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