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Analysis of a Work by a Jewish Author, Mr. Bennett, on Sacrifices. 73 in which, amongst the grouuds of hu- teuch we observe, that in the tresman salvation, the psalmist does not passes between man and man the first mention one word about sacrifices. and chief thing required was retribu· King Solomon declared, that « To do tion; the sacrifice was but an inferior justice and judgment is more accep- matter
and so with a transgression table to God than sacrifice." Isaiah, of a civil or moral nature, which was “ To what purpose is the multitude an offence against God." of your sacrifices unto me, saith the
Mr. Bennett then proceeds to proLord, &c.; Am I to be served with duce some authorities from the most burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of ancient rabbies, whom he calls the fed beasts, or with the blood of bal- Links of Tradition ; from whom he locks, oflambs and of he-goats—things makes it appear that all commandof which I have no desire?" See also ments which relate to the productions Isaiah viii. at large, where moral and of the land were applicable only to philosophical principles are laid down, the land of Israel; that tithes, agriand no mention whatever is made of cultural donations, sacrifices, &c. be. sacrifices. He also quotes Jer. vii. 22, ing land productions, were not obliHosea vi. 6, Micah vi. 6, and alludes gatory nor ever esteemed so, without to many other prophetic passages the boundaries of Palestine. And he pointing to the same object.
quotes a case, in which many of the From these prophetical declarations, dispersed Jews of Babylon, Mesopohe adds, “ we obtain in the plainest tamia, Syria, &c. countries adjoining language the validity of my third' as- Palestine, brought sacrifices to Jerusertion, that the whole of the com
salem and that the Doctors of the mandments of sacrifices were neither Temple would not accept them on absolute ones, nor essential to human
this very ground that, They might not salvation ; for how could the prophets encourage the belief that the law of sabe in unison in exclaiming against ab- crifices was an absolute law; from solute laws, enacted by a divine le
which we obtain the assurance that gislator as essential to salvation, and they were local, temporary and cercin declaring them null and void Ei. monial, by no means absolute and not ther the declaration of the first pro. essential to human salvation. phets or of the latter ones must then
Another argument he adduces apbe absolutely false. But it appears pears to be conclusive, that while alt from what has been proved, that the the other commandments of the Penprimitive institution of sacrifices was tateuch, both of jurisprudence, crinot established as essential to the re
minal, conjugal, inheritant, &c. as mission of sin, and that the shedding well as the rites of the sabbath, public of animal blood was not in any wise festivals, impure animals, circumciindispensable to salvation--that the sion, &c. were general and universal, institution of them was not absolute, given to the nation at large for all but merely ceremonial and temporal; times and all places, of abode, the and therefore the prophets did, with laws relative to sacrifices have these a truly philosophic air, justly exclaim peculiar exceptions,—they were liagainst the infatuation of the vulgar mited to a class, the tribe of Levi; to practices and forms of false devotion, place, the temple of Jerusalem ; to which sought to appease an offended time, while the commonwealth of' isDeity by a fat ram, a roasted bullock rael was in possession of their patrior a vessel of good wine, while the archal inheritance (Palestine). Is it heart was corrupted and depraved,
consistent with reason, and still more and destitute of all divine and moral with divine justice, that sacrifices principles.* Throughout the Penta- should be essential to human salva
tion, and yet that their observance
should be conditional and confined to It is surprising that our Calvinistic three things-class, place and time?† friends do not see the striking analogy between the effect produced by the Jewish system of sacrifices, and their system of Not so, alas! the mobile vulgus that folsalvation through the atoning blood of low their faith ! Christ. With many of them, as we are + One cannot help being struck with persuaded with many ancient Jews, their the uncommon reseinblance between the “Better Nature" opposes the influence of corruptions of Judaism and those of Christheir system, and leads them to virtue. tianity; nor are we surprised to find that
On the Divino Government. It also deserves our notice, that all certain limits, and that the divine the prophets who censure the miscon- Being will so regulate his final disduct of their nation held the subject pensations, that rewards and punishof sacrifices as the point in question, ments shall be adapted to the actions and never referred to the abuse of any done, and man's final state be deter. other rite.
mined according to his merit. ProHe concludes with summing up his phecies foretelling events dependent argument thus :
on the determinations of the mind of 1. The institution of sacrifices was man, are impossible under this scheme not invented for the remission of sins. as they involve a contradiction. And
II. Neither was the shedding of it is dangerous to say, that human blood essential as an atonement ; for reason is so weak, that that may yet pancakes served also as a pacification be possible which implies a contrato cleanse the sinner.
