Page images

water in a dry place, to all those who will fly under his shadow, which is as a great rock in a weary land, Isa. xxxii. 2. The spouse proved this when she saith, “ 1 sat under his “ shadow with great delight, and his fruit

was sweet to my taste," Cant. ii. 3.


swiftly she runs across yonder opening, and is lost to my view. Poor creature! thou mightest have enjoyed thy repose in safety for me.----What can be the reason that the animal creation are so much afraid of man, and man of them? Methinks something whispereth in my ear, The fall is the occasion of both; for ever since man broke his trust with the Creator, those inferior crea, tures durst trust him no more ; and even no man could put confidence in a brother. And though he had the grant of dominion over all the creatures, yet they, as it were, sensible he had lost that wisdom, prudence, and mildness, that was necessary for such a governor, ever since he was afraid to meet with God, Gen. jii, 8, 9, 10. have been afraid to meet with him, and sought to shun his presence: And indeed well they may, for, since that time, they have often experienced his cruelty,

Among all the sins of which men are guilty, I am persuaded that that of cruelty to brutes is none of the least; and I cannot doubt, but in the judgment of the great day, by the Şearcher of hearts, and Witness of all our actions, that sin will be exposed. What an awful account then will many have to give, who have here unmercifully treated those beasts over which they had power? If God hear the young ravens that cry unto him, and supply them with food, Psal. cxlvii. 9. will not he, who is a God of pity, hear the cries and groans which the cruelty of man extorteth from the animals, and avenge their oppression?

man :

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast, Prov. xii. 10. the negative of this scripture, no doubt is, a man that regardeth not the life of his beast is not a righteous

The Lord is good to all, and his “ tender mercies are over all his works," Psal. cxlv. 9. We ought therefore to copy after this darling attribute of the Creator ; for our Lord and Saviour hath said, “ Bless sed are the merciful, for they shall obtain

mercy,” Matthew v. 7. the negative of which no doubt is, Cursed are the unmerciful, for they shall not obtain mercy: What a strong incitement to that duty is this benediction and its negative? Be ye therefore merciful, as your father also is merciful, Luke vi. 36.

If God were as unmerciful to us, as many of us are to brutes, how miserable would our lives in this world be! Those inferior creatures were given to man for his use, but not to be abused by him. The faculty of reason, which setteth him superior to them, giveth him no more warrant to be cruel to such, than the superior nature of the angels giveth them a right to tyrannize over us ; but, on the contrary, ought to move him with compassion to those creatures which are mad to groan and travail in pain for his sins, Rom. viii. 22.

To induce us to be tender to them, especially those of the domestic kind, we ought, to consider, that they could do much better without us, than we could do without them : And are they not most obedient servants, not for a short term only, but all their lives, if we choose ; submitting to our greatest drudgeries, without ever repining?

If we are of the opinion that the brutal creation have no futurity of any kind, what a sad thing then is it to make their short existence a miserable one ? On the other hand, if we think with others, that they will be

restored to their primeval state, we may be afraid they will one day witness against their relentless oppressors.

To favour this last opinion, some take Rom. viii. 19.---22. to refer. Whether this be the case, one thing is certain, that man at the last must give up an account how he hath improved the talents and power he was entrusted with, and so of his lordship over the creatures.

That shot has surprised me very much! it has made all the wood echo. Oh! I perceive a poor robin has fallen a victim to the fowler. Cruel man! how could you deprive such an innocent creature of its existence, and at the very time it was attempting as it were to soften your cruel breast with its delicate song : Sure it was doing you no harm, nor is its little carcase of any benefit to you, for I perceive you have left it lying at the foot of yonder tree.

Poor robin ! no more wilt thou visit my babitation in the pinching frost, peck up a few crumbs, and shelter thyself under its roof; nor repay me with thy song in the

« PreviousContinue »