On Certain Erroneous Theories Of The Significance Of Sacrifice -- By: Anonymous
BSac 32:125 (Jan 1875) p. 98
On Certain Erroneous Theories Of The Significance Of Sacrifice
An essential difference must necessarily exist between a religion adapted to a race of moral beings who have never sinned and a religion adapted to a race of beings that have sinned; and this difference must lie mainly, if not exclusively, in the fact that a religion fitted to meet the wants of a sinful race must include a disclosure of the possibility of reconciliation with the offended power, and of the mode in which that reconciliation can be effected. No religious system meant for a sinful race could be considered as complete which lacked these features. A religion which claimed a divine origin would exhibit, as one of its chief characteristics, a statement of the possibility, and of the method, of such a reconciliation.
Antecedently to any direct revelation from God, thoughtful men would, not unnaturally, indulge in conjectures as to the practicability of any reconciliation with an offended Divinity. Arguing from what nature suggests as to the character of God, from what his providence discloses in regard to his benevolence; in particular, from the way in which they are sometimes inclined to treat those by whom they have been offended; still more from the method in which they have known that men of superior power, of extraordinary moral worth, and unusual magnanimity have conducted themselves towards such as have acted contrary to their will, — arguing from these premises, thoughtful men, as we may well imagine, might arrive at a presumption that, in some method and for some reasons, God might possibly avert from men the punishment which they were conscious was deserved by them.
All conjectures on the matter would, however, become the
BSac 32:125 (Jan 1875) p. 99
more uncertain and the more unsatisfactory in proportion to the clearness of one’s conceptions of the purity of God’s character and the absolute perfection of his government. Men would speedily imagine, in the progress of such reflections as we have described, that the law proclaimed by the Almighty for the regulation of human conduct must be, precisely as it is affirmed in the Bible to be, holy and just and good. It prescribes only such conduct as is, even independently of all legal enactments, pure and holy, and proper to be demanded of moral beings such as men. Its requirements correspond with the utmost exactness to the powers of those whose conduct it aims to regulate; a correspondence which would not be any more exact if there were but one moral being to whom the law was addressed. Its penalty, as to its nature and severity, is adjusted with the same exactness to the particular circumstances of every offender. No mitigating considerations can be supposed possible to be urged in regard to any circumstance...
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