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cherish in them the best and noblest princi-| the ignorant, and on them that are out of th? ples of their nature; and they are urged to way; for that he himself also is compassed perform this, by the highest considerations with infirmity :''* but “if perfection were by which the human mind can feel. Whatever the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the peobe the dispensation, the spirit of the office ple received the law,) what further need was and the nature of the service are the same. there, that another priest should rise after They stand as mediators between God and the order of Melchizedec, and not be called men. They bear on their hearts the names, after the order of Aaron ?"+ “ But Christ the infirmities, the wants, the distresses, the being come an high priest of good things to sorrows, the joys of the people; and carry come, by a greater and more perfect taberthem with sympathy and affection to the nacle, not made with hands, that is to say, throne of grace: and they return from thence not of this building ; neither by the blood of bringing on their lips the "answer of peace.” goats and calves, but by his own blood, he They lose themselves in labours of love; they entered in once into the holy place, having sink every unworthy aim, every low pursuit, obtained eternal redemption for us. For if in seeking the glory of God, and the prosperi- the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes ty of the Israel of God. The minister who of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifiunderstands, feels, and performs his duty is eth to the purifying of the flesh; how much one of the most exalted of beings.
more shall the blood of Christ, who, through Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the the eternal Spirit, offered himself without service of God, and of the congregation, by spot to God, purge your conscience from dead the sprinkling of blood applied to the ear, the works to serve the living God ?"I hand, the foot. Thus their whole faculties The fire once kindled supernaturally by were claimed by their great Author, and the celestial flame was to be kept alive by were thus devoted to him: and the symbol of human care and attention. Miraculous interatonement became the seal of their dedica- positions of Providence are not to be expecttion. And thus every Christian becomes a ed, as an indulgence to çarelessness and sloth. priest unto the most high God, redeemed by He only who diligently exercises the powers blood, set apart by the washing of regenera- which God has given him, who employs the tion, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. means which Providence has furnished, and “ Wash me, Lord, and I shall be clean, sprin- which conscience approves, can with contie kle me, and I shall be whiter than snow:" dence look up to Heaven, and rejoice in hope
my feet only, but also my hands and my of divine assistance. Would you that the sahead.” "Unto him that loved us, and wash- cred flame of devotion, of charity, should ed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath live in your heart, should glow upon your made us kings and priests unto God and tongue, resort daily to the altar of God, and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for preserve its activity by "a live coal" from ever and ever. Amen.'*
thence. Then your face shall shine, then “Every high priest taken from among men, your lips shall overflow with the law of kindis ordained for men in things pertaining to ness, then your hand shall open to the sons God, that he may offer both gifts and sacri- of want, then you shall “ rejoice with joy unfices for sins: who can have compassion on speakable and full of glory.” * Rev. 1. 5, 6.
* Heb. v. 1, 2. | Heb. vii. 11. 1 Heb. ix. 11–14.
HISTORY OF AARON.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,
Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazer his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: and strip Aaron of his garments, and put them ripon Eleazer his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. And Moses did as the Lord commanded: and they went up into mount lor, in the sight of all the congregation. And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazer his son: and Aaron died there in the top of the mount. And Moses and Eleazer came down from the mount. And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.-NUMBERS IL 23—29.
