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were used as signs and pledges of mutual good will and confidence between such as entered with each other into covenants of peace. (Gen. xxvi. 28-30. xxxi. 44-46. Josh. ix. 14, 15.) So those who were thus permitted to partake, as it were, of the Lord's table, in receiving entertainment from the altar, were supposed to enjoy the privilege of his friendship and peculiar favour, and to be, by this sign, in holy covenant with him, if not guilty of cold and false hypocrisy in their own hearts. (Mal. i. 7, 12.) The Apostle argues with the Corinthians against the use of meat that had been consecrated in sacrifice to idols, from this well-known principle; showing, that, as under the Jewish law they who ate of the sacrifices were partakers of God's altar, so those who joined in the offering-feasts of the heathen around them, might properly be said to have fellowship, in so doing, with devils. (1 Cor. x. 18, 20.)



Ir must be felt by every person who seriously thinks upon the subject, that the use of sacrifices, which entered so extensively into the whole system of religious worship in ancient times, had in it something strange and difficult to be understood on the principles of mere natural reason. Offerings of the bloodless sort, indeed, might be imagined, without much objection, to have taken their origin from the suggestion of nature itself, and to have been reasonable expressions of thankful piety, to which men would be led under its influence in the most direct and easy manner. Thus it might be considered not altogether wonderful or unnatural, that they should have been moved solemnly to present to God, at times, some portion of the fruits of the earth secured by their labour, as Cain did, by way of acknowledging him to be the Author and Giver of all blessings, or to testify gratitude for special favours received from his hand. But, in the case of the Jews and of the pious patriarchs noticed in the bible, offerings of this sort made but a small and secondary part of the general system of sa

crifices. All the more striking and distinguished features of that system, were portrayed with blood. The slaying and consuming of animal victims, entered essentially and primarily into its whole constitution, and formed both the basis and the principal body of all its peculiar structure. Here it is, that we are met with mystery in the institution, such as mere nature cannot help us to comprehend. What should lead men to suppose that God would be pleased with the slaughter of unoffending animals, in his worship? What connexion was there between this apparently cruel destruction of life, and the divine favour? or how could it express a pious temper in the person who thus sought to honour his Maker, or conciliate his friendship? And still more, how is it to be accounted for, that God did, in fact, approve of this bloody service, and make it an essential part of the only true religion, for so long a period of ages? Are we to imagine, that the Holy One could find satisfaction in the sufferings of his harmless creatures? Could he be pleased, in itself, with the blood of bullocks or of goats, or be soothed into complacency by the savour of their burning flesh?

To these last inquiries, all reason and natural sense answer, No. Nor can it be, with any propriety, imagined that men should ever, of their own accord, have taken up the notion, that such service could, in itself, seem agreeable to the Creator of heaven and earth. How, then, the question remains, did the notion of bloody sacrifices come into existence? and where shall we find a satisfactory reason for the fact, that such a strange and unnatural worship was really acceptable to the Most High?. The bible explains all this mystery. It teaches us the true meaning of this service, and so guides us to the discovery of its saered origin. Let us attend to the instruction it imparts on these interesting points.

1. THE MEANING OF SACRIFICES. The scriptures inform us, that the shedding of blood, in this ancient institution, had regard altogether to sin. Such a service was suited only to the worship of a guilty race, and never, in any case, left this consideration out of sight. Had men never fallen, it could never have had any meaning in their religious worship; and would never, accordingly, have found

place in it. But the fall altered all their relation to God. It was no longer possible for the creature to come directly before the Creator, as when innocent and pure, with acceptable homage or supplication. Guilt hung a dark and impenetrable curtain between the soul and the favour of its God, and shut out the voice, alike of prayer and praise, in deep and hopeless despair. No worship of man could be accepted, until this awful hindrance was taken out of the way. God, however, in his mercy, devised a plan for its removal. The plan was to secure complete satisfaction to his holy law, by suffering its vengeance to fall somewhere else, (where it could be rightly received,) than upon the rebellious themselves-by vicarious sacrifice-by an adequate atonement, rendered through the shedding of blood, without which there could be no remission. Here, then, we have unfolded the general meaning of bloody sacrifices, and the general reason why the Most High regarded them with approbation, and required them from his worshippers. The whole system had reference to the guilt of sin, and its necessary expiation. Blood, the symbol of animal life, was consecrated, by a divine appropriation, to this single holy use, and, in all its flowing at the altar, was expressive of atonement for the soul.

But could the blood of bulls and goats take away sin? Had it, in itself, the smallest efficacy to make atonement for guilt, and satisfy the holy law of God? The Apostle assures us, that such a thing was not possible; (Heb. x. 1-4;) and, if he had not told us so, the smallest reflection might convince us, that such sacrifices, however multiplied, could never purge away the conscience of sin, and restore tranquillity or holy confidence to the guilty soul. We must not, for a moment, imagine, therefore, that an offering of this sort, in any case, did ever, of itself, make the smallest satisfaction for the offence of any sin, in the sight of the Most Holy. When we read of atonement being made in this way for particular sins, under the old dispensation, we are to understand, that while it actually availed, in consequence of the divine appointment, to satisfy the requirement of the ceremonial, and in certain cases of the civil, law, it answered the claim of the moral law only in shadow, having nothing whatever, in itself,

suited to its nature, but merely setting forth in typical representation, a far more excellent sacrifice to come. The Ceremonial system was altogether, as we have seen, a shadowy exhibition of the Great Gospel Reality; without substance, or value, or meaning, when looked upon wholly in itself, but full of expressive and instructive power when contemplated in its relation to this mystery of Grace. It had, accordingly, if we may be allowed the expression, a class of shadowy sins, among other things, for the more per. fect illustration of its shadowy atonement. The ceremonial law imposed an obligation of its own, distinct from that of the moral law, and might be violated, so as to bring its condemnation upon a man, while no true guilt, such as arises only from an offence against the latter, was contracted. This ceremonial guilt, as it may be termed, might be entirely taken away, by the ceremonial means appointed for the purpose. The guilt and the removal of it, were alike symbolical; although, at the same time, not to make use of the means for this removal, could not fail to bring upon the soul the stain of real guilt, inasmuch as it then became disobedience to God, and so a transgression of the moral law. So, in particular cases, the requirement of the civil law, viewed entirely apart from moral duty, was completely satisfied by the same sort of means. Thus, an airy representation was given of the true atonement, by which alone, true sins were to be taken away. In some other cases, however, there was no claim of any law answered by these sacrificial offerings. They were presented altogether on account of moral transgressions, without regard to any of a merely ceremonial or civil sort; and then, of course, they accomplished nothing at all in themselves: only, they pointed to an all-sufficient sacrifice that was to be revealed; and when offered by the truly pious, were acceptable to God, as containing in them an acknowledgment of guilt, and a renunciation of every other ground of hope for pardon and righteousness, but the great Provision which he himself had promised to make known in the latter days, for the purpose.

Such was the only value of the ancient sacrifices. They never purged the worshippers of God from the conscience of sins, and were therefore continually offered up, year after

year, making continually new remembrance of guilt. To rely upon them, therefore, as taking away the guilt of sin, even when true repentance accompanied them, was to lean upon a broken reed; and still more presumptuous was it to do so, when no such repentance was felt at all. Yet to this degree of presumption were the Jews ever prone to be carried. They were apt to fall into the notion, that these sacrifices were in themselves, without regard to something else, highly acceptable to God, and that he could not refuse to be pleased with them, even when presented by the wicked. Hence we hear the Lord expostulating with them: To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs or of he-goats, &c. (Is. i. 11-14. Ps. 1. 7—14.) And all along it was taught, that to obey was better than sacrifice, and to hearken to the Lord's voice better than the fat of rams. (1 Sam. xv. 22. Hosea vi. 6.) Without such a disposition, it was not possible that the Lord could accept the service of any worshipper, though he appeared in his presence with thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil; nor yet, at the same time, even with this disposi tion, could such expensive offerings, or the still more precious offering of a first-born son itself, have the smallest efficacy in their nature, to remove the guilt of transgression. (Micah vi. 6-8.) Just as now, to belong to the church and partake of the Lord's supper, are things that can be of no avail without a heart ready to obey the will of God, and, even where there is such a readiness, cannot in themselves and on their own account, procure saving benefit to the soul, but merely help to direct it to the Great Original Resource of Grace, and serve as channels through which its streams may be received.

What the ancient sacrifices only represented in empty shadow, Jesus Christ, by the Sacrifice of Himself, actually accomplished. This we are expressly taught in the epistle to the Hebrews. As the whole priestly office had respect to the mediatorial character of our Saviour, and never had any other than a shadowy, unsubstantial character, except in him, as has been before remarked; so also the entire scheme of sacrificial worship, had reference to

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