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rally received opinion is, that they were em- , to praise and serve Him who is the author blernatical representations of the angelic or of their being, and the source of all their heavenly host: and the attributes here as- happiness. signed to them, their attitude, and their The cherubim are represented as furnished employment in the tabernacle service, cor- with wings. This denotes the alacrity, respond exactly to the idea given us in other promptitude, and instantaneousness, with parts of scripture of those flaming ministers which angels obey the divine will. Thus, who stand continually before God, execute the angel who appeared to Zacharias at the his pleasure, adore his divine perfections, hour of incense, “I am Gabriel, that stand minister to the heirs of salvation.
in the presence of God;" and hence, else. The ark may be considered as the throne where, in scripture, the activity of angels is of God. The cherubim encompassed that compared to the velocity of the wind, and the throne, as the attendants in earthly courts rapid, irresistible force of fire. “ He rode surround the throne and person of their prince upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he did fly This is the precise idea suggested by the upon the wings of the wind.' He maketh prophet Isaiah, of the nature and office of his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming these blessed spirits, in the sixth chapter of fire.” Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that his prophesy: “ In the year that king excel in strength, that do his commandUzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon ments, hearkening unto the voice of his a throne, high and lifted up, and his train word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye filled the temple. Above it stood the sera- ministers of his, that do his pleasure."* phims; each one had six wings; with twain Once more; the faces of the cherubim he covered his face, and with twain he cover- were not only turned one to another, but ed his feet, and with twain he did fly. And bended together toward the mercy-seat, and one cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, their looks were attentively fixed upon the holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is ark. This expresses the holy admiration, with full of his glory."* Thus, also, Daniel re- which angels are filled, of those mysteries presents the same glorious object; “The of redemption which the ark prefigured. To Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was this remarkable circumstance the apostle white as snow, and the hair of his head like Peter alludes in his first epistle, when speakthe pure wool: his throne was like the fiery ing of salvation through * the sufferings of flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A Christ, and the glory that should follow," he fiery stream issued and came forth from adds, “which things the angels desire to look before him: thousand thousands ministered into.” The words literally translated import, unto him, and ten thousand times ten thou- " which things, angels stoop down to contemsand stood before him.”+ Micah saw in plate.” It conveys a beautiful and striking vision, “the Eternal sitting upon his throne, idea of the gospel dispensation. Angels are and all the host of heaven standing before exalted to the height of glory and felicity. him, and on the right hand and the left." They behold God face to face, and drink of “ The chariots of God," says the psalmist, the river of pleasure at its very source. They “ are twenty thousand, even thousands of see his uncreated splendour shining before angels: the Lord is among them as in Sinai, their eyes. They see his goodness in ihe in the holy place." And in several other blessings which they enjoy. They see his passages he addresses the Deity as sitting justice in the punishment of angels " which and dwelling among the cherubim. | left their first estate.” They see his wisdom
The cherubim had their faces turned one in the government of this vast universe. In a toward another. This might be intended to word, every thing that is capable of filling represent the perfect union of sentiment and the enlarged comprehension, of satisfying co-operation which subsists among these sons the inquiring spirit, is set before these pure of light. In other places of scripture, we and exalted intelligences. Nevertheless, hear their voices in concert, raising one song amidst so many objects of wonder and delight, of praise, as in the passage just now quoted in the midst of all this felicity and glory, from Isaiah, and Revelations, chapter fourth: angels desire to be more and more acquainted “They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, with the things which belong to our peace." holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, They discover a God rich in mercy to men and is, and is to come."|| * Thou art worthy, upon earth, as wonderful, as incomprehensiO Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and ble as a God abundant in loving kindness to power: for thou hast created all things, and angels in heaven: and forgetting, if it be for thy pleasure they are and were created.”TT | lawful to say so, the lustre and happiness of These glorious beings, differing in degree, the church triumphant, descend and mingle infinite in number, have nevertheless but with the church militant, and find fuel to one heart, one desire, one will, one aim, divine love, find materials for pleasing, ad
vancing, endless investigation, in the work § Psalm lxxx. 1; xcix. 1.
of redemption of Jesus Christ. “These things
* Psalm ciii. 20, 21.
