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ferent parts of it contribute to the confirmation of that essential doctrine of the cross, which it was intended to reveal.
When men uninfluenced by prejudice, and without pride to gratify, are seriously intent on finding out the truth for the truth's sake, they seldom meet with much difficulty in the attainment of their object. And if Scripture be admitted to speak for itself according to the plain letter and sense of it, there is little reason to doubt, but that this remark will be justified, by the experience of every honest reader of it. It was the observation of *
one, who seems to have profited little by it himself; that “ when we enquire into the doctrine of any book or set of books, concerning any subject; and particular passages are alledged in favour of different opinions; we should chiefly consider what is the general tenor of the whole work with respect to it; or what impression it would probably make upon an impartial reader.'
On this plan we have endeavoured to
Dr. Priestley; in his introduction to his History of early Opinions concerning Jesus Christ.
proceed, in the foregoing elucidation of the fundamental doctrine of the Bible; considering it to be an incontrovertible position, that every Divine Revelation, so far at least as respects the great object of its promulgation, must speak an uniform and consistent language. With this idea in our mind, it has been our design to place the Bible in that point of view before the intelligent reader; that the Old and New Testament, considered as parts of a Revelation proceeding from the same Divine Author, being brought together for the mutual illustration of each other, might lead to this obvious and decided conclusion ; that the prosecution of one favourite plan has directed the ways of Providence from : the beginning to the end of time; and that the great scheme of redemption constitutes the chief burden of Revelation, from its first opening in Paradise, to the final testimony vouchsafed to the favourite apostle.
To ascertain this point, so necessary to the proper interpretation of the Sacred Writings, it was our object, to prove, that the redemption of fallen man through the blood of a crucified Saviour, (that promised seed of the woman,) constituted, if we may so express it, the thorough-bass of the general harmony of the Bible; on which the different Dispensations which have taken place, may be considered as so many variations, adapted to the cir. cumstances of mankind at different periods. From tracing theanalogy subsisting between these different Dispensations, by which they are demonstrated to be parts of one great whole, it was presumed, that conviction on this important subject must be derived, to every mind capable of appreciating the force of rational evidence. With this view it was observed, that the only seeming change which has taken place in the Divine councils relative to the redemption of fallen man, has respected not the plan itself; for that has been the same from the beginning; but the manner of communicating it to the world: and that this circumstance gave rise to the different Dispensations adapted by Divine Providence, to the condition of the parties for whom they were appointed. But though the Dispensations of grace have differed, the spirit of Divine Worship intended to be preserved by each, was essentially the same. The same language which the blood of the sacrifice spake to Abel, to Noah, and to Abraham, under the Antideluvian, and the Patriarchal, it spake also to the faithful under the Jewish Dispensation : conveying to each this important idea, that the sin of man was to be taken away by the means only of that vicarious atonement, which had been appointed in the Divine Councils for that purpose.
To this generally prevailing idea relative to the effect of sacrifice, as a religious service, it was observed, that the annals of heathenism not less than the page of revelation bore testimony. All mankind being derived from those, to whom the institution of sacrifice was originally delivered; all nations of the world consequently in some form or other retained the observance of it, for the purpose of putting away sin.
. A circumstance, coupled with the consideration of there being no rational analogy between the sin of man and the blood of a slain animal, which led to the conclusion ; that
sacrifice was the original institution of the Deity; for the purpose of conveying to fallen man, through the medium of typical representation, that knowledge of the Divine plan for his recovery, which was necessary for the direction and establishment of his faith ; a knowledge, which though liable to be perverted, was not to be effectually obliterated.
In confirmation of this conclusion ; fol lowing the course of Divine Revelation, it was observed, that the circumstantials of the Jewish Ritual, of which sacrifice constituted a prominent feature, derived their authority from the express appointment of the Deity; and that among the particulars of this emblematic institution, it was expressly declared by God, with the view of pointing out the intended efficacy of the sacrifical service to the Jewish people, that the blood of the victim was given upon the altar “ to make an atonement for the soul.” Lev. xvii. 11. Whilst for the purpose of directing the eye of the faithful to the true object of the sinner's hope, every sacrifice pointed out some property or accident, that was to befal that grand