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8

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;

your burnt offerings are continually before me.


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8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, etc. God now proceeds to state the charge which he adduced against them. He declares, that he attached no value whatsoever to sacrifices in themselves considered. Not that he asserts this rite of the Jews to have been vain and useless, for in that case it never would have been instituted by God; but there is this difference betwixt religious exercises and others, that they can only meet the approbation of God when performed in their true spirit and meaning. On any other supposition they are deservedly rejected. Similar language we will find employed again and again by the prophets, as I have remarked in other places, and particularly in connection with the fortieth psalm. Mere outward ceremonies being therefore possessed of no value, God repudiates the idea that he had ever insisted upon them as the main thing in religion, or designed that they should be viewed in any other light than as helps to spiritual worship. Thus in Jeremiah 7:22, he denies that he had issued any commandment regarding sacrifices; and the prophet Micah says,

“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy?” — (Micah 6:7)

“I desire mercy,” he says in another place, (Hosea 6:6,) “and not sacrifice.” The same doctrine is every where declared by the prophets. I might refer especially to the prophecies of Isaiah, chapter 1:12; 58:1, 2; 66:3. The sacrifices of the ungodly are not only represented as worthless and rejected by the Lord, but as peculiarly calculated to provoke his anger. Where a right use has been made of the institution, and they have been observed merely as ceremonies for the confirmation and increase of faith, then they are described as being essentially connected with true religion; but when offered without faith, or, what is still worse, under the impression of their meriting the favor of God for such as continue in their sins, they are reprobated as a mere profanation of divine worship. It is evident, then, what God means when he says, I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices; he looked to something beyond these. The last clause of the verse may be understood as asserting that their burnt-offerings were before the eyes of the Lord to the producing even of satiety and disgust, as we find him saying, (Isaiah 1:13,) that they were “an abomination unto him.” There are some, however, who consider the negative in the beginning of the verse as applying to both clauses, and that God here declares that he did not design to reckon with them for any want of regularity in the observance of their sacrifices. It has been well suggested by some, that the relative may be understood, Thy burnt-offerings which are continually before me; as if he had said, According to the Law these are imperative; but I will bring no accusation against you at this time for omitting your sacrifices. 247247     “I do not well see how it (verse 8th) can be translated otherwise than Leusden has done it.” — Dr Lowth. Leusden translates it thus: — “Non super sacrificia tua arguam te, et holocausta tua coram me sunt semper.” — Merricks Annotations. Dr Adam Clarke explains the verse as follows: — “I do not mean to find fault with you for not offering sacrifices; you have offered them; they have been continually before me; but you have not offered them in the proper way.”




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