Imatges de pÓgina
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6. How true then is that word, "God saw every thing that he had made: and, behold, it was very good." But how far is this from being the present case! In what a condition is the whole lower world!-to say nothing of inanimate nature, wherein all the elements seem to be out of course, and by turns to fight against man. Since man rebelled against his Maker, in what a state is all animated nature! Well might the apostle say of this; "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now." This directly refers to the brute creation. In what state this is at present we are now to consider.

II. 1. As all the blessings of God in paradise flowed through man to the inferior creatures; as man was the great channel of communication between the Creator and the whole brute creation; so when man made himself incapable of transmitting those blessings, that communication was necessarily cut off. The intercourse between God and the inferior creatures being stopped, those blessings could no longer flow in upon them. And then it was that "the creature," every creature, was subjected to vanity," to sorrow; to pain of every kind, to all manner of evils; not, indeed, "willingly," not by its own choice, not by any act or deed of its own, but "by reason of him that subjected it," by the wise permission of God, determining to draw eternal good out of this temporary evil.

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2. But in what respect was the creature," every creature, then "made subject to vanity?" What did the meaner creatures suffer, when man rebelled against God? It is probable they sustained much loss, even in the lower faculties; their vigour, strength, and swiftness. But undoubtedly they suffered far more in their understanding, more than we can easily conceive. Perhaps insects and worms had then as much understanding as the most intelligent brutes have now: whereas millions of creatures have, at present, little more understanding than the earth on which they crawl, or the rock to which they adhere. They suffered still more in their will, in their passions; which were then variously distorted, and frequently set in flat opposition to the little understanding that was left them. Their liberty likewise was greatly impaired; yea, in many cases, totally destroyed. They are still utterly enslaved to irrational appetites, which have the full dominion over them. The very foundations of their nature are out of course; are turned upside down. As man is deprived of his perfection, his loving obedience to God; sc brutes are deprived of their perfection, their loving obedience to man. The far greater part of them flee from him; studiously avoid his hated presence. The most of the rest set him at open defiance; yea, destroy him, if it be in their power. A few only, those we commonly term domestic animals, retain more or less of their original disposition, (through the mercy of God,) love him still, and pay obedience to him.

3. Setting these few aside, how little shadow of good, of gratitude, of benevolence, of any right temper, is now to be found in any part of the brute creation! On the contrary, what savage fierceness, what unrelenting cruelty, are invariably observed in thousands of creatures; yea, is inseparable from their natures! Is it only the lion, the tiger, the wolf, among the inhabitants of the forests and plains, the shark, and a few more voracious monsters, among the inhabitants of the waters,— or the eagle, among birds,-that tears the flesh, sucks the blood, and

crushes the bones of their helpless fellow creatures? Nay; the harmless fly, the laborious ant, the painted butterfly, are treated in the same merciless manner, even by the innocent songsters of the grove! The innumerable tribes of poor insects are continually devoured by them. And whereas there is but a small number, comparatively, of beasts of prey on the earth, it is quite otherwise in the liquid element. There are but few inhabitants of the waters, whether of the sea, or of the rivers, which do not devour whatsoever they can master: yea, they exceed herein all the beasts of the forest, and all the birds of prey. For none of these have been ever observed to prey upon their own species;

Sævis inter se convenit ursis:

Even savage bears will not each other tear.

But the water savages swallow up all, even of their own kind, that are smaller and weaker than themselves. Yea, such, at present, is the miserable constitution of the world; to such vanity is it now subjected; that an immense majority of creatures, perhaps a million to one, can no otherwise preserve their own lives, than by destroying their fellow creatures!

4. And is not the very form, the outward appearance, of many of the creatures, as horrid as their dispositions? Where is the beauty which was stamped upon them, when they came first out of the hands of their Creator? There is not the least trace of it left: so far from it, that they are shocking to behold! Nay, they are not only terrible and grisly. to look upon, but deformed, and that to a high degree. Yet their features, ugly as they are at best, are frequently made more deformed than usual, when they are distorted by pain; which they cannot avoid, any more than the wretched sons of men. Pain of various kinds, weakness, sickness, diseases innumerable, come upon them; perhaps from within; perhaps from one another; perhaps from the inclemency of seasons; from fire, hail, snow, or storm; or from a thousand causes which they cannot foresee or prevent.

