A N I M A L S
Their Past and Future
G. H. PEMBER, M.A.
Some two or three generations have already passed by since society awoke to the consciousness of duties lying before it, and began, with ever-increasing energy, to devote itself to the redress of grievances and the furtherance of numerous projects for ameliorating [making better] the conditions of human life. †And, in the course of subsequent years, many admirable results have been effected. †Oppression has been checked, abuses removed, and the hours of labour curtailed; education has been placed within the reach of all; workhouses and prisons have been reformed; sanitary matters and the dwellings of the poor have received much attention; and countless schemes of benevolence have been organised and carried out.
In so active an age it might have been expected that the kindly feelings of men would not be exclusively attracted to the members of their own race, but that some few thoughts, at least, would be bestowed upon their four-footed and feathered friends. †And such, indeed, has been the case, much to the benefit of beast and fowl.
Yet the movement in their favour has hitherto been but partial; we still see around us a very prevalent indifference to the treatment of animals, an apathy which sometimes changes into enthusiasm over the deliberate torture of a living subject, if it be but affirmed that the human race may derive some little advantage from the process.
It is with a wish to deprecate such an indifferentism that we write the following pages, confining our remarks, however, to a single aspect of the question. †We shall not search for the many arguments and appeals which might be found in the relations subsisting between man and the helpless creatures subjected to his will, but shall restrict our inquiry to this one point - Whether there are in the Scriptures any plain statements or hints which ought to influence our tone and behaviour towards animals.
Certainly, if we desire information respecting them, we must turn to revelation; for we can discover but little without it. †Our own eyes will readily teach us that they are affected by such emotions as joy and grief, pleasure and disgust; while careful observation will further prove that they are more or less guided by reason, and influenced by love, envy, jealousy, pride, and other passions, in much the same manner as ourselves. †But at this point our investigation is checked: what these creatures really are, we have no means of finding out; nor can we tell whence they came, or whither they are going. †If, however, we consult the inspired page, we shall be enabled to learn something both of their past history and of their future destiny.
As to their past history, we can at least ascertain that, like the human race, they have fallen from a higher condition, and are now lying under a ban. †This may be inferred from the sentence pronounced upon the serpent, "Thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field" - words which evidently imply a curse involving the whole animal kingdom. †But the truth is revealed in plain terms by the apostle Paul, when he tells us that the creation - [ekitis] - was made subject to vanity that all living organisations have, against their will - [Occhekousia] - become slaves to corruption, and are, therefore, for the present, doomed to experience decay, pain, and death.*
[* Rom. 8: 20]
Of this great change we seem able to trace many consequences. †Take, for instance, the fact that the world now abounds with carnivorous animals, that one creature lives upon the flesh of another, that incessant destruction saddens the face of nature. †It was not so in the beginning; for then the green herb was the sole food of beast and fowl,* even as it shall be - so we are told - in future time, after the curse has been removed.**
[* Gen. 1: 30. ** Isa. 11: 6-9.]
Again, when the serpent addresses Eve with articulate words, she betrays neither surprise nor suspicion. †May we not fairly infer that animals then possessed some power of speech? †Such a supposition is from every side probable; for if they were given to Adam as vassals, it is but reasonable to conclude that, so long as he remained in a state of innocence and retained his sovereignty, there would be a means of intelligent communication between himself and his willing subjects.
And this inference is, perhaps, strengthened by an expression in the history of Balaam. "The Lord," we read, "opened the mouth of the ass,"* - a manner of describing the miracle which, at least, favours the idea that the creature was originally endowed with speech, and is abnormally dumb.
Once more; in the thirty-ninth chapter of Job, it is recorded of the ostrich that "God hath made her to forget wisdom" ** - for such is the literal rendering of the text - words which need no unnatural forcing to make them signify that she was not always the foolish bird she now is.
[* Numb. 22: 28. ** Job 39: 17.]
