Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

rated" to that office by institutionary and annual sacrifices: that they might be holy in the eyes of the Israelites, but polluted and abominable in the eyes of all other people, so that they might never become the instruments of an abominable or foreign worship.

tabernacle, and there make certain sacrifices, accompanied with rites indicative of cleansing. These prescribed rites were costly, and even the poor man, (though in sin-offerings allowed to substitute a small offering of flour,) was not here excused from offering a lamb, a tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil and two turtle doves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get. Levit. xiv. 21, 22.

The tendency of this was to make the people extremely careful to practise such rules of cleanliness and temperance as should save them from such troublesome and expensive forms. Observe also, that the profit accruing to the priests from the performance of such ceremonies, would make them extremely vigilant and sharp-sighted in detecting the presence of those dangerous complaints, of which the symptoms are given with so much exactness in the 14th and 15th chapters of

Leviticus.

Secondly, since the commonwealth of Israel had that peculiar form of government called a Theocracy, religious ceremonies became almost identical with civil forms; and had a political as well as a moral meaning. Viewed in this light, the Tabernacle was a royal pavilion, the priests were ministers of state, and sacrifices were appointed ceremonies by which the people had admission to the kingly presence. Hence all the stated daily and weekly sacrifices were part of the state and pomp of civil government; and, again, the laws of purification prescribed in various cases were to hinder the appearance of any thing in so august a presence, that would be indecent or disrespectful.

Moreover, there are a few cases of moral transgression (of such a kind as are capable of coming before a court of law) in which, after ordinary legal damages are paid, it is required that a trespass-offering shall be made. It will not, perhaps, be thought trifling to describe this as a fine to the crown. For the further illustration of this view of the subject, see an excellent essay, "On the Meaning of the Atonement," &c. signed Eusebius, Theol. Repos. III. 385.

[blocks in formation]

The atonements and offerings required in purification of various other unclean states of body, (though in part they were probably designed to represent the necessity of moral purity, and the sinfulness of indulging wrong desires,) were principally devised with a view to considerations of health. The following observation is made by Grotius upon Levit. xv. 2: “Sciendum in Syriæ locis et vicinis non minus, Ty yovoppolar, quam тa suuna habere aliquid contagione nocens; unde ista, legibus quæ a lepræ legibus non longi abeunt constriguntur." To this observation from Grotius, Dr. Outram subjoins the following sentence, "Sed et ita forte significatum mortalia et immunda hominum corpora non nisi sacrificio aliquo (id quod autem est sacrificium Christi cujus hæc omnia figuræ erant) ad immortalitatem sacratum ivi." And in a similar manner Dr. Magee argues, (No. 38, p. 337, Vol. I.) It deserves to be considered," he says, "whether the pains of child-bearing, and all other diseases of the human body, (of which leprosy in the eastern countries was deemed the most grievous,) being the signal consequences of that apostacy which had entailed these calamities on the children of Adam, it might not," &c.

66

It is the prevalence of these gratui

tous and unfounded assertions which has made it necessary to give this subject so full and so minute a consideration. We proceed briefly to shew, that there is no authority for using such unnatural and fanciful interpretations; and having described that which we conceive to have been the real design and chief end of sacrifice under the Mosaic law, we go

In the second place, to inquire whether there is any antecedent probability in the supposition that sacrifices under the Mosaic law were intended to have a prospective reference to distant events, (or in other words,) do they appear to have been typical of Christ?

Our argument has hitherto been general, and to this effect: either to prove that there were other good and sufficient reasons for the institution of Jewish sacrifices, or else that there was no vicarious import in any of the Jewish sacrifices, or any of their adjunct ceremonies. My object, now, is to shew that it could not be inferred from any part of the Mosaic record that sacrifices were intended as types of future events, or that Christ was in any way expressed by them. I say inferred, for no one pretends to produce any positive declaration of this doctrine to be found in the books of Moses, or indeed in any part of the Old Testament.

