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ments, so hateful in the sight of the holy Onė, though long endured, was not always to pass with impunity : 56 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens, behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.”b Such a sacrifice was an abomination to the Lord, both because the eating of blood was prohibited, and because the sacrifice consisted of swine’s flesh ; and to aggravate the sin of the transgressor, such a sacrifice is compared to the killing of a human yictim, or the immolation of a dog; both of which Jehovah regarded with abhorrence: To these precepts and threatenings, which were often supported by severe judgments, may be traced the habitual and unconquerable aversion of that people to the use of swine's flesh ; an aversion which the most alluring promises, and the most cruel sufferings, have been found alike insufficient to subdue. Happy for them had they been equally attentive to the weightier matters of their law ; happier still had they understood the true nature and design of these institutions, and acquiesced in their abolition, and the introduction of a better dispensation of mercy, at the coming of the promised Messiah.
He has long since appeared in our nature, and has broken down the venerable barriers which separated the chosen people from the Gentile nations, and blessed his church with great light and freedom. Those precepts which he issued in the wilderness, concerning clean and unclean beasts, are now abrogated; for it is written : “ Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” b Isa. lxvi, 17.
- Mat. xv, 11.
« What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."d The words of Paul are not less clear and precise than those of his Lord: “ I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself, --- for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” To the Corinthians he writes, “ Meat commendeth us not to God: for neither if we eat, are we the better ; neither if we eat not, are we the worse.” “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no questions for conscience' sake : For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.". He teaches the same doctrine in his epistle to the Colossians : “ Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath-days: which are a shadow of good things to come ; but the body is of Christ.--- Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (touch not, taste not, handle not ; which all are to perish in the using), after the commandments and doctrines of men.”h “Every creature of God is good,” says the same apostle to Timothy, “and nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving;"I and to Titus, “ To the pure, all things are pure.” From these passages, it must be evident to every reflecting and unprejudiced mind, that the apostolic prohibition concerning things strangled, and blood, must have been intended to continue only in force for a time, in condescension to the conscientious scruples of the Jewish converts, who were, at the time that decree was made, all zealous of the law. For if nothing is to be refused, if it be d Acts x, 15. Rom. xiv, 14. 1 Cor. viii, 8. Ch. x, 25. h Col. ii, 16, 20.
i 1 Tim. iv, 4. · Tit. i, 5.
received with thanksgiving ; if we may eat whatever is exposed for sale ; if meat neither makes a Christian better nor worse, then things strangled and blood, may also be used, if some special reason do not render it necessary or expedient to refrain.
The sacred writers borrow some of their parables from this animal; thus, in the book of Proverbs the wise man says, “ As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” The original term denotes the ring, which, in the east, is by way of ornament appended to the nose ; and which in some other parts of Scripture, is translated a nose jewel. The meaning of the proverb is, that a beautiful form and a perverse mind, are as incongruous, as a ring of gold in the snout of that impure animal. The allusion is to an adulterous woman, who transfers her affections from her husband to another, and, like the sow that wallows in the mire, indulges without restraint in the pollutions of illicit love.
An allusion of a different kind, is involved in the direction of our Lord to the multitudes in his sermon on the mount : “ Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."! The pearls mentioned in this passage, denote, according to , some writers, the mysteries of the gospel ; and the dogs and swine, wicked and profane men, who regard them with contempt, and persecute those who receive them and sub
* The author thinks it improper to enter here, at length, into the controversy respecting the eating of blood. He has carefully weighed the arguments on both sides, and reckons it sufficient for his purpose to state in this summary manner the conclusion which, in his judgment, has the strongest claim to our approbation.
mit to their influence. But in this part of his discourse, our Lord is warning his hearers not to be unmerciful and severe in censuring others, in marking and aggravating their faults, nor to correct their vices or mistakes, while they are chargeable themselves with much more heinous crimes. They were not to suffer sin in their brother, but were bound to reprove his faults, and endeavour his reformation ; their counsels and reproofs, however, were to be managed with wisdom and prudence, and were not to be unseasonably lavished on hardened and profligate sinners, who, instead of receiving them in a becoming manner, would be exasperated by them, and turn with fury upon their indiscreet advisers. “ Give not wisdom,” says the Hebrew adage, “ to him who knows not its value, for it is more precious than pearls, and he who seeks it not, is worse than a swine that defiles and rolls himself in the mud ; so he who knows not the value of wisdom, profanes its glory.”
The fierce and truculent disposition ascribed to the hog, in this proverbial saying of Jesus, perfectly corresponds with the natural history of that animal. He is obstinate and untractable; and “ of all quadrupeds, the most rude and brutal. All his habits are gross ; all his appetites are impure; all his sensations are confined to a furious lust, an insatiable gluttony, and a savage cruelty. He devours indiscriminately every thing that comes in his way; even his own offspring, immediately after their birth.om His powers of annoyance and destruction are of no ordinary kind." He grows, in a wild state, to a very large size ; his tusks are from nine to ten inches long; they are flat, sharp, and bend
m Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. iii, p. 511, 512. n Hesiod. Scut. Herc. 1. 386-389. Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. x, c. 16.
in a circular form. In the rutting season, he is more fero. cious than ever; and when another male appears, he becomes perfectly furious. He prepares for the combat by turning his side directly to his antagonist, and lowering his head ; and in this attitude, he waits the attack with fearless intrepidity. Even when the lion, who is particularly fond of his flesh, has marked him for his prey, he “ has sometimes been known to defend himself with so much bravery, that the victory has inclined to neither side; the carcases of them both having been found lying one by the other, torn and mangled to pieces.” The usual residence of the wild boar, which differs not in disposition and habits from the domestic, is in the thickest recesses of the forest, or in the reedy marsh; but when roused by hunger, he leaves his native retreats, makes an inroad into the cultivated parts of the country, and, with undistinguishing rage, spreads destruction wherever he comes. From this brief statement it will appear, that the character given to that animal in the passage under consideration, is perfectly correct. It may be thought to refer more properly to the wild boar, than to the domestic hog; but their dispositions are nearly the same, as well as the danger to be apprehended from their ferocity.
The hog delights more in the fætid mire, than in the clear and running stream. The mud is the chosen place of his repose ? and to wallow in it, seems to constitute one of his greatest pleasures. To wash him is vain ; for he is no sooner at liberty, than he hastens to the puddle, and
• Dr. Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 324. Homer gives the victory to the lion after a long and fierce contest. Lib. xvii, l. 825.--Hesiod says the lions and the wild boars sometimes attack each other in bands, and many fall on both sides. Scutum Herc. 1. 168-176.