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It has been urged as an argument against the perpetuity of the apostolical decree in the Acts, that the apostle Paul never quotes, or alludes to it in his writings. But, admitting it to be temporary, no person will maintain that it was not designed to extend beyond the time of his epistles ; and yet, though the unlawfulness of fornication be allowed to be perpetual, Paul did not avail himself of any argument drawn from that decree when he wrote on that subject to the Corinthians, who, of all the Greeks, were most remarkably addicted to that vice.
If we interpret this prohibition of the apostles by the practice of the primitive christians, who can hardly be supposed not to have rightly understood the nature and extent of it, we cannot but conclude, that it was intended to be absolute and perpetual; for blood was not eaten by any christians for many centuries. When the christians were charged with meeting in the night, and drinking blood, by way of binding one another to secrecy, in some immoral prac
tices, Tertullian observes with respect to it, that it was well known that no christian would eat blood at all; insomuch, that it was usual with heathens, when they wanted to know whether any person was a christian, to set blood-puddings before him as a very sufficient test.
· Blood is not eaten by christians in any part of the East, or by the Greeks, or Russians, who are of the Greek church, to this day; nor indeed was the use of blood introduced into this western part of the world till very late. When the Pomeranians were converted to christianity, which was in 1120, they were particularly enjoined to abstain from blood, as a badge of their profession. It was not allowed to be eaten in the West in the time of Bede, or a century afterwards; and blood was not caten in any part of Switzerland till Calvin introduced the practice from some other place. See Curcellæus on this subject. Dr. Lardner, however, says, that little regard was paid to these regulations of the apostolical decree by the Latin christians, froin the
end of the fourth century. Remarks on Ward's Dissertations, p. 136.
It is farther said, that the liberal spirit of christians is strongly against any such a diftinction of meats as the prohibition of the use of blood supposes; and that even the very letter of the declaration of our Lord and his apostles excludes any such distinction. Thus we read, Matt. xv. 11. “ Not that “ which goeth into the mouth defileth a “ man : but that which cometh out of the “ mouth, this defileth a man.” And the apostle Paul represents him who believeth that he may eat all things, as not weak, but as of a stronger and more enlarged mind than he who thought and acted differently, Rom. xiv. 1. He also says, v. 17. “ The “ kingdom of God is not meat and drink, “ but righteousness, and peace, and joy in “ the Holy Ghost;” and v. 20.“ All things “ are pure: but it it is evil for any man who “ eateth with offence.”
But our Saviour made the declaration above-mentioned, at a time when he him
self strictly conformed even to the Jewish distinction of meats; and Paul might only allude to the same restrictions, to which, as well as to other Jewish rites, many christians then conformed. The fame apostle, in the same general manner, makes light of all distinction of days, though, he no doubt, made a distinction of one day of rest.
Though, in discussing this subject, I have generally mentioned the arguments for the prohibition of blood before those against it, and have replied to the latter more than to the former, I would not have my reader conclude, that I am fully determined in my judgment with respect to it. Let him weigh what has been advanced on both sides, and decide for himself; not forgetting, that this question relates to the least of all positive precepts, and that all positive or ceremonial precepts are of little importance compared to the smallest moral duty,