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5. Thus, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; even so death passed upon all men ;" and not on man only, but on those creatures also, that " did not sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression." And not death alone came upon them, but all its train of preparatory evils; pain, and ten thousand sufferings. Nor these only, but likewise all those irregular passions, all those unlovely tempers, (which in men are sins, and even in brutes, are sources of misery, passed upon all" the inhabitants of the earth; and remain in all, except the children of God.

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6. During this season of vanity, not only the feebler creatures are continually destroyed by the stronger; not only the strong are destroyed by those that are of equal strength; but both the one and the other are exposed to the violence and cruelty of him that is now their common enemy, man. And if his swiftness and strength is not equal to theirs, yet his art more than supplies that defect. By this, he eludes all their force, how great soever it be; by this he defeats all their swiftness; and, notwithstanding their various shifts and contrivances, discovers all their retreats. He pursues them over the widest plains, and through the thickest forests. He overtakes them in the fields of air, he finds them out in the depths of the sea. Nor are the mild and friendly creatures who still own his sway, and are duteous to his commands,

secured thereby from more than brutal violence; from outrage and abuse of various kinds. Is the generous horse, that serves his master's necessity or pleasure, with unwearied diligence; is the faithful dog, that waits the motion of his hand, or his eye, exempt from this? What returns for their long and faithful service do many of these poor creatures find! And what a dreadful difference is there, between what they suffer from their fellow brutes, and what they suffer from the tyrant man ! The lion, the tiger, or the shark, give them pain from mere necessity, in order to prolong their own life; and put them out of their pain at once: but the human shark, without any such necessity, torments them of his free choice; and perhaps continues their lingering pain, till, after months or years, death signs their release.

III. 1. But will" the creature," will even the brute creation, always remain in this deplorable condition? God forbid that we should affirm this; yea, or even entertain such a thought! While "the whole creation groaneth together," (whether men attend or not,) their groans are not dispersed in idle air, but enter into the ears of him that made them. While his creatures "travail together in pain," he knoweth all their pain, and is bringing them nearer and nearer to the birth, which shall be accomplished in its season. He seeth "the earnest expectation" wherewith the whole animated creation "waiteth for" that final "manifestation of the sons of God;" in which "they themselves also shall be delivered [not by annihilation; annihilation is not deliverance] from the [present] bondage of corruption, into [a measure of] the glorious liberty of the children of God."

2. Nothing can be more express: away with vulgar prejudices, and let the plain word of God take place. They shall be delivered from "the bondage of corruption, into glorious liberty;" even a measure, according as they are capable, of "the liberty of the children of God."

A general view of this is given us in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation. When he that "sitteth on the great white throne" hath pronounced, "Behold, I make all things new;" when the word is fulfilled, "The tabernacle of God is with men, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God;"-then the following blessing shall take place (not only on the children of men; there is no such restriction in the text; but) on every creature according to its capacity: "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying. Neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are vassed away."

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3. To descend to a few particulars: The whole brute creation will then, undoubtedly, be restored, not only to the vigour, strength, and swiftness, which they had at their creation, but to a far higher degree of each than they ever enjoyed. They will be restored, not only to that measure of understanding which they had in paradise, but to a degree of it as much higher than that, as the understanding of an elephant is beyond that of a worm. And whatever affections they had in the garden of God, will be restored with vast increase; being exalted and refined in a manner which we ourselves are not now able to comprehend. The liberty they then had will be completely restored, and they will be free in all their motions. They will be delivered from all irregular appetites, from all unruly passions, from every disposition

that is either evil in itself, or has any tendency to evil. No rage will be found in any creature, no fierceness, no cruelty, or thirst for blood. So far from it, that "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf, and the young lion, together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain," Isa. xi, 6, &c.

4. Thus, in that day, all the vanity, to which they are now helplessly subject, will be abolished; they will suffer no more, either from within or without; the days of their groaning are ended. At the same time, there can be no reasonable doubt, but all the horridness of their appearance, and all the deformity of their aspect, will vanish away, and be exchanged for their primeval beauty. And with their beauty, their happiness will return; to which there can then be no obstruction. As there will be nothing within, so there will be nothing without, to give them any uneasiness; no heat or cold, no storm or tempest, but one perennial spring. In the new earth, as well as the new heavens, there will be nothing to give pain, but every thing that the wisdom and goodness of God can create to give happiness. As a recompense for what they once suffered, while under the "bondage of corruption," when God has "renewed the face of the earth," and their corruptible body has put on incorruption, they shall enjoy happiness suited to their state, without alloy, without interruption, and without end.

