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I. The numerous and bloody sacrifices of the Law first draw our attention.
All the animals appointed for this purpose are of that class, which the institutes of Moses pronounce to be clean. The patient sheep, the innocent. lamb, the mild and laborious ox, are the victims destined to blaze upon the altars of Jehovah. But the ferocious tyger, the rapacious lion, and the gluttonous hog, are never permitted to contaminate the sacred inclosure of the temple.
Now whatever sins the Israelites had committed, either collectively or individually, were constantly to be expiated by the sacrifice of clean animals : and (to use the language of the Apostle) without shedding of blood there is no remission.". These sacrifices however had no intrinsic merit: for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin. And the reason is plain, not only à priori, but likewise d posteriori : for, if they naturally possessed any such cleansing powers, then the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But these sacrifices were repeated every year : and, if they had been repeated to all eternity, they could never of themselves have-satisfied the justice of God.
For what purpose then were they offered, if they were thus altogether inefficacious ?
They were types or shadows of a nobler sacrifice, which can alone make atonement before a God of infinite purity and absolute justice: they were prophetic figures of one, who mysteriously united in his own person the two characters of the victim and the priest.
Ileb. ix. 22.
2 Hcb. x. 4.
3 Heb. x. 2.
Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many : and unto them, that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. For the Law, having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect
Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me—Then said he, Lo I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever. sat down on the right hand of God-For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.'
Thus was the Messiah offered up as a victim from the very beginning: virtually, in the councils of the Most High ; typically, in the sacrifices both of the Patriarchal and the Levitical dispensation.
1. Since it is the standing doctrine of the Gospel, that every bloody, sacrifice shadowed out the alone efficacious sacrifice of Christ; we seem from
'Heb. ix. 28. x. 1, 5, 9-12, 14.
this circumstance to be inevitably brought to the conclusion, that the ordinance of piacularly devoting a victim was not the unauthorized institution of mán, but that it was specially appointed by God himself: for, had such an ordinance sprung from mere superstitious will-worship, it is difficult to conceive, either how it could be pleasing to the Supreme Being, or with what propriety it could have been so adopted into the heaven-appointed ritual of the Hebrews as to be deemed typical of the great oblation of the Messiah.'
Dr. Outram, without deciding the point himself, bas given the arguments of those who hold opposite opinions on the origination of sacrificial rites.
His authors, in prosecuting the question, do not seem to me to have sufficiently attended to the distinction between eucharistic and piacular sacrifices. Whatever may have been the real origin of the former, it is at least not difficult to conceive, that men may have been spontaneously induced to offer gifts to God on the same principle as they would offer gifts to a mere mortal superior: but it is not so easy to account, with any shew of rationality, for the human origin of the latter. Universal as may be the consciousness of sin and therefore the fear of punishment, I cannot conceive how all men, without any teaching from above, should unanimously have hit upon so extraordinary a notion respecting the best mode of appeasing the Deity, as that which constitutes the essence of a piacular sacrifice. Is it probable, that the whole world, uninstructed and unauthorised, should have gratuitously taken up the persuasion, that, if a living victim were devoted to God after a certain ceremonial, the sins of the offerers would be imputatively transferred to the victim, and that the divine wrath would resť upon it instead of them? Such' an opinion is so arbitrary yet so universal, that all nations must have received it from some common source, But this brings us up to the
If however the ordinance of sacrifice was insti tuted by God, since the all-wise governor of the universe never acts vainly or superfluously, we are compelled as rational beings to suppose, that it was first instituted, when expiation first became necessary. For it is alike absurd to imagine, either that a piacular rite was ordained when no expiation was required; or that, although expiation became necessary at a particular point of time, the piacular rite was not ordained until an indefinite number of subsequent years had elapsed. But, if each of these suppositions be manifestly absurd, it only remains, that piacular sacrifice must have been first instituted, when expiation first became necessary.
Now expiation first became necessary, when man first required an atonement: and no atonement could be required by man, until man was in a state of enmity with God. But man was originally created pure and upright like the blessed angels; his will, his affections, and his understanding, being all in perfect unison with his Maker. Man therefore must have rebelled and fallen into sin, previous to his being brought into a state of enmity with God; his fall being in fact the cause of his enmity. Hence it will plainly follow, that man first required an atonement at the fall, that expiation then first became necessary, and consequently that typical piacular sacrifice must then have been first instituted.
first ages of the world when man immediately conversed with God. Would the piety then of Adam or of Noah have ventured to propitiate the Deity by what, if it were unauthorised and unrequired, would have been a mere act of superstitious will-worship? For what superstition can be more gross, than to believe, without any authority for so believing, that God will transfer the sins of the sacrificer to his sacrifice, and that thus the sacrificer himself shall be parduned ? The old pagans judged more rationally: for they are unanimous in ascribing the origin of sacrifice to a divine command. Dr. Magee very sensibly espouses and vigorously maintains the same opinion. · Outram. de Sacrif. lib. i. c. 1. See my Orig. of Pagan Idol. book ii. c. 8. § 1. 1.
To the fall then we must look for the primeval institution of piacular sacrifice: and here, accordingly, we shall find it. Jehovah is said by the sacred historian to have clothed our first parents with the skins of animals.' But, as yet, death had not made its appearance in the world. Whence then were those skins procured? The animals must undoubtedly have been slaughtered: the only question therefore is, for what purpose they were thus slaughtered. For food they could not have been put to death: because the first grant of animal food does not occur, until after the deluge. They must therefore have been slain as victims, for the purpose of sacrifice : and, since Jehovah himself appears as the actor on this occasion, we can only suppose, either that the anthropomorphic Angel slaughtered them, or that Adam slaughtered them by his special direction.
But, if the ordinance of sacrifice were instituted by God in consequence of the fall, we can scarcely avoid concluding, that its nature and purport were
2 Gen. iii. 21.