Other hints might be adduced pointing in a similar manner to the great fact that a change for the worse has befallen the animal world. †But the Bible contains still more; it discloses in no obscure terms Godís glorious purpose for the future of the ruined creature, and, at the same time, the tender care with which He at present regards it. Of this statement we will now proceed to give some proof.
The first chapter of Genesis teaches us that God created six great tribes to inhabit our earth - viz., the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the cattle, the creeping thing, the beast of the earth, and man. †Now the first five of these tribes were placed under the dominion of the sixth; nevertheless, only three of them are mentioned as having been specially brought to Adam to be named - the cattle, the fowl of the air, and the beast of the field.* These three, then, appear to be distinguished from the two which remain, and, as we shall presently see, are destined to be with man upon the renewed [millennial age to come upon this cursed] earth.
[* Gen. 2: 19, 20. Rom. 8: 21.]
No reason is given for the omission of the fish and of the creeping things: but possibly these may be in some way included among the three tribes which are expressly mentioned. †Yet there are two facts which may point in an opposite direction. †For in the renewed [new] earth there will be no more sea; and it was through the medium of the serpent, the head of the creeping things, - * that sin entered into our world.
[* Or if not so originally, he was, at any rate, degraded to this position - a circumstance which would not tend to set the tribe in a more favourable light.]
after Adam had named the creatures of the three tribes, he transgressed,
involving himself and the creation in ruin, and was driven out of
If we would search for the meaning of these appearances, we must learn to avoid two common mistakes: -
First, the Cherubim are not angels, but are the "Living Creatures" described in the first chapter of Ezekiel and the fourth of the Apocalypse. †In the latter book they are expressly distinguished from angels; for John says, "And I heard a voice of many angels round about the Throne, and the Living Creatures, and the Elders."
And, secondly, they had nothing whatever to do with the action of the flaming sword, which, as the Hebrew explicitly states, "kept turning itself to guard the way to the Tree of Life."
Premising these cautions, we may now go on to consider the one point in the description of their form and appearance with which we are at present concerned - the fact that their heads were those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. †In seeking an interpretation for this symbolism, we must remember that God Himself has classified the animal kingdom, and named the three honoured tribes, beasts of the field, cattle, and fowls of the air. †Now while the manís head obviously indicates the human family, the lion is the king of wild beasts, the ox the chief of domestic animals - in Eastern countries at least, and the eagle the first of birds. †It would thus seem that the Cherubim are in some way or another connected with four of the great earth-tribes which lost their first estate through Adamís sin.
And this idea is confirmed when we investigate the probable meaning of their name. For - [Cherubim] - divides readily into Cha - Robim which in literal English would signify "as the many," and thus imply that the Cherubim were representative beings.
Such an explanation is in beautiful accord with the present context; for if it be correct, the appearance of the Cherubim must have been to Adam a sweet consolation and a glorious prediction of the future. †Because of his transgression he had just been thrust out from the garden of delight, and the ceaseless flashing of the fiery sword taught him that he could no more put forth his hand and take of the Tree of Life. †But within the guarded circle stood the four living creatures; and in their representative forms he doubtless perceived a promise that God would yet devise means to fetch home again His banished ones, to restore both man and beast to the privileges of the Tree of Life.
If we now pass on to the times of Noah, we shall meet with a very striking corroboration of the view we have taken - a corroboration, indeed, which may almost be said to amount to a demonstration of its truth. †For the covenant which God made with Noah after the deluge is indicated in the following terms; - "And I, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you, and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you."*
[* Gen. 9: 9, 10.]
Here the four tribes indicated by the Cherubim are specially and distinctly mentioned as being all of them heirs to the promises of the Noachian covenant. †Moreover, we may further observe, that, whereas the sign of the covenant was the rainbow, so whenever, in after time, the real Cherubim appear, the rainbow is always visible above them.* Thus the promise of God remains sure, that He will never again smite any more every thing living, as He did in the days of Noah; and that promise is made to beast as well as man.
