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laid down his life, to procure for repentant sinners forgiveness and acceptance. This surrender of life, has been called by the sacred writers, a sacrifice; and the end attained by it, expiation or atonement. With such, as have been desirous to reduce Christianity to a mere moral system, it has been a favourite object, to represent this sacrifice as entirely figurative, k founded only in allusion and similitude to the sacrifices of the law; whereas, that this is spoken of by the sacred writers, as a real and proper sacrifice, to which those under the law bore respect but as types or shadows, is evident from various
passages of holy writ, but more particularly from the epistle to the Hebrews; in which it is expressly said, that the law, having a shadow of good things to come, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect : —but this man, after, he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.* And again, when the writer of this epistle, speaks of the High Priest entering into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice, he asserts, that this was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect; but Christ being come, an High Priest of good
k See Nos. XXXI. and XLIV.
* Hebr. x. I. 12.
things to come; not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us; for, he adds, if the blood of bulls and of goats sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ? It must be unnecessary to detail more of the numerous passages,
go that the sacrifice of Christ was a true and effective sacrifice, whilst those of the law, were but faint representations, and inadequate copies, intended for its introduction.
Now, if the sacrifices of the Law, appear to have been but preparations for this one great sacrifice, we are naturally led to consider, whether the same may not be asserted of sacrifice from the beginning; and whether we are not warranted by Scripture, in pronouncing the entire rite to have been ordained by God, as a type of that ONE SACRIFICE, in which all others were to have their consummation.
That the institution was of divinel ordinance, may, in the first instance, be reasonably inferred from the strong and sensible attestation of the divine acceptance of sacrifice in the case ofm
+ Hebr. ix. 9–14.
1 See No. LVII. m See No, LVIII.
Abel, again in that of Naah, afterwards in that of Abraham, and also from the systematic establishment of it, by the same divine authority, in the dispensation of Moses. And whether we consider the Baok of^ Job, as the production of Moses; or of that pious worshipper of the true God, among the descendants of Abraham, whose name it bears; or of some other person who ļived a short time after, and composed it from the materials left by Job himself ; the representation there made of God, as prescribing sacrifice to the friends of Job, in every supposition exhibits a strong authority, and of high antiquity, upon this question,
These few facts, which I have stated, ynaided by any comment, and abstracting altogether from the arguments which embarrass the contrary hypothesis, and to which I have already alluded, might perhaps be sufficient to satisfy an enquiring and candid mind, that sacrifice must have had its origin in DIVINE INSTITUȚION. But if in addition, this rite, as practised in the earliest ages, shall be found connected with the sacrifice of Christ, confessedly of divine appointment ; little doubt can reasonably remain on this head. Let us then examine, more particularly, the circumstances of the first sacrifice, offered up by Abel.
♡ See No. LIX.
It is clear from the words of Scripture, that both Cain and Abel made oblations to the Lord. It is clear also, notwithstanding the well-known fanciful interpretation of an eminent commentator, that Abel's was an animal sacrifice. It is no less clear, that Abel's was accepted, whilst that of Cain was rejected. Now what could have occasioned the distinction ? -The acknowledgment of the Supreme Being and of his universal dominion, was no less strong in the offering of the fruits of the earth by Cain, than in that of the firstlings of the flock by Abel: the intrinsic efficacy of the gift must have been the same in each, each giving of the best that he possessed: the expression of gratitude, equally significant and forcible in both. How then is the difference to be explained ? If we look to the writer to the Hebrews, he informns as, that the ground on which Abel's oblation was preferred to that of Cain, was, that Abel offered his in faith ; and the criterion of this faith also appears to have been, in the opinion of this writer, the animal sacrfiice. The words are remarkable-By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his giftsf. The words here translated, a more excellent sacrifice, are in an early version rendered a much more sacrifice, 4 which phrase, though • See No. LX. P See No. LXI, + Hebr. xi. 4.
9. See No. LXII.
uncouth in form, adequately conveys the original. The meaning then is, that by faith Abel offered that, which was much more of the true nature of sacrifice, than what had been offered by Cain. Abel consequently was directed by faith, and this faith was manifested in the nature of his offering, What then are we to infer - Without some revelation' granted, some assurance held out as the object of faith, Abel could not have exercised this virtue: and without some peculiar mode of sacrifice enjoined, he could not have exemplified his faith by an appropriate offering. The offering made, we have already seen, was that of an animal. Let us consider, whether this could have a connexion with any divine
assurance, communicated at that early day.
It is obvious, that the promise made to our first parents, conveyed an intimation of some future deliverer, who should overcome the tempter that had drawn man from his innocence, and remove those evils which had been occasioned by the fall. This assurance, without which, or some other ground of hope, it seems difficult to conceive how the principle of religion could have tad place among men, became to our first parents the grand object of faith. To perpetuate this fundamental article of religious belief among the descendants of Adam, some striking memorial of the fall of man, and of the promised deliverance,
r See No. LXIII.