Page images
PDF
EPUB

he solemnly expressed his gratitude or repentance; consecrated his life and all his powers and enjoyments to the honour of God; and was assured of the divine favour, while he continued true to his religious engagements. 27. Thus also we may form an idea of the effect that sacrifices had with God. Which cannot well be conceived to be any other than that of prayer and praise, or other expressions of our religious regards; which are pleasing to God, as they proceed from, or produce, good affections in us. Therefore as it is said, that Cornelius’ prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God; and that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much; it may in the same sense be said, that the worthy sacrifices of righteous men came up before God, and availed much. But, 28. Secondly, to what did they avail? Or what effect had they with reference to the persons, by whom they were offered ? .Ans. They were effectual to obtain the blessings desired. Particularly, sin-offerings or piacular sacrifices (to which we shall now wholly confine our inquiries) were available to the forgiveness of sin.

For it is often repeated in Lev. iv., v, vi, chapters, and the priest shall make atonement for him, or them, or for the sin, and it shall be forgiven. Now, taking the sacrifice as a penitent address to God, this may be accounted for in the same manner as all other declarations of forgiveness to those who repent. And to me it seems sufficiently to account for the efficacy of piacular sacrifices, that, in the sight of God, and with regard to his acceptance, the priest made atonement for sin, by sacrificing a beast, only as that was a sign and testimony of the sacrificer’s pure and upright heart; or of that pious disposition, which the religious shedding of blood, and other sacrificial rites suggested to him.

-CHAPTER III.

OF TRANSFERRING OF GUILT AND BEARING OF SIN.

29. BUT others think differently upon this subject. They suppose, that the guilt of the offender was transferred to, or laid upon the sacrifice ; and that this was signified by

the sacrificer's laying his hand upon the head C

of it, as in the case of the scapegoat; which therefore is said to bear upon him all the iniquities of the children of Israel. Hence it is concluded, that the sacrifice must be considered, as substituted in the place of the offender, and as dying in his stead; and so suffering a succedaneous, or vicarious punishment. And this is supposed to give us the true and proper notion of atonement; namely, the satisfying divine justice, by another's suffering the punishment, due to the criminal’s sin, in his stead. 30. This opens a large field of examination, which I shall divide into four parts. 1. Transferring of guilt. 2. Bearing of sin. 3. Vicarious punishment, or substituting the sacrifice in the place of the of. fender. 4. The true notion of atonement. 31. I. It hath been commonly supposed that the sin of the offender, was transferred to the sacrifice. This is grounded upon Lev. xvi. 21. Aaron shall lay both his hands upon 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 upon the head of the goat. And upon this single instance the notion must rest. For no where is any

sacrifice said to have sin put upon it, or to bear sin. Nor is there any foundation for the arguments taken from laying hands on the head of the sacrifice, or from the uncleanness contracted by burning the sinofferings, [10, 11.] to prove, that sin was put upon such offerings. For hands were laid upon all sorts of sacrifices, as well as sin-offerings; [7.] and uncleanness, obliging persons to wash, was contracted by touching things where certainly no guilt was transferred, as creeping things, &c. Lev. xi. 23, 24.—xv. 4.—8.—xxii. 4, 5, 6. We have therefore neither instance, nor argument left to justify, in any sense, the sentiment of transferring sin, but this here of the high priest’s putting the iniquities of the children of Israel upon the scape goat. And how did he put them 2 Common sense will not allow us to imagine, that sin, which can truly be imputed to the offender alone, whose alone it is, was ever really transferred to another ; much less to a brute altogether uncapable of sin. 32. We must therefore conceive, that sin could be put upon the scape goat no otherwise than figuratively, or interpretatively; or so, as that the people might consider and meditate upon what was done, as if their sins were laid upon the goat. It was a figurative instruction set before their minds, and was to have its effects there. For no where else could it have any effect: however not with God. For what effect could it have with him, that the guilt of any person was to be considered as if it were put upon a brute 2 But it might have a very good effect upon the minds of the worshippers, by shewing them, that their sins were certainly and effectually pardoned. Which I make no doubt was the meaning of putting the iniquities of the people upon the scape goat ; and his carrying them away into a desert, uninhabited country, where he was no more to be regarded, or sought after. It signified that God had cast all their sins repented of, behind his back, put them out of his sight, and would never lay them to their charge. 33. II. And if we examine the scriptural notion of bearing sin or iniquity, perhaps we shall find this sentiment confirmed by it. The Hebrew word sw, nasa is always used when bearing sin is spoken of, except Isa, liii. 11, and Lam. v. 7, where

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »