« AnteriorContinuar »
as it were, with the business of the day, but this was to be for ever, even as long as they enjoyed a being in the land of their covenant: for thus we distinguish the laws of peace from the orders of war: those are perpetual, to distinguish from the temporality of these.
These arguments are relative to the Jews, and are intended to prove the abrogation of Moses' law against them. But to Christians, I shall allege the words and reasons of the New Testament, so far as the thing itself relates to conscience. For not only the Jews of old, but divers Christian bishops of Jerusalem, fifteen in immediate succession, did plough with an ox and an ass, and were circumcised; the converted Pharisees, the Ebionites, the Cerinthians, and the Nazaræi still did believe that Moses' law did oblige the conscience: and amongst us there are or have been a great many Old-Testament divines, whose doctrine and manner of talk, and arguments, and practices have too much squinted toward Moses.
But against all such practices or pretences I produce the decree of the apostles at Jerusalem in the question of circumcision: the abrogation of which disannuls the whole law: “ For I Paul say unto you, if ye be circumcised, ye are debtors to keep the whole law:" therefore, by a parity of reason, we are not debtors to keep the law, when that great sacrament and sanction of the law is annulled. To this purpose are those frequent discourses of the holy Scriptures of the New Testament: “ The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached P:" where the two terms of the law and the Gospel are expressly described; John the Baptist being the common term between them both, so that now we are not under the law, but under grace 9;' we are dead to the law,' and, that band being separate, we are married to a new husband, even to Christ:' who is also our High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec, not after the order of Aaron";' but then, the priesthood being changed, there is made, of necessity, a change also of the law s;' for this was not to last but till
• Iren. lib. 1. c. 26. Epiphan. hær. 18, 28, 30, 66. Hieron. ep. 89. ad Augustin. Damasc. verb. Nazaræi. Euseb. lib. iii. c. 21. August. hæres. 8, and 9.
p Luke, xvi. 16. q Rom. vi. 14. r Rom. vii. 4. s Heb. vü. 12.
Christ's coming, for the law was given but till the seed should come :' till then,' we were under the law as under a schoolmaster, but when faith came, we are no longer under this pædagogy t; it was but until the time appointed of the Father:' and to this purpose St. Paul spends a great part of the epistles to the Romans and Galatians. For one of the great benefits which we receive by the coming of Christ, is, that we are now treated with by a covenant of faith, that is, of grace and pardon, of repentance and sincere endeavours; the covenant of Moses being a prosecution of the covenant of works, can no longer oblige, and therefore neither can the
for the law and the covenant were the constitutive parts of that whole intercourse, they were the whole relation, and this is that which St. John said, “ The law came by Moses, but
grace and truth came by Jesus Christ :” and ever since he was made our Lord and our King, he is our lawgiver, and we are his subjects, till the day of judgment in which he shall give up the kingdom to his Father.
But the greatest difficulty is behind: for not all Moses' law is disannulled, for some is enjoined by Christ; and some is of eternal obligation; and such the decalogue seems to be: the next inquiry therefore is, what part of Moses' law is annulled by Christ. To this I answer by parts.
The Ceremonial Law of Moses is wholly void.
For this is that handwriting of ordinances, which Christ nailed to his cross : and concerning this we have an express command recorded by the apostle “, “ Let no man judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holiday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days :” and, concerning the difference of meats, not only their own doctors say, the precept of Moses is not obligatory any where but in Palestine, but they have forgot the meaning of the names of some of them, or at least dispute it, which is not likely they
would so strangely have lcst, if the obligation also had not been removed. But as to us the case is confessed: for all the arguments, before alleged, proceed of this part of the Mosaic law, if of any, this being chiefly made up of umbrages, figures, and imperfect services, relative to place and time, to families and separate persons, such which every change of government could hinder, and which, in the conflict and concussion with other laws, did ever give place, even in that time when they were otherwise obligatory, which could not cleanse the conscience, nor take away sins ;" but were a burden made to teach something else, like letters written upon little cubes, or given as appellatives to slaves, that the children who were waited on by them, might learn the alphabet; but else they were a trouble, to no real perfective purpose of our spirits.
Quest. I know but of one difficulty which this thing can meet with, and that is made by the scrupulous inquiries of some tender or curious
the difference of meats not to be so wholly taken away, but that still, under the laws of the Gospel, we are bound to abstain from blood and from things strangled; pretending for this scruple, the canon of the apostles b at Jerusalem: which enjoins this abstinence, and reckons it amongst the tà dvayxaid, “ things necessary :” and this was, for a long time, used and observed strictly by the Christians : of which we have testimony from the lawo of Leo the emperor, where, having forbidden the use of blood stuffed in the entrails of beasts, he affirms, that, in the old law, and in the Gospel, it was always esteemed impious to eat it.
And this was not only for the present, and for compliance with the Jews, that, by the observance of some common rites, the Gentile converts might unite with the believing Jews into one common church, but they supposed something of natural reason and decency to be in it; and the obligation to be eternal, as being a part of that law, which God gave to Adam, or at least to Noah after the flood; for they who use to eat or drink blood, are apt to degenerate into ferity and cruelty, and easiness of revenge ; and if Origen’s fancy had been true, it had been very material; for he supposed that the devils were fed with
• Acts, xv.
e Novel. 58.
blood : but, however, certain it is that the church did, for divers ages, most religiously abstain from blood; and it was the great argument, by which the primitive Christians did confute the calumnies of the heathens imputing to them the drinking of human blood : they could not be supposed to do that, who so religiously abstained from the blood of beasts, as we find it argued in Tertullian", Minutius, and Eusebius", who also tells of Biblis, that she rather would die than eat blood in a pudding: and in the canons commonly called Apostolicals, it is forbidden to a clergyman to eat blood, under pain of deposition, to lay a man under excommunication : which law was mentioned and supposed obligatory in the second canon of the council of Gangra; and long after by the canon of the council in Trullo; by the council of Worms under Ludovicus Pius b; by Pope Zechary, in his epistle to Boniface; and from hence the penitential books had warrant enough to impose canonical penances upon them that did taste this forbidden dish : and that they did so, is known and confessed.
But to the question and inquiry, I answer, 1. That the abstinence from blood is not a law of nature, or of eternal rectitude, as appears, first, in that it was not at all imposed upon the old world: but for a special reason given to the posterity of Noah to be as a bar to the ferity and inhuman blood-thirstiness, of which the old giants were guilty, and possibly others might afterwards. For the Jews reckon but six precepts given to Adam and his posterity after the fall. The first against strange worship: the second, of the worshipping the true God: the third, of the administration of justice : the fourth, of disclosing nakedness, or a prohibition of uncleanness: the fifth, against shedding blood : the sixth, against theft :-and indeed here are the heads of all natural laws; but because the old world grew cruel to beasts, and the giants were degenerated into a perfect ferity, and lived on blood; therefore it pleased God to superadd this to Noah, that they should not eat blood; that is, that they should not eat the flesh of beasts that were alive; that is, “ flesh with
d In Ap. c. 9.
e In Octav.
f Eccles. Hist. lib. v. c. 1. & Cap. 62. Vide etiam Clemen. Alex. Pædag. lib. iii. c. 3. Niceph. lib. iv. c. 17. et idem videre est apud Lucianum in Pereg.
the blood :" and it is not to be despised that the drinking of blood is not forbidden; but the eating only: meaning, that the blood was not the main intention of the prohibition; but living flesh, that is, flesh so long as the blood runs from it: “ flesh with the life thereof,” that is, “ with the bloodi:" so run the words of the commandment; and therefore the doctors of the Jews expressed it by the not tearing a member of any live creature : which precept was the mounds of cruelty, God so restraining them from cruelty even to beasts, lest they might learn to practise it upon men.
For God sometimes places some laws for defensatives to others; and, by removing men afar off from impiety, he secures their more essential duty. 2. But even this very precept is, by all the world, taught to yield to necessity and to charity, and cruelty to beasts is innocent when it is charity to men: and, therefore, though we do not eat them, yet we cut living pigeons in halves and apply them to the feet of men in fevers, and we rip the bellies of sheep, of horses, of oxen, to put into them the side of a paralytic; and although, to rude people and ignorant, such acts of security were useful, yet, to Christians, it is a disparagement to their most excellent institution, and the powers and prevalencies of God's Spirit, to think they are not upon better accounts secured in their essential duty. The Jews were defended from idolatry by a prohibition even of making and having images : but he is but a weak Christian, who cannot see pictures without danger of giving them worship. 3. The secret is explicated by God in the place, where he made the law: it was first a direct design to introduce mercy into the world, by taking care even of beasts : and, secondly, it was an outer guard against the crime of homicide: and Irenæus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, and St. Ambrose, expound the meaning of the whole affair to be nothing else but a prohibition of homicide : for as God would have men be gentle to beastsk, so if beasts did kill a man, it should be exacted of them!: neither the man's dominion over the beast could warrant his cruelty over them, nor the want of reason in beasts bring immunity, if they killed a man, and the consequent and purpose of both these is expressed, ver. 6. “ Whoso sheddeth man's blood,
i Gen. ix. 4.
k Verse 4.
1 Verse 5.