By Richard Watson
To the rite of sacrifice before the law, practised in the patriarchal ages, up to the first family, it may be proper to give some consideration, both for the farther elucidation of some of the topics above stated, and for the purpose of exhibiting the harmony of those dispensations of religion which were made to fallen man in different ages of the world. That the ante-Mosaic sacrifices were expiatory, is the first point which it is necessary to establish. It is not, indeed, at all essential to the argument, to ascend higher than the sacrifices of the law, which we have already proved to be of that character, and by which the expiatory efficacy of the death of Christ is represented in the New Testament.- This, however, was also the character of the more ancient rites of the patriarchal Church; and thus we see the same principles of moral government, which distinguish the Christian and Mosaic dispensations, carried still higher as to antiquity, even to the family of the first man, the first transgressor; "without shedding of blood there was no remission."
The proofs that sacrifices of atonement made a part of the religious system of the patriarchs who lived before the law, are first the distribution of beasts into clean and unclean, which we find prior to the flood of Noah. This is a singular distinction, and one which could not then have reference to food, since animal food was not allowed to man prior to the deluge; and as we know of no other ground for the distinction, except that of sacrifice, it must, therefore, have had reference to the selection of victims to be solemnly offered to God, as a part of worship, and as the means of drawing near to him by expiatory rites for the forgiveness of sins. Some, it is true, have regarded this distinction of clean and Unclean beasts as used by Moses by way of prolepsis, or anticipation, a notion which, if it could not be refuted by the context, would be per feetly arbitrary. But not only are the beasts, which Noah was to receive into the ark, spoken of as clean and unclean; but in the cornmand to take them into the ark, a difference is made in the number to be preserved, the former being to be received by sevens, and the latter by two of a kind. This shows that this distinction among beasts had been established in the time of Noah, and thus the assumption of a prolepsis is refuted. In the law of Moses a similar distinction is made; but the only reasons given for it are two: in this manner, those victims which God would allow to be used for piacular purposes, were marked out; and by this distinction those animals were designated which were permitted for food. The former only can, therefore, be considered as the ground of this distinction among the antediluvians; for the critical attempts which have been made to show that animals were allowed to man for food, previous to the flood, have wholly failed.
A second argument is furnished by the prohibition of blood for food, after animals had been granted to man for his sustenance along with the "herb of the field." This prohibition is repeated by Moses to the Israelites, with this explanation, "I have given it upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls." From this "additional reason, as it has been called, it has been argued, that the doctrine of the atoning power of blood was new, and was then, for the first time, announced by Moses, or the same reason for the prohibition would have been given to Noah. To this we may reply, 1. That unless the same reason be supposed as the ground of the prohibition of blood to Noah, as that given by Moses to the Jews, no reason at all can be conceived for this restraint being put upon the appetite of mankind from Noah to Moses, and yet we have a prohibition of a most solemn kind, which in itself could have no reason enjoined, without any external reason being either given or conceivable. 2. That it is a mistake to suppose, that the declaration of Moses to the Jews, that God had "given them the blood for an atonement," is an additional reason for the interdict, not to be found in the original prohibition to Noah. The whole passage in Lev. xvii, is, "And thou shalt say to them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood, I will even set my face against that soul, that eateth blood, and I will cut him off from among his people, FOR TILE LIFE of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it upon the altar, to make atonement for your souls; for it is the BLOOD (or LIFE) that maketh atonement for the soul." The great reason, then, of the prohibition of blood is, that it is the LIFE; and what follows respecting atonement, is exegetical of this reason; the life is in the blood, and the blood or life is given as an atonement. Now, by turning to the original prohibition in Genesis, we find that precisely the same reason is given. "But the flesh with the blood, which is the life thereof, shall ye not eat." reason, then, being the same, the question is, whether the exegesis added by Moses, must not necessarily be understood in the general reason given for the restraint to Noah. Blood is prohibited for this reason, that it is the life ; and Moses adds, that it is "the blood," or life " which makes atonement." Let any one attempt to discover any reason for the prohibition of blood to Noah, in the mere circumstance that it is "the life," and lie will find it impossible. It is no reason at all, moral or instituted, except that as it was life substituted for life, the life of the animal in sacrifice for the life of man, and that it had a sacred appropriation. The manner, too, in which Moses introduces the subject, is indicative that, though he was renewing a prohibition, he was not publishing a "new doctrine ;" he does not teach his people that God had then given, or appointed, blood to make atonement; but he prohibits them from eating it, because he had made this appointment, without reference to time, and as a subject with which they were familiar. Because the blood was the life, it was sprinkled upon, and poured out at the altar: and we have in the sacrifice of the paschal Iamb, and the sprinkling of its blood, a sufficient proof, that before the giving of the law, not only was blood not eaten, but was appropriated to a sacred, sacrificial purpose. Nor was this confined to the Jews; it was customary with the Romans and Greeks, who, in like manner, poured out and sprinkled the blood of victims at their altars, a rite derived, probably, from the Egyptians, as they derived it, not from Moses, but from the sons of Noah. The notion, indeed, that the blood of the victims was peculiarly sacred to the gods, is impressed upon all ancient pagan mythology.
Thirdly, the sacrifices of the patriarchs were those of animal victims, and their use was to avert the displeasure of God from sinning men. Thus in the case of Job, who, if it could be proved that he did not live before the law, was, at least, not tinder the law, and in whose country the true patriarchal theology was in force, the prescribed burnt offering was for the averting the "wrath" of God, which was kindled against Eliphaz and his two friends, "lest," it is added, "I deal with you after your folly." The doctrine of expiation could not, therefore, be more explicitly declared. The burnt offerings of Noah, also, after he left the ark, served to avert the "cursing of the ground any more for man's sake," that is, for man's sin, and the "smiting any more every thing living." In like manner, the end of Abel's offering was pardon and acceptance with GOD, and by it these were attained, for "he obtained witness that he was righteous." But as this is the first sacrifice which we have on record, and has given rise to some controversy, it may be considered more largely: at present, however, the only question is its expiatory character.
As to the matter of the sacrifice, it was an animal offering. "Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, and Abel he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof;" or, more literally, "the fat of them," that is, according to the Hebrew idiom, the fattest or best of his flock. LeClerc and Grotius would understand Abel to have offered the wool and milk of his flock, which interpretation, if no critical difficulty opposed it, would be rendered violently improbable by the circumstance that neither wool nor milk is ever mentioned in Scripture as fit oblations to God. But to translate the word rendered firstlings, by best and finest, and then to suppose an ellipsis, and supply it with wool, is wholly arbitrary, and contradicted by the import of the word itself. But, as Dr. Kennicott remarks, the matter is set at rest by the context; "for, if it be allowed by all, that Cain's bringing OF the fruit of the ground, means his bringing the fruit (itself) of the ground, then Abel's bringing OF the firstlings of his flock must, likewise, mean his bringing the firstlings of his flock" (themselves.) (Two Dissertations. See also Magee's Discourses.)
This is farther supported by the import of the phrase pleiona Qusian, used by the apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, when speaking of the sacrifice of Abel. Our translators have rendered it "a more excel lent sacrifice." Wickliffe translates it, as Archbishop Magee observes, uncouthly, but in the full sense of the original, "a much more sacrifice;" and the controversy which has been had on this point is, whether this epithet of much more," or "fuller," refers to quantity or quality; whether it is to be understood in the sense of a more abundant, or of a better, a more excellent sacrifice. Dr. Kennicott takes it in the sense of measure and quantity, as well as quality, and supposes that Abel brought a double offering of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fruit of the ground also. His criticism has been very satisfactorily refuted by Archbishop Magee; (Discourses on Atonement;) and Mr. Davison, who has written an acute work in reply to those parts of that learned prelate's work on the atonement, which relate to the Divine origin of the primitive sacrifices, has attempted no answer to this criticism, and only observes that the more abundant sacrifice is the more probable signification of the passage, because it is the more natural force of the term pleiona when applied to a subject, as Fusian, capable of measure and. quantity." This is but assumption; and we read the term in other passages of Scripture, (as in Matt. vi, 25, "Is not tire life more than meat, and the body than raiment ?") where the idea of quantity is necessarily excluded, and that of superiority and excellence of quality, is as necessarily intended. But why is this stress laid on quantity? Are we to admit tile strange principle that an offering is acceptable to God, because of its quantity alone, and that the quantity of sacrifice, when even no measure has been prescribed by any law of GOD, has an absolute connection with tire state of the heart of an offerer? Frequency or non-frequency of offering might have some claim to be considered as this indication; but, certainly, the quantity of gifts, where, according to the opinion of those generally who adopt this view, sacrifices had not yet been subjected to express regulation, would be a very imperfect indication. If the quantity of a sacrifice could at all indicate, under such circumstances, any moral quality, that quality would be gratitude; but then we must suppose Abel's offering to have been eucharistic. Here, however, the sacrifice of Abel was that of animal victims, and it was indicative of faith, a quality not to be made manifest by the quantity of an offering made, for the one has no relation to the other; and the sacrifice itself was, as we shall see, of a strictly expiatory character.
This will more fully appear, if we look at the import of the words of tire apostle in some views, which have not always been brought fully out in what has been more recently written on the subject. "By FAITH Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained WITNESS, that he was RIGHTEOUS, GOD testifying of his gifts; and by it, he being dead yet speaketh."
What is the meaning of the apostle, when he says that it was witnessed or testified to Abel that he was righteous? His doctrine is, that men are sinners; that all, consequently, need pardon; and to be declared, witnessed, or accounted righteous, are, according to his style of writing, the same as to be justified, pardoned, and dealt with as righteous. Thus, he argues that "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness"-" that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness"-" that he received the sign of circumcision, a seal," a visible, confirmatory, declaratory, and witnessing mark "of the righteousness which he had by faith." In these cases we have a similarity so striking, that they can scarcely fail to explain each other. In both, sinful men are placed in the condition of righteous men-the instrument, in both cases, is faith; and the transaction is, in both cases also, publicly and sensibly witnessed; as to Abraham, by the sign of circumcision; as to Abel, by a visible acceptance of his sacrifice, and the rejection of that of Cain.
But it is said, "St. Paul affirms that Abel, by the acceptance of his sacrifice, gained the testimony of GOD, that he was a righteous man. lie affirms, therefore, that it was his personal habit of righteousness to which God vouchsafed the testimony of his approbation, by that acceptance of his offering. The antecedent faith in GOD, which produced that habit of a religious life, commended his sacrifice, and the Divine testimony was not to the specific form of his oblations; but to his actual righteousness." (Davison's Inquiry into the Origin and Intent of Primitive Sacrifice.)
