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pleasing to God, and available to obtain his favour, so far as it was connected with sincerity and true piety of heart. And this is what the scriptures intend whenever they speak of sacrifices as “ offerings "to God of a sweet savour unto the Lord;” and hence St. Paul, when he means to describe the voluntary death of Christ as highly acceptable to God, employs the same expression.* Nor should it be forgotten, that this language is used, not only of burnt offeringst and peace offerings, but likewise of expiatory victims offered for sins of ignorance committed by any of the common people :ộ though it is never used in reference to those victims which were offered for the errors of the high priest, or of a ruler, or of the whole congregation, or consequently, of the Sanhedrim. The reason of this difference Abarbinel|| supposed to be, that a sin of ignorance was a less offence in one of the common people, and that the expiation of his guilt by a victim taken out of his own flock was an evidence of sincerity which was very pleasing to God; but that on the contrary, in the Sanhedrim, or the high priest, or a ruler, ignorance and transgression of the law was highly disgraceful, and the oblation of an expiatory sacrifice was entitled to no praise. Though the sacrifices of wicked men never conciliated any favour with God, but were always displeasing to him, yet even those sacrifices, as being offered to God, must also have had respect to him. For the prayers of the wicked are always displeasing to God; yet, nevertheless, being addressed to him, they properly have respect to him: and the same must he affirmed of all sacri:
Ephes, v. 2.
+ Exod. xxix. 18. Levit. i. 9. 13. # Levit, ii. 5. 16. § Levit. iv. 31.
li Ad Levit. iv.
fices presented to God, by whomsoever they were
offered. 8. acular warri XIII. Though what has already been said suffi
underlo ciently establishes this position respecting all the dire for B
Jewish sacrifices, we shall add some remarks by eseg.
which it may be further corroborated in reference to
“ for men in things pertaining to God; that he may “ offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have
compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirinity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to “ offer for sins."* The high priest of the Jews therefore, as well as the other priests, was himself taken from among men, and liable to error, that being conscious of his frailty he might offer expiatory sacrifices, as for himself, so for his brethren, and might cherish the same desires, that God would be merciful to others as to himself.
XIV. The expiatory victims sacrificed for the whole congregation used to be brought to the altar, and consecrated to God, not by the whole people, but either by the high priest, or by the elders, and that by the express command of the law.t But whatever was done by the high priest or elders on these occasions was done by them as representatives of the people; so that the people were considered as offering every victim, which either the high priest or the elders offered in their stead, and on their behalf.
But this point is too obvious to require further illustration. We shall conclude this chapter with a brief summary of the arguments advanced in it.In the first place, we have shown, that God appointed the Jewish sacrifices to be offered to himself with certain solemnities. Secondly, those rites were designed and contrived to signify God's power over life and death, his authority to punish and pardon, and his supreme dominion over the universe. It was for this purpose, that God required the victim to be brought to his altar, and there to be offered
. Heb. v. 1.-3.
+ Levit. xvi, 7-9. iv. 15.
and consecrated to him ; that he commanded the blood, entrails, or, in the case of burnt offerings, the whole victim, to be laid upon his altar; that is, to be presented to him as the proprietor and governor of all things: and that he directed some sacrifices to be waved towards the various parts of the world; by which they were symbolically presented to him as the universal proprietor and sovereign. Thirdly, we remark, that those rites by which any thing was thus offered or presented to God, partook of the true nature of divine worship, though only of an external kind; and had respect to God, as much as bowing the knees, bending the head or body, or any other similar ceremonies which are employed in sacred services as acts of divine worship. Lastly, we wish it to be observed, that the sacrificial rites, whether performed by the offerer himself, or by the priest, were required to be performed in such a manner, that the external and symbolical worship should be accompanied by the worship of the inind; by that faith in the providence, justice, and goodness of God, that reverence for his holy laws, that repentance for sins, and those purposes of future obedience, which become all sincere and pious men: and whoever offered sacrifices with this state of mind, was accepted by God.
These particulars present a general view of the religious principles and purposes connected with sacrifices; and prove that they were presented to God, like prayers and thanksgiving; with this difference, that other external signs were employed to express the internal worship of the mind. But these remarks are to be understood as referring to sacrifices in general : for those things which belong exclusively to the piacular victims require a separate examination.
Proofs that the Jews considered their Sacrifices as haring
respect to God, and that the Heathens believed their Sacrifices to have respect to their Deities. The Opinion of the Christian Fathers concerning these Rites.
HAVING stated my own sentiments concerning all kinds of sacrifices, I conceive it will not be irrelevant to the subject, to advert to the concordant opinions which have been held by the Jews and Heathens on their respective sacrifices, and by the ancient Christian writers on both.
To begin with the Jews : Philo describes those who approached the altars as always approaching them ' for the purpose of supplicating or giving thanks :' which shews that they considered their sacrifices as having respect to God equally with prayers and thanksgivings. The same conclusion is established by another passage of the same author
of the same author :t ' If any one ' is desirous of carefully examining the reasons which • induced the first men to express their thanksgivings - and prayers by means of sacrifices, he will find that they were chiefly two. One was the honour of God; a thing good and necessary in itself, independently of every thing else: the other was the advantage of the - offerers; which was twofold, consisting in an enjoy'ment of good things, and an exemption from evils. "To that class which are to be offered to God for • himself only, the law has assigned the holocaust, * from which nothing is taken by human cupidity, but
which is presented entire and perfect to the all perfect Deity. Those which are intended for tho
* De Animal, ad Sacrif.