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Fourth Sunday before Advent. \.
KEY-NOTE: "If our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved. we have a building of God, a house not made with hands; eternal in the heavens."
Nadab and Abihu.-Lev. x. 1-11.
1. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer and put fire therein aud put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.
2. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
4. And Moses called Mishael and Elizaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, and carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.
5. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said.
6. And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your head, neither rend your clothes; lest ye
What is the name of this Sunday? With what great subjects have the four Sundays before Advent to do? What is the theme of this day? What is the condition of the departed Christian? How is this taught in the Gospel and Epistle of the day? For what do we pray in the Collect?
What is the subject of the lesson to-day? Who were Nadab and Abihu? Num. iii. 3-4. What office was committed to them? What was the priesthood? What were the duties of the priests?
1. My soul, repeat His praise
VERSES 1-2. What is said of Nadab and Abihu here? What is meant by censer? What by incense? How was the incense made? Exod. XXX. 34-35. What was its purpose and meaning? When and how was it offered? Exod. xxx. 7-8. Whence was the fire taken for the incense offering? Lev. xvi. 12. What then is meant by the expression strange fire? How did Nadab and Abihu come to offer strange fire? How were they punished for the transgression? How are we to understand the statement that fire went out from the Lord?
VERSE 3. What did Moses say to Aaron? To what declaration of the Lord does Moses refer here? Exod. xix. 22; xxix. 44. What is meant by the expression, I will be sanctified? What by glorified? How was the Lord glorified in Nadab and Abihu? Why did Moses hold his peace?
VERSES 4-5. Who buried Nadab and Abihu? What relations were these? To what tribe then did they belong? Where did they carry them? Were all corpses buried without the camp? What judgment somewhat similar to this do we read of in the New Testament? Acts v. 1-10. But what important difference do we
observe between the two?
VERSES 6-7. What directions did Moses now give to Aaron and to his remaining sons? What was the meaning of uncovering the head and rending the clothes? What reason is given for these directions? Who might bewail the death of Nadab and Abihu? Why might not the priests do so? What was their business? Is it right for Christian people to mourn for the dead? How? 1 Thess. iv. 13. What is the state of the pious dead? Rev. xiv. 13. What of those who were not pious? Could mourning for them do them any good? Of what duty should this fact remind us?
VERSES 8-11. What commandment does the Lord give here? Is there any particular reason for this commandment here? At what times were the priests required to abstain from intoxicating drinks? Were they allowed to use them at other times? Why were they not to use them when they went into the tabernacle? What lesson should we learn from this?
2. High as the heavens are rais'd
NOTES. The four Sundays before the altar of incense which stood in the Advent are devoted to the contempla- holy place, or the anterior department tion of the four last things, namely, of the tabernacle. The fire for the death, the resurrection, the judgment and burning of incense was taken from the heaven. The theme of this day, then, altar of burnt offering. This is espeis death, or the condition of the pious cially enjoined in regard to the incense dead. Th are in a state of rest, offering on the day of atonement, and peace and joy. In the Gospel for the it is likely that the same ceremony was day death is described as sleep, because observed also on other occasions. Strange the dead are freed from the sufferings fire.-The sin of Nadab and Abihu and sorrows of this life. The Epistle consisted in offering strange fire before speaks of the inheritance of the saints in the Lord. This has been differently light, implying that death is at once a explained. According to some their translation into heavenly light and joy. offense consisted in presuming to disOur key-note (2 Cor. v. 1) involves charge a function which did not belong both sides of the doctrine, teaching us to them, but to Aaron as high-priest; that the departed soul, having laid aside while, according to others, it consisted the tabernacle of its material body, is in offering incense at the wrong time. clothed with a spiritual or heavenly But in neither case could it be properly body corresponding to its heavenly described as offering strange fire. The abode. probability is, therefore, that the offense consisted simply in getting fire from some other place than the altar of burnt offering. But this departure from the established order indicated something wrong in their moral state or disposition; just as Cain's offering of the fruits of the earth was determined by his moral character. From the prohibition of wine in the 9th verse, Lange concludes that Nadab and Abihu were drunk, and that that condition accounts for their getting hold of strange fire, and for their committing other offenses which are not mentioned. This ex