The objections to this view of the matter are many.
1. It leaves out entirely all consideration of the difference between the sacrifice of Abel and that of Cain, and places the reason of the acceptance of one and the rejection of the other wholly in the moral character of the offerers; whereas St. Paul most unequivocally places the acceptance of Abel's offering upon its nature and the principle of faith which originated it. For, whether we translate the phrase above referred to, "a more excellent sacrifice," or "a more abundant sacrifice," it is put contrast with the offering of Cain, and its peculiar nature cannot be left out of the account. By Mr. Davison's interpretation, the designation given to Abel's offering by the apostle is entirely overlooked.
2. The "faith" of Abel, in this transaction, is also passed over as a consideration in the acceptance of his sacrifice. It is, indeed, brought in as "an antecedent faith, which produced the habit of a religious life," and thus mediately "commended the sacrifice;" but, in fact, oil this ground any other influential grace or principle might be said to have commended his sacrifice, as well as faith; any thing which tended to produce "the habit of a religious life," his fear of God, his love of God, as effectually as his faith in GOD. There is, then, this manifest difference between this representation of the case and that which is given by St. Paul, that the 0110 makes " the habit of a religious life," the immediate, and faith but the remote reason of the acceptableness of Abel's gifts; while the other assigns a direct efficacy to the faith of Abel, and the kind of sacrifice by which that faith was expressed, and of which it was the immediate result.
3 In this chapter the apostle is not speaking of faith under the view of its tendency to induce a holy life; but of faith as producing certain acts of very various kinds, which being followed by manifest tokens of the Divine favour, showed how acceptable faith is to GOD, or how: it "pleases him," according to his own position laid down in the commencement of the chapter-" Without faith it is impossible to please GoD." Abel had faith, and he expressed that faith by the kind of sacrifice he offered; it was in this way that his faith "pleased God;" it pleased him as a principle, and by the act to which it led, and that act was the offering of a sacrifice to God different from that of Cam. Cain had not this faith, whatever might be its object; and Cain accordingly did not bring an offering to which God had "respect." That which vitiated tine offering of Cain was the want of this faith, for his offering was not significant of faith; that which "pleased God," in the case of Abel, was his faith, and he had "respect" to his offering, because it was the expression of that faith, and upon his faith so expressing itself, God witnessed to him "that he was righteous."
So, certainly, do the words of St. Paul, when commenting upon this transaction, establish it against the author above quoted, that Abel's sacrifice was accepted, because of its immediate connection with his faith, for, by faith be is said to have offered it ; anti all that, whatever it might be, which made Abel's offering differ from that of Cain, whether abundance, or kind, or both, was the result of this faith. So clearly, also, is it laid down by the apostle that Abel was witnessed to be "righteous," not with reference to any previous "habit of a religious life," but with reference to his faith; and not to his faith as leading to personal righteousness, but to his faith as expressing itself by his offering "a more excellent sacrifice."
Mr. Davison, in support of his opinion, adopts the argument of many before him, that "tire rest of Scripture speaks to Abel's personal righteousness. Thus, in St. John's distinction between Cain and Abel, wherefore slew he him? because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.' Thus in the remonstrance of GOD with Cain, that remonstrance with Cain's envy for the acceptance of Abel's offering is directed, not to the mode of their sacrifice, but to the good and evil doings of their respective lives-' If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted, and if thou doest not well, sin Beth at the door.'" (Inquiry, &c.)
With respect to the words in St. John, they may be allowed to refer to Abel's "personal righteousness," without affecting the statement of St. Paul in the least. It would be a bad rule of criticism fully to explain the comments of one sacred writer upon a transaction, the principle and nature of which he explains professedly, by the remark of another, when the subject is introduced only allusively and incidentally. St. John's words must not here be brought in to qualify St. Paul's exposition; but St. Paul's exposition to complete the incidental allusion of St. John. Both apostles agreed that no man was righteous personally, till be was made righteous by forgiveness; accounted and witnessed righteous by faith; and both agree that from that follows a personal righteousness. If St. John, then, refers to Abel's personal righteousness, he refers to it as flowing from his justification and acceptance with God, and by that personal righteousness the "wrath" of Cain, which was first excited by the rejection of his sacrifice, was, probably ripened into the "hatred" which led on his fratricide; for it does not appear that he committed that act immediately upon the place of sacrifice, but at some subsequent period; and, certainly, it was not the antecedent holy life of Abel which first produced Cain's displeasure against his brother, for this is expressly attributed to the transactions of the day in which each brought his offering to the Lord. St. John's reference to Abel's personal righteousness does not, therefore, exclude a reference also, and even primarily to his faith as its instrumental cause, and the source of its support and nourishment; and, we may add, that it is St. John's rule, and must be the rule of every New Testament writer, to regard a man's submission to, or rejection of; God's method of saving men by faith, as the best evidence of personal righteousness, or the contrary. As to Genesis iv, 7, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted; and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door," in order to show that it cannot be proved from this passage, that Abel's offering was accepted because of his personal righteousness, it is not necessary to avail ourselves of Lightfoot's view of it, who takes "sin" to be the ellipsis of sin offering, as in many places of Scripture. For and against this rendering much ingenious criticism has been employed, for which the critics must be consulted. The interpretation which supposes Cain to be referred to a sin offering, an animal victim "lying at the door," is, at best, doubtful; but if this be conceded, the argument framed upon the declaration to Cain, "if thou doest WELL, shalt not thou be accepted," as though the reason of tine acceptance of Abel's sacrifice was in "well doing" in the moral sense only, is wholly groundless, since the apostle so explicitly refers time reason of the acceptance of his sacrifice to his faith, as before established. It is enough to show that there is nothing in these words to contradict this, even if we take them in the most obvious sense, and omit the consideration that the Hebrew text has, in this place, been disturbed, of which there are strong indications. The passage may be taken in two views. Either to "do well," may mean to do as Abel had done, viz, to repent and bring those sacrifices which should express his faith in God's appointed method of pardoning and accepting men, thus submitting himself wholly to GoD; and linen it is a merciful intimation that Cain's rejection was not final; but that it depended upon himself, whether he would seek God in sincerity and truth. Or the words may be considered as a declaration of tire principles of God's righteous government over men. "If thou doest well," if thou art righteous and unsinning, thou shalt be accepted as such, without sacrifice; "but if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door," and is chargeable upon thee with its consequence; thus, after declaring his moral condition, leaving it to himself to seek for pardon in the method established in the first family, and which Cain must be supposed to have known as well as Abel, or, otherwise, we must suppose that they had received no religious instruction at all from Adam their father. To the former view of the sense of the passage it cannot be objected that to offer proper sacrifices from a right principle cannot be called, in the common and large sense "to do well," for even "to believe" is called
a work" by our Saviour; and the sacrifice of Abel was, moreover, an act, or a series of acts, which were the expressions of his faith, and, therefore, might be called a doing well, without any violence. Agreeably to this, the whole course of the submission of the Jews to the laws concerning their sacrifices, is often, in Scripture, designated by the obedience, and ways, and doings. The second interpretation corresponds to the great axiom of moral government alluded to by St. Paul, "This do and thou shalt live," which is so far from excluding the doctrine of justification by faith, that it is the ground on which he argues it, inasmuch as it shuts out the justification of men by law when it has once been violated.
If, then, it has been established that the faith of Abel had an immediate connection with his sacrifice; and both with his being accepted as righteous, that is, justified, in St. Paul's use of the term, to what had his faith respect? The particular object of the faith of the elders, celebrated in Hebrews xi, is to be deduced from the circumstances adduced as illustrative of the existence and operation of this great principle, and by which it manifested itself. Let us illustrate this, and then ascertain the objects of Abel's faith also from the manner of its manifestation from the acts in which it embodied and rendered itself conspicuous.
Faith is, in this chapter, taken in the sense of affiance in GOD, and, as such, it can only be exercised toward God as to all particular acts, in those respects, in which we have some authority to confide in him. This supposes revelation, and, in particular, some promise or declaration on his part, as the warrant for every act of affiance. When, therefore, it is said that "by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death," it must be supposed that he had some promise or intimation to this effect, on which, improbable as the event was, he nobly relied, amid in the result God honoured Iris faith before all men. The faith of Noah had immediate respect to the threatened flood, and the promise of God to preserve him in the ark which he was commanded to prepare. The faith of Abraham had different objects. In one of the instances which this chapter records, it respected the promise of the land of Canaan to his posterity, and also the promise of the heavenly inheritance, of which that was the type; which faith he publicly manifested by "sojourning in the land of promise, as in a strange country," and "dwelling in tabernacles," rather than taking up a permanent residence in any of its cities, because "he looked for a city which hath foundations." In time case of the offering of Isaac, he believed that God would raise his immolated son from the dead, and the ground of his faith is stated, in verse 18, to be the promise, "in Isaac shall thy seed be called." The faith of Sarah respected the promise of issue,-" she judged him faithful who had promised." "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come," which faith had for its object the revelation made to him by God as to the future lot of the posterity of his two sons. The chapter is filled with other instances expressed or implied; and from the whole, as well as from the nature of the thing, it will appear that when the apostle speaks of the faith of the elders in its particular acts, he represents it as having respect to some promise, declaration, or revelation of GOD.
This revelation was necessarily antecedent to the faith; but it is also to be observed, that the acts by which the faith was represented, whenever it was represented by particular acts, and when tire case admitted it, had a natural and striking conformity and correspondence to the previous revelation. So Noah built the ark, which indicated that he had heard the threat of the world's destruction by water, and had received the promise of his own and family's preservations as well as that of a selection of the beasts of the earth; to all which the means of preservation, by which his faith was represented, and which it led him to adopt, corresponded. When Abraham went into Canaan, at the command of God, and upon the promise that that country should become the inheritance of his descendants, he showed his faith by taking pos. session of it for them in anticipation, and his residence there indicated the kind of promise which he had received. When he lived in that promised land in tents, though opulent enough to have established himself in a more settled state, the very manner in which his faith expressed itself, showed that he had received the promise of a "better country," which made him willing to be a "stranger and wanderer on earth ;" for "they that say such things," says the apostle, namely, that they are strangers and pilgrims, "confessing" it by these significant acts, "declare plainly that they seek a country," that is, a heavenly." Thus, alas, when Moses's faith expressed itself, in his refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, this also clearly indicated that he had received the promise of something higher and more excellent than "the riches of Egypt," which he renounced, even "the recompense of the reward," to which, we are told, "he lead respect." When his faith manifested itself by his forsaking Egypt at the head of his people, "not fearing the wrath of the king," this indicated that he had received a promise of protection and success, and he, therefore, "endured as seeing Him who is invisible."
