« AnteriorContinuar »
HOWEVER men may differ as to fpeculative points of Religion, JUSTICE is a rule of univerfal extent and invariable obliz gation. We acknowledge this important truth in all matters in which MAN is concerned, but then we limit it to our own fpecies only. And though we are able to trace the most evident marks of the Creator's wisdom and goodness, in the formation and appointment of the arious claffes of Animals that are
inferior to Men, yet the confciouf nefs of our own dignity and excellence is apt to fuggeft to us, that Man alone of all terrestrial Animals is the only proper object of Mercy and Compaffion, because he is the most highly favored and diftinguished. Milled with this prejudice in our own favor, we overlook fome of the BRUTES*, as if they were meer Excrefcencies of Nature, beneath our notice, and infinitely unworthy the care and cognisance of the Almighty; and we confider others of them, as made only for our service; and fo long as we can apply them to
* In the enfuing treatife I ufe the word Brute as a general term for every creature inferior to Man, whether Beaft, or Bird, or Fish, or Fly, or Worm.
our ufe, we are careless and indifferent as to their happiness or mifery, and can hardly bring ourfelves to fuppofe that there is any kind of duty incumbent upon us toward them.
To rectify this mistaken notion is the defign of this treatise, in which I have endeavoured to prove, that as the Love and Mercy of God are over all his works, from the highest rational to the lowest fenfitive, our Love and Mercy are not to be confined within the circle of our own friends, acquaintance, and neighbours; nor limited to the more enlarged fphere of human nature, to creatures of our own rank, shape, and capacity; but are to be extended to every obA 2 ject
ject of the Love and Mercy of GOD the univerfal Parent; who, as he is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works, will undoubtedly require of Man, superior Man, a strict account of his conduct to every creature entrufted to his care, or coming in his and who will avenge every inftance of wanton cruelty and oppreffion, in the day in the which he will judge the world in RIGH
As it is of no confequence to the Brutes, for whofe fakes this trea tife is published, what may be the different modes of faith or forms of worship amongst men, I have endeavoured to write it without any bias,
prejudice, or partiality. And if Some of my Sentiments should not in all respects fquare with those of my reader, I have only to defire that they may be read and interpreted with the fame candour and charity with which they are written, as I do affure him I have no defign to offend any party whatsoever.
As to the manner in which this work is executed, let it be confidered that, as it treats upon a subject in which men of all ranks are concerned, it is necessary to pay fome attention to the capacities of thofe, who have not had the advantage of a liberal education; and, on their account it is, that the Au