Were it not that life and immortality have | upon what we are, and upon the consequent been brought to light by the gospel, human change which death shall produce in our life must appear in the eye of sober reason, a internal character, or outward condition. It trifling scene of vanity and impertinence. is a light evil to be stripped of priestly robes. Wherefore drops that babe into the grave as the work of man's hands; and to return soon as he is born? Why was the wretched naked into the earth as we came from it; it mother torn with anguish to bring him into is a light thing to feel the earthly house of the world? Was it only to be torn with this tabernacle dissolving, and the head which more cruel anguish, to behold him premature wore the mitre or the crown sinking into the ly snatched out of it again? Why is that dust; while the promise of Him who is faithold offender permitted to live, a burden upon ful and true, rears for us a building of God, the earth, the derision, hatred, and scorn of a house not made with hands, eternal in the mankind? Why does that minion “fret and heavens;'
;"** while the eye of faith contemstrut his hour upon the stage," arrayed in plates that “crown of righteousness, which the glitter of royalty? Wherefore strides the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give at that barbarian from conquest to conquest, from that day: and not to one only, but unto all continent to continent? Why pines modest them also that love his appearing,"t assured worth in indigence and obscurity, and where- that“ to be absent from the body is to be prefore, at lenyth perishes it on a dunghill? sent with the Lord.” These, and a thousand such questions that If ever there was an enviable domestic might be asked, the doctrine of immortality, situation, it was that of Aaron elevated to and of a judgment to come, resolves in a mo- the priesthood. Think of the honest pride of ment. “We know but in part, we see in a honourable alliance: and who would not have glass darkly." What the great Lord of na- been proud of such a brother as Moses ? ture, providence, and grace doth, we know Reflect on an office of the highest dignity not now, but we shall know hereafter.
and respect, procured not by cabal and inThe brevity and extension of life, difference trigue, but bestowed by the voluntary apof rank, talent, office, and condition, variety pointment of Him who is the source of all of fortune and success, acquire an importance honour. A suitable provision likewise made not their own by their influence on character for the support of that dignity, and an exterand moral conduct, by the changes which nal habit annexed to it, that could not fail to they produce on the soul of a man, by their attract notice and reverence. The sacred reaching forward into eternity, and by pro- office was entailed upon him and his family ducing effects which no length of duration for ever, and that family built up by four hopecan ever alter.
ful sons, his coadjutors and successors: and, to Men die, offices pass from hand to hand, crown the whole, these pleasing, flattering dispensations change; but the purposes of circumstances were crowned with an open, Heaven are permanent, the plans of Provi- unequivocal
, indubitable mark of the divine dence are ever going forward, and while approbation. The fire of heaven caught hold one generation of men removes to that world of their burnt-offering, and kindled a flame of spirits from whence no traveller returns, never to be quenched. But alas, how shortanother rises up to contemplate the won- lived was this tranquillity! The sons of Aaron ders of that which now is, and to carry on are hardly consecrated to their office, when the business of it. Hence wise and good the two eldest profane and disgrace it. Cemen become not only concerned about their lestial fire has scarcely proclaimed the favour own future and eternal happiness, but about and acceptance of God, when with unhallowthe prosperity and happiness of the world, ed fire, which he commanded not, they defile after they have ceased to see and enjoy it. his altar and his service: and thereby call Hence they cheerfully engage in schemes down a second time fire from above, to avenge which they cannot live to execute, and justly a holy and righteous God, as before to display soothe their souls to peace, in the prospect the grace of Him who is good and merciful. of a kind of immortality upon earth. Hence The notoriety of the late transactions, the among the other motives to excel in goodness, sacredness of their character, and the disthis has a pleasing and a powerful influence, tinguished regard of Heaven expressed to" the righteous shall be had in everlasting ward them, greatly enhance the atrociousremembrance, ," " while the memory of the ness of their guilt, and justify the severity of wicked shall rot."
their punishment. It is as difficult to make the proper esti This tragical event is thus recorded by mate of death as of life. Death is an undoubt- Moses, whose method it is neither to extenued mark of the divine displeasure against sin, ate, nor to set down aught in malice. " And and is inflicted as a punishment upon the Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took guilty. But like all the punishments of hea- either of them his censer, and put fire therein, ven, it is upon the whole, and in the issue, and put incense thereon, and offered strange an unspeakable benefit to good men. The fire before the Lord, which he commanded just estimnte of death, then, must depend * 2 Cor. v. 1.
