« AnteriorContinuar »
bim t. In this Case God directs, in the following Words, that the Elders of the City next to the Slain, shall bring down an Heifer into the Valley, and there strike off his Neck, and afterwards wash their Hands over him, and then use this solemn Form of Protestation and Deprecation. Our Hands have not fed this Blood, neither bave our Eyes seen it. Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy People of Ilrael, whom thou hast redeemed ; and lay not innocent Blood unto thy People of Israel's Charge. And then 'tis faid, The Blood Mall be forgiven hem; which plainly Thews, that the Guilt of fuch Blood, tho' they were no way accessary to the Shedding of it, would still lie upon them, and subject them to the divine Visitation or to temporal Judgments, till they took this Method to clear themselves, and to pacify the Anger of the Almighty. And can any Thing be plainer or more express, or fuller to the Purpose, than this Injunction? But perhaps 'twill be said, that this is only a Ceremonial Law, and no Way binding to us. But we should consider, that there is a great deal of Morality in some of these Ceremonial Precepts, and 'tis the Duty of Christians to separate one from the other. The only Ceremonial Part here (which is likewise very fignificant) is killing the Heifer in the Manner prefcribed, and washing the Hands over him : But praying that innocent Blood whenever it
is shed, may not be laid to our Charge, or visited upon us, is a moral and religious Duty, highly proper and expedient, if not indirpensably necessary, as any serious Man would be apt to think, that duly considers the Strictness and Peremptoriness of the Divine Purpose to make Inquisition for Blood, as delivered by God himself to Noah and his Sons just after the Flood. Surely your Blood of your Lives will I require ; at the Hand of every Beast will I require it ; and at the Hand of Man, at the Hand of every Man's Brother will I require the Life of Man t. When God reproved Cain for this Sin, he told him, That the Voice of his Brother's Blood cried unto him from theGround ||. Here innocent Blood, when shed, is said to have a Voice, and that Voice to be a crying one, and that Cry to reach from Earth to Heaven, and to call down Vengeance from thence. And therefore God commanded the Israelites to use the Method beforementioned, both for discovering the Guilty, and to open a Way for him to shew Mercy to the Innocent, who would otherwise have stood expofed to, and lain within, the Reach of his Judgments, when he came to visit for that Sin. But by observing this Method, they cleared themselves both from Guilt and Punishment. Now the Reason of the Thing is still the same. Bloodguiltiness subjects even the innocent Part of Mankind, Christians as well as Jews, to a Visitation from God; and
+ Gen. ix. 5.
Ibid. iv. 10.
therefore something of the like Means will be necessary for our Security as was for their’s, or in order to avert the impending Stroke from our own Heads. And if we refuse Compliance with this, on Pretence of our own personal Innocence, (tho’ with Respect to the Community upon which such Guilt is chargeable, there is none to be esteemed innocent, no, not one we do thereby render ourselves really guilty, or justly obnoxious to the Vengeance of God, and do what in us lies to endanger the Safety of the whole Community, which is generally the same in one Age, as in another. For Nations, States, and Kingdoms, while they continue in a Way of Succession, are no other than larger Families, and God considers and deals with them accordingly; that is, he looks upon every Nation or Kingdom as still one and the same, tho' in a continual Flux, or made up of a Succession of different Members, even as a River is always the same, tho' the Waters thereof are continually changing. And therefore tho' we are removed at so great a Distance from the bloody Fact of this Day, we are still the same People in the Eyes of God, and liable to the same Judgments that our Forefathers were, unless we take Care to prevent them, by observing the Method which God has prescribed ; that is, by joining in a publick and national Humiliation; which (whatever our Fathers may
have suffered on this Account thro' their own Neglect, or our Children
hereafter suffer upon the fame) will be our best Fence,
and constant Security against any Remainder of Wrath that may still lie treasured up for the complicated Guilt of this Day. And that we may
be incited to a stricter and more religious Observance of this fad Solemnity for the future, let us consider again the Case of the Yews, and see how much more equitable and forcible the Precept enjoined unto them, will appear to be, when applied to the present Case. If they then were obliged to take such a Course to avoid the Punishment due to other Men's Sins; (with respect to this World, I mean, not to the next) if so holy an Office, as is beforementioned, was enjoined by God to be performed by the Elders of Israel; if such solemn purging and clearing of themselves was required of them, on account of one single Person's being found slain by some unknown Hand: What publick Humiliations and Prayers, what solemn and united Deprecations must be necessary, when innocent Blood is shed, not secretly but openly, not the Blood of a private obscure Person, but of a righteous and religious King, the publick Head ånd Representative of the whole Body of the People, who was cut off at once, neither in the Field of Battle, nor by foreign Enemies, but by the Hands of Violence, by the Hands of his own Subjects, in the face of the Sun, before his own royal Palace, in Defiance of all Laws, and in Contempt of all that is sacred ? What Lamentations, I say, and Deprecations does so complicated and and aggravated aGuiltas this call for? And who is there amongst us fo righteous, as to think
himself excused from, or not included in, the general Obligation ? 'Tis God's express and
pofitive Command, (and has been the Practice of Jews and Heathens) when any innocent Blood is shed, for Men to humble themselves before him, and to implore his Mercy for the fame. For Blood defileth the Land of, and is one of those Abominations that are said to fpue out the Inhabitants I, and is not to be expiated but by the Blood of the Offender ll, or by solemn Prayer and Humiliation. We see what a long Train of Evils has attended the shedding of the Blood of Christ, and that horrid Imprecation of the Jews upon themselves and their Pofterity, His Blood be on us and upon our Children. And so it has been with a Vengeance. For this one Sin they have now lien under the Curse of God for near seventeen hundred Years together; and yet for all this his Anger is not turned away, but his Hand is still stretched out against them. And we have Reason to fear that the Blood of our martyred Sovereign is not yet fully atoned for, nor ever will be, till we are more united and - more earnest in deprecating the Vengeance of Heaven on that account. I wish those that are not a little concerned in this Matter, were now present to hear me; because 'tis not out of any İll-will, or with a Design to upbraid or reproach them, but from a true Affection and Concern for them, that I speak this. Their joining with us in performing the solemn Office appointed + Numb. xxxv. 33 | Lev. xviii, 28.
xix. 10, 13.