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table;—what were the respective parts of the priests, the Levites, and the offerers, in regard to the sacrifices ;-and lastly, what opinions were held by the Jewish doctors, and by the Heathens, on their respective sacrifices; and by the ancient Christian writers on both.
My examination of these and many other points led me to form two conclusions respecting the sacrifices of the Jews. First, That the efficacy of them all, like that of solemn prayers and thanksgivings, properly had respect to God; because I found them / all to have been divinely instituted, as means of obtaining or celebrating his favour. Secondly, That the expiatory victims, by their vicarious suffering, expiated the sins of those persons for whoun they were offered.--These two positions I thought required to be distinctly proved, before I should treat of the Sacrifice of Christ; lest by crowding the Jewish sacrifices, and the ceremonies belonging to them, into the same part of the work with topics peculiar to Christianity, I should induce obscurity on the subjects of my discussion and be tedious to the readers. And conceiving that all the Jewish sacrifices might be examined with nearly the same labour as these two propositions, I thought it better to discuss the whole of the subject at large, than to confine myself to certain parts of it, and those disconnected with each other. Such was the occasion of my writing the following dissertation on the Sacrifices of the Jews, with the addition, where I thought it important, of some accounts of the sacrifices of other nations. I hope the work will be useful to persons who are
desirous of knowing, what it concerns all to be well acquainted with, the design and efficacy of the Sacri. fice of Christ.
ON ALL THE
SACRIFICES OF THE JEWS,
WITA REMARKS ON
SOME OF THOSE OF THE HEATHENS.
CHAPTER I. Opinions and Arguments on the Origin of Sacrifices. THE sacred scriptures abound with passages
in celebration of all the perfections of God, and especially of his Holiness. But this word is not always used in the same sense. Sometimes it denotes his perfect purity,* or constant and immutable choice of things consistent with rectitude, which is the meaning of St. Peter ; “ As he which hath called you is holy, so be
ye holy in all manner of conversation:"t-and sometimes it signifies that majesty which is discovered in every perfection; as in his infinite wisdom, uncontrollable power, and supreme and universal dominion: -attributes which entitle him to every kind of praise, and every species of worship. Thus holy is often equivalent to great, awful, venerable. This is the kind of holiness attributed to God by the sacred writers, whenever they call him “ The Holy One of “ Israel,” or declare that “ his name is holy.” For The Holy One of Israel designates that venerable deity who was to be the sole object of Israelitish worship; and the name of God is called holy, as deserving of being invoked with the highest reverence.
+ I Pet. i, 15.
* I John iii, 3.
This is taught in that passage of David, —“Let them praise
thy great and terrible name; for it is holy;"*_where holy signifies worthy of veneration and praise.
II. From this twofold holiness attributed to God, arise two kinds of holiness belonging to some other beings. One of these is peculiar to beings endued with reason : such is the holiness of those who conform their lives and wills to the will of God. The other belongs to all those things which are separated from profane or common uses, and devoted to the purposes of religion. For the inviolable majesty of the creator, preserver, and governor of the universe, communicates a character of holiness, not only to persons, but also to things and times and places, and even to rites or ceremonies, particularly appropriated to God or his worship.
Among things possessing this kind of holiness, were anciently included sacrifices. This word is of Latin origin, and in that language, as far as I remember, generally signifies those rites by which any thing was consecrated and offered to the Deity: yet, for want of another term to designate the oblations made, both of animals and of things inanimate, I am often obliged to use it, to denotę also the things themselves about which those rites were employed. In this, however, I follow the example of Isidore, who says:
• There are two kinds of offerings, a gift and a sacrifice. Whatever is procured by silver or gold, or by any other purchase is called a gift. 'A victim, and whatever is burnt or lạid upon an * altar, is a sacrifice.'t
* Psal. xcix. 3.
# De Origin. Lib. VI. Cap. 19.
III. The first question that ought, if it were possible, to be determined by any one entering on the subject of sacrifices, is—whether they originally began to be offered in consequence of an express command of } God, or merely from human choice. But this point being involved in great obscurity and difficulty, I think it will be better to state the arguments generally urged, or capable of being urged, on both sides, than to affirm any thing as certain respecting it.
Some are of opinion, that sacrifices were first i offered in obedience to the command of God himself. Nor is their persuasion at all shaken by the silence of Moses in his writings, respecting any such command. For, as he never attributes the origin of sacrifices to a divine precept, so neither does he ascribe it to the choice of the persons who offered them; but leaves the matter wholly undetermined. Nor is this omission, say they, at all to be wondered at; since there must have been many and great events, of which the extreme brevity adopted by him has admitted no mention to be made in his history. The prophecy of Enoch, the severe troubles of Lot, caused by the abominations of Sodom, the pious admonitions of Noah,* though noticed by other writers, are nowhere recorded by him. Nor, which is much more to the present purpose, has he mentioned the oblations of Cain and Abel with a view to state every thing relating to sacrifices, but only to represent them as giving occasion to Cain's hatred and murder of his brother : so that as he has merely touched on them in passing, there is the less reason to wonder at his total silence respecting their origin.
The advocates of this sentiment are accustomed to
* Jude xiv. II Pet. ii. 5. 7, 8.