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made a deep impression on the mind of every beholder. Were they taught to expect it? With what anxiety may we suppose every eye bent on the altar and the sacrifice, waiting the eventful moment which was to evince that God was among them of a truth; but in a way which should inspire reverence as well as joy, Did it overtake them unawares? What sudden consternation, what alarming apprehensions! The expression was perfectly natural in either case; "which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces," Levit. ix. 24.
Thus was the first high-priest of the Hebrew nation inducted into his office. Thus explicitly were laid down the principles, form, design and use of the most ancient civil and religious polity in the world. While the first beginnings of religion and government, in every other nation under heaven, lie buried in darkness, confusion and contradiction; aided by light from heaven, we can trace up to its very source, the origin of a nation the most singular in the annals of mankind; raised out of an ancient pair, and “them as good as dead;” repeatedly threatened with utter extinction during the first ages of their existence; but miraculously preserved in the very jaws of destruction: formed for conquest, eminence and empire, in a desert; raised, after many struggles and revolutions, to a pitch of affluence and grandeur, unparalleled in history, and declining again as fast into contempt and obscurity: but, even in contempt and obscurity, supported, preserved, fenced on every side-In captivity, undissolved; in the wreck of empire maintained, upheld, rescued, restored! At length, we behold them involved in one mighty ruin, driven from their capital and their country: their temple, the great bond of union, razed from the foundation: and themselves henceforward scattered among the nations, during a period of near two thousand years. And yet, by a strange and un. accountable interference of Providence, though hated, despised and persecuted of all men, and evidently under the displeasure of Heaven, we behold them preseryed from total annihilation and oblivion; kept distinct from all men; as much a separate people, as in the zenith of their glory, under the reign of David and So. lomon; the subjects, perhaps, of a revolution greater and more important than any they have already undergone: reserved, it may be, to be the last grand trophy of the Redeemer's triumph, the concluding evidence of the truth of christianity, the final monument of the riches of free sovereign grace! And need we ask, who conducted all these movements, whose pleasure was fulfilled by all these events, whose glory shines in all these successive changes, in all these opening prospects? A voice from heaven replies, “ I the Lord, wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working; wise in heart, and mighty in strength. I see the end from the beginning; my counsel shall stand.”
- When this grcat mystery shall be finished, the mighty chain extended, the connection and dependence of link upon link discerned, hell shall be confounded, the inhabitants of the world astonished, angels rejoice, and the praise of God ascend from every tongue.
The solemn service being over, we may suppose Aaron and his family retiring with the complacency of good minds, rejoicing in the honour put upon them, in the eyes of all Israel; in the prospect of a dignity higher than the pomp of kings, which was about to descend to their latest posterity; and, above all, in that open declaration of the divine approbation, the celestial fire that consumed the fat of their sacrifice. But, alas! what condition of humanity admits of certain, unmixed, or lasting felicity? That useful, necessary, awful element, which signally interposed to declare the choice of Heaven, speedily interposes to punish and to afflict that chosen family, and to serve as a
warning, for ever, that “God will be sanctified in all them that draw nigh to him."
The remaining incidents of the high-priest's life, which we have on record, are but few in number, but they are instructive, and interesting, as we hope to make appear, if God shall be pleased to indulge us with another opportunity of this kind.
In reviewing the subject, we observe what it is that constitutes the perfect character of a priest of the most high God; Holiness to the Lord on the forehead; up, permost, overlooking all, directing all; and Israel resting upon the heart.
The ministers of religion are, by their office and station, perpetually admonished to shun every appearance of what is mean, selfish or ungenerous. They are appointed of God to aid, instruct and comfort their fellow-creatures; to promote their best interests; to cherish in them the best and noblest principles of their nature; and they are urged to perform this, by the highest considerations which the human mind can feel. Whatever be the dispensation, the spirit of the office and the nature of the service are the same. They stand as mediators between God and men. They bear on their hearts the names, the infirmities, the wants, the distresses, the sorrows, the joys of the people; and carry them with sympathy and affection to the throne of grace: and they return from thence bringing on their lips the “ answer of peace.” They lose themselves in labours of love; they sink every unworthy aim, every low pursuit, in seeking the glory of God, and the prosperity of the Israel of God. The minister who understands, feels and performs his duty, is one of the most exalted of beings.
Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the service of God, and of the congregation, by the sprinkling of blood applied to the ear, the hand, the foot. Thus their whole faculties were claimed by their great Author, and were thus devoted to him: ad the symbol
of atonement became the seal of their dedication. And thus every christian becomes a priest unto the most high God, redeemed by blood, set apart by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. “Wash me, Lord, and I shall be clean, sprinkle me, and I shall be whiter than snow:” “Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” “Un. to him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Rev. i. 5, 6.
Every high-priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity,” Heb. v. 1, 2; but “if perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law) what further need was there, that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” Heb. vi. 11- But Christ being come an high-priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood; he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Heb. ix. 11-14.
The fire once kindled supernaturally by the celestial fame, was to be kept alive by human care and attention, Miraculous interpositions of Providence are not to be expected, as an indulgence to carelessness and sloth. He only who diligently exercises the powers.
which God has given him, who employs the means which Providence has furnished, and which conscience approves, can with confidence look up to Heaven, and rejoice in hope of divine assistance. "Would you that the sacred Aame of devotion, of charity, should live in your heart, should glow upon your tongue, resort daily to the altar of God, and preserve its activity by "a live coal” from thence. Then your face shall shine, then your lips shall overflow with the law of kindness, then your hand shall open to the sons of want, then you shall “rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.”