A type, in the theological sense, is correctly defined, a divinely appointed symbol of any thing future; or an example so given and provided by God, as that by the nature of its institution it plainly prefigures that future thing. "Futuri alicujus symbolum quoddam, aut exemplum ita à Deo comparatum, ut ipsius planè instituto futurum illud præfiguret." Outram, lib. i. cap. 18, § 1.

Two things, then, are necessary to constitute a type: divine appointment of the thing as a symbol, and the futurity at the time of appointment of the thing typified. To apply this, sacrifice does not appear to have been a type of the death of Christ, or of the satisfaction of sins by his death; because we do not see that it was originally appointed for that purpose. If it had been the main, nay the only real object of that rite when first appointed to be a type of Christ, it would have been of more consequence

to record the divine institution of sacrifice, and the end for which it was appointed, than any other circumstance whatever connected with the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations. But the institution of sacrifice is not on record, and we do not find it in any way combined with those passages in the Pentateuch, which are generally considered as having a prophetic reference to Christ.

If, as popular writers on theology assert, this rite of sacrifice was instituted immediately on the fall of man, to typify the future sacrifice which should be made as a satisfaction for sin by the death of Christ, why was not this expressed on that occasion when prophetic mention is made of Christ? What could have been more natural than for the Almighty, when he spoke of the "seed of the woman," to have connected with this prophecy the mention of that visible symbol of his death, and the satisfaction thereby afforded for sins, which it is affirmed that sacrifice was intended to afford?

Again, when Moses spoke of "the prophet like unto himself, whom God should raise up from the midst of Israel," if he spoke of the same person whose sacrifice it was the chief object of his institutions to typify, how natural, obvious and proper for him to have pointed out the connexion between his oral declaration, and the symbolical figures by which it was declared to the eye.

Secondly, the Old Testament is unfavourable to the notion that sacrifice was typical of Christ, in another respect, that its importance and efficacy are in various passages of Scripture studiously depreciated, and the strongest expressions used to shew its comparative insignificance. Now, as it is alleged that this Jewish ceremony occupied the precise place of the great sacrifice of Christ while the law lasted, it was to be expected that the holy writers under the law would have spoken of it with a portion of the same reverence and pious regard which is expressed by all who look upon the death of Christ as the proper original of sacrifice; and that however they might have blamed the error of those who forgot the true end of sacrifice, and "placed its efficacy in the naked rite as if aught accrued to God thereby," still they would have taken due

"The sacrifice of the Son of God is the chief article of our message; the sun of our system, the central orb, to which all the lines of Christian truth converge." (Dr. Pye Smith's Disc. p. 58.) A thousand equally glowing passages might be collected from the writings of Christians believing in the real sacrifice of Christ.

care to guard against being understood to disparage the inherent and essential importance of the rite. And yet, hear the style which they freely adopt "I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt-offerings, continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." Psalm 1. 8-10. "Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Psalm li. 16, 17. "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the most high God? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before thy God?" Micah vi. 6-8. "I desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings." Hosea vi. 6. "To do justice and judgment is more acceptable unto the Lord than sacrifice." Prov. xxi. 3. See also Isaiah i. 12-20; Amos v. 21-24.

There are many other passages of similar import; and an ingenious and able writer, (W. J. Fox, in Letters to Dr. Pye Smith,) makes the following just remarks with regard to them: "Ceremonial observances are brought into contrast with holiness of heart and life frequently, with a future and inore valuable sacrifice never."

Now, in what way is this to be accounted for, but by supposing inspired men under the old covenant wholly ignorant of any such prospective reference in their sacrifices? For only compare their mode of speaking of them, with the expressions used by Christian writers believing in the doctrine of the real sacrifice of Christ. How greatly this doctrine, too, has been corrupted, all Protestants acknowledge, and yet what is their language?

VOL. XVIII.

3 c

We proceed, thirdly, to another argument taken from the Old Testament, as opposed to this typical system of interpreting the ceremonial observances under the Mosaic law : namely, the absence from the writings of the Old Testament of those metaphysico-theological dogmas, upon which the necessity of a satisfaction for the sins of men by a substituted victim is founded. These dogmas should have been quite familiar to the holy writers of the Jewish Church, if it be true that daily ordinances of worship were formed for the express purpose of reminding them of it.

