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had separated a people to himself, and gave them laws from heaven by his own voice, amid the terrors of his majesty, He, in his mercy, considered the animals as well as man. The Sabbath, ordained as a blessing to man, was to be a blessing also to the brute creation under his care.
- 1. Delivered first by the voice of God, and
then “written with the finger of God upon the tables of testimony,” (Exod. xxxi. 18.) and confirmed to us by the Saviour of the world, (Matt. v. 17-19; Mark ii. 27.) the fourth commandment speaks to every soul of man: “Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy"
"in it thou shalt do no manner of work”nor thy cattle.” (Exod. xx. 8—10; xxiii. 12.)
2. It is a part of the traditional law of the Jews, that, when any animal was to be slaughtered, it should be done with a highly
polished and pointed instrument: if the bone was pierced, or the beast mangled, it was deemed unclean and burnt. This was, no doubt, intended to prevent any unnecessary pain in putting them to death.
3. In the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Exodus, we have the following command: “If thou meet thine enemy's ox, or his ass, going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee, lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.” (4, 5.) And, in the twentysecond chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, the following: “Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt, in any case, bring them again unto thy brother. And, if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto
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 not plough with an ox and an ass together.” That is, thou shalt not yoke together animals of unequal sizes and unequal strength, which cannot work pleasantly together, and with like exertion and advantage. Will not the precept extend to the not putting animals of the same kind, but of unequal size and strength, into the same team?
4. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the same Book, (Deuteronomy,) at the fourth verse, we have this precept: “ Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” The tenderness of this precept is remarkable. Amongst the Jews it was customary, for the most part, not to thresh corn with a flail, as is the case in this country, but to have it trodden
oxen; and, as the appetite of the ox would be particularly excited by having the corn within its sight and smell, so the cruelty of denying it to indulge that appetite would be peculiarly aggravated. The great God of heaven and earth, therefore, " takes care for oxen," and interposes, and orders, that the ox shall not be muzzled: that is, that it shall be allowed freely to eat of the corn for which it has laboured in ploughing and bringing home, and now again in treading out. St. Paul, indeed, in quoting this passage, (1 Cor. ix.) to prove that those who labour in the Gospel should live by the Gospel, (verse 14,) says: “ Doth God take care for oxen? or saith he it altogether for our sakes?" And adds: “ For our sakes, no doubt it is written.” That is, he hath not written it for the sake of oxen only, (as he has shown, in a variety of instances, that he cares for the least and lowest of his creation,) but he has written it to show, that, if he thus takes care of the meaniest, “ how much more will he feed" man, who has so little faith.” (See Matt. vi. 25-34.)