Page images
PDF
EPUB

Third Discourse

ON

THE ANIMAL CREATION.

GENESIS I. 26.

And God said, Let them have dominion over

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

In two former discourses, I have considered the principal of those passages in the Old and New Testament, which relate to the case of the animal creation, the design of God in placing them under the dominion of man, and some of the precepts respecting them. I

proceed now to consider, as I at first proposed, in a more particular and systematic way, the duties which man owes to the animals committed to his care.

Dominion implies government for the general good of the governors and the governed, together with all things intended by the Great Governor of All for their well-being and comfort; and these may be comprehended under the heads of protection,-discipline,--food, rest,—and assistance in accidents and sickness. Upon each of these heads I shall speak more at large, and conclude with some general instructions.

'. I. “The advantages, which mankind pos

sess above the rest of the animal creation,” says an excellent writer, “ are principally derived from reason, from the social principle, from taste," meaning the mental taste, “and

from religion *.” In another place, he says: “Their want of language seems owing to their having no regular train or order in their ideas, and not any deficiency in their organs of speech. Many animals may be taught to speak, but none of them can be taught to connect any idea to the words they pronounce. The reason, thierefore, why they do not express themselves by combined and regulated signs, is, because they have no regular combination in their ideast." The animal creation, therefore, not being endowed with reason, and being placed under the dominion of man, he is in the place of reason to them; that is, he is to determine for them, to the

* Dr. Gregory's “ Comparative View of the State and Faculties of Man with those of the Animal World.” Seventh Edition, Sect. II. p. 82.

[ocr errors]

· best of his judgment, enlightened by the Word of God; and it is the part of animals to be guided by him, that is, to obey.

Protection may be said to be particular, or general; that is, particular being shown to the animals under our own immediate care; or general, as a governor or common member of the community, whose duty it is to watch and act for the general good, and see that the ani. mals enjoy all those privileges and comforts designed them by the Great Father-of-All. And, here, in every country, the king, or chief magistrate, or those who rule and make the laws, are to take care, that the laws commanda ed by God make, likewise, a part of the laws of the land, and that they be regularly and punctually fulfilled. There are, certainly, many good laws in this country for the proa tection of animals; but, is the great law of the Sabbath respecting them observed? I have no hesitation in saying, that I conceive the treatment of horses in this country to be a NATIONAL sin. I say a national sin, because it is of such extent, so well known, and sance tioned by the ruling powers of the nation, contrary to the existing laws. The labouring cattle, in the country, it is to be hoped, for the most part, enjoy the rest of the Sabbath; but, what is to be said of those poor animals, who run upon our roads in travelling, in mailcoaches, in stages, in waggons, and in the carriages of travellers? A show of respect to the law of God is, indeed, made in the metro. polis, by no letters coming in, and none going out, upon that day. But the carriages and horses still run, and neither drivers, travellers, nor horses, observe and enjoy the holy rest of the Sabbath. Surely, such a conduct is tria fling with God.

« PreviousContinue »