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Image Map : Christian Books : Chapter II. Argument.--He First of All Asserts that the Law is Spiritual; And Thence, Man's First Food Was Only the Fruit Trees, and the Use of Flesh Was Added, that the Law that Followed Subsequently Was to Be Understood Spiritually.

On The Jewish Meats by Novatian

Chapter II. Argument.--He First of All Asserts that the Law is Spiritual; And Thence, Man's First Food Was Only the Fruit Trees, and the Use of Flesh Was Added, that the Law that Followed Subsequently Was to Be Understood Spiritually.

Therefore, first of all, we must avail ourselves of that passage, |that the law is spiritual;| and if they deny it to be spiritual, they assuredly blaspheme; if, avoiding blasphemy, they confess it to be spiritual, let them read it spiritually. For divine things must be divinely received, and must assuredly be maintained as holy. But a grave fault is branded on those who attach earthly and human doctrine to sacred and spiritual words; and this we must beware of doing. Moreover, we may beware, if any things enjoined by God be so treated as if they were assumed to diminish His authority, lest, in calling some things impure and unclean, their institution should dishonour their ordainer. For in reprobating what He has made, He will appear to have condemned His own works, which He had approved as good; and He will be designated as seeming capricious in both cases, as the heretics indeed would have it; either in having blessed things which were not clean, or in subsequently reprobating as not good, creatures which He had blessed as both clean and good. And of this the enormity and contradiction will remain for ever if that Jewish doctrine is persisted in, which must be got rid of with all our ability; so that whatever is irregularly delivered by them, may be taken away by us, and a suitable arrangement of His works, and an appropriate and spiritual application of the divine law, may be restored. But to begin from the beginning of things, whence it behoves me to begin; the only food for the first men was fruit and the produce of the trees. For afterwards, man's sin transferred his need from the fruit-trees to the produce of the earth, when the very attitude of his body attested the condition of his conscience. For although innocency raised men up towards the heavens to pluck their food from the trees so long as they had a good conscience, yet sin, when committed, bent men down to the earth and to the ground to gather its grain. Moreover, afterwards the use of flesh was added, the divine favour supplying for human necessities the kinds of meats generally fitting for suitable occasions. For while a more tender meat was needed to nourish men who were both tender and unskilled, it was still a food not prepared without toil, doubtless for their advantage, lest they should again find a pleasure in sinning, if the labour imposed upon sin did not exhort innocence. And since now it was no more a paradise to be tended, but a whole world to be cultivated, the more robust food of flesh is offered to men, that for the advantage of culture something more might be added to the vigour of the human body. All these things, as I have said, were by grace and by divine arrangement: so that either the most vigorous food should not be given in too small quantity for men's support, and they should be enfeebled for labour; or that the more tender meat should not be too abundant, so that, oppressed beyond the measure of their strength, they should not be able to bear it. But the law which followed subsequently ordained the flesh foods with distinction: for some animals it gave and granted for use, as being clean; some it interdicted as not clean, and conveying pollution to those that eat them. Moreover, it gave this character to those that were clean, that those which chew the cud and divide the hoofs are clean; those are unclean which do neither one nor other of these things. So, in fishes also, the law said that those indeed were clean which were covered with scales and supplied with fins, but that those which were otherwise were not clean. Moreover, it established a distinction among the fowls, and laid down what was to be judged either an abomination, or clean. Thus the law ordained the exercise of very great subtlety in making a separation among those animals which the ancient appointment had gathered together into one form of blessing. What, then, are we to say? Are the animals therefore unclean? But what else is it to say that they are not clean, than that the law has separated them from the uses of food? And what, moreover, is that that we have just now said? Then God is the ordainer of things which are not clean; and the blame attached to things which are made will recoil upon their Maker, who did not produce them clean; to say which is certainly characteristic of extreme and excessive folly: it is to accuse God as having created unclean things, and to charge upon the divine majesty the guilt of having made things which are abomination, especially when they were both pronounced |very good,| and as being good have obtained the blessing from God Himself |that they should increase and multiply.| Moreover also they were reserved by the command of the Creator in Noah's ark for the sake of their offspring, that so being kept they might be proved to be needful; and being needful, they might be proved to be good, although even in that case also there is a distinction appended. But still, even then, the creation of those very creatures that were not clean might have been utterly abolished, if it had needed to be abolished on account of its own pollution.
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