| 2 Tim. iv. 8
them not. And there went out fire from the The sin of Nadab and Abihu consisted simply Lord, and devoured them, and they died in this, they burnt incense with strange fire. before the Lord."* The words are few, but Now the meaning of this expression we shall they convey a full and distinct idea of the be able easily to collect, by comparing toguilt of the parties: though by attending together a few passages that have an obvious the context, we shall have reason to conclude connexion, and serve to illustrate and explain their crime was of a very complex nature. each other. First, in Leviticus chapter the And sure it could be no common transgres- ninth, verse the twenty-fourth, it is said that sion which drew down a judgment so dread- "fire from Lord,” that is, either fire imful. Bishop Patrick is of opinion that Nadab mediately descending from heaven, or issuing and Abihu had rendered themselves incapable out of the cloud that covered the tabernacle, of doing their duty by intemperance: that consumed the first victims which Aaron of they indulged in the delicacies of the sacri- fered for a burnt-offering. Again,- This safice to a criminal excess, till they were in- cred fire, once miraculously kindled, was by capable of putting a difference between holy a special ordinance to be kept for ever alive; and unholy, and between clean and unclean. as we read, Leviticus chapter the sixth, This conjecture is founded upon the injunc- verses twelfth and thirteenth. Thus the tion which immediately follows the narration vigilance, attention, and care of man, was to of this dismal story in the ninth and tenth preserve and continue what Providence had
"Do not drink wine nor strong begun. By another ordinance it was enjoined, drink, thou nor thy sons with thee, when ye that the incense to be offered on the day of go into the tabernacle of the congregation, atonement, should be kindled by a portion of lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever, that perpetual fire. This we read in Levitithroughout your generations; and that ye cus chapter the sixteenth, verses eleventh, may put difference between holy and unholy, twelfth, and thirteenth. This then was the and between unclean and clean.” If there fire which the Lord commanded to be used; be truth in this conjecture, it is a melancholy and of course, every other kind of fire, howproof, that the best things are most liable to ever produced, and though in all other reabuse, that the brutal part of our nature is spects adequate to the purpose, was unlawful, ever ready to run away with the rational: forbidden, or strange. This accordingly conthat as God is continually employing himself stituted the guilt, they took upon them to in bringing good out of evil, so men are for kindle the incense, which their office obliged ever perversely employing themselves in them to burn every evening and morning, bringing evil out of good.
with a fire different from that which burnt Others have charged upon these two sons continually on the altar of burnt-offering; of Aaron, the criminality of attempting to every other being strange fire, which the enter the most holy place, which was not Lord commanded not. Now it was certainly permitted but to the high priest, and that fit and necessary that such a crime should only at certain stated times. This charge be punished in the most exemplary manner. is established in the following manner. În The sanctity of the whole institution was the passage we have quoted, it is said, that over at once, if the ministers of it might with it was before the Lord that Nadab and Abihu impunity, in the very setting out, presume offered incense with strange fire. Upon to dispense with its most august ceremonies. comparing this with what is recorded in the The rank and station of the offenders was a sixteenth chapter in the first and second high aggravation of their offence. It was verses, where Moses recapitulates this sad their duty to have set an example of scrupuevent, we find it added, “The Lord said unto lous regard to the known will of God. They Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that had been admitted to more intimate commuhe come not at all times into the holy place, nion with God than others; had seen more within the veil before the mercy-seat, which of the terrors of his power, more of the wonis upon the ark; that he die not: for I will ders of his grace. Unhappy men! how had appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat.” they been betrayed into an error so fatal? Hence it has been inferred that the two young Ignorance it could not be, the voice of the men, uncalled, unauthorised, presumed to law was yet sounding in their ears. Dared enter that august department of the taberna- they to be careless in any thing that related cle, assuming to themselves privileges that to the service of a holy God? They had seen belonged only to the supreme priesthood, the exactness of their pious uncle, in forming which in their father's life time it was un- every thing according to the pattern showed lawful to intermeddle with, and which even him in the mount. Was it indeed a wilful he himself durst not at all times exercise. and deliberate violation of the law? I fear, But though neither of these suppositions be I fear it was; and dreadful was the expiation. improbable, we have no occasion to go so far The unhallowed fire of their own kindling for a discovery of their crime, nor to account was quickly absorbed in a hotter flame: “they for the severity with which it was punished. died before the Lord :* for there went out fire * Lev. X. 1,
. Lev. x. 9.
