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10 Job and all the patriarchs, to burn their animals to ashes for the sake of getting the best bits, namely, !he skin? Was not this their own before the resť was wasted ? Such, howerer, is the superior sagacity of Mr. Morgan, Tintal, &e. &c. for the purpose of making the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God of none effect. "Such impotent cavils,” saith the learned Dr. Magee, "contemptible as they are, may yet be considered of value in this light; they imply an admission, that the invention of sacrifice on principles of natural reason is utterly inconceivable; since, if any such prirciples could be pointed out, these writers, whose main object is to undermine the fabric of revelation, would gladly have resorted to them, in preference to suppositions so frivolous and absurd.” vol. 2. p. 92.
ġ 3. Others, somewhat more sober and serious, would have us to believe that they were originated by the light of nature, as expressions of gratitude. They tell ns "that sacrifices are sacred gifts of things first received from God, and presented back to him for an external expression of gra• titude, an acknowledgment of faith and every pious sentiment.” To this it has been justly remarked, “ if any have referred it to the laws of nature, their error is easily proved from this fact, that the sacrificial rites practiced by the ancients, have been wholly abolished by Christ among his followers; though he was far from abolishing any of the laws of nature, but by his authority ratified, confirmed, and established them all.” Outram. De. Sacrif. 22. Besides, "no being has a right to the lives of other beings, but the Creator, or those on whom he confers that right." It could therefore not have entered the mind of Noah or Abel to slay animals, the grant of animal food being not given till after the flood; nor would God have accepted of such an offering
§ 4. Dr. Spencer and others maintain that sacrifices were originally considered under the notion of gifts, the effects of which in appeasing the anger and conciliating the favor of
man being observed, it was supposed they would have the like effect with God, and thereupon was invented the rite of sacrificing. But if Cain and Abel sacrificed upon this principle, it will be hard to account for God's accepting the one and rejecting the other. Besides, the opinion that sacrifices would prevail with God, must proceed from an observation that gists had prevailed with men--an observation which Cain and Abel had little opportunity of making. Nor could gifts have been in use before property was establishcd, which was not probably the case in the days of Cain and Abel.
§ 5. Others, again, suppose that sacrifices were originally used as a federal rite, i. e. a kind of eating and drinking with God, as it were, at his table, and thereby implying the restoration to a state of friendship with him by repentance. and confession of sin. But this could not have been the case; for animal food was not in use before the flood, as has been fully proved by Dr. Magee and others.
§ 6. The more generally received opinion is, that the practice of sacrificing is a religious act of worship, espe. cially as an acknowledgment of contrition for sin, strong. ly expressed by the death of the animal, representing that death which the offerer confessed to be his own desert. This has been the most prevailing motive and design of sacrifices among nations and ages the most remote. Dr. Magee has proved, at considerable length, "that all nations, Jews and heathens, before the time of Christ, entertained the notion that the displeasure of the offended Deity was to be averted by the sacrifice of an animal; and that to the shedding of its blood they imputed their pardon and reconciliation." vol. ii. 159.
Hence the kind of sacrifices which they considered the most valuable, and which they offered the most frequent, was that of animals, slain and burned. Until the giving of the law no other offering than that of animals is recorded in the Scriptures, except that of Cain, and that was rejected.
Docs not this indicate that they knew that without the shedding of blood there was no remission of sin?
But this proves that sacrifices could not be a human in vention, for,
$7. 1. It is contrary to reason. What man of common understanding could suppose that an infinitely good and benevolent Being would be pleased with the fames and reekings of the bleeding sacrifices? “Does he eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats ?" Ps. 50: 13. Would they not rather have chosen a "reasonable service" for the God that made them reasonable creatures ? such as the sacrifice of prayer and of praise, of a pure mind and of a good lise. Such, indeed, the wiser heathens did, in their opinions, exceedingly prefer. Pythagoras and Plato spoke often regret and displeasure of the sacrifices and blood of. beasts. Others wondered how the practice came first into the world. With respa t to the expiatory sacrifices, who could think that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin, and that Gud would accept of that as a fit compensation for their crimes? It is most unreasonable to suppose any natural connection between the slaying of an animal and the receiving of pardon for the violation of God's holy laws. Will the insulted and violated law of a country be magnified and honored by hanging or executing a dog in the place of a robber or murderer? It is therefore highly unreasonable to suppose that those holy and pious patriarchs, who lived by faith and walked with God, should think the offering of the blood and burning of the flesh of a beast to be fit expressions of their gratitude to almighty God, or means to obtain his favor by way of expiation for their sins, without his institution ?
$ 8. 2. In the next place, if sacrifices had been a human invention, it would have been will-worship, and therefore highly displeasing in the sight of God. Lev. 10:12. Isa. 29: 13. Matt. 15:19. The Old Testament saints would never have ventured to express their devotion in such a
strange manner, if they had not been required to do so by the declared will of God. But even suppose that the patriarchs had been so presumptuous as to invent or practice such bloody rites, it can never be admitted that God, who has, upon all occasions, testified his displeasure against the inventions of men in his worship, would have smiled upon such self-devised modes of adoration. Instead of testifying of their gifts, and accepting their burnt offerings, as he has clone, would he not rather have upbraided them in the words of that well known reproof, "Who hath required these at your
hands ?" Isa. 1:12. * 9. What has been said to prove the divine authority of sacrifices, is summarily contained in the following extract :
Whatever practice hath obtained universally in the world, must have obtained from some dictate of reason, or some demand of nature, or some principle of intcrest, or else from some powerful influence or injunction of some being of universal authority. Now, the practice of animal sacrifice did not obtain from reason ; for no reasonable notions of God could teach men that he could delight in blood, or in the fat of slain beasts. Nor will any man say that we have any natural instinct to gratify in spilling the blood of an innocent ereature. Nor could there be any temptation from appetite to do this in those ages when the whole sacrifice avas consumed by fire; or when, if it was not, yet men avholly abstained from flesh; and consequently this practice did not owe its origin to any principle of interest. Nay, 60 far from any thing of this, that the destruction of innocent and useful creatures is evidently against nature, against reason, and against interest; and therefore must be founded in an authority whose influence was as powerful as the practice was universal; and that could be none but the nuthority of God, the Sovereign of the world; or of Adam, the founder of the human race, If it be said of Adam the question still remains, what motive determined him to the practice? It could not be nature, reason, or interest, as has
been already shown; it must therefore have been the authority of his sovereign; and had Adam enjoined it on his posterity, it is not to be imagined that they would have obeyed him in so extraordinary and expensive a rite, from any other motive than the command of God.” Delaney Rev. Exam. Diss. 8. p. 85.
I hope, my dear brother, what has already been stated will convince you that sacrifices are a divine institution, and not a human invention. Allow me, ho:vever, to confirm this all-important proposition by one or two more remarks.
§ 10. 1. Let us for a moment consider what is said in sacred writ concerning the sacrifice of Cáin and Abel. Moses, our inspired historian, gives us the following account. "And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, an offering unto the .Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his rock, and of the fut thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: but unto Cain, and to his offer. ing, he had not respect." Gen. 4 : 2–6. From this brief account it appears that both Cain and Abel brought their offerings unto the Lord; that each offered of that which he had, according to his occupation; and that the sacrifice of Abel was accepted, but that of Cain was rejected. Now, as the actions of both brothers seem to have been the same, why the Lord should have accepted the one and rejected the other, no satisfactory reason can be given by those who deny the divine authority of sacrifices; for, as it has been observ. ed, if sacrifices be considered as gifts, or as federal rites, or as symbolical actions expressing the dispositions and sentiment of the offerer, or in any way that human invention can be conceived to have devised them; the actions of the two brothers appear to stand precisely on the same ground, each bringing an offering of that which he respectively possessed, and each thus manifesting his acknowledgment and worship of the great Author of his possession.