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Low in the scale of being as the sparrow has been placed by its creator, it is, according to the declaration of our Lord himself, the object of his unceasing care: “ Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” In the gospel of Luke, the value of this little bird is represented as still less : “ Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God.”y It neither attracts our notice by the beauty of its plumage, nor conciliates our esteem by the amiableness of its dispositions and manners ; nor commands our regard by the benefits it bestows; yet this insignificant animal cannot perish without the express permission of its Maker. This truth was taught by the Royal Psalmist, many ages
before the coming of Christ : “ These all wait upon thee, that thou mayst give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them, they gather ; thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust."In these quotations, it is not meant, that God, who is infinitely wise, values a sparrow as highly as a man, who is formed after his own image, and for whose use the lower animals were created in the beginning of time. He cannot but love his creatures, according to the nature and the degree of excellence which they possess; to do otherwise, would argue a defect of wisdom and goodness in his nature and character. The care of divine Providence, therefore, admits of various degrees : the great Preserver does not take care of oxen in the same manner as he watches over the interests of men ; but, according to Paul, makes a distinction in his providential management. : Matth. x, 29. ; Luke xii, 6.
: Psa. civ, 27.
“ For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen ?" It cannot, however, be doubted, that as well oxen as men, and even the meanest creatures, are equally subject to God, who disdains not to govern and preserve the works which he condescended to make. We must beware of setting bounds to his provi. dence, which the greatest effects of his power cannot burthen, nor the smallest escape. Who, that deserves the name of Christian, can believe, that Jehovah knew not the number of the quails with which he supplied his people in the wilderness ; or of the fishes which sported in the lake of Genesareth, when, by the command of Christ, the apostle Peter cast his net into the sea ? Could he be ignorant how many frogs and locusts he would employ in executing his vengeance upon the oppressors of his people in Egypt ? A general knows the number of the troops which he musters for the battle, and leads into the field; and can the omniscient God be ignorant of the numbers which swell the ranks of his army, and march under his banners ? Such a supposition is not more repugnant to the uniform declaration of Scripture, than to the light of nature, which taught the ancient heathens, That God not only took care of oxen, but also extended his protection to animals of every species.a
* Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. xi, cap. 31.