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Much might be said of the moral tendency of many of the rites of Moses: By them they were easily instructed in the nature and importance of internal purity. The phraseology of the devotional scriptures, and of the prophets, shews they were understood, and, we may add, were intended to be understood, in this manner: we read of " the sacrifices "of righteousness," and of " a contrite "heart;" of" cleanness of hands, and pu"rity of heartof " circumcising the "heart," &c. The prophets solemnly and repeatedly warned the people, not to imagine, that religious observances, however expensive; however minutely, however frequently performed, according to the law, could be acceptable to God, while they allowed themselves in wickedness: "The sa"crifices of the wicked are an abomination '* to the Lord."
I Am led to observe, from the mention of expence in the Jewish worship, that it was by no means so burdensome in this respect as has been supposed: the annual expence* of the national religion has been com
O puted, * See Lowman's Ritual.
puted, and found to amount to no great sum.
But though the objects brought in view are excellent and important, and perhaps the most important, even in the divine purpose, to the great body of the people, at least for a considerable time; they were by no meaus the sole objects of the numerous positive institutions of the law. The epistle to the Hebrews was formerly mentioned as exhibiting a conformity betwixt the law and the Gospel: and it is repeatedly declared in the New Testament, that the peculiar rites of Judaism have a reference to the Gospel: they are "stiadows of good things" which are now come : " the law is our schoolmaster to bring "us unto Christ."
It is readily acknowledged, that many interpreters of the Scripture have sought the Gospel in the Old Testament, and in the positive rites, where it was not to be found. Their indiscreet, though pious, zeal of evangelizing every thing, may have brought this method of explaining the law into suspicion and disrepute: but we never, excepting when
under under the influence of prejudice and disgust, discredit the proper use of a thing, because it has been abused. We may be justly blameable, we may be highly guilty, in overlooking the wisdom of God in the preparations for the Gospel, and in the rites of the previous dispensation in particular: turn not away from this study, because of the foolish conceits of some of the interpreters of the law: because they found every thing in it, let us not imagine we shall find nothing at all.
"Known unto the Lord are all his works "from the beginning:" the arrangement of the events and revolutions in the world is the Lord's: if, then, we suppose it to be a purpose of God, in the government of his creatures, to reveal, in some distant period, a system of truths, a scheme of mercy, much to be desired, before the discovery of it, and for the general good of the world after it should be published and proposed, does it not appear highly worthy of the wisdom and the grace of God, to give some notices of his purpose, and of the nature of this future revelation? Is it not worthy of God to give such notices of it, as may serve to increase
O Z th<? the expectation of it, before it is published; explain its nature when published; and confirm its truth, after it is established? Now we find all these important purposes are in fact excellently answered by the law.
The whole world of believers groaned for the promised salvation: to the hope of the consolation they earnestly " desired to come:" in their sacred rites, they saw their need of a saviour, or of a revelation such as Christians enjoy: in them they saw the Gospel shadowed forth. By the law, the Gospel is in some measure explained; for the phrases of Judaism are adopted under Christianity ; and, by this circumstance, the doctrines of the Gospel are less in danger of being explained away by the boldness of criticism; or of being misunderstood, because altogether new and uncommon. Must it not be acknowledged also, that to those who lived after the Gospel was published, and to us, this preparation, this conformity, this unfolding plan, this accomplished dispensation of the law, this perfect dispensation of the Gospel, mustappear " the doing of the Lord?" We perceive and admire consummate wisdom, and
goodness goodness divine: such goodness and wisdom may well employ the admiration and praises of the angels of God.
The Pentateuch is to be considered as a history, as well as a system of doctrines and laws: the history and the doctrines confirm and illustrate each other: the laws correspond to both. Moses did not live at so remote a period but that he might collect all the particulars recorded in the book of Genesis, as handed down from father to son: Adam and Methusaleh were contemporaries: so were Sem and Methusaleh; Sem did not die till Abraham was far advanced in life. The period betwixt Abraham and the Exodus, the going forth of Israel from Egypt, was not great.
Let Us review what we have said: the sublimest doctrines, the purest morality, the wisest institutions, the most probable history of the first ages, are contained in the writings of Moses, which are communicated to us by the Jews.
In these writings we find that Moses lies