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JOB, xxxix. 10.
Canst thou bind the Unicorn with his band in
the furrow ? or will he harrow the vallies after thee?
THESE questions were proposed to Job, when “' the Lord spake to him out of the whirlwind,” and rebuked him for his pride and impatience; and were designed to debase him in his own esteem, by convincing him of his ignorance even on the most trivial subjects, and of his inability even to subdue or domesticate the brute creation.
It is needless to enquire what animal is meant by the unicorn, though most probably the rhinoceros is intended a large and powerful quadruped with but one horn, common in eastern countries; and by reason of his prodigious strength, capable of rendering to man essential services, could he be managed and held in with bit and bridle. What more humiliating proof have we of the depravity of the human heart, than the arrogant as. sumption of deciding on God's plans, and censuring his providential government, when we are so entirely ignorant of the most simple and ordinary occurrences in nature. This was the error into which Job had fallen, and for which in the context, God contended with him. Alas! “ vain man 66 would be wise, though man be born like a wild 66 ass's colt!"*
The essential guilt of our first parents, was their ambition to know more than was revealed, desiring to be as God; and ever since that fatal apostacy, their posterity have exercised themselves in matters too high for them, have presumed to sit-in judgement on the government of Him who giveth no account of his conduct, and to whom surely it is not meet to be said, “ What doest thou ?" Let this recollection check every rising disposition to arraign the Divine Being, at the bar of your
finite reason. Remember your own limited knowledge: return not your verdict until the “ whole truth” be laid before you, and the incomplete mystery is accomplished. Lo! these are but parts of his ways; how little a portion of them have you
* Job, xi. 12.
Such rash and precipitate decisions against our fellow creatures would be deservedly censured ; and shall we treat God worse than man ?-that God who has clothed us and fed us all our lives long! “ Is this thy kindness to thy friend? if it “ were an enemy I could have borne it.” Similar remonstrances will produce such effects on your minds as are expressed by this great pattern of patience, the patriarch Job. 66 Then Job an“ swered and said, I know that thou canst do “ every thing, and that no thought can be with“ holden from thee. Who is he that hideth coun“ sel without knowledge therefore have I ut" tered that I understood not; things too wonder“ ful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech " thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, 6 and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee
by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye “ seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and re“ pent in dust and ashes."*
The useful subserviency of animals to man, demands our largest gratitude: the patient labors of the ox, the noble and prompt obedience of the horse, as well as the docile and tractable dispositions of other valuable beasts, ought to be regarded as the special favor of God to us. Their natural strength is far greater than ours; and were it not for that fear and dread of the human race which is impressed upon them, they would be formidable and destructive enemies, rather than willing and invaluable servants. “ What is man, that thou art 66 mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou “ visitest him ? for thou hast made him a little “ lower than the angels, and hast crowned him “ with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have “ dominion over the works of thy hands; thou “ hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and
* Job, xlii. 1-6.
oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl “ of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatso
ever passeth through the paths of the seas. 0 “ Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all " the earth!"*
Sad is it, that this permitted dominion is frequently perverted to the most cruel tyranny. While the merciful man is merciful to his beast, the hardhearted display their barbarous tempers even towards poor dumb creatures. This disposition may be considered as proof of extreme evil in the mind -the preparation and pledge of great enormities; and I am far less surprized at the deliberate villany which could counsel and contrive the ruin of a large camp, and desire to curse a numerous and favored people, when I find it was exemplified by one, who having smitten with unwarranted violence the animal on which he rode, at length, in the rage of passion, exclaimed, “ I would there “ were a sword in my hand, for now would I kill 6 thee!”
* Psalm viii. 49.
No corrupt propensity proceeds with such rapid strides as this. The royal boy, whose preferred pleasure was to torture insects, when he became Emperor of Rome, took delight in inflicting the most barbarous cruelties on his unoffending subjects. Thus the historian of his life prepares the reader for the horrid recital of his disgusting conduct when a man, by specifying the inhuman amusements of the child.*
* The Emperor, Nero, inflicted the most exquisite tortures on the Christians, in the first Roman persecution.
Some were nailed on crosses, others sewn up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the fury of dogs, others again, smeared over with combustible materials, were used as torches to illuminate the darkness of the night.
The gardens of Nero were destined for the melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied with a horse race, and honored with the presence of the Emperor, who mingled with the populace in the dress and character of a charioteer.
Tucitus, as cited by Gibbon, chap. xvi. pp. 406.