If, then, all these instances show, that when the faith which the apostle commends exhibits itself in some particular act, that act has a correspondency to the previous promise of revelation, which faith must have for its ground and reason, then are we constrained to interpret the acts of Abel's faith, so as to make them also correspond with some antecedent revelation, or rather, we must suppose that the antecedent revelation, though not expressly stated, (which is also the case in several other. of the instances which are given in the chapter,) must have corresponded with them. His faith had respect to some previous revelation, and the nature of the revelation is to be collected from the significant manner by which he declared his faith in it.
Now that which Abel did, "by faith," was, if considered generally, to perform an act of solemn worship, in the confidence that it would be acceptable to God. This supposes a revelation, immediate or by tradition, that such acts of worship were acceptable to God, or his faith could have had no warrant, and would not have been faith, but fancy. But the case must be considered more particularly. His faith led him, to offer "a more excellent sacrifice" than that of Cain; but this necessarily implies, that there was some antecedent revelation, to which his faith, as thus expressed, had respect, and on which that peculiarity of his offering, which distinguished it from the offering of Cain, was found ed; a revelation which indicated, that the way in which God would be approached acceptably, in solemn worship, was by animal sacrifices. Without this, too, the faith to which his offering, which was an offering of the firstlings of his flock, had a special fitness and adaptation, could have had no warrant in Divine authority. But this revelation must have included, in order to its being the ground of faith, as "the substance of things hoped for," a promise of a benefit to be conferred, in which promise Abel might confide. But if so, then this promise must have been connected, not with the worship of God in general, or performed in any way whatever indifferently, but with his worship by animal oblations; for it was in this way that the faith of Abel indicated itself, specially and distinctively. The antecedent revelation was, therefore, a promise of a benefit to be conferred, by means of animal sacrifice; and we are taught what this benefit was, by that which was actually received by the offerer-" he obtained witness that he was righteous;" which, if the notion of his antecedent righteousness has been refuted, must be interpreted in the sense of a declaration of his personal justification, and acceptance as righteous, upon forgiveness of his sins. The reason of Abel's acceptance and of Cain's rejection is hereby made manifest; the one, in seeking the Divine favour, conformed to his established and appointed method of being approached by guilty men, and the other not only neglected this, but profanely and presumptuously substituted his own inventions.
It is impossible, then, to allow the act of Abel, in this instance, to have been an act of faith, without allowing that it had respect to a previous and appropriate revelation; a revelation which agreed to all the parts of that sacrificial action, by which he expressed his faith in it Had Abel's sacrifice been eucharistic merely, it would have expressed gratitude, but not faith; or if faith in the general sense of confidence in God that he would receive an act of grateful worship, and reward the worshipper, it did not more express faith than the offering of Cain, who surely believed these two points, or he would not have brought an offering of any kind. The offering of Abel expressed a faith which Cain had not, and the doctrinal principles which Abel's faith respected, were such as his sacrifice visibly embodied. If it was not, then, an eucharistic sacrifice, it was an expiatory one; and, in fact, it is only in a sacrifice of this kind, that it is possible to see that faith exhibited, which Abel had, and Cain had not. By subsequent sacrifices of expiation. then, is this early expiatory offering to be explained, and from these it will be obvious to what doctrines and principles of an antecedent revelation the faith of Abel had respect, and which his sacrifice, the exhibition of his faith, proclaimed. Confession of the fact of being a sinner- acknowledgment of the demerit and penalty of sin and death-submission to an appointed mode of expiation; animal sacrifice offered vicariously, but, in itself, a mere type of a better sacrifice, "the seed of the Woman," appointed to be offered at some future period-the efficacy of this appointed method of expiation to obtain forgiveness and to admit the guilty into the Divine favour.
For these reasons, we think that the conclusion of many of our ancient divines, so admirably embodied in the following words of Archbishop Magee, is not too strong, but is fully supported by the argument of the case, as founded upon the brief but very explicit declarations of the history of the transaction in Genesis, and by the comment upon it in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
"Abel, in firm reliance on the promise of God, and in obedience to his command, offered that sacrifice, which had been enjoined as the religious expression of his faith; while Cain, disregarding the gracious assurances that had been vouchsafed, or at least disdaining to adopt the prescribed mode of manifesting his belief, possibly as not appearing to his reason to possess any efficacy or natural fitness, thought he had sufficiently acquitted himself of his duty in acknowledging the general superintendence of God, and expressing his gratitude to the Supreme Benefactor, by presenting some of those good things, which be thereby confessed to have been derived from his bounty. In short, Cain, the first born of the fall, exhibits the first fruits of his parents' disobedience, in the arrogance and self-sufficiency of reason rejecting the aids of revelation, because they fell not within its apprehension of right. He takes the first place in the annals of Deism, and displays, in his proud rejection of the ordinance of sacrifice, the same spirit, which, in later days, has actuated his enlightened followers, in rejecting the sacrifice of Christ."
If it should be asked, what evidence we leave from Scripture, that such an antecedent revelation as that to which we have said Abel's faith must have had respect, was made, the reply is, that if this rested only upon the necessary inferences which, jam all fairness and consistency of interpretation, we must draw from the circumstances of the transaction, when combined with the apostle's interpretation of it, the ground would i)e strong enough to enable us to defend it against both time attacks of Sociacians, and of those orthodox divines who, like Mr. Davison, would wrest it from us, as an unnecessary post to be taken in time combat with the impugners of the Christian doctrine of atonement, or one which is rather injurious than otherwise to the efficiency of the more direct argument. "Such expositions," says Mr. Davison, "do evil and disservice to truth; they bring in a wrong principle; they enforce a comment without a text. Such a principle is, undoubtedly, wrong, and has been the source of much religious speculation." This we grant, and feel how important the caution is. But it does not here apply. It is not enough to say that "the text" is not in the "Mosaic history;" we must prove that it is not in the New Testament, or necessarily implied in its comments upon and inferences from Old Testament facts and relations. The "text" itself, supposed to be wanting, may be there, and even "the comment" of an inspired writer often supplies the text, and his reasoning the premises wanting, in so many words, in the brief and veiled narrative of Moses. An uninspired comment, we grant, has not this prerogative; but an inspired one has, which is an important consideration, not to be overlooked. When we say that the MANNA, which fell in the wilderness, represented the supply of the spiritual Israel with the true bread which comes down from heaven, Mr. Davison might reply this is "the comment;" but where is "the text ?" We acknowledge that the text upon which this comment is hung, is not in the history of Moses; but the authority of this comment, and, if we may so speak, an implied "text" itself, is to be found in the words of our Lord, who calls himself "that bread;" and in the words of St. Paul, who terms the manna the "spiritual" or typical bread. If we allege that the "ROCK," which when smitten poured forth its stream to refresh the fainting Israelites, was a figure of Christ, it might, in like mariner, be urged that "the text" is wanting, and, certainly, we should not gather that view from the history of Moses; yet "the comment" is not ours, but that of the apostle, who says "that Rock was Christ," which can only be understood as asserting that it was an instituted and appointed type of Christ. Where we have no intimations of such adumbrations in the persons and trans. actions of the Old Testament, we are not at liberty to invent them, nor can we justly carry them beyond what is expressed by our inspired authority, or naturally and fairly inferred to be from it. On the other hand we are bound not to interpret the Old Testament without reference to the New; and not to disregard that light which the perfect revelation affords not only by its direct effulgence, but by its reflections upon the history of our redemption, up to the earliest ages.
If it be argued, from the silence of the Mosaic history, that such types and allusions were not understood as such by the persons among whom they were first instituted, the answer is, 1. That though they should not be supposed capable of understanding them as clearly as we do, yet it must be supposed, that the spiritual among them had their knowledge and faith greatly assisted by them, and that they were among those "wondrous things of the law," which were, in some measure, revealed to those who prayed with David, that their eyes might he opened "to behold them," or otherwise they were totally without religious use during all the ages previous to Christianity, amid we must come to the Conclusion that the whole system of types was without edification morn to the Jews, and are instructive only to us. If we conclude thus as to types, we may come to the same conclusion as to the prophecies of Messiah, to the spiritual meaning and real application of many of which there appears to be as little indication of a key as to the types. But this can not be affirmed, for St. Peter tells us, that of this "salvation the prophets searched diligently who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what or what manner of time the spirit which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." The prophecies could, probably, be but dimly interpreted; but something was known of their general meaning, something important was obtained by "searching" to reward the search into their import. The same discovery of the general import and bearing of the types, must also have rewarded a search equally eager and pious. If this is not allowed, then they were not types to the ancient Church, a position which is contradicted by St. Paul, who declares, as to one instance, which may serve for the rest, namely, the entering of "the priest alone once every year into the inner tabernacle," that by this "the Holy Ghost SIGNIFIED that the way to the holiest was not YET made manifest," and that the tabernacle itself, including of course, its services, "was a figure FOR THE TIME THEN PRESENT, in or during which gifts and sacrifices were offered."
But, 2. We have, in one of the instances before adverted to in Hebrews xi, a direct proof of a distinct revelation, which is nowhere recorded in the Mosaic history separate from the temporal promise in which it appears to have been involved. By faith Abraham, having received the promise of Canaan as "a place which he should afterward receive for an inheritance," went to sojourn there; but by faith also he sojourned in this land of promise as a stranger, dwelling in tents, "for he looked for a city which had foundations," for the "heavenly state," and by that act he, and Isaac, and Jacob, "the heirs with him of the same PROMISE," declared plainly that they "desired a better country, even a heavenly." Of this better country they then received a PROMISE, which promise is not distinctly recorded in the history of Moses; and it must, therefore have been either included in the promise of Canaan, which was made to them and their descendants, as a type, an understood type, of the eternal and heavenly rest, which is agreeable to the allusions of St. Paul in other parts of thee epistle; or else it was matter of separate and unrecorded revelation. In either view the history of Moses is silent, and yet we are compelled, by time comment of the apostle, and in opposition to the argu. merit which Mr. Davison and others found upon that silence, to allow either a collateral revelation, separate from the promise of Canaan, or that that promise itself had a mystic sense which became the object of their faith; amid thus the inspired comment of the apostle supplies a text wanting in the history, or an enlarged interpretation of that which is found in it.
