A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 658 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16.
could be agreeable to those beings whom they judged superior to themselves, and the proper objects of religious adoration?  Reason gives no sanction to the practice; on the contrary, most positively condemns it, as unnecessary, unjust, cruel, and therefore more likely to incur displeasure than to obtain favour.  Besides, it must always have been expensive, and very often dangerous, so that we must entirely discard the notion of a sense of interest having given occasion to it, unless we can prove, that some valuable consequence was to result from it.  This however cannot be done without first shewing its acceptableness to the Being whose regard is thereby solicited.  There remain, perhaps, only two other motives which we can conceive to have given origin to the custom, viz. some instinctive principle of our nature by which we are led to it, independent of either reason or a sense of interest, as in the case of our appetites, and a positive injunction or command to that effect by some being who has the requisite authority over our conduct.  The author so often alluded to, Dr Magee, who has so profoundly considered this subject in his work on Atonement, &c. rejects the former supposition, affirming that we have no natural instinct to gratify, in spilling the blood of an innocent creature; and, as he has also set aside the other two notions, of course, he adopts the latter as sufficient for the solution of the question.  The writer concurs in this opinion, but at the same time, he thinks it of the utmost importance to observe, that as the original injunction or command was assuredly subsequent to the sense of moral delinquency, and was directed in the view of a relief to the conscience of man, so the continuance of the practice, according to any perversion of the primitive and consequently proper institution, is always connected with, and in fact implies, the existence of a feeling of personal demerit and danger.  In other words, he conceives there is a suitableness betwixt the operation of man’s conscience and that effectual remedy for its uneasiness to which the original institution of animal sacrifices pointed.  But it does not follow from this, that man’s conscience or reason, or any thing else within him, could ever have made the discovery of the remedy.  A sense of his need of it, would undoubtedly set him on various efforts to relieve himself, but this, it is probable, would be as blind a principle as the appetite of hunger, and as much would require aid from an external power.  Among the devices to which it might have recourse, very possibly, the notion of giving up a darling object, ought to be included; so it would appear, thought a king of Moab, spoken of by Micah the prophet, chap. 6th, “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression,” &c.  But even admitting this, we still see the primary difficulty remaining, viz. what reason is there for imagining that the gift in any shape, and more especially when slaughtered, will be accepted? 
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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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