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2. It was said by the Prophet) will bave Mercy and not Sacrifice - This is a known manner by which the Jews are wont to express a Comparison. “ I desire “ One more than the Other ; I prefer the “ One to the Other ; I will have the " thing more or rather than that which
was significative only” of it.
3. The Principal thing intended by Sacrifice, being a strict Obfervation of what is pleasing to God, when Sacrifice was not attended with Rectitude of Mind, it became hateful, despicable, not to be valued or esteemed, whatever Care or Coftliness might accompany it : nor was the mere Slaying of Animals the Thing that God commanded or required, how folicitous soever the yews might be to bring those Gifts to the Altar.
4. When Jeremiah says, that God Spake not unto their Fathers, nor commanded them in the day that be brought them out of Egypt, concerning Burnt Offerings or Sacrifices, but only commanded Obedience - This is true. You are not so to take this Expression as if God did not afterwards command them to offer
Sacrifices; but that at first when they came out of Egypt, he gave no such command. When they first were redeemed from that Bondage which they had so long laboured under, They had no Law given them but the. Decalogue, or Ten Commandments ; --all of them Precepts of the Moral Law, and All of them such to which constant uniform Obedience was expected : And upon
This a Promise was given, that if They would observe them, God would be Their God, and They fould be bis People. Immediately after this, the Political Laws, mentioned Exodus xxi, xxii, xxiii, were given. But as to the Rites and Ceremonies relative to Burnt Offerings and the Other Sacrifices, They were not commanded till after the Affair of the Golden Calf had shewn,' how prone that people was to Idolatry, and to the Religious practices of Egypt. And This will help us to understand that dark passage of Ezekiel, Wherefore I gave them also Statutes that were not good, and Judgments whereby they mould not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to
pass pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them defolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord, c. XX. 25, 26. The Statutes that were not good, were what contained the ceremonial Law; Statutes, not of a Moral nature, such as are intrinsically good; but such only as would keep them a distinct separate People, and answer certain temporal Ends. And I polluted them in their own Gifts : The LXX. render it, Και μιανώ άυλους εν τοις δόγμασιν αυτών. It should be, dópaoiv, Gifts, not sógypecoly, which fignifies Notions.
The meaning is, “ I beld them polluted in their Gifts : “ I looked upon them and treated them
as polluted notwithstanding all their “ Gifts, and I fhewed this manifestly by
passing by all the First-born, and taking " the Levites in their place; that I might “ make them wonder and be surprised, " and know that I am the Lord.”
I do not, at present, design to enter into any Consequences which may follow, or seem to follow, from what has been said. The Subject certainly has its Difficulties; and if what is here said should
give give the Reader any light; or should affifte him in the Understanding the Scriptures, (the Book, which of all Books, ought the most to be studied without prejudice, and which is too often read with the strongest byass in favour of pre-conceived Opinions;) If the Reader, I say, receives any Affiftance from what has been faid towards understanding the Scriptures, let him use it to the Glory of God, and the Good of Mankind.
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