diction; because according to this III. That, generally speaking, sa- mode of reasoning, all our conclucrifices were not at all essential to bu- sions concerning religion would be man salvation, and accordingly they equally uncertain, nor could we dewere ceremonial, local and temporary duce the being of a God from any by law, but by no means absolute. apparent contradiction that the sup
position that there is no such being On the Divirre Government. involves. Miracles according to this WHERE are only two schemes of scheme are possible, as well as in the consistent in themselves, that I know That God has given to the human of, or which have any pretensions to mind such a power as this second reason or the common apprehensions scheme supposes, appears to be agreeof mankind. The first is, that at the able to the common apprehensions of creation, the Divine Being, subjected mankind, who seem generally to imaall that he had made to fixed and in- gine that at ariy given time of action, variable laws, that both matter and they had it in their power to do this mind, whatever they be, are governed or its contrary. Both schemes seem by such laws, that consequently every to provide for the divine government; thing happens, as he has appointed for although the latter admits, that it, every thing was to him foreseen when God created man he knew noand determined, all is an universal thing what, in this world, would be settled scheme of Providence; pro- the result of his conduct; yet having, phecies are possible, because nothing by the fixed laws of matter, limited is contingent ; and miracles are also the power of mischief, his ultimate possible, as they might be included dispensations can adjudicate all things in the first and general plan of the according to perfect equity. divine economy. Every being per- I know of no other scheme of the forms his part, and the final dispen- divine government consistent with sations of Deity will follow his plea. itself; and if any of your corresponsure concerning all creatures.
dents choose to advert to them, it will The second scheme is, that God at gratify your humble servant. the creation subjected matter to fixed
AN INQUIRER. laws, but gave a power to mind, of self-determination, so that man, the Leigh Street, Red Lion Square, previous circumstances being the
Jan. 16, 1816. same, can perform the action A. and
SIR, its contrary B. This scheme sup
OUR poses, that whatever depends upon in a letter to you, which you the determination of the human have put into my hand, after referring mind, was left loose, and could not to my papers in reply to Mr. Bel. be foreseen by the Creator, yet that sham, on the pre-existence of Jesus pleasure and pain were fixed within Christ, published in the third volume
of the Monthly Repository, pp. 579 the advocates of the latter are eagerly 382, 470_475, 551–558, 653 catching at every twig which falls from 659, and 718—723, says, “ confess the decayed tree of the former to support that I am rather surprised at his (Mr. their equally corrupt, and, we trust, de- Marsom's) almost instantaneous convoted cause,
version to the Unitarian faith so late in
Mr. Marsom on the Pre-existence of Jesus Christ.
75 life. I hope," he adds, “ I shall not should have taken place “ so late in give offence by requesting your high- life." I reply that I never made any ly respected friend to point out the pretensions to infallibility ; I have path in which he has recently trodden often changed my opinions, and I dare in order to attain his present view of not say that I am now in possession things." And further, he requests of all truth, or that I shall not underthat he would favour the readers of" go some future cbwnge of mind with your interesting Miscellany with an respect to religious truth: I hope I illustration of certain passages of scrip- shall never be too old to learn, or unture which he particularly mentions. willing to attend to any evidence that
The circumstances of the case, I ad- shall be presented to me. mit, sufficiently warrant such a re- Before I proceed to give an account quest. I have appeared in the above of the steps that led to my recent mentioned volume as the advocate of change of sentiment it may be proper the doctrine alluded to by your cor- to state what were my former views. respondent, and it was natural for In defending the pre-existence of Jeone who“ candidly acknowledges that sus Christ I never supposed that in he felt the force of my reasoning," to his pre-existent state, or in any stage wish to be informed of the means by of his existence he was any more which I was led to renounce a sentin than a man. That he was a divine ment which I had so strenuously la- person truly and properly God, and boured to defend ; and it is but right became man ; that he was a superthat I should endeavour to shew, that angelic being and took upon him huI have not adopted my present views man nature; or that he pre-cxisted without such reasons as were fully as a human soul or spirit which in the sufficient to carry conviction to my fulness of time assumed a human bomind. I cannot, however, admit that dy in the womb of the virgin, and so I have been either recently or instan- became a proper man; neither of these taneously converted to the Unitarian ideas formed any part of my creed ; faith ; because I have been an Unita- I considered them all as unscriptural rian, (in the proper sense of that term, and indefensible. In my letters in as much so as I am at present) more reply to Mr. Belsham I have not, in than fifty years, nor have my views any instance, adverted to the nature undergone any material alteration ei- of Christ's pre-existence, to what he ther respecting the unity of God, or was in that state, or to the nature of the nature of the person of Christ du: the change which took place in him ring that period. My recent change in his humiliation ; but have confined of sentiment has no relation to the myself to the plain matter of fact, nature of Jesus Christ, but simply to whether or not the pre-existence of the time when he began to exist : Jesus Christ is a doctrine contained whether that existence commenced in the scriptures. Those who wish when he came in the flesh, or whe- to see what my views were on those ther he existed from the foundation of subjects may see them fully stated in the world.
the third volume of the Protestant As to the “ almost instantaneous" Dissenters' Magazinc for 1796, pp. nature of my conversion, your corres- 130–135, and 172-177. With repondent should recollect that it is now spect to the steps that have led to my seven years since my replies to Mr. present views, I observe, Belsham appeared in the Repository.
First, that Mr. Belsham's arguThere is a certain process which takes ments, in his Letters to Mr. Carpenplace in the mind in order to a con- ter, ou my first perusal, appeared to viction of the truth or falsehood of me lo possess covsiderable weight, any doctrine ; that process may be and for some time made a deep imlong or short ; it may be attended pression on my mind, which led me to with many difficulties and struggles re-consider them with close attention; arising from a variety of causes; but upon doing so, I discovered (at least a change of sentiment, the result of I Ï discovered that in some that process by which the mind is instances he had made use of declamade up upon the subject, is proba- mation instead of argument ; that in bly almost always instantaneous. But other instances his argunients were what adds to the surprise of your inconclusive; that he had laid himself correspondent is, that such a change open to considerable animadversion,
Mr. Marsom on the Pre-existence of Jesus Christ. and that much of his declamation and miraculous conception, although his argument derived their whole force miraculous conception does not nefrom the supposition that the doc- cessarily imply his pre-existence; betrine of the pre-existence of Jesus cause had he pre-existed his concepChrist necessarily included in it that tiou must have been preternatural ; of his possessing a super-human or but it might have been preternatural super-angelic nature; that he was a if he had not existed before ; as was being of extraordinary powers, a sub- the case respecting Isaac and Samuel. ordinate Jehovah, a delegated Crea- If then it should appear that his contor, under God the maker and up- ception was not miraculous, I was holder of all things. Upon the dis- fully convinced that the doctrine of covery of such
amazing facts," his pre-existence must necessarily be « Would not the mind of a Jew," ex- given up. Under these impressions claims Mr. Belsham, “who had never a work published in 1819,* fell into heard of delegated Creators and subor. my hands, in which, I think, the audinate Jehovahs, have been over- thor has proved that the accounts of whelmed with astonishment when the miraculous conception, as they this new and strange doctrine was uow stand in the beginning of Matfirst discovered to him?" These ideas thew and Luke, are spurious; and opened to bim a wide field for decla- be has stated some facts as taking mation, but to me, believing they place, not at Bethlehem, but at Rome, had vo foundation, iu scripture or from which the stories, recorded in any connexion with the pre-existence the two first chapters of Matthew and of Jesus Christ, they furnished strong Luke, probably originated. These ohjections to bis hypothesis, and laid circumstances, together with the imhim open to much animadversion, probability of their truth which apand this gave rise to the following pears upon the face of the accounts interrogations in my first letter, M. themselves, led me to conclude that Rep. Vol. iii. p. 381:-" Is not Mr. they were not the genuine producB. guilty of the same fault which tions of those Evangelists to whom he would be ready ruough to charge they are ascribed. on the opposers of Christianity, that Thirdly. The inconsistency of those they attack its corruptions and not accounts with each other with hisChristianity itself as left in the New torical fact—and with the current Testament? Will he say in reply, language of the New Testament, furthat he finds this new and strange nish additional evidence that those doctrine maintained as a doctrine of accounts were not written by Matthew scripture by his learned friend to and Luke. With respect to their whom he is writing ? So may they inconsistency I shall mention but one say, that these corruptions, as we call circumstance. The flight into Egypt them, are maintained as Christianity recorded by Matthew, is not only unby its advocates."
noticed by Luke, but his account eviThese considerations determined dently, as I conceive, contradicts it. me, by a reply to Mr. Belsham, to He tells us, ch. ii. 22, that, “ When bring the subject before the public the days of her (i. e. Mary's) purifiin order to obtain some further light cation according to the law of Moses, upon it, and to settle my own mind were accomplished (that is when Jewbich had been in a measure upset- sus was forty days old) they brought tled by Mr. B.'s Letters.
him to Jerusalem, to present him to Mr. Belsham, however, for reasons the Lord.” And after relating what best known to bimself, did not think passed in the temple, he says, 39th proper to take any notice of my argu. and following verses, “And when ments in reply to him, leaving me in they had performed all things accordpossession of the field. He probably ing to the law of the Lord, they rethought my arguments too contemp- turned into Galilee to their own city," tible to merit any notice, and his own not Bethlehem, but “Nazareth. And so perfectly clear, conclusive and con- the child grew and waxed strong in vincing as to stand in no need of cor- spirit, filled with wisdom and the rection, explanation or defence. grace of God, was upon him. Now
Secondly. I considered the doc. trine of Christ's pre-existence as ne
* Jones's Sequel to his Ecclesiastical cessarily involving in it that of his Researches.
Mr. Marsom on the Pre-existence of Jesus Christ. his parents went to Jerusalem every Nazareth. Had Jesus been indeed year at the feast of the passover ; and born at Bethlehem is it possible that when he was twelve years old they the sacred writers should so invariably went up to Jerusalem, after the cus- speak of him as being of Nazareth tom of the feast.” The writer here . From any thing recorded in the New represents Jesus when he was forty Testament it does not appear that Jesus days old as being carried by his pa- bimself, his apostles, or his historians rents from Nazareth, their own city, knew any thing of his miraculous up to Jerusalem, and returning to conception and birth at Bethlehem ; Nazareth, and from thence, annually, there is not any where in the preachfor twelve successive years, going up ing or letters of the apostles the most to Jerusalem to the passover; and in distant allusion to them; and this is chap. iv. 14, 16, Luke tells us that the more extraordinary if they were Jesus returned from the wilderness attended with such singular circuminto Galilee, “and he came to Naza. stances, and were the fulólment of reth, where he had been brought up.” prophecies respecting him, as they We have høre therefore, the whole are said to be by the writer of the of the life of Jesus, for the first twelve two first chapters of Matthew's Gosyears, accounted for as spent with his pel. parents at Nazareth, leaving no pos- It is true, the Jews seem to have sible period for the flight into Egypt; had a tradition amongst them, that whereas the writer of the story in the Christ was to come out of BethMatthew states, that he was born at lehem, and his enemies, who disBethlehem, that from thence they went puted his claims, are represented as iuto Egypt, and continued there till saying, John vii. 41, 42, “ Shall after the death of Herod, who sought Christ come out of Galilee? Hath his life. Now two stories, so incon- not the scripture said, “That Christ sistent with each other, cannot possi- cometh of the seed of David, and out bly be, both of them, true.
of the town of Bethlehem where DaI might add, that if the massacre vid was?"" And in another place, of the children of Bethlehem by the “ Out of Galilee ariseth no prophetdirection of Herod had been a fact, it Can any good thing come out of Nais extremely improbable that neither zareth ?" Is it not strange, if Jesus Josephus, who wrote the Life of He- and his historians kuew that he was rod, nor any other contemporary born at Bethlehem, that they should writer should mention so remarkable in no instance have corrected this a circumstance.
mistaken idea, that he was a GaliWith respect to historic fact. If lean, and refuted the argument foundit be sufficiently ascertained, as I think ed on it to prove that he could not it is, by incontrovertible testimony, be the Christ, by stating, that in fact that Jesus was not born till after the he was not of Nazareth in Galilee; death of Herod, then the whole of the but that he did indeed come out of stories related in the two first chap: Bethlehem? On the contrary, they ters of Matthew must be false and every where assert, that he was of spurious.
Nazareth. Again, the birth of Jesus with the The above passage, I believe, is the circumstances attending it, as record. only one in the New Testament in ed in the beginning of Matthew's which Bethlehem is so much as menGospel, are inconsistent with the lan- tioned, excepting those in the beginguage of the New Testament, which ning of Matthew and Luke where it represents Jesus as being of Nazareth, repeatedly occurs. But but never of Bethlehem. He is called Fourthly. This matter is put beJesus of Nazareth about twenty times yond all possible doubt, if Mr. Jones in the New Testament. Peter on
is right (as I think he is), in his transthe day of Pentecost, speaking as the lation of Luke iii. 23,—“ And Jesus Holy Spirit gave him utterance, calls himself began to be about thirty years him Jesus of Nazareth. The angels of age, being (really) as he was at his sepulchre call him Jesus of Nur thought to be, the son of Joseph." zareth. He calls himself so when he I shall not transcribe his criticisms on appeared to Paul as he was going to the construction of the Greek of this Damascus; and his apostles wrought passage, but only the conclusion he their miracles in the name of Jesus of draws from them. “It is therefore a