« PreviousContinue »
about them, to their falfe Gods; and from which therefore their Minds could not, without the greatest Difficulty, be wholly alienated.
But, notwithstanding this, we find God took all proper Opportunities to give them to understand that what he chiefly defir'd, the Thing which was really and truly most agreeable to Him, was a pure innocent Heart, a Life of Righteousness, Juftice and Charity: and several of those People there were, all along, who understood and practis'd accordingly: and, to the Shame and Reproach of all the reft, their Prophets were continually putting them in mind of this important Truth.
Thus Samuel, fays to Saul (who, contrary to God's Command, had fav'd the Sheep and Oxen of the Amalekites, under Pretence of facrificing with them;) Hath the 1 Sam. LORD as great delight in burnt-offerings? and facrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey, is better than facrifice; and to hearken, than the fat of
David fays; facrifice and offering thou Pfalm didft not defire; burnt-offering and fin-offer
7. 9. 14.
ing haft thou not required. I delight to do thy will, O my God; I have preached righteousness in the great congregation, &c. In another place, he introduces the LORD, arguing this very point with his People. Pfalm. 1. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O 23. Ifrael, and I will testify against thee; for I am God, even thy God. I will take no bullock out of thine houfe, nor he-goat out of thy folds, &c. Offer unto God thanksgiving. Whofo offereth praise, glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his converfation right, will I fhew the falvation of God. Again, when he is ftruck with Remorfe after the Mur
Pfalm li. der of Uriah; thou defireft not facrifice, elfe would I give it: thou delighteft not in burnt-offering. The facrifices of God, are a broken fpirit.* And Solomon makes it a proverbial maxim, that to do juftice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than facrifice.
As for the Sacrifices of Righteousness, and the Sacrifices of Thanksgiving, mention'd in the Pfalms and elsewhere, they are not to be infifted upon as Proofs in behalf of this Point, because they generally fignify no more than legal Sacrifices and Peace-Offerings offer'd righteously or rightly, according as the Law directs.
The LORD himself expoftulates largely upon this head, with the Ifraelites, knowing that they thought to justify themselves OR by the abundance of these kind of Devotions. To what purpose is the multitude of Ifaiah i. II. &c. your facrifices unto me, faith the LORD; I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of be-goats. Bring no more vain oblations. Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; ceafe to do evil; learn to do well; feek judgment, relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
And another eminent Prophet, introduces the LORD expreffing himself, upon the fame Occafion, in these Words: 1 bus Jer. viii. faith the LORD of hosts, the God of Ifrael, put your burnt-offerings unto your facrifices, and eat flesh (take all your Sacrifices and eat them your felves; the only way they are like to do you any fervice.) For I pake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or facrifices. (That, being only an Indulgence, the ftrefs of their Duty did not center there) But this thing commanded I them, Laying,
faying, Obey my voice, and I will be your
And indeed the moral Law, contain'd in the ten Commandments, was prior to the Dispensation of Sacrifices. And the Commandment God refers to in the Paffage laft cited, was antecedent to the Promulgation of the Law itself; when they had been but three Days in the Wilderness; even at the Waters of Marah; where he made a ftatute and an Ordinance for them, and prov'd them. And faid; If thou wilt diligently bearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in bis fight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his ftatutes; I will put none of thefe difeafes upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians.
And, after, when God condefcends to argue with them, and to affign the Reafon why he withdrew his favourable Protection from them, we find it was upon this very account. I defired mercy, and not facrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. But they, like men,
bave tranfgreffed the covenant, there have they dealt treacherously against me. And to this Declaration it is that our bleffed LORD refers the cenforious Pharifees in the Gospel.
And the fame Prophet, again, is urgent with them to repent, and return to the LORD with this Supplication, Take away Hof. xiv. all iniquity and receive us graciously: fo I will we render the calves of our lips. And this St. Paul alludes to; when, having ex- Heb. xiii. plain'd how Christ had fulfill'd the Types 15. in the ceremonial Law by being our HighPrieft and Sacrifice both; he concludes, with this Exhortation; By Him therefore, let us offer the facrifice of praise to 1 God continually, that is, the fruit of our
lips; giving thanks to his name. But to do Igood, and to communicate, forget not; for, with such facrifices, God is well pleafed.
In like manner the LORD is represented by another Prophet, as having a contro- Micah. verfy with his people, and pleading with vi. 2. 6. 1 Ifrael. And, after they are brought in, 7, 8. hypocritically prevaricating, and pretending their Ignorance as a Cloak for their Iniquity, by faying, Wherewith fhall I come