Imatges de pÓgina

subject of sacrifice. The ceremonies are particularly detailed in the books expressly written for that purpose; consequently, in every other part of his writings, they are only incidentally mentioned, and closely as these solemnities were connected with all the habits of their society, and practices of their devotion, such recurrences could not fail of being frequent. This sacred rite was established long before the mosaic period, and practised by all the ancestors of the Israelites. Hence, the appeal in favour of the service, but without any relation to the mode, is made to Pharaoh as the cause why they wished to depart from Egypt.* The same sort of reference appears in all the allusions to important events in the lives of the patriarchs.

Sacrifice forms a leading incident in the narrative of the earliest transactions of mankind. It is also the first act following Noah's deliverance from the waters of the deluge, and, as such, connects the ritual worship of the ante, with that of the post-diluvian world; but upon these, as upon other occasions, the fact, not the law or the manner, is related.

Sometimes an exception confirms the rule. It does so in the present case; and the precision of the historian, when his attention is directed to a subject which requires a deviation

* Exod. iii. 18.

from his usual practice, proves very forcibly that his mode of only alluding to what is elsewhere more completely described, is the effect of plan, not accident. An instance of this occurs in the grant of animal food for the use of men. The human race had enjoyed this for ages previous to the time of Moses, and upon the same condition, that of abstaining from the blood of the beast slain. There was nothing national or peculiar either in the grant or the restriction. It concerned the whole of mankind, and was, therefore, properly a part of their general history. Consistently with this, Moses records that precept, which limited the food of man to vegetable productions during the antediluvian period; as carefully, and in its proper place, he relates the grant of animal food, and its accompanying restrictions; the knowledge of which then became necessary, but which would have been impertinent in any preceding part of his history.

Therefore, the only conclusions relative to the institution of sacrifice which can be drawn from the books of the Jewish legislator and historian, are these, that it is of divine appointment, and from a very early period.

In the silence of history, the first celebration of this act of worship can only be determined

* Gen. iii. 18, 19.

from the consideration of those circumstances which rendered such a service necessary and suitable. It has been already noticed, that before the fall, it was in its own nature inadmissible. The first transgression made the means of reconciliation necessary, and a symbol of them requisite as the only method of recording and diffusing the knowledge of them. The striking coincidence between this type, and the fulfilment of it, as we shall have occasion to observe hereafter, exhibits it both as the fittest and simplest that could have been adopted; and, therefore, the one best calculated to preserve the remembrance and consequences of the offence, to teach the doctrine of the atonement, the hope and promise of pardon.

The worship of God must ever and entirely have been of divine origin. The ideas of fallen men are carnal, and under such influence are prone to corrupt the institutions of the Almighty. To expect that proper modes of worship can even be suggested by minds so debased, is as absurd as to suppose that they are capable of contriving the means of their reconciliation, to which the acts of adoration must always bear a powerful and impressive relation. God can only be approached according to his own commandments, and his immu

tability assures us, that this must have been the case equally in the first, as in all subsequent ages. Sacred history records the celebration of sacrifice within a few years of the first transgression. The same authority assures us, that the promise of salvation through a Redeemer was given before the offenders were banished from paradise; we are, therefore, reduced to the alternative of admitting that God gave them a promise of pardon and restoration to his favour, without affording them any visible means of cherishing and confirming their faith in that promise, and learning the way by which he was to be found by those who desired to seek his face, or that these means were added to the promise, though not written in the record of it. That the revelation of divine mercy, and the covenant, so truly a covenant of grace, was not only promulgated, but made accessible in a manner corresponding with the conduct of God towards his penitent creatures in all succeeding ages; or that the covenant was established and proclaimed, and yet those for whose benefit it was published, were left for a few years without any evidence or witness of it, in complete contradiction to the course of divine proceedings in every other period of the history of the church.

An incident recorded in the brief, but com

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prehensive narrative of the circumstances attending the fall, creates a difficulty inexplicable, except by the establishment of this solemnity. "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord make coats of skins, and clothed them."* The restriction from the use of animal food has been before noticed, consequently, there is an impossibility of these having been made from the skins of animals killed for food; but as they must have been slain, the occasion of their death remains to be enquired after. If they were killed for sacrifice, the institution was of God's appointment, and then at the moment of proclaiming his covenant, by this act he confirmed and provided a memorial of it. He both gave them the means of grace, and taught them the knowledge essential to their worshipping him in spirit and in truth, the only worship which he can accept. When they were typically purified by the blood of the sacrifice, he gave them coats of the skins of the same to cover their nakedness, and make them meet to appear in his presence, symbolically expressive of the righteousness of their surety, by which alone, when transferred to them, they become worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The permission to slaughter animals for this purpose must have been granted, and the dis

* Gen. iii. 21.

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