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sheep." (John x. 11.) That was not a common shepherd: but in common a good shepherd might almost do this for the pretty creatures; so endearing is their confidence in him, so delighting are their joyous manners when kindly and judiciously treated. With dogs, horses, cattle, and other tamed or domestic animals, it is the same; and if the fear of us and the dread of us be upon them all, that needs not still prevent a good understanding between them and us; and there is often more gratitude found among some of these species, I am sorry to say it, than in
If the sheep especially had not some peculiar worth, one could hardly fancy such a subject as David among their attendants. Well was it for his father's flock, that they had such a shepherd-one that would jeopard his life at fearful odds for the sake of an innocent lamb; as appears from his saying to Saul, "Thy servant kept his father's sheep; and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him." (Sam. I. xvii. 34, 35.) His courage, friendship, and humanity must have been highly roused for such an effort, to whatever help he might owe his success. And I doubt the heroic shepherd found himself in much better company as he was following the ewes great with young, than afterward skulking about with those runagates in the desert-as he says, "Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell with Mesech, and to have my habitation among the tents of Kedar!" (Ps. cxx. 4.) But the shepherd who has not, like David, a degree of tenderness and respect for the sheep, is not worthy of such a trust, and may as well have his habitation among the tents of Kedar, as among his father's folds: he is only fit for a soldier; and not so well for that either as a gentle shepherd like David, or what is more extraordinary, like Jacob; who with all his meekness would not give in to
an angel. Gen. xxxii. 26.) The best men for warfare or any other profession are those who have the best principles, and especially those who know how to combine a sense of duty with the principle of humanity. And now, having insisted on the doctrine of this lovely principle in respect of its subject, its object, foundation, and duties as far as seemed necessary, I have still farther to consider its use or improvement by a suitable application to practice.
§ 2. And there are many other considerations to induce such a humane practice as that which I have now described, besides the paramount sense of duty, and more amiable stimulus of affection; and some of these considerations may be worth mentioning. Example, I own, is not always on the right side, but oftener on the side of inhumanity yet other examples there are on record besides the royal shepherd just named, of good shepherds who have been great men. As on the other hand we owe examples even to the objects of humanity that great men and good shepherds need not be ashamed to imitate. Where, for instance, will you find a neater example of chastity and decency in your amours, than you get from the beasts of the field? Where will you go for a truer example of subordination and decorum, than you have in your own herd, not a creature of which but knows its place in the march? Where will you find such an example of government without punishment or restraint,—I may say, of liberal government, as in the families of the field? The cow lows her wayward calf into place by the ascendant of benefits and yours will hardly be coerced with blows as well as benefits, and words too at command. I need not send you to the ant or the bee to learn forecast and industry: but I will beg to remind you, that you owe something to the blackbird and thrush for their song. And while you are repressing some of the wild tribes, both of birds and of beasts, that prey on your property so far as to keep them within bounds, which is your duty, but not to exterminate them, it may be well to
consider sometimes, whether some debt of gratitude be not also due to THEM for the amusement they afford.
When our nature is not unnaturally depraved, or sunk again below its natural depravity, such considerations as these, or some of them, may have sufficient weight sometimes for the common practice of humanity. And it is observable how only such a comparatively true or perfect nature will respond to the calls of charity and humanity; how, for example, the manners of the infant in our own species, and of their young in every other, are endued with a charm to interest us, and conjure up the fondest partiality;-how the form of birds is made beautiful to our imagination, their manner elegant, and their warbling melodious;-how the domestic animals please and enchant us by their frank familiarity; the horse, either by his fine figure, spirit, and capability, or else by his docility, patience, and utility; the sheep, by their unsuspecting innocence; the cattle, by their blunt honesty,-and all by an UNACCOUNTABLE SYMPATHY which the unsophisticated, and much more the regenerated spirit, feels as well in the affliction of any creature, as in its triumph and prosperity; unaccountable, I say, unless it be Nature's recommendation of her inferior classes to the consideration of one that is enabled to protect them. And truly as the world goes, it may be an happiness to enjoy a spirit or disposition not worse than nature made it.
For how few, alas! do we find at present even in such a comparative state of perfection! How few, who are not sunk again below fallen nature by their unnatural habits! Then is humanity stripped of her charms: in that doubly degraded state, nothing that is natural or human can please; nothing but what is contrary to nature, and diabolical, or inhuman. Every young outlaw will be an imp, every maturer ruffian a limb of the devil; the former straying from church to discover and tear out birds' nests and pelt the young to death; the latter more particularly bent upon bull-baiting and prize-fighting of
every sort, inhuman treatment of the weaker sex, as well as of the weaker of their own: being "lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." (Tim. II. iii. 2, 3, 4.) The Lord deliver us from such an ungodly crew! A man in his last days may be glad almost, that he is near getting away from such perilous times as they are like to bring on, according to the course of nature. For now shall he find also men "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,"--the sort that creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (Ib. 5, 6, 7.) Now shall he find servants who are too pious to go to church, but not to leave all the creatures whether rural or domestic depending on their care, to remain without food while they go elsewhere; because they have no fellow feeling for the poor brutes, and are brutes enough to feel only for themselves. Now shall he find masters, and mistresses, too, even more faithless than their servants, who have no idea of any remote cause, to say nothing of the first; but much of the all-sufficiency of wealth, "supposing, that gain is godliness;" (Tim. I. vi. 5;) or, that theirs must be the truest profession which draws the largest subscriptions. "For they stretch forth their mouth unto the heaven: and their tongue goeth through the world. Therefore, fall the people unto them: and thereout suck they no small advantage." (Ps. lxxiii. 9, 10.) O, what a blessing to be out of the reach of their tongue! What a blessed revolution would it be for us, if we could only roll back again from this unnatural state of society to the more Christian temper and child-like simplicity of our forefathers, ere profession had got so far a head of possession, and knowledge of conviction!
And still it is to be feared, that neither our forefathers, any more than we, have been deficient in inhumanity. Let me not be thought to signify that the iron age is just now beginning, or that there ever has been a time, since the reign of humanity in perfection, when the prophet's exclamation was not as applicable as at present, "How do the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate." (Joel i. 18.) It is no new thing for the best of good beasts to be taxed for a performance beyond the utmost ability that a liberal Creator has conceded to them. It is no unprecedented case for a merciless owner, first to ride an hapless horse off his legs, and then spur him to death for stumbling. Wretch as he is, he ought to have stripe for stripe!
I call it an abuse of his trust and authority only in a waggoner to overload or to overdrive the useful brutes confided or belonging to him; and no man who had any feeling of his own relative importance as a guardian to the inferior creatures, and as a director of their useful being and operation in the general scheme of Providence, -of how many families are employed and maintained,— how many ships with their crews are floated and paid,— and many more backs are covered only by means of one race so guarded,-other kinds of tame and domestic animals having also their several sorts and degrees of importance as well as the sheep;-no man, I say, considering only the importance of his trust in these respects would be likely to abuse it, except by some rare chance. For much of the oppression and inhumanity to which brutes are subject, proceeds from their undervaluing, and the mere contempt of their keepers; as if such creatures were of little consequence and hardly worth thinking about, or not in any other light than of blocks and senseless machines: so that often when they might be relieved they are left to suffer and perish for want of a little attention. Often a noble team shall be whipped till they