Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reflections on the symmetry and proportion in the works of Nature, and on the harmony and affection among the various species of beings.

From the book "Illustrations of Masonry"
by William Preston 1895

Whoever attentively observes the objects which surround him, will find abundant reason to admire the works of Nature, and to adore the Being who directs such astonishing operations: he will be convinced, that infinite wisdom could alone design, and infinite power finish, such amazing works.

Were a man placed in a beautiful garden, would not his mind be affected with exquisite delight on a calm survey of its rich collection? Would not the groves, the grottoes, the artful wilds, the flowery parterres, the opening vistas, the lofty cascades, the winding streams, the whole variegated scene, awaken his sensibility; and inspire his soul with the most exalted ideas? When he observed the delicate order, the nice symmetry, and the beautiful disposition of every part, seemingly complete in itself, yet reflecting new beauties on the other, and all contributing to make one perfect whole, would not his mind be agitated with the most bewitching sensations; and would not the view of the delightful scene naturally lead him to admire and venerate the happy genius who contrived it?

If the productions of art so forcibly impress the mind with admiration, with how much greater astonishment and reverence, with how much greater astonishment and reverence must we behold the operations of Nature, which presents to view unbounded scenes of utility and delight, in which divine wisdom is mort strikingly conspicuous? These scenes are indeed too expanded for the narrow capacity of man to comprehend; yet whoever contemplates the general system, form the uniformity of the plan must naturally be directed to the original source, the supreme governor of the world, the one perfect and unsullied beauty!

Beside all the pleasing prospects that everywhere surround us, and with which our senses are every moment gratified; beside the symmetry. good order, and proportion, which appear in all the works of creation, something further attracts the reflecting mind, and draws its attention nearer to the Divinity - the universal harmony and affection among the different species of beings of every rank and denomination. These are the cements of the rational world, and by these alone it subsists. When they cease, nature must be dissolved, and man, the image of his Maker and the chief of his works, be overwhelmed in the general chaos.

In the whole order of beings, for the seraph which adores and burns, down to the meanest insect, all, according to their rank in the scale of existence, have, more or less, implanted in them, the principle of association with others of the same species. Even the most inconsiderable animals are formed into different ranks and societies, for mutual benefit and protection. Need we name the careful ant, or the industrious bee; insects which the wisest of men has recommended as patterns of unwearied industry and prudent foresight? When we extend our ideas, we shall find, that the innate principle of friendship increases in proportion to the extension of our intellectual faculties; and the only criterion by which a judgement can be formed respecting the superiority of one part of the animal creation above the other, is by observing the degrees of kindness and good-natured in which it excels.

Such are the general principles which pervade the whole system of creation; who forcibly then must such lessons predominate in our assemblies, where civilisation and virtue are most zealously cherished, under the sanction of science and the arts?

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