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much abate the wonder. However, the learned Writer solves the difficulty with much ease; by deriving it from the Command to Abraham. And here, before I enter on the matter, permit me to repeat, what I have before observed, that it indicates an odd turn of mind (however general it may be), which disposes the Learned to seek for the origin of the superstitious rites of antiquity, rather in the casual adventures of particular men, than in the uniform workings of our common nature*.

But the learned Writer fancies his solution is much strengthened by the general notion of Antiquity, that the ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΘΥΣΙΑ was a Mystical Sacrifice. Let us examine his reasoning on this head. Mr. Bryant having given us, from the fragment of Sanchoniatho, what relates to IL or KRONUS's sacrifice of his only Son (by which, indeed, it appears, that human Sacrifice was not a conceit of yesterday; the Author of that fragment plainly deriving his story from this part of the Abrahamic History), goes on in these words, "They [human sacrifices] "were instituted probably in consequence of a prophetic "Tradition, which I imagine had been preserved in the family of Esau; and transmitted, through his posterity, to the people of Canaan.” p. 291.

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To this, let me, first of all, observe, that the supposition of a prophetic tradition rests entirely on the truth of my peculiar idea of the nature of the command to Abraham, viz. That it was a mere scenical representation, given at the patriarch's earnest request. For on this idea only could the command be considered as a prophecy. But this is doing too much honour to my hypothesis, still held, I suppose, by the more orthodox, to be a paradox; and, what is still worse, it greatly weakens the learned Writer's reasoning; for a scenical representation, which must naturally end as this did, in a prohibition of the commanded sacrifice, could hardly induce any one, who went upon the grounds, or in consequence of a prophetic Tradition, to think that human Sacrifices were acceptable to the Deity. But the truth is, this prophetic Tradition, in the family of Abraham, is merely gratis dictum. We find not the least footsteps of it in the more circumstantial History of the other branch of Abraham's Family, the * See the Divine Legation. A A Patriarchal;


Patriarchal; which was most concerned to preserve it, had there been any such. Besides, how this commanded Sacrifice, which was forbidden to be perpetrated, should encourage human sacrifices, before men had steeled. themselves, by long use, in the practice of so unnatural a crime, is hard to conceive. It is true, that this argument will lose somewhat of its force, when we suppose the command was given to a family which were no strangers to human Sacrifices. This is observed purely in reverence to truth; but, be this as it will, it subverts the fancy of the Abrahamic original. For the fact seems to be, that, at the time this Command was given to the Patriarch, the Gentile world was deeply plunged into this diabolic Barathrum: which, though the descendants of Esau possibly had not escaped, yet the line of Isaac certainly had.

The Mosaic account of the State of Religion in the Abrahamic times, shews that it was extremely depraved, For though the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full yet that of their neighbours, in Sodom and Gomorrah, we know, was. These considerations reasonably induced Philo the Jew, in his Discourse concerning Abraham, to suppose that human Sacrifices were in use before the time of Abraham. And Marsham, one of the best modern Critics concerning ancient times, declares, without hesitation, in favour of this humiliating circumstance; and our admirable Spencer thinks, there is so little reason to ascribe the original of Infanticide to the command to Abraham, that, unless the History of that command be told very lauely and imperfectly, it affords very strong arguments against that inhuman practice. But it is not generally the way of Scripture to reprobate a bad practice before it has been conceived or committed t. Hence we may fairly collect, that human Sacrifices were in use before the command to Abraham. But what need we * Gen. xv. 16.

+ Probe novi quamplurimos alia omnia de ritus hujus nefarii fonte sentire, quasi ex Abrahami filium suum offerentis, historia corrupta et depravata profluxissent. Huic autem sententiæ fidem adhibere nescio, cum historia illa nisi planè mutilata, magna præbeat contra morem illum inhumanum argumenta; et verisimile sit multas Gentes liberos suos iminolare solitas, de Abrahami exemplo, ne vel fando quicquam audivisse. De Leg. Hebræo, ritualibus, L. 11. C. 13. Sect. 3.


more to prove the fact in question, than this, That, if the account, here given, of the origin and progress of Sacrifice be the true, (as it hath the fairest claim of being so received, since the first use, and all the gradual abuses of it, till it sunk into the horrid Rite in question, may be understood, and understood only on this simple Principle, the uniform workings of our common nature) human Sacrifices inust needs have preceded that æra.

What follows, in the learned Writer, as a strong confirmation of his system, is this, that CHILD-SACRIFICE was a type or representation of SOMETHING TO COME. Now, if by Child-sacrifice he means the command to Abraham, this we allow and even contend for. But, if he means that the specific rite of Child-sacrifice was understood by Sacrificers, either Jewish or Gentile, to be a type or representation of SOMETHING TO COME, I think he speaks without the least proof.-What he adds, one knows not what to make of-Child-sacrifice (says he) is the only instance of any Sacrifice in the Gentile world which is said to be MYSTICAL.-For, if by mystical he means, a type of something to come, this has been answered already. But if by mystical we are to understand, what was so called by the Gentiles in their Sacrificial Rites, almost all of them were mystical; that' is, had a meaning subjoined, not obvious, nor intended to be obvious to the uninitiated, or the Profane. All their secret Rites, in which Sacrifice bore a principal part, abounded so much in hidden meanings of this sort, that these Rites were called MYSTERIES by way of eminence.

