A case of conscience concerning eating of blood, considered and answered.
Mather, Increase, 1639-1723.
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A CASE of Conscience Concerning Eating of Blood, Considered and Answered.

COncerning that Case of Conscience, Whether the Eating of Blood be Lawful? I find that many not only of the more Ignorant, & Common Professors of Chris|tianity, but some very Learned men among them, have Inclined to the Negative in the Questi|on proposed. So did some of the Ancients, parti|cularly Tertullian, Origen, Clemens Alexandrinus, and the Author of the Questions and Answers to the Orthodox, which passeth under the Name of Iustin Martyr. Like-wise Eusebius relates, that when St. Biblis was put upon the Rack to make her Confess, that Christians were wont to Eat Infants (for so had the Accuser of the Brethren made the Heathen Believe) she Re|plyed, How should they Eat Children, when they Abstain from all Eating of Blood? Also, in the Book of Canons falsly pretended to be the A|postles, the Sixty Third Canon declares, that If any one in Holy Orders, Eateth Blood, he shall be Degraded, but if he be a Lay man, he shall be Excommunicated. Moreover, some Old Coun|cils have condemned it, as Unlawful: And some Emperours have by very severe Laws, Inhibited all Blood-Eating. The most Remarkable is that Ordinance of the Emperour Leo, Sirnamed the Philosopher A D. 886. He sayes, that He had received Information▪ that there were some, who stuffed Blood into Guts, or in Bags, and did Eat Page  2 the same, as usual Meat: He does therefore Com+mand that no Person should dare so to Practice himself▪ or to Sell such things to others; declaring that both Buyer and Seller, shall have all his Goods forfeited, his Head Shaven, and himself sent into Perpetual Banishment. It is further True, that the Christian Greeks, the Russians, Abyssines, Maronites, have abstained from the Eating of Blood, as unlawful. Nor are those Christians free from far greater Superstition than this Some late Authors have Written against it: So Grotius and Curcedaeus in his Treatise De Vsu Sanguinis; Dr. Du Veil, in his Commentary on Acts 15 29 And Dr. Barlow the late Bishop of Lyncoln, whose Arguments in the Opinion of the Athenian Mercury (March 3, 1694.) are of such weight▪ as that they will make his Antagonist sweat to Answer them. This notwithstanding, the Generality of Protestant Di|vines maintain the Affirmative, in the Question under Consideration. So Pareus, Rivet, Calvin, Willet, and many others in their Commentaries on Gen 9 4. So Voetius de Politia Ecclesiastica, Part 1. Pag. 471. who refers his Reader for Satis|faction in that point to Libavius and Horn-beck his Diatriba de Sanguine & suff•••••. So among Episcopal Divines, Bishop Richardson, and Dr. Hammond. Thus also some of the Ancients. Quadra••s (an old Christian Philosopher who affirms, that in his Time, some of the Persons on whom our Saviour wrought Miraculous Cures were still Living) maintains (as is testified by Bede) that there is no Meat from which a Christian ought to abstain Vid. Monologium Graecorum, in Septemb 21 See Dupin Vol. 1. p. 48. But it is not the Practice or Authority of men, without Scrip|ture or Convincing Reason, that can Determine, or Page  3 satisfy Conscience. For my own part, I concur with the Generallity of Protestant Christians, as to the Case under Debate. And that especially for these Reasons.

1. No Meat does in its own Nature defile, Math. 15.11. Not that which goeth into the Mouth Defileth the man. I suppose that the Apostle hath Respect unto those Words of our Saviour, when he says, I know and am perswaded by the Lord Iesus, that there is nothing Vnclean of it self, Rom. 14 14.

2. The Scriptures of the New-Testament give such a General Allowance for the Eating of all sorts of Meats as doth Comprehend that of Blood, There is that Scripture, Rom. 14.2 One Believeth that he may Eat all things▪ he that Believed so, was Ortho|dox in his Judgment as to that particular, And it was from Weakness in Faith, that is from Ignorance of the Latitude of Christian Liberty, under the Gospel, that any did Haesitate about it. Now if the Christian may Eat All Things, then Blood. A|nother Scripture is that in 1 Tim. 4.3, 4. where the Apostle condemns the Superstition of those, That Abstain from Meats, which God had created to be received with Thanksgiving of them, which Believe and Know the Truth, for every Creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be Received with Thanksgiving Now if Nothing is to be Refused, then Blood is not to be Refused. Another Scripture is that 1 Cor. 10 25. Whatsoever is Sold in the Shambles, that Eat, asking no Question for Conscience sake It was usual to Sell Blood in the Shambles, If therefore we may Eat not some Things only, but whatever is Sold in the Shambles, we may law|fully Eat Blood, for that is there Sold,

3. There are Medicinal Uses of Blood. Our Page  4 Modern Physicians have found, that the Spirit of Blood is a wonderful Restorative, may not a Chri|stian who is in a Consumption make use of that Spirit for the Recovering of his Impaired Health, and Preservation of his Life, according to the Sixth Commandment, only because Iews were pro|hibited things made of Blood?