With this case of Abraham, Mr. Davison is evidently perplexed, and feels how forcibly it bears against his own rules of interpreting the Mosaic history of the religion of those early ages. He justly contends against Grotius and Le Clerc, that the object of the faith recorded in Hebrews xi, was not always a temporal one But, then, he proposes to show "how God, without having, granted to those patriarchs the explicit revelation of an eternal heavenly state, a revelation which is nowhere exhibited in the Pentateuch, trained them to the aim and implicit persuasion of that eternal state by large and indefinite promises of being 'their God and 'their great reward,' promises to which the present life, as to them, furnished no adequate completion." Thus, then, we are to conclude, that the heavenly state to which these patriarchs looked, was a matter of entire inference from the promise that God would be "their God and their reward," and from the consideration that nothing had occurred to them, in this present life, to be adequate to these promises. To the latter we may reply that, if this were the only ground of their faith, they could not have made the inference till the close of life; for how could they know that something adequate to these promises, if not previously explained to refer chiefly to the future state, might not yet, though after much delay, occur to them? But they had this faith from the very giving of the promises, and, therefore, it was not left to future inference from circumstances. With respect to the former, that they inferred that there was a heavenly state, from the promise to Abraham, "1 will be thy God," when no previous "explicit revelation" of a future state was made; it not only supposes that the patriarchs had no revelation at all of a future life, no knowledge of the soul's immortality, or of a general judgment, of which, indeed, "Enoch prophesied;" but it is inconsistent with the public and expressive action, (an action, probably, intended to be instructive as a symbolical one to all with whom Abraham was connected in Canaan,) that he "dwelt in tents," in order "to declare plainly that he sought a better country." This, surely, was not an action to be founded upon a probable, but still uncertain, inference from the unexplained general promise, "I will be thy GOD;" but one which was suited only to express a firm faith in an explicit revelation and a particular promise.
But the whole of this theory is swept away entirely by the declaration of the apostle, "These all died in faith, not having received THE PROMISES," that is, the things promised; "but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth;" strangers, not at home, pilgrims, journeying to it. Now this home, this better country which they sought, the apostle here expressly says was not to them matter of inference, but the subject of" PROMISES," in the faith of which they both Lived and died.
In the case of Abel's offering, as in those just given, the inspired corn-meat of the apostle supplies "the text" to the history; or, in other words, it so illustrates and enlarges our knowledge of the transaction, in its principles and antecedent circumstances, that we are bound to understand it not as persons who have not this additional information, or those who choose to disregard it, but as it is explained upon authority not to be questioned. Abel, says the apostle, offered his more excellent sacrifice "by faith," amid faith must have respect to a preceding revelation.
We have just seen what doctrinal principles were implied in the practice of expiatory sacrifices, and if Abel's sacrifice was of this kind, which is the only satisfactory account which can be given of it, we have no reason to suppose that it included any thing less or lower than those appointed under the law, and which are expressly stated to be types and figures, and shadows of the evangelical expiation of sin. An antecedent revelation to this effect must be supposed as time ground of his faith; but we are not left wholly to this: we have an account, though brief, of such a revelation.
That the account is brief is no objection. What is written is not, for that reason, to be disregarded. There were, doubtless, reasons sufficiently wise why the history of the patriarchal ages was not more largely given. If it were only to exercise our diligence, amid to lead us to resort to what has been called "the analogy of faith," and to interpret Scripture by Scripture, the reason would be important. In arguing from this brevity or silence, however, both against the Divine institution of primitive sacrifice, and the evangelical interpretation of the sacrifice of Abel, some writers are apt to overlook the fact, that the book of Genesis is but a sketch of this period of ancient history; that it is so throughout, and that it nowhere professes to be more. Arguments of this kind, as that of Bishop Warburton, who thinks it strange that if sacrifice were of Divine institution, not more is said on so important a subject, seem, insensibly, to proceed upon the supposition that the book of Genesis was the ritual and directory of the patriarchal Church, is that of Leviticus was the ritual of the Jewish. The absence of any account of the institution and prescribed mode of sacrifice might, in that case, have been thought strange; but it is a brief history, evidently in-ended only to be introductory to that of God's chosen people, the Jews, whose proper historiographer Moses, by Divine suggestion, became. Moses grounds no argument upon any part of it in favour of his own institutions, except it may be an implied one in favour of the peculiar relation of the Jews to God, as the seed of Abraham, to whom the laud f Canaan was promised, and with whom a special covenant was made the history of Abraham he was, therefore, bound to relate more at length, and he has done so; but where no immediate application of former events was to be made in this way, and the object was merely hat of brief general instruction, we can see no particular rules binding upon him to omit or to insert any thing, to dilate, or to contract his narrative. If we are to argue from the brevity or the omissions of the narrative of the book of Genesis, we may often fall into great absurdities, as many have done; and it might, indeed, be almost as fairly argued from the silence of this rapid history of the antediluvian world, that no code of morals was Divinely enjoined before the giving of the ten commandments, as that sacrifices were not Divinely instituted before the mandates issued from Sinai; for the silence of the book of Genesis equally respects both. We rather choose to argue, that as moral obedience must respect a law, and authoritative law must be a revelation from God; so as faith respects doctrine and promise, that doctrine and those promises, if faith be obligatory, must also be a revelation from God; and again, as we collect from God's displeasure against, or favour to certain kinds and courses of moral conduct, that man was under a law which respected morals; so also, from his acceptance of one kind of sacrifice, and his rejection of another, in the case of Cain and Abel, it will, for the same reason follow, that man was under a law of sacrifice, and more especially since the sacrifices to which God, in after ages, had uniform and special respect, were of the same kind as that of Abel animal, vicarious, and expiatory. In morals, we must suppose either traditional or personal revelation, or else give to them a human origin or invention, and in worship we have only the same alternative; but to give to primitive morality one origin, and to primitive worship another; to ascribe one to God and another to man, is to form a very incongruous system, and to involve ourselves in great difficulties. We must suppose Adam to have been an inspired teacher of morals, but to have left worship indifferent; or, if we exclude traditional revelation, and assume that every man was taught personally by God in those times, that God made revelations of his law, but none of his grace; that he revealed the standard by which every man might discover his sin and danger, but that he made no discovery of the means by which a man, painfully sensible of his guilt and liableness to the punishment, might approach him so as to obtain his forgiveness and blessing.
But beside this, it is easy to collect, from the sacred record in the early part of Genesis, brief as it is, no unimportant information of the theology which existed in the first family even prior to the sacrifice of Abel. That man was under law is certain; that death was the penalty of sin is equally certain. That the first pair sinned, and that they did not die, notwithstanding the law, were obvious facts. That the term of their probation were changed, and that they were not shut out for ever from the Divine regard were circumstances equally clear; arid also .hat they had means of approach to God, means of obtaining his favour, means of sanctification, means of obtaining eternal life, must also be necessarily inferred. Claims of justice and yearnings of mercy in God j were seen at natural and legal variance and opposition; and if these were harmonized, and harmonized they were, or "the Lamb" could not be said to have been slain "from the foundation of the world," then must we suppose that there was some indication of this "wisdom of GOD" revealed for a practical end, the necessity of which must always have existed, to prevent despair on the one hand, and a presumptuous disregard of the Divine laws on the other. Though in figurative language, or symbolical action, the manifestation of this truth might be made, yet it must have been substantially made, or it could not have been practical and influential. A veiled truth, is yet a truth, though veiled. A shadow indicates the outline of the substance, though a shadow; and the sun, though shrouded with clouds, fills the hemisphere with light, though not with brightness, for day, however clouded, is far different from night. We cannot conceive of a theology at all suited, in any practical degree, to man's fallen state, unless it comprehend time particulars we have given, as well as the knowledge of the existence and perfections of God; and if we find an express indication of the evangelical method of saving man by the interposition of the incarnate Son of God, we may be sure that, at least all that this indication, when fairly interpreted, contains was known to Abel before lie offered his sacrifice; and, both from time brevity of the narrative and the office of Adam as the teacher of religion to his children, we might also infer that this indication was matter of converse and explanation, though this latter consideration we shall not insist upon.
It is in the first promise that this indication is to be found, and here we shall join issue with Mr. Davison as to its import, and the extent in which its meaning must have been understood in the first family.
In another part of this work it has been established, that this prophetic promise must be understood symbolically, and that it contained the first manifestation of Messiah. This, indeed, Mr. Davison acknowledges, but denies that his Divine nature, incarnation, time vicarious nature of his sufferings, and their atoning efficacy, could be inferred from it. As his remarks contain all that can be said against the commonly received opinion that it contained an intimation of all these, we may quote the man. They contain some truth and much error. "One object of faith has been always the same; that object the Redeemer. The original promise in paradise created this prospect of faith to be the light and hope of the world forever. But that original promise could not be interpreted by itself into time several parts of its appointed completion. The general prediction of the redeeming seed, 'It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel,' though adequate in the mind of God, to the determinate form of the Christian redemption, could not he so deduced into its final sense by the mind of man. And since there is no other promise or prediction extant, applicable to the faith of time first ages, and explanatory of the mode of the Christian redemption, we can justly ascribe no other knowledge of that redemption to those ages than such as is comprehended in the proper and apparent sense of the first evangelical promise, in which the particular notion of a sacrifice of expiation or atonement, or, indeed, of any sacrifice was then impossible to be discovered. It was the office of later revelation to fill up the design of this promise, and revelation, alone, could do it. For the deductions of supernatural truth are not within the sphere of human intellect. They are not to be inferred as discoverable conclusions from one primary principle. A Redeemer being foretold, his Divine nature, his incarnation, the vicarious nature of his sufferings, his death, and the atoning efficacy of it, all these, though real connections of truth, comprehended with the original promise, in the scheme of the Divine economy, came down to man, like new streams of light, by these separate channels, and when they are communicated in their proper form, then we know them; not before." (Inquiry, &c.)
