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sincere acts of worship and penitence, whenever the piety of the offerer rendered them such, they must likewise have operated to procure that spiritual remission and acceptance, which, antecedent to and independent of the Levitical ordinances, they are found in several parts of Scripture to have been effectual to obtain.
The author of the Scripture account of Sacrifices, (p. 168.) thus reasons upon this subject.—“ This people, (the Jews) as to their inward state, were doubtless under the same controul, both of the law of nature and of the divine
providence, as they were before the law; this having introduced no change in this respect. They were consequently entitled to the pardon of all their sins, of what nature soever, upon the same terms as before.” And then he goes on to shew, that with the sacrifices of the law, they continued to offer such also as had been customary in the Patriarchal times. And in proof of this, he adduces instances from the law itself, in which such sacrifices are referred to and recognized. They appear manifestly alluded to in the two first chapters of Leviticus, in which the language marks the offering to be of a purely voluntary natūre, and merely prescribes the manner in which such an offering was to be made; whereas, when specific legal and moral offences are to be expiated, the law commands the offering, and the specific nature of it. He adduces
also the cases of David, and of Eli's house, to shew that Scripture supplies instances of “ sacrifices offered out of the occasions prescribed by the law, for averting the divine displeasure upon the occasion of sin.” (p. 173.) What this writer justly remarks, concerning sacrifices distinct from those prescribed by the law, I would apply to all; and consider the penitent and devout sentiments of the offerer, as extending the efficacy of the Levitical sacrifice to the full range of those benefits, which before the Levitical institution were conferred on similar genuine acts of worship
Nor let it be objected to this, that the Apostle has pronounced of the Levitical offerings, that they could not make perfect as pertaining to the conscience. (Hebr. ix. 9. x. 1.) The sacred writer here evidently speaks in comparison. He marks the inferiority of the figure to the substance : and the total insufficiency of the type, considered independently of that from which its entire virtue was derived, to obtain a perfect remission. It might indeed, he argues, by virtue of the positive institution, effect an external and ceremonial purification, but beyond this it could have no power. The blood of bulls and of goats could not, of itself, take away sins. It could not render the mere Mosaic worshipper PERFECT as to conscience. It can have no such operation, but as connected, in the eye of faith, with that more
precious blood-shedding, which can purge the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. It could not, says Peirce, on Hebr. ix. 9. «with reference to the conscience, make perfect the worshipper, who only worshipped with meat and drink-offerings and washings, &c.”—In this view of the subject, the remarks contained in this Number, seem no way inconsistent with the language of the Apostle.
One observation more, arising from the passage of the Apostle here referred to, I would wish to offer.-In pointing out the inferiority of the Mosaic to the Christian institution, we find the writer, in the tenth chapter, not only asserting the inefficacy of the Mosaic sacrifice for the full and perfect remission of sins, but taking considerable pains to prove it. Now from this it seems, that the Jews themselves, so far from confining their legal atonements to the mere effect of ceremonial purification, were too prone to attribute to them thevirtue of a perfect remission of all moral guilt. Of this there can be no question as to the later Jews. Maimonides expressly says in his treatise, De Pænit. cap. i. V 2. that “the scape-goat made atonement for all the transgressions of the law, both the lighter and the more heavy transgressions, whether done presumptuously or ignorantly: all are expiated by the scape-goat, if indeed the party repent." I would remark here, that though Maimonides evidently stretches the virtue of the atonement beyond the limits of the law, (presumptuous sins not admitting of expiation, yet he seems to have reasoned on a right principle, in attributing to the sincere and pious sentiments of the offerer, the power of extending the efficacy of the atonement to those moral offences, which the legal sin-offering by itself could never reach.
ON THE VICARIOUS IMPORT OF
THE MOSAIC SACRIFICES.
Page 34. ()-I have, in the page here referred to, used the expression vicarious import, rather than vicarious, to avoid furnishing any colour to the idle charge, made against the doctrine of atonement, of supposing a real substitution in the room of the offender, and a literal translation of his guilt and punishment to the immolated victim ; a thing utterly incomprehensible, as neither guilt nor punishment can be conceived, but with reference to consciousness, which cannot be transferred. But to be exposed to suffering, in consequence
of another's guilt; and thereby, at the same time to represent to the offender, and to release him from, the punishment due to his transgression, involves no contradiction whatever. In this sense, the suffering of the animal may be
conceived a substitute for the punishment of the offender; inasmuch as it is in virtue of that suffering, the sinner is released. If it be asked, what connexion can subsist between the death of the animal and the acquittal of the sinner; I answer without hesitation, I know not. To unfold divine truths by human philosophy, belongs to those who hold opinions widely different from mine on the subject of atonement. To the Christian it should be sufficient, that Scripture has clearly pronounced this connexion to subsist. That the death of the animal could possess no such intrinsic virtue is manifest; but that divine appointment could bestow upon it this expiatory power, will not surely be denied : and as to the fact of such appointment, as well as its reference to that great event from which this virtue was derived, the word of revelation furnishes abundant evidence, as I trust appears from the second of the Discourses contained in this volume.
Now, that the offering of the animal slain in sacrifice, may be considered vicarious in the sense here assigned, that is, vicarious in symbol, (or as representing the penal effects of the offerer's de merits, and his release from the deserved punishment in consequence of the death of the victim ) inaseemsto require little proof, beyond the passages of Scripture referred to in the text. If farther evidence should however be required, we shall find it in a more particular examination of that most