† Dan. vii. 9, 10.
* Isaiah vi. 1-3.
Psalm 1x 17. Rev iv. 8.
T Rev, iv. 11.
the angels," from the heights of heaven, golden vessels that were taken out of the bend down" with humble earnestness, with temple of the house of God, which was at holy desire "to look into."
Jerusalem; and the king and his princes, his I conclude with quoting a passage of the wives and his concubines drank in them. Rabbi Maimonides* on the subject. “God They drank wine, and praised the gods of commanded Moses," says he, “to make two gold, and silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and cherubim, in order to impress upon the human of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers mind the doctrine of the existence of angels. of a man's hand, and wrote over against the llad there been but one cherub placed over candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the mercy-seat, the Israelites might have the king's palace; and the king saw part of fillen into a grievous error, they might have the hand that wrote. Then the king's counimagined, with idolatrous nations, that it was tenance was changed, and his thoughts trouthe image of God himself, which they were bled him, so that the joints of his loins were required to worship under that form. Or loosed, and his knees smote one against they might have been led to believe, on the another.” Read the writing, with the interother hand, that there was but one angel. pretation of it. “ This is the writing that But the command given to make two cheru- was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPbim, joined to this declaration, O Israel, the HARSIN. This is the interpretation of the Lord your God is one Jehovah, settles both thing; MENE, God hath numbered thy king. articles beyond the power of disputation. It dom, and finished it. TEKEL, thou art proves that there is an angelic order, and weighed in the balances, and art found wantthat it consists of more than one: it prevents ing. PERES, thy kingdom is divided and our confounding the idea of God with that of given to the Medes and Persians."* Read angels; seeing there is but one God who the issue. “In that night was Belshazzar created the cherubim, and created more than the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius one."
the Median took the kingdom.”+ In this sacred repository were laid up, for Such was the wonderful structure erected perpetual preservation, the awful monuments to the honour of God, and by his special diof the Sinai covenant, of the church esta-rection, in the wilderness of Sinai. It was blished in the wilderness; the memorials of begun and perfected within the compass of mercies past, the pledges of good things to little more than six months. Every thing come—"the tables of the covenant," the was executed according to the pattern showincorruptible manna, and Aaron's rod that ed to Moses in the mount. At length it was budded : signifying to all future generations, set up in all its splendour, with a mixture of the permanency and immutability of the holy joy and godly fear: and the divine Indivine law, the unremitting care and atten- habitant took solemn possession in the eyes tion of the divine providence, the dignity, and of all Israel. “A cloud covered the tent of stability of the Levitical priesthood. But the congregation, and the glory of the Lord the whole economy, and every instrument of filled the tabernacle." it, in process of time passed away.
“ Now of the things which we have spoat length carried to Babylon. But the disso- ken, this is the sum: we have such an High lution of the empire which dared to violate Priest, who is set on the right hand of the their sacredness, was involved in their viola- throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a tion and dissolution. Read the history of it, minister of the sanctuary, and of the true Dan. v.t “Belshazzar the king made a great tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank man. Who hath obtained a more excellent wine before the thousand. Belshazzar whiles ministry, by how much also he is the Mediahe tasted the wine, commanded to bring the tor of a better covenant, which was estagolden and silver vessels, which his father blished upon better promises. In that he Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple saith, A new covenant, he hath made the which was in Jerusalem, that the king and first old. Now that which decayeth and bis princes, his wives and his concubines, waxeth old, is ready to vanish away."| might drink therein. Then they brought the
† Dan. v. 30, 31. More Nevoch, part III. ch. xlv. † Dan. v. 1-6.
1 Heb. viii. 1, 2. 6. 13. 2N
* Dan. v. 25-28.
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 unte 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 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 tho congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.-NUMBERS XX. 23-29.
The lives of most men, from the womb to to retail those ideal virtues, are notoriously the grave, pass away unobserved, unregard- among the most abandoned and profligate of ed, unknown. When their course is finish- our race, Those examples, therefore, are ed the whole history of it shrinks into two to be considered as the most useful, as I flatlittle articles; on such a day they were born, ter myself they are more frequent, which and after so many days they died. Of those exhibit a mixture in which goodness prewho emerge out of the general obscurity, dominates, and finally prevails; in which some begin their public career at an advanc- virtue is seen wading through difficulties, ed period of life, and of course it consists of struggling with temptation, recovering from a few shining, interesting, important events, error, gathering strength from weakness, and is confined within the compass of a very i learning wisdom from experience, sustainfew fleeting years. While the progress of ing itself by dependence upon God; seeking a little selected band, wtom an indulgent refuge from its own frailty and imperfection Providence has vouchsafed signally to nobili- | in divine compassion, and crowned, at length, tate, and whom the historic pencil is fond to with victory over all opposition, and the delineate, is distinguished from the cradle to smiles of approving Heaven. the tomb, by an uninterrupted series of splen Of this sort, is the history and character did incidents, exemplary virtues, and brilliant which the pen of inspiration, which the penactions.
cil of a brother has drawn for the instruction The characters of men are mixed like of this evening. their fortunes. The most perfect instruc Aaron, the first high priest of the Hebrew tion, for the generality of mankind, which nation, and the only brother of Moses, their history furnishes, is perhaps supplied from celebrated legislator, was born in the year the exhibition of mixed, that is, of imperfect of the world two thousand three hundred characters. Unvarying scenes of fraud, vio- and seventy; before Christ one thousand six lence, and blood; the representation of un- hundred and thirty-four; and before the birth deviating, unrelenting, unblushing profliga- of his brother three years. It is probable he cy, must, of necessity, create disgust, or caine into the world before the edict of the diminish the horror of vice. The real an- j king of Egypt was published, which comnals of mankind present no model of pure manded all the Israelitish male children to and perfect virtue, but one: and from its sin- be put to death. For that edict seems to gularity, it cannot, in all respects, serve as a have been directed by a special interposition pattern for imitation. We contemplate it at- of Providence, precisely to mark, and emian awful distance; we feel ourselves every nently to signalize, the first appearance of moment condemned by it: we turn from the the great prophet of the Jews. Exposed to divine excellency, which covers our faces no special danger of infancy, the subject of with shame, and casts us down to the ground, no interesting memoir in early life, distintoward the mercy which has sealed our par- guished by no memorable talents or exploits don, and the grace which raises us up again. in manhood, we see him far declined into the
The fanciful representations of perfect vale of years before we see him at all; and, virtue, which are supplied from the stores of for all our knowledge of him, earlier or later, fiction, can but amuse at most; edify they we are indebted to the labours of his younger cannot. They want truth, they want nature, brother. Another, among a cloud of witthey come not home to the bosoms of or- nesses, to prove that the birthright of nadinary men. I might more easily ape the ture, and the destination of Providence, are state of a king, than imitate the affectedly intended to confer distinctions of a very difsublime virtue of the heroes of romance. ferent kind. Moses has shone forty years in Many of the persons whose profession it is the court of Pharaoh, has formed an allianee
by marriage with a foreign prince, and cul- , be left destitute of all! The praise of elotivated the virtues, and prosecuted the em- quence certainly belongs to Aaron ; for it is ployments of private life for forty years bestowed by him, who is best able to estimate more, before his elder brother is heard of his own gifts. “Is not Aaron the Levite And when he is at length brought upon the thy brother? I know that he can speak scene, at the advanced age of eighty-three, well."* But O how different the nature, the it is to occupy an inferior department to his importance, the effect, the duration of one brother, and the elder is yet again designed talent compared to another! The tongue to serve the younger.
which overawed Pharaoh, which astonished His first introduction, however, to our all Egypt, and charmed the listening ear of acquaintance, places him in a most interest- Israel, speedily became mute; and of its ing, respectable, and honourable point of powerful charm, not a single trace remains view. We behold a venerable man, four- behind: while the productions of Moses's pen score and upwards, agitated with public exist and shall exist till nature expire, to incares, and moved with fraternal tenderness struct, delight, and bless mankind. and affection, on his way through the wil The various instruments which heaven derness, in quest of his long absent brother. employs are ever suited to their seasons, ocIn these our days of speedy conveyance and casions, and ends. The interview between communication from pole to pole, from the east the brothers takes place according as infinite to west, by land, by water, through the air, wisdom had contrived it; and it behoved, on we can form but a slender idea of the anxiety many accounts, to be a pleasant one. Two of friends, removed but a few leagues' dis- wise and good men, so nearly related, so tance from one another, and their consequent fondly attached to each other, after a sepaignorance of each other's situation. Pro- ration so tedious, to meet again in health, to portionally sweet must have been the delight confer together on matters of such high moof meeting together, after long separation. ment, to enter, under the assured protection Scripture has described this, as it does every of Heaven, upon the noblest and most genething else, in its own inimitable manner. rous enterprize that can engage great and “ Aaron thy, brother, behold he cometh forth lofty spirits, the deliverance of their country!. to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he What a field for the exercise of private will be glad in his heart."* Behold the inter- friendship, of natural affection, of public view of two brothers, not the result of pre- spirit! On Aaron, according to the divine vious concert, not the effect of human saga- appointment, fell that most grateful of all city, not the fortuitous coincidence of blind, tasks, to announce to the wretched the period blundering, accidental circumstances; but of their misery, “to proclaim liberty to the planned and conducted of Heaven, and ef- captives,” the truth and faithfulness of God fected by Him, “who worketh all things to the desponding and dejected, and the posafter the counsel of his will,” and for a great session of Canaan to the slaves of Pharaoh. and noble purpose.
Eloquence has an enchanting power, even The occasion of Aaron's first appearance over those who have no interest in the subin the sacred drama, is not less memorable. ject of it. How potent, then, the enchantMoses having received the divine commis- ment of the heaven-taught eloquence of sion to proceed to the deliverance of his Aaron the Levite! What grace must have nation from Egyptian bondage, repeatedly been poured into his lips, when delivering excuses himself from undertaking that ho- the message of love from the great “I AM,” nourable employment, particularly on the the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to footing of his deficiency in the arts of elo- | their hapless offspring, assuring them, that quence and persuasion. Did this arise from the time to favour them was now come, timidity in Moses? was it a false modesty that his covenant was sure! With what and humility? or did he indeed labour under. ravished ears must the elders of Israel have a defect of this kind ? If the last, can we listened to such tidings, flowing from such avoid reflecting on the wonderful equality lips! Happy Aaron, thus accomplished, thus with which nature distributes her gifts? In commissioned, thus prospered! Happy peoconception who so sublime, in composition ple, thus remembered, thus addressed, thus who so elegant, in narration who so simple, persuaded! But wherefore envy his honour in written language who so perspicuous, so or their happiness? A greater than Aaron forcible, so impressive as Moses ?' Can it be is with us; even He who says of himself, true, then, what he says of himself, “ O, my “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore because the Lord hath anointed me to preach nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent but I am slow of speech, and of a slow me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim tongue.”+ Who is so favoured of nature and liberty to the captives, and the opening of Providence, as to possess every talent, every the prison to them that are bound :"+ We blessing?. Who so hardly dealt with, as to announce to you, that Jesus “ in whom all • Exodus iv. 14. + Exodus iy. 10.
| Isai. Ixi. 1.
