Page images

loving Saviour, and whose ruling principle is commanded to be LOVE?

It may be said, -indeed, it is said that, constituted as the world now is, with many animals not rendering service to man, but interfering with his rights and his comforts, it is necessary and lawful to destroy them. The defence is, certainly, in great measure, true; and the destroying them lawful: but it will admit of great variation as to the manner of it. To take life, even from the obnoxious, should give us concern, rather than be a cause of exultation and pleasure; and it should be the endeavour of every one to give the least degree of pain to the sufferer, whenever he is obliged to put to death, and to show no satisfaction, no triumph in the act. The amiable poet, whom I have twice before quoted in these discourses, seems to draw the true line on this difficult and distressing question. He says,

I would not enter on my list of friends, (Though grac'd with polish'd manners and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility,) the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. An inadvertent step may crush the snail That crawls at ev'ning in the public path; But he that has humanity, forewarn’d, Will tread aside, and let the reptile live. The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight, And charg'd, perhaps, with venom, that intrudes, A visitor unwelcome, into scenes Sacred to neatness and repose-th' alcove, The chamber, or refectory-may die: A necessary act incurs no blame. Not so, when, held within their proper bounds, And guiltless of offence, they range the air, Or take their pastime in the spacious field: There they are privileged; and he that bunts Or harms them there, is guilty of a wrong, Disturbs the economy of God's good realm,

Who, when he form’d, design’d them an abode.
The sum is this. If man's convenience, health,
Or safety, interfere, his rights and claims
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs.
Else they are all the meanest things that are
As free to live, and to enjoy that life,
As God was free to form them at the first,
Who, in his sov'reign wisdom, made them all.

TASK, b. vi, 1. 560_587.

III. Before we proceed to the subject of food, it may be observed, that God has not entrusted the providing his animals with clothing to the care, the generosity, and the mercy of man. “They are provided by Him,” says an excellent writer “On the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals,” « with better and more durable garments than all the art of man can furnish them with. In this they have the advantage of us: and if they were as capable of pride às men are, they would put this endowment and array of nature into the balance, as more than a counterpoise to Solomon in all his glory. For let a man be ever so well dressed, his clothes are but the covering of his shame, and artificial supplies for natural defects. Every ornament he wears to grace his person, is a tacit acknowledgment, that, without that ornament, he would be less beautiful and amiable; and that, in himself, he is so imperfect, that he stands in need of invented ornaments to set him off. And even his necessary clothes are either taken from the ground which the cattle tread under their feet, or else are borrowed skins, borrowed feathers, or borrowed hair. The creatures, which we despise, wore them, before we had them, and could call them their own; whilst we are glad to be their heirs, and to wear them at second hand, when they have left them off: nor even then can we apply them to our use and service, without much contrivance and preparation. But to the brutes their clothes are suitable to

their wants; they are the endowments of Nature, and the gifts of God. And well for them it is, that” God “has, in this instance, been so bountiful and indulgent towards them; for, if many of the cattle were as ill clothed, as they are too often ill fed and hard wrought, they would be wretched creatures indeed.” (PRIMATT's DISSERTATION, page 148-150.) The same may be said of habitation: The lions”—“lay them down in their dens, (Psalm civ. 21, 22.) and “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests;shelter more convenient and comfortable to them than man could provide, had he the heart to set about it, for them.


We proceed, then, to the subject of food. God, who created all things, assigned, at the beginning, its proper food to 'every thing, giving every kind of sustenance richly to be enjoyed. (1 Tim. vi. 17.) At the fall, man

« PreviousContinue »