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Dissertation on Acts xv. 28, 29. concerning CHAP. XV.

the unlawfulness of eating blood.

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it will be allowed, that blood is a very hot inflaming food. them, had communion with them, by eating the same food. Eren flesh is an inflaming fastidious diet, inspiring pride and And it is remarkable, that though they did eat blood in hoinsolence : and therefore with infinite wisdom was murder sonour of their dæmons, yet even they thought it foul and de. solemnly and immediately prohibited by God, upon the per- testable food. And it is certain that Arnobius upbraids the mission of animal food to mankind.

heathen with tearing and devouring goats alive, in honour of “ Bull's blood was a common poison with the ancients : Bacchus, in that affected fury, to which they wrought themcan we imagine there was any peculiar malignity in the blood selves up, in the celebration of his mad and monstrous rites. of that creature, above any other? Or may we not rather “ Now, if God had not foreseen these cruelties, corrupimagine, that the malignity is now only abated by the mix. tions, and inconveniences, consequent to the eating of blood, tures commonly conveyed into the stomach with it? It is should we justly deem him infinitely wise? And if foreseedoubtless matter of much consolation to be assured, that the ing them, he had not yet prohibited them in their cause, poison of our luxury is well qualified.

(which was at once the wisest and the most effectual prohi“ We of these nationis, who are wont to feed largely upon bition), could we justly deem him infinitely good and gra. flesh, are observed to be remarkably subject to evil, scor cious to his creatures ? When, therefore, we find him, inbutic habits : and if physicians are right in ascribing these finitely wise in foreseeing, and infinitely good in forbidding, evils to our food, I believe it can scarcely be denied that the such abominable practices ; do we yet hesitate to conclude grosser, less digested juices of that food, contribute much such prohibitions, the effects of infinite wisdom and good. more towards them, than those juices which are purer, andness? more digested ; and therefore blood, as the grossest of all « But here it may be asked, if one main intention of animal juices, must of necessity do most mischief. And as Almighty God, in prohibiting blood and things strangled, grosser, less digested juices are less salutary, they must for was to restrain men, from luxury, as well as cruelty, why that very reason be less elegant, and less pleasing to an did he not rather choose to prohibit luxury and cruelty in antainted palate: and whereas it is found by experience, that express terms? bathing and cleanliness are a great relief from scorbutic in. 6 To this I answer, that probibiting the means, was the fections, there is no doubt that this was the very reason why sure way to prohibit the end. If God had only prohibited God prescribed washing the cloaths, and bathing in water, luxury and cruelty in general, every man's own temper, the as the constant penalties of eating flesh with the blood in it.custom of his country, his humanity or inhumanity, his tem

“ And as all flesh which hath the blood drained from it, || perance or gluttony, would have been the measures of that is more salutary, and will keep better, and will consequently luxury and cruelty; and then, some would have been cruel be more useful ; it is evident, that the ends of life and health as Cannibals, savage as Scythians, and luxurious as Sybawill be better answered by draining away the blood, with all riles, without imagining they were so : and others, as falsely the care we can, from all the flesh we eat; but then it must and foolishly merciful and abstemious, as the Pythagoreans : be owned, that the purposes of luxury, as well as cruelty, and so either the command would have been disobeyed, or will be far better served by the contrary practice.

the blessing defeated: though, at the same time, this conduct “ And forasmuch as the rò TVIXTÒ Xpéas (suffocated or hath no way precluded God, from giving particular express strangled flesh) was in high esteem in point of deliciousness prohibitions, both of luxury and cruelty, in several parts of with all the ancients, and is so still with the present patrons the scriptures. of luxury; it is evident that the apostles, in enjoining absti “ But still it may be imagined, that Christians are now nence from blood and things strangled, did so far prohibit some way or other exempted from this abstinence; and there, luxury and intemperance, as well as cruelty.

