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require, therefore, some attention ; yet I hope few persons who are honestly desirous to understand it, will find it too hard to be understood.
be proper here to make one remark concerning the nature of this argument. If it shall appear I have proved the reasons and uses I have assigned for the Hebrew ritual, to have been the true reasons on which it was formed, and the real use it was actually of, it will strongly confirm the wisdom and goodness of the whole, and be a sufficient answer to objections against any particular rites, considered separately and by themselves, only because a man may not see a particular reason for such a particular constitution. Nor da I conceive what can invalidate tbis evidence but what shall plainly prove, that the plan of the Hebrew ritual was not formed by these wise designs, or that in its use it was not fitted to answer them,
I heartily wish men would be persuad. ed to consider this very important and concerning question with due attention
and impartiality. Unattention, prejudice, jest, and raillery, are far from the
of finding the truth in any question what
It will be very hard to reconcile such a behaviour, either to a profession of seeking the truth, or to a sincere love of truth.
I shall rejoice if this Discourse shall be any ways serviceable to settle men's minds in a better understanding of the revelations of God to the church, or improve their esteem for the last and most perfect revelation of God, by his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, as teaching the best wisdom, and most fully answering the highest ends of religion, the glory of God in the happiness of mankind.
CEREMONIAL LAWS OF MOSES;
THE REASONS FOR APPOINTING THE RITES OF THE
HEBREW WORSHIP EXPLAINED
brew ritua al recom
The rites and constitutions of the He- Study of brew worship are recommended to our the Heconsideration, as well deserving our care to understand them, and our esteem, when mended we shall perceive the great wisdom of from its
antiquity their appointment, and benefit of their use. They are constitutions of very early antiquity, and have continued longer than any form of religious worship in the world, from the days of Moses to the time they were perfected in the Christian worship designed to succeed them. These rites of worship were given to a favoured people, whom God had delivered in a
wonderful manner from a state of slavery in Egypt, and brought into the land
promised to their fathers. They were given to the Hebrews, as the seed of Abraham, when they were to be settled in the Land of Promise, in order to preserve the knowledge and worship of Jehovah, the one true God, in opposition to the general corruption of the world by idolatry, and to continue the worship of the true church, till God should raise up a greater Prophęt than Moses, and bless the church with a more perfect revelation by the Messias.
:: Máriy. views of wisdom and goodness are opened by these constitutions of worship, as they answer many useful ends; not only the general end of all true religion, as the best wisdom raised to its highest perfection, viz. the glory of God in the happiness of the creature, but as they direct very wise and proper means to attain it, the most wise and proper for the time and circumstances. It will be a principle sufficient to silence the little cavils which a weak understanding, and small knowledge in such questions as these, or prejudices against every thing that claims the authority of a revelation, may rise against the rites and ceremonies of the Hebrew church, to observe the true reasons of their appointment, and the great usefulness of them to the best ends of true religion. Whoever
shall perceive these reasons, may allow the
should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it ; keep therefore and do them, for this is
wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people ; for what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? and what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, Deut. iv. which I set before thee this day?
The most learned and judicious Hebrew doctor, Maimonides, extends this observation to all the laws of Moses, and very properly takes notice, they are all wise and useful, either to confirm the belief of some profitable doctrine, or to root out some evil principle; either to settle some good orders, or to take away iniquity; to excite to honourable and virtuous actions, or to exhort against what is vicious and base; so that the whole law is useful to teach doctrines, directing civil and political actions or truths to be believed, or moral conduct; and these three heads are sufficient reasons for these constitutions *.
* Omnia illa, quod Lex vel præcipit vel prohibet,