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cases devoted, as it has been termed, in this way; and when they were so, they were to be pursued with the most unrelenting destruction, and their property treated in most cases as an accursed thing, which it was not lawful to make common use of. (Numb. xxi. 1-3. Josh. vi. 17-19. vii. 1.). From Lev. xxvii. 28, 29, we learn that a man might devote any sort of property that he owned with a vow of this nature, as well as with the more common one already noticed. What is there said about human beings thus devoted, viz. that they were to be put to death, is supposed to refer altogether to the case of such as were national enemies, which has just been stated; or such as drew upon themselves this curse by such guilt as is noticed in the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy. If Jephtha, therefore, in consequence of his rash vow, thought himself bound by this law to destroy his innocent daughter, as it seems to such extremity he actually did proceed, he must be considered to have misunderstood its meaning. (Judges xi. 30-39.)
5. THE HALF-SHEKEL TAX. In Ex. xxx. 11-16, a statute is recorded, which required every male Israelite over the age of twenty, whether rich or poor, to pay at that time half a shekel for the service of the sanctuary. It is not clear, that it was intended this should ever again be contributed; much less, that such a tax should be rendered to the sanctuary every year. Such, however, was the interpretation put upon the law after the captivity. Every Jew, it was taught, was bound to pay a yearly tribute of half a shekel for the use of the temple; and it was insisted upon, besides, that it should be paid in Jewish coin. Hence arose a regular system of care for the collection of this sacred revenue. The money changers, of whom we read, that were accustomed to sit in the outer court of the temple, a short time each year before the Passover, were men whose business it was to receive this tribute, and to accommodate, at the same time, with Jewish half shekels, such as wanted to exchange other money for them. (Matt. xxi. 12.) It seems to have been this same tribute that was demanded of our Saviour in Capernaum; which he intimated to Peter he was not properly under obligation to pay, inasmuch as he was the Son of that God to whom it was to be rendered. (Matt. xvii. 24--27.)
From the general survey of the various sacred offerings which has now been taken, it appears, that it was no small portion of their worldly substance which the Jews were required to consecrate to religious uses. Part of these offerings, indeed, were not altogether removed from the personal use of those that gave them; still, they were employed in a way that would not have been pursued if religion had not so ordered, and in a way that in a great measure deprived the offerers of all their real value in a worldly point of view, so that they had in them truly the nature of gifts presented to the Lord. But besides these, as we have seen, the Jew was called upon by his religion to render year by year a large tribute in the way of tythes, firstlings, &c. that went altogether to the support of the national worship; and was expected, moreover, to consecrate to God, in addition to all this, more or less of his property, in some way or other, of free and self-moving liberality. Thus the Lord reminded his people, that their earthly possessions were His; and that when his glory was to be promoted, they should be ready to part with them in any measure, having all assurance that no employment of wealth can be more reasonable or well-directed than that which is made in his service, according to his will, whatever may be the way in which it is appointed to be used, and whatever the degree of liberality that is called for.
Many who now call themselves the people of God would think it altogether unreasonable, if they were called upon to contribute such an amount of their property to religious purposes as was given in this way by the ancient Jews. And yet it is certainly not easy to find a satisfactory reason, why the Lord's people, at the present time, should be expected to be less ready and liberal in service of this sort for the advancement of his glory, than the Lord's people were required to be in former times. It cannot be said, that there is less room or less call for such liberality in his service, since the passing away of that worldly outward economy under which the ancient church was placed. For, although it be not wanted in fact for the support of a costly ceremonial worship, it is still needed, we all know, for the building up of Christ's spiritual kingdom in the earth. This latter was designed to be typically displayed
in the Jewish state, and comprehends in it the substantial realities which the other but represented in airy shadow. How then can we suppose, that the church of old was bound to give more for the support of the Jewish religion— the way in which God then was pleased, in infinite wisdom, to have his name glorified and his truth honoured; than the church of these latter days is bound to give for the enlargement of her boundaries and the salvation of the world -the way in which God is now to be glorified, and which he has appointed for the accomplishment of that great work of mercy that he is carrying forward in the earth? The gospel has not, like the Jewish law, prescribed how much every individual shall contribute of his substance to the treasury of God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy ; but, while it urges the general duty, leaves every one to determine for himself his own particular measure. It seeks a spiritual service, such as is prompted by a willing heart, and not rendered with reluctance or by constraint: only, it reminds us, that "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully;" while it sets before us a dark, and lost, and dying world which our efforts may help, and then, with weeping look and hand directed towards distant Calvary, exclaims, " Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was RICH, yet for your sakes he became POOR, that ye through his poverty might be rich!" (2 Cor. viii. 9. ix. 6, 7. Acts xx. 35.)
CERTAIN ceremonies and usages that were observed in the offering of sacrifices, claim a more particular notice than it was proper to bestow upon them in the general view of sacred offerings that has been taken in the preceding section.
1. Those who presented victims at the altar were accustomed, as we have seen, to lay their hands upon their heads, before they were slain. When offerings were re
quired to make atonement for the sins of the whole congregation, this ceremony was performed by some of the elders or rulers as their representatives. By this symbolic act, the animal was substituted in the place of the offerer, and solemnly devoted to God as a sacrifice for his altar. Accordingly, it was the practice to accompany it with some sort of prayer or confession suited to this idea. In fact, the ceremony of laying on hands in all cases, as well when it was to commend its objects to the mercy of God, (Gen. xlviii. 14. Matt. xix. 15,) or to set them apart to some particular office, (Numb. xxvii. 18-23. Acts xiii. 3,) as when it was to devote them to death, (Lev. xxiv. 14,) seems to have been as a matter of course associated with the notion of some address to the Most High; insomuch that when the first was enjoined or spoken of, the other was always understood to belong to it, even when it was not mentioned. In the case before us, when a sin offering or trespass offering was presented, the offender, with his hands between the horns of the victim and his eyes directed toward the front of the Sanctuary, made solemn confession of the particular transgression for which it was brought forward, and besought God, in his mercy, to receive its sacrifice as an atonement for his guilt, in room of that destruction which it was thus intimated might justly fall upon his own head. When a burnt offering was presented, a more general confession of sinful short-coming in the obedience that God's law demanded, seems to have been common. It is probable also, though we are not so told explicitly, that the address to God had in it on certain occasions, a supplication more especially for some other blessing than the forgiveness of sin, or a thankful acknowledgment for some goodness already experienced, according to the particular nature and design of the sacrifice that was offered. Especially may we suppose this would be the manner in the case of peace offerings, which were often presented with a particular reference to some single end of sort. At the same time, however, even in such cases there might have been mention made of sin, with a petition for pardoning mercy, in view of the life that was going to be poured out in sacrifice to the Holy One.-According to Jewish tradition, confession was made over victims offered to make
expiation for sin by individual offenders, in some such form as this: "O Lord, I have sinned! I have transgressed! I have rebelled! This have I done :-(and then he named the particular offence for which he sought forgiveness.) But now I repent; and may this victim be my expiation!"
2. Victims were slain immediately after the ceremony just noticed. Those that were presented for the whole congregation were required from the first to be killed by the priests or Levites. In other cases, it was originally the custom for the offerers themselves to perform the work; but afterwards, the Levites, being more expert at such business than others, had it yielded altogether into their hands. The animals, we are told by the Jews, were fastened by the neck or feet to certain strong rings, fixed firmly to the pavement of the temple-court, beside the altar, for convenient slaughter. Life was then taken by cutting the throat with a single stroke of the knife, so deep that all the blood might flow out of the body. This, as it streamed from the dying victim, was carefully received into a sacred vessel kept for the purpose, to be made use of according to law.
3. The blood, as we have seen, was differently disposed of in sacrifices of different kinds. In a few peculiarly solemn cases, some of it was carried within the Sanctuary, and sprinkled toward the mercy-seat, and placed upon the horns of the golden altar. In other instances, it was all employed about the altar of burnt offering. From the bottom of this altar, in the temple, there was a subterraneous passage, it is said, by which it was carried away into the brook of Cedron. The sprinkling and pouring out of the blood formed a most material and essential part of the sacrificial service. Because, as we are told, it was the blood, which is represented to be in an especial manner the seat of life, that made atonement for the soul; and this application of the blood to the altar, in any particular case, was that especially which had in it the virtue of expiation included in the sacrifice.
On account of its use in this respect, blood was made most solemnly sacred. Not only in the case of sacrifices, but in every other case also, it was prohibited with the greatest care from being tasted as food or regarded as a VOL. II.