Page images

righteous Purposes towards Mankind. It is an Instance of the Wisdom and Goodness of Divine Providence, that as there is a near Relation between the several Orders of Beings, so the lower, besides their own proper Exercises and Enjoyments, are often made to contribute to serve the Uses of Creatures of an higher Rank in the Scale of Beings. The merely sensitive are in many Instances subordinate and subservient to the rational and moral; and as Man is the chief Inhabitant of this lower World, the inferior Brute Animals are manifestly designed to be subservient to his Use. And indeed, with regard to many of them, it seems evident that the peculiar Instincts given them are intended not merely for their own Benefit, but to render them more serviceable to Man, that they may contribute in various Ways to his Neceffities, his Convenience, or Pleasure. They are frequently made Use of by the wife and righteous Governor of the World, to answer the Ends of his moral Administration towards Mankind, in a Way of Reward or Punishment. It is a Promise of the Law of Mofes to the Israelites, that if they hearkened diligently unto the Voice of the Lord, blessed should be the Fruit of their Cattle, the Increase of their Kine, and the Flocks of their Sheep, Deut. xxviii. 4, and F 3


[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


the contrary is denounced against them in Case of their Disobedience. Ver. 18. It is mentioned as a great Instance of national Prosperity, when their Sheep bring forth Thousands, and their Oxen are strong to labour. Psal. cxliv. 13, 14. And on the contrary,

it is justly looked upon as a grievous Judgment upon Mankind, when the Beasts groan, and the Herds of Cattle are perplexed, because there is no Pasture; yea, the Flocks of Sheep are made defolate. Joel i. 18. In these Cases the Hand of God must be acknowledged governing and disposing the Events that immediately relate to the Brute Creation, so as to turn to the Benefit or Punishment of Men. How often has it happened that a contagious Distemper among the Cattle has proved a very heavy Calamity upon a Nation. This ought to awaken serious Reflections. Divine Providence should be awfully reverenced in such Dispensations. And if Care be not taken to improve them, it may provoke a righteous God to inflict itill feverer Judgments.

Among the Things threatened in the Law of Moses against the Israelites, as Punishnients to be inflicted upon them for their Idolatry and Wickedness; one was, that they should be infested by wild Beasts,



of which there were great Numbers in the Desarts adjoining to the Land of Canaan. I will send wilă Beasts among you, which Mall rob you of your Children, and destroy your Cattle, and make you few in Number; and your Highways shall be defolate. Lev. xxvi.

And in such Cases it must be said that the wild Beasts acted according to their Nature; but the Direction of them at such a Time, to this or that Part of the Country, and to such particular Perfons, was the Work of Providence for executing its wise and just Purposes: On the contrary, it is promised, that if they walked in his Statutes, he would rid evil Beasts out of the Land. Ver. 6. God can, when he feeth fit, restrain their Fury, and over-rule their natural Instincts and Appetites. So the hungry Lions, contrary to their Nature. were restrained from hurting Daniel, for God sent his Angel and put their Mouths, as it is expressed, Dan. vi.

Yet, immediately after, when his Accusers, with their Wives and Children, were cast into the Den, the Lions fell

upon them with the utmost Fury, and brake all their Bones in Pieces before they came at the Bottom of the Den. Ver. 24. The Plagues of Egypt furnish remarkable Instances of God's making use of divers Kinds of living Creatures for executing his Judgments.


And the Prophet Joel speaking of the Lor custs, the Caterpillars, and other devouring Insects, representeth them as a mighty Aśmy sent by God in his righteous Judgments to lay waste the Land. See the first and second Chapters of Joel. It were easy to produce Instances from the most credible Historians, of great Devastations commit: ted by the most inconsiderable Creatures, which have been Instruments in the Hand of God for chastising Nations*. With regard to particular Persons, eyen in Cases that are usually called Accidents, it may please God to make use of Brute Creatures for executing the Purposes of his Providence. Thus, e. g. if a Man be bitten by a Dog, or gored by a Bull, or thrown and killed by an Horse, though there is nothing in such Instances but what is agreeable to the Course and Order of natura! Causes, yet the applying them at that Time, and to that particular Person, is to be regarded as under the Direction of God's most wise Providence, who hath all the Creatures af his Disposal.

I shall conclude with a few Reflections.

First, What an amiable Idea should it give us of the Goodness and Benignity, the

See several Instances of this kind collected by Bochart. Hieroz : Par. I. l¡b. 3. cap. 32, 34. 5

Kindness Kindness and Condescension of the supreme universal Lord, that he exerciseth a constant Care over the various Orders of the brutal Kind, the meanest not excepted ! He who humbleth himself in beholding the Things which are done in Heaven, doth not despise or overlook the least, the seemingly most despicable of all sensitive Beings : He fo ordereth the inanimate World, that every Part of it affordeth Food, Habitation, or Entertainment, to some Beings that haye Life. And if we had but a diftant. View of all the innumerable Kinds of sensitive Beings, and knew the Provision made for them all according to their several Capacities, surely it would fill us with Astonishment, to consider the inexhaustible Benignity of the kind Parent of the Universe, who every where spreadeth Life and Enjoyment in unconceivably yarious Degrees. The wise Man observes, that the righteous Man regardeth the Life of bis Beaft. Prov. xii. 10. He is not for treating even the lower Orders of living Creatures with unnecessary Harshness and Cruelty, And in this he is an Image of the supreme Goodness. God is introduced as declaring, Every Beast of the Forest is mine, and the Cattle upon a thousand Hills: I know all the Fowls of the Mountains; and the wild Beasts of the Field are mine.


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »