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* But that I may give all the necessary light that is wanting in this affair, I shall observe that the Jews have four sorts of years; or, rather, that each year has four beginnings. That of the civil year was in Tisri; that of the sacred year, in the month Nisan ; that of the tithe of the cattle, in the month Elul, that is to say, according to the Rabbins, that they began from this month to take an account of all the cattle which were born, that they might offer the tithe of them to God;' and, lastly, that of trees, which was on the first, or fifteenth of the month Shebat. For the same Rabbins likewise say, that the law having commanded that the fruit of a tree newly planted should not be eaten of till after three years,' because the tree was till that time thought unclean ; it is from the last mentioned month that they began to reckon this sort of year.
What I have said concerning these four distinctions relates only to the common year of the Jews, which, as has been said, consisted of twelve or thirteen lunar months. But, besides this year, they had a second, (as has also been already observed) which consisted of seven years, and was called sabbatical. On this year the Jews were not permitted to cultivate the earth. They neither plowed nor sowed, nor pruned their vines; and if the earth brought forth any thing of its own accord, these spontaneous fruits did not belong to the master of the ground, but were common to all, and
Lev. xxvii. 32.
Lev. xix. 23.
every man might gather them. So that the Jews were obliged during the six years, and more especially in the last of them, wherein they cultivated the earth, to lay up provisions enough to last from the end of the sixth year to the ninth, in which was their first harvest after the sabbatical year."
And as seven common years made the sabbatical year; so did seven sabbatical years make a third sort of year among them, which was called the year of jubilee.
of the Jewish Sacrifices :--their different kinds,
and their different Ceremonies :—and of their Offerings, Gifts, First-fruits, and Tenths.
SACRIFICING is the offering up to God a living animal, whose blood is shed in adoration of His majesty, and in order to make an atonement to His justice, for sin. All the different religions in the world agree in this point, and have had the same ideas of sacrifice; which uniformity of opinion is very surprising. From whence could it be that all people should thus universally agree that the blood of an animal has these two great properties ?
or how could it come to pass that the use of sacrifices should thus universally prevail among men ? It is, indeed, commonly said that this was a fond conceit which owes its rise to the barbarity of the Gentiles ; and some think, that as to the Jews, they borrowed this custom from the Egyptians, and that it pleased God to leave them to the worship they had seen in Egypt, He being content with barely reforming it. But can it be believed that God would borrow the manner of His worship from a people who were superstitious, and at enmity with Him ? No; the origin of sacrifices is to be dated much higher. It is derived from the patriarchs, “ from Abel, from Noah, and from Abraham, who all offered sacrifices, which the Scripture testifies were acceptable to God.
It may be said, that all people had this idea of a sacrifice : they all pretended to substitute the soul of the beast, which is the blood, in room of the criminal soul of the sinner. « The law of saerifices, (says Eusebius,') manifestly shews it; for it commands, all those who offer sacrifices to put their hand upon the heads of the victims : and when they lead the animal to the priest, they lead it by the head, as it were to substitute it thereby in the room of their own.” And upon this is founded the law which forbids the eating of blood : which
• Rather from God Himself, who, clothed Adam and Evo with the skins of beasts, which were most probably slain ig sacrifice. Gen. jii. 21. De Tab. lib. 3, c. 7. $ 1.
• Demonst. Evang. lib. c. 10.
God Himself explains very clearly in the reason He gives for this prohibition : For, (says He,) the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls ; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. And if then it be true that God Himself commanded the patriarchs to offer sacrifices to Him, and if He looked on the blood that was shed in them as the essence of the sacrifice --who can doubt that this was done with a view to the blood of JESUS CHRIST, which was one day to be shed for the redemption of the universe ? Adam was no sooner fallen into sin, but God promised him One who should make an atonement for his sin ; and as this atonement must be made by the blood of JESUS CHRIST, it pleased Him that the patriarchs, and afterwards His own people, should give types of this great Sacrifice in those of their victims; and from hence they drew all their virtue. “Whilst men (says the same Eusebius) had no victim that was more excellent, more precious, and more worthy of God, animals became the price and ransom of their souls. And their substituting these animals in their own room bore indeed some affinity to their suffering themselves ; to which sense it is, that all these antient worshippers and friends of God made use of them. The Holy Spirit had taught them, that there should one day come a Victim more yenerable, more holy, and more worthy of God. He had likewise
Lev. xvii. 1.
instructed them how to point Him out to the world by types and shadows. And thus they became prophets, and were not ignorant of their having been chosen out to represent to mankind the things which God resolved one day to accomplish.”
So that the first thing we must suppose, in order to explain the sacrifices of the antient law, is, that they were established only, that they might typify that sacrifice which JESUS CHRIST was to offer up. Unless we are prepossessed with this truth, we can look on the tabernacle and temple of Jerusalem only as slaughter houses, whose victims, blood, and fat, are more proper to inspire disgust than religion. And God Himself testifies the distaste He had for this immolation of animals, as soon as the Jews came to consider and practise it, without a view to JESUS CHRIST. (says He, in Isaiah, 9) is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? I am full of the burntofferings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. But how then could God reject the sacrifices which He had Himself commanded ? Could that which pleased Him at one time displease Him at another ? No; we cannot charge Him with such inconsistency. But we see, by His reproaches, that when He commanded the sacrifices of the antient law, He did it not out of any desire to drink the blood of goats, or eat the flesh of bulls, as David speaks, but only to typify thereby the
To what purpose
* Isaiah i. 11.
Psalm 1. 13.