[* See Ezek. 1: 28; Rev. 4: 3, 6.]
little later in the sacred history we find the Cherubim in the tabernacle; for
Moses was commanded to have their forms inwoven in
the inner of the four curtains which covered it,* so that they were seen in the
place of Godís habitation. The same forms adorned also the veil of blue,
purple, and scarlet, which divided the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.** †Thus both the
ceiling and the four sides of each compartment of the tabernacle exhibited
representations of Cherubim. †And, most
significant of all, their figures in gold were to be placed upon the Mercy-seat
[* Exod. 26: 1. ** Exod. 26: 31-33.]
here, again, we have to protest against a popular error. †In almost every diagram of the
If, then, this point be conceded, and there is not, in counterpoise to the arguments used above, a word in Scripture to disprove it, let us for a moment consider what is likely to be the meaning of the appearance of such forms upon the Mercy-seat.
But why should the creature be thus sternly debarred from communion with the Creator? †Because God is holiness and justice as well as love, and the creature has sinned and broken the law of the Creator. †That law, "the bond written in ordinances that was against us," was placed within the Ark of the Covenant, and completely covered by the golden lid, or Mercy-seat, which represented the atoning merits of Christ. †His perfect righteousness is the one thing which the piercing eye of God never penetrates. †Accordingly, in the symbol which we are considering, while the Mercy-seat concealed the violated law from the Divine justice, the Cherubim* rested upon the lid in safety, and should have continually reminded men of two facts. †First, that God keeps ever before Him the memorials of those tribes which He has promised to save. †And, secondly, that those that are represented by the Cherubim shall be delivered from sin and corruption, and be empowered to dwell in the light of Godís presence, through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.
[* Many insist that the Church is indicated by this symbol, and defend their opinion by urging that the Cherubim were made of beaten gold, and of one piece with the Mercy seat which is Christ. †But they have forgotten that others, beside Christian believers of the present age, will ultimately be united to Christ. †The prophecy contained in the Cherubim looks, far beyond the glorification of the Church, to that dispensation of the fulness of the times in which God has purposed to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heaven, and the things upon the earth (Eph. 1: 10).]
But the Cherubim represent the animal creation as well as man; therefore, the animal creation will also be redeemed with man.
If it be objected that our inference is too important, too subversive of ordinary theological teachings, to be allowed from arguments based upon a symbolism which we may have misinterpreted; we reply, that, in the Old Testament, the mysteries of redemption were ever veiled in symbolism; but, that in the New the salvation of the creature is set before us in plain and unmistakable terms.
A sufficient proof of this may be found in the well-known passage contained in Rom. 8: 19-24. †There Paul declares that "the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God"; for the day when, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the vile bodies * of His elect shall be changed into the likeness of Christís glorious body. †And that then the time will have come for "the creation itself also" to "be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God."
[* I use this familiar expression from our English Bible; but the Greek, it is scarcely necessary to remark, has "the body of our humiliation."]
Such will be the end of the groaning and travailing in pain together of the whole creation. †And, like ourselves who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, the animal creation is saved by hope; for it was subjected to vanity in hope."*
[* Compare the twentieth and twenty-fourth verses of the eighth chapter of Romans.]
With such direct predictions before us, we need not fear to accept in their most literal sense those passages - such as Isa. 11: 6-9, 65: 25; Ezek. 34: 25, 28; Hos. 2: 18 - in which it is said that hereafter [the ĎFirst Resurrectioní] the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, the lion eat straw like the ox, and the asp and cockatrice become the playmates of children. †For when the hour of redemption has come, and sin is removed from man, all that is hurtful in the animal creation will also disappear; nay, the brute earth itself will be relieved from the curse.
