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continues to be ordinarily placed every fourth vear as before) because that, in the space of four centuries, the eleven minutes every year (as above mentioned) are so far from making four complete days, that they make but little more than three; and by this means the points of the Equinoces are so fixed for the future, that they can never vary again. The reader will, I hope, pardon this digression which I make, because it may be doubtless of some assistance to those, who have not thoroughly studied these matters.
Let us now see by what means the Jews regulated their year so exactly, that its first month always came in the Spring. There were two reasons that engaged them to be extremely exact in this matter: the one of which was, that the law obliged them to offer up to God a sheaf of ripe barley, or at least of such as was pretty nearly ripe, in this first month; and the other was, that the passover, which fell on the fourteenth day of this month, could not be celebrated without offering up an infinite number of lambs, which it would have been impossible to have had in Winter. And it was therefore necessary that this first month, in which the feast of the passover was celebrated, should not be entirely passed before the vernal Equinox, and that it should always fall in the same season of the year.
In the mean time, twelve lunar months make but three hundred and fifty-four days, eight hours, forty-nine minutes, and some seconds. And consequently this year must be shorter than the solar one by eleven days, some hours, and some minutes. But it has been already said, that the Gg2
Jews Jews regulated their months by the phases of the moon, and not by any astronomical calculations. And when therefore their twelfth month was ended, and they found that their Spring was not yet come, the next new moon was not made to belong to the first month, but to a thirteenth which they inserted, and therefore called, the in tercalary month. And this they did so exactly, that the full of the moon of the month Nisannever came before the Equinor, that is, before the day when the sun, entering the first degree of Aries, makes the days and nights equal.
But that I may give all the necessary light that is wanting in this affair, I shall observe, that the Jews have four sorts of years, or rather, that each year has four beginnings. That of the civil year was in the month Tisri; that of the sacred year, in the month Nisan ; that of the tithe of the cattle, in the month Elul, that is to say, according to the Rabbins, that they began from this month to take an account of all the cattle which were bom, that they might offer the tithe of them to God ;* and lastly, that of trees, which was on the first or fifteenth of the month Shebat. For the same Rabbins likewise say, that the law having commanded that the fruit of a tree newly planted should not be eaten of, till after three years,f because the tree was, till that time, thought unclean; it is from the last mentioned month that they began to reckon this sort of year.
What I have said concerning these four distinctions, relates only to the common year of
* Lev. xxvii. 32.
Ibid. xix. 23.
the the Jews, which, as has been said, consisted of twelve or thirteen lunar months. But besides this year, they had a second, (as has also been already observed) which consisted of seven years, and was called sabbatical. On this year the Jews were not permitted to cultivate the earth. They neither plowed, nor sowed, nor pruned their vinęs ; and if the earth brought forth any thing of its own accord, these spontaneous fruits did not belong to the master of the ground, but were common to all, and every man might gather them. So that the Jews were obliged during the six years, and more especially in the last, of them, wherein they cultivated the earth, to lay up provisions enough to last from the end of the sixth year to the ninth, in which was their first harvest after the sabbatical year. *
And as seven common years made the sabbar tical year, so did seven sublatical years make a third sort of year among them, which was called the year of Jubilee.
Of the Jervish Sacrifices:-their different kinds,
and their different Ceremonies :-and, of their Offerings, "Gifts, First-fruits, and Tenths.
WACRIFICING is the offering up to God a living animal, whose blood is shed in adoration of his majesty, and in order to appease his wrath. All the different religions in the world agree in
this point, and have had the same ideas of a sa. crifice. Which uniformity of opinion is very surprising ; for whence could it be, that all people should thus universally agree, that the blood of an animal has these two great properties? or how could it come to pass, that the use of sacrifices should thus universally prevail among men? It is commonly said indeed, that this was a fond conceit, which owes its rise to the barbarity of the Gentiles; and some think, that as to the Jews, they borrowed this custom from the Egyptians, and that it pleased God to leave them to the worship they had seen in Egypt, he being content with barely reforming it. But can it be believed, that God would borrow the manner of his worship from a people that was superstitious, and at enmity with him? No: the origin of sacrifices is to be dated much higher. It is derived from the patriarchs, * from Abel, from Noah, and from Abraham, who all offered sacrifices, which the Scripture testifies were acceptable to God.
It may be said, that all people had this idea of a sacrifice; they all pretended to substitute the soul of the beast, which is the blood, in room of the criminal soul of the sinner. ". The law of sacrifices, (says Eusebius,t) manifestly shews it; for it commands all those who offer sacrifices to put their hand upon the heads of the victims; and when they lead the animal to the priest, they lead it by the head, as it were
* Probably from Adam himself, who was clothed with the skins of beasts, which were most probably slain in sacrifice. Gen. iii. 21. De Tab. I. 3. c. 7. § 1.
+ Demonst. Evang. lib. i. c. 10.
to of the Israelites. 231 to substitute it thereby in the room of their own." And upon this is founded the law which forbids the eating of blood: which God himself explains very clearly in the reason he gives for this prohibition: “For, (says he,) the
life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it · to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for
your souls ; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.* And if then it be true, that God himself commanded the patriarchs to offer sacrifices to him, and if he looked on the blood that was shed in them, as the essence of the sacrifice, who can doubt but that this was done with a view to the blood of Jesus Christ, who was one day to shed his, for the redemption of the universe ? Adam was no sooner fallen into sin, but God promised him One who should make an atonement for his sin; and as this atonement must be made by the blood of Jesus Christ, it pleased him, that the patriarchs, and afterwards his own people, should give types of this great sacrifice in those of their victims: and from hence they drew all their virtue. s Whilst men says the same Eusebius) had no victim that was more excellent, more precious, and more worthy of God, animals became the price and ransom of their souls. And their substituting these animals in their own room, bore indeed some affinity to their suffering themselves; in which sense it is, that all these antient worshippers and friends of God made use of them. The Holy Spirit had taught them, that there should one day come a victim, more vene