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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, “ (), 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 whoin all | Exodus iv. 10.
Isai. Ixi. 1.
* Exodus iv. 14.
• 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 pements, put demons to flight, and pierced the culiar; which more clearly mark a distinct eat 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 earthly 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
il; 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 Naashon, 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 ob man 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 dreadfulsion 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 of
1 Cor. ii. 4.
Jehovah vouchsafes to use Its virtue lies the case very superficially. The priesthood, not in itself, but in the arm that wields it. though of high dignity, possessed very slenThrough the whole of the astonishing trans- der emoluments, and still less authority. It actions which follow, we find an exact order subjected the possessor of it to much painful and method observed. Aaron uses not the attendance, to much laborious and much unrod at his own discretion, neither does God pleasant service, considered as a mere secucommunicate his pleasure immediately to lar employment. It was a post, if of distinhim ; but the Lord gives the word to Moses, guished honour, so of high responsibility. who delivers it to Aaron, who follows the in- But supposing it were as lucrative and hostructions given him. And thus, by an ex- nourable as it is alleged, why did not Moses ample of the highest authority, we are in- assume it to himself? Why did he pass by structed, in obedience to an injunction given his own sons? Why not secure the reverlong after under another dispensation, that sion, at least, for his own children and their all things be done decently and in order.” heirs ? When a man has immediate descen
The next memorable event of Aaron's life, dants of his own body, he is seldom solicitous after assisting in the plagues of Egypt and about the aggrandisement of more distant rethe consequent deliverance of Israel, is his lations, especially to the prejudice of his own contributing to the defeat of Amalek, by aid children. The conduct of Moses, therefore, ing Hur in supporting the weary hands of in the disposal of this high office, on the supMoses his brother upon the mount. To the position that he had a choice in the matter, observations already made on this part of the is the reverse of selfish; it is generous and history, I have only to repeat and to urge disinterested to the last degree. The dignity upon your minds the reflection of the Psalm- of magistracy is, in his own life-time comist, “ Behold how good a thing it is,” in every municated with Joshua ; and, at his death, is point of view, “and how pleasant, for bre-wholly transferred to him. The office of high thren to dwell together in unity !** By con- priest is conferred upon Aaron, and made cord the weakest powers grow and stand : perpetual to his branch of the family; while through disunion the strongest are dissolved the sons and descendants of Moses sink into and fall.
the rank of private citizens, without the stiAaron and his two eldest sons, with seventy pulation of so much as a foot of land, extraorof the elders of Israel, by divine appointment, dinary, in Canaan, in consideration of their accompanied Moses to the lower region of father's eminent services. Does this look mount Sinai, when he went up to meet God, like avarice and ambition? But the truth is, in order to receive the civil and religious con- Moses had no choice at all in the case, and stitution of the state : and with them, as the presumed to exercise none. God had de federal heads and representatives of the na-clared his will, and that was sufficient to tion, the political union and covenant were him, and will be so to every good man. ratified and confirmed. And this brings us If we attend to some lines in the characforward to the eventful period of Aaron's ter, and some steps in the conduct of Aaron, history, his solemn destination to the office we shall find more just reason of surprise at of priesthood, his preparation for it, and his his appointment to this sacred office. We investiture in it.
behold him, at the very era of his appointThe appointment was of Heaven; forno ment, an abettor of idolatry, and even after man taketh this honour unto himself, but he his instalment in it, we find him meanly and that is called of God, as was Aaron :"t and wickedly envying the distinction which was even a king, in later times, who presumed to put upon his meek and gentle brother, and, thrust himself into the priest's office, paid the with his sister Miriam, heading a revolt price of his rashness, by a leprosy which from his just authority. But, alas ? were percleaved to him till the day of his death. fect men only to minister before God, the “ Take thou,” says the great Source of all altar must soon be deserted. Were not sinhonour and authority, “ take thou unto thee ful men to be addressed by sinful men, the Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, world must speedily be destitute of preachfrom among the children of Israel, that he ers. “But we have this treasure in earthen may minister unto me in the priest's office, vessels, that the excellency of the power even Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazer and may be of God, and not of us."*. The design Ithamar, Aaron's sons."! It has been object- of Providence, from the beginning, seems to ed to Moses, as a proof of a selfish and worldly have been, to convince the world, that in spirit, that he employed his authority, to per- every hand his work must prosper ; that if petuate a station of the first dignity and emo- he interpose, all instruments, the most insument, in his own tribe and family, by the adequate, must prove powerful, and shall appointment of Aaron to the priesthood, and succeed. by the entail of it upon his posterity for ever. A few remarks on the particulars of But surely the objectors must have studied Aaron's sacred dress, the services in which * Psalm cxxxiii. 1. Heb. v. 4.
he was employed, his solemn consecration to 1 2 Chron. Xxvi. 16–21. $ Exod. xxviii. 1.
* 2 Cor. iv. 7.
the performance of them, and the subsequent and soundness of youth, under the pressure events of his life up to the age of one hun- of years, a portion of the reflection, steadiness, dred and twenty-two, together with a cur- and composure of age, must be called in, to sory view of his typical importance, as the temper and direct the pursuits and enjoyfigure of the great High Priest of our pro- ments of early life. fession, shall, with divine permission, furnish It is natural to be dazzled with the display the subject of the next Lecture. We con- of shining talents, and to envy the possessor clude the present with earnestly exhorting of them. But these also, are the portion of you,
only a favoured few. The eloquence of an To be instructed by the history of Aaron Aaron is, perhaps, more rarely to be found, to begin to live betimes: if not to public than a man of a hundred and twenty-two observation, utility, and importance, at least years old. Covet, then, and cultivate the to the purposes of piety, and to the duties virtues which are attainable by all, and are and virtues of the private man and of the in themselves infinitely more valuable than citizen. He lived long in obscurity, before the gifts which are bestowed more sparingly
, he arose into distinction, and was nurtured which do not always prove a blessing to their in the school of affliction, for station and owner, and are not always accompanied eminence. And it is generally found that with true goodness, which alone is in the those persons fill high and difficult situations sight of God of great price. Has an indulmost respectably, who arrive them through gent Providence, however, distinguished you painful study, many obstacles, and much op- by those rarer accomplishments, which lead position. It was late, very late in life with to fame, to honour, to usefulness? See that him, before he began to appear on the great you bury them not, pervert them not, abuse theatre: let none be thereby deluded into them not. Ability, unsupported by worth, the vain, deceitful hope of living long. The by moral excellence, only renders a man instances of a longevitý so vigorous, and so more odious and contemptible, as well as extended, and so distinguished, are too rare more dangerous, more mischievous, and crito encourage any one to trifle with the sea- minal. He is responsible both to God and son of improvement, to neglect the present man, for the use or abuse of his superior hour, to presume on a distant uncertain futu- powers; and to be conspicuously criminal rity.' old age, should you be one of the few and wretched, is a dreadful aggravation of who attain it, never can be supported with guilt and misery. “Covet earnestly the dignity, nor enjoyed in comfort, if youth be best gifts:" and yet it were easy to show wasted in dissipation, or permitted to rust in unto you “a more excellent way." If you ignorance. In order to possess the vivacity know it, happy are you if you pursue it.
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 ihem 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. 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 XX. 23-29.
What subject so interesting to man as his ployed, in addressing that infinitely holy and intercourse with God, his Creator, Preserver, glorious Being, in whose presence angels and Judge? And yet on no subject have veil their faces. A timid and grovelling men fallen into wilder and more dangerous superstition, on the contrary, has barred to mistakes. A mad and bold enthusiasm has others all access to God; and an affected, at one time elevated rash and presumptuous over-refined devotion has subverted the inspirits to the level of Deity; and the grossest terests of true piety. The love of this world terms of human familiarity have been em- has encroached upon, and extinguished the
spirit of religion; and a misguided, ill-in- | brother to the illustrious and renowned legisformed religion has attempted to detach some lator of Israel. But his noblest and most men from the duties and employments of life. honourable distinction was his appointment
Men, ever in extremes, have cither banish- and call from Heaven, to the discharge of ed God entirely from their thoughts, or the duties of this exalted station. The pen affected a higher degree of reverence for his of inspiration, however, always faithful and service, by an avowed neglect of some of the true, represents him as a man liable to many more obvious and more important dictates of infirmities. At the waters of Strife he was his will. Could they but be persuaded to betrayed into anger, self-conceit, and pretake the holy scriptures for the rule of their sumption; in the matter of the golden calf
, conduct in all things, many of these practical we find him chargeable with timidity and errors might be prevented. They would sinful compliance: he stands convicted of thence be instructed to draw nigh to a holy unkindness and ingratitude to the best and and righteous God with reverence and conti- most affectionate of brothers; of the most dence, as children to a father; and to rejoice daring irreverence and impiety towards God, before a merciful and compassionate Saviour and of dissimulation bordering on falsehood. with fear and trembling. While the eye of And even after his consecration to the priesta guilty conscience beheld “cherubims and hood, with shame and sorrow we behold him a flaming sword turning every way, to keep wickedly giving in to the mean and con
the tree of life," the eye of fait temptible passions of envy and jealousy; and, would discern“ a new and living way which to heighten this base offence, the unoflendhe hath consecrated for us, through the veil, ing, unprovoking object of these passions, that is to say, his flesh."
was his own nearest relation, and the man to The whole of divine revelation, and indeed whom he was indebted for all that eminence it is the chief end of revelation, represents to which he was himself raised, and which the great Jehovah as accessible to the guilty he transmitted to his family. But with all and the miserable; but accessible only in a these imperfections on his head, and many method, and by means of his own appoint- others, doubtless, of which it was not the ment. To the vilest, meanest, most wretch- business of this record to convey the memory ed of mankind there is hope towards God, to us, he was the man whom God was pleased through Christ Jesus the Lord ; but to the to choose, to minister in the first rank at his purest and most perfect of our fallen race, altar, and to typify the High Priest who be"there is not salvation in any other; for came us, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, there is none other name under heaven, given and separate from sinners.” among men, whereby we must be saved.”+ As in every thing that related to the conAll the stores of divine grace are laid open, struction of the talernacle and its sacred all the energy of divine eloquence is em- furniture, Moses was confined to a pattern ployed, to assure and encourage the humble. shown, and to directions given him in the * The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gra- mount, so also in all things that related to the cious, long-suffering, and abundant in good- dress, the services, and the attendance of ness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, the high priest and his assistants. And you forgiving iniquity, and transgression and will please to observe that Moses himself, sin,"1 while one denunciation of justice having been called and consecrated in an serves to check and repel the impenitent and extraordinary manner, was constituted the the proud, " but who will by no means clear temporary high priest, to officiate in the conthe guilty."
secration of Aaron and his sons. They saw, The institution of the priesthood under the therefore, the person of a mediator interlaw, was an explicit and a standing declara- posing between themselves and God. They tion to the same purpose. It consisted of a saw an extraordinary priesthood, conjoined succession of men, and of a service, ordained to legislative authority, residing in their broof God to be a perpetual memorial to man- ther, the man whom God chose, and from whom kind of their apostacy and guilt, and of the their honour immediately flowed; they saw means of pardon and reconciliation: of their an image of the station they were henceforth being by nature and wicked works afar off, to occupy, and the purposes which they were but made nigh by the blood of atonement. to fulfil towards the whole nation. Moses
Aaron, the first who was called to execute was between God and them, they were to this high office, had already attained his be between God and the people. He offered eighty-fourth year, and of course had become sacrifice to make atonement for them, they venerable in the eyes of men by reason of were to offer sacrifice to make reconciliaage. He possessed an insinuating and com- tion for the sins of all Israel. And in this we manding address; he had acquired a high see a priesthood more ancient and more hodegree of estimation, from the honourable nourable than that of Aaron, from which it share that belonged to him, in effecting the derives its existence, dignity, and use, and deliverance from Egypt: and he was only in which it is now absorbed.
* Heb. X. 20. | Acts iv. 12. | Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. As nothing is unimportant on this subject,