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Command concludes against the SOCINIANS, for the real sacrifice of CHRIST, and the proper Redemption of mankind. For if the Command was an information by action instead of words, the proof conveyed in it is decisive ; there being here no room for their evasion of its being a figurative expression, since the figuratice action, the original of such expression, denotes either a real sacrifice, or nothing at all.


I come now to the other part of this Discourse, viz. to shew, that the interpretation here given intirely dissipates all those blustering objections which Infidelity hath raised up against the historic truth of the relation. They say, "GOD could not give such a Command to Abraham, because it would throw him into inextricable doubts concerning the Author of it, as Whether it proceeded from a good or an evil Being. Or if not so, but that he might be satisfied it came from Gon, it would then mislead him in his notions of the divine Attributes, and of the fundamental principles of Morality. Because, though the revocation of the Command prevented the homicide, yet the species of the action commanded not being condemned when it was revoked, Abraham and his Family must needs have thought HUMAN SACRIFICES grateful to the Almighty: fora simple revoking was not condemning; but would be more naturally thought a peculiar indulgence for a ready obedience. Thus, the pagan fable of Diana's substituting a Hind in the place of Iphigenia, did not make Idolaters believe that she therefore abhorred Human Sacrifices, they having before been persuaded of the contrary, from the Command of that Idol to offer up the daughter of Agamemnon."-This is the substance, only set in a clearer light, of all their dull cloudy dissertations on the case of Abraham *.

1. Let us see then how this case stood: GOD had been pleased to reveal to him his eternal purpose of * See note [N] at the end of this Book.


making all mankind blessed through him and likewise
to confirm this promise, in a regular course of successive
Revelations, each fuller and more explicit than the other.
By this time we cannot but suppose the Father of the
Faithful must, from the nature of the thing, be become.
very desirous of knowing the manner how this Blessing was
to be brought about: A Mystery, if we will believe the
Author of our Faith, that engaged the attention of other
holy men, less immediately concerned than Abraham,
and consequently less stimulated and excited by their
curiosity-And JESUS turned to his Disciples, and said
privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things which
ye see.
For I tell you that many Prophets and Kings
have DESIRED to see those things which ye see, and have
not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear,
and have not heard them *. But we are assured, by the
same authority, that Abraham had, in fact, this very desire
highly raised in him; Abraham rejoiced to see my day
(says JEsus), and he saw it, and was glad; or rather,
He rejoiced THAT HE MIGHT SEE, INA IAH.; which
implies, that the period of his joy was in the space-
between the promise inade, and the actual performance
of it by the delivery of the Command; consequently,
that it was granted at his earnest request †. In the
second place, we shall shew from the same words, that
Abraham, at the time when the Command was given,
KNEW it to be that Revelation he had so earnestly re-
quested. This is of the highest importance for the
understanding the truc nature of the Command.--Your
Father Abraham rejoiced to see my Day, and he saw it,
and was glad. ̓Αβρααμ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ἠγαλλιάσατο INA
ΙΔΗ, τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμὴν· καὶ εἶδε, καὶ ἐχάρη. We have
observed that a dy, in strict propriety, signifies that
he might see. The English phrase,-to see, is equivocal

Luke x. 23, 24.

+ Thus all the Eastern Versions understand it: Syr. Cupidus fuit videndi.--Pers. Cupidus erat ut videret.-Arab. Exoptavit videre.— Ethiop. Desideravit, gavisus est ut videret.


