صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

exercise of mercy toward guilty sinners. And hence the seventy have translated the Hebrew word Caphporeth, by one which signifies to appear, to make propitiation.

§ 8. It further appears that sacrifices were vicarious, or substituted in the place of the guilty, from the ceremony of the offender laying his hands on the head of the victim, either personally or representatively. See Lev. 1:4. 4:14, 15. 24:29; especially Lev. 16:21, 22, where the high priest, on the great day of atonement, was to "lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, in all their sins putting them on the head of the goat." Nothing can be plainer than that by this action was manifested a transferring of sin from the offender to the sacrifice, and of the death due to the criminal to the innocent victim. Hence the blood of the animal was the expiation of the sin of the soul of the offender. Lev. 17. 11, 14. Hence the sacrifices are said to bear the iniquities of the people, because the guilt and punishment of the sinner was transferred to them. Lev. 10: 17. 16:22. Upon this principle of imputation, and upon this principle only, we can explain why both the messenger, that only went with the scape-goat into the wilderness, and he that burned the residue of the bullock, whose blood had been carried into the holy of holies, were counted so unclean that they were not admitted into the congregation before they were purified and washed. Lev. 16:26. 27:28. Dr. Jamieson, speaking of the ceremony of laying on of the hands, says, "This rite was unworthy of the divine institution and of man's observance, except as typifying that great act of God's justice in laying upon Christ the iniquities of all his people, and the exercise of their faith in cordially assenting to this act and embracing him as their only surety."

§ 9. 2. From the almost unanimous opinion of our nation. You well know, my dear Benjamin, that all our Rabbins maintain the total inefficacy of a sacrifice to obtain the par

don of sin, unless the person who offered it added his com fessions and supplications to the laying on of hands. See Abarbanel, Lev. 16. R. Abuav. Aben Ezra, and R. M. B. Nachman, on Lev. 5:5. Maimonides Teshuva, C..1. The form of deprecation for any sinner offering a piacular sa crifice is given at length by Maimonides, in Maasé Korban, ch. 3. The concluding words, which are, "But now I repent, and let this be my expiation," evidently referred to the animal placed under his hands, and signified (as our Rabbins justly observe) "Let this victim be substituted in my place, that the evil which I have deserved may fall on the head of my sacrifice." R. Levi ben Gerson, in his commentary on Lev. ch. 1, says, "The imposition of hands was a tacit declaration on the part of every offerer that he removed his sins from himself and transferred them to that animal." To the same purpose is the langue of R. Isaac ben Arama, Lev. ch. 4: Whenever any one sins through ignorance, or even with knowledge, he transfers his sins from himself, and lays them upon the head of his victim." The same sentiment is expressed by Maimonides, Moré Nevoch, p. III, c. 47, and by many others which might be quoted, but those mentioned are already more than neces sary as it regards my dear Benjamin; but as there are not a few, who call themselves Christians, who not only deny the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, but also boldly affirm "that the Jews never did, nor do at present, believe in the vicarious nature of sacrifices," I will beg your indulgence whilst I notice two or three testimonies that they did, and still do, consider the sacrifices as the substitute, the ransom, the expiation for their sins.

.

§ 10. R. M. B. Nachman, speaking of the burnt offering, saith, "It was just that his blood should be shed, and that his body should be burned; but the Creator, of his mercy, accepted this victim from him as his substitute and ransom. that the blood of the animal might be shed instead of his blood; that is, that the life of the animal might be given

for his life." Com. on Lev. ch. 1. Rabbi Eechai, on Lev. ch. 1, saith, "Whereas the sinner himself deserved that his blood should be shed, as the blood of the victim was, and that his body should be burned, as the carcass of the victim was; and God, to whom be praise, accepted this victim as his substitute and ransom. See how great was the kindness of God toward him! God, of his infinite mercy and goodness, for the sinner's expiation, accepted the life of a brute instead of his life. This sentence is true, and agreeable to reason." R. Isaac Abarbinel saith, "The offerer deserved that his blood should be shed and his body burned for his sin; but God in mercy accepted this victim as his substitute and ransom; and the blood of the animal was shed instead of his blood-the life of the animal was sacrificed instead of his life." Praef. Lev. See also R. Isaac Ben Arama, on Lev. David de Pomis, in voce Olah. See also R. S. Yarchi; Aben Ezra; R. M. B. Nachman; R. Isaac Ben Arama; and R. J. Abarbinel, on Lev. ch. 17, v. 11.