Exod. iv. 14.
fulness was pleased to dwell," whom admir-, have accordingly been already adverted to, ing multitudes worshipped, saying, “never and shall not therefore now be repeated, our man spake like this man!” whose all-com- intention being to select those passages of manding voice checked the boisterous ele- his history, which are more personal and peinents, put demons to flight, and pierced the culiar; which more clearly mark a distinct ear of death.
character; and which represent him investChristians, we come not to you with the ed with an office which was to be hereditary eloquence of an Aaron; but we bear a mes in his family, and typical of the unchangeable sage infinitely more important than his. Our priesthood of the Son of God. " speech and preaching is not with enticing In the conclusion of the sixth chapter, words of man's wisdom :"* O that it might Moses interrupts the thread of his narration, be “in demonstration of the spirit, and of to deliver the genealogy of the family of Levi; power: that your faith should not stand in a matter of no little moment in the settlethe wisdom of men, but in the power of ment of that political and religious economy, God.”+ He proclaimed freedom from fetters which God was about to erect for the better of iron, and the oppression of an carthly government of his people Israel. From this tyrant: we proclaim liberty from the bond- it appears, that Aaron and himself were in age of sin; from everlasting chains under the fourth generation, in a direct line, from darkness; from the cruel tyranny of the de- Levi, Jacob's third son ; being the sons of vil; from the dreadful curse of God's violat- Amram, the eldest son of Kohath, the second ed law, which arms Satan with his tremen- son of Levi. Hence, they are in the fifth gedous, power, digs the vast recesses of the neration from Jacob, in the sixth from Isaac, unfathomable abyss, and feeds the inextin- and the seventh from Abraham. It farther guishable flame of the fiery lake. He pub-appears, from this genealogical deduction, lished a covenant of a temporary effect, that Aaron had connected himself with the which conveyed temporal advantages, which tribe of Judah, by marrying Elisheba, the was clogged with hard and hazardous con- daughter of Aminadab, and sister to Naashop, ditions, which has passed away. We pub- who became soon after the head of the prelish a covenant, “ ordered in all things and rogative tribe, the progenitor of its long sucsure,” whose stability depends not on our cession of princes, and the root, according to fidelity, which possesses a commanding in the flesh, of the promised Messiah. By her fluence on eternity, which proposes everlast- he had four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazer, and ing benefits, which makes provision for hu- Ithamar. . On all which I have only to obman frailty, which outruns our utmost wishes, serve, that as the miseries of Egyptian bondcomposes our justest apprehensions, trans- age deterred not Aaron from entering into cends our highest hopes. The message of that state which Providence has established Aaron issued in the prospect yet distant, of for improving the happiness and mitigating a land flowing with milk and honey, of a the sorrows of human life, so the God in pure air, and a fruitful soil; but infested with whom he trusted, rendered this virtuous union enemies, influenced by, and exposed to, in- productive of a race of high priests to minisclement seasons, and liable to forfeiture. ter unto the Lord, and to support the honours But our preaching, men and brethren, looks of their father's name and office, to the latest beyond time, and the flaming boundaries of ages of the Jewish commonwealth, this great universe: it holds out the distant, With what care has Providence watched but not uncertain, prospect of a celestial over, and preserved entire, the royal and saparadise, stored with every delight that is cerdotal line, till the great purposes of Heaven suited to the nature of a rational and immor- were accomplished, till the descent of the tal being: which is exposed to no hostile in promised seed was ascertained ! From that cursion, to no elementary strife; and whose period genealogy was, as it were, broken into eternal possession is insured by the almighty ten thousand fragments, the connexion and power of God, and the purchase of a Sa- succession of families were blotted out, as a viour's blood.
thing of nought: and a new family was Aaron preached, alas ! to men who could established on different principles, in endless not enter in because of unbelief, and the succession, all claiming and holding of this tongue itself which announced Canaan to
“ first-born among many
brethren." others, was silenced before Jordan divided. As Aaron is represented in the possesAvert, merciful Father, avert the dreadful sion of the most pleasing powers of speech, omen. Let not the preacher, let none of the to soothe the woes of Israel, so we see him hearers of this night, be missing in the day armed with a tongue, sharp as a two-edged when thou bringest home thy redeemed ones sword, to smite and to break the pride of to thy heavenly rest.
Pharaoh and of Egypt; and bearing a potent The events of Aaron's life are so blended rod, endued with power to deliver or to dewith, and dependent upon those of his brother, stroy. And in this the world is taught to rethat they cannot be separated. Many of them spect
, to revere the weakest, meanest, most | 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5, contemptible weapon, which the hand o.
1 Cor. ij. 4.