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ed with vices of the groffest kind, and the most abominable rites were practised in their groves, and the temples themselves, as peculiarly proper for their worship. The reverse of every thing of this kind is always represented by Moses, and the prophets, as the difposition of the God of the Hebrews. Nothing of impurity, or indecency, was admitted into his worship. Nay the great object of the whole system of the Hebrew religion was to form men to the perfection of moral character; and all the rites and ceremonies of it are constantly laid to be wholly insignificant without this. Be ye holy, says Moles (Lev. xix. 2), for the Lord your God is haiy.
When the Psalmist describes the character of the man who was acceptable to God, and fit to be admitted to his presence, he says (Psalm xv. 1), Lord, who fall abide in thy tabernacle, who fall dwell in thy holy hill ? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and Speaketh the truth in his heart. On the other hand, vice and wickedness is always represented as the great, and indeed the sole, object of his displeasure. There is no peace, Says God, to the wicked, If. vi. 22. The insignificance of all merely ritual ob
servances, in which the whole of the heathen religion consisted, compared with moral virtue, is expressed in the most emphatical manner by several of the sacred writers, as 11. i.
“ To what purpose is the multitude of your
sacrifices to me, faith the Lord! I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and 66 the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in 66 the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of " he goats. When
ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, o to tread my courts ? Bring no more vain “ oblations. Incense is an abomination unto
The new moons, and sabbaths, the “ calling of assemblies, I cannot away with. “ It is iniquity, even the folemn meeting. “ Your new moons, and your appointed feasts, ,
my soul hateth. They are a trouble unto me, I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you, yea, when
many prayers I will not hear. Your hands are 66 full of blood. Wash
you clean, “ put away the evil of your doings from be“ fore mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to “ do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppreff“ed, judge the fatherless, plead for the wi
“ dow. Come now, and let us reason toge. " ther, faith the Lord, though your fins be as “ scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, “ though they be red like crimson, they shall “ be as wool.”
“ Wherewith,” faith Micah, ch. vi. 6, - shall I come before the Lord, and bow my" self before the high God? Shall I come be“ fore him with burnt offerings, with calves “ of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased “ with thousands of rams, or ten thousands • of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my first-born “ for my transgression, the fruit of my body “ for the fin of my soul? He hath shewed o thee, O man, what is good; and what doth “ the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, “ to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy “ God?” Passages equally excellent, and as purely moral as these, abound in the scriptures of the Old Testament.
6. The public festivals of the heathen gods were seasons of rioting and lewdness, but those of the Israelites were scenes of innocent rejoicing, joined with acts of devotion, which are by no means incompatible with it; and every thing relating to the service of the tabernacle and the temple, was conducted with
the greatest regard to decency; while the utmost abhorrence is expressed for the horrid customs of the heathens.
" Thou shalt not, says Moses, Deut. xii. 29, “ inquire after their free from every stain of impurity, it contained nothing of unnecessary austerity. It had no painful rite, except that of circumcifion, which, being performed on children of eight days old, who can have no apprehension of the thing beforehand, and whose wounds soon heal, is a very trifling inconvenience. The Hebrews had only one fast, and that of no more than a single day in the year, but three festivals of some continuance.
gods, saying how did those nations serve " their gods, even so will I do likewise. Thou " shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God. For every
abomination to the Lord, that he “ hateth, have they done unto their gods. " For even their sons and their daughters “ have they burned in the fire to their gods." And yet this very thing which is here mentioned as the greatest enormity in the worship of the heathens, viz. human facrifices, Voltaire says was practised in that of the Jews. Is it possible for effrontery to go farther than this? (except indeed his maintaining that the Jews were cannibals, and fed on human flesh) while without any evidence, but his own, and contrary to every representation of the facts by heathen writers themselves, he speaks of the heathen festivals as mere seasons of perfe&tly innocent festivity. But, justly or unjustly, every thing not Jewish must be harmless, and their religion must be, as he calls it, a detestable superstition. 9. While the religion of the Hebrews was
In the principal of the heathen festivals there was first a solemn mourning, all the people performing whatever was customary at funerals, or in seasons of great calamity. They tore their hair, shaved their heads, and mangled their flesh. But the Israelites were expressly forbidden to do any of those things, Deut. xiv, I, “ Ye are the children
of the Lord God. Ye shall not cut “ yourselves, nor make any baldness between
your eyes for the dead (that is for idolatrous “ uses), for ye are an holy people to the Lord your
God." These directions had no view to private mournings, for on those occasions they always did these very things, but to the worship of God. It was the custom of the heathens to im