One very misleading notion, as the reader will perceive from what has been already said, lies at the bottom of these remarks. It is assumed contrary to evidence, that the book of Genesis is a complete history of the religious opinions of the patriarchs, and that they knew nothing on the subject of theology but what appears on the face of the account given by Moses, who touches their theological system but incidentally. We say that this notion is unfounded, not only because we must necessarily infer, that in order to be religious, nay even moral men, they knew much more than the rapid Mosaic sketch includes; but we conclude this fact on the authority of the inspired writers of the New Testament. Thus, for instance, we have seen that Abraham had a revelation of a future state, and that Enoch prophesied of the "coming of the Lord to judgment, with thousands of his saints," though neither of those revelations are recorded by Moses. But though this is sufficient to show that the view taken of time primitive theology, by Mr. Davison, and those whose opinions he has undertaken to advocate, is far too narrow, and that his conclusions, from such premises, must be unsatisfactory; it is not on this ground that his notion of the general amid indefinite nature of the first promise shall be refuted Let it be forgotten, for a moment, that Adam was naturally the religious head and religious teacher of his family; that there was always an inspiration in the Church of God; that the general promises and prophecies were adapted to excite inquiry; and that spiritual men would always, more or less, as now, be led into the mystery veiled under the letter and symbol; yet, taking the prophecy simply by itself, it will be obvious from a careful consideration of it, that the view just given does not do at justice, and that it must have been more amply and more particularly understood than Mr. Davison, in support of his hypothesis, would represent. He would have it taken so generally as to be incapable of interpretation "into the several parts of its appointed completion," and to be only able to convey some one general notion of a deliverer. But why are we to confine it to one general indistinct impression? Why, though the several parts of this prophetic promise should be allowed to be comparatively obscure, and their impression to be general, should it not be considered in the parts of which it is actually composed? and why should not each part have been apprehended separately and distinctively, though yet obscurely? Of several parts the prophecy is, in fact, composed, and to these parts, as well as to the general impression made by the whole, must the attention of the patriarchs have been necessarily directed. The Divine nature, the incarnation, the vicarious nature of Messiah's sufferings, and their atoning efficacy, we are told, came to men "by separate channels," and were not in any way to be apprehended in this promise. In their farther and full development we grant this; but let us see whether this promise, "interpreted even by itself," must not have led the patriarchs many steps, at least, toward all these doctrines.
The Divine nature of the promised Redeemer, we are told, was a separate revelation; but, surely, this promise clearly indicated that lie was to be of a superior nature, not only to man, but to that fell spirit whom he was to subdue, and whose subtlety, power, and malice, our first parents had so lamentably experienced; that he was to deprive him of that dominion which he had acquired over man, and restore the world from the evil effects which it had sustained from the success of his temptations. This was seen in the promise by an easy and natural interpretation, and the step from this to the absolute Divinity of this Restorer, or, at least, to an apprehension of the probability of it, was certainly not a large and difficult one. The blessings, too, which he was to procure for sinful man were of such a nature as to give the most exalted ideas of the being who could bring them back to man when forfeited by a most righteous sentence. They were spiritual blessings. For, if our first parents were to derive any consolation or benefit from the promise in this life; if it was to turn their repentance to any account; or to give them any hope and confidence toward God, whom they had offended, to he assured that the head of the serpent should be bruised, then their attention must have been turned to spiritual blessings as the result of this, since in this life they neither obtained exemption from labour, suffering, or death. Now those who adopt the principle of Mr. Davison, and will allow of no revelations in those ages being assumed but those which are recorded by Moses, are bound to allow that there was in the promise something which was intended to give religious hope and comfort to the first pair, and to their immediate posterity, or they cannot account for the existence of religious worship and the hope which it implies, since there is no other recorded promise of the same antiquity, and they will allow nothing to be assumed beside what is written. If, then, this first promise ministered to the religious hope, faith, and comfort of our first parents, it turned that hope to the spiritual blessings which they had lost, namely, the favour of God and eternal life, and to these as coming to them through the bruising of the head of the serpent by the seed of the woman. The same conclusion we must come to, if we adopt what we appear compelled to do, on apostolic authority, the doctrine of collateral expository revelations, for these would throw light upon the figurative and symbolic terms of the promise, and show much of its real and spiritual import. In either case we must resort to this promise as the source of that hope of pardon and spiritual victory, which, from the time it was given, became an inmate in the bosoms of faithful men, and animated them in their moral conflicts. Whoever, then, the seed of the woman might he, he was, in this very promise, exhibited as the Restorer of the all-important spiritual blessings of the Divine favour, power over Satan, and eternal life. Thus their notions of his character, and, indeed, of his superior nature, would be still farther advanced.
But the bruising of the head of Satan, which could only be understood of a fatal blow to be inflicted on the power which lie had acquired over man, and which had displayed itself in the introduction of suffering and death, in the evil dispositions of men toward each other, and all the miseries which so soon sprung up in society, directed their hope also to future blessings as to themselves and their posterity, which blessings could be no less than deliverance from the evils which the subtlety of the serpent had introduced, namely, as to them, deliverance from affliction and death; and, as to society, a return to primeval purity. Whether they looked for this deliverance by a renovation of the present world, or by the introduction of the pious into another, we cannot say.
If our first parents were, for some time, uncertain as to this point, the antediluvian family could not long remain so, since the doctrine of a future life was known to Enoch, and, if not before, was revealed to others by the fact of his translation, and he was but "the seventh from Adam." But whether by the renovation of the earth, and the restoration of the body of man to immortality in this world, or by the resurrection of the body and the glorification of the soul in a future state, still was such a restoration implied in the promise, and the person by whom death was to be conquered and sin expelled from man's heart, and immortality and bliss restored, was still "the seed of the woman." That the Divinity of a being capable of bestowing such favours, was, at least, indicated in the first promise, is not, therefore, too strong a conclusion; and though new communications of this truth, coming through "separate channels," illustrated the text of this revelation, yet in the channel of the original promise, through which came the first hope of "a Redeemer," we see those concomitant circumstances from which it could not but be inferred, that he was, at least, super-human and super-angelic. Re was the seed of the woman, and yet superior to "the archangel fallen"-and he was seen in that promise, as he is seen now, though with greater detail of circumstance, as the great medium of pardon, moral renovation, immortality, and eternal life.
It is equally untenable to say, that the doctrine of the incarnation was not to be deduced from the promise before us, but that this also came by "a separate channel." The farther revelation of this truth opened for itself various courses, but it is there also. The being there spoken of as superior to the serpent, and as so superior to man, even in his innocence and perfection, that he should subdue the power which had subdued Adam, and recover what Adam lost, was, nevertheless, to be "the SEED of the woman:" to be her offspring even in her fallen state; so that in truth so much of the doctrine of the incarnation was to be deduced from the promise, that this "seed of the woman" was at once to be man, and more than man. And then for the doctrine of his "vicarious sufferings," and their efficacy, why should we be compelled wholly to look for the first indication of this to revelations coming to man through separate and later channels? These, we again thankfully acknowledge, have been abundantly opened; but, if we allow Adam and the patriarchs to have been men of but common powers of reflection, (though to them a very vigorous and even cultivated intellect might in justice be conceded,) then the first indication of this truth also must have been seen in the first promise. It was comparatively dim and obscure we grant; but there was a substantive manifestation of it; and, to say nothing of collateral instruction from GOD himself, it was apprehended in the first promise, not by difficult and distant, but by near and natural inference, that the restoration of man should be effected by the sufferings of the Restorer. For what could be understood by the bruising of the heel of the seed of the woman in the conflict which was to spring from the enmity put between that seed, some one distinguished person so called, and the serpent, but a temporary injury and suffering? and why should he sustain the injury rather than any other descendant of the woman, except that the conflict, in which he engaged, was in his character of Redeemer, coming forth to the struggle for man's sake, and for man's rescue? As he was a being superior to man, and yet man, then is there an indication of his incarnation; if of his incarnation, then it was indicated also that his sufferings were voluntary, for to suffer could not spring from his weakness who was able to subdue, but from the will of him who chose, in this way, to subdue the grand enemy. His suffering, then, was for man, and it was voluntary suffering for man; and if voluntary, then was there a connection between this his temporary voluntary suffering and the bruising of the serpent's head, that is, his conquest over Satan, and the rescue of man from his dominion; in other words, there was an efficacy in his sufferings which connected themselves, not by accident, but by appointment and institution, with man's salvation from those evils, spiritual and corporal, which had been induced by the power and malice of the devil.
Interpreted then by itself, there is much more in this promise than Mr. Davison has discovered in it. It exhibited to man the means of his salvation; this was to be effected by the interposition of a being of a superior nature, made "the seed of the woman;" his office was to destroy the works of the devil; he exposed himself to voluntary sufferings for this end; these sufferings had a direct efficacy and connection with man's deliverance from the power of Satan, and, therefore, we may add, with the justice of G on, since Satan could have no power over man but by God's permission, which permission was a part of man's righteous punishment. This last consideration is of great importance. For as the patriarchs, with their lofty and clear notions of the majesty of the Divine, being, could not suppose that Satan had obtained any victory over him, or that the conflict between the Redeemer and him was to be one of power merely, since they must have known that he might at any time have been expelled from his usurped dominion by the fiat of the Almighty; so the dominion of Satan must have been regarded by them in the light of a judicial permission for the punishment of sin, and exhibiting the awful justice and sanctity of the law of God. It would, therefore, necessarily follow, in their reasonings on this subject, that the sufferings of the seed of the woman, expressed by the bruising of his heel, as they were demonstrated to be voluntary on his part by the superior greatness of his nature, and were expressly appointed on the part of God, as appears from the very terms of the first promise, were connected with this exercise of punitive justice, and were designed to remove it. Here, then, the notion of satisfaction and atonement breaks in, and a basis was laid for the rite of expiatory sacrifice, and the conformity of that rite to the doctrine of the first promise is at once seen; it thus became a visible expression of the faith of the fathers in this appointed method of man's deliverance.
There is nothing in this exposition of the import of the first promise which is so suggested by what we now know on these important subjects, as to be supposed out of the reach of the spiritually minded and reflecting part of the first family; and if so, then this promise may be considered as the basis of Abel's faith, and its doctrine as visibly embodied in what was peculiar in Abel's offering. Even if we were not able to refer to a promise sufficiently definite to support such an expression of faith, the former view we have taken would still hold good, that all faith necessarily supposes a previous revelation; and if faith does, by its acts, refer to a particular revelation, then an actual previous revelation of some particular doctrine, object, or view, must necessarily be supposed, or it is not faith, but fancy and presumption.
