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that they might be the less exposed to the seduc tions of the nations, among whom they were destined to dwell. It is also possible that the splendour accompanying these innocent rites of the Hebrew worship, might make a favourable impression upon the idolatrous nations surrounding them.
But the various oblations and sacrifices incumbent upon the Jewish people, had also a moral influence connected with them, in opposition to the immoralities and enormities, practised by Pagans as acts of religion.
What was the Origin of Sacrifices is a question that has been much agitated. Without entering deeply into this question, we shall just remark as a fact, that in the ruder state of mankind, when objects of sense make impressions peculiarly strong, while refined and abstract ideas are scarcely known, oblations and sacrifices were the usual modes of expressing the grateful feel ings of the heart, and also a deep sense of demerit. These sentiments being implanted in our nature, are common to all Religions. But as fearful apprehensions are much more frequently excited than a sense of favours conferred, thus have supplicatory or expiatory sacrifices, always exseeded the oblations of gratitude. When it became the prevalent opinion that the Gods
possessed human appetites and passions, ignorant minds conceived that their peculiar deities were actually regaled and fed by the offerings presented to them; and that the omission would be resented as a privation, not only of their rights but of their enjoyments. Sanguinary victims were peculiar denotations of demerit. They emblematically shewed the punishment which crimes deserved; that is, the loss of life with all its blessings: As such they were tokens of penitence. The depth of contrition was manifested by the value of the sacrifice; until at length human sacrifices, and the oblation of their beloved offspring, on the altars of their Gods, being the most valuable offsprings that could possibly be made, were considered as the most expiatory.
What was primarily devised as a sign of contrition, was afterwards considered as a true expiation, and as a price paid, equal in value to the supposed offence; and as the human heart is prone to every perversion that favours its lusts, sacrifices, and the strict performance of other religious rites, degenerated into compromises and substitutes. Signs of contrition were deemed equivalent to contrition itself; and a strict attention to forms and ceremonies of their own devising, was valued as a compensation for every moral defect.
The above remarks are founded upon the moral history of the human mind; they are confirmed by the practices of the heathen world; by those corruptions in Judaism of which the Jewish prophets loudly complain; and by numberless evidences presented to us in the history of the Christian church, of which there are too many remains even in the present day.
The inspired Legislator Moses, was directed to apply the innocent and laudable principles of the human mind to their proper objects, and to guard against the deviations and corruptions of ignorance or profligacy.
A close attention to the minuter regulations which respect the various oblations and sacrifices enjoined upon the Jewish people, discovers to us also that they had uniformly a relation to the moral character, or to the different degrees of demerit in the subject.
Of this we shall state a few instances. In the expiatory Sacrifices, where higher degrees of criminality were obvious, burnt offerings were commanded, in which the animal was entirely consumed by fire, with the utmost solemnity, one portion upon the altar, and the other
without the gates; whereas in meat offerings, for slighter offences, the beast was not entirely burnt, a portion of it was consigned to the Priests. In sins of ignorance and surprise, the sacrifices were not offered up with the degree of solemnity that was enjoined for wilful and deliberate offences. Again, as it was expected that the Priesthood should be more holy and circumspect than the Laity, their expiatory victims were ordered to be more valuable than those of the others. Thus, for the sin of Ignorance, it was enjoined upon the offending Priest, to bring a young Bullock without blemish, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. "When a Ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance, against any of the commandments of the Lord God, he shall bring his offering a kid of the Goats, a male without blemish." "And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, he shall bring his offering a kid of the Goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned." soul hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness and do not utter it; or if he touch any unclean thing," he is sentenced, by the mosaic law, to bring for a trespass offering, a female of the flock, a lamb or kid, or two turtle-doves or young pigeons, or an ephah of fine flour, for a sin offering, ac
cording to his circumstances. But in the sins of ignorance which related" to the holy things of the Lord," the offence was considered as of a deeper dye, and the expiatory offerings were pro portionably greater. In wilful transgressions of a similar kind, the Ram that was to be brought as a trespass offering, was sacrificed with pecu liar solemnity; and it was enjoined upon the officiating Priest to change his garments in different parts of the service. In those offer ings which were not of an expiatory nature, but expressive of gratitude or dependence, no vic tims were to be slain at the altar: The meat offerings, and oblations of the first fruits, were not to be burnt on the altar. It was deemed sufficient that a very small portion of it should be burnt as a memorial.*
On the great day of atonement, when it was enjoined upon the Priest to offer up" the Bullock for a sin offering for himself and for his house, and a Goat as a sin offering for the people," a pe culiar ceremony was enjoined, as an emblem of their acceptance with God; or as an assurance that their iniquities were pardoned. Its object was to attach the people the more strongly to the service of the true God, from a principle of gratitude; for it was a striking manifestation
* See Note F.