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nothing but what has a significancy, though, tention to external decorum run through the that significancy we are unable in every in- whole of this divine institution. The eye stance to discover, we find the sacred histo- being one of the great avenues to the soul, rian entering into a minute detail and de- guilt being the parent of shame, and the scription of the sacerdotal robes, in which, dispensations of the divine wisdom and mercy however, it is not our purpose to follow him, being adapted to the condition and character as we would rather suggest ideas than re- of men, as they are, depraved and degraded peat words, aim at instruction rather than by sin, not as man was, pure and perfect from indulge in speculation, and without pretend- the hand of his Creator, the heart and coning to explain every thing, would aim at the science must be addressed through the senses. praise of inculcating useful truth.
The next most observable and significant The vestments for the priests are distin- part of Aaron's dress, was the splendid breastguished by the term holy: “Thou shalt make plate, consisting of twelve several precious the holy garments for Aaron.”—“Thou shalt stones set in gold, inscribed with the names put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint of the twelve tribes in their order: placed him, and sanctify him; that he may minister externally upon the seat of the heart, to unto me in the priest's office."* Now this keep for ever alive, a tender concern about epithet must undoubtedly refer to the na- the whole Israel of God, to remind Aaron ture of that pure and perfect Being in whose and his sons for ever, that they were elevated worship they were employed; to the sacred to this high station, not for their own sakes ness of the character which was invested merely, but to be a public benefit. It aimed with them; and to the spotless purity of at producing a most important effect on three Him, whose person was hereby prefigured, different sorts of persons, and was well caland whose sanctity, independent of garments culated for this purpose. It presented unto of such a texture and quality, consisted in a God, according to his own ordinance, a metotal freedom from moral pollution," who did morial of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." and Jacob, and their seed after them. It The vestments of the Israelitish high priest, taught the high priest to consider the case however splendid, could not but cover much of the people as his own, to regard them with weakness and imperfection. Like the dis- impartial, undivided affection, to be watchpensation which enjoined them, they had fully attentive to their temporal, but especially only “ a shadow of good things to come, and to their spiritual concerns to wrestle and could never make the comers thereunto per- make supplication in their behalf
. It inspired fect." But even in a moral and religious the people with affection and gratitude to the view, surely they were not without their man, whose whole life and labours were de use. They were a constant and affectionate voted to their service, who watched for their admonition from God to the persons who souls, who had renounced an earthly porwore them; saying, “Be ye holy for I am tion among his brethren, and all the gainholy." They were a constant and pathetic ful walks of life, to be subservient to their admonition to the people; saying, “I will be best interests. It formed a most endearing sanctified in all them that draw nigh unto bond of union between them who were admime." They are an everlasting admonition nistered unto, and them who ministered. It to the Christian world, who are all kings formed a most endearing bond of union among and priests unto God, that they are called the tribes themselves. Twelvegems of various and engaged “to holiness in all manner of complexions, set in two different frames, comconversation.” If times, and places, and posed nevertheless but one breastplate; so dress, serve as guards to virtue, if they pre- twelve tribes constituted but one congregaserve decency, and prevent vice, do they not tion, one church, one Israel. The loss of any answer a valuable and important purpose to one must have marred and destroyed the mankind? In perfect conformity to this idea, whole; tended to diminish its lustre, to imthe loftiest and most conspicuous article of pair its strength. It taught them to love as the high priest's dress, was a plate of pure brethren the children of one father, the worgold, affixed with a blue lace to the fore shippers of one God. It ipspired confidence front of the mitre, having engraved upon it in the care and protection of that God. They this remarkable inscription, in order to be saw their representative bearing upon his seen and read of all men: “ Holiness to the heart, into the holy place, their names and Lord." Thereby the wearer became “ as a their condition. They had the consolation city that is set on a hill, which cannot be of reflecting that their memorial would ashid :”and this bright memorial incessantly, cend to heaven, with the sweet perfume of though silently, proclaimed to the eye, to the that incense which he daily burned upon the heart, to the conscience, “ a holy God, a holy golden altar. And the whole looked forward service, a holy minister, a holy people, a to the day, to the office, to the person, to the holy covenant.
work of Him, of whom, and of whose body, We accordingly observe the strictest at the church, Isaiah thus speaks in prophetic
† Mat. v. 14. vision: “But Zion said, The Lord hath for
* Exodus xl. 13.
