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and after the Flood.
[Ess. XI. rally believed, that the divine approbation of Abel's sacrifice was displayed by the breaking forth of a miraculous fire, which consumed the accepted victim; for it is evident, from the subsequent account of Cain, that the preference of his brother's offering to his own was indicated by some intelligible sign; and, from various passages in the history of the old Testament, we learn that this was the sign by which Jehovah usually condescended to "testify" of the "gifts" of his servants: see Gen. xv, 17; Lev. ix, 24; Jud. xiii, 19, &c.; comp. Heb. xi, 4. If this is true, so admirable a mark of divine favour, while it excited the jealousy of Cain, must have amply confirmed the conviction of Abel, that, in shedding the blood of an innocent lamb, (notwithstanding all the strangeness of the action3) he had been fulfilling a religious duty, and had been acting in strict conformity with the will of his Creator.
The next sacrifice, mentioned in Scripture, is that offered by Noah. After he had come forth from the ark, with his sons, and his sons' wives with him, we read that he "builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and
donum, oblatio: vide Simonis lex. in voc. This passage is ably discussed in Magee's "Discourses and Dissertations on the Atonement," 3rd. ed. vol. ii, p. 235.
5 The sacrifice of a harmless beast must have appeared the more strange in the view of Abel, because there is reason to believe that, before the flood, animals were not permitted to be slain for the sustenance of man. The green herb and the fruits of the trees were given to Adam and his posterity for their food. "Behold," says Jehovah, "I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat:" Gen, i, 29. And that vegetable food alone was, at that time, allowed to our species, is evident from the reference made to this original grant of the green herb, when, after the flood, another grant was added of birds, beasts, and fishes-"Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herb, have I given you all things:" Gen. ix. 3.
offered burnt-offerings on the altar." Now, that this sacrifice also was acceptable to that Being, to whom the beasts and the fowls, as well as their lordly master, owed their existence, is plainly recorded. "And the Lord smelled a sweet savour, (or a savour of rest)," says the sacred historian; "and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake:" Gen. viii, 20, 21. When Abraham returned from Egypt, and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, he there built an altar, (i. e. literally a place to slay victims ono) to the Lord: Gen. xiii, 18. This was an evidence that the rite of animal sacrifice was continued among those descendants of Noah who constituted, at that early period, the visible church of God; and it was in obedience to the direct command of Jehovah (as every reader of the Bible must remember) that, on a subsequent occasion, Abraham bound his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, and was about to sacrifice him there, when the Angel of the covenant stayed his hand, and provided him with a ram caught in the thicket for a burnt-offering to the Lord, instead of his child: Gen. xxii, 1-13. No doubt, it was on the same general principle, and in compliance with the same original institution, that animals were slain in sacrifice, by Jacob, by Moses and the Israelites, by Jethro, and by Balaam: see Gen. xlvi, 1; Exod. x, 25; xviii, 12; Numb. xxiii, 1.
But, of the sacrifices which were offered by the servants of the one God, independently of the Jewish law, I know of none which cast a clearer light on our present subject than those which are recorded in the
7 That Abraham, and those with whom he lived, were accustomed to the rite of animal sacrifice, more especially appears from the question addressed by Isaac to his Father, while they were on the way to Mount Moriah, "Behold," said Isaac, "the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?" Gen. xxii, 7.
by Job and his Friends.
[Ess. XI. history of Job, who probably lived in Arabia at a period anterior to the promulgation of that law. We read that, after Job's sons and daughters had been entertaining one another in their houses, "Job sent, and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually:" Job i, 5. Again, at the close of the book, we find the Almighty himself commanding a similar sacrifice. "The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore, take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering, and my servant Job shall pray for you, for him will I accept; less I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, went and did according as the Lord commanded them :" xlii, 7-9.
The sacrifices which were offered in the church of God, before the law, appear to have been all of one description. They were burnt-offerings; and this appellation was given to them because every part of the victim, after its blood had been poured forth, and except the skin and its appurtenances, was consumed with fire upon the altar. Now, that these sacrifices were in their nature expiatory, and not, as some persons have imagined, merely eucharistical, may be concluded, for various reasons. For, in the first place, the slaughter of the animal was probably significant of the death merited by the transgressions of the offerer. Secondly, the sacrifices of the heathen nations
Ess. XI.] Sacrifices of the Jewish Law.
of antiquity (which may be regarded as a corrupt imitation of these original burnt-offerings) were, for the most part, notoriously rites of deprecation or atonement. Thirdly, the same character attached (as we shall presently find occasion to observe) to the burnt-offerings enjoined by the Mosaic law; and, lastly, in the sacrifice of Noah, which was apparently intended to deprecate a repetition of the divine vengeance, and in the offerings of Job and his friends, which were expressly directed to the purpose of expiation, we have examples, which, in the total absence of all opposite testimony, may be considered as casting a clear light on the true signification of these rites in general.
But, while it would be unreasonable to deny the expiatory character of these sacrifices, the doctrine of Scripture ought never to be forgotten, that "the blood of bulls and of goats" cannot "take away sin:" Heb. x, 4. And when, with these historical accounts of the burnt-offerings of Abel, of Noah, of Abraham, of Jacob, and of Job, we compare the doctrine of the New Testament, that the blood of Jesus Christ alone cleanses man from iniquity, we must surely allow that all these sacrifices did but typify the foreordained sacrifice of the Holy One of Israel; and that whatever they possessed of piacular virtue is to be traced exclusively to that great reality of which they were the shadows.
Now, the doctrine which rests on these powerful probabilities, as it relates to the offerings of the servants of God, before the Mosaic institution, may be regarded as fixed and ascertained, with respect to the sacrificial ordinances of the Jewish ceremonial law.
Of that law, sacrifice was, indeed, the distinguishing feature; and, while the variety, particularity, and strictness, of the edicts delivered on the subject, serv
The Covenant ratified with Blood, [Ess. xI.
ed the purpose of occupying the attention, and of correcting the idolatrous tendencies, of a carnal people, the whole system was fraught with allusion to the Christian doctrine of atonement.
Immediately after the delivery of the law, from Mount Sinai," Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you, concerning all these words:" Exod. xxiv, 4-8.
Thus it appears that, at the time of the promulgation of the Mosaic law, a solemn compact was made between God and his people. They contracted to obey his commandments in all things; and he graciously promised, on this reasonable condition, to be their guide, their protector, and their God: and this compact was ratified by the blood of immaculate victims, which were freely offered by Moses and the people on the Lord's holy altar. The death of these victims plainly denoted the penal consequences merited by the sins of the offerers; and the Lord's gracious acceptance of the vicarious sacrifice was, on his part, a sure pledge of his mercy towards his willing, though erring, children. And here it is of importance, once for all, to observe, that the atoning virtue is represented as being in the blood of the victim, because the