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and ambiguous, and means either the present time, that
-he then did see; or the future, that he was promised he
should see: but the original an, has only the latter
So that the text plainly distinguishes two different
periods of Joy; the first, when it was promised he should
see; the second, when he actually saw: And it is to be
-observed* that, according to the exact use of the words,
in yada is implied the tumultuous. pleasure which
the certain expectation of an approaching blessing, under-
stood only in the gross, occasions; and, in that calm
and settled joy which arises from our knowledge, in the
possession of it. But the Translators, perhaps, not ap-
prehending that there was any time between the Grant to.
see, and the actual seeing, turned it, he rejoiced to see;
as if it had been the Paraphrase of the Poet Nonnus,~
ἰδεῖν ἠγάλλετο θυμῷ.
whereas this History of Abraham hath plainly three
distinct periods. The first contains. God's promise to
grant Abraham's request, when he rejoiced that he should
see; this, for reasons given above, was wisely omitted by
the Historian: Within the second period was the de-.
livery of the Command, with which Moses's account
begins: And Abraham's Obedience, through which he
saw CHRIST's day and was glad, includes the third.
Thus the Patriarch, we find, had a promise that his
request should be granted; and, in regard to that pro-
mise, an action is commanded, which, at that time, was
a common mode of information; Abraham therefore.
must needs know it was the very information so much
requested, so graciously promised, and so impatiently
expected. We conclude then, on the whole, that this
Command being only the Grant of an earnest request,
and known by Abraham, at the time of imposing, to be
such Grant, he could not possibly have any doubt con-
cerning the Author of it. He was soliciting the God

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See note [O] at the end of this Book,
See note [P] at the end of this Book.

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of Heaven to reveal to him the Mystery of Man's Redemption, and he received the information, in a Command to offer Isaac; a Revelation, that had the closest connexion with, and was the fullest completion of, the whole series of the preceding Revelations.

2. For, (as we shall now shew, in answer to the second part of the objection) the Command could occasion no mistakes concerning the divine Attributes; it being, as was said, only the conveyance of an information by action instead of words, in conformity to the common mode of converse in the more early times. This action therefore being mere scenery, had NO MORAL IMPORT; that is, it conveyed or implied none of those intentions in him who commanded it, and in him who obeyed the Command, which go along with actions that have a moral import*. Consequently the injunction and obedience, in an action which hath no such inport, can no way affect the moral character of the persons concerned: and consequently, this Command could occasion no mistakes concerning the divine Attributes, with regard to God's delighting in human sacrifices. On the contrary, the very information conveyed by it, was the highest assurance to the person inforined, of God's goodwill towards man. Hence we see there was not the least occasion, when Gon remitted the offering of Isaac, that he should formally condemn human sacrifices, to prevent Abraham or his family's falling into an opinion, that such Sacrifices were not displeasing to him†, any more than for the Prophet Ahijah‡, when he had rent *See note [Q] at the end of this Book,

+ See note [R] at the end of this Book.

And it came to pass at that time, when Jeroboam went out of « Jerusalem, that the Prophet Abijah the Shilonite found him in the



way and he had clad himself with a new garment: and they two were alone in the field. And Ahijah caught the new garment that 66 was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces. And he said to Jero"boam, Take thee ten pieces; for thus saith the Lord the God of "Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, "and will give ten tribes to thee." 1 Kings xi. 29-31. The circumstance of the new garment was not insignificant: It was to denote the Power of the kingdom at that time in its full strength and lustre. D



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Jeroboam's garment into twelve pieces to denote the ensuing division in the tribes of Israel, to deliver a moral precept against the sin of despoiling, and insulting our neighbour: For the command having no moral import, as being only an information by action, where one thing stood for the representative of another, all the consequence that could be deduced from it was only this, that the Son of GOD should be offered up for the sins of mankind: therefore the conceptions they had of HUMAN SACRIFICES, after the command, must needs be just the same with those they had before; and therefore, instruction, concerning the execrable nature of this Rite, was not only needless, but altogether beside the question. But this assertion that


HAS NO MORAL IMPORT, having been misunderstood by many, and misrepresented by more (though nothing, as I then thought, could be clearer to men versed in moral matters) I shall beg leave to explain myself. He who affirms that a scenical representation has no moral import, cannot possibly be understood to mean (if interpreted on the ordinary rules of Logic and Common sense) any thing else than that the representation or the feigned aetion has none of that specific morality which is in the real action. He can never be supposed to mean that such a representation could never, even by accident, give birth to a moral entity, of a different. species; though it kept within, much less if it transgressed the bounds, of its scenical nature. Give me leave to explain this by an instance or two. The Tragic scene we will suppose to exhibit a Pagan story, in which a lewd Sacrifice to Venus is represented. Now I say this scenical representation has no moral import. But do I mean by this, that there was no immorality of any kind in the scene? Far from it. I only mean that that specific immorality was absent, which would have existed there, had the action been real and not feigned; I mean idolatry. Again, another set of Tragedians represent the Conspiracy


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