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God himself, without some particular instruction, at least for a long space of time; it is most natural to suppose, that when the divine being communicated that most important knowledge to the first race of men, he also instructed them in those me. thods by wbich he chose that they should express their homage, gratitude, and obedience. But whether we suppose sacrifices to have been of human, or divine origin, it makes no difference with respect to the general idea of their nature and use.
$ 3. Of the Jewish ritual.
ESIDES the precepts and observances which
it has pleased the divine being to enjoin with respect to the whole human race, he provided, what we may call, a much stricter, and more severe dircipline for the Hebrew nation, whom he distinguished by frequent revelations of his will, by many interpofitions in their favour, and a peculiar conftitution of civil government, in which he himself more immediately presided.
They were restricted in their diet, being confined to the use of certain kinds of food; but they are such as are now generally esteemed to be the most innocent in their nature, mild in their qualities, and least apt to become satiating by frequent use. They would therefore tend to impress
upon the minds of those who were confined to them an idea of their obligation to greater purity and innocence, and make them consider themselves as a holy nation, peculiarly devoted to God. The 'use of such food would also, of itself, probably, incline them to a peaceful inoffensive life, as it is thought that the ranker kinds of food tend to make mankind fierce and cruel.
A great part of the ritual of the Hebrews seems to have been intended to preserve upon their minds a sense of their immediate relation to God, and of their obligation to a constant intercourse with him. . There was one particular place within their country, to which they were to refort, where the divine being was to be consulted by them, and where he manifested himself in a more especial manner. In this place, which was first a moveable tabernacle, and afterwards the temple at Jerusalem, he had a constant habitation, keeping, as it were, a regular court, with suitable attendants. Here he received their gifts and homage, and here he gave them instructions and advice on a variety of occasions, when they applied to him in a proper manner.
More especially, the great object of the Hebrew ritual seems to have been to inspire the minds of that people with an abhorrence of the idolatry of the neighbouring nations, and to preserve among them the pure worship of the one only living and true God. For this reason many of their rites were
the very reverse of those of their neighbours, so as to be altogether incompatible with them, and must consequently have tended to make them averfe to them. Upon every occafion the importance of their adherence to this precise mode of worship was strong. Jy inculcated upon them, a particular and remarkable providence attended them through the whole course of their history (and still attends them) giving them prosperity and success while they were obedient, and making the hand of God visible in their punishment, when they departed from his worship, and relapsed into idolatry, or when they became, in other respects, profigate and wicked.
To prevent, as far as possible, the abuse and corruption of this religion, nothing of the least consequence was left to the discretion of the people, but every minute particular, as those relating to the structure of the tabernacle, and the building of the temple, the kinds of sacrifices, the ceremonies attending them, and every thing that was to be done on their public festivals, was rigidly prescribed to them, and they were not allowed to make the leaft deviation. For the same purpose, and also to preserve a proper degree of union among a people who were originally to have had no temporal head, they were allowed to have but one altar, and no facrifice was to be made but at that one place, and by certain persons appointed for that purpose; and three times every year, viz, at their public
festivals, every male was to make his appearance before the Lord, at the place of his residence, in the tabernacle, or temple.
Several things in the Hebrew ritual were perhaps intended to serve as types of Christ, or to bear some resemblance to him and his religion, and therefore the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews calls them “a shadow of good things to come.” Heb. X. I.
On the other hand, it may be observed, that the author of this epistle perhaps only intended to draw a comparison between the Hebrew ritual and such particulars in the christian system as most nearly resemble it, only as other comparisons and figures are used, merely for illustration, without supposing that there was originally, and in the divine mind, a reference from the one to the other. Thus when the apostle Paul says, 1 Cor. x. 2. “ that the If“ raelites were all baptized to Mofes in the cloud, «c and in the sea,” he can hardly be supposed to have meant, that the sprinkling of the water upon that people, or their being, as it were, plunged in it, by the water rising over their heads, was a proper type of baptism; but only, that by a common figure of speech, it might be lo termed; or that the rock which supplied them with water was really Christ, as the same apostle cails it, 1 Cor. X. 4. or a type of Christ, but only that, in fome respects, it might be compared to him, or he to it.
In some cases also, it is very possible, that the apostles and evangelifts might imagine there was a reference to Christ, when no such thing was originally intended.
It is very remarkable, that when the facrifices under the law are spoken of in the Old Testament, as insufficient to render the offer acceptable to God, there is never the most distant allufion to any more perfect sacrifice, to which they are commonly supposed to have referred, and of which they are said to have been the types, but to good works only, .. which are always mentioned in opposition to them. Thus David says, Pf. li. 16. “ Thou desirest not “ sacrifice, else would I give it: thou delightest “ not in burnt-offering. The sacrifices of God
are a broken spirit : a broken and a contrite “ heart, O God, thou wilt not despise*" Now it can hardly be supposed but that, if sacrifices had really been designed for types, there would have been, in some place or other, a reference, more or less plain, to the thing which they were intended to prefigure, and from their relation to which they derived all their efficacy.
* This particular passage is differently rendered in the Seventy, and by this means probably the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. x, came to give a different turn to it. See, however, the fol lowing pall. ges, which express the same sentiment with this. If. i. 101Ixvi. 2. &c. Jer, vi, 8. &c. Amos v. 21. &c. Micah vi. 6. &c.