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dSme, mty by considering the oblation of those sacrifices as proper aclions, whereby the offerers did, in a natural way, express the piety of mind with which they prayed for the grant of blessings, or the sincerity and greatness of the inward gratitude with which they commemorated, and gave thanks for, blessings already received. Hence it is, that we find little controversy, or diversity of opinion, about the use\ design, and rationale of those sacrifices, among the bulk of those who have written about them.
'- Piacular sacrifice was of a more ancient date, and is of more permanent duration, than euchariftical sacrifice: for, according to the reports of revelation, it takes place under the present dispensation of religion, and was in practice under all past dispensations of it, ever since the lapse of our firjl parents, and the effect of it is to have place in that future, celefiial dispensation of it, which is to have no end. This is what renders it very interesting, and a matter of great importance, to mankind, to have a right understanding of the true use, design, and rationale of this species of sacrifice. -\
The oblation of this species of sacrifice was not left to the discretion or choice of the offerers* In all cases, it was exaSled from them A 4 by by divine authority and peremptory command. And, in many cafes, it was not only a demand made upon them for fins which they had committed, but likewise, the means by which atonement was made for these fins, and the pardon of them obtained. Wherefore, however desirable and interesting it is to mankind, to have a clear and right understanding of the use, design, and rationale of piacular, sacrifice, yet the effect, which is ascribed to it, creates some difficulty in coming at it; it being not easy to comprehend what end, in respecJ of God, the exacting os sacrifice for sin could answer, or how the oblation of sacrifice should be the mean of obtaining the pardon of Jin.
Asense however, of the interesting nature and great importance of the discovery, has been a motive to many men of good fense and great learning, to employ their thoughts and pens in clearing up this difficulty. And, indeed, many volumes have been written with that view. But alas! the success in this attempt, has, in no degree, been answerable to the great pains which have been taken in making it. The writers on this subject have not yet arrived at any certainty, or to any agreement among themselves, about the point in question. The difficultys attending the inquiry, and the false scents upon which they have been put by a false philosophy, preconceived hypothec set, or a too liberal indulgence of fancy and imagination, have led them into diverse systems, and trains of thoughts, which are as incompatible with each other, as they are all likewise, in my apprehension at least, with the doctrine of revelation, and the dictates of common fense.
The popular notion of piacular-Jacrifice, which has long prevailed, is that which proceeds upon the supposition of a transfer of guilt from the offerer to the sacrifice, and of vicarious punishment. But this notion of the use and design of piacular sacrifice has, by Dr. Taylor, the Author of the essay on the nature, defign, and origin of sacrifices, and others, been demonstrated to be wholly unsupported by scripture-evidence, absurd in itself, and attended with ill consequences. For which reason, they who make the scriptures the sole rule of religious faith, or will be guided by the dictates of common sense, must, if they act a cons/lent part, resign this notion of the use and destgn of piacular sacrifice, as unfcriptural, absurd, and dangerous.
To supply the place of this exploded notion of the use and design of piacular sacrifice, two others have, of late been offered to us; the oney by the learned Dr. Taylor, who considers piacular sacrifices as being symbols, or emblems of
penitent penitent disposition, and penitential address or prayer to God; and accounts for the efficacy and effeSt of them in the fame manner, as for those of penitence and penitent prayer. 'The other notion of the use and design of this species of sacrifice, is, that which is advanced by the Author of the before-mentioned essay on the nature, design, and origin of sacrifices, who considers eating and drinking with God to have been the main intention of all forts of sacrifices ; and conceives this eating and drinking together to have been a symbol of friendship betwixt God and the offerers, and a federal rite whereby he and they did engage in, renew, and keep up friendship with one another.
These two notions of the nature and design of piacular sacrifices agree in this, that they make these sacrifices to be symbols or emblems. But then, the things of which they make them symbols, are of such a different nature, that the one or other of them musl be false. Tea, as each of the mentioned Authors, grounds his notion of the symbolical nature of these sacrifices upon scripture evidence, and yet differso widely in their sentiments about the use and design of them, this gives reason to suspect, that scriptureevidence, for the symbolical nature of piacidar sacrifices is very obscure and doubtful, if not quite deficient: for had it been clear, or, in any perceptible degree, probable, men of their parts and learning, and so freefrom prejudice, must have not only discovered it, but been led, by the discovery, to an harmony of sentiments. 'Tis, there/ore, much to be questioned, whether the scriptures give any countenance at all to the conceiving of sacrifices, as having a symbolical nature and design; and whether all -notions of this kind may not be groundless^ and rather the effects of a lively and luxuriant imagination, than the result of any real evidence.
~<i<i. i What then is now to be done, in this dark and perplexed case? Nothing, surely, but to examine each of these two notions of the symbolical nature and defign of piacular sacrifice, and to try whether they have, or have not, any real foundation in scripture-evidence, or in truth and common sense. I know of no one ill consequence that can arise from free, candid, and sober inquiry, among reasonable men; and, I am sure, that it is the only way of coming at truth. We have been fairly strips of the possession of the common and popular notion of the use and defign of piacular sacrifice by the ingenious, learned, and commendable labours of the two Authors mentioned: and two other notions of them are offered in place of it. But let us beware of receiving them without due scrutiny and careful examination, lest we should be led, a second time, into error and mistake,