4 If it be Lawful to Eat things Strangled, then it is Lawful to Eat Blood. The Consequence is undeniable. And the Jews were as much bound in Conscience to abstain from things Strangled, as from Blood, and they Practise accordingly to this Day; Some of the Popes have denied Christians this Liberty. So did Pope Zachary, A D. circiter. 756 Also several Councils that were Convened in the Dayes of Popery, but Austin declares, that in his Time, if any man scrupled the Eating things Strangled, (which had the Blood in 'em) he was Laughed at by all the World v. August Lib. 32. contra Faustum. cap 13. If a man among us should affirm that it is unlawful to Eat an Hare, or a Rabbet, killed by a stroke in the Neck, or a Pigeon caught in a Net, he would be Ridi'cled by most people. If the Eating of a thing that dies of it self, is lawful, then to Eat things Strangled, or with the Blood in them, is so too; but this is, and ever was Lawful for the Gentiles, Deut. 14 21. Thou shalt not eat any thing that dyeth of it self,, thou shalt give it to the Stranger, that he may eat it, or Sell it to an Alien. Divines argue strongly concerning Vsury, that the Prohibition of it to the Jews, was only a Iudici|al, and not a Moral Precept, because they might take Use for Mony Lett to Strangers. There is a Parity of Reason, as to this Case. He that Eats that which dies of it self, eats Blood. This the Gentiles might do. Therefore Eating of Blood Page  5 was not against the Moral Law.

5. All Precepts which were only Ceremonial & not Moral, are Abrogated by the Death of Christ. Col. 2.16, 17. Gal. 4.9. Heb 9.10 such was this concerning the not Eating of Blood, as appears from the Reason of the Prohibition mentioned, Lev. 17.11. For the Life of the Flesh is in the Blood, and I have given it you upon the Altar to make an Atone|ment for your Souls, for it is the Blood that makes an Atonement. Blood the Organ of Life, was Holy to God the Author of Life, & therefore they should not Profane it by Eating thereof. Now this is a Ceremonial Reason, Blood was a Sacred Thing, be|cause to be offer'd to God for making Atonement, as Typical of the Blood of Christ. Wherefore since Christ has shed his Blood, there is no Sacredness in any other Blood.

The Hebrew Doctors object, that there were six Precepts given to Adam, and so to the Antediluvi|ans, which were all of them Moral and Perpetual unto the Observation whereof all Mankind is obli|ged. And that a Seventh was added and given to Noah, viz. That Gen 9.4. The Flesh with the Life thereof, which is the Blood thereof, thou shalt not Eat.

For Answer. Not to Insist upon the Falseness of that Rabbinical Notion of Seven Precepts in the Mo|ral Law, the Error whereof H••sius has shewn in his Nucleus Prophetiae.

1. Some of the Iewish Masters themselves con|fess, that the Precept which forbids Eating Blood, does concern only Israelites, and not other Nations. Rabbi Solomon, and some others of the Rabbins sup|pose that Text does only forbid the Eating of the Flesh of Creatures, whilst they are yet Living, and the Drinking of their Blood. This Interpretation is followed by Cajetan, Mercer, Aynsworth, the Bel|gick Page  6 Annotators & some others. It is an usual Cu|stome among the Barbarous Scythians to drink the Blood of their Horses. Also the Arabians will draw Blood from their Camels and Drink it. Mens be|ing used to Blood makes them ferocious, and hard|hearted, as we see in Butchers, whence our English Laws permit not Butchers to be Jury-men in cases of Life and Death. According to this Interpretati|on, the Design of that Precept to Noah, is to for|bid all Inhumanity, which suits with the next verse, containing a Prohibition of Murder. But

2 'Tis a mistake to think, that all the Precepts given to Noah, were Moral, binding all his Posteri|ty in all the Ages of the World. For in his Dayes there was a Distinction made betwixt Clean and Unclean Beasts. Gen. 7.2. which was a Ceremo|nial, and not a Moral Commandment: And so was Sacrificing required of Noah, and of the Patriarchs before the Flood. And for that Reason it was not meet that they should Eat Blood.

