« PreviousContinue »
5. In the sixth and the seventh verses of the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, we have the following very remarkable passage: “If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young; but thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days." The humanity of this precept is no less remarkable than that of the former. During the time of breeding, the nature of birds, in the care of their eggs and of their young, is quite changed. The fearful become bold, and they who fled at the first approach of man, remain to cherish and to protect their offspring. Thus are they doubly exposed to danger, and, at their age, captivity would be more distressing, and perhaps end in
death. The great Creator and Governor of all, therefore, gives his law, in any wise to protect the parent birds; and, if the eggs should be taken for food, or the young to be reared for food in due time, in any wise the parent birds are to go free.
St. Paul, in the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, calls the fifth commandment, " Honour thy father and mother"-"the first commandment with promise.” The promise is, “ That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (2, 3.) It is remarkable, that the very same promise is annexed to the command of “letting the dam go,"_" that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.” Never, after this, let it be thought, that the taking of a bird's nest is a matter of indifference. Never let a bird's nest be taken out of wantonness, merely to gratify curiosity, as you would live long and prosper. The birds are parents, and our HEAVENLY FATHER feels like A PARENT for THEM.
6. The conduct of Balaam, mentioned in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Numbers, as far as relates to the beast upon which he rode, would afford sufficient matter of itself for a separate discourse. A few words only can now be said upon it. We here find a prophet striking his beast in anger, and, as St. Peter says, “the dumb ass, speaking with man's voice, forbad the madness of the prophet.” (2 Pet. ii. 16.) The angel of the Lord, also, rebuked him, saying: “Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me; and the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now, also, I had slain thee, and saved her alive. And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned.” (Numb. xxii. 32-34.) Here we have the Almighty performing a miracle, in making the dumb beast to speak in remonstrance to the prophet, and the angel of the Lord also rebuking him. The prophet was convinced of his sin towards the beast, for he acknowledged it to the angel, and he instructed Balak, the king of Moab, afterwards, in his duty, as the prophet Micah tells us, saying to him: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” (vi. 8.)
7. The Book of Job, and the Book of Psalms, afford many passages of great interest, which set forth the power, and wisdom, and goodness of God, in the creation and provia
8. In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Proverbs, at the tenth verse, Solomon declares, that “a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” By the word life, we are not merely to consider existence, but all the means of subsistence and comfort; as in that saying of our Saviour, (given Luke xii. 15.) “a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” That is, his welfare, his happiness, does not consist in riches, but in various other matters; and, especially for man, he adds,“ rather seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Ver. 31.; Matt. vi. 38.) “But the tender