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HISTORY OF AARON,
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in Mount
Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying, -taron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not en. ter 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 Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto Mount Hor: and strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar 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 Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar 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 intercourse with God, his Creator, Preserver, and Judge? And yet on no subject have men fallen into wilder and more dangerous mistakes. A mad and bold enthu. siasm has, at one time, elated rash and presumptuous spirits to the level of Deity; and the grossest terms of human familiarity have been employed, in addressing that infinitely holy and glorious Being, in whose pre
sence angels veil their faces. A timid and grovelling superstition, on the contrary, has barred to others, all access to God; and an affected, over-refined devotion has subverted the interests of true piety. The love of this world has encroached upon, and extinguished the spirit of religion; and a misguided, ill-informed religion has attempted to detach some men from the duties and employments of life.
Men, ever in extremes, have either banished God entirely from their thoughts, or affected a higher degree of reverence for his service, by an avowed neglect of some of the more obvious and more important dictates of his will. Could they but be persuaded to take the holy scriptures for the rule of their couduct in all things, many of these practical errors might be prevented. They would thence be instructed to draw nigh to a holy and righteous God with reverence and confidence, as children to a father; and to rejoice before a merciful and compassionate Saviour with fear and trembling. While the eye of a guilty conscience beheld“ cherubims and a faming sword turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life,” the eye of faith would discern "a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh," Heb. x. 20.
The whole of divine revelation, and indeed it is the chief end of revelation, represents the great Jehovah as accessible to the guilty and the miserable; but accessible only in a method, and by means, of his appointment. To the vilest, meanest, most wretched of mankind there is hope towards God, through Christ Jesus the Lord: but to the purest and most perfect of our fallen race," there is not salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts iv. 12. All the stores of divine grace are laid open, all the energy of divine eloquence is employed, to assure and encourage the humble.
the humble. “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodnes and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, for. giving iniquity and transgression and sin,” Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7; while one denunciation of justice serves to check and repel the impenitent and the proud, “but who will by no means clear the guilty.”
The institution of the priesthood under the law, was an explicit and a standing declaration to the same purpose. It consisted of a succession of men, and of a service, ordained of God to be a perpetual memorial to mankind of their apostacy and guilt, and of the means of pardon and reconciliation; of their being by nature and wicked works afar off, but made nigh by the blood of atonement.
Aaron, the first who was called to execute this high office, had already attained his eighty-fourth year, and of course had become venerable in the eyes of men by reason of age. He possessed an insinuating and commanding address; he had acquired a high degree of estimation, from the honourable share that belonged to him, in effecting the deliverance from Egypt; and he was only brother to the illustrious and renowned legislator of Israel. But his noblest and most honourable distinction was his appointment and call from Heaven, to the discharge of the duties of this exalted station. The pen of inspiration, however, always faithful and true, represents him as a man liable to many infirmi. ties. At the waters of Strife he was betrayed into anger, self-conceit and presumption; in the matter of the golden calf, we find him chargeable with timidity and sinful compliance: he stands convicted of unkindness and ingratitude to the best and most affectionate of brothers; of the most daring irreverence and impiety towards God, and of dissimulation bordering on falsehood. And even after his consecration to the priesthood, with shame and sorrow we behold him wickedly giving into the mean and contemptible passions of envy and jealousy; and, to heighten this base offence, the unoffending, unprovoking object of these passions, was his own nearest relation, and the man to whom he was indebted for all that eminence to which he was himself raised, and which he transmitted to his family. But with all these imperfections on his head, and inany others, doubtless, of which it was not the business of this record to convey the memory to us, he was the man whom God was pleased to choose, to minister in the first rank at his altar, and to tipify the High-Priest who became us, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners."
As in every thing that related to the construction of the tabernacle and its sacred furniture, Moses was confined to a pattern shown, and to directions given him in the mount, so also in all things that related to the dress, the services and the attendance of the highpriest and his assistants. And you will please to observe that Moses himself, having been called and consecrated in an extraordinary manner, was constituted the temporary high-priest, to officiate in the consecration of Aaron and his sons. They saw therefore the person of a mediator interposing between themselves and God. They saw an extraordinary priesthood, conjoined to legislative authority, residing in their brother, the man whom God chose, and from whom their honour immediately flowed; they saw an image of the station they were henceforth to occupy, and the purposes which they were to fulfil towards the whole nation. Moses was between God and them, they were to be between God and the people. He offered sacri. fice to make atonement for them, they were to offer sacrifice to make reconciliation for the sins of all Israel, And in this we see a priesthood more ancient and more honourable than that of Aaron, from which it derives its existence, dignity and use, and in which it is now absorbed.
As nothing is unimportant on this subject, nothing but what has a significancy, though that significancy
we are unable in every instance to discover, we find the sacred historian entering into a minute detail and description of the sacerdotal robes in which, however, it is not our purpose to follow him, as we would rather suggest ideas than repeat words, aim at instruction rather than indulge in speculation, and without pretend. ing to explain every thing, would aim at the praise of inculcating useful truth.
The vestments for the priests are distinguished by the term holy: “ Thou shalt make the holy garments for Aaron.' “ Thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office,” Exod. xl. 13. Now this epithet must undoubtedly refer to the nature of that pure and perfect Being in whose worship they were employed; to the sacredness of the character which was invested with them; and to the spotless purity of Him, whose person was hereby prefigured, and whose scanctity, independent of garments of such a texture and quality, consisted in a total freedom from moral pollution, “ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” The vestments of the Israelitish high-priest, however splendid, could not but cover much
weakness and imperfection. Like the dispensation which enjoined them, they had only “a shadow of good things to come, and could never make the comers thereunto perfect.” But even in a moral and religious view, surely they were not without their use. They were a constant and affectionate admonition from God to the persons who wore them; saying, “Be ye holy, for I am holy." They were a constant and pathetic admonition to the people; saying, “ I will be sanctified in all them that draw nigh unto me.” They are an everlasting admonition to the christian world, who are all kings and priests unto God, that they are called and engaged "10 holiness in all manner of conversation.” If times and places, and dress, serve as guards to virtue, if they preserve