from the Lord, and devoured them.” Neither, been able to subdue indwelling corruption, their sacred character, the sacredness of the for we immediately find him in a plot, with place, nor the sacredness of the employment, Miriam his sister, to disturb the peace, dimican protect them from the keen stroke of nish the respect, and distress the government avenging justice. “Let us have grace where- of their brother Moses. Their pretence was by we may serve God acceptably, with re- his marriage with an Ethiopian woman;" verence and godly fear : for our God is a an event which had taken place forty years consuming fire."* Unhappy father! what before; an union which had no immorality were now thy feelings; bereaved in one sad in it: which transgressed no law, for the day of half thy children, of thy first, thy dar-law was not then given; and against which ling hopes: to behold them thus immaturely God himself had not expressed any displeacut off, taken away in anger! The bitterness sure; but had crowned it with the blessing of death is not relieved by one consolatory of children, who were justly admitted to rank circumstance. What is the loss of children in Israel. in infancy, and falling by the stroke of nature, The real cause was their envy of the precompared to this? To heighten the old man's eminence, which their younger brother had affliction, he is expressly forbidden to mourn, obtained over them in all things, civil and or to assist in the last sad offices of humanity sacred. For this, in spite of all their art, towards his deceased sons. Behold him in breaks out in the malicious whispers which mute dejection and distress, ministering in they scatter abroad to blacken their brother's the duties of his charge, attentive to the calls reputation. “ Hath the Lord indeed spoken of the living, leaving to others the care of only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by þurying the dead. How severely must his us?"* If Moses indeed erred by marrying own offences now have been brought to his Jethro's daughter, he had severely smarted remembrance! He had been guilty of a crime for it: for being induced, by an improper of equal or greater magnitude: he had led compliance with her humour, to neglect the the way in idolatry, and presided in the wor- circumcision of his son, he had nearly paid ship of a thing of his own fabrication; but the forfeit of that neglect with his life, by the justice suffered him to live, to live to see his hand of God himself; and now his good name own sons dying for a crime similar to his is bleeding on Zipporah's account, by the enown. Alas, what is prolonged life but length- venomed tongues of his own brother and sisened anguish!
ter; and “who can stand before envy ?" As the giving of the law was fenced round Who can think to escape, if Moses remain with fire, and the sanctity of the tabernacle not unhurt? This attack upon his fame and worship guarded by a faming sword, so the comfort, gives Moses occasion to deliver his meeker, gentler institution of the gospel, own eulogium: and I believe it just, for he fortified its first beginnings by executing gives it with that lovely simplicity, which judgment on presumptuous sinners. Seve- characterises all that he relates of himself rity is the soul of a law, especially when it or of others. “Now the man Moses was is notified to those who are obliged to submit very meck, above all the men which were to it; indulgence, or the appearance of feeble upon the face of the earth.”+ He either had ness, are of the most dangerous consequence, not heard the scandalous speeches which especially in the commencement of a new were propagated to his disadvantage by constitution. One of the heralds of the Sa- Aaron and Miriam; or he pitied and neviour of mankind began his ministry by a glected them. Who knows what length the clap of thunder; the first rays he shot from mischief might have gone, had it not been his
eyes were mortal, and the sudden death heard and avenged by the Protector of inof two false and perfidious disciples was the jured innocence. “ The Lord heard it." Let seal of his apostleship. The second coming the slanderer hear this and tremble. of the Lord himself is to be “in flaming fire,
The two brothers and their sister are now taking vengeance on them that know not summoned to present themselves together at God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord the door of the tabernacle of the congregaJesus Christ.”
