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any thing that may be dear to man, whether common as an animal, or dearly valuable as one's own son. But they are not represented in any of the sacred books as means having intrinsically the power of procuring men pardon and eternal salvation. They seem, in fact, intended for men unaccustomed to the worship of God in truth and spirit. The following passages suffice to illustrate this beyond doubt: Micah VI. 7 and 8. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first born for my transgression; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee O man what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?" Here Jehovah white shewing his displeasure at mere animal sacrifices, enjoins just actions and humility in lieu of them as worthy, to be accepted by God, without substituting human sacrifices in their stead. Hosea VI. 6. For I desired mercy and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." Isaiah 1-11. "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am full of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts and I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs or of he-goats"
"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead plead for the for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow &c." Does not Jehovah here substitute good works alone for sacrifices as real means of taking away sins? Psalm L. 8. "I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house nor he-goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is mine and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most high; and call upon me in the day of trouble I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me." Jehovah who protests against the idea of the flesh of bulls being supposed his food and the blood of goats his drink can not be supposed K
to have had delight in human blood, the blood of his beloved son. Samuel XV. 22. " And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Proverb XXI. 3. "To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice" Ecclesiastes V. 1. " Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God; and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools. For they consider not that they do evit."
It is now left for us to ascertain in what sense we should take such phrases as "This man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins." "Christ hath once appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." "Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate" "I am the living bread." "If any man eat of this" &c. Whether do these passages imply that Jesus though he preferred mercy to sacrifice (Mathew IX. 13. XII. 7.)did actually sacrifice himself and offer hs own blood to God as an atonement for the sins of others, or do they mean that Jesus knowing already that the fulfilment of his divine commission would endanger his life, never hesitated to execute it and suffered his blood to be shed
in saving men from sin through his divine precepts and pure example, which were both opposed to the religious system adopted by his cotemporary Jews? Were we to follow the former mode of interpretation and take all these phrases in their strictly literal sense, we must be persuaded to believe that God not being contented with the blood of bulls and goats and other animal sacrifices offered to him by the Israelites, insisted upon the offer of the blood and life of his son as the condition of his forgiving the sins of men; and that Jesus accordingly offered his blood to propitiate God, and also proposed to men actually to eat his flesh! Would not the doctrines of Christianity in this case representing God as delighted with human victims and directing men to cannibalism appear monstrous to every civilised being? No one unless biassed by prejudices can justify such inconsistency as to interpret literally some of the above-mentioned phrases in support of the doctrine of the atonement, and explain the last quoted figuratively, as they are all confessedly alike subversive of every rational idea of the nature of the divine justice and mercy.
To avoid such a stigma upon the pure religion of Jesus, it is incumbent I think upon us to
follow the latter mode of interpretation, and to understand from the passages referred to, that Jesus, the spiritual Lord and King of Jews and Gentiles, in fulfilment of the duties of his mission, exposed his own life for the benefit of his subjects, purged their sins by his doctrines, and persevered in executing the commands of God even to the undergoing of bodily suffering in the miserable death of the cross; a self devotion or sacrifice of which no Jewish high priest had ever offered an example.
Ought not this belief in the unbounded beneficence of Jesus to excite superior gratitude, love, and reverence towards our Saviour and King than the idea that he, as God above mortal afflictions, borrowed human nature for a season, and offered this fictitious man as a sacrifice for the remission of sin, while he himself was no more afflicted with that sacrificial death than with the sufferings of other human individuals. If there be in this latter case any gratitude felt for the afflictions which attached to the death of the cross, it should be manifested to that temporary man Jesus, and not to Jesus the Christ, whom the Editor and other Trinitarians esteem as God above pain and death.