fore, to remove all mistakes of this kind, I now proceed to “Besides this, where the ends of luxury cannot be served shew, that this prohibition of eating blood lies upon all by blooding, the temptations to cruelty are cut off : and in mankind to this day; and upon Christians in a peculiar this is manifested the wisdom of God, in prescribing such a death to the creatures, as would most effectually prevent all 66 And the proof of this lies within the compass of one temptations to cruelty. And God's intention in this matter plain argument, obvious to every capacity; which is as once known, is an effectual prohibition of all unnecessary | follows: cruelty in killing the creatures, to all that fear him ; though “ If the eating of blood never was permitted, either be neither this, nor any thing else, can absolutely correct the fore the food or after the flood, or under the law, or under evil dispositions of men, or put cruelty out of their power. the gospel ; then, surely, no man in his senses will say it is

“ Farther yet : Maimonides assures us, that the eating of now lawful to eat it. Now that it never was permitted in blood gave occasion to one kind of early idolatry among the any of these periods, is undeniable. Nay, the argument is Zubü in the East; the worship of dæmons, whose food, as yet stronger; for it was not only not permitted in any of they imagined, was blood; and therefore they who adored these periods, but, in truth, it is plainly enough prohibited

manner.

Dissertation on Acts xv. 28, 29. concerning THE ACTS.

the unlawfulness of cating blood.

in the first of them; and, I think, as clearly prohibited in do not equally extend to all ages and nations of the world ; all the rest.

and if they do, it is evident this injunction of the apostles “ First, I say, the eating of any living creature, and had no peculiar relation, either to the infancy of the Christian consequently of blood, is not only not granted before the religion, or to the people of the Jews ; unless it be thought flood, but plainly enough prohibited, in that part of the that the Jews are the only people in the world who are curse denounced upon man after the fall, Cursed is the obliged to abstain from cruelty to the creatures, or to recog. ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it, all the nise God as the author and giver of life; or that this nation days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth only were entitled to the atonement made by blood; and if so, to thee : and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the how came sacrifices to be instituted immediately after the fall? sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread : till thou return to the And how came blood to be prohibited to all the sons of Noah, ground.”. Can any thing be plainer than, that man is here before there was any such thing as a Jew in the world? This condemned to eat bread, and the herb of the field, to the pretence, then, seems very ill founded. day of his death!

“ It may indeed be urged with much more plausibility by “ And thus we see that man had no right to the blood of Christians, that blood being consecrated to the making of the creatures before the flood. That he had no right after | atonement for sin, as a type of the sacrifice of Christ; and this, from the grant made to Noah; that no man had any that atonement being now received by his blood, as St. Paul right to it from any concession in the law of Moses, but expresses it, in the fifth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, quite the contrary, is undoubted. The only question then the reason of abstinence in this point is now ceased ; and, is, whether any such permission hath been made under the consequently, that this abstinence is no longer a duty. gospel? And that there hath not, but the direct contrary, “ But then it must be remembered, in answer to this reaI now come to prove, from the fifteenth chapter of the Acts ; soning, that the apostolic decree against blood was past many where we read, that after a long and solemn debate upon the years after this atonement was made : and, surely, it is question, Whether the Gentile converts to Christianity were no more unreasonable to abstain from blood now, in comobliged to observe the law of Moses? It was at last deter- | memoration of the atonement made by the blood of Christ, mined, that they were not; and that no more should be re for the sins of the whole world; than it was before to abstain quired of them, than to abstain from pollutions of idols, from it in the view of that atonement. and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from “ Again it is objected, that creatures which died of themblood. And accordingly, a most solemn decree was drawn selves, and consequently had the blood in them, might be up to that purpose, by the apostles, and elders, and the given to the stranger, or sold to an alien ; and it is evident, whole church at Jerusalem; and transmitted in letters to the that the stranger and alien were in this case permitted to eat brethren at Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, by four deputies of blood. principal note : Paul and Barnabas, Judas and Silas. And 66 And what then ? the question is, concerning the eating those letters were conceived in these terms : For it seemed of blood separate from the creature, or eating the blood degood to the Holy Ghost, and to us, &c. See verses 28, 29. signedly left in the creature, to serve any end of luxury or

