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-ON THE SUPPOSITION THAT SACRIFICE ORIGINATED IN PRIESTCRAFT.
PAGE 43. ()-Some of those objectors, who call themselves enlightened, but whose opinions would scarcely deserve notice were it not to mark their absurdity, have sagaciously conjectured, that sacrifice was the invention of priestcraft. Morgan, (Moral. Phil. p. 236.) and Tindal, (Christ. as old as the Creat. p. 79.) exult in this discovery. But, in the elevation of their triumph, they have totally forgotten to inform us, who were the priests in the days of Cain and Abel: or, if we consent to set aside the history of that first sacrifice, in compliance with the dislike which such gentlemen entertain for the book in which it is contained, we have still to learn of them, in what manner the fathers and heads of families, (by whom, even Morgan himself B
confesses, sacrifices were first offered,) contrived to convert the oblation of their own flocks and fruits into a gainful traffic. And indeed, after all, the priests, or, as he calls them, "holy butchers," whom Tindal wittily represents, 66 as sharing with their Gods, and reserving the best bits for themselves," seem to have possessed a very extraordinary taste: the skin of the burntoffering among the Jews, (Lev. vii. 8.) and the skin and feet among the heathens, (Pott. Antiq. vol. i. book ii. ch. 3.) being the best bits, which the priests cunningly reserved for their own use.* Such impotent cavils, contemptible as they are, may yet be considered of value in this light: they imply an admission, that the invention of sacrifice on principles of natural reason is utterly inconceivable: since, if any such principles could be pointed out, these writers, whose main object is to undermine the fabric of revelation, would gladly have resorted to them, in prefer ence to suppositions so frivolous and absurd.
PAGE 43. (2)-Among the supporters of this opinion, there are undoubtedly to be reckoned
* See Delany's Revel. Exam. vol. i. pp. 86, 87. and Ken. nicot's Two Dissert. pp. 204, 205.
many distinguished names: Maimonides, R. Levi Ben Gerson, and Abarbanel, amongst the Jews: and amongst the early Christians, Justin Martyr, the author of the questions and answers to the Orthodox in his works, Irenæus, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Cyril of Alexandria; who all concur, in pronouncing the divine institution of the Mosaic sacrifices to have been an accommodation to the prejudices of the Jewish people, who had been trained up in the practice of sacrifice among the Egyptians; to whom Porphyry attributes invention of sacrifice, whilst others ascribe its origin to the Phenicians. To the above names are to be added, of later date, those of Grotius, Spencer, and Warburton.
But to suppose, that these most solemn rites of worship should have been ordained by a God of infinite wisdom and purity; by a God, who presents himself to the Jews, in the character of a king jealous of his glory; merely in compliance with the absurdities of pagan superstition, seems a notion little worthy of the names that have been mentioned. To imagine also, that the sacrifices of the patriarchs could have received the divine approbation, without the authority of divine institution, is to contradict the general tenor and express language of Scripture; which supplies various instances, in which God resented, and severely punished, every species of will wor
ship, (as for example, in the case of Nadab and Abihu, who were struck dead for burning incense with strange fire,) and which expressly condemns, in Mat. xv. 9. and Coloss. ii. 22, 23. that εθελοθρησκεια, which sprung from the devices
and inventions of men:
Spencer, indeed, who has most laboriously defended this notion of the human invention of sacrifices, in his book De Leg. Hebr. has endeavoured to prove, (lib. iii. diss. ii. cap. 4. sect. 2.) that St. Paul speaks of *will-worship without
* An argument, which has been used by Spencer in support of this opinion, deserves particularly to be exposed. In speaking of the notion, of the sacrifice of Abel having been the consequence of a divine institution and command, he thus expresses himself: "Sententia hæc erroris inde manifesta est, quod hoc ipso in commate, (Heb. xi. 4.) illius oblata, non debita, sed duga, ab Apostolo appellentur: nam inde patet, Abelis oblationem e pio voluntatis propriæ motu, potius quam legis alicujus præscripto prodiisse." Spenc. De Leg. Hebr. ii. 769.-Here it is directly contended, that the authority of the writer to the Hebrews gives support to the assertion that the offering of Abel was purely voluntary; and this is deduced from the force of the term daga employed by that writer in the passage of the epistles above referred to. But the learned author is altogether inexcusable in drawing such a conclusion: inasmuch as it can hardly be supposed, that he was unaware of the sense, in which the writer to the Hebrews has applied the term Swga, in every other passage, in which it occurs throughout the Epistle; namely as referring to oblations under the Mosaic law, which consequently were the result of specific institution, and in which no one part