It is further Objected, That there was a Synodi|cal Decree against the Eating Blood, in the Apostles Dayes, viz. that Acts 15 20. To which may be Answered, that the Apostolical Advice was ground|ed on the Scandal, which at that time, would have happened, in case the Converted Gentiles should have practised the Eating of Blood, and that there|fore it was only a Temporary Advice, & not a Precept binding all Christians to the End of the World. Cessatio Causae efficit ut cessaret Observatio. The Learned and Judicious Turretin does by divers Rea|sons prove, that that Precept was not of perpetual Observation. He argueth, that Paul was present in the Synod at Jerusalem, and knew the true Intend|ment of the Advice given▪ Nevertheless he after|wards wrote those Epistles, in which he allows the Page  7 Eating of all sorts of meat, without any Limitation, which he would not have done, if the Decree, at Je|rusalem had been of perpetual Observation. But in those Dayes the Eating of Blood would have scan|daliz'd the Jews. That Practice was so abhorrent to them, as that it would have Endangered their be|ing prejudiced against all Christianity, had they ob|served, that all Christians indulged themselves there|in; on which account, to abstain from it was then necessary, verse 2. It would also have been Scanda|lous to the Gentiles among whom the Eating of Blood was an Idolatrous Rite. Psal. 16.4. The Syri|ans used to drink some of the Blood of their Sacrifi|ces. The Book of Wisdom informs us, that the old Canaanites had Blood in their Feasts. And Lanctan|tius testifies, that the Heathen at the Feast of Bacchus were wont to Drink Goats Blood; they would also Boil Blood, & mix it with Meat & Spices, & so Eat it at their Sacrifices, which Tertullian calls Botulos Cru|••e distentos; they Sacrificed Sawsages & black-pud|dings to Idols. Maimonides says, that the Reason, why the Heathen did Eat Blood, was, because they thought that Blood was the Food of Daemons, whom they Wor|shipped, & that thereby they should obtain their Love & Fa|uour. To the same purpose does Origen speak. Hence the Dae|mons are by Athenagoras called HAIMA PERILICHMO|ENOI, Lickers of Blood; so then in Primitive Times eating of Blood would have Looked like a Symbolizing with the Heathen, & was for that Cause then Inhibited. And al|though it is mentioned with Fornication, it does not follow that if one of these is against the Moral Law, that the other so too; For the Eating of things offered to Idols is also mentioned, Acts. 21.25. But that is an Indifferent thing, the Apostle does plainly allow of it, when it can be done with|out Scandal, 1 Cor. 10 27. He only therefore condemns the 〈◊〉 of Idolothytes, in the Idols Temples, 1 Cor. 8.10. But Page  8 does not forbid them to do it, in their own Houses, because in the one place it might be without Scandal, but not in the other. There is then no Validity in the Objection. Eating of Blood & Fornication are conjunctly mentioned, therefore they are of the same Nature. We find in other Scriptures that Precepts, which are only Iudicial, are conjunctly mentioned with those that are Moral. Thus in Ezek. 18. The taking of a Pledge, & Usury, Judicial Precepts, are condemned with I|dolatry & Adultery, hainous Transgressions of the Moral Law, unlawful to be done by any persons, in any place, or at any time. Moreover, the Gentiles esteemed Fornication to be no sin at all, yea, the Unclean Spirit unto whom they Sacrificed, taught them to make it a part of their Idolatrous Worship; Witness that shameful thing Baal peo, Numb. 2.3. Ier. 11.13. Hos. 9.10. Rev. 2 14. Dr. Lightfoot observes that the He|brews were wont to Condemn all Incestuous Marriages by the Name of Fornication, which the Gentiles made no mat|ter about, & therefore supposeth that the Design of the A|postles in Condemning Fornication with things offered to I|dols & Blood, was to bring the Converted Gentiles under the Obedience of the Law, in Lev. 18. Another late Annotator conceives, that the Thing more especially Designed, is to forbid that Concubinate, which was commonly practised both by Jews and Gentile, the Evil whereof was not ge|nerally known, until discovered by the Light of the Gospel. These four things▪ Idolothytes, Fornication, Strangled and Blood were the Rites of Idolatry commonly practised a|mongst the Nations, so that the Gentiles by abstaining from them, declared a perfect Renunciation of their Hea|thenism, which Dr Spencer in his late Learned Exercita|tions, takes to be the special Reason why those four parti|culars are by the Apostles instanced in.

These things seem a Satisfactory Solution of the weigh|tiest Arguments which have been produced for the Nega|tive, in the Question before us.


Boston in New-England, Printed by B. Green, and I. Allen, 1697.