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Ess. XI.]

the Burnt-Offerings,


blood was the life of it, and the shedding of its blood was the destruction of its life. "The life of the flesh," said Jehovah to the Israelites, "is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul:" Lev. xvii, 11.

Now, as the covenant between God and the Israelites was thus originally ratified by the shedding and sprinkling of blood, so was it afterwards maintained, and perpetually kept in the recollection of the people, by the frequently-recurring observance of the same rite, which, under the Mosaic institution, was practised on a multitude of occasions, and under a considerable variety of forms. The sacrifices enjoined by the law were divided into three classes-burnt-offerings, peace-offerings, and sin-offerings; and these classes were distinguished from one another, not so much by any radical difference in the principles on which they were offered, as by the variation of ceremony under which they were administered. The burntofferings were distinguished chiefly by the circumstance already mentioned, that the whole of the animal, except the skin, was consumed on the altar. Like the sacrifices of the ancient patriarchs, these offerings, under the law, were, in general, voluntary-the prescribed indications of the free-will piety and devotion of the Lord's servants: Levit. i. Yet, on various stated occasions, the burnt-offering was required by express commandment-an observation which more particularly applies to the morning and evening sacrifice the daily burnt-offering of two spotless male lambs of a year old, on the altar, first of the tabernacle, and afterwards of the temple at Jerusalem: Exod. xxix, 38.

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The peace-offerings were freely presented to the Lord by his people, whenever they were prompted to


the Peace-offerings,

[Ess. XI.

it by their feeling of piety and devotion: and the lamb, the goat, or the bullock, thus afforded, might be of any age, and of either sex. The flesh of the victim was eaten partly by the officiating priests, and partly by the offerers themselves: see Lev. iii; Calmet's Dictionary, "Sacrifice."

Now, although the peace-offerings were uniformly voluntary, and the burnt-offerings frequently so, and thus assumed the peculiar character of gifts; and although, on these grounds, we may consider them (especially the former) to have been the acceptable signs of gratitude towards the Supreme Being, it is unquestionable that they were also directed to the great and leading purpose of atonement. With respect to the burntofferings, this fact is expressly stated: "If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt-sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him :” Lev. i, 2-4. Nor can it be doubted that to make an atonement for the sins of the people (in a subordinate and figurative sense) was the true purpose of the daily burnt-offerings in the temple, which appear to have been purchased by the amount of half-shekels, annually contributed by the Israelites, as a "ransom" for their "souls:" Exod. xxx, 11-16.

And, again, with regard to the peace-offerings, their expiatory character is sufficiently marked by three circumstances, which uniformly accompanied them, in common with the other legal sacrifices. The first was the prescribed absence of every kind of blemish or uncleanness in the victim-a circumstance which was, pro

Ess. XI.]

and the Sin-offerings,


bably, always connected with the notion that, in order to escape the merited penalty of his own death, the sinner was bound to offer a perfect substitute: Lev. iii, 1. The second was the imposition of hands on the head of the animal, by which expressive ceremony the offerer was supposed to transfer his transgressions to the victim offered: Lev. iii, 13. The third was the sprinkling of the blood, by the priest, upon and around the altar Lev. iii, 2;-a rite notoriously significant of expiation for sin: Lev. xvii, 10, 11. The blood which Moses sprinkled on the altar, the book, and the people, for the ratification of the whole covenant of the law, was indeed the blood of burnt- and of peace-offerings: Exod. xxiv, 4-8.

Of the sin- or trespass-offerings, no portion was permitted to be eaten by the offerers: the sacrifice was considered "most holy," Lev. vi, 29; part of it was burnt on the altar; and the rest was given as food to the priest, who was himself required to be clean, and without blemish. In some instances, however, the victim, when the hands of the transgressor had been laid upon its head, was deemed to be polluted, and accordingly, after having been offered on the altar, it was conveyed to a place without the camp, or without the gates of Jerusalem, and there entirely consumed by fire: Lev. iv, 12, 21; xvi, 27.

This last class of sacrifices was appointed for a great variety of occasions. On days of stated and solemn festival, and at many intermediate seasons, the sinofferings (as well as the burnt-offerings) were to stain with their blood the altar of Jehovah, Lev. xvi, xxiii; and they were to be offered, as circumstances required, by the priests, by the rulers, by the whole congregation, and by individuals among the people: Lev. iv. Now, on whatsoever occasion, or by whatsoever parties, these sacrifices were to be made, they were uniformly, ex


were severally Expiatory,

[Ess. XI. pressly, and exclusively, piacular. Whether the Israelite was polluted by merely ceremonial impurity, or by the sins of error and ignorance, or by the minor, though wilful, breaches of the moral law, the trespassoffering was still prescribed as the means of his readmission to the privileges of the Jewish worship; and although, in the first case, he was destined to undergo "divers washings," or baptisms, and, in the two latter cases, was required to make every possible amends for his transgression, yet he could by no means be purged from his defilement, or delivered from the guilt of his offences, without this indispensable sacrifice for sin: see Lev. v, 6, &c.

There are two principles which might be said to pervade the Mosaic institution, and which we ought particularly to notice as explanatory of our present subject. The first was this-that every transgression, either of the moral or of the ceremonial law, merited death; for he who continued not in all the things which were written in the book of the law, to do them, was cursed; and the substance--the gravamen-of the curse, to which he was thus exposed, was capital punishment: see Deut. xxvii, 26; Ezek. xviii, 20. But, as it was morally impossible, consistently with the divine attribute of mercy, and the many infirmities of man, that this principle of the law should be uniformly and strictly enforced, the system of vicarious sacrifice appears to have been appointed for its alleviation. The death merited by the offender was undergone by the substituted victim; the law was fulfilled in a figure; and, on every occasion of merely legal impurity, or of such moral offences as did not demand the actual execution of the sinner, the defiled or transgressing Israelite was delivered from death; and the unblemished lamb, or kid of the flock, or bullock of the herd, bled in his room. Thus

Ess. XI.] and Typified the Sacrifice of Christ.


was fully established the second principle to which I have alluded; namely, that, "without shedding of blood, there is no remission:" Heb. ix, 22.

Such was the nature, and such the operation, of the ancient Jewish sacrifices. They were generally and principally rites of atonement; and while, as acts of faith or obedience, of piety or penitence, they might be the means of bringing down upon the offerers the spiritual blessings of God, their efficacy, under the divine appointment, is to be chiefly traced in the "purifying of the flesh" from legal defilement, Heb. ix, 13; and in the removal of the civil and temporal punishment of moral transgression. Yet, even for these purposes, they must have been destitute of any real or inherent virtue; and, when we compare the extreme particularity and strictness of the divine injunctions respecting them, and the stress laid on the whole ceremonial by which they were accompanied, with " the weakness and unprofitableness," of the sacrificial rites themselves, it seems impossible for us not to entertain the belief, that they were fraught with some typical and ulterior signification. Now, that signification is no longer a matter of doubt or question. The Divine Being, by whom these ceremonies were instituted, has himself brought to light their meaning, by the Gospel. "The veil," which is over the mind of the Jew, in "the reading of the Old Testament," is "done away in Christ:" 2 Cor. iii, 14. "The law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ:" Gal. iii, 24. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth," Rom. x, 4; and, as this doctrine is true of the moral law, because the ministration of condemnation is the fittest introduction to a knowledge of salvation through the merits of a Redeemer, so it is also true of the ceremonial law, of which the diversified rites, and more particularly the sacrificial ordinances,

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