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in two cases of a people, either when they are rigid formalists or when they are truly devout. And the great body of a people are seldom brought to rigid formality in this or any other unprofitable and unpleasant institution ; unless there should also be present in the community, a strong feeling and large fervour of devotion. -- But without being diverted from our main subject by this digression, we will just quote, in proof of the value which God sets upon this test of obedience, a passage which we of this city would do well to remember, Jer. xvii, 24: “And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath-day, but hallow the Sabbath-day to do no work thereon; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain for ever.”
But, to return, I say again, that it is a very honest occupation of men to study the nature of every creature with which he is surrounded, from the industrious ant, and the busy bee, up to the mighty horse, which paweth the ground, and maketh the heavens echo with his neighings; and everywhere to read the original purpose of the Creator's goodness unto man; and everywhere to see how for his sin they have been bowed down; and everywhere to study how he may give them a partial redemption, tame them, construct dwellings for them, guide their industry, store the fruits of it, drink their milk, and feed himself fat with butter and cheese of kine, make feasts of their nutricious carcases; and, in short, turn them to all their good and faithful ministries, whether in life or in death ; for they are ours to feed upon, as is the green herb. How many lessons of wisdom, what cultivation of humanity, and honesty, and every natural virtue, cometh from a constant and righteous care of the creatures, we people that dwell in a city have little idea of; and I consider it to be no mean compensation for the many advantages of a city, that we are brought up out of the sight of the teeming earth, and the flocks and herds with which the face of the earth is covered. To tend the shepherd's care must be a very worthy occupation of man, when Christ hath chosen it for his own designation, that he is the good Shepherd of the sheep; to tend the husbandman's care, must be
very honourable, when the Father hath chosen it as his own designation over his church : “ and my Father is the Husbandman."
Such is the doctrine concerning the use of the lower creatures, as it is derived from revelation, with which reason hath a harmonious consent throughout: though she be not able to guide or lead the discoverer, she is able to perceive the beauty and truth of the discovery; as you see by her diligence in all places to subordinate the creatures, and to bring them back from the tyranny of their natural wildness and ferocity. Now I say, that, wherever men are thus rightly occupying their sovereignty and lordship over the inferior creatures, they are so far forth preparing a soil for the reception of the word of God, when he shall be pleased to send it. To this must be added many things beside ; as the submission to whole
some laws, and the fulfilment of the various offices of life, the culture of ourselves, and the right treatment of one another; concerning which I shall not discourse under the following heads, seeing they must concur with the former towards the production of that soil of a good and honest heart which may be apt to the receiving of the word of God. But if men delight to destroy the creatures, or are content to hunt them in their savage state, instead of gathering them into flocks, and breeding them to useful labour, and for constant nourishment; and if they are content to let the wilderness continue a wilderness, and to roam the wild forests, then do they indicate thereby a self-willedness, and wildness of nature, which is exceedingly ill-fitted for receiving the laws of God, or hearing his holy word. Reason must work, in her sphere, the well-being of all committed unto her care: man must be careful over that which he has, and be making a good use of the one talent, in order to receive an accession of gifts. This is the law of God's providence; and it is likewise the law of the communication of his grace, else why were it constantly reiterated in the Gospel.
Brethren, we were created to be lords over the creatures : we have fallen along with them under the dominion of sin; by the oppression whereof both we and the creatures are defrauded of the bountiful will of God, and brought into thraldom to the will of nature. From which, as we grow to be redeemed by the power of Christ, working in us the law of the Spirit of life, we grow again to be lords and masters of the creature, and come to deliver it in a proportionate degree from its thraldom. For know, that the creature is not willingly made subject to bondage, but disliketh and groaneth under the oppression of it as much as we, and looketh for emancipation and deliverance from man, its lord ; as we look for our's from God our Lord. To be afraid of the creature, and to avoid the use of it, is verily neither dignified nor religious in man; nor is it kind and merciful to the creature, which crieth in our ear, I would fain serve thee, O man! it is my honour and noble office to serve thee; but I am constrained against my will to be rebellious: it was my close confederacy and dutiful subserviency to thee which brought me under this yoke; and to thee I look for deliverance from this captivity which I unwillingly underly? Oh then flee not from me! and leave me not alone. Now that the Creator hath looked down in mercy on thee and given thee a partial deliverance, come in thy freedom and set me free; for surely as thy captivity was my captivity, thy freedom will prove to be my freedom.' Thus entreateth all nature, and thus aloud she crieth in the ear of redeemed man.
What mean, then, those idle and pestilent fellows by their doctrines of Eremites, and Stylites, and monastic orders, and other self-denying ordinances -self-denying in the letter, but self-adoring in the spirit? The cowards, the unpitiful churls, the unproductive sloths, is it for this that God sets men free from spiritual bonds, that they may build them prison walls, and naked cells, and addict themselves to fleshly torments, and leave the wilderness a wilderness still, and make the city a waste, and the fertile field a desolate waste. Upon such abusers of the Lord's gifts, and perverters of his purpose, he will rain fire and brimstone and storms of fury. And I discern the like spirit in a mitigated form, appearing amongst us Protestants, as it will always appear in every time of extreme ignorance like the present. That separation from certain of the honest customs of life, which is beginning to be introduced as parts of religious duty, the proscription of innocent mirth and well-timed hilarity, the violent philippics against the sports and amusements of the field, the proscriptions of that free and easy discourse which our fathers entertained, the formation of a religious world different from the other world, and the getting up of certain outward visibletests of a religious character, the proscribing of all books unless they expressly treat upon some religious subject; also your Moravian establishments, and Methodist dresses, and many other things which I could name, savour to me of the same ignorance and misuse of the creature which the Papists carried to its perfection, as indeed they did every other abomination. In one word, all this is bondage, miserable bondage: the creation waileth to be liberated by liberated man. And shall redeemed man desert the redeeming of the creation? The creature loveth to be subject unto man, and shall man refuse its homage? Then God will cut him short for his churlish heart, and leave him to pass from the prison of nature into the prison of his own will.
Look around and behold this land in which we dwell, and which our fathers, by the might of God, wrested from these papal destroyers of the earth ;-behold how it blooms and blossoms abundantly;-behold how full it is of all manner of tamed and industrious beasts ;--behold how full it is of horses and of chariots;-behold how