Abbildungen der Seite

their food. And therefore what is so probable, as that, by God's order, they were slain for a sacrifice to Him, (the better to represent to them their guilt, and that the promised seed should vanquish the Devil, and redeem them by shedding his blood,) and that of the skins of those beasts God directed coats to be made, to clothe them?” If the interpretation of the words “ coats of skins” be skins drawn from the bodies of animals, we cannot do better than take, in the main, this comment for our guide. Reasoning thus, it is evident that animals were not slain, either for sacrifice or for clothing, before the fall : they could not have been slain for sacrifice, there being nothing to prefigure; they were not slain for clothing, as it is recorded that none was in use; and, if they had been slain for either sacrifice or food, the first clothing would rather have been of them than of the leaves of trees: we are, therefore, necessitated to conclude that no grant of animals for food had hitherto been made. With respect to those who would draw their argument from the sacrifice of Abel, our answer is ready and short. From Abel's sacrifice, it is indisputable, that God commanded the shedding of blood as prospective and figurative of the sacrifice thereafter to be offered. While Abel sacrificed animals, Cain offered of the fruits of the ground. Abel's sacrifice of blood shewed the faith in which it was presented: Cain's sacrifice, as though he would give an offering; he sacrificed of the fruits, which was an offering of a portion of his subsistence, as if conceiving that God required something from him, as for itself: Abel sacrificed that which was not in the same degree a portion of his subsistence; and so did not appear to be offering so costly a gift as the other. Here lay the difference between the two. Abel offered in faith of the future propitiation-Cain offered in repayment of the fruits which the ground had produced him. The one would recompense God'; the other would acknowledge the insufficiency of whatever he should offer up, the inadequacy of all, until the full oblation. So then, it would seem, that the fact of Abel's offering of animals is argument against rather than in favour of a supposition of the grant of animal food having been made previously to the permission signified after the flood.

It may be, in accordance with the opinions of writers on this subject, that animal food was used previously to the flood: it is, indeed, probable, that it was; but, if it were, it was not in consequence of any expressed permission from God. It is likewise probable, that the use of it was suggested by sacrifice; by the perversion of it I should say ; that men corrupted the appointment into an occasion of gratifying the depravity of appetite. I doubt, however, whether any who served God in truth, Noah and his family, used it before the flood: I doubt, whether it were used by other than those who had filled the earth with violence, and made it corrupt, and I ground myself upon the concluding passage of the command issued to Noah, to fashion and to fill the ark. God had commanded him to carry with him and his family into the ark, two of all living creatures, in these words: “ And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.” After this, He says, “ And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee and for them." These words would tell us, that the food here spoken of was the only lawful food of man; more particularly, when we find an after-grant of animal food delivered in express words. When the waters of the flood had subsided, a special grant of animal food is made; and it is so presented as to inform us that this was the original grant. If it had been otherwise, why should it have been then renewed ? or why should the mention of it have been omitted before? There was no renewal of the grant of the plant and the tree; but, this is stated to have been given in equal measure with them. All this, too, is confirmed by the restriction as to the blood, under which it is directed to be used. We should bear in mind, that Noah had already shed blood : he had sacrificed of clean and of unclean beasts-an important fact, inasmuch as it shews that the sacrifice of animals, and the eating of their flesh, were not necessarily connected. The words of the grant are as follow : “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you ; even as the

green herb have I given you all things.” This ought to be considered as decisive of the question.

A reason has been alleged for the not previously granting to mankind the use of animal food, which does not seem to me to be admissible, while to my own mind one of a higher character is more obvious, and far more consonant with the circumstances. The alleged reason presumes, that, the stock of irrational animals in each kind being in the beginning of the world but small, it would have been injured by premature application of it as food. This, nevertheless, is seen to be no reason at all, when we consider that on the instant after the flood the number was very little beyond that which it was on the instant after creation, but two of each kind having been preserved in the ark; and, it is absurd to suppose that the stock of any part of them was in much greater danger of extermination or diminution while there were yet but two persons of mankind on the earth, than at the time when there were eight, Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives. The proper reason is to be sought in the innocence and holiness of man, in the uncursed state of the earth. It was inconsistent with either, that blood should be shed; and this view is established to us by the prohibition, which follows the grant, of eating the blood : “But the flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” God would not permit man, in whom was an immortal spirit, to be sustained by “the life” of one of his creatures : that were an abomination to Him; and, even when all had been deteriorated, the cattle, and the fowl, and the creeping things, we are to believe, as well as the product of the ground, God had still so much regard for this first principle, that He annexed the prohibition of blood to his grant of the new kind of food. Some, truly, and amongst them many of the early Hebrews, construe the sentence, as though the prohibition does but concern the eating of flesh taken from the yet living animal; and they endeavour to strengthen their supposition by urging that the practice has been found to prevail in parts of the world. It has, undoubtedly, prevailed, but only with the most barbarous of people; and I take this sentence as giving no warranty for the construction; for, what does it say?—“ Flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” Ye shall not eat the life, which is the blood; and, the direction of later times to the Israelites proves that it was the blood to which the prohibition had respect. They were directed to pour it on the ground; and they constantly did so. They were exact in abstaining from it; and the command to them that they should abstain, with this prohibition, may be received as the safest construction of the passage which is to be had. “ The simplest sense” (says our Commentator before referred to) “ seems to be, that they should not eat the blood of any creature: which was a positive precept, like that of not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And the reason of it, perhaps, was, that God intending in after times


« ZurückWeiter »