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Chapter II.—Arguments of the Psychics, Drawn from the Law, the Gospel, the Acts, the Epistles, and Heathenish Practices.

For, so far as pertains to fasts, they oppose to us the definite days appointed by God:  as when, in Leviticus, the Lord enjoins upon Moses the tenth day of the seventh month (as) a day of 103atonement, saying, “Holy shall be to you the day, and ye shall vex your souls; and every soul which shall not have been vexed in that day shall be exterminated from his people.”10041004    Lev. xvi. 29; xxiii. 26–29.  At all events, in the Gospel they think that those days were definitely appointed for fasts in which “the Bridegroom was taken away;”10051005    Matt. ix. 14, 15; Mark ii. 18–20; Luke v. 33–35. and that these are now the only legitimate days for Christian fasts, the legal and prophetical antiquities having been abolished:  for wherever it suits their wishes, they recognise what is the meaning of “the Law and the prophets until John.”10061006    Luke xvi. 16; Matt. xi. 13.  Accordingly, (they think) that, with regard to the future, fasting was to be indifferently observed, by the New Discipline, of choice, not of command, according to the times and needs of each individual:  that this, withal, had been the observance of the apostles, imposing (as they did) no other yoke of definite fasts to be observed by all generally, nor similarly of Stations either, which (they think) have withal days of their own (the fourth and sixth days of the week), but yet take a wide range according to individual judgment, neither subject to the law of a given precept, nor (to be protracted) beyond the last hour of the day, since even prayers the ninth hour generally concludes, after Peter’s example, which is recorded in the Acts.  Xerophagies, however, (they consider) the novel name of a studied duty, and very much akin to heathenish superstition, like the abstemious rigours which purify an Apis, an Isis, and a Magna Mater, by a restriction laid upon certain kinds of food; whereas faith, free in Christ,10071007    Comp. Gal. v. 1. owes no abstinence from particular meats to the Jewish Law even, admitted as it has been by the apostle once for all to the whole range of the meat-market10081008    Comp. 1 Cor. x. 25.—(the apostle, I say), that detester of such as, in like manner as they prohibit marrying, so bid us abstain from meats created by God.10091009    Comp. 1 Tim. iv. 3.  And accordingly (they think) us to have been even then prenoted as “in the latest times departing from the faith, giving heed to spirits which seduce the world, having a conscience inburnt with doctrines of liars.”10101010    So Oehler punctuates.  The reference is to 1 Tim. iv. 1, 2.  (Inburnt?)  With what fires, prithee?  The fires, I ween, which lead us to repeated contracting of nuptials and daily cooking of dinners!  Thus, too, they affirm that we share with the Galatians the piercing rebuke (of the apostle), as “observers of days, and of months, and of years.”10111011    See Gal. iv. 10; the words καὶ καιρούς Tertullian omits.  Meantime they huff in our teeth the fact that Isaiah withal has authoritatively declared, “Not such a fast hath the Lord elected,” that is, not abstinence from food, but the works of righteousness, which he there appends:10121012    See Isa. lviii. 3–7.  and that the Lord Himself in the Gospel has given a compendious answer to every kind of scrupulousness in regard to food; “that not by such things as are introduced into the mouth is a man defiled, but by such as are produced out of the mouth;”10131013    See Matt. xv. 11; Mark vii. 15. while Himself withal was wont to eat and drink till He made Himself noted thus; “Behold, a gormandizer and a drinker:”10141014    Matt. xi. 19; Luke vii. 34.  (finally), that so, too, does the apostle teach that “food commendeth us not to God; since we neither abound if we eat, nor lack if we eat not.”10151015    1 Cor. viii. 8.

By the instrumentalities of these and similar passages, they subtlely tend at last to such a point, that every one who is somewhat prone to appetite finds it possible to regard as superfluous, and not so very necessary, the duties of abstinence from, or diminution or delay of, food, since “God,” forsooth, “prefers the works of justice and of innocence.”  And we know the quality of the hortatory addresses of carnal conveniences, how easy it is to say, “I must believe with my whole heart;10161016    Rom. x. 10. I must love God, and my neighbour as myself:10171017    Comp. Matt. xxii. 37–40, and the parallel passages.  for ‘on these two precepts the whole Law hangeth, and the prophets,’ not on the emptiness of my lungs and intestines.”

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