תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

done, only by : considering the oblation of those facrifices as proper actions, whereby the offerers did, in a natural way, express the piety of mind with which they prayed for the grant of bleffings, or the fincerity and greatness of the inward gratitude with which they commemorated, and gave thanks for, blefings already received. Hence it is, that we find little controversy, or diversity of opinion, about the ufe, depgn, and rationale of those sacrifices, among the bulk of those who have written about them.

Piacular facrifice was of a more ancient date, and is of more permanent duration, than eucharistical sacrifice : for, according to the reports of revelation, it takes place under the present dispensation of religion, and was in practice under all past dispensations of it, ever fince the lapse of our first parents, and the effeet of it is to have place in that future, celeAial dispensation of it, which is to have no end. This is what renders it very interesting, and a matter of great importance, to mankind, to have a right understanding of the true ufe, design, and rationale of this species of facrifice.

The oblation of this species of sacrifice was not left to the discretion or choice of the offerers. In all cases, it was exacted from them

by divine authority and peremptory command. And, in many cajes, it was not only a demand made upon them for fins which they bad.com mitted, but likewise, the means by which atonea ment was made for these fins, and the pardon of them obtained. Wherefore, however defirable and interesting it is to mankind, to have a clear and right understanding of the use, defign, and rationale of piacular. sacrifice, yet the effeet, which is afcribed to it, creates fome. dificulty in coming at it; it being not easy to comprehend what end, in respect of God, the exacting of sacrifice for fin could answer, or bow the oblation of sacrifice should be the mean of obtaining the pardon of fin.

A fenle bowever, of the interesting nature and great importance of the discovery, has been a motive to many men of good sense and great learning, to employ their thoughts and pens in clearing up this difficulty. And, indeed, many volumes have been written with that view. But alas ! the success in this at-, tempt, has, in no degree, been answerable to the

great pains which have been taken in maka ing it. The writers on this subject have not yet arrived at any certainty, or to any agreement among themselves, about the point in question. The difficultys attending the inquiry, and the falfe scents upon which they have been put by a falje philosophy, preconceived hypothe

Jes,

ses, or a too liberal indulgence of fancy and imagination, bave led them into diverse systems,

and trains of thoughts, which are as incompatible with each other, as they are all likewise, in my apprehenfion at least, with the doctrine of revelation, and the di&tates of common sense.

The popular notion of piacular-sacrifice, which has long prevailed, is that which proceeds upon the supposition of a transfer of guilt from the offerer to the sacrifice, and of vicarious punishment. But this notion of the use and dehgn of piacular sacrifice bas,

Dr. Taylor, the Author of the effay on the nature, dehgn, and origin of sacrifices, and others, been demonstrated to be wholly unsupported by scripture-evidence, absurd in itself, and attended with ill consequences. For which reason, they who make the scriptures the sole rule of religious faith, or will be guided by the dičtates of common sense, must, if they act a conf/tent part, rengn this notion of the use and design

piacular facrifice, as unscriptural, absurd, and dangerous.

To supply the place of this exploded notion of the use and design of piacular facrifice, two others have, of late been offered to us; the one, by the learned Dr. Taylor, who considers piacular sacrifices as being fymbols, or emblems of

penitent

penitent disposition, and penitential address or prayer to God; and accounts for the efficacy and effect of them in the fame manner, as for those of penitence and penitent prayer. The other notion of the use and design of this species of facrifice, is, that which is advanced by the Author of the before-mentioned esay on the nature, dehgn, and origin of sacrifices, who confiders eating and drinking with God to have been the main intention of all sorts of facrifices ; and conceives this eating and drinking together to have been a symbol of friendship betwixt God and the offerers, and a fæderal rite whereby be and they did engage in, renew, and keep up friendship with one another. + These two notions of the nature and design of piacular sacrifices agree in this, that they make these sacrifices to be symbols or emblems. But then, the things of which they make them fymbols, are of such a different nature, that tbe one or other of them must be false. rea, as each of the mentioned Authors, grounds his notion of the symbolical nature of these facrifices upon scripture evidence, and yet differ fo widely in their sentiments about the use and

design of them, this gives reason to suspect, that scriptureevidence, for the symbolical nature of piacular sacrifices is veryobscure and doubtful, if not quite deficient : for bad it been clear, or, in any perceptible degree, probable, men of their parts

and

and learning, and so free from prejudice, must have not only discovered it, but been led, by the discovery, to an barmony of sentiments. 'Tis, therefore, much to be questioned, whether the scriptures give any countenance at all to the conceiving of sacrifices, as having a symbolical nature and design; and whether all notions of this kind may not be groundless, and rather the effects of a lively and luxuriant imagination, than the result of any real evidence,

What then is now to be done, in this dark and perplexed case ? Nothing, surely, but to examine each of these two notions of the fynbolical nature and dengn of piacular sacrifice, and to try whether they bave, or have not, any real foundation in scripture-evidence, or in truth and common sense. I know of no one ill consequence that can arise from free, candid, and sober inquiry, among reasonable men ; and, I am sure, that it is the only way of coming at truth. We have been fairly stript of the pofeffion of the common and popular notion of the use and design of piacular sacrifice by the ingenious, learned, and commendable labours of the two Authors mentioned : and two other notions of them are offered in place of it. But let us beware of receiving them without due fcrutiny and careful examination, left we should be led, a second time, into error and mistake,

by

« הקודםהמשך »