« AnteriorContinuar »
dence, for no other reason than because ever help I might eventually obtain
and the Influence which Jewish nent to construe it as my own personal
Ideas and Language concerning experience, instead of the general ex
them had upon the Language of the perience of mankind. The term un
New Testament. By the late Rev. doubtedly admits of a particular as
Henry Turner. en el cens elementeluapplication, bustia et Thornthe dinosaic institutionat ood tion upon it which the writer could portant degree with the religion of not intend? Do we not, in fact, re- Christ, will not be denied. Several of fer to the experience of the ages of the most essential principles of true civilization that have gone before us religion were common to them, and upon every practical occasion ? And the labour of the Christian preachers is it not our endeavour to make youth would have been greatly increased, if acquainted with the history of the pro- it had devolved upon them to be the gress of knowledge from the earliest first restorers of the elements of relistates of society, in order that he may gious truth. The Jewish people, derive benefit from past experience though tinctured with harsh and conAnd I would now ask further, with temptuous sentiments of the rest of this explanation of the word, whether mankind, which did but ill qualify those who first misrepresent and then them for the office of converting decry the argument of experience as the world, had been led by various a criterion of evidence in theological circumstances to diffuse the profession and moral controversy, what prefera of their religious tenets widely abroad. ble guide a novice can call to his aid The Babylonish Captivity had first in the formation of an opinion-to dispersed them; and had, at the same qualify him in judging of the utility time, powerfully confirmed them in of a rule of conductor in balancing an attachment to their religious instithe probabilities of an historical fact? tutions, and an abhorrence of idolatry.
S. C. The persecutions which they subse
quently experienced from the Kings Sir,
of Syria inclined them to embrace the I AM one of many persons who party of the Ptolemies, who were glad
have been much gratified by the to secure the aid of such auxiliaries, proposal of your correspondent Hel- by adopting towards them a system of lenistes (pp. 205–207 to make the favour and toleration. Great numbers study and use of the Greek language of the Jews settled in Egypt, and, una striking characteristic of Unitarians; der the government of the Ptolemies but like many others, too, I feel the enjoyed, with few interruptions, the want of information on the best me- entire liberty of worshiping God acthod of pursuing that study. As it is cording to the law of Moses. This only by unassisted effort that I could privilege was confirmed to them by hope to attain its grammar, and the the wise and magnanimous policy of ability to read Greek authors, what the Romans, whose vast power was
An Essay on the Nuture and Design of Sacrifices under the Mosaic Law. 271 well directed to the preservation of composed of temporary materials ; universal tranquillity amongst those and the wisdom of its construction who submitted to their yoke. Thus appears not in a needless solidity, and protected, the Jews indulged that pro- an unsuitable magnificence, but in its pensity which had become natural to being fitted to answer the purpose them, to colonize ; establishing their most simply and at the least expense. synagogues for worship in every place So that if it had not too much the air where a few of their nation were set- of a paradox, we might affirm that the tled: and in this way it came to pass, less there was in the Mosaic instituthat at the time of Christ's appearing, tions that had a reference to the pertheir forms of worship were prac- manent principles of religious faith tised, and their religious tenets known and practice, or that commended itthroughout the whole world, so that self to approbation, independently of there was not a province, not a con- local and temporary propriety, the siderable city in the whole empire, more evident would be the proof of where synagogues of the Jews, with their divine original. The platform Gentile proselytes connected with of the Jewish Church was too narrow, them, were not to be found. From too much limited by distinctions of this statement it will appear, that as nation, family and district, to demand it was due to the pre-eminence of the or even to admit of the incorporation Jewish people, in religious privileges, of perfect and irreversible principles that to them should belong the honour of religion : and we need no other of giving the world its great Teacher proof of the imperfection cleaving and deliverer, so, the providence of more or less to the whole Mosaic disGod had wisely ordained that, in the pensation, than its being founded on mean time, they should establish in a principle of exclusion and monoevery civilized country such a tes- poly. timony against the prevailing corrup- It is hoped that we may now be tions of religion, as should be believed able to meet an argument which is by some of the more candid and usually adduced in support of certain thoughtful among the Gentiles, and views respecting the design of sacrithus lay a good ground-work for the fices under the Mosaic law, which lies efforts of teachers endowed with supe- at the very threshold of our subject. rior gifts, more persuasive doctrines The arguraent is this, that Jewish and a kinder spirit.
sacrifices can on no other scheme be Judaism, then, was in such impor. accounted worthy to have been divinely tant respects subservient to the intro- instituted, but must be abandoned by duction of a system of religious faith, every man of sense as absurd and intended for the salvation of mankind, unmeaning ceremonies. But if the that it certainly deserves to be regard estimate which we have made of the ed by every Christian with sentiments Mosaic institutions be correct, it folof gratitude and affection. These lows that it ought not to be considered sentiments may, however, be carried as any difficulty or objection in the too far: the authority of Jewish pre- way of their divine authority, even if cedents may be urged beyond their due we could discover no solid nor satislimit. It should not be forgotten, factory method of explaining their that the Mosaic institutions were pro- design. Nothing is more probable fessedly calculated for a temporary than that observances calculated for and peculiar dispensation, and had the use of a rude, carnally-minded their chief beauty and expediency from people, three thousand years ago, being viewed in this light. If consi- should to us appear unnatural, unindered as expressive of the permanent telligible and devoid of beauty and principles of true and acceptable reli- propriety. But would it, therefore, gion, they may greatly mislead us, have become the All-wise Father and and at best can but be precarious and Governor of men to have been the doubtful authorities. Nor does it in author of a dispensation which they the least degree detract from the wis- could not have appreciated, and from dom of their Divine Author, to suppose which they could derive no benefit ? them answerable to their professed Indeed, it is a remarkable instance of design. Whoever be the builder, a the degree in which attachment to a temporary edifice will naturally be system may be indulged, that any
person should be so unadvised as to truth, which has since arisen to en-
general fabric of Judaism was strictly We shall presently examine the of human invention, and that when merits of the theory in recommenda- the Almighty entertained the design tion of which this extraordinary posi- of preserving some of the primary tion is hazarded; but, in the mean principles of true religion from the time, it is well to expose the folly of corruption and oblivion in which they attempting to put a stop to all dispute were in danger of being overwhelmed, by a threat of consequences : an old he thought fit to incorporate them in and much practised maneuvre of the- a system of external observances, borologians : to set up a scare-crow at rowed and selected from those which the threshold of their argument, and had naturally arisen, and were geneto threaten the abandonment of the rally prevalent. Thus in kind comcause of God, and the loss and aliena. pliance, it is thought, with prejudices ation forsooth of their puny services, and customs which had sprung up in if every item of their interpretations the infancy of the world, no one knows be not accepted as infallibly true and how, God was pleased to bestow an orthodox. How presumptuous thus to outward frame on the Jewish religion, commit the ark of God to the hazard which was calculated to conciliate the of being overthrown by human un- attachment of thos: for whom it was skilfulness !
designed, though it was not strictly If some acquaintance with the his- of divine origin,
nor altogether worthy tory of mankind, and their slow pro- of the Divine mind. gress in spiritual understanding, have It must be confessed that many prepared our minds, by a genuine hu- great names in the Jewish and Chris-. mility, for taking a judicious view of tian Churches have given authority to the nature and design of Judaism, we this opinion. And yet there are some shall not expect to find it a stupendous material objections to it. First, it is and magnificent institution, embracing adopted from an idea, that to suppose a number of refined and lofty senti- the Deity to be the Author of an imments, but shall think it reasonable to perfect and temporary frame of reliassign easy and palpable meanings to gious worship would be derogatory to its rites and observances, as most suit- the absolute perfection of his characable to the circumstances of those for ter; but is it not so, in a higher dewhom they were intended : and we gree, to conceive of him as leaving it shall be inclined to think that any to his creatures to devise modes of symbols, obscurely representing dis- worship which he afterwards adopted ? tant events and metaphysical tenets, Must it not reflect upon his provimust instantly have lost their pro- dence to suppose that he left them per effect and purpose, if introduced without guidance or instruction, in ainong a people so gross in their con- respect to so important a subject ? ceptions, and so little disposed for It is surely more agreeable to sound spiritual or metaphysical inquiries. judgment to conclude, that as soon
These considerations may serve to as the Almighty discovered himself guard us against drawing hasty con- to mankind, he instructed thein in clusions from any apparent puerility a mode of worship which would be or unreasonableness in the Mosaic acceptable to himself, and at the ceremonies, according to any given same tiine edifying and intelligible to scheme for explaining them, and them. Indeed, at their first creation, judging of them by the standard of men must have been so helpless that more brilliant revelation of divine and so incapable of directing them
An Essay on the Nature and Design of Sacrifices under the Mosaic Law. 273 selves, that it is difficult to draw any judicious person must admit that some line between direct revelation and such declared and original testimony natural impulse; so that primitive in the records of Jewish law is wanted custom (if recorded on good autho- to furnish proof of this position. rity) may be deemed nearly synony- The language of comparison and mous with divine institution. Cor- allusion employed in the New Testaruption would soon, however, changement, can scarcely of itself demonthis state of things; primitive custom strate the solidity of such a position would become perverted and depraved, as this, that the Almighty thought and when a proper occasion presented proper to enact an elaborate and mulitself, it surely could not be unworthy tifarious system of religious ceremoof God to restore the purity of ancient nies, for the especial purpose of beobservances, or to appoint new ones, stowing a shadowy existence upon adapted to the progressive condition events and doctrines which were afterof the human race, or to their in- wards to receive all the confirmation creased danger of being seduced from of a clear discovery, a glorious distheir obedience to him.
play of miracles, and a signal increase Secondly, although there is nothing of spiritual knowledge and understandin Scripture which can be said posi- ing. If we cannot in the original tively to forbid the supposition of the record of the Jewish ceremonies dishuman origin of sacrifices, yet, if we cover the remotest allusion to that attach credit to the Mosaic record, it subsequent event, of which it is argued seems highly reasonable to infer from they were merely emblems, it may their early and frequent mention, and reasonably be inferred that there is no from their being evidently accepted by inherent nor divinely instituted corthe Almighty in the case of Abel, respondence between them, but only Noah and Abraham, that God himself such a resemblance as might make it was the original author of this mode natural for persons who were familiar of worship. For it cannot well be with the former, and interested in the adınitted that the marks of divine latter, to compare them together. Now favour and acceptance would follow since a very slight and fanciful resemsuch acts of worship as were unau- blance would be sufficient to suggest thorized and self-invented.
comparison, nothing can with any Being assured, then, that God him- certainty be concluded merely from self was the author of these institu- the use of sacrificial language in the tions, and at the same time aware that New Testament. he gave them only a limited and conditional propriety, and that he hath Description of the Mosaic Sacrifices. now entirely superseded them, we might here rest satisfied, and might Hitherto we have spoken generally deem it superfluous to bestow minute of the Mosaic Institutions, (though attention on the particulars of such with a special reference to such of obsolete ordinances, were it not, that them as related to divine worship,) we the frequent allusions to them which must now confine ourselves to more are met with in the New Testament, exact views of those parts which are have naturally given them fresh conse- to the purpose of the present inquiry. quence in the eyes of Christians, and The distinct subject of our present have led to their being generally inquiry is the nature of sacrifices under regarded important and legitimate the Mosaic law; and it will not be authorities for the determination of required to take particular notice of doctrinal questions in the Christian every thing that may be included church.
under the notion of Jewish sacrifices, This circumstance makes it neces- but only of such as are conceived to sary to go into an inquiry that might allude to the person and office of Christ. otherwise be thought one of mere
Several definitions of the meaning of curiosity, and to look through the the word sacrifice, as employed in this ceremonial institutions of the Jewish connexion, have been proposed; but law, for the purpose of observing whe- without canvassing their respective ther any traces can be discovered of a merits, we shall adopt_one given by prospective reference to the articles of Dr. Outrain in his Treatise “ De Christian belief. For certainly every Sacrificiis,” printed, London, 1677 , VOL. XVIII.
“ Sacrificium apud populum Hebræ. to the Latin, “ferta, dona, dapes."
whether taken from animate or inani-
pronounced when the hands were laid But of those things which were upon the head of the victim. both offered, and by a rite of divine That sacrifice was always to be acappointment consumed, (which alone companied by prayer is probable, from are usually considered as sacrifices their being used in Scripture as interamongst the Jews,) some were taken changeable terms. As in Prov. xv. 8: from inanimate things, and some from “ The sacrifice of the wicked is an different species of animals; but all, abomination to the Lord, but the of either description, were chosen prayer of the upright is his delight.” from such as compose the food of So when Solomon had finished the man. And for this reason, (says Dr. temple at Jerusalem, which was inOutram,) that God willed that such tended for the greater splendour of things as are concerned in the support the sacrificial worship, in his prayer at of life, should be given to him as their the dedication of it, he particularizes Lord and Bestower. Those which a number of cases in which prayer were taken from inanimate things, and supplication should be offered; but (colomonly distinguished by the name never mentions the sacrifices that were of unbloody sacrifices,) were by the doubtless to accompany them. Jews called hinip, which corresponded The Jewish commentators have fur