It is vainly urged against this, by Mr. Davison, that the faith spoken of by St. Paul in Hebrews xi, had for its simple and general object, that "God is the rewarder of such as diligently seek him." For, though this is supposed as the ground of every act of faith, yet the special acts recorded have each their special object. Even, if it were not so, this general principle itself is not to be so generally and indefinitely interpreted, as Mr. Davison would have it, who tells us that the first creed was "that God is a rewarder," and that the other articles were given by successive and distant revelations. This is a partial amid delusive statement; for, from this very text, which surely Mr. Davison had no right to curtail, another article is to be assigned to the first creed, namely, that God is not merely a rewarder, but a rewarder of those "that diligently seek him." Even with respect to the first, as Mr. Law justly observes, "God cannot be considered as a rewarder of mankind in any other sense than as he is a fulfiller of his promises made to man kind in the covenant of Messiah. For God could not give, nor man receive, any rewards or blessings, but in and through one Mediator, Christ Jesus." (Confutation of Warburton.) But we may add, that the rewarding mentioned by the apostle is connected with "seeking" him. Only to such he was or is a reward "who diligently seek him," and this seeking or worshipping God supposes some appointed instituted method of approaching him, and which, therefore, must be regarded by an acceptable faith, and recognized by its external acts. This is not mere inference, for both Cain and Abel believed that "God is, and that he is a rewarder," and they both sought him; but they sought him differently, and to Abel only and to his offering, that is, to his mode of" seeking" God, his Maker had respect. But farther, the whole chapter shows that, beside this general principle, the acts of faith there recorded reposed on antecedent revelations, either general or specific, which accorded with them. Noah's faith respected time promise of his preservation in the ark; Abraham's, that he should have a son, that his seed should possess the earthly Canaan, and he himself the heavenly Canaan; Moses's faith, in the first instance recorded of it, respected time promises of spiritual and eternal blessings to those who should renounce the "pleasures of sin for a season," and in the second, the promise of God to deliver Israel, and to fulfil the promise made to Abraham; and so also in the other instances given, the faith constantly respected some particular revelation from God. From all this, it will follow, that the apostle, in this chapter, did not intend to say that the object of faith, in any age whatever, was exclusively, that God is a rewarder of them who seek him, but that the elders who obtained the "good report" had faith in the word and promises of God, and for that had been honoured and rewarded He lays down two principles, it is true, which must be assumed before any special act of faith can be exercised-" That God is," or there could be no object of trust; and that he rewards them that "diligently seek him," or there could be no motive to prayer, or to ask ins interposition in any case; but these principles being admitted, then every word and promise of God becomes an object of faith to good men, who derive from this habit of trusting in God, on the authority of his own engagements, that courage and constancy by which they are distinguished, and are crowned with those rewards which he has always attached to faith.
And here, also, we may observe, that the notion stated above, that the mere belief by these ancient patriarchs that God is, and "that he is a rewarder," could not be at all apposite to the purpose for which this recital of the faith of the elders was addressed to the Hebrews. The object of it was clearly to induce the Jews who believed, not "to cast away their confidence," their faith in Christ. But what adaptation to this end can we discern in the dry statement that Abel and Enoch believed that God is, and that he is "a rewarder?" Had the Hebrews renounced Christ, and turned Jews again, they would still have believed these two points of doctrine. There are but two views of this recital of the instances of ancient faith which can harmonize it with the apostle's argument and design. The first is to consider him as adducing this list of worthies as examples of a steady faith in all that God bad then revealed to man, and of the happy effects which followed. The connection of this with his argument will then be obvious; for, by these examples, he urges the Hebrews to persevere in believing all that God had, "in these last days," revealed of his Son, Jesus Christ, in disregard of the dangers and persecutions to which they were exposed on that account; because thus they would share in the "good report" and in the rewards of the "elders" of their own Church, and imitate the honourable piety of their ancestry. This is enough for our argument. But there is a second view, not to be slightly passed over, which is, that these instances of ancient faith are adduced by the apostle to prove that all the "elders" of the patriarchal and Jewish Churches had faith in THE CHRIST TO COME, and that, therefore, the Hebrews would he the imitators of their faith and the partakers of its rewards in "holding fast their confidence, their faith in the same Christ who had already come, and whom they had received as such. Nor is even this stronger view difficult to be made out; for, though the different acts and exercises of faith ascribed to them have respect to different promises and revelations, some spiritual, Some temporal, and some mixed, yet may we trace in all of them a respect, more or less immediate, to the leading object of all faith, the Messiah himself. We have seen that Abel's faith had respect to the method of man's justification, through the sufferings of time seed of the woman.
As that seed was appointed to remedy the evils brought into the world by the serpent, it is clear that eternal life could only be expected with reference to him, and Enoch's lofty faith in a future heavenly state consequently looked to him then, like ours now, as "the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him,"-a conclusion, as to this patriarch, which is rendered stronger by his prophecy of Christ's coming to judgment "with ten thousand of his saints." Noah's faith had immediate respect to the promise of God to preserve him in the ark; but it cannot be disconnected from his faith in the first promise and other revelations of the bruising of the head of the serpent by Messiah, a promise which had not been accomplished, and which, if he believed God to be faithful, he must have concluded could not fall to the ground, and that his preservation, in order to prevent the human race from extinction, and to bring in the seed of the woman, in the fulness of time, was connected with it. His faith in God, as his deliverer, was bound up, therefore, we may almost say necessarily, with his faith in the Redeemer, and the one was the evidence of the other; for which reason, principally, it probably was, that the apostle says "that he became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." All the acts of Abraham's faith had respect, immediately or ultimately, to the promised seed. The possession of Canaan by his posterity, from whom the Messiah was to spring,-the enjoyment of eternal life for himself, which was the final effect of his justification by faith in the seed in whom all nations were to be blessed,-the transaction as to Isaac, when he believed that God would raise him from the lead, because he believed that the promise could not fail which had declared that the Messiah should spring from Isaac,-" In Isaac shall thy seed be called." The faith of Isaac, in blessing, or prophesying of the condition of Jacob and Esau, had still reference to the Messiah, who was to descend from Jacob, not Esau, and the lot of whose posterity was regulated accordingly. The same observation may be made as to Jacob blessing the sons of Joseph, and Joseph's making mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and giving commandment concerning his bones: both related to the settlement of the tribes in Canaan, and both were complicated with the relation of that event to, and the peculiarity stamped upon Israel, by the expected coming of Messiah When Moses, by faith, full of the hopes of immortality, renounced the temptations of time Egyptian court, the reproach lie endured is called 'the reproach of Christ," the apostle thus plainly intimating, that it was through the expected Messiah that he looked for time hope of eternal life, "the recompense of the reward." His faith, as leader of the hosts of Israel, was connected with the promises of God to give them possession of the land of Canaan as their patrimony, as that was with the advent of the Messiah among them "in the fulness of time." The faith of Rahab may appear more remotely connected with the promise of Messiah; but the connection may still be traced. She believed in the God of Israel as the true God; but by entertaining and preserving the spies, she also intimated her faith in the promise of God to give the descendants of Abraham the land of Canaan for their inheritance, which design she could only know from the promises made to Abraham, either traditionally from him, who had himself long resided in Canaan, or by information from the spies; and if she had this knowledge in either wax, it is not difficult to suppose her informed, also, as to the seed promised to Abraham, in which all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. I incline to think, that the faith of Rahab had respect not so much to any information she received from the spies, as to traditions derived from Abraham Whether she stood, by her descent, in any near relation to those with whom Abraham had more immediately conversed, or whether Abraham had very publicly testified in Canaan God's design to establish his posterity there, and to raise up from among them time holy seed, the Messiah, I will not pretend to determine; but there are two reasons which, at least, make it probable that Abraham gave a public testimony to religious truth during his residence in Canaan. The first is, his residence in tents; thereby "declaring plainly," says the Apostle Paul, "that he sought a better country, even a heavenly ;" that is, declaring it to the Canaanites, or the action would have had no meaning, declaring this doctrine to the people of his own age. The second is, that the same apostle gives it as a reason for the preservation of Rahab, that she believed, while those " that believed not" perished, meaning plainly the rest of the Canaanites. Now, what were they to believe, and why were they guilty for not believing? The only rational answer to be given is, that they had had the means of knowing time designs of God, as to Abraham and his posterity, from whom the promised Messiah was to spring; and that, not crediting the testimony given first by Abraham, and which was afterward confirmed by the wonders of Egypt, but setting themselves against the designs of God, they "perished" judicially, while Rahab, on account of her faith in these revelations, was preserved.
With respect to "Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, and Jephthah, and Daniel, and Samuel," they were judges, kings, and conquerors. They had a lofty faith in the special promises of success, which God was pleased to make to them; but that faith, also, sprung from, and was supported by, the special relation in which their nation stood to Jehovah; they were the seed of Abraham; they held their land by the grant of the Most High; they were all taught to look for the rising of the mighty prince Messiah among them; and their faith in special promises of success, could not but have respect to all these covenant engagements of God with their people, and may be considered as in no small degree grounded upon them, and, in its special acts, as an evidence that they had this faith in the deeper and more comprehensive promises. Certain it is, that one of them mentioned in this list of warriors, David, does, in the very songs in which lie celebrates his victories, almost constantly blend them with the conquests of Messiah; which is itself a marked and eminent proof of the connection which was constantly kept up in the minds of the pious governors of Israel between the political fortunes of their nation and the promises which respected time seed of Abraham. As to the prophets, also mentioned by the apostle, they Were constantly made the channels of new revelations as to the Messiah, and their faith, therefore, had an immediate reference to him; and for the sufferers in the cause of religious truth, so honourably recorded, the martyrs of the Old Testament who had "trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, were stoned, sawn asunder," &c, they are all represented as supported by their hope of immortality and a resurrection; blessings which, from the first, were acknowledged to come to man only through time appointed Redeemer. Thus the faith of all had respect to Christ, either more directly or remotely; and, if farther proof were necessary, all that has been said is crowned by the concluding sentence of the apostle-" and these all having obtained a good report, through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect ;" which "better thing," whether it mean the personal appearance of Messiah, or their reception into heaven by a resurrection, which God determined should not take place as to time Church separately, but in a body, proves that not only did their faith look back to special promises of succour, deliverance, and other blessings; but was constantly looking forward to Christ, and to the blessings of a resurrection and eternal life, which lie was to bestow. This, lie affirms, too, was the case with ALL whom be had mentioned-" these ALL DIED in the faith;" but in what faith did they die? not the faith they had in the promises of the various deliverances mentioned in the chapter; those special acts of faith were past, arid the special promises to which they were directed were obtained long before death: they died in the faith of unaccomplished promises-the appearance of Messiah, and the obtaining of eternal life through him.
