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and the elder is yet again designed to serve the
His first introduction, however, to our acquaintance, places him in a most interesting, respectable, and honourable point of view. We behold a venerable man, fourscore and upwards, agitated with public cares, and moved with fraternal tenderness and affection, on his way through the wilderness, in quest of his long absent brother. In these our days of speedy conveyance and communication from pole to pole, from the east to the west, by land, by water, through the air, we can form but a slender idea of the anxiety of friends, removed but a few leagues distance from one another, and their consequent ignorance of each other's situation. Proportionally sweet must have been the delight of meeting together, after long separation. Scripture has described this, as it does every thing else, in its own inimitable manner. "Aaron thy brother, behold he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart," Exod. iv. 14. Behold the interview with two brothers, not the result of previous concert, not the effect of human sagacity, not the fortuitous coincidence of blind, blundering, accidental circumstances: but planned and conducted of Heaven, and effected by Him "who worketh all things after the counsel of his will," and for a great and noble purpose.
The occasion of Aaron's first appearance in the sacred drama, is not less memorable. Moses having received the divine commission to proceed to the deliverance of his nation from Egyptian bondage, repeatedly excuses himself from undertaking that honourable employment, paticularly on the footing of his deficiency in the arts of eloquence and persuasion. Did this arise from timidity in Moses? was it a false modesty and humility? or did he indeed labour under a defect of this kind? If the last, can we avoid reflecting on the wonderful equality with which nature
distributes her gifts? In conception who so sublime, in composition who so elegant, in narration who so simple, in a written language who so perspicuous, so forcible, so impressive as Moses? Can it be true, then, what he says of himself, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue," Verse 10. Who is so favoured of nature and Providence as to possess every talent, every blessing? who so hardly dealt with, as to be left destitute of all? The praise of eloquence certainly belongs to Aaron; for it is bestowed by him who is best able to estimate his own gifts. "Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well," Verse 14. But O how different the nature, the importance, the effect, the duration of one talent compared to another! The tongue which overawed Pharaoh, which astonished all Egypt, and charmed the listening ear of Israel, speedily became mute; and of its powerful charm, not a single trace remains behind: while the productions of Moses' pen, exist and shall exist till nature expire, to instruct, delight, and bless mankind.
The various instruments which Heaven employs are ever suited to their seasons, occasions and ends. The interview between the brothers takes place according as infinite wisdom had contrived it; and it behoved, on many accounts, to be a pleasant one. Two wise and good men, so nearly related, so fondly attached to each other, after a separation so tedious, to meet again in health, to confer together on matters of such high moment, to enter under the assured protection of Heaven, upon the noblest and most generous enterprize that can engage great and lofty spirits, the deliverance of their country! What a field for the exercise of private friendship, of natural affection, of public spirit! On Aaron, according to the divine appointment, fell that most grateful of all tasks, to announce to the wretched the period of their misery, "to proclaim liberty to
the captiyes," the truth and faithfulness of God to the desponding and dejected, and the possession of Canaan to the slaves of Pharaoh.
Eloquence has an enchanting power, even over those who have no interest in the subject of it. How potent, then, the enchantment of the heaven-taught eloquence of Aaron the Levite! What grace must have been poured into his lips, when delivering the message of love from the great "I AM," the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to their hapless offspring, assuring them that the time to favour them was now come, that his covenant was sure! With what ravished ears must the elders of Israel have listened to such tidings, flowing from such lips! Happy Aaron, thus accomplished, thus commissioned, thus prospered! Happy people, thus remembered, thus addressed, thus persuaded! But wherefore envy his honour, or their happiness? A greater than Aaron is with us; even He who says of himself, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;" Isai. lxi. 1. We announce to you, that Jesus," in whom all fulness was pleased to dwell," whom admiring multitudes worshipped, saying, "never man spake like this man!" whose all-commanding voice checked the boisterous elements, put demons to flight, and pierced the ear of death.
Christians, we come not to you with the eloquence of an Aaron; but we bare a message infinitely more important than his. Our "speech and preaching is not with enticing words of man's wisdom;" 1 Cor. ii. 4. O that it might be "in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God," 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. He proclaimed freedom from fetters of iron, and the oppression of an earthly tyrant; we proclaim lib
erty from the bondage of sin; from everlasting chains under darkness; from the cruel tyranny of the devil; from the dreadful curse of God's violated law, which arms Satan with his tremendous power, digs the vast recesses of the unfathomable abyss, and feeds the inextinguishable flame of the fiery lake. He published a covenant of a temporary effect, which conveyed temporal advantages, which was clogged with hard and hazardous conditions, which has passed away. We publish a covenant, "ordered in all things and sure," whose stability depends not on our fidelity, which possesses a commanding influence on eternity, which proposes everlasting benefits, which makes provision for human frailty, which outruns our utmost wishes, composes our justest apprehensions, transcends our highest hopes. The message of Aaron issued in the prospect, yet distant, of a land flowing with milk and honey, of a pure air, and a fruitful soil; but infested with eneamies, influenced by, and exposed to inclement seasons, and liable to forfeiture. But our preaching, men and brethren, looks beyond time, and the flaming boundaries of this great universe; it holds out the distant, but not uncertain, prospect of a celestial paradise, stored with every delight that is suited to the nature of a rational and immortal being; which is exposed to no hostile incursion, to no elementary strife; and whose eternal possession is insured by the almighty power of God, and the purchase of a Saviour's blood.
Aaron preached, alas! to men who could not enter in because of unbelief, and the tongue itself which announced Canaan to others, was silenced before Jordan divided. Avert, merciful Father, avert the dreadful Let not the preacher, let none of the hearers of this night, be missing in the day when thou bringest home thy redeemed ones to thy heavenly rest.
The events of Aaron's life are so blended with, and dependent upon those of his brother, that they cannot be separated. Many of them have accordingly
been already adverted to, and shall not therefore now be repeated, our intention being to select those passages of history, which are more personal and peculiar; which more clearly mark a distinct character; and which represent him invested with an office which was to be hereditary in his family, and typical of the unchangeable priesthood of the Son of God.
In the conclusion of the sixth chapter, Moses interrupts the thread of his narration, to deliver the genealogy of the family of Levi; a matter of no little moment in the settlement of that political and religious economy, which God was about to erect, for the better government of his people Israel. From this it appears, that Aaron and himself were in the fourth generation, in a direct line, from Levi, Jacob's third son; being the sons of Amram, the eldest son of Kohath, the second son of Levi. Hence they are in the fifth generation from Jacob, in the sixth from Isaac, and the seventh from Abraham. It farther appears, from this genealogical deduction, that Aaron had connected himself with the tribe of Judah, by marrying Elisheba the daughter of Amminadab, and sister of Naashon, who became soon after the head of the prerogative tribe, the progenitor of its long succession of princes, and the root, according to the flesh, of the promised Messiah. By her he had four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. On all which I have only to observe, that as the miseries of Egyptian bondage deterred not Aaron from entering into that state which Providence has established for improving the happiness and mitigat ing the sorrows of human life, so the God in whom he trusted, rendered this virtuous union productive of a race of high-priests to minister unto the Lord, and to support the honours of their father's name and office, to the latest ages of the Jewish commonwealth.
With what care has Providence watched over, and preserved entire, the royal and sacerdotal line, till the