saken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. were conducted to the door of the tabernacle Can a woman forget her sucking child, that of the congregation, in the presence of a pubshe should not have compassion on the son lic assembly called for the purpose; were of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will stripped of their usual garments, and washed I not forget thee. Behold I have graven with water. He was then arrayed in the sethee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls veral parts of the sacerdotal habit, in their are continually before me:"* and who thus order. The holy vessels of the sanctuary, speaks of himself, " Those that thou gavest and all its sacred utensils, were then, one me I have kept. Holy Father, keep through after another, anointed with the holy oil of thine own name those whom thou hast given consecration ; and, last of all, Aaron himself, me, that they may be one, as thou, Father, the living instrument of divine worship, was art in me, and I in thee; that they also may set apart to his momentous charge, by a cobe one in us : that the world may believe pious sprinkling of the same sacred perfume. that thou hast sent me. And the glory which That the savour of this odorous compound thou gavest me I have given them; that they must have been extremely grateful to the may be one, even as we are one: I in them sense, is evident from the lofty terms in and thou in me, that they may be made per- which David speaks of it, and the subject fect in one, and that the world may know which he illustrates by it—"Behold, how that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, good and how pleasant it is for brethren to as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that dwell together in unity! It is like the prethey also whom thou hast given me, be with cious ointment upon the head, that ran down me where I am; that they may behold my glo- upon the beard, even Aaron's beard that ry which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst went down to the skirts of his garments."* me before the foundation of the world;"! The sons were then invested with their and of whom the apostle thus speaks, “Who proper habits, and a threefold sacrifice was shall lay any thing to the charge of God's performed: a bullock for a sin-offering; a elect? It is God that justifieth : who is he ram for a burnt-offering; and a second, dethat condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, nominated the ram of consecration. Without rather that is risen again, who is even at the going into a minute detail, or pretending to right hand of God, who also maketh interces- explain the specific difference, use, and end sion for us."Ị Hence Christians are united of each, we observe in general, that, by the in still dearer bonds, animated with superior ceremony of the imposition of Aaron's hands confidence, secured by a firmer and more and those of his sons upon the head of the durable covenant. Hence Christian minis- victim, a solemn wish was expressed, that ters are encouraged with greater boldness, their guilt might be transferred and imputed with more ardent importunity, with more as to the victim, and its blood accepted as a ransured hope of success, to draw nigh to the som for their forfeited lives. Here, then, was throne of grace, as for themselves, so for sin- the innocent suffering for the guilty; the subful and wretched creatures of every descrip-stitute, not the criminal himself, bleeding tion.
and dying: so that the very form of their conUnder the gospel dispensation, every hour secration taught the necessity of atonement, is the hour of incense, every believer a mi- and pointed to Him whom “it pleased the nister of the sanctuary, every individual, a Lord to bruise, and to put him to grief; and name engraven upon the heart of the great who was wounded for our transgressions, “ Apostle and High Priest of our profession,” was bruised for our iniquities; the chastiseand recorded in the Lamb's book of life, ment of our peace was upen him; and with among the living in Jerusalem."
his stripes we are healed.”+ The other particulars of Aaron's official The first of the three sacrifices, or the sindress, we shall not now stop to commemo- offering, seems to have been intended as a rate; partly because we have not a distinct public and explicit acknowledgment of guilt, idea of them, and partly because through such and the expiation of it. The second, that is, a thick cloud as time, change of manners, the burnt-offering, was the token of the diand the general disuse of the sacred lan- vine favour towards them, and of his graguage have interposed, it is difficult, if not cious acceptance of their persons and serimpossible, to discover their meaning and vices: and the third, the ram of consecration, import, with reference to the evangelical dis- part of which was eaten by the priests in the pensation; in which great part of the beauty, holy place was the ratification of God's coexcellency, and usefulness of the Mosaic eco- venant of peace with them, and the emblem nomy consists.
of perfect reconciliation and friendship; sitThe ceremonies of Aaron's inauguration, ting at one common table being the most exwere in a high degree solemn and august. press declaration of union and good will They were performed by Moses himself, in among men. God was pleased to exhibit a the most public manner. Aaron and his sons most unequivocal proof of his being well * Isa. xlix. 14–16. † John xvij. 11, 12.21-24.
pleased with the whole transaction ; for when 1 Rom. viii. 33, 34.
| Isaiah liii. 5.