But if, after all, this TEKNO@TZIA or Child-sacrifice had the plain meaning which I have given to it, and not the mystical of the learned Writer, what becomes of his whole hypothesis?-That it had no other meaning, than the plain one, I appeal to the Authority of an inspired Writer. MICAH, without doubt, understood the true Origin, and consequently, the right import of Childsacrifice; and he delivers my sense of it, in these words-Vill the Lord be pleased with thousands of Rams, or with ten thousands of Rivers of Oil? SHALL I GIVE MY FIRST-BORN FOR MY TRANSGRESSION, THE FRUIT OF MY BODY FOR THE SIN OF MY SOUL*? * Ch. vi. ver. 7.

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Here, we see, conformably to what I have delivered concerning Child-sacrifice, that the idea the Gentiles had of it, (for, to the Gentile, not to the Jewish sacrifices, the Prophet here alludes, as will be shewn hereafter) was simply, and solely, this, the very highest atonement that man could make for his transgressions, as it was the offering up what was most dear to the offender. The Prophet, therefore, puts it in the number of expiatory Sacrifices. But had that, which the learned Writer contends for, been the true and ancient notion of the Texvolucia, one can hardly think that, at a time when the Prophets were gradually opening the nature of the NEW DISPENSATION, Micah would have let slip so fair an occasion of considering it under that Christian idea.

We may now see, for what reason Child-sacrifice came to be reckoned a MYSTERIOUS WORSHIP; it was done, to withdraw the observation of the People from so horrid a rite, when considered only in its simple use; for nature is rarely so far debauched, as to behold, with indifference, the violation of its most instinctive appetites. So that the enormity was to be covered by some farfetched invention of superior excellence of virtue, which preferred the rights of the Divinity to all human obligations. Thus, when the Worshippers were apt to revolt at Sacrifices extremely cruel or libidinous, the Priests secured their own credit, and the honour of their God, by the intervention of a spiritual meaning. And human Sacrifices became mysterious for the same reason that the impudent procession of the Phallus, in the corrupted Rites of Bacchus and Osiris, was taught to convey the high matters of REGENERATION, and a new life.

I have been the longer on this question, because, if human Sacrifices should be thought to have had their original from the Command to Abraham, it might seem to give some colour (which was far from the intention of this very learned and worthy man) to the calumny of the Deists, who assert, that HUMAN SACRIFICES MADE A PART OF THE MOSAIC RITUAL. For if the Texvdur. prefigured the Sacrifice on the Cross, or, as the learned Writer expresseth it, was a type or representation of something to come, it softens a little this infidel Paradox. The Poet VOLTAIRE hath repeated the calumny over


and over, as if the Bible was still shut up, not only from the people in general, but (what perhaps would have been attended with less injury to Religion) from THESE POETS in particular.


And now, this more serious question (in the midst of one less important, viz. the origin and progress of sacrifice in general) will deserve a severe examination. VOLTAIRE, in a thing he calls, "An Essay "An Essay on general History," accuses the Law, in these Words" The "Jewish Law seems to permit these [human] Sacrifices. "It is said in Leviticus, that none devoted which shall "be devoted of men shall be redeemed, but shall surely "be put to death*. The Jewish Books bear evidence, that when the Israelites overran the little country of Canaan, they massacred in most of the villages, men, women, and children, because they had been DEVOTED. On this Law it was that "Jephtha sacrificed his "daughter t."

1. This whole calumny I shall clear away first of all, by the most express prohibitions of the LAW, together with the declarations of the PROPHETS; both of which execrate every species of human Sacrifice.

2. And then examine and explain all those passages of Scripture, which seem to have given a handle to this impious charge.

3. Concluding, in the third place, with a confutation of that censure of inhumanity towards the inhabitants of Canaan urged by Voltaire, to support his main accusation of HUMAN SACRIFICES, and urged as if it were itself in the number of such Sacrifices.


In my entrance on the first head, let me previously observe, that the earliest direction for SANCTIFICATION, that is, (in the language of Moses) for SACRIFICE, is of

* Ch. xxvii. ver. 29.

+ La Loi des Juifs semblait permettre ces Sacrifices. Il est dit dans Levitique; si une ame vivante a été promise à DIEU on ne poura la racheter, il faut qu'elle meure. Les Livres des Juifs reportent que quand ils envoluirent le petit pais des Cananéens, ils massacrerent dans plusieurs villages, les homines, les femmes, les enfans-parce qu'ils avoient éte devoués. C'est sur cette Loi qui furent fodes les serments de Jephthé qui sacrifia sa fille, &c. Oeuvres de M. de Voltaire, Tom. xiii. p. 227. 8 Ed. 1756, 8vo.

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