefore, to slip the cable of your affections from the world s evanid shore. Supplicate the Holy Spirit to make you rich towards God. And under the sweet breezes of his gracious influence, set sail in good earnest for the kingdom of heaven.


When the watery treasures of the sky descend to their native earth, more like respectful visitants than like rude invaders, i.e. in moderate quantities, and with not too impetuous force, we call them showers. When they greatly exceed in those two particulars we give them the hostile name of storms. Thus the human passions, if rectified and regulated by supernatural grace, are instruments of happiness, and productive of the most beneficial effects. But if unrestrained by Providence, and unrefined by the Holy Ghost, they operate like the deadly Egyptian tempest, which smote both man and beast, and destroyed every herb, and brake all the trees of the field. (Ex 9:25).


While the middle regions of the air are impregnated with frost, the falling drops catch cold (if the expression may be allowed), and are congealed in the course of their descent. Hail and snow are but other names for different modifications of frozen rain. Hail is rain consolidated into a hard and heavy mass. Snow is a multitude of small honked icicles which, interfering with each other in their fall, become mutually entangled and interlinked: and cohere indelicate, but irregular, flakes of very light, because of very expansive and superficial, texture. If snow is no more than particles of water, congealed in their passage to the earth, it affords but too just an emblem of our affections when, instead of aspiring to God in Christ, they subside and gravitate towards a perishable world. Under such spiritual declension, our comforts are chilled, and our graces benumbed: until a fresh rising of the sun of righteousness upon our souls dissolves the moral frost, and again warms us into the meltings of penitential love. His beams strike upon the rock, and then the waters flow.