The subject of our lesson to-day is the transgression and punishment of Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron. Aaron and his sons were chosen to the office of the priesthood The account of their consecration is contained in Lev. viii-ix. By the divine direction and choice they constituted a sacred order, whose object was to mediate between a chosen, though still sinful people and their holy God. Their duty was to minister at the altar, to present sacrifices to God in the name of the people, and to bless the people in the name of God, to interpret the di-planation is plausible, and it would vine law and teach the people its ob- be difficult to suggest a better. There servance, and to lead holy and exem- went out fire from the Lord, etc. Fire plary lives. The incident recorded in in some way produced or kindled by our lesson is supposed to have occurred Jehovah, that is, fire of mysterious immediately at the close of the time of origin, and therefore ascribed to Jethe consecration of the priest, which hovah. Lange thinks that in their lasted eight days. drunken condition the two priests set their clothes on fire while in the sanctuary, and perished thus through their intemperance. This might have been the case, and the fire might still have been ascribed to Jehovah. The accident probably happened to them while
VERSES 1-2.- Censer. Literally fire pan, a vessel probably shaped somewhat like a pan, in which coals were taken up and incense burnt. Incense.-A perfume, composed of equal weights of stacte, onycha, galbanum and the gum
of the frankincense tree. It could only in the sanctuary, where nobody saw them. When they rushed out they were enveloped in flames, and no one dared to go near to assist them.
be lawfully made for the purpose of being used in connection with sacrificial offerings; and when so used, it was a symbol of prayer. Compare Ps. cxli. 2. Rev. v. 8. It was offered always in connection with the daily morning and evening sacrifice, as well as on some special occasion, and was presented on
VERSE 3. This is it that the Lord spake, etc. No declaration of the Lord in the precise words here following is anywhere recorded, but there are numerous declarations involving the thought.
Compare Exod. xix. 22 and xxix. 44. of the profound difference between the I will be sanctified.... glorified, etc. Old Testament and the New. The "All approach to Jehovah of those Christian worshipper, whether minister who draw near to Him, of the priests or layman, need not fear that some in the holy acts of sacrifice, has the dreadful calamity is going to happen, purpose of showing forth Jehovah in because he has forgotten his canonical His holiness..... and this hallowing vestments or neglected his postures. of His name in highest solitude should What is required now is purity and have the result of revealing Him before sincerity of heart, though that also will all the people in His majesty, in the manifest itself in a becoming outward glory of His manifestation."-Lange. form.
But when men will not in this way VERSES 6-7.-Uncover not your heads, sanctify and glorify the Lord positively, etc. To uncover the head, to go about by a pure and holy service, when "they with loose and dishevelled hair, and to bring before the Lord, in passion or ex- rend one's clothes, were signs of mourncitement, strange fire, the fire of intoxi- ing. These were forbidden to the highcation or fanaticism, they may be seized priest entirely, and permitted to the orand consumed by that fire changed, as dinary priests only within certain limits. it were, into the fire of Jehovah's judg- Lest ye die. This is one reason why the ment; and also by such judgments... priestly relatives of Nadab and Abihu may Jehovah be glorified before His are not to give any signs of mourning. people."-Lange. This was the way To do so would have made them parin which Nadab and Abihu were made takers of their guilt, and might have to glorify Jehovah. Impure fanaticism involved them in the same destruction. in religion ever works injury to him Sympathy with the wicked is a dangerwho cherishes it. Aaron held his peace. ous sentiment. Lest wrath come upon He acknowledged the propriety of the the whole people. Another reason for law as stated by Moses, and made no not mourning. The sin of the priests complaint against God's severity in the might lead the people into sin, and punishment of his sons. thus become an occasion of wrath to them. The whole house.