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had been nothing but discomfort in death without a resurrection, so there had been little comfort in a resurrection, without an ascension to glory. There is a contentment in the very act, I ascend; even nature is ambitious, and we do all affect to mount higher, as to come down is a death. But this height is, like the ascendant, infinite, “I ascend to my Father;' there was the glory which he put off in his humble incarnation; there was the glory which he was now to resume and possess to all eternity. And as if nature and adoption could give a like interest, he puts both together : “My Father and your Father, my God and your God. His mercy vouchsafes to style us brethren; yet the distance is unmeasurable betwixt him, the Son of his eternal essence and us, the naturally wretched sons of his gracious election; yet, as if both he and we should be coheirs of the same blessedness, though not in the same measure, he says, ' My Father and your Father:' first my Father, then yours; and, indeed, therefore ours, because his. It is in him that we are elected, that we are adopted; without him, God were not only a stranger, but an enemy: it is the Son that must make us free; it is the Son that must make us sons; if we be his the Father cannot but be ours. O, the unspeakable comfort and happiness of a Christian, in respect of his bodily nature! He cannot but say with Job, to the worm, • Thou art my mother and my sister ;'* in his spiritual right, God the Son hath here authorized him to say to the Almighty, · Thou art my Father;' and, in nature, in regard of our frail and dying condition, willingly say, “ I descend to the grave."
1 Job, xvii. 14.
Faith makes abundant amends in him, and can as cheerfully say, 'I ascend to my Father. And what son, that is not altogether graceless, would not be glad to go to his father, though it were to a meaner house than his own; and therefore is ready to say, “I will descend to my father.” How much more, when his many mansions are infinitely glorious, and when all our happiness consists in his blessed presence, must we needs say, with a joy unspeakable and glorious, ‘I ascend to my Father!'
God made man the Lord of his creatures; he made him not a tyrant; he gave the creatures to man for his lawful use, not for his wanton cruelty. Man may therefore exercise his just sovereignty over the beasts of the field, and fowls of the air, and fishes of the sea; not his lawless will to their needless destruction or torment. Had man made the creature, he could but challenge an absolute dominion over that work of his hands; but now that he is only a fellow-creature to the meanest worm, what an insolent usurpation is this, so licentiously to domineer over his fellow-dust! Yea, that great God, who gave a being to the creature, and therefore hath a full and illimited power over his own workmanship, takes no pleasure to make use of that power to the unnecessary vexation and torture of what he hath made. That all-wise and bountiful Creator, who hath put into the hands of man the subordinate dominion over all the store of these inferior elements, hath made the limit of his command, not necessity only, but convenience too : but, if man shall go beyond these bounds, and will destroy the creature only because he will, and put it to
pain because it is his pleasure, he abuseth his sovereignty to a sinful imperiousness, and shall be accountable for his cruelty. When the Apostle, upon occasion of the law for not muzzling the mouth of the ox, asks, 'Doth God take care for oxen ??? can we think he meant to question the regard for so useful a creature ? Do we not hear the Psalmist say, 'He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens that cry." Do we not hear our Saviour say, 'that not a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father ? 3 And of how much more value is an ox than many thousands of sparrows! Is not the speech, therefore, both comparative and typical ? Is the main care that God takes in that law, for provision to be made for the beast ? and doth he not rather, under that figure, give order for the maintenance of those spiritual oxen that labour in the husbandry of the Almighty ? Doubtless, as even the savage creatures, The young lions seek their meat from God;' so they find it from him in due season : • He openeth his hand, and filleth every creature with good.'4 Is God so careful for preserving, and shall man be so licentious in destroying them ? • A righteous man,' saith Solomon, ‘regardeth the life of his beast;'5 he is no better, therefore, than a wicked man that regardeth it not. To offer violence to, and to take away the life from, our fellowcreatures, without a cause, is no less than tyranny. Surely, no other measure should a man offer to his beast than that, which if his beast, with Balaam's, could expostulate with him, he could well justify to it; no other than that man, if he had been '1 Cor. ix. 9. ? Psalm cxlvii. 9. 3 Matt. x. 29. 4 Psalm civ. 21, 27, 28.
5 Prov, xii. 10.
made a beast, would have been content should have been offered by man to him; no other than he shall make account to answer to a common Creator. Justly do we smile at the niceness of the foolish Manichees,' who made scruple to pull a herb or flower, and were ready to preface apologies and excuses for the reaping of their corn and grinding the grain they fed upon; as if these vegetables were sensible of pain, and capable of our oppression; but surely for those creatures, which, enjoying a sensitive life, forego it with no less anguish and reluctation than ourselves, and would be as willing to live, without harm, as their owners, they may well challenge both such mercy and justice at our hands, as that in the usage of them we may approve ourselves to their Maker. Wherein I blush and grieve to see how far we are exceeded by Turks and infidels, whom mere nature hath taught more tenderness to the poor brute creatures than we have learned from the holier rules of charitable Christianity. For my part, let me rather affect and applaud the harmless humour of that miscalled saint, who in an indiscreet humility called every wolf his brother, and every sheep, yea, every ant his sister, fellowing himself with every thing that had life in it, as well as himself; than the tyrannical disposition of those men, who take pleasure in the abuse, persecution, destruction of their fellow-creatures, upon no other quarrel, than because they live.
Among many strange tenets of this heretical sect, they held the doctrine of the metempsychosis, or transmigration of the souls of men into the bodies of the inferior animals, and other natures, as a means of expiating their guilt by a lengthened probation. Hence their excessive regard for animal and even vegetable life.—ED.