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the first men.

For if by faith, we were to understand obedience to the revealed will of God, the sacred writer might have said it of Cain as well as of Abel, since they had both of them the same revelation. It is then plain, that by faith here we are to understand that good disposition of a grateful mind, which being fully persuaded that God rewards piety, freely offers to him the first fruits of the benefits which it hath received from him, as we have observed in our note on that place. This was a natural and a reasonable service, especially in the infancy of the world, when mankind had not perhaps a true notion of the nature of the supreme being. This hath been the opinion of the greatest part of the Jewish doctors, and of the ancient fathers of the church. But how true it is, we shall not go about to determine.

However it be, it is certain that the sacrifices of the law were of divine institution. Besides their being figures of things to come, as we are assured in the gospel they were; God's design in appointing them, was moreover to tie up the people of Israel to his service, by a particular kind of worship, but which should not be

very different from what they had been used to; and also to turn them from idolatry, and to keep them employed, that they might have no leisure of inventing a new kind of worship. And indeed if we reflect upon the great quantity, and prodigious variety of the sacrifices of the law, as well as upon the vast number of ceremonies that were enjoined, we shall have no reason of wondering at what St. Peter says, Acts xv. 10.

The Jewish doctors have distinguished the sacrifices into so many different sorts, that the following their method could not but be tedious and ungrateful to the reader. We shall therefore just touch upon their general divisions. They have divided them into sacrifices properly, and sacrifices improperly so called ; the last were so named, because though they were consecrated to God, yet they were not offered upon the altar,

ás ancient as the world. It is not well known whether they offered those sacrifices by the positive command of God, or of their own accord; reason and religion teaching them that nothing could be more just, than for them to profess some gratitude to their munificent benefactor for the manifold advantages they received from his bountiful hand.

This last opinion is the most probable for the following reasons. 1. Had God given any such command, the sacred historian would undoubtedly have mentioned it. 2. Though God had appointed sacrifices under the law, yet it appears from several passages of the Old Testament, that he had instituted them, not because this kind of worship was in itself acceptable to him, but for some other wise reasons; either because it was a shadow of things to come, or else adapted to the circumstances of the people of Israel. He even saith expressly by his prophet Jeremiah“, that in the day when he brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, he gave them no commandment concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices. Now it is not at all probable that God would have spoken in that manner concerning sacrifices, if he had enjoined them to the first inhabitants of the world immediately after the creation.

3. If sacrificing had been ordained from the beginning, as a worship acceptable to God in itself, it would not have been annulled by the gospel. This annulling of it manifestly shews, that the end and design of the sacrifices under the law ceasing upon the coming of Jesus CHRIST, whose death and sacrifice was typified by those sacrifices, as St. Paul teaches us, the gospel brought men back to a spiritual service, and to the religion of the mind. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews says indeed', that by faith Abel offered to God a more ercellent sacrifice than Cain ; but this very passage may serve to prove that God did not enjoin sacrifices to

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the first men.

For if by faith, we were to understand obedience to the revealed will of God, the sacred writer might have said it of Cain as well as of Abel, since they had both of them the same revelation. It is then plain, that by faith here we are to understand that good disposition of a grateful mind, which being fully persuaded that God rewards piety, freely offers to him the first fruits of the benefits which it hath received from him, as we have observed in our note on that place. This was a natural and a reasonable service, especially in the infancy of the world, when mankind had not perhaps a true notion of the nature of the supreme being. This hath been the opinion of the greatest part of the Jewish doctors, and of the ancient fathers of the church. But how true it is, we shall not go about to determine.

However it be, it is certain that the sacrifices of the law were of divine institution. Besides their being figures of things to come, as we are assured in the gospel they were; God's design in appointing them, was moreover to tie up the people of Israel to his service, by a particular kind of worship, but which should not be very different from what they had been used to ; and also to turn them from idolatry, and to keep them employed, that they might have no leisure of inventing a new kind of worship. And indeed if we reflect upon the great quantity, and prodigious variety of the sacrifices of the law, as well as upon the vast number of ceremonies that were enjoined, we shall have no reason of wondering at what St. Peter says, Acts xv. 10.

The Jewish doctors have distinguished the sacrifices into so many different sorts, that the following their method could not but be tedious and ungrateful to the reader. We shall therefore just touch general divisions. They have divided them into sacrifices properly, and sacrifices improperly so called ; the last were so named, because though they were consecrated to God, yet they were not offered upon the altar,

upon their

as ancient as the world. It is not well known whether they offered those sacrifices by the positive command of God, or of their own accord; reason and religion teaching them that nothing could be more just, than for them to profess some gratitude to their munificent benefactor for the manifold advantages they received from his bountiful hand.

This last opinion is the most probable for the following reasons. 1. Had God given any such command, the sacred historian would undoubtedly have mentioned it. 2. Though God had appointed sacrifices under the law, yet it appears from several passages of the Old Testament, that he had instituted them, not because this kind of worship was in itself acceptable to him, but for some other wise reasons; either because it was a shadow of things to come, or else adapted to the circumstances of the people of Israel. He even saith expressly by his prophet Jeremiah“, that in the day when he brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, he gave them no commandment concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices, Now it is not at all probable that God would have spoken in that manner concerning sacrifices, if he had enjoined them to the first inhabitants of the world immediately after the creation. 3. If sacrificing had been ordained from the beginning, as a worship acceptable to God in itself, it would not have been annulled by the gospel. This annulling of it manifestly shews, that the end and design of the sacrifices under the law ceasing upon the coming of Jesus Christ, whose death and sacrifice was typified by those sacrifices, as St. Paul teaches us, the gospel brought men back to a spiritual service, and to the religion of the mind. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews says indeed', that by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain ; but this very passage may serve to prove that God did not enjoin sacrifices to

[blocks in formation]

the first men.

For if by faith, we were to understand obedience to the revealed will of God, the sacred writer might have said it of Cain as well as of Abel, since they had both of them the same revelation. It is then plain, that by faith here we are to understand that good disposition of a grateful mind, which being fully persuaded that God rewards piety, freely offers to him the first fruits of the benefits which it hath received from him, as we have observed in our note on that place. This was a natural and a reasonable service, especially in the infancy of the world, when mankind had not perhaps a true notion of the nature of the supreme being. This hath been the opinion of the greatest part of the Jewish doctors, and of the ancient fathers of the church. But how true it is, we shall not go about to determine.

However it be, it is certain that the sacrifices of the law were of divine institution. Besides their being figures of things to come, as we are assured in the gospel they were; God's design in appointing them, was moreover to tie up the people of Israel to his service, by a particular kind of worship, but which should not be very different from what they had been used to; and also to turn them from idolatry, and to keep them employed, that they might have no leisure of inventing a new kind of worship.

And indeed if we reflect upon the great quantity, and prodigious variety of the sacri

fices of the law, as well as upon the vast number of ceremonies that were enjoined, we shall have no reason of wondering at what St. Peter says, Acts xv. 10.

The Jewish doctors have distinguished the sacrifices into so many different sorts, that the following their method could not but be tedious and ungrateful to the reader. We shall therefore just touch upon their general divisions. They have divided them into sacrifices properly, and sacrifices improperly so called ; the last were so named, because though they were consecrated to God, yet they were not offered upon the altar,

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