tion, and the glory of the Lord appears: and Aaron had now arrived at an advanced a voice from that glory pronounces aloud and period of life, and at the possession of an at full length, the praise of the man who hard office and rank in lif., which rendered him spoken so modestly of himself, and who had en object of envy to some, and of veneration been so wickedly maligned by his own nearto others. He had oftener than once been est relations. «i And he said, Hear now my corrected by his own folly, and he was “the words; if there be a prophet among you, I man who had seen affliction by the rod of the Lord will make myself known unto him in Go:l's anger;" but neither the fire of calami- a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. ly, nor the frost of age; neither the counsels My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful af experience, nor the sanctity of office, have in all mine house. With him will I speak
mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in + Acts v. 1 2 Thess. i. 8.
† Numb. xii. 3.
* Heb. xii. 28. 29.
* Numb. xii. 2.
dark speeches; and tne similitude of the scquence? In the event of difference of Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were opinion, or of attachment, one man is unmerye not afraid to speak against my servant citully, unrelentingly run down, and another Moses !"* In many respects Moses was is, with equal want of reason, magnified and " the figure of him who was to come," and in exalted. Women, young women, good young both were peculiarly verified the words of women, think they are only yielding to the Christ, “a man's focs shall be they of his impulse of a pious atlection, when they apown house," and, “a prophet is not without plaud or censure this or the other public honour, save in his own country, and in his character. But what are they doing inown house.”+ With God to resent is to deed? Blowing up one poor vain idol of avenge; having reproved the transgressors straw into self-consequence and importance; he withdraws in anger, and lo, the punish- and piercing through, on the other hand, an ment is already inflicted. The cloud de- honest heart with anguish unutterable; perparted from off the tabernacle, and behold, haps robbing a worthy, happy family of its Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and bread, or, what is more, of its peace and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and behold she comfort. I am no stranger to what is by was leprous."! A shocking example of di- some termed religious conversation, and I vine displeasure against one of the most am seriously concerned about the topics of it. odious of crimes. My fair hearers, let me It generally turns upon persons, not things. whisper an advice in your ears. I am no Now, it ought to be just the reverse. Percommonplace declaimer against your sex; I sons always mislead us, for no one is wholly honour it, and I wish to improve it; you must impartial; but truth is eternal and unchangehear me with the greater attention, and mark able. Apply then the test—Does the conwhat I say. You lie under a general impu- versation dwell upon this man or his neightation, respecting the vices of the tongue; bour, his rival or his enemy-check it, away but general imputations are for the most part with it; what have the interests of piety to ill-founded. I do not mean, however, to in- do in the case? Had he never been born, sinuate that you are totally innocent, or more
" the foundation of God” would have stood so than the other sex: for your affections are as it does, without his feeble aid. Call no eager, and what the heart feels, by the eyes man master in sacred things, but Christ; and or the tongue you will express; and that ex- take care that you measure neither orthopression is sometimes too strong for either doxy, sense, nor virtue, by the imperfect, piety or prudence. I mean to caution you fluctuating standard of your own caprice. at present, on a particular fault of the tongue, affection, or understanding. Were similar which affects my own profession, which is punishment instantly to follow the vices of far from being foreign to the subject, and on the tongue, as in the case of Miriam, I shudwhich I deem myself both qualified and en- der to think how many a fair face now lovely titled to advise you.
to the sight, must by to-morrow morning Women, among other favourite objects, stand in need of a veil; but not for the same have their favourite systems of religion, and reason that the face of Moses did on his detheir favourite preachers; and, following the scending from the mount, to temper its impulse of an honest affection, they are for lustre; but to shroud its loathsomeness and establishing their favourite object on the deformity. Consider what hath been said, ruins of every competitor. What is the con- and set a watch on the door of your * Numb. xii. 6, 7, 8.
lips,” and “ keep the heart with all diliNumb. xii. 10.
+ Matt. xiii. 57.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying, Aaron
shall be gathered unto his people : for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazer his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: and strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazer his son : and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. And Moses did as the Lord commanded : and they went up into mount Hor, in the sight of all the congregation,