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13and lay your hand on its head; it shall be slaughtered before the tent of meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar.

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1. And if his oblation be a sacrifice. He now proceeds to a different class, viz., to the sacrifices, which were testimonies of gratitude in celebration of God’s blessings; part of which was burnt with fire, part was claimed by the priests, and the rest remained to the offerers themselves. As to the word שלמים, shelomim, I have briefly given my opinion elsewhere; 253253     Vide supra, p. 149, and note. the common translation of it is certainly unsuitable, “the sacrifices of peace-offerings:” and the statement of others is far-fetched, that they are called “sacrifices of perfections,” because it was unlawful for the unclean to touch them. Since, however, the Hebrews include in the word “peace,” safety, and all good success, I have thought that its plural number might aptly be translated “prosperities:” on which account, David calls the libation which used to be made in this sacrifice, “the cup of salvations:” (Psalm 116:13,) nor do I doubt but that by this outward sign he designates thanksgiving. I admit indeed that this sacrifice was not only offered in acknowledgment of gratitude, but also when they sought of God peace and good success; yet still the epithet will always admirably suit it, because they confessed by it that God was the author of all good things, so as to attribute all their prosperity to Him. First, however, he commands all the sacrifices to be brought to the tabernacle, which is what he means by “the face of God;” 254254     A.V., “before the Lord." else would altars have been everywhere erected in their cities and villages, and by this license God’s service would have been mangled, and religion undermined. Wherefore, in order to keep the people in the unity of the faith, he bids them all be content with a single altar. But He would be worshipped and honored in that place, which He had dedicated to Himself, lest they should be scattered abroad after strange gods; and then He prescribes the mode of offering, whether the victim were of the herd or the flock. That such exact injunctions should be given as to trifles, might seem to be an unnecessary particularity, and even a superfluous repetition, inasmuch as the same thing is often inculcated, in precisely similar words: if it were not that this earnestness reminded the people that something higher was enwrapped in the ceremonies, whilst it restrained them from allowing themselves wantonly to add or change the smallest point. This very scrupulous observance, then, ought to have led them by the hand, as it were, to the things signified; so that under the external image the spiritual truth might meet their eyes; secondly, it ought to have held them bound, as it were, to the word of God, lest they should do anything in sacred matters from the dictates of their own reason. But now, since the use of sacrifices has ceased, we are first taught that God’s blessings are profaned, unless we diligently exercise ourselves in manifesting our religion, as His infinite and constant liberality towards us deserves; secondly, that unless our devotion is unmixed and paid to Him alone, we impiously defraud Him of His right; thirdly, that as we pray in Christ’s name, so our vows are to be paid, and our thanksgivings to be rendered, through His hand; and fourthly, that God’s loving-kindness is not to be celebrated in a negligent or perfunctory manner, but that we must labor to do so, as in a matter of the utmost importance, with no common zeal and attention.