And how terrific in the hands of Isaiah, Hosea and Ezekiel, would have been the doctrines of vindictive justice, unmitigated hatred of sin, infinite wrath, inflexible severity in God; in man, inherent depravity, the bur then of damnation, an infinite penalty, and consequent despair, and an “indubitable sense of Jehovah's righteous abhorrence and rejection!" In what strains of plaintive melancholy would Jeremiah have lamented over the lost state of man; and how might the rest of those sublime writers in the Jewish Church have been expected to have lent the strength of their distinct powers, in magnifying the influence of these doctrines, and placing in every grand and impressive light this awful proof of divine justice, holiness and severity! But there is confessedly little or nothing in these writings that can even be adapted to the use of this system of theology; whilst on the other hand there are those large, unlimited, vast and glorious declarations of the boundless freedom of the Divine grace, his absolute sovereignty over all the creatures he hath made, and laws which he hath enacted, enabling him to forgive sin wherever he pleaseth so to do; and finally, of his willingness to forgive without any payment of the penal debt upon the mere reformation of the sinner, that it seems impossible

[ocr errors]

to devise language that shall more strongly controvert all the positions on which the necessity of the sacrifice of Christ is founded.

[To be concluded in the next Number.]

Stapleton, near Bristol,
March 10, 1823.

infinite Being, it follows, that all other beings must be thus subject; in other words, it is not in the possible power of infinity itself to create a being not subject to moral and natural ill. In proof of this proposition, it will be granted that the one infinite Being cannot make an equal, since any created being would be but a creature;

SIR,

so strongly impressed with the view of the origin of evil, which has been stated in your last number, (p. 85,) by your correspondent "Rusticus," that I reduced my thoughts to writing, with the intention of communicating them to you for insertion in your valuable miscellany; but from the important results which appeared to follow from my new theory, and considering that the origin of evil was a subject which had been deeply considered, and elaborately and repeatedly investigated by the mightiest minds and the ablest pens, I was led to doubt either the originality or the truth of my own impressions, and therefore laid the subject aside for future consideration and inquiry; and from that time till the present I have occasionally mentioned my impressions to several of my theological friends, both ministers and others, for their opinions, and had recently made up my mind to transmit my thoughts to you without farther delay, when on perusing your last number, I was both surprised and pleased to observe that nearly the same views had been taken of the subject by your intelligent correspondent Rusticus; but as my notion of the origin and existence of evil is proposed and supported by a somewhat different train of argument, and may from its being, if not more logically, more simply and methodically stated than that of Rusticus, tend to confirm and elucidate the subject, I shall subjoin an outline of the arguments as they occurred and were committed to writing at the time before alluded to, and which appear to me to reduce the matter to the certainty of demonstration. Though you will see much repetition in it, I shall not attempt to alter it lest I should destroy its force. Proposition-Every being not subject to moral and natural evil must necessarily be infinite, and as it will be admitted that there can be but one

unlimited or infinite attributes, but only with limited or finite ones. Limited attributes, therefore, must be the inheritance of every created being, however exalted. Let us then trace the consequent and necessary effects of limited attributes. Infinite attributes alone can be always infallibly right; limited attributes, therefore, necessarily imply the liability and moral certainty of miscalculation, fallibility and error: for unless created beings could look with the eye of absolute omniscience and prescience; act with the hand of omnipotence; and direct with the unerring certainty of infinite Wisdom, it would be utterly impossible for them to secure the intended effects of their own designs; and hence must necessarily arise, miscalculation, failure and error: and this, without going a single step farther, introduces us to what is called moral evil, if not to natural also, since all moral evil is nothing more than a miscalculation of happiness. And a similar train of reasoning will bring us to what is commonly termed natural evil, which follows from the proof of moral evil, since as it must be admitted that moral evil is only a miscalculation of happiness, and that that miscalculation produces pain instead of pleasure, it follows necessarily that at least some part of natural evil, i. e. the pain and misery, both mental and bodily, which arise from intemperance or any other source, is in this point of view only the effect of a miscalculation of happiness. But that all created beings must necessarily be subject to natural evil upon a still larger scale on account of the limited nuture of their attributes, will appear by the following method of demonstration. One infinite Being alone controuls the universe and all its causes; it is a contradiction to suppose the existence of more than one; and hence it follows necessarily, that all other