§ 11. That the sentiment contained in the preceding quotations is still believed by our nation, is evident from the prayer which they repeat, whilst they are turning or swing. ing a fowl three times round their head, before it is killed, on the day of preparation for the annual day of atonement. The prayer, as you know, is as follows: "Se chalipathi, se tachti, se caphparathi, se Hattarnegol yelech lamitha waani ailech lechayim tovim im col yisrael. Amen. i. e. This fowl (cock) is my exchange or ransom, this is in my stead, this is my expiation, this cock shall go unto death, but I shall go to a happy life with all Israel. Amen."

§ 12. Dear brother, whilst I am relating this religious act performed by our people with the greatest solemnity, my heart is grieved within me, and I am compelled to exclaim with the prophet, Jer. 9: 1–3. “Oh that my head were wa ters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people; for they bend their tongues like their bows for lies; but

they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth." May not Jehovah say to them as he did to our fathers, "Who has required these things of your hands?" and again, "This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men." Gladly, dear Benjamin, would I have concealed this superstitious worship, were it not to show that, notwithstanding the infidelity of some of our brethren, the nation, as a body, still believe that sacrifices were of a vicarious nature, and that repentance must be accompanied by the death of the substitute. By this transaction another important truth is confirmed, namely, the doctrine of original sin. You know, dear Benjamin, that our Rabbins have taught that a male is to take a cock, and a female a hen, but that a woman with child must have both a cock and a hen, for the purpose, that if the infant in the womb be a female, the hen might atone both for the mother and child, but if a male, atonement is made for the child by the cock. If the unborn infant needs an atonement, it must certainly be considered a sinner.

13. To conclude, from these few quotations, selected out of many, the sentiment of our Rabbins, with respect to sacrifices, is, I trust, established beyond contradiction. It is evident that they have taught that the sins of the offender were transferred to his victim, and that he imprecated upon the victim the punishment due to himself. That they have maintained that those victims, whose blood was carried into the sanctuary, and whose carcasses were burned without the camp, were polluted by the sins of the guilty being transferred to them. That they have described every piacular sacrifice as the ransom, redemption and substitute of the sinner himself; and have asserted the life of every such victim to be given instead of the sinner's life. From sacred Scripture, and from the sentiment of our Rabbins, it appears therefore that my proposition is true, viz. that the Levitical sacrifices were instituted to make atonement for sin,

14. Secondly. My next proposition is, that sacrifices could not make atonement. Although this proposition seems to be in direct opposition to the former, yet I hope to establish its truth, and afterwards show the consistency of both.

That sacrifices could really atone for, or purge the conscience from dead works, or be acceptable to the divine Majesty for their own sake, or any intrinsic value, is denied by reason and Scripture. Would it be consistent with the honor of God, to be contented with the blood of a beast for an expiation of sin? How could there be in it a discovery of the severity of his justice, the purity of his holiness and the grandeur of his grace? How could he have made known his infinite hatred of sin, if he had accepted the blood of an abject animal as an atonement for the sin of a spiritual and precious soul?

There is no proportion between them and the sins of men. The sin of a rational creature is too heinous to be expiated by the blood of an irrational creature... An inferior nature can never atone for the sin of a nature superior to it. Beside, the repetition of them shows their insufficiency. Had the wrath of God been appeased by them, why should the fire burn perpetually upon the altar?

declared in the In the prophet

§ 15. Their inability to atone for sin is Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Mica, "rivers of oil, and thousands of rams," are denied to be an adequate propitiation, yea even the "first born" would not be accepted for transgression, nor "the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul." Micah, 6: 6, 7, and the apostle, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. 10: 4, positively declares that it is impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.

[ocr errors]

Maimonides also observes that in the religious rites connected with sacrifices, there was nothing intrinsically acceptable to God, nothing with which he was pleased for its own sake. More Nevoch, p. 3, c. 32.

Thirdly. The Levitical sacrifices had a twofold design,

« السابقةمتابعة »