Enough has been said to prove, that the sacrifice of Abel was expiatory, and that it conformed, as an act of faith, to some anterior revelation. If that revelation were only that which is recorded in the first promise, on which some remarks have been offered, Abel's faith accorded with its general indication of the doctrine of vicarious suffering; but his visibly representing his faith in these doctrines, by an animal sacrifice, is not to be resolved into the invention and device of Abel, though he himself should be assumed to have been the first to adopt this rite, unless we suppose him to have been under special direction. It is very true, and a point not to be at any time lost sight of, that the open and marked acceptance of Abel's sacrifice was a Divine confirmation of time mode of approaching him by animal sacrifice; and seems to have been intended as instructive and admonitory to the world, and to have invested this mode of worship with a renewed and more signal stamp of Divine appointment than heretofore. That in this light it was considered by the apostle, appears plainly deducible from his words, "and by it, (his sacrifice,) he being dead, yet speaketh." By words more emphatic he could not have marked the importance of that act, as an act of public and sanctioned instruction. Abel "spoke" to all succeeding ages, and continues to speak, not by his personal righteousness, not by any other circumstance whatever, but by his sacrifice, (for with qusia~ understood, must agree;) amid in no way could he, except by his sacrifice as distinct from that of Cain, speak to future ages, and as that sacrifice taught how sinful guilty men were to approach God, and was a declaration of the necessity of atonement for their sins. We should think this a sufficient answer to all who complain of time want of an express indication of the Divine appointment of animal expiatory sacrifice in the first family. The indication called for is here express, since this kind of sacrifice was accepted, and an offering, 'not animal and not expiatory, was as publicly rejected; and since, also, Abel, as we may conclude from the apostle's emphatic words, did not act in this affair merely as a private man; but as one who was, by his acts, to instruct and influence others-" by it he, being dead, yet," even to this day, "speaketh."
Decidedly, however, as this circumstance marked out a sanctioned method of approaching GOD, we think that Abel rather conformed to a previously appointed sacrificial institution than then, for time first time, offered an animal and expiatory sacrifice, though it should be supposed to be under a Divine direction. For Cain could not have been so blamable had he not violated some rule, some instituted practice, as to the mode of worship; and, after all that has been said, the clothing of our first parents with time skins of beasts, cannot so well be accounted for as by supposing those skins to have been taken from animals offered in sacrifice.
But whether this typical method of representing the future atonement first took place with Abel, or previously with Adam, a Divine origin must be assigned to it. The proof of this has been greatly anticipated in the above observations, which have been designed to establish the expiatory character of Abel's offering; but a few additional remarks on this subject may not be useless.
The human invention of primitive animal sacrifice is a point given up by Mr. Davison, and other writers on the same side, if such sacrifices can be proved expiatory. The human invention of eucharistic offerings they can conceive; and Mr. Davison thinks he can find a natural explanation of the practice of offering animal sacrifice, if considered as a confession of guilt; but for "that condition of animal sacrifice, its expiatory atoning power," he observes, " confess myself unable to comprehend how it can ever be grounded on the principles of reason, or deduced from the light of nature. There exists no discernible connection between the one and the other. On the contrary, nature has nothing to say for such an expiatory power, and reason every thing against it. For that the life of a brute creature should ransom the life of a man; that -its blood should have any virtue to wash away his sin, or purify his conscience, or redeem his penalty; or that the involuntary sufferings of a being, itself unconscious and irrational, should have a moral efficacy to his benefit or pardon, or be able to restore him with GOD, these are things repugnant to the sense of reason, incapable of being brought into the scale of the first ideas of nature, amid contradictory to all genuine religion, natural and revealed. For as to the remission of sin, it is plainly altogether within the prerogative of GOD, an act of his mere mercy; and since it is so, every thing relating to the conveyance and the sanction, the profession, and the security of it, can spring only from his appointment."
But this being allowed, and nothing can be more obvious, then it follows, that the patriarchal sacrifices, if proved to be expiatory, as the means of removing wrath from offenders, and of conveying and sanctioning pardon, must be allowed to have had Divine institution, and the notion of their being of human device, must, in consequence, be given up. In proof of this, we have seen that Abel's justification was the result of his faith, and that this faith was connected with that in his sacrifice which distinguished it from the offering of Cain; and thus its expiatory character is established by its having been the means to him of the remission of sin; and the appointed medium of the "conveyance" and "security" of the benefit. We have also seen, that Noah's burnt offering was connected with the averting of the wrath of God from the future world, so that not even its wickedness should lead him again "to destroy all flesh" by a universal flood; that the sacrifices of the friends of Job were of the same expiatory character; and that the reason for the prohibition of blood was, under both dispensations, the patriarchal and the Mosaic, the same. To these may be added two passages in Exodus, which show that animal sacrifices, among the patriarchs, were offered for averting the Divine displeasure, and that this notion of sacrifice was entertained by the Israelites, previous to the giving of the law. "Let us go, I pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God, lest he fail upon us with pestilence, or with the sword," Exodus v, 3. "Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God," Exodus x, 25, 26. The remark of Dr. Richie (Pee. Doc.) is here pertinent. "In these two passages Moses and Aaron speak of sacrificing not as a new and uncommon thing, but as a usual mode of worship, with which Pharaoh was as well acquainted as themselves, consequently a thing that was not a late or new invention." And in pursuance of the same argument it may be noted, that Moses, even in the law, nowhere speaks of expiatory sacrifice as a new institution, a rite which was henceforward to be considered as bearing a higher character than formerly; but as a thing familiar to the people. Now such an intimation would, doubtless, have been necessary on the very ground just stated, the repugnancy of animal sacrifices, considered as expiatory, to nature and reason; but to prepare them for such a change, for an institution so repugnant to the former class and order of their notions on this subject, there is nothing said by Moses, no intimation of an alteration in the character of sacrifice is given; but a practice manifestly familiar is brought under new and special rules, assigned to certain persons as the sacrificers, and to certain places, and appropriated to the national religion, and the system of a theocratical government. Whence, then, did this familiarity with the notion of expiatory sacrifice arise among the Israelites? If the book of Genesis were written previously to the law, and they collected the motion from that, then this is proof that they understood the patriarchal sacrifices to be expiatory; and if as others think, that book was not written the first in the series of the Pentateuch, but the last, they had the notion from tradition amid custom.
Though we think that the evidence of Scripture is of sufficient clearness to establish the Divine origin of the antediluvian sacrifices; and with Hallet, (in Hebrews xi, 4,) regard the public Divine acceptance of Abel's sacrifice as amounting to a demonstration of their institution by the authority of God, the argument drawn from the natural incongruity of sacrificial rites, on which so many writers have forcibly dwelt, ought not to be overlooked. It comes in to confirm the above deductions from Scripture, and though it has been sometimes attacked with great ingenuity, it has never been solidly refuted. "It is evident," says Delany, (Revelation Examined,) "that unprejudiced reason never could antecedently dictate, that destroying the best of our fruits and creatures could be an office acceptable to God, but quite the contrary. Also, that it did not prevail from any demand of nature is undeniable, for I believe that no man will say that we have any natural instinct or appetite to gratify in spilling the blood of an innocent, inoffensive creature upon the earth, or burning his body upon an altar. Nor could there be any temptation from appetite to do this in those ages, when the whole sacrifice was consumed by fire, or when, if it were not, yet men wholly abstained from flesh."
The practice cannot be resolved into preistcraft, for no order of priests was then instituted; and if men resolve it into superstition, they must not only suppose that the first family were superstitious, but, also, that God, by his acceptance of Abel's sacrifice, gave his sanction to a superstitious and irrational practice; and if none will be so bold as this, there remains no other resource, than to contend for its reasonableness, in opposition to the argument just quoted from Delany; and to aid the case by assuming, also, that it was the dictate of a delicate and enlightened sentimentalism. This is the course taken by Mr. Davison, who has placed what others have urged with the same intent, in the most forcible light, so that, in refuting him, we refute all. To begin with "the more simple forms of oblation;" those offerings of the fruits of the earth, which have been termed eucharistical, "reason," says Mr. Davison, "seems to recognize them at once; they are the tokens of a commemorative piety, rendering to the Creator and supreme Giver a portion of his gifts, in confession of his original dominion in them, and of his continued favour and beneficence." But this is very far from being a rational account of even simple thank offerings of fruits; supposing such offerings to have been really made in those primitive times. Of this, in fact, we have no evidence, for we read only of one oblation of this kind, that of Cain, and it was not accepted by GOD. Bait waiving that objection, and supposing such offerings to have formed a part of the primitive worship, from whence, we may ask, did men obtain the notion, that in such acts they go back to the supreme Giver some portion of his gifts? It is not, surely, assumed b the advocates of this theory, that the first men were like those stupid idolaters of following ages, who thought that the deities themselves feasted upon the oblations brought to their temples. On the contrary, their views of God were elevated and spiritual; and whenever such a Being is acknowledged, it is clear, that the notion of giving back any thing to him, can only be a rational one, when he has appointed something to be done in return for his gifts, or to be appropriated to his service; which leads us at once to the doctrine of a Divine institution. The only rational notion of a return to God as an acknowledgment for his favours, when notions of his spirituality and independence are entertained, is that of gratitude, and thanksgiving, and obedience. These form "a reasonable service;" but when we go beyond these, we may well be at a loss to know "what we can give unto him." If he requires more than these; as acknowledgments of our dependence and his goodness, how should we know that he requires more, unless we had some revelation on the subject? And if we had a general revelation, importing that something more would be acceptable how should we be able to fix upon one particular thing, as the subject of such an oblation, more than another? A Divine institution would invest such offerings with a symbolical, or a typical character, or both; and then they would have a manifest reason; but, assuredly, independent of that, they would rest upon no rational ground whatever; there could be no discernible connection between the act and the end, in any case where the majesty and spirituality of God were recognized. Mr. Davison assumes that, though "the prayer or the oblation cannot purchase the favour of God, it may make us fitter objects of his favour." But, we ask, even if we should allow that prayer makes us fitter objects of his favour, how we could know even this without revelation; or, if we could place this effect to the account of prayer by something like a rational deduction, how we could get the idea, that to approach a spiritual Being, with a few handfuls of fruit gathered from the earth, and to present them in addition to our prayers, should render us the "fitter objects" of the Divine beneficence? There is no rational connection between the act and the end, on which to establish the conclusion.