beings must be subject to to this controul and those causes: limited attributes, therefore, necessarily imply subjection, dependence, comparative weakness, subjection to various contending and opposite natural powers, over which the being has no controul-stitute moral evil, is only to be deplored the elements for instance, and hence on account of its consequent producwe are introduced to vulnerability, tion of natural evil, i. e. the pain and liability to injury, infirmity, pain, mi- misery attendant upon intemperance, sery, and all that is commonly called &c.; and hence all moral good and ill natural evil. Beside which, as we will be found to be nothing more than find that man is thus necessarily the the production of natural good and subject of opposite causes, these oppo- ill: and thus all good and ill, both site causes will necessarily produce moral and natural, must be referred opposite motives in his mind; and to, and determined by, the pain or two opposite motives will not both pleasure of which they are productive, produce the same effect; the one will for it is the consequences of all actions be pleasurable, and the other painful. which alone can constitute them good And here we must admire the wisdom or evil. And this is evidently the best and goodness which constituted man a and surest standard of vice and virtue; sentient being, since his happiness for since pain cannot be made pleamust thus necessarily and entirely sure, so for the very same reason, vice depend on change and fluctuation; cannot be made virtue. In any other and since no created being, and espe- sense, moral and natural good and ill, cially one with his sensitive powers, vice and virtue, are but mere words, could derive any happiness whatever and have no precise meaning. in that torpid state which would be the necessary result of not being the subject of these causes, and of the sensations of pain and pleasure, hope and fear, which serve to keep in action his powers and expand his faculties, in the ardent pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain, and thus constitute his best happiness. Without motion in the universe, there could be no life or animation; and thus with man, his happiness is built upon that opposition, fluctuation, counteraction, and motion of contending causes and effects, as necessarily yield that alternate change of pain and pleasure, hope and fear, which prompt him to perpe tual pursuit and amusement, and therefore to happiness: nor does the importance or insignificancy of the object of pursuit matter at all; it is enough that it occasions pursuit, and the happiness occasioned by pursuit, is the same whether the object of it be a butterfly or a comet.

Though I have for the sake of perspicuity, spoken of moral and natural evil, according to their common acceptation as distinct principles, I am fully persuaded that they are only arbitrary terms, which have the same meaning; since philosophically speaking, evil can be only that which is productive of pain, and good only that which is

productive of pleasure: and were we to investigate the subject deeply, we should discover natural evil constantly arising from moral evil, and vice versa; since the miscalculation of happiness which has before been proved to con

Imperfection, then, or rather necessary evil, for I believe with Pope, that "man's as perfect as he ought," or was designed to be, is the necessary inheritance of all created intelligences, and I flatter myself that the proposition has been fully supported, that it is impossible even for infinite Power itself to make a being free from evil. Nor is this any detraction whatever from infinite Power, since it cannot be necessary to the existence of infinite Power, that it should be capable of working impossibilities; neither can it be essential to Deity, that he should be capable of making an equal. The vulgar maxim, that " nothing is impossible with God," here finds, like most other rules, an exception, and that without being at all derogatory to the infinite nature of either of the divine attributes.

Supposing this hypothesis to be wel founded, several highly important inferences arise from it, with the same certainty of demonstration, which I am led to suppose attends the hypothesis itself; and amongst others,

1. It affords a most complete answer to the questions which have hitherto perplexed alike every system of theology, in every age of the world, i. e. Why does an infinitely wise, omnipotent and benevolent God, allow

« AnteriorContinua »