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reason to imagine that it commenced only at the epoch of the deluge, but on the contrary we seem almost compelled to suppose that it was coëval with the rite which it respected.'
I need scarcely remark, that it was adopted, together with sacrifice, into the ritual of the second dispensation.
(3.) Where there is sacrifice, there must needs be a sacrificer: and, as the devotement of each typical victim was esteemed a ceremony of high and sacred import, though it might not be absolutely confined to a particular class of men; yet, for the most part, the sacrificers would naturally be priests or select ministers of religion.
In the Patriarchal Church, the elevated office of the priesthood was ordained to belong of right to the eldest son: and, before the flood, as Seth held the rank of primogeniture in consequence of the murder of Abel and the bloody apostasy of Cain ; there is reason to believe, that the Sethites or the sons of God (as they are styled by Moses) formed a standing priesthood under the successive pontifical heads of their family from Seth down to Noah, while all the other Adamites, with the exception of the infidel and excommunicated Cainites, constituted the body of the laity. After the deluge, the same association of primogeniture with the sacerdotal functions still remained : and the sin of Esau in selling his birthright plainly enough consisted, not in selling his civil claims, for that
Gen. vii. 2. viii. 20.
would not have constituted him a profane person ; but in contemptuously preferring a mere mess of pottage to the sacred privilege of being the priest of God. The office seems to have been attached to the first-born, in reference to the mysterious character of the woman's Seed; who was eminently the first-begotten of his Father, and who by his voluntary self-devotement was at once the priest and the victim: and, as no authority but that of God could make any change in this primitive institution, it remained in full force until the time when the Levitical priesthood was appointed. Immediately before that alteration took place, and consequently when Levi occupied no higher ground than his brethren of the other tribes, we find nevertheless that a regular priesthood was actually existing aroung the children of Israel : for, previous to the delivering of the Law from mount Sinai, the priests, who come near to the Lord, are charged to sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.' Now, as the Levitical priesthood was not then constituted, these priests must obviously have been priests according to the still
Exod. xix, 22, 24. These priests, I take it, are the same as those young men, who afterwards, though still before the institution of the Levitical priesthood, are said to have been sent by Moses to offer burnt-offerings and to sacrifice peaceofferings to the Lord. Compare Exod. xxiv. 5. with xxviii. Onkelos, in direct reference to the old patriarchal priesthood which had not as yet been dissolved, excellently paraphrases the place, He sent the first-born, that is to say, the priests according to the patriarchal order who as yet were the first-born of every family.
unabrogated: Patriarchal dispensation. But, if they were priests according to that dispensation, they must have been the various eldest sons of the different families throughout Israel.
When the Levitical priesthood was appointed, their sacred character forthwith ceased; and hereafter the eldest sons, like their younger brethren, were laics : but the priesthood itself, though differently modified as to its component members, was adopted, with the rite of sacrifice, from the Patriarchal into the Levitical dispensation. Yet, even when this was done, so high a regard was still paid to the ancient institution, that every first-born, whether of men or of animals, was to be consecrated to the Lord as his peculiar portion. Each clean animal was to be sacrificed : each unclean anirnal was either to be redeemed or put to death. The first-born of man, as human sacrifices were an abomination, was in like manner to be redeemed: nor did those males, to whom the right of primogeniture belonged, properly become laics, until they had been bought off from their natal consecration to the service of Jehovah.' It is true, that this was ordained to be commemorative of the death of the first-born in Egypt; but it ultimately had respect to the primeval sanctity of primogeniture : just as the rest of the sabbath was additionally enjoined to the Israelites, on the ground that God brought them out to rest at the
"Exod. xiii. 2, 11-15. Numb. xviii. 15—17. See Selden. de success. in Pontif. Heb. lib. i. c.i.
close of their Egyptian bondage ; though the consecration of the seventh day had a primary reference to the divine sabbatism at the close of the creation.'
(4.) In mentioning the sabbath, I have anticipated the notice of another patriarchal ordinance adopted into the Levitical dispensation.
Moses himself states, that the sabbath-day was sanctified, because God rested on that day from the work of forming a world. But, if this were the primitive reason of its sanctification; it is a reason, which could not have commenced with the delivering of the Law from mount Sinai, but must have operated from the very beginning. Hence I think it manifest, that the patriarchs must have well known what Moses says of it in his account of the creation, long before the circumstance was committed to writing : and, knowing that God had blessed it and sanctified it, they could not but also know that it was to be devoted by them to sacred rest and meditation.
There is no direct mention of the sabbath before the deluge: but we may plainly enough perceive, that the observance of it was familiar to Noah; for he is represented, as twice waiting seven days between his three emissions of the dove. If then Noah was acquainted with the consecration of the sabbath, his ancestors could not have been ignorant of it.
* Compare Exod. xx. 8~11. with Deuter. v. 12–15.
Gen. viii. 10, 12.
But, though we are not explicitly told that it was observed before the deluge, we have proof positive that it was duly observed in the Patriarchal Church before the delivering of the Law from mount Sinai. Manna began to be miraculously sent down from heaven, while the Israelites were in the wilderness of Sin, and previous to their arrival at the mount of God. But a double portion of food descended from above every sixth day, that so the holy rest of the seventh might not be violated by the gathering of it: and the reason of this difference in the quantity is expressly deduced from the institution of the sabbath ; an institution therefore, which was already familiar to the Israelites, and which could only have been so in consequence of its having been handed down to them from their remote patriarchal ancestors. This is that which the Lord hath said: Tomorrow' is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord : bake that which ye will bake, and seethe that which ye will seethe ; and that, which remaineth over, lay up for you to be kept until the morning.'
The sabbath then was clearly a patriarchal ordinance; and, from the first dispensation, it was studiously adopted into the second.
(5.) As there was a standing priesthood both under Patriarchism and under the Law; it was meet and reasonable, that a body of men dedicated to minister before the Lord in holy things should have a decent and sufficient maintenance
"Exod. xvi. 23.