“ Now, if this decree be obligatory upon all Christians, cruelty : and eating blood in either of these ways is what I then can it no longer be a doubt with any Christian, whether esteem to be unlawful : the eating of blood, as such, was nehe is obliged to abstain from blood and things strangled. ver imagined an action, simply, and in itself, sinful; though And if the direction of any one apostle, inspired of God, be it was, and is, criminal, in certain circumstances, from the obligatory, certainly it can be no doubt, whether a solemn reason and nature of things, as well as the divine prohibidecision of all the apostles, expressly declaring the joint tion; and it was prohibited, for very wise and very impordetermination of the Holy Ghost in the point, be also tant reasons; and when those reasons ceased, as in the inobligatory.

stance objected, the prohibition ceased too: and therefore this “ The only question then is, whether this apostolic decree objection is so far from overthrowing the doctrine laid down, hath been since repealed ; and this will best appear, by con- that, in truth, it confirms it; for what can be a clearer sidering the arguments for this repeal, produced by the ad-proof, that the reasons of any divine prohibition are rightly vocates for eating blood : which I now come to examine. assigned, than this, that as soon as those reasons cease, the

“ First then, it is said, that this decree of the apostles was prohibition ceases also ? When the creature died of itself, only temporary, to prevent giving offence to the Jews, in the its blood could neither be poured out upon the altar, for infancy of the Christian religion ; and consequently the rea- atonement, nor abused to idolatry; nor reverenced, in reson of it is long since ceased ; and that cessation is a virtual cognition of God's being the author and giver of life : nor repeal.

spilt, to prevent cruelty in the use of the creatures; and “ In answer to this, I desire it may be considered, whetherefore, there, such a small portion of it as could not be ther the reasons now mentioned, for abstaining from blood, separated from the flesh, was permitted to be eaten with it;

Dissertation on Acts xv. 28, 29. concerning CHAP. XV.

the unlawfulness of eating blood.

in effect permitted even to the Jew, under a very light pe “ As to the third opinion, viz. that the necessity of obnalty ; but where there was a possibility, either of cruelty serving this decree lasted only till the destruction of the or abuse, there it was more strictly prohibited ; and for this Jewish temple and polity ; to this I answer, that whatever reason, when a creature was torn by a beast, there the flesh may be thought of the necessity of this decree, it is evident was not to be touched by any human creature, but thrown that the wisdom of it, and the advantage of that abstinence to the dogs; as you may read in the 22d chapter of Exodus, | which was due to it, extended much farther. Since, withat the 31st verse : and the reason of this distinction is obvi- | out this, that calumny imputed to Christians, of killing ous ; if men were permitted to make any advantage of crea- | infants in their assemblies, and drinking their blood, could tures torn to death by beasts, what an inlet to all manner || never be so easily and so effectually confuted ; for nothing of cruelty (as well as villany) might such a permission be! I could do this so thoroughly, as demonstrating that it was a And who can say where it would end ? Nay, who knows fundamental principle with Christians, to touch no blood of how far such dilacerations might even be counterfeited to the any kind : and what could demonstrate this so effectually, purposes of idolatry, or indulgence in blood ?

as dying in attestation to the truth of it! as it is notorious, 56 Again : I must beseech all Christians seriously to attend both from the apologists and ecclesiastical historians, that to the tenor of the words, by which abstinence from blood || many Christian martyrs did. and things strangled is enjoined : “ It seemed good unto the “ But it is further urged, that this apostolic decree was Holy Ghost, and to us, (say the apostles) to lay upon you only given to the Jewish proselytes; and, consequently, that no greater burthen than these necessary things ; that ye ab- the necessity of abstaining from blood and things strangled, stain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from related to them only; this they tell us appears, “ in that the things strangled, and from fornication.” If these abstinences | apostle, when he preached in any city, did it as yet in the were only intended to be enjoined for a season, could they || synagogues of the Jews; whither the Gentiles could not come, properly be enjoined under the denomination of “ necessary unless they were proselytes of the gate. things?” Is that the proper appellation for duties of a tran “ Now this opinion, I think, will be sufficiently confuted, sient, temporary observance ? Did neither the apostles, nor by demonstrating these two things : first, that before the the Holy Ghost, know the distinction between necessary and passing of this decree, St. Paul preached Christianity to the expedient? Or, suppose it not convenient to make that dis- | whole body of the Gentiles, at Antioch; and, secondly, tinction at that time; How came things of a temporary, and that this decree is directed to the Gentiles at large, and not things of an eternal obligation, to be placed upon the same to the Jewish proselytes. foot of necessity, in the same decree? Or, were fornication “ Now this transaction at Antioch happened seven years and idol pollutions only to be abstained from for a time? And before the decree against blood, and things strangled, was in compliment to the infirmity of the Jews ? What mon- passed by the apostles at Jerusalem. Can any man in his strous absurdities are these? And what a train of them are senses doubt, after this, whether the apostles preached to the they obliged to maintain, who assert this decree to be only Gentiles before the passing of that decree? When it appears of temporary obligation ?

from the words now recited, that the apostles not only " But to proceed : If this was only a temporary necessity, || preached to the Gentiles, but preached to them in contrahow long did this necessity last ?

distinction to the Jews : and does any man know the Jews “ To this Dr. Hammond answers, that it lasted till the so little, as to imagine, that when the apostles turned to the Jews and Gentiles were formed into one communion. And Gentiles, from them, the Jews would after this suffer those St. Augustine says, that it lasted till the time that no carnal apostles to preach to the Gentiles in their synagogues ? Be. Israelite appeared in the church of the Gentiles ; and again, sides, the text says, that the word of the Lord was published that it lasted till the temple and the Jewish polity were de throughout all the region; consequently, the apostles were stroyed.

so far from confining themselves to the Jewish synagogue, .“ To all this I answer, that, if the two first opinions are that they were not confined even to the extent of that ample admitted, then, the necessity of observing the apostolic de- | city, but preached throughout the whole country. This opinion, cree continues to this day; first, because the Jews and Gen- | then, that the apostles preached only to the Jews and protiles are indisputably not yet fully formed into one commu- selytes before the passing of this decree against blood at Jenion : and, secondly, because there was never any time, rusalem, is demonstrably false : and if they preached to the wherein there was not some carnal Israelite in the church ; || Gentiles at large, to whom else can that decree be directed ? and I think it must be notorious to many of my readers, that It is directed to the Gentile converts at large ; and who can there are some such even in this part of the Christian church, we imagine those converts were, but those to whom Christi. at this day: and so doubtless in every Christian church over | anity was preached, i.e. the Gentiles at large ? the face of the whole earth ; and therefore both these opi. “ But this is yet further demonstrated, from St. James's nions are wild and unsupported.

sentence, in this fifteenth chapter of this Acts, upon

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Dissertation on Acts xv. 28, 29. concerning THE ACTS.

the unlawfulness of eating blood.

which the apostolic decree is founded. Ilis words are to the law of Moses, though they were exempted from that these :

law ? 19. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not 66 Again it is urged, that this decree could only oblige them which from among the Gentiles are turned to those to whom it was directed, i. e. the Gentiles of Antioch, God.

and Syria, and Cilicia. " 20. But that we write unto them, that they abstain “ As if the decree, and the reason of it, did not equally from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from extend to all Gentile converts throughout the whole world. things strangled, and from blood.

