Page images
PDF
EPUB

Three Discourses

ON

THE ANIMAL CREATION.

GENESIS I. 26.

And God said, Let them have dominion over

the fish of the sea, and over the fonl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

It is my intention, in this and the two following discourses, to take occasion, from the words of the text, to set before you the case of the brute creation, the uses which man is permitted to make of them, and his duties towards them. In the present discourse, I shall consider the case of the animals at the creation, after the fall, at and after the flood, and under the law of Moses. In my next, I shall consider their state under the Gospel; and in my third, the duties owing from man to the brutes committed to his dominion.

I. When our great Creator had finished his work, and “saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good;” and, “ having made man in his own likeness," he invested him with dominion over the creation, and brought “every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, unto Adam, to see what he would call them;" and our first parent gave unto every thing a name, and reigned sole lord of this our earth. Unto man were assigned" for meat,” “every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed.” “And to every beast of the thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass.” “ Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them; thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.” (1—4.) In the former of these passages, we have a command what we are to do in the case of the beast of our enemy being found going astray, or lying down, having fallen under a burden; in the latter, we are instructed what to do in the case of a friend: but both amount to the same, since we are instructed to consider even an enemy, even him who has " despitefully used us and persecuted us," as a friend and a brother.

In the same chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, (the twenty-second,) at the tenth verse, we have this command: - Thou shalt and the beasts and the birds were consumed.” (JEREMIAH xii. 4.) The social bond was then broken, and man became the terror of the brute creation

What was the original intention of the Creator in respect to man and the brute creation, as far as concerns some of their particular uses, it is impossible to say. But, when we consider the great service which some of them afford to man, both in respect to food and assistance, even in the fallen state of the world; and then estimate the uses to which others, with their extraordinary strength, agility, and sagacity, might be applied in a state of absolute subjection, the effect must have been prodigious. We may gain some assistance in this contemplation, by considering what they are in the hands of the Almighty Creator, when he pleases to make use of them as the instruments of his pleasure, or of his

wrath. Consider, for a moment, the animals made to pass in review before Adam in Paradise—those brought by pairs and by sevens to Noah at the ark—the “insect armies” used as the scourges of Pharaoh and the Egyptians the quails brought to the Israelites in the wilderness as food, or the fiery serpents sent to sting them the ravens made the purveyors of food to Elijah--the lion which killed the disobedient prophet—the lions which crouched before the holy prophet Daniel and the wild beasts in the wilderness, which harmed not the Saviour in the days of his temptation:-when we reflect upon these cases, well may we exclaim, “O Lord, what service have we lost by our rebellion against Thee!" But to return to our history.

In the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis, mention is made of Abel having a flock of sheep, and of his offering the firstlings of it to

« PreviousContinue »