It is not, therefore, strange that, in describing the great redemption scene at the close of this [evil] age, John should say, "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him That sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever."* [* Rev. 5: 13. Compare Psalm 148.] Nor yet that the Psalmist, enraptured with his vision of the coming King, should exclaim;-
"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein:
Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice
Before the Lord; - for He cometh,
For He cometh to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And the peoples in His faithfulness."*
[* Psalm 96: 11-13.]
For the Lord will return to destroy the works of the Devil, and to reveal that glory of God which has been for long ages effaced by them; so that all living creatures will be restored once more to the peace and harmony of the Garden of Eden, and the ground will again bring forth an abundant supply for their need.
Seeing, then, that the great Creator has so gracious a purpose in regard to the future of animals, we should with reason expect to find some proofs of present care for them, scattered here and there, at least, in His revelation: nor shall we be disappointed if we search.
In the very first chapter of Genesis we are made to understand, that, while the fruit-bearing trees were assigned to Adam for sustenance, every green herb was given for meat to the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air. †After the fall of man, his food was changed, and he, too, was compelled to have recourse to "the herb of the field."* But Godís care for the humbler creatures did not cease: for, as the Psalmist says, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man."**
[*Gen. 3: 18.† ** Psalm 104: 14.]
In process of time the wickedness of men became so great that God was compelled to sweep every living thing from the face of the earth. †But before doing so, He took measures to preserve a nucleus for a new population; and these measures included, not only eight human beings, but also a pair, at least, of each family in the animal kingdom, that they, too, might propagate their kind in the recovered world. †They were saved in the same ark with Noah and his family; and after they had been for some time shut up in their gloomy coffin, we are told that "God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark."*
[* Gen. 8: 1.]
Nor was the beast forgotten amid the pealing thunders of Sinai; for even there proclamation was made that the Sabbath-rest should not be confined to man, but should bring ease and repose to the cattle also.
A like consideration for the inferior creature is shown in the history of Balaam, when, speaking of the ass, the angel says, "Unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive."*
[* Numb. 22: 33.]
So too, Jonahís foolish anger at the respite of Nineveh was rebuked with the words, "And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?"* †Godís pity for a hundred and twenty thousand infants and much cattle had saved the vast city.
[* Jonah 4: 11.]
A little later, when Habbakuk is denouncing the cruelty of the Chaldeans, and threatening a fearful retribution, he not only lays to their charge the blood of men and the violence inflicted upon the city and its inhabitants, but also adds - if we render correctly - "The outrage done to Lebanon shall cover thee, and the devastation among the beasts which terrified them." †Thus, in reckoning up the ghastly tale of crime, God had not forgotten that ruthless felling of cedar and cypress, and burning of forests, which had brought terror and destruction upon the wild beasts. †Such acts should fall back upon the perpetrators with crushing weight, and overwhelm them.
We may appropriately close our appeal to the Old Testament by citing from the thirty-sixth Psalm;-
"Thy judgments are a great deep:
0 Lord, Thou preservest man and beast."
Unsearchable, indeed, are His judgments, like the great unfathomable ocean, and His ways past finding out! †Who shall penetrate His mystery, until it be finished, and He be pleased to declare it? †But if we cannot now explain its marvellous workings, if at times we are perplexed, and begin to say with the heathen poet
"For dark and dusky wend the ways of His mind,
Not to be scanned by mortal eye,"
yet there is, at least, one thing which we know. †We are in no uncertainty in regard to His purpose. †It is to save multitudes alive out of this ruin of sin and death, to preserve - and to preserve what? †Not merely man, but man and beast.
In the New Testament, the Lord Himself affords us a wonderful insight into His Father's care for the inferior creatures. †Upon one occasion, after reminding His hearers that sparrows were of such little account among men that two of them might be purchased for a farthing, He adds, "Not one of them shall fall to the ground" - that is, through being wounded, or frozen, or storm-smitten, or in any other way disabled - "without your Father." †The expression "without your Father," is very remarkable; and there is no variation in the reading of any Greek MS., uncial or cursive. †A few of the Latin versions, and one or two of the early Christian writings in which the verse is quoted, insert the words - Tes Boules - "without the will of your Father"; but this is merely a gloss. †We must, therefore, omit it, and allow a full meaning to the text as it is; "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without the presence and support, as well as the will, of your Heavenly Father."