And as if this doctrine were only taught and received in “ 21. For Moses of old time hath in every city them those particular regions ; when it is evident, beyond a possithat preach him, being read in the synagogues every sal). || bility of being denied or doubted, that all Christians in every bath-day.

region of the earth, were taught and actually embraced the “ What then? what if Moses had those that preached same doctrine, at least, for the first three hundred years him in the synagogues every sabbath? Why then, there was after Christ. no necessity of writing upon these points, to any of those “ But it is still objected, that this dispute could not have who were admitted into the synagogues ; because they knew happened otherwise than between Geutile and Judaizing from the writings of Moses, that all these things were, from converts; and consequently, the decision of it must have the foundation of the world, unlawful to the whole race of respect to the conduct which it was then necessary the GenAdam,

tiles should hold, with regard to the Jews, who could not My sentence (says the apostle) is, that we write to the converse with them upon the foot of a friendly communicaGentile converts upon these points ; for Moses hath those of tion, could not sit at meat, &c. unless the Gentiles abstained old in every city, that preach him, i. e. there is no necessity from blood, &c. of writing to any Jewish convert, or to any proselyte con “ Consequently, that this necessity is now ceased. vert to Christianity, to abstain from these things : because all “ In answer to this, admitting the premises, I must own that are admitted into the synagogues, (as the proselytes I cannot see how this conclusion follows from them, as long were,) know all these things sufficiently already; and ac as there are Jews and Mahometans in the world to be concordingly, upon this sentence of St. James, the decree was verted to the Christian religion. founded and directed ; doubtless, from the nature of the “Fornication, idolatry, luxury, and cruelty to the creathing directed to those whom it was fitting and necessary to tures, are prohibited by this decree ; and an original precept inform upon these points, i. e. those who were unacquainted from God to Noah, of manifold advantage to mankind, rewith the writings of Moses ; for the decree, as far as it con stored : is it to be believed, the apostles could stand in need tained a direction to certain duties, could give no information of a particular occasion to prohibit those enormities? or to to any others.

restore this blessing? “ Again: An objection is raised against this doctrine from

- Fornication did not appear to the heathen world, to be the conclusion of the decree, ye do well: insinuating, that contrary to the law of nature; (nor do the libertines of the though they should do well to observe it, yet they did no illage see it to be so to this day), and as they had no restraints in not observing it.

upon intemperance, their luxury of food greatly contributed “ I answer, that doing well, in the style of scripture, as

to make them abandoned. How then could the apostles, well as common speech, is acting agreeably to our duty; // whose business it was to reform the world, pretend to amend and doing well in necessary things, must certainly be acting mankind, without recovering them from these corruptions ? agreeably to necessary duty; and certainly the same duty And what more effectual method could they take to recover cannot be at the same time necessary and indifferent. them, than a most solemn and sacred injunction of absti

“ But it is objected, that if the points contained in this nence in those points contained in the decree of Jerusalem? decree are not parts of the Mosaic law, the decree has no And that the apostles had nothing less than this in view from relation to the question in debate; for the debate was, whe-that decree, is, I think, fairly and fully to be collected, ther the Gentile converts to Christianity should be obliged to

from these words of St. Luke, Acts xvi. 4, 5. And as they observe the law of Moses?

(i. e. Paul and his companions) went through the cities, they “ I answer, that the decree hath the clearest relation to deliv

delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the question; inasmuch as it is a decision, that the Gentile the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem, and so were converts were not obliged to observe the law of Moses. It the churches established in the faith, and increased in number hath at the same time a plain relation to the point in ques. | daily. Lion; for what could be more proper, than to take that oc 6 Now the decree here referred to, is evidently the decree casion to let the Gentiles know, that they were obliged to the concerning blood, &c. from the observance of which, the observance of such duties as were obligatory antecedently || churches were not only increased, by opening the way to.

Dissertation on Acts xv. 28, 29. concerning CHAP. XV.

thic unlawfulness of eating blood.

more friendly communication with the Jews, and so facili- every thing that is lawful to be done, is not always expedi. tating their admission into the Christian church, but they ent; though the liberty you took of eating in the idol temwere likewise cstablished in the fuith. Does this expression ple were lawful; yet, if it give offence, you ought not to mean nothing! Might we not conclude from it, with some take it. appearance of reason, that the Christian religion had been “In the same manner should that general expression of defective without this establishment ?

our Saviour's be interpreted, Not that which goeth into the “But there are yet two other main fundamental objections mouth defileth the man, but that which cometh out of the against this doctrine, taken from the declarations of our mouth, that defileth the man. Does any man imagine, that Saviour, St. Peter, and St. Paul.

our Saviour meant to give full licence to gluttony and intem“ And the first of them is built upon those words of our perance by this declaration ? Or that a man might delibeblessed Saviour, in the 15th chapter of St. Matthew, at the rately swallow poison by virtue of these words; or, in geeleventh verse, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth neral, might ivnocently eat any thing which the law of God the man, but that which cometh out of the mouth. From hence at that time forbad to be eaten? These were strange absurit is inferred, that a man may eat or drink any thing without dities to be supposed: the sense of the declaration then must sin, notwithstanding the apostolic decree.

be drawn from the reason and occasion of it, which was “ But surely no Christian would say this, that saw the this: The Pharisees were offended with our Saviour's disciabsurdities of this assertion; for if this declaration of our || ples, for sitting down to meat before they washed their Saviour's destroys the validity of the apostolic decree, then || hands, contrary to the tradition of the elders ; as if such a it will follow:

violation of a traditional precept, were sin and a pollution. First, That this decree was repealed just twenty years || In answer to this, after our Saviour hath shewn the iniquity before it was made, which is surely a very extraordinary sup- and absurdity of their traditions, he adds, Not that which position ; for whoever looks into the chronology of his Bible | goeth into the mouth defileth the man. Now, the question is, will fiud, that these words of our Saviour were spoken | what he meant by those words? And if he himself had not twenty years before the apostolic council was held at Jeru- told us, I really think that the occasion and common sense salem.

would teach us to understand no more by them, than this, “ Secondly, It will follow, that the whole body of the that it is not any little soil or filth taken into the mouth, apostles did, after full debate and mature deliberation, make from eating with unwashed hands, that can be said to defile a most solemn decree, in direct contradiction to the plain, || a man; nothing of that kind can be called a pollution. This, express declaration of their blessed Lord and Saviour. I say, is the plain, natural, obvious sense of those words.

“ And this supposition is surely as modest, and as Chris- | Indeed, the latter part of the declaration is not so plain ; tian, as the first was extraordinary : nay, more; they made but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth the mun. this decree under the immediate direction and influence of This part of it, I say, is not so intelligible ; neither was it the Spirit of God, and yet made it in direct contradiction to so to the disciples, and therefore Peter desired his Lord to the declaration of the Son of God I am really at a loss to declare this parable unto them. And accordingly he did so, think, whether the absurdity or the blasphemy of these sup- || by shewing that whatsoever pollution was taken in at the positions is most shocking. Let us quit them then, and mouth was cast out into the draught, but what came out of examine our Saviour's words by the common rules of the mouth, came forth from the heart, as did evil thoughts

of all kinds; and then he adds, these are the things that de“ And, to clear this point, I lay this down as a plain rule | file the man--but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the of interpretation, That general expressions ought not to be man. extended beyond the reason of them, and the occasion of "I come now to the last objection of weight, which is their being delivered. For example, St. Paul, in the tenth | this : that the distinction pf clean and unclean meats is chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, answering the plainly taken away in the New Testament; and particularly arguments of those converts who pretended they might inno- || by that voice from heaven in St. Peter's vision: and that St. cently eat of those things offered to idols, even in the idol | Paul clearly determines the lawfulness of eating any thing temples, uses these words, All things are lawful for me, but sold in the shambles, or set before us on the table, asking no all things are not expedient. Will any man infer from hence, || questions for conscience sukc. that murder, and adultery, and incest were lawful to St. “ To the first part of this objection, I answer, that the Paul ? Or that he thought they were ? No, surely! What | distinction of meats, clean and unclean, commonly supposed then can he mean by them? I answer, that the reason and to be introduced and established by the law of Moses, is occasion of them must determine that question; and do de- || plainly taken away, by the voice from heaven, accompanying termine the plain sense of those words to be this : All things || St. Peter's vision : but how does this concession affect the proa that are lawful to any other man, are also lawful to me; buthibition of blood, established before the law of Moses: Ana

reason.

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