-The whole congregation of Israel might mourn for Nadab and Abihu, but the priests, because the anointing oil of the Lord was upon them, were to go on with their service in the sanctuary. Christian people may mourn for their dead, but they should not give way to unreasonable or immoderate grief. Their mourning for the dead, for instance, should not cause them to neglect their duties to the living. Our mourning shonld not be like that of the heathen, who have no hope in their bereavement (1 Thess. iv. 13). The state of the pious dead is one of blessedness (Rev. xiv. 13). On their account we need not grieve. And to those who were not pious, mourning could do no good. They are in the hands of a merciful judge, who will do right by them. This reflection, however, should remind us
VERSES 4-5.-The uncle of Aaron Literally, the friend, relative of Aaron. But the relationship is correctly expressed by the word uncle. Uzziel was a brother of Amram, Aaron's father. Mishael and Elzaphan, therefore, were second cousins of Nadab and Abihu. They belonged to the tribe of Levi, and were ministers of the sanctuary in the broad sense, but were excluded from the office of the priesthood. Out of the camp. All corpses were buried without the camp. The burial of Nadab and Abihu without the camp, therefore, involved no indignity. The judgment inflicted on these offending priests reminds us somewhat of the judgment inflicted on Ananias and Sapphira, described in Acts v. 1-10. In both cases the revelation of the offense is followed immediately by the death of the offenders. There is, however, an important difference between the two cases. Ananias of our duty to the living. It would be and Sapphira were guilty of a deeply in vain to mourn for persons when moral and spiritual sin, while Nadab dead, for whose salvation we did nothing and Abihu were guilty only, as far as when they were living. Our object the record of Scripture goes, in a mat- should be to labor diligently for the ter of outward ritual. An illustration | salvation of the living.
VERSES 8-11.-Do not drink wine nor He is not the finite authority or intellistrong drink when ye go into the taber-gence which cannot be troubled with nacle, etc. If Nadab and Abihu had small things. There is nothing so small sinned after the manner described but that we may honor God by asking above, then there was a particular rea- His guidance of it, or insult Him by son for this commandment here; and taking it into our own hands; and what it is not likely that it was given here is true of the Deity is equally true of without some special reason. The tem- His revelation. We use it more reverperate use of wine and strong drink ently when most habitually; our insowas permitted to the priests, as to lence is in ever acting without reference others, when they were not engaged in to it; our true honoring of it is in its the service of the sanctuary, but then universal application. God appoints to it was strictly prohibited. The object every one of His creatures a separate of this prohibition was that, in the time mission; and if they discharge it honorof their public service, the minds of the ably, if they acquit themselves like men, priests might be clear in the exercise of and faithfully follow the light which is their own duties, and in the instruction in them, withdrawing from it all cold of the people in regard to theirs. First, and quenchless influence, there will asthe necessity of a clear mind and self-suredly come of it such burning as, acpossession when we are engaged in the cording to its appointed mode and meaworship of God or employed about sa- sure, shall shine before men. and be of cred things. The young man is guilty service constant and holy. Degrees inof a fearful sin who wanders into the finite of lustre there must always be, house of God in a state of intoxication, but the weakest among us has a gift, and disturbs God's service. So any however seemingly trivial, which is sort of excitement, no matter how pro- peculiar to him, and which, worthily duced, that unbalances the mind and used, will be a gift, also, to his race formakes it incapable of clear thought and ever. Says George Herbert: correct judgment, unfits people for the For all may have, service of God. Secondly, a lesson in If they choose, a glorious life or grave.—Ruskin. regard to the use of strong drink in general. Wine was freely used among God's people in ancient times, and is sometimes spoken of approvingly in the Scriptures. But it must be remembered that the climate and conditions in which those people lived were different from ours, and that what was lawful for them may not be lawful for us. Besides, it is something that may deprive us of our reason, and unfit us for the discharge of our Christian duties, and should therefore be used, if at all, not only in very great moderation, but also with very great caution.
The Nobility of Life.
