Page images
PDF
EPUB

strain their eyes out, to accomplish what might be done pleasantly with a little management; perhaps only turning their heads. And going from the noble team to another that is not devoid of feeling nor yet of utility, however ignoble they may appear; a team or troop of asses shall often be made to suffer more than those, when there is no occasion for their suffering at all; as e. g., when one half of the troop shall have discharged their saleable commodities, and the other half be still left to linger with the whole of theirs on their bending backs, because their thoughtless or inhuman driver will not be at the trouble to divide their loads.

But, to shew how far even this humble creature may deserve the humane consideration of a truly great mind; the Saviour of the world himself, when he came to his own in triumph, was pleased to accept * one of the kind, without any mixture of the higher breed before mentioned, for his conveyance; "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy king cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” (Matt. xxi. 4, 5.) Then the dignity of the church was well supported, the Head of it being as humble as his equipment, and that the humblest imaginable. But we have an instance of church dignity similarly mounted, and not similarly qualified, in Balaam posting to the king of Moab: when, as we read,“ the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him," (Num. xxii. 22,) and the poor ass was hardly put to it between the crosier and the sword. But the denouement was highly favourable, if not flattering, to the beast; and while it literally constitutes another striking illustration of the doctrine here advanced-namely, on the consideration of Divine Providence for its humblest instruments, may by a little allegorizing afford some encouragement to the poor curate, who shall simply labour, both by example and precept, for the good of the community, as if all was quiet, in any collision that might happen between church and state. “ And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me. And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times : unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.” (Ib. 32, 33.) I say the honest, drudging curate may derive some encouragement in

• Or rather two ;

an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass."

perilous times " from this short extract, taken originally, perhaps, from “ the book of the wars of the Lord.”

For “the Lord is loving into every man: and his mercy is over all his works.” (Ps. cxlv. 9.) “Be ye therefore merciful, (says our Saviour to his followers,) as your Father also is merciful.” Among all the motives or inducements to humanity, there is none so considerable as the example here proposed by that high authority, and likewise in different parables ; as in that of “a certain king who would take account of his servants," (Mat. xvii. 23,) for one. For what servants are to their king and he to them, inferior animals are to his servants, and his servants to them in some respects, and especially in that of mutual service and obligation. It is true, the animals may not be so much companions for the king's servants as his servants may be companions for the king, being of the same species: but they are still entitled to a similar consideration : and the man who has no consideration for the animals under him, can be no companion for a king so generous and humane as that described in the parable, por entitled to much consideration from “ the King of kings.” (Ib. 35.)

"A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: (says Solomon in my text,) but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." (Prov. xii. 10.) And they cannot be called Christians; indeed, taking the character of the country from its representation, and the character of the representation from its enactments in favour of dumb animals before alluded to, they can hardly be called Englishmen, who tyrannize over the poor dumb creatures: nay, if we be not merciful to them on principle more than from legal constraint, we cannot be true English; as the laws for their protection are freely enacted, and must consequently emanate from principle. We should consider our own obligation to divine Providence for thecivil liberty that we enjoy, and imitate the same, as far as we are able, in our liberal treatment of these propertied servants. Time was when there was hardly any other sort: when a man's servants and work-people, and even his own wife and children, had no more share with him, than brutes have now. Witness for example, Judah's dooming Tamar to death for only one criminal indulgence, that he could allow himself to repeat when he liked. Having, therefore, laws so liberal and beneficial as to protect the very beast, ought we not to follow out their provisions with a suitable spirit-to correspond at once with the goodness of Providence, and the humanity of our government by a bumane administration among our dependencies? We should certainly desire such a correspondence on our parts, if we “knew the things which belong unto our peace.”

For every natural sight and sound is pleasant in peace, like the regular current of our blood: it is only by rage and violence, that screams are excited without, and the blood stagnates in our cheeks. I allude of course to Nature in a Christian garb, or in what may be called her holiday clothes, and not as disfigured by the tawdry ornaments of the world, or distorted by its corruptions. And then it will be as our Saviour tells his disciples, the followers of the lamb, or those who have put on his lamblike disposition, “That in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : (says he) but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John xvi. 39.)

And when it comes to our tum, may every one of us be able to say, as he said, I have overcome the world. I have been tried by it, and have overcome. I leave in peace a world in clamour. Adieu! noisy world; I have walked through thee, as I could,—unruffled by opposition, undisturbed by thy clamour. I have enjoyed the face of nature; and the song of her children has beguiled my pilgrimage, my ears do not tingle with the reproaches of any. “Behold here I am: witness against me.” (Sam. I. xii. 3.)

For when a lord of the creation dies, we may suppose an account given up against him to the Supreme Governor on all hands, and especially from his servants and those in his dependence, whether they be men or brutes : and it may then signify somewhat to have walked through life, “without hurting a worm." That may seem somewhat, I say: but it will not seem sufficient. For, as we walk, or ride either, any where, our humanity will be liable to suffer at the sight of wanton cruelty inflicted on poor animals out of our species, by others equally pitiable within; or rather 'more pitiable, as suffering in a more tender respect. Who have never heard much perhaps, of the beauty and obligation of the duty for which I have been arguing. Alas; for such unfortunate beings ! I say. To bring such delinquents before a magistrate may be well; as they are not to be brought to church : but if we could convince them on the spot, by a mild and Christian-like expostulation, it would be better. For, as I said before, if God cares for oxen, it is on our account; and if our Saviour has signified a man to be “worth many sparrows,” here would seem to be the proper or principal object of our charity, if not of its specific branch of humanity when painfully excited. It is the poor waggoners, the coach-drivers, the cattle-drivers, the sheep-drivers, and others of the sort; who are driven themselves almost out of their species, that deserve to be pitied, if we have compassion on the iguorant, and on them that are

can

out of the way.” (Heb. v. 2.) And when you see one of that sort tormenting a fellow creature which is less unfortunate than he, though unfortunately subject to his inhumanity; see, if you cannot do something to save him,--I mean, not to save the beast from the man's hand; but the man himself from the grasp of an invisible enemy --- from one that as a roaring lion walketh about,“ seeking whom he may devour.” (Pet. I. v.8.) Remember David's zeal for only a lamb; and be not afraid to step forward, if there seem any chance, to rescue a man from the paw of the lion ; as well as an ox, an horse, or a sheep from his.

“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." (Prov. xxxi. 9.)

SERMON III.

CHARITY.

“ My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue ; but in deed, and in truth."

John I. iii. 18. We have in this passage the exhortation of an aged apostle to his adopted children,-of one so aged, indeed, that the common run of old men were but as children, and those in the prime of life but as LITTLE CHILDREN compared with him: for he was probably au hundred years old, or very near it, at the time of his writing the epistle from which this passage is taken. And yet it does not seem as if the holy apostle's endowment for office had begun to fail him in any respect,-in respect of spirit, of intellect, or even of bodily health and vigour for his years; --that is, allowing for regular wear. In respect of the first mentioned element, spirit-particularly, we know the saint had not begun to falter, as well from the affection that breathes in this and in all his epistles, as from historical evidence. And in addressing one's self to the different subjects and objects which there are of charity,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »