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-but the subject being one upon ought, indeed, unquestionably to weigh which various opinions notoriously with us. Though possibly one or two exist, and, among the rest, different may be worthless, (which is more than degrees of unbelief; it is evidently to we have a right to assume,) many be expected that, when the number others may be good and conscientious; of persons who are called to its consi- and injustice ought always to be rederation is vastly augmented, along sisted even against the bad, because it with a great increase of religion, there is injustice, and because oppression will also be a proportionate increase seeks for its first victims those who of sceptics and unbelievers. So that are not objects of public favour. And the zealous advocates of religion though we may disapprove their opishould not be surprised or disappoint- nions, and their mode of maintaining ed at the apparent growth of unbe- them, yet to them they may be renlief, seeing that this is the natural dered dear by conviction or by prejuconsequence of their own exertions. dice. The blame of their unbelief If a thousand persons are to read and often lies at the door of those who discuss the Bible where only ten did profess to be supporters of religion, so, along with a great addition to the and who by misrepresenting its docnumber of those who adopt its doc- trines, making a trade of it, making it trines, some proportionate increase an engine of despotism, and a pretext must also be expected of those on for persecution, create a prejudice whom a different impression is the against religion in the minds of the result.
uninformed; who are then persecuted It would have been creditable to the by the very persons that have made spirit of the age had any symptoms them unbelievers. of unbelief among the people been Those who enjoy the advantage of considered with a calm and Christian having imbibed liberal and enlightened disposition; and had those whose views of religion, ought to be ready to opinions were attacked relied on the make great allowances for the sceptistrength of argument for the support cism of some, especially among the of their cause. A very different course less informed classes, who have not has been pursued ; 'the penal laws been placed in such' favourable cirhave been appealed to, and the pu- cumstances. As having themselves nishments inflicted have provoked exercised the right of private judgfresh assailants, until at length the ment, they ought to allow it to others. number of those who have suffered But, as being fully aware of the ill severe fines and imprisonment has effect on the mind of those views of become very considerable.
religion which are often inculcated, This being the scene which is acting they should especially look with inbefore us, what is the duty of the en- dulgence on those whom such views lightened friends of religion and of have driven into unbelief. Not to liberty? Will they satisfy themselves dwell on the absurd and frightful with taking no part as to what is going dogmas which are held forth to the on, and think they shall be justified in people as essential to Christianity, remaining silent? Surely this will be look at the arguments of some writers a conduct little worthy of the princi- in support of its evidences. ples which they profess: for living in What can be better calculated to a free state, where they have the power promote Atheism than the following? publicly to discuss the subject, and “Every thing bears evidence that God to bear their testimony against perse- hath smitten the earth with a curse. cution, and where public opinion can Not only is this to be seen from the be excited and enlightened by judi- briars and thorns which teem from its cious appeals even from the few, by surface all over, nor in the noxious silence they seem to give their sanc- quality of plants which every where tion to what is done.
abound, nor in the ferocious nature of Nor let it be thought that the con- animals, which have cast off their allesequences of the present system of giance to their rightful sovereign,” &c. persecution are inconsiderable, or ex- &c. Or the following from Dr. Chaltend only to the sufferers. A feeling mers? “Nor do we look upon Atheism of pity and of justice towards them as a more hopeless species of infidelity
The Nonconformist. No. XXVIII.
than Deism.” “ To the neutral mind freedom would be in comparison of the Atheist, unfurnished as it is worthless, and soon be at an end. with any previous conception, we offer the historical evidence of Christian
This is true liberty, when freeborn ity.” He “has no presumptions upon
Having t advise the public, may speak the subject ; for to his eye the phenomena of nature sit so loose and unconnected with that intelligent Be And who shall draw the line as to ing to whom they have been referred what opinions shall be tolerated and as their origin, that he does not feel what not? The attempt to do it orihimself entitled from these pheno. ginates in the detestable selfishness of mena to ascribe any existence, cha- wishing that liberty for ourselves which racter, attributes or method of admi. we will not allow to others. With nistration to such a Being. Those respect even to Atheism; what can difficulties which perplex the Deists, be more absurd than to put forth arwho cannot reconcile in the God of guments relative to the existence and the New Testament, the same features attributes of God, thus calling men to in which they have invested the God reason on the subject, and then to of nature, are no difficulties to him.” punish any who may not come to the
What are these but arguments to same conclusion with ourselves ? It is shew that the appearances of nature quite consistent with the character of furnish no ground for inferring that a sincere Christian jealously to mainthe world is under the government of tain the right of opposing Christianity a wise and good Being; and eulogies should he ever be convinced of its on Atheism at the expense of natu- falsehood. And if the right of free ral religion, or, indeed, of all belief discussion upon this subject is suffered founded on reason?
to be put down, arguments of a similar What can have a greater tendency kind inay be brought for putting down also to degrade religion than the re- the liberty of the press altogether. presentation of the lawyers engaged in But in addition to the calls of justhese prosecutions? The hackneyed tice, humanity and liberty, let us atmaxim that Christianity is part and tend to those of Christianity herself. parcel of the law of England, puts its In the first place, she expressly forbids authority on a level with that of a persecution ; 'it is wholly contrary to Turnpike Bill; giving us the same her spirit, and subversive of her emauthority to expect a future exist- pire of peace and love: and next, if ence, that we have had for believing we look to the complexion of the prea £l note and a shilling to be of equal sent times and the circumstances to value to a guinea. And we are to which allusion has been made ;-here believe in the existence of a God, not are zealous and mighty efforts made because “ the heavens declare his to press the subject of religion upon glory, and the firmament sheweth his the people, and to furnish them with handy work,” but in obedience to the means of examining and discussing some enactment in the Statute-book, it; how important is it, then, that subject to be amended or repealed they should not come to the inquiry whenever it shall seem good to the with unfavourable impressions! And collective wisdom of Parliament. yet what are they likely to infer from
There are, however, greater inter- all this persecution, and these atests at stake than those of the suf- tempts to suppress the writings of ferers—the interests of liberty and of unbelievers ? Why, that Christianity Christianity.
cannot bear investigation ;--that, as What is there more valuable either has been said of other religions, it is to individuals or to society than the only a source of enmity and persecuright of communicating our opinions tion: that those who persecute have and freely discussing those of others ? an interest in maintaining it for their As to the privilege of holding what own profit, and that it is all an affair opinions we please, it is stupid folly to of priestcraft and state contrivance; a talk of it, since it is out of the power notion which the connexion of Church of tyranny to interfere with it. With- and State, and the exorbitant exactions out freedom of discussion all other of the clergy most marvellously favour.
Indeed, if the chief study of the poli- discrimination stating their reasons, tical advocates of the Church had been to make their public protest against to make the people think religion all these renewals of persecution. a cheat, they could not have taken
R. T. better means. None but a divine religion could have stood in spite of such An Essay on the Nature and Design villanous supporters. But were it possible, by means of
of Sacrifices under the Mosaic Laro,
and the Influence which Jewish persecution and the stifling of know
Ideas and Language con Iedge, to preserve the appearance of
them had upon the Lunguage of the a more universal acquiescence in the doctrines of religion, of how little real
New Testament. By the late Rev. value would this be! The real value
Henry Turner. of religion must depend on its being
(Continued from p. 338.) the subject of individual choice and E
ciently shewn that sacrifices which is the very means of giving it under the Mosaic law cannot be every valuable quality, necessarily sup- proved (from any indications contained poses a certain proportion of doubt in the original records, describing their and unbelief;t which, moreover, where institution and attending ceremonies) freedom of inquiry is allowed, is to have had a vicarious import, and mainly instrumental in discriminating in all likelihood had none such, what truth from falsehood, and in strength- remains for us to do, is first to make ening the evidence of the truth. Thus a few general observations on what we have to take our choice between may be conceived to be the real naimplicit faith or nominal belief—and ture and design of the institution of a well-founded and rational belief in sacrifices under the Mosaic law; sethe majority with a certain proportion condly, to inquire whether there is of scepticism, and that not without any antecedent plausibility in the supits uses, in the remainder.
position that they were intended to The continuance of these persecu- have a prospective reference to distant tions is also enlisting the best feelings events, or, in other words, that they of the people against Christianity: were typical of Christ; and, lastly, Men of spirit naturally, dislike and to account for the language of the reject that which is forced upon them: New Testament respecting them. and are induced to applaud and sym In the first place, then, we propose pathize with those who suffer; the to make a few general observations best part of whose character is cer- upon what may be conceived to be the tainly exhibited while under persecu- real nature and design of the institution.
tion of sacrifices under the Mosaic On all these grounds, and many law. This we undertake, the rather, more, which might be mentioned, I it because the supposed absence of any has become the duty of all friends of inherent meaning or propriety in it, liberty, and especially of Christianity, such as can be conceived worthy of the firmly, but with due prudence and Divine Being who appointed it, has
been used as an argument for impo* Boccaccio, Giorn. I. Nov. 2. sing a foreign and ulterior sense, which
+ Christianity does not seem to have does not appear warranted by the been intended in the scheme of Provi- original record, in which we should dence for immediate universal reception. certainly expect to have the surest This would not be consistent with its declaration of its true meaning. How very nature, as designed to produce its irrational it is thus to argue, we have effect by operating gradually, and by na
seen already tural process of conviction, both in indi
Now it is obvious that the great viduals and in society,--as leaven in the
Christians so represent it when purpose of the institution of sacrifice its want of universality is objected to
was to afford a method of visible and them by unbelievers.
public worship, and that its various II say nothing of the argument from modifications, under the Mosaic law, the total inefficacy of these prosecutions, included every different attitude and lest I should seem to admit their justice. intention of mind with which men ever
An Essay on the Nature and Design of Sacrifices under the Mosaic Law. 373 seek the presence of God. See Ou- safety of men, that they owe any of tram, lib. i. cap. x. 2.* How the their fitness to please him. They are offering of things, useful and valuable doubtless unworthy of him, and to to man, came to be considered as a beings raised to much higher degrees method of worship, it cannot, we of spiritual understanding and knowthink, be difficult to conceive. Let us ledge, would appear infinitely so, did take the simple record of the earliest not their greater comprehension of sacrifice given in the book of Genesis. mind enable them to perceive that “ Abel was a keeper of sheep, but their own acts of worship, though Cain was a tiller of the ground. And glorious beyond comparison with ours, in process of time it came to pass, accompanied with that Cain brought of the fruit of the
the sound ground an offering to the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings
Symphonious of ten thousand harps
that tune of his flock and of the fat thereof." What can more naturally express the
Angelic harmonies, thanks of these first sons of Adam for are still infinitely removed from giving the Divine bounty which had blessed honour worthy of the great Supreme their labours with increase than these to whom they are addressed. It is offerings? It is true, it was but giving the part, then, of the Divine wisdom God his own; he could not literally and grace to invite to such expressions be served with such gifts : and, there. of piety as he knows his creatures fore, there are those who cannot see can comprehend. A wise parent will the propriety or even the innocence not check the first germ of grateful of this way of worship, unless it have and generous sentiments in the infant some much more abstruse and remote mind for a defect or inaccuracy in the signification. But, after all, what is manner of expressing them. When there inherent in any acts of worship, the little child selects the rosied apple however refined, spiritual, and raised from the heap to give back to the preabove comparison with this primitive senter in return for the gift of the model of devotion, to make them ser- whole, would any one that had the viceable and acceptable to God? It least feeling of what is lovely refuse is to his condescension, and his desire the offering, or ridicule its absurdity ? of the improving holiness and final Why, then, consider it as unworthy of
God to meet the natural wants and
wishes of the men to whom he had Jam omni sacrificiorum generi cul- discovered himself as a Being all-powtūs sacri ratio inerat, Holocausta Deo erful to bless, or to destroy; and to immolabantur, ut omnium conditori, ac invite them to express worship by preDomino, omuiumque itidem conservatori, senting gifts? And if it be asked, omnique cultu et honore digno; sacrificia what reason can be given why the gift salutaria ut eorum omnium, quæ ad vitam
was to be consumed in the act of being pertinent largitori, sive ea ante impetrata offered, and if it were an animal, to be essent, unde ortum est sacrum eucha- slain ?' The reason is obvious, that risticum, sive nondum impetrata, sed ex. petita ; idque vel voto interposito, unde there was no other way of alienating extitit sacrificium votivum, vel sine voto them, and making them no longer the nuncupato, unde ortum habuit sacrum property of him who offered them. voluntarium suà cujusque sponte datum, If the fruits of the ground had only merâque liberalitaté factum ---Jam verd been offered, and then not disposed of, sacra piacularia Deo facta sunt, ut Do- they would either have withered, mino vitiis infenso, prenæque, ac veniæ wbich would have been unseemly, or jus habenti. Quibus ex rebus intelligitur they would have been employed to eódem spectasse sacrificia, qud preces ore enunciatæ, gratiarumque, actiones made a mere mockery of the gift. If
common purposes, which would have pertinent. Illud tamen interfuisse, quòd the firstlings of the flock had not been ejusdem utique voluntatis alia in precibus slain, they would have returned to enunciatis, atque etiam in gratiarum actionibus, alia autem in sacrificiis signa their herd, and would have been as externa adhiberentur. In illis scilicet much as ever the advantageous proexplicata verba, in his sacri quidam ritus, perty of the person who had solemnly quibus tamen cadem desideria, quæ verbis given them away. Besides, the disapexplicatis, subjecta erant.
pearance of the offering by the action
of fire, and the ascent of its savoury To return : when gifts were thus elements in the sinoke, might designate made the method of approach to the God's acceptance of the gift. Judge, Almighty, and the consumption of therefore, of the reasonableness of the these gifts the act by which they were following passage from the discourse presented, it followed that sacrifices before-mentioned (by Dr. Pye Smith, came to be considered as essential to p. 6):
the solemn worship of God; and were “The worship by sacrifices” (says practised, whatever was the occasion he) “ has been alleged to be of the on which men felt themselves called nature of a present by way of homage upon to address God in a solemn and to the Supreme Being. On this sup- express manner.
For whatever was position, must not the bloodless, in the occasion, the object desired was nocent, and more natural offering of the favour of God, to which they knew Cain, the fruits of the earth, be deem- no surer way, than by the performance ed more rational in itself, and more of such an act as should substantially likely to be agreeable to the Deity prove their gratitude, reverence and than that of Abel, which appears re- devout regard. volting to the feelings of humanity, Such was the ceremony introduced an useless waste of animal life, and as as part of the ritual worship ainongst an act of worship manifestly absurd ? the Jews : and if its general nature But passing by the grossness of the and design was at all modified by being invention, what conceptions must they adopted into the Mosaic institutions, form of the blessed God, who imagine it was in the following respects : that with such services he could be First, it was the principal agent in gratified?”
promoting and keeping up that sepaHow sacrifices can be denied to be ration of the Jews from every other of the nature of a present, when the people, which was so important a part very name in Hebrew and in the lan- of the Jewish economy. Nothing can guage of every nation by whom they so much separate nations from each have ever been practised, and every other as a difference in religious injust definition of them implies it, is stitutions. And this object seemed surprising. And, then, as to Cain's capable of being sufficiently gained by offering being apparently more natural merely reverting to those purer forms and rational than that of Abel, which of worship which had gradually been is here described as apparently inhu- forsaken by the world at large. Some man, useless and absurb, what can be nations were sunk into such ignorance meant by such extravagant expres- as to worship the animals which had sions? Is it possible that one who is been used in ancient sacrifices, and to in the habitual practice of tasting ani. think the slaughter of them the greatmal food can find any thing so shock- est crimes. This was the case with ing and abhorrent from his nature, in the Egyptians; which is the reason of vieiving that waste of life which he the saying of Moses, Exodus viii. 26, considers as innocent when incurred in reply to Pharaoh's declaration, that for the gratification of his appetite, they should be allowed to perform practised as an act of grateful and their sacrifices in Egypt, “ is not solemn homage to the Almighty Be- meet to do so, for we shall sacrifice stower? If Dr. Smith were to visit a the abominations of the Egyptians to slaughter-house, we doubt not but his the Lord our God.” And, perhaps, tender sensibilities would be greatly it is in reference to some Egyptian shocked; but from these feelings does prejudices ainongst the Israelites on it follow that the use of animal food this subject, that Moses says in the is criminal? He will not say so. To beginning of Leviticus, “ If any man judge of Abel's feelings in such an of you bring an offering unto the occurrence, he should for a moment Lord, ye shall bring your offering of divest himself of the mild and gentle the cattle, even of the herd, and of tone of feeling cherished by the im- the flock," de bubis et balantibus. munities of a learned profession in the See a passage from Moses Egypticus, civilized walks of life, and should as- in Outram,"lib. i. cap. ix. $1. And sume the sentiments of a shepherd it was partly in pursuance of the same and keeper of cattle in the simplest object that all the utensils made use age of the world.
of" in Jewish worship were “sepa.