In a similar passage, in the third Gospel, our Lord puts the reputed worthlessness of sparrows in a still stronger light. †If you bought two pairs, you would have a fifth bird thrown into the bargain. †And no wonder: for even to-day in Palestine the little creatures may be seen sitting in chattering rows upon the house-tops, or swarming like small clouds over the cornfields, and are easily caught for the market by children. †"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? and not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God."* But if the great Creator has such tender care for these insignificant beings, with what mind is He likely to regard the thoughtless or brutal treatment to which His marvellous handiwork is so ceaselessly subjected by man?
[* Luke 12: 6.]
Strange, too, as it may seem, the Bible certainly does appear to attribute to animals themselves the power of appreciating, to some extent at least, the love and care of God; for they are often represented as looking up to Him in a manner which suggests that they have their way of petitioning Him to supply their need.
"The young lions," says the Psalmist, "roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God."* And again, "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." ** So, too, Joel, in describing the ruin of his land, exclaims;- "The beasts of the field cry also unto Thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness." And the Almighty Himself, in His wonderful address to Job, when the soul of the patriarch was rebelling against a necessary discipline, asks "Who provideth for the raven its food, when its young ones cry unto God?"*
[*Job. 38: 41.]
Such, then, are some of the Scriptural revelations and hints touching the present condition and future destiny of animals. †But how little consideration do they obtain; nay, by how few are they barely known! †The greater part even of our educated classes do not seem to bestow a thought upon the subject; and if their attention should at any time be drawn to it, are wont to dismiss the whole question with some such summary remark as that the Bible speaks of "the beasts that perish." †Or, perhaps, they reply, that those creatures cannot be worth much consideration whose spirits at death go "downward to the earth" and are dissolved in the dust, instead of ascending upward like the spirits of men. †Well, if there are other portions of Scripture throwing a different light upon those which we have quoted above, we must, of course, be content to modify our inferences; but let us at least examine the two passages to which allusion has just been made, and which are ever the readiest weapons in the hands of our opponents.
The first of them occurs in the forty-ninth Psalm, where, with a slight variation, it is twice used as a refrain in the twelfth and twentieth verses. †In our English version the twelfth verse runs as follows;-
Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not:
He is like the beasts that perish.
Now our first remark upon this verse is, that the Hebrew word for "perish" literally means "are reduced to silence." Hence no less an authority than Furst translates, "the beasts that are dumb." †The word is, therefore, a somewhat insecure foundation for an argument.
But even if we waive this, and take the passage as it stands in our version, we are again met with the fact that the verb - i.e.. Nidmah (from Damah) - is used of men as well as of beasts.* Whatever, then, is here predicated of beasts may also be true of men.
[* See Hosea, 10: 7, 15, and Isa. 6: 5.]
And, lastly, the best rendering of the verse is probably that of Delitzsch, who makes both "man" and "beasts" the subject to the verb;-
"Man being in honour abideth not:
He is like the beasts: they - i.e., both of them - perish."
So much for the first quotation. †The second is found in Eccles. 3. 21, a verse which, according to all ancient translators and many modern commentators - among whom we may mention Delitzsch and Zockler - is incorrectly rendered in our Bibles, and should take an interrogative form. †It occurs in one of those sceptical meditations which indicate the phases through which the mind of Solomon passed during his fruitless striving after happiness, and of which there are several examples in the Book of Ecclesiastes before we come to its noble conclusion. †The paragraph begins with the eighteenth verse, where, in reference to what has gone before, the king affirms that God delays His decisive judgments in order that He may sift the sons of men, and give them an opportunity of observing that in themselves, and apart from Him, they have no advantage over the beasts. †For the same fate awaits both man and beast alike. †Death is inevitable to every living thing; all are hastening to the same place, and will soon be mingling their dust in the great common graveyard, their mother earth. †There is, indeed, the possibility that man and beast do not share the same fate after death; but that is uncertain, and involves a question that has never been answered: for-
"Who knoweth in regard to the spirit of the sons of men, whether it goeth upward;
or in regard to the spirit of the beast, whether it goeth downward to the earth?"
