Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

6

N

by man shall his blood be shed:”—and all this put together is a demonstration how dear lives are to God; even the life of beasts is, in one sense, sacred: for even then when they were given to man for food, yet the life was not; they must first be dead, before they might be eaten: but, therefore, the life of man was sacred in all senses, and should be required of man and beast. But that God doth even take care for oxen, in the matter of life, appears in this prohibition, “ flesh with the life thereof ye shall not eat;" that is, you shall not devour the flesh even while it is alive; for the blood is the life thereof; that is, when the blood is gone, you may eat, till then it is presumed to be alive. Now there can be no other meaning of the reason: for if blood were here directly prohibited to be taken and drunk or eaten, this reason could not have concluded it, “ because it is the life, therefore you may not eat it;”—being no better an argument than this,

you may not eat the heart of a beast for it is the life thereof;' but the other meaning is proper, “ye shall not eat flesh with the blood, which is the life thereof,”-that is, so long as the blood runs, so long ye must not eat; for so long it is alive: and a beast may be killed, but not devoured alive. So that the prohibition of blood is not direct in the precept, but accidental; blood is forbidden, as it is the sign of life and the vehiculum' of the spirits, the instruments of life; and so long as it runs, so long the life abides ordinarily; and therefore Zonaras m, in his notes upon the council of Gangra, expounds the word alua, or blood, supposed in that canon as unlawful to be eaten or drunken, by łçemit 7,8=5 εψόμενον, και πηγνύμενον, « blood diligently or fast running or following the wound, and thick;" that is, as I suppose, , • blood digested,' to distinguish it from serum sanguinis,' or the watery blood, that is seen in beasts after they have bled, that they might not have scruple in minutes and little superstitions : Xwpis świtydEUTOŨ aipatos, 66 without active blood," --so Balsamo : and it is not impertinent to the main inquiry, that it be observed that the Jews use · life’ instead of blood;' and so does the vulgar Latin; that we might the easier understand the meaning to be of life,' or living blood.But then this is nothing to eating the blood, when the beast is certainly dead: and, therefore, it is observable, that they who did make a scruple of eating blood, did not, all of them, make a scruple of eating things strangled in which the blood remained: and, therefore, in some copies of the apostolical decree", the word nixtoo, or strangled,' is left out; and St. Austin observes, that, in his time, in Africa, the Christians did not severely abstain from things strangled. For if the case were the same between blood running and blood settled and dead, then the reason of the commandment were nothing or not intelligible; and, besides, it would breed eternal scruples : since, in the very killing of beasts, there will some blood remain, and in the neck pieces and some veins every body hath observed some blood remaining even after the effusion by the knife. 4. This could not be a law of nature, because not mentioned by Christ in all his law, which I have already proved to be a perfect digest of the natural law : only that sense of it which I have now given, is involved in a law of nature, and consequently enjoined by Christ, viz. under the precepts of mercy, according to that saying of the wise man, “a good man will be merciful to his beast :” and the Athenians put a boy to death, because he took delight to prick out the eyes of birds, and so let them fly for his pastime; as supposing that he who exercised his cruelty upon birds, being a boy,~would, in time, destroy men too. 5. Upon the account of this interpretation, we are to distinguish the material part from the formal; the blood, as it is such a substance, from the blood, as it is alive; just as the cidwóduta are to be differenced: for to eat the meat when it is sold in the shambles, is a thing indifferent, said St. Paul', though it was offered to idols; but this very meat might not be eaten in the temples, nor any where under that formality, as St. Paul there discourses : and, therefore, what the apostles, in their letter to the churches, call gidwró dura, St. James, in the decision of the question, calls adsoyupata Tv Eidu'awy, “ pollutions of idols,”-that is, all communications in their idolatrous portions and services : and so it is for blood; abstain from life blood, or blood that runs while the beast is dying;' that is, devour not the flesh while the beast is alive, be not cruel and unmerciful to your beast : but if blood be taken in its own materiality when the beast is dead, it may be eaten as other things, without scruple; they being both in the same sense as in the same obligation,

m Vide S. Aug. lib. ii. c. vi. contra adversarium legis et prophetarum.

n Acts, xv. 20.

o 1 Cor, x. 25.