There is no action so slight nor so mean but it may be done to a great purpose, and ennobled therefor; nor is any purpose so great but that slight actions may help it, and may be so done as to help it much, most especially that chief of all purposes-the pleasing of God. We treat God with irreverence by banishing Him from our thoughts, not by referring to His will on slight occasions.
SOME BIBLE FACTS.-In the Bible the word Lord is found 1,853 times; the word Jehovah 6,855 times, and the word Reverend but once, and that in Psalm oxi. 9. The 8th verse of Psalm cxv. is the middle verse of the Bible. 9th verse of Esther viii. is the longest verse, and John xi. 35 is the shortest. In Psalm cvii. four verses are alikethe 8th, 15th, 21st and 31st. Each verse of Psalm cxxxvi. ends alike. No names or words with more than six syllables are found in the Bible. Isaiah xxxvii. and 2 Kings xix. are alike. The word Girl occurs but once in the Bible, and that in Joel iii. 3. There are found in both books of the ble 3,586,483 letters, 773,693 words, 31,373 verses, 1,180 chapters, and 66 books. Acts of the Apostles xxvi. is the finest chapter to read. Psalm xxiii. is the most beautiful chapter in the Bible. John xiv. 2, John vi. 37, St. Matthew xi. 28, and Psalm xxxvii. 4 are the most inspiring promises in the Bible. Isaiah lx. 1 is the verse for the new converts to study.
failed to discover its cause or devise its cure. Many a missionary wears upon his face or hands its unsightly and life-long scars. A son of Dr. and Mrs. Schneider, of Aintab, had sixty or seventy of these often painful and sometimes offensive sores (which last for a year) upon his person at one time; and
"The Romance of Missions, or Life and Labors in the Land of Ararat," by Miss M. A. West, a volume of 700 pages, is a work of extraordinary interest. It gives us life pictures of the site of the original Paradise as it now is. Its scenery, productions, the cus- his devoted mother (who, in the bauty toms, habits, home-life and religious and brilliancy of an early womanhood. wants of the people are here graphically of more than ordinary attractions, described by a finely educated Christian cheerfully left the society of which she lady, who with wonderful selt-forgetting was a shining ornament, and consedevotion labored many years as a mis- crated her life to labors and self-denials sionary in that country. Many a touch- among those who were little capable of ing story she tells about her labors and appreciating either) did not utter one intercourse with the mothers and daugh- repining word. But as she afterwards ters, the old people and young folks in looked upon the disfiguring scars which the garden of Eden. We came across marked the face of her first-born, she this excellent work in a certain Sunday- simply said: They will not be seen in school library, and could fain wish that heaven!' Mrs. S. had one herself, all Sunday-school libraries would have an excrescence upon so prominent a a copy of it, with many persons to read feature, that for months she and improve its lessons. This lady be- obliged to wear a veil to screen it from came quite a proficient in the different view." languages of Northern Syria. Speaking of Dr. Benjamin Schneider, well known to many people in the Reformed Church, and who labored with great success for almost half a century in that part of the world, she remarks that it was once said of him by Turks, that he spoke the Turkish "like an angel." The places where this good man labored, largely under the support of the Reformed Church, have now many the allied forces of the colonies stormed flourishing congregations, day-schools, the Bri ish earth-works around Yorkand seminaries for the training of town, "Victory twined double garlands ministers. Dr. Schneider sowed the around the homes" of France and seed of this rich harvest; he laid the foundations upon which others are now building.
The 19th of October, 1781, witnessed the decisive victory of the American Revolution at Yorktown, Virginia. For months before Washington and his associates felt how much would depend upon this battle. As the day approached he hastened south, some days riding 60 miles on horseback. Oliver Wendell Holmes says, that on the night when
Miss West speaks of a chronic scourge affecting all the system. It is called the "Aleppo button," or "year sore." The best medical skill has thus far
America. At this siege the French furnished 37 ships of the line, and the Americans not one; the latter supplied 9,000 troops and the former 7,000. It was highly proper that Lafayette and his 7,000 French soldiers, who so bravely fought for American Independence at this memorable siege, should