Such appears to be the meaning conveyed by the Hebrew text of this passage. †But were we to admit the sense of the English version and regard the verse as an affirmation, it would even then furnish no proof that the spirits of animals are annihilated. To a Hebrew mind, the expression "goeth downward to the earth" would signify "goeth downward to Hades" - that place of departed spirits [i.e., disembodied souls] which is often mentioned as being in, the lower parts of the earth, in the heart of the earth; to which Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, went down alive when the earth opened her mouth; and from which the spirit [soul] of Samuel came up out of the ground. †Even in this case, then, no more would be affirmed of animals than is said of men in Psalm 9: 17 -
"The wicked shall return to Hades, Even all the nations that forget God."
It is thus clear that neither of these passages permits us to think slightingly of the animal creation, as though its tribes had been called into existence for the sole purpose of administering to our pleasures, and were destined ultimately to vanish into eternal nothingness. †The conclusions which we have deduced above remain intact, and should powerfully influence our treatment of creatures which appear, like ourselves, to have a future before them, and which are doubtless made to play no unimportant part in our discipline here below.
Our powers over them are almost unlimited, and they are indisputably our inferiors in every way: these two facts are often adduced as an unanswerable proof that it is right to treat them with any cruelty, provided that by their sufferings we can secure some advantage for ourselves or our race. †Were this logic true, it would be somewhat disquieting; for we may reasonably suppose justice to be the same throughout the universe, and there are beings more powerful than we. †But the great Creator Himself, towering so high above us in wisdom and might that the distinction between ourselves and the beasts becomes relatively inappreciable, set us no example of selfish disregard for inferiors when He gave His Only-begotten Son for the life of the world.
There are two great tasks appointed for us in this present age: we must learn to obey and to rule. †Every human being is frequently exercised in both of these lessons all have to obey, and all, in some way or another, to rule. †And these two things - that is to say, a willing submission to lawful authority from God downward, and a perfect self-restraint in exercising whatever power may be entrusted to us - comprise the whole duty of man. †The first should be done with promptitude and cheerfulness; the second, with firmness, but with the tenderest consideration for those over whom we are set. Whenever we are called upon to rule, we should deal as we would wish God to deal with us.
Now one purpose obviously served by the inferior creation is to supply opportunities by which we may be exercised in this matter, and may show that we have not consented to the selfish maxim that might is right whenever interests or passions are concerned. †And while these opportunities are useful to every one, there are many whose conduct under the temptation of power could scarcely be tested at all were it not for the presence of animals. †The child with his cat or bird, the boy with his donkey, and the labourer with his dog or horse, should each be learning lessons of justice, kindness, and self-restraint. †Nor is it less incumbent upon the man of science to admit the claims of other sentient creatures, and to confess that it is not lawful to pluck the fruit from every tree of knowledge.
Yet these truths are regarded only by a few, and countless cruelties often, indeed, through thoughtlessness - are daily, nay hourly, perpetrated. †This may, perhaps, seem a light matter [now], but we shall assuredly discover hereafter that the saying, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again," applies to our dealings with beast as well as man. †The scales of justice must be made even [then]: and, therefore, all unnecessary and wanton cruelty, and thoughtless cruelty, too, if it became a habit, will be heard of again. For in that day -
"When the Judge His seat attaineth, And each hidden deed arraigneth, Nothing unavenged remaineth."
"Thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast."