Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

peace in believing. God's object through these types seems to have been, to impress the Jews with a sense of their guilt; the Gentiles with a sense of his love and mercy, of the blessed privileges into which they are introduced through the death of Christ, and those which await them at his glorious appearing.

Dear brother, your's in esteem, J. B. Rollo.

REPLY BY THE EDITOR. BROTHER Rollo still affirms that blood, things strangled, and idolmeats, were prohibited in the apostolic decree to prevent the Gentile Christians from giving offence to their Jewish brethren. Now we will dissect this argument, and make its hollowness appear.

It is quite true, that the believing Jews abhorred those articles, and, be it remembered, it was because the law of Moses interdicted them : for although they had vowed allegiance to Christ, still they scrupulously observed their ancient customs. Hence they had as great a hatred for every other article of food prohibited by that law, as to those above named. Now every scripture student knows that there are numerous articles forbidden by it as strongly as were blood, things strangled, and idol-meats, and which, consequently, were as much detested by the Jew-Christians. Thus swine's flesh was prohibited as positively, and equally hated. Indeed so great au aversion had the Jews to this animal that they would not name it. This however is but an example; there were numbers of beasts, fowls, and fishes, loathed by them as shudderingly as the articles in the decree.

And again, the Jewish Christians still regarded circumcision with solemn reverence,- with so much, that they were as unwilling to hold communion with the uncircumcised mail, as with the one who partook of idol-meats. Indeed the Apostle Paul was obliged to use all the arguments with which his supernatural powers furnished him, in order to persuade the Jews to recognize the Gentiles as brethren ; and more disturbances were raised, and offences given in the churches through circumcision, than through all the articles of the decree put together.

Now if the intention of the Apostles in framing that decree had been simply to prevent the Gentiles from giving offence to the Jews, they would have prohibited in it all those articles which the Jews detested as much as blood, things strangled, and idol-meats; they would liave commanded the Gentiles to submit to circumcision, and thus have prevented the offences and disputes which were perpetually arising through this law. Wisdom and justice demanded that the Christian legislators should thus have acted. The first principle required it; for, to forbid the Gentile brethren a few of those things

these inspired portions give an apparent allowance to eating idolmeats equally as much as to blood, and things strangled. But as one Scripture cannot contradict another, we see from Rer. ii. that they do not in fact allow the first, consequently, they allow not the latter.

Brother Rollo argues that “the words of the decree, 'abstain from meats offered to idols,' contains a strict command, not limited to idol-temples," &c. We reply that the fact of fornication being named in the decree, clearly proves that it is the partaking of idol-meats in the temple which is prohibited. This crime generally accompanied the feastings on the idol-meats at the heathen sacrifices. The Apostles, therefore, by interdicting it and them in the same decree, evidently referred to those partaken of in the places of sacrifice. The intelligent reader will have thought that there must be some reason for fornication being mentioned in the decree, and not lying, stealing, or murder. And that reason is certainly the one here stated.

The passage quoted by brother Rollo cannot be shown to sanction the eating of idol-meats.

Our brother treats the assertion, that blood is used as an equivalent to life and death, as an absurdity. Now from the passages which we quoted, it would be seen, that when we said that blood was often used as an equivalent to life and death, we implied the idea that it was spoken of in a different aspect in each case. Blood is put for life when existing in its natural state in the body; it is put for death when shed from, or its current stopped, in the tenement. We do not then use life, death, and blood as equivalent terms, because when the last is used for the others, it is used for one in oppo site circumstances to those in which it represents the other: and no words, are equivalent to each other, unless they have the same meaning in the same circumstances,

It requires perceptive powers of a higher order than those we possess to discern how the passage in Leviticus can be made to prove that blood is figuratively the life of man.

Indeed this scripture is a strong argument for our views. Our readers will see that the first reason stated for the prohibition of blood is, because it is the life of the flesh, and they will see that it is also the last reasou expressed. There is one reason put between the two, which is, that blood is given to make atonement for the soul. Now this method of placing arguments frequently obtains in the Bible, one is put first and last, and the others are arranged in the middle. And in every instance the front and rear one is the grand, chief argument. It is repeated in order to make the most indelible impression on the mind. The others stowed in the middle are the weaker and less important reasons. The grand essential reason for the prohibition

which gave offence to the Jewish brethren, and allow them the rest

-the great multitude, would have been a most inadequate, and consequently ineffectual attempt to prevent hostilities between the two races. Justice demanded it; because if the articles in the docree were interdicted for the reason assigned, it was because Christian forbearance on the part of the Gentiles towards the Jews required their abstinence from them. Now if this principle demanded a prohibition of the articles named, it required an interdiction of all those which gave equal offence to the Jews.

The fact then that the Apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, interdicted only three articles out of the great number prohibited by Moses, plainly proves that they did not forbid them to prevent the Gentile believers from giving offence to the Jews. Indeed when the whole chapter containing the decree is carefully perused, it will be seen that the Christian princes certainly did not intend by enacting it to indulge the Jews in their prejudices. “Why tempt ye God," said the noble-hearted Peter, “to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” And President James termed the interdicted articles, “necessary things to be avoided.” Now why was it necessary to abstain from them? To produce and continue amity between the two races? Nay, verily ; for, as we have seen, an abstinence from them alone was not sufficient to give satisfaction to the Jews.

Brother Rollo speaks of the decree as being in exact accordance with Moses' law. But this does not prove, that it was enacted to please those who reverenced that law. There are many precepts in the New Testament which are in conformity with those of Moses, but which would have been given if his had never existed. Thus Christian children are commanded to honour their parents, in exact accordance with the Jewish law; but we must not act so absurdly as to argue that our precept was originated by it. The two religions have the same precepts just so far as they are based upon the same principles.

Our brother also objects that the articles are interdicted but once in the whole Testament,—and we ask, Ought not one divine command, upon a given subject, be sufficiently authoritative to claim our obedience? But this is not exactly correct. Rev. ii. 14, reads thus, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Every intelligent mind will here discern a prohibition of idol-meats, one of the things forbidden in the apostolic decree ; and by this interdiction the remainder of brother Rollo's argument is proved erroneous. He says the articles seem to be allowed in other parts of the New Testament. Now

[ocr errors]

of blood is, then, because it is the life of the flesh. Its having been given to the Israelites for an atonement is but a secondary one. The first reason exists in the very nature of blood ; the latter existed bat in the circumstances in which it was placed.

Now as every prohibition must continue to be in force so long as the reason for it exists, it follows that the interdiction of blorid is still in its strength, and cannot be repealed : for be reason of its prohibition, that blood is the life of the flesh, still exists, and will do while man continues in his present state.

It is quite true, that "blood is no longer given upon the altar;" but this reason for its being forbidden originated with that economs, and died with it; but the primary reason existed long before the Mosaic religion, it did not depend upon it for being, and consequently continued to live when that was destroyed. When, therefore, the il Christian religion was established, it was embodied with it; and clothed with the dignity and importance of a law of that holy insttution.

Brother Rollo's remaining arguments are based upon the mipor reason, and consequently share its fate. Wishing him

peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, we subscribe ourselves, his truly,

EDITOR.

*

THE HOLY KISS. All kingdoms, nations, states, tribes, and even small communi. ties have some peculiar manners and customs of their own. These are generally the offspring of circumstances, the result of long secluded intercourse. Like language or dialect, they are the growth of time, and sometimes as unalterable as the provincial pronunciation, gait, or even the features of an individual. These manners and customs principally respect dress, the fireside, the table, the rights of hospitality, feasts, courtship, marriage, salutation, funeral rites, and such like.

The religion of every country gives its tinge to all these. Tbe Jews' religion was more attentive to some of these customs and manners than any other, and hence the people of Israel became more formal than any other nation. Christianity originated no new manners or customs respecting dress, the rites of hospitality, eutertainments public or private, courtship, marriage, the rites of sepulture, or even the mode of saluting friends or strangers. This is beneath its sublime character. It stoops not to tell ladies how to fashion their garments nor their head-dresses, but inculcates modest and plain apparel, because of its congruity with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. It prescribes no rules for the fireside, the table, the couch, or any of the rites of hospitality ; but it inculcates the thing

called hospitality, and carries it far beyond the circle of friends and relations, even to strangers and foreigners. lt prescribes no rules for standing, sitting, and reclining at tables, at entertainments public or private. It says not a word upon some very interesting subjects to many—I mean courtships, marriages, and the nuptial rites. It legislates not upon kissing, shaking hands, bowing, courtesying, por even upon the solemn rites due to the dead. But it teaches decency and moderation in every thing: modesty, chastity, purity, and courtesy in all intercourse with society.

Every thing rude, savage, ferocious, and unseemly in the customs and manners of society, wherever it came it softened, mellowed, and refined by its morality and its purity, without passing a law upon the subject. It consecrated and elevated whatever was natural, rational, or even politically good in society, without changing a political maxim or enforcing a single statute. And, what is not a little strange, even in the organization of the Christian congregation it took hold of the order of the Jewish synagogue, and adopted every thing in it at all analogous to the Christian institution, and made it a sort of model of the whole Christian economy in the public assembly. Hence the elders, bishops, deacons, and their offices in the Christian church correspond in name and function to those in the synagogues. But of this again.

Even when Paul gave orders to the Corinthian church concerning the use of the gifts, especially of tongues and the interpretation of them, he quotes the rule which from the Captivity obtained in the synagogue after the language of the book and the nation became in some respects dissimilar. “Let him who speaks in an unknown tongue in the congregation speak two, or, at most, three sentences at a time, and let one interpret."

"In the synagogues, after the Syriac became the mother tongue, the interpreters stood next the minister, or reader, and translated the section sentence by sentence into Syraic; for in the lesson from the law the reader might not read above oue verse at a time before the interpreters explained it; but in the lesson from the prophets he might read three sentences together.” This custom exists in many countries to this day.* Jesus read but two sentences from the Prophet Isaiah, in the synagogue of Nazareth, before he began to interpret and apply it. These readings were preceded by prayer, and all the exercises in the synagogue were concluded by a benediction.

But to another item in the synagogue service bearing upon our subject. The manner of sitting in these synagogues was uniform, and the same which all antiquity declares obtained in the Christian meetings. Philo the Jew, as quoted by Brown, says, “The portion of the synagogue deroted to the congregation was divided by a par

• Brown's Antiquities of the Jews, Vol i. 648.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »