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A PERPETUAL OBLIGATION.
ments of religious observance which were prior to Moses, and which were not done away with in Christ, should be emphasized in all the extending domain of Christianity. Spirituality in worship, personal purity, and the holding sacred to God all blood-or life—as the gift of God, and as the means of communion with God, must never be ignored in the realm of Christian duty. "Write unto them, that they abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood,"1 said the Apostle James, in announcing the decision of this conference; and the circular letter to the Gentile churches was framed accordingly. Nor does this commandment seem ever to have been abrogated, in letter or in spirit. However poorly observed by Christians, it stands to-day as it stood in the days of Paul, and in the days of Noah, a perpetual obligation, with all its manifold teachings of the blessed benefits of the covenant of blood.2
3. THE BLOOD COVENANT IN CIRCUMCISION.
Again the Lord made a new beginning for the race in his start with Abraham as the father of a chosen
1 See Acts 15: 2-29; also 21: 18-25.
2 Those, indeed, who would put the dictum of the Church of Rome above the explicit commands of the Bible, can claim that that Church has affirmed the mere temporary nature of this obligation, which the Bible makes perpetual. But apart from this, there seems to be no show of justification for the abrogation, or the suspension, of the command.
and peculiar people in the world. And again the covenant of blood, or the covenant of strong-friendship as it is still called in the East, was the prominent feature in this beginning. The Apostle James says that Abraham was called the friend of
God himself, speaking through Isaiah, refers to Abraham, as “Abraham my friend";2 and Jehoshaphat, in his extremity, calling upon God for help, speaks of "Abraham, thy friend." And this application of the term "friend" to any human being, in his relations to God, is absolutely unique in the case of Abraham, in all the Old Testament record. Abraham, and only Abraham, was called "the friend of God."4 Yet the immediate narrative of Abraham's relations to God, makes no specific mention of this unique term "friend," as being then applied to Abraham. It is only as we recognize the primitive rite of bloodfriendship in the incidents of that narrative, that we perceive clearly why and how God's covenant with Abraham was pre-eminently a covenant of friendship. "I will make my covenant between me and thee, 1 James 2: 23.
2 Isaiah 41: 8.
32 Chron. 20: 7.
The only instance in which it might seem that there was an exception to this statement, is Exodus 33: 11, where it is said, "The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." But here the Hebrew word is rea () with the idea of "a companion," or "a neighbor"; while the word applied to Abraham is ohebh
THE FRIEND OF GOD.
and will multiply thee exceedingly," said the Lord to Abraham.1 And again, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee; and to thy seed after thee
And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations." And then there came the explanation, how Abraham was to enter into the covenant of bloodfriendship with the Lord; so that he might be called "the friend of God." "This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt me and you."3 The blood-covenant of friendship shall be consummated by your giving to me of your personal blood at the very source of paternity—" under your girdle "; thereby pledging yourself to me, and pledging, also, to me, those who shall come after you in the line of natural descent. "And my covenant [this covenant of blood-friendship] shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." 5
So," in the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised," and thenceforward he bore in his flesh the evidence
2 Gen. 17: 7-9.
1 Gen. 17: 2.
3 Gen. 17: 10, II.
5 Gen. 17: 13.
that he had entered into the blood-covenant of friendship with the Lord.1 To this day, indeed, Abraham is designated in all the East, as distinctively, “KhaleelAllah, "the Friend of God,” or “ Ibrâheem el-Khaleel,” "Abraham the Friend"-the one Friend, of God.
When a Jewish child is circumcised, it is commonly said of him, that he is caused “to enter into the covenant of Abraham"; and, his god-father, or sponsor, is called Baal-bereeth,3" Master of the covenant."4 More
1 Bearing in the flesh the marks of one's devotedness to a divinity, is a widely observed custom in the East. Burton tells of the habit, in Mekkeh, of cutting three parallel gashes down the fleshy cheek of every male child; and of the claim by some that these gashes "were signs that the scarred [one] was the servant of Allah's house” (Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medinah, third ed., p. 456). In India, there are various methods of receiving such flesh-marks of devotedness. "One of the most common consists in stamping upon the shoulders, chest, and other parts of the body, with a red-hot iron, certain marks, to represent the armor [or livery] of their gods; the impressions of which are never effaced, but are accounted sacred, and are ostentatiously displayed as marks of distinctions" (Dubois's Des. of Man. and Cust. in India, Part III., chap. 3). "From henceforth let no man trouble me," says Paul: “ for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus" (Gal. 6: 17). 2 See Price's Hist. of Arabia, p. 56.
3 It is certainly noteworthy, that the Canaanitish god "Baal-bereeth" (see Judges 8: 33; 9: 4) seems to have had its centre of worship at, or near, Shechem; and there was where the Canaanites were induced to seek, by circumcision, a part with the house of Jacob in the blood-covenant of Abraham (see Gen. 34: 1–31).
See Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, p. 216 f.
THE BLOOD AND THE WINE.
over, even down to modern times, the rite of circumcision has included a recognition, however unconscious, of the primitive blood-friendship rite, by the custom of the ecclesiastical operator, as God's representative, receiving into his mouth, and thereby being made a partaker of, the blood mingled with wine, according to the method described among the Orientals, in the rite of blood-friendship, from the earliest days of history.1
It is a peculiarity of the primitive compact of blood
1 Buxtorf, who is a recognized authority, in the knowledge of Rabbinical literature and of Jewish customs, says, on this point: "Cum deinde compater infantulum in sinu habet jacentem, tum Mohel sive circumcisor eum è fasciis evolvit, pudendum ejus apprehendit, ejusque anteriorem partem per cuticulam præputii comprehendit, granulumque pudendi ejus retrorsum premit; quo facto cuticulam præputii fricat, ut illa per id emortua infantulus cæsuram tanto minus sentiscat. Deinde cultellum circumcisorium è pueri astantis manu capit, claraque voce, Benedictus (inquit) esto tu Deus, Domine noster, Rex mundi, qui nos mandatis tuis sanctificasti, nobisque pactum circumcisionis dedisti. Interim dum ille loquitur sic, particulam præputii anteriorem usque eo abscindit, ut capitellum pudendi nudum conspici queat, illamque festinanter in patellam arena ista plenam conjicit; puero quoque isti, à quo acceperat, cultellum reddit circumcisorium; ab alio vero poculum vino rubro (ceu dictum fuit) impletum, capit; haurit ex eo quantum ore continere potest, quod mox super infantulum expuit, eoque sanguinem ejus abluit: in faciem quoque infantuli vini aliquid expuit, si eum viribus defici conspexerit. Mox pudendum puelli ore comprehendit, et sanguinis ex eodem quantumcunque potest, exugit, ut sanguis idem tanto citius se sistat; sanguinem exuctum in alterum poculorum vino rubro refertorum, vel in patellam arena abundantem, expuit." (Synagoga Judaica, Cap. II.)