Reason failing here, recourse is had to sentiment.
"In the first dawn of the world, and the beginnings of religion, it is reasonable to think that the direction of feeling and duty was more exclusively toward God. The recent creation of the world, the revelations in paradise, and the great transactions of his providence, may well be thought to have wrought a powerful impression on the first race, and to have given them, though not a purer knowledge, yet a more intimate and a more intense perception, of his being and presence.- The continued miracle of the actual manifestations of God would enforce the same impressions upon them. These having less scope of action in communion with their fellow creatures, in the solitude of life around them, in the great simplicity of the social state, and the consequent destitution of the objects of the social duties; their religion would make the acts of devotion its chief monuments of moral obligation. Works of justice and charity could have little place. Works of adoration must fill the void. And it is real action, not unembodied sentiment, which the Creator has made to be the master principle of our moral constitution. From these causes some boldness in the form of a representative character, some ritual clothed with the imagery of a symbolical expression, would more readily pass into the first liturgy of nature. Not simple adoration, not the naked and unadorned oblations of the tongue; but adoration invested in some striking and significative form, and conveyed by the instrumentality of material tokens, would be most in accordance with the strong energies of feeling, and the insulated condition of the primitive race." (Primitive Sac.)
Two or three observations will be sufficient to dissipate all these fancy pictures. 1. It is not true, that the "recent creation of the world, the revelations in paradise," &C, made that great moral impression upon the first men which is here described. That impression did not keep our first parents from sin; much less did it produce this effect upon Cain and his descendants; nor upon "the sons of God," the race of Seth, who soon became corrupt; and so wickedness rapidly increased, until the measure of the sin of the world was filled up. 2. It is equally unfounded, that in that state of society "works of justice and charity could have little place, and that works of adoration must fill the void ;" for the crimes laid to the charge of the antediluvians are wickedness, and especially violence, which is opposed both to justice and to charity; and it is impossible to suppose any state of society existing, since the fall, in which both justice and charity were not virtues of daily requirement, and that in their constant and vigorous exercise. Cain, for instance, needed both, for he grossly violated both in hating and murdering his brother. 3. That strongly active devotional sentiment which Mr. Davison supposes to exist in those ages, which required something more to embody and represent it than prayer and praise, and which with so much plastic energy is assumed to have clothed itself "with time imagery of a symbolical expression," is equally contradicted by the facts of time case. There was no such excess of the devotional principle. On Mr. Davison's own interpretation of the "more abundant sacrifice," more in quantity, one of the two brothers, first descended from time first pair, was deficient in it; the rapidly spreading wickedness of man shows that the religious sentiment was weak and not powerful; it is not seen even in the perverted forms of idolatry and superstition, for neither is charged upon the antediluvians, but moral wickedness only; and instead of their having "a more intense perception of the being and presence of God, as Mr. Davison imagines for them, Moses declares "the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of man to be only evil continually," and that even long before time flood, and while men were alive who had conversed with Adam. Thus pass away the fancies on which this theory is built; nor is that of Bishop Warburton better supported, who resolves these early oblations into a representation by action, arising out of the "defects and imperfections of the primitive language;" for of these defects and imperfections there is not only not the least evidence, but the irresistible inference from the narrative of Moses is, that a language was in use in time first family sufficiently copious for all subjects of religion, as well as for the common intercourse of life. This notion also farther involves the absurdity and contradiction, that when man was created in perfection, he should not be endowed with the power of embodying his thoughts in language.
If, then, the presentation of the mere fruits of the earth to God as thank offerings and acknowledgments of dependence, cannot be reasonably accounted for without supposing a Divine institution, the difficulty is increased when animal oblations are added to these offerings, and considered also as merely eucharistical. All the difficulties just mentioned lie with equal force against such a designation of them, with these additional considerations, 1. That the putting beasts to death is an act farther removed from the idea of a mere oblation, since nothing would, without a revelation, appear less acceptable to a merciful and benevolent being.
2. A moral objection would also interpose. Man's dominion of the creatures was from God; but it was to be exercised, like his power of every other kind, upon his responsibility. Wanton cruelty to animals must, of necessity, have been considered a moral evil. To inflict pain and death upon even the noxious animals, without so clear a necessity its should warrant it, and without its being necessary to the "subduing" of the earth, could not be thought blameless, much less upon those in. noxious animals which, from the beginning, were the only subjects of sacrifice. This would be felt the more strongly before flesh had been permitted to man for food, and when, so to speak, a greater sacredness was thrown around the life of the domestic animals than afterward; nor can it appear reasonable, even if we were to allow that a sort of sentimentality might lead man to fix upon the obligation of slain beasts as an expressive ritual to be added to time "Liturgy of Nature;" that, without any authority, any intimation from Heaven that such sacrifices would be well pleasing to GOD, men could conclude that a mere sentimental notion of ceremonial fitness, and giving " boldness to the representative character" of worship, would be a sufficient moral reason to take of their flocks and herds, and shed their blood and burn their flesh upon altars. Mr. Davison endeavours to meet the objection to the natural incongruity of animal sacrifices as acts of worship, by distinguishing between the two conditions of animal sacrifice, "the guilt of the worshipper and the expiation of his sin." Expiatory sacrifice, we have seen, he gives up, not for a moment to be referred to human invention, but thinks that there was no natural incongruity in the offering of animals as a mere acknowledgment of guilt, and as a confession of sin and the desert of death. But still, if we could trace any connection between this symbolical confession and the real case of man, which is difficult, if not impossible, what could lead him to the idea that more than simple confession of sin by the lips, and the penitent feelings of the heart, would be acceptable to God, if he had received no revelation on the subject? and if this, like the former, were a device of mere ceremonial sentimentalism, it was still too frail a ground to justify his putting the inferior creatures to death, without warrant from their Creator and Preserver. It is also equally unfortunate for this theory, and, indeed, wholly fatal to it, that the distinction of clean and unclean beasts existed, as we have already seen, before the flood. Upon what, then, was this distinction founded! Not upon their qualities as good for food or otherwise, for animals were not yet granted for food; and the death of one animal would therefore have been just as appropriate as a symbol of gratitude, or as an acknowledgment of the desert of death, as another,-a horse as a heifer, a dog as a lamb. Nay, if animals were intended to represent the sinner himself, unclean and ferocious animals would have been fitter types of his fallen and sinful state; and that they were to be clean, harmless, and without spot, shows that they represented some other. The distinction of clean and unclean, however, did exist in that early period, and it is only to be accounted for by referring it to a sacrificial selection, and that upon Divine authority.
To the human invention of sacrifice, the objection of "will worship" has also been forcibly and triumphantly urged. "Who bath required this at your hands 1" "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." This has the force of an axiom, which, if it ought not to be applied too rigidly to the minutiae of forms of worship when they connect themselves with authorized leading acts, yet must have a direct application to a worship which, in its substance and leading circumstance, was eminently sacrificial, if it be regarded as wholly of human device. "Thus," says Hallet, "Abel must have worshipped God in vain, if his sacrificing had been merely a commandment of his father Adam, or an invention of his own;" and he justly asks, "why we do not now offer up a bullock, a sheep, or a pigeon, as a thank offering after any remarkable deliverance, or as an evidence of our apprehensions of the demerit of sin?" The sure reason is, because we cannot know that God will accept such "will worship," and so conclude that we should herein worship God "in vain."
The Divine institution of expiatory sacrifice being thus carried up to the first ages, and to the family of the first sinning man, we perceive the unity of the three great dispensations of religion to man, time PATRIARCHAL, the LEVITICAL, and the CHRISTIAN, in the great principle, "and without the shedding of blood there is no remission." But one religion has been given to man since his fall, though gradually communicated. "This may be best denominated THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION, for its exclusive object, however modified externally, is to satisfy GOD's justice, through the instrumentality of the woman's predicted seed; to restore fallen man to the Divine image of holiness, by the agency of the gracious Spirit; and thus, without compromising any one of God's attributes, to reconcile an apostate race to their offended Creator." (Faber's Horae Mos.)
We have now adduced the Scriptural evidence of the atonement made by lime death of Christ for the sins of the world; a doctrine not speculative and indifferent, but vital to the whole scheme of Christianity; a doctrine which tends to produce the most awful sense of Siam, and to afford the most solemn motive to repentance; which at once excites thee most sublime views of the justice and mercy of GOD, and gives the most affecting exhibition of the compassion and love of Christ; which is the only ground of faith in the pardoning love of GOD, and the surest guard against presumption; and which, by opening access to God in prayer, keeps before man a safe and secure refuge amidst the troubles of life, and in the prospect of eternity. It is the only view, too, of the death of Christ which interprets the Holy Scriptures into a consistent and unequivocal meaning. Their language is wholly constructed upon it, and, therefore, can only be interpreted by it; it is the key to their style, their allusions, their doctrines, their prophecies, their types. All is confused and delusive without it; all clear, composed, and ordered, when placed under its illumination. To Christ under his sacrificial character, as well as in his regal claims, "give all the prophets witness;" and in this testimony all the services of the tabernacle, and the rights of the patriarchal age concur. Christ, as "the Lamb of GOD, was slain from tine foundation of the world;" and when the world shall be no more, he will appear before his glorified saints, as the Lamb newly slain," shedding upon them the unabated efficacy of his death forever. Nor is it a doctrine to be rejected without imminent peril.-" Verily, verily, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you ;" words which, as Whitby justly observes, "clearly declare the necessity of faith in his body given, and his blood shed for the remission of sins, in order to justification and salvation."
 Nearly all that can be said on this interpretation will he found in Magee's Discourses on the Atonement, and Davison's Reply to his criticism, in his Inquiry into the Origin of Primitive Sacrifice.
 Mr. Davison, in pursuance of his theory, that the patriarchal animal sacrifices were not expiatory, has strangely averred, that this transaction is "a proof of the efficacy of Job's prayer, not of time expiatory power of the sacrifice of his friends." Why, then, was not the prayer efficacious, without the sacrifice and how could the "burnt offering" of his friends give efficacy to his prayer, unless by way of expiation? What is the office of expiatory sacrifice, but to avert the anger of God from the offerer? This was precisely the effect of the burnt offering of Eliphaz and his friends: that it was connected with the prayer of Job, no more alters the expiatory character of that offering, than the prayers which accompanied such offerings under the law.