BY REV. HENRY PRIMATT, D.D. (1734-1778)
The following is excerpted from the DUTY OF MERCY a treatise written almost two hundred years ago, by an Anglican Priest. (See Humane Religion, Nov/December 1996, for further material from this book.) The following excerpt has been edited to reflect current English usage.
The sublime and benevolent precept of our blessed Savior is extensive as well as compassionate: "Be ye merciful, as your heavenly Father is also mercifulĒ (Luke 6:36). However, because of pride and selfishness, men have excluded other creatures from this heavenly precept.
But God has displayed His goodness and mercy towards the animals in His creation of them, in His providence over them, and in His gracious intervention on their behalf by prescribing rules in His written word for our conduct towards them. Therefore, it becomes an indispensable duty on the part of men, in conformity to the divine goodness, to be merciful to them. Otherwise, we limit the extent of the divine will and are not "merciful as our Father is merciful"
Let it be further noted, that the heavenly pattern and precept of mercy is emphasized and secured with the blessing and promise of mercy. "Blessed are the merciful" saith Jesus, "for they shall obtain mercy."
To be "merciful as our Father is merciful" necessarily implies that it is our duty to show mercy to all. No creature is so insignificant but that while it has life, it also has a right to happiness. To deprive it of the blessing of happiness is injustice; and to put it to unnecessary pain is cruelty. It is unreasonable, as well as foolish for men to judge the degree of cruelty in which they are indulging by the value they set upon the relative worth of the creature. Or to foolishly suppose that its size or beauty are any indication of its capacity to feel.
It is true that we have an aversion to some creatures and we are better affected towards some than to others. But this favoritism does not allow us to put any of them to pain. For cruelty to any living creature is odious and abominable, whether it be to animal, bird, or fish. No matter how insignificant the creature may be in our own estimation, we cannot put it to any degree of pain without violation of the laws of natureóbecause every creature is a creation of the God of nature.
Therefore, according to divine law, mercy is a universal duty, and it cannot be withheld from any of Godís creatures. #