• Psalm cxxxiii. 1, 2.
every thing was arranged according to the Providence, though hated, despised, and perform prescribed in the mount, fire from the secuted of all men, and evidently under the Lord seized and consumed the burnt-offering displeasure of heaven, we behold them preon the altar. The sin-offering Moses burnt served from total annihilation and oblivion; with material fire, without the camp: but kept distinct from all men; as much a sepathe sacred flame from heaven laid hold of the rate people, as in the zenith of their glory, sacrifice of pardon and acceptance. In vain under the reign of David and Solomon; the do we look for the marks of grace and fa- subjects, perhaps, of a revolution greater and vour from above; insensible must we be to more important than any they have already the genial, penetrating flame of love, unless undergone: reserved, it may be, to be the our repentings be kindled together. When last grand trophy of the Redeemer's triumph, we have been enabled to do our duty, then the concluding evidence of the truth of may we warrantably expect that God will Christianity, the final monument of the riches appear for us.
of free, sovereign grace! And need we ask, It does not appear whether this striking who conducted all these movements, whose interposition had been previously announced pleasure was fulfilled by all these events, to the assembly, or whether it took them by whose glory shines in all these successive surprise. In either case, it must have made changes, in all these opening prospects ? A a deep impression on the mind of every be- voice from heaven replies, “I the Lord, wonholder. Were they taught to expect it? derful in counsel, and excellent in working; With what anxiety may we suppose every wise in heart, and mighty in strength. I see eye bent on the altar and the sacrifice, wait- the end from the beginning: my counsel ing the eventful moment which was to evince shall stand.” that God was among them of a truth; but in When this great mystery shall be finished, a way which should inspire reverence as the mighty chain extended, the connexion well as joy. Did it overtake them unawares? and dependence of link upon link discerned, What sudden consternation, what alarming hell shall be confounded, the inhabitants of apprehensions ! The expression was perfect- the world astonished, angels rejoice, and the ly natural in either case; " which, when all praise of God ascend from every tongue. the people saw, they shouted and fell on their The solemn service being over, we may
suppose Aaron and his family retiring with Thus was the first high priest of the He- the complacency of good minds, rejoicing in brew nation inducted into his office. Thus the honour put upon them, in the eyes of all explicitly were laid down the principles, Israel; in the prospect of a dignity higher form, design, and use of the most ancient, than the pomp of kings, which was about to civil, and religious polity in the world. While descend to their latest posterity: and, above the first beginnings of religion and govern- all, in that open declaration of the divine apment, in every other nation under heaven, probation, the celestial fire that consumed the lie buried in darkness, confusion, and contra- fat of their sacrifice. But, alas! what condidiction : aided by light from heaven we can tion of humanity admits of certain, unmixed, trace up to its very source, the origin of a or lasting felicity! That useful, necessary, nation the most singular in the annals of awful element, which signally interposed to mankind; raised out of an ancient pair, and declare the choice of heaven, speedily inter" them as good as dead;” repeatedly threat- poses to punish and to afflict that chosen faened with utter extinction, during the first mily, and to serve as a warning for ever, that ages of their existence; but miraculously "God will be sanctified in all them that draw preserved in the very jaws of destruction: nigh to him.”. formed for conquest, eminence, and empire, The remaining incidents of the high in a desert; raised, after many struggles and priest's life, which we have on record, are revolutions, to a pitch of affluence and gran- but few in number, but they are instructive, deur, unparalleled in history, and declining and interesting, as we hope to make appear, again as fast into contempt and obscurity: if God shall be pleased to indulge us with but, even in contempt and obscurity, sup- another opportunity of this kind. ported, preserved, fenced on every side In reviewing the subject, we observe what In captivity, andissolved; in the wreck of it is that constitutes the perfect character of empire maintained, upheld, rescued, re a priest of the most high God; Holiness to stored! At length, we behold them in the Lord on the forehead; yppermost, overvolved in one mighty ruin, driven from their looking all, directing all; and Israel resting capital and their country: their temple, upon the heart. the great bond of union, razed from the The ministers of religion are, by their offoundation: and themselves henceforward fice and station, perpetually admonished to scattered among the nations, during a period shun every appearance of what is mean, selfof near two thousand years. And yet, by a ish, or ungenerous. They are appointed of strange and unaccountable interference of God to aid, instruct, and comfort their fellow
creatures; to promote their best interests; to
* Levit. ix. 24.
cherish in them the best and noblest princi-| the ignorant, and on them that are out of the 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 plereceived 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 carelessness and sloth. priest unto the most high Go:l, 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 confikle me, and I shall be whiter than snow:"dence look up to Heaven, and rejoice in hope "Not my feet only, but also my hands and my of divine assistance. Would
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. i. 5, 6.
† Heb. vii. 11.
Heb. v. 1, 2
Heb. ix. 11-14.
HISTORY OF A ARON.
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 enier into the land which I have given unio 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 unio 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 luis 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.--NUMDERS XX. 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 length 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, uffice, 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 estimate of death, then, must depend
1 2 Tim. iv. 8.
* 2 Cor. v. I.