5. But though I doubt not, that the Father of all has a tender regard for even his lowest creatures, and that, in consequence of this, he will make them large amends for all they suffer while under their present bondage; yet I dare not affirm, that he has an equal regard for them and for the children of men. I do not believe, that

By no means.
For though

"He sees with equal eyes, as Lord of all,

A hero perish, or a sparrow fall."

This is exceeding pretty; but it is absolutely false.

"Mercy, with truth and endless grace,
O'er all his works doth reign,

Yet chiefly he delights to bless
His favourite creature, MAN."

more.

God regards his meanest creatures much; but he regards man much He does not equally regard a hero and a sparrow; the best of men and the lowest of brutes. "How much more does your heavenly Father care for you ?"" says he" who is in the bosom of the Father." Those who thus strain the point, are clearly confuted by his question, "Are not ye much better than they?" Let it suffice, that God regards every thing that he hath made, in its own order, and in proportion to that measure of his own image which he has stamped upon it.

6. May I be permitted to mention here a conjecture concerning the brute creation? What if it should then please the all-wise, the allgracious Creator, to raise them higher in the scale of beings? What if it should please him, when he makes us "equal to angels," to make them what we are now,-creatures capable of God; capable of know, ing, and loving, and enjoying, the Author of their being? If it should be so, ought our eye to be evil, because he is good? However this be, he will certainly do what will be most for his own glory.

7. If it be objected to all this, (as very probably it will,) "But of what use will those creatures be in that future state ?" I answer this by another question, What use are they of now? If there be (as has commonly been supposed,) eight thousand species of insects; who is able to inform us of what use seven thousand of them are? If there are four thousand species of fishes; who can tell us of what use are more than three thousand of them? If there are six hundred sorts of birds; who can tell of what use five hundred of those species are? If there be four hundred sorts of beasts; to what use do three hundred of them serve? Consider this; consider how little we know of even the present designs of God; and then you will not wonder, that we know still less of what he designs to do in the new heavens and the new earth.

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8. "But what end does it answer to dwell upon this subject which we so imperfectly understand?" To consider so much as we do understand, so much as God has been pleased to reveal to us, may answer that excellent end,-to illustrate that mercy of God which " is over all his works." And it may exceedingly confirm our belief, that much more he "is loving to every man. For how well may we urge our Lord's words; "Are not ye much better than they?" If then the Lord takes such care of the fowls of the air, and of the beasts of the field, shall he not much more take care of you, creatures of a nobler order? If "the Lord will save," as the inspired writer affirms, "both man and beast," in their several degrees, surely, "the children of men may put their trust under the shadow of his wings!"

9. May it not answer another end; namely, furnish us with a full answer to a plausible objection against the justice of God, in suffering numberless creatures, that never had sinned, to be so severely punished? They could not sin, for they were not moral agents. Yet how severely do they suffer!-yea, many of them, beasts of burden in particular, almost the whole time of their abode on earth; so that they can have no retribution here below. But the objection vanishes away, if we consider, that something better remains after death for these poor creatures also; that these likewise shall one day be delivered from this bondage of corruption, and shall then receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings.

10. One more excellent end may undoubtedly be answered by the preceding considerations. They may encourage us to imitate him whose mercy is over all his works. They may soften our hearts towards the meaner creatures, knowing that the Lord careth for them. It may enlarge our hearts towards those poor creatures, to reflect that, as vile as they appear in our eyes, not one of them is forgotten in the sight of our Father which is in heaven. Through all the vanity to which they are now subjected, let us look to what God hath prepared for them. Yea, let us habituate ourselves to look forward, beyond this present scene of bondage, to the happy time when they will be delivered therefrom, into the liberty of the children of God!

11. From what has been said I cannot but draw one inference, which no man of reason can deny. If it is this which distinguishes men from beasts, that they are creatures capable of God, capable of knowing, and loving, and enjoying him; then whoever is "without God in the world," whoever does not know, or love, or enjoy God, and

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