Αίμα δε μή φαγέειν, είδωλοθύτων δ' απέχεσθαι. There is a letter and a spirit in both of them. 6. One thing only I shall add to make this appear to have been relative, temporal, and ceremonial ; and that is, that when God was pleased to continue the command to the sons of Israel in Moses's law, he changed the reason, only reciting the old reason for which it was imposed to the posterity of Noah, and superadding a new one as relating to themselves: “ For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls ; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul P.”, So that to the blood there was superadded a new sacredness and religion; it was typical of the great sacrifice upon the cross, the blood of which was a holy thing, and it was also instrumental to their sacrifices and solemnities of their present religion: and, therefore, this ritual is to cease after that the great sacrifice is offered, and the great effusion blood is past. But as they had a new reason, so also had they a new injunction, and they were interdicted the eating of any thing strangled; which they taking to be a pursuance of the precept given to Noah, were the more zealous of it; and lest their zeal might be offended, the first Christians, in their societies, thought fit to abstain from it. But this ever had a less obligation than the former, and neither of them had, in their letter, any natural obligation : but the latter was introduced wholly upon the Levitical account, and, therefore, did cease with it. 7. After this so plain and certain commentary upon this precept, I shall the less need to make use of those other true observations made by other learned persons: as that this canon was made for a temporary compliance of the Gentile proselytes with the Jewish converts,—that this was not a command to abstain from blood, or strangled, but a declaration only that they were not obliged to circumcision; but they already having observed the other things, it was declared they need

3:

go no

p Levit. xvii. 11,

further : that whereas these things were said to be necessary érdvaynes, the meaning of the word is not absolute but relative; for it is šte' avdyxns šyelv, “ to have a thing under some necessary condition, and so it happened to them to whom the apostles wrote ; for they were Gentile proselytes before they were Christian, and so were tied to observe the seven precepts of Noah, before the Jews would converse with them; and, therefore, that this did not concern the Gentiles, after they were an entire church: for although it did, while the separation lasted, and that there were two bishops in some great churches, as in Rome and Ephesus: yet when the church was of Gentiles only, or conversed not with Jews, this could not relate to them. That blood should be forbidden in the formality of meat is infinitely against the analogy of the Gospel : the decretory and dogmatical words of Christ 9 being, “ that nothing which enters into the mouth, defiles a man :" and the words of St. Paul' are permissive and preceptive, “ Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question for conscience-sake. For meat commendeth us not to God; for neither if we eat, are we the better, neither if we eat not, are we the worse:" and $ the kingdom of God consisteth not in meat and drink, but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost's." The result is this, that blood, as it is a meat, cannot be supposed here to be directly forbidden as naturally unlawful, or essentially evil, or of a proper turpitude : but if the apostles had forbidden the very eating of blood as meat, it must be supposed to be a temporary and relative command which might 'expire by the ceasing of the reason, and did expire by desuetude; but since it was not so, but a permitting the Gentile proselytes and encouraging them, for present reasons, to abstain from running or life blood in the sense above explicated, according to the sense of the Jewish doctors and their disciples, it no way can oblige Christians to abstain from blood when it is dead, and altered, and not relative to that evil which was intended to be forbidden by God to Noah, and was afterwards continued to the Jews. I end this with the words of Tertullian', “ Claves macelli tibi tradidit, permittens esui omnia ad constituendam idolothytorum exceptionem ;" 6 God hath given to us the keys of the shambles, only he hath forbidden the pollution of idols :"in all other things you have your liberty of eating.

q Matt. xv. ll. s Rom. xiv. 17.

r 1 Cor. x. 25. t De Jejuniis.

I am only now to give an account of the reasons of the ancient churches, why so pertinaciously and so long they refused to eat boiled blood, or any thing of that nature. But for that it is the less wonder, when we consider, that they found it enjoined by all the churches where the Jews were mingled; and the necessity lasted in some places till the apostles were dead, and the churches were persecuted: and then men use to be zealous in little things, and curious observers of letters; and when the succeeding ages had found the precedents of martyrs zealous in that instance, it is no wonder if they thought the article sufficiently recommended to them. 2. But if we list to observe that the Pythagorean philosophers were then very busy and interested in the persuasions of men and sects, and Pythagoras, and Plato, and Socrates, had great names amongst the leading Christians, it is no wonder if, in the percolation, something of the relish should remain, especially having a warrant so plausible to persuade, and so easy to mistake as this decretal of the apostles, and the example of the ancients living in that time, which the heathens call the golden age.

At vetus illa ætas, cui fecimus Aurea nomen,
Fætibus arboreis, et, quas humus educat, herbis

Fortunata fuit, nec polluit ora cruoreu. Single life, and abstinence from certain meats, and refusing of blood, and severity of discipline, and days of abstinence, were sometimes persuaded, sometimes promoted, sometimes urged, sometimes made more necessary, by the Montanists, the Essenes, the Manichees, the Novatians, the Encratites, the Pythagoreans, and the very heathen themselves, when, because they would pretend severity, it became fit that the Christians should not be or seem inferior to them in self-denial, discipline, and austerities. But I shall make no more conjectures in this matter; since if the church at that time did enjoin it, the canon was to be obeyed, and, it may be, in some places it was practised upon that stock; upon

u Ov. M. xv. 96, Mitscherl. vol. ii. pag. 125.

« AnteriorContinuar »