« AnteriorContinuar »
pain because it is his pleasure, he abuseth his sovereignty to a sinful imperiousness, and shall be accountable for his cruelty. When the Apostle, upon occasion of the law for not muzzling the mouth of the ox, asks, · Doth God take care for oxen ? can we think he meant to question the regard for so useful a creature ? Do we not hear the Psalmist
say, · He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens that cry. Do we not hear our Saviour say, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father ? 3 And of how much more value is an ox than many thousands of sparrows! Is not the speech, therefore, both comparative and typical ? Is the main care that God takes in that law, for provision to be made for the beast ? and doth he not rather, under that figure, give order for the maintenance of those spiritual oxen that labour in the husbandry of the Almighty ? Doubtless, as even the savage creatures, The young lions seek their meat from God; so they find it from him in due season : • He openeth his hand, and filleth every creature with good.” Is God so careful for preserving, and shall man be so licentious in destroying them ? • A righteous man,' saith Solomon, regardeth the life of his beast; 5 he is no better, therefore, than a wicked man that regardeth it not. To offer violence to, and to take away the life from, our fellowcreatures, without a cause, is no less than tyranny. Surely, no other measure should a man offer to his beast than that, which if his beast, with Balaam's, could expostulate with him, he could well justify to it; no other than that man, if he had been
11 Cor. ix. 9. 2 Psalm cxlvii. 9.
3 Matt. x. 29. 4 Psalm civ, 21, 27, 28.
5 Prov. xii. 10.
made a beast, would have been content should have been offered by man to him; no other than he shall make account to answer to a common Creator. Justly do we smile at the niceness of the foolish Manichees,' who made scruple to pull a herb or flower, and were ready to preface apologies and excuses for the reaping of their corn and grinding the grain they fed upon; as if these vegetables were sensible of pain, and capable of our oppression; but surely for those creatures, which, enjoying a sensitive life, forego it with no less anguish and reluctation than ourselves, and would be as willing to live, without harm, as their owners, they may well challenge both such mercy and justice at our hands, as that in the usage of them we may approve ourselves to their Maker. Wherein I blush and grieve to see how far we are exceeded by Turks and infidels, whom mere nature hath taught more tenderness to the poor brute creatures than we have learned from the holier rules of charitable Christianity. For my part, let me rather affect and applaud the harmless humour of that miscalled saint, who in an indiscreet humility called every wolf his brother, and every sheep, yea, every ant his sister, fellowing himself with every thing that had life in it, as well as himself; than the tyrannical disposition of those men, who take pleasure in the abuse, persecution, destruction of their fellow-creatures, upon no other quarrel, than because they live.
Among many strange tenets of this heretical sect, they held the doctrine of the metempsychosis, or transmigration of the souls of men into the bodies of the inferior animals, and other natures, as a means of expiating their guilt by a lengthened probation, Hence their excessive regard for animal and even vegetable life.-En.
ON THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
SECTION 1. The Love of Christ how passing knowledge; how
free, of us, before we were. What is it, О blessed apostle, what is it, for which thou dost so earnestly bow thy knees, in the behalf of thine Ephesians, unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ? even this, that they may know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.'
Give me leave, first, to wonder at thy suit; and then much more at what thou suest for. Were thine affections raised so high to thine Ephesians, that thou shouldst crave for them impossible favours ? Did thy love so far overshoot thy reason, as to pray they might attain to the knowledge of that which cannot be known ? It is the love of Christ which thou wishest they may know; and it is that love which thou sayest is past all knowledge. What shall we say to this? Is it, for that there may be holy ambitions of those heights of grace which we can never hope actually to obtain ? Or is it rather, that thou supposest and prayest they
Eph. iii. 14, 19.