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Levit. VIII. 1 — 3. And the Lord spake unio MoseSy sayinffy Take Aaron and his sons with him^ and the gar^ mentSy and the anointing oil, and a buUock for the sin-offerinffy and two ramsy and a hasket of unleavened hread ; and gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tahemacle of the congregation. In all the precedÍDg sermons on the offerings which the children of Israel were required to offer, we have seen an order of men bearing a very important part in the service. These were the priests of the Lord, who officiated in the tabemacle, and ministered in holy things between the Lord and his worshippers. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the book of Exodos^ Aaron and his sons were expressly
112 CO SECRATIO OF designated for this sacred office, and particular directions were then given respecting the ceremonies with which they should be consecrated to it, and the robes which they should wear. The priesthood was to remain in that family through all succeeding generations, and no one, who was not of the descendants of Aaron^ might on any account intrude into it. Aaron himself was the first high priest. He was succeeded by Eleazar, his eldest surviving son, after the death of adab and Abihu, and it continued in his family through seven generations tiU the time of Eli. On his death it was removed from that branch for the wickedness of Eli's sons, and given to the descendants of Ithamar, Aaron's other son. In the time of Solomon it retumed again into the line of Eleazar, in which it
continued tiU the Babylonish captivity. — Jeshua, the first high priest after the return of the Jews, was of the same family, but after his time the appointment was very uncertain and irregular, and after Judsea became a Roman province, no regard whatever was paid to the original appointment of
AARO A D HIS SO S. 113 the Lord. The office was often sold to tlie highest hidder, persous obtaiiied it who were not even of the family of Aaron at all, and it was frequently held for no longer a time thau for a single year. The nation was then fast filling up the measure of its iniquities 3 its whole civil and ecclesiastical polity was goÍDg to decay; and the entire state was full of disorder, confusion^ and every evil work. In the present sermon I propose to consider the consecration of Aaron and his sons to their respective offices. The congregation was publicly gathered together, that the people might be witnesses of the solemu ceremony, and thereby learn the reverence which was due to those whom God had appoÍQted to minister to them in holy things. I. The first ceremony was that of ablution. "Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water." This certainly was to intimate that the greatest purity in morals and character is required of those who are appointed to be priests. Having their bodies washed ^ith pure water in this their
114 CO SECRATIO OF public and outward setting apart to their sacred office, doubtless denoted tbat thej sbould be clear from all moral defilements,
" sober, just, holy; temperate,** ** of good behaviour," and ^^ blameless," as St. Paul teaches that Christían bishops mnst be, in his epistles to Timothy and Titus. othing can be more unbecoming in itself, and nothing has so dreadfullj injurious an effect upon religion, as any immoralities on the part of those who should be not only spiritnal partors and teachers, but patterns also of all good and holy living. Au immoral priest^ let him belong to what church he may, is a disgrace to his profession, and well would it be for himself, well for the whole body of his clerical bretbren, well for the particular congregation in which he officiates, well for the Christian community to which he belongs, well for the nation in which he lives^ if such a one were not suffered by the rulers of the church, or countenanced by the people. The clergyman should ever be " an example to the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity ;" he, above all men, should " shew
AARO A D HI8 SO S. 115 hiniself a pattem of good works f' his character should be so holy and exemplary that hc may ever " have a good report of them which are withont :" that the enemies of the traths which he preaches^ or the office which he bears, may have no evil thing to say of him^ and all ^^ may be ashamed who falsely accnse his good conversation in Christ/' Oh ! that the ministers of the church of Christ were one and all what Chríst designed that his church itself might be when he gave himself foT it, ^^ that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washiug of water with the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious chmch, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy smd without blemish." II. The second ceremony was that of axraying Aaron and his sons in their ap-
pointed garments, made according to express directions given in the twenty-eighth and other chapters of the book of Exodus. The robes of the high priest were principally conspicuous, and were in order as follows, as they are enumerated in the seventh verse.
116 CO SECRATIO OF 1 . The coaí and its girdle. Tbis was the imdermost gaiment wom bj the high priest. The partieiilar form of it is not described, but it is supposed to hare had sleeves, reaching down to the wrísts. It was made of fine linen. venr cnriooslv embroidered. and fastened to the bodv by a girdle made of fiue twined linen, with needle work of blue, and purple, and scarlet. 2. ext above this was the robe of the Ephod. This was entirely of blue. It had an opening at the top, through which the high príest passed his head, made secure b j a binding of woven work that it might not be rent iu putting on. On the bottom hem, which is supposed to have reached to the ankles, were altemately a golden bell and an artíficial pomegranate made of blue, purple, and scarlet. The bells were placed here that their sound might give notice when the high priest went into the holy place before the Lord, and when he came out. 3. We come next to a more particular part of the high príest's dress. This was the Ephod, or outer garment. It was a short
AARO A D HIS SO S. 117 coat without sleeves, of very rich workmanshíp made of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, embroidered with curious work and much gold. It was kept on bj
means of two shoulder straps attached to it, and by a girdle made of the same materials, and embroidered after the same manner. On each shoulder-pi^ce of the Ephod was placed an onjx stone set in an ouch of gold, and on these stones were engraven the names of the iwélve children of Israel, six on one stone, and six on the other. The reason of this is thns assigned^ " And Aaron shall bear their uames before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial," to remind himself that he was officiating on behalf of the people, and to remind the Lord of the gracious promises which he had been pleased to make to them. 4. To the Ephod was attached the most curious and the most important part of the tógh priest's dress. This was what is called the breast-plate of judgment. It was a square piece of linen double, embroidered with the same richness and after the same manner as
118 CO SECRATIO OF the Ephod. There were set in it twelve precious stones, four rows of three each, every stone having engraven on it the name of one of the twelve children of Jacob. These were placed there for the same purpose as those on the onyx stones on the shoulders^ as we read in the twenty-ninth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter of Exodus. The breast-plate was the breast-plate of judgment, because by means of it the high priest received tlie judgment of God on any matters conceming which he consulted the Lord. It was kept on the breast by two wreathen chains of pure gold, passing from two rings of gold on its upper part to the ouches of gold in which the ouyx stones were set on the top of each shoulder, and by a lace of blue passiug throagh two other rings of gold on its lower comers^ and through two similar rings placed on the Ephod. In the breast-plate were put what are
called the Urim and Thununin. What these were, pf what materials^ or of what form, we have no information. The meaning of the words is Lights and Perfections. The use of them however, so long as they were in use,
AARO A D HIS SO S. 119 is clear. They were the means by which the high priest enquired of the Lord in all matters in which it was necessarj to have recourse to him for instruction and direction. In some way or other God gave him power to make a perfect declaration of his will, whenever he was thus duly consulted ou any important matters that concemed the puhlic welfare or duty. There is little said of this mode of enquiring of the Lord after the building of Solomon's temple^ and it is clear írom the books of Ezra and ehemiah^ that the Urim and Thummim were at that time k)st. But while they were possessed they fonned a wonderlul priyilege enjoyed by the nation^ and on more occasions than one were the means by which they obtained directíons what they should do in some critical emergency. * 5. The last thing which we have to notice in the dress of the high priest was his mitre. This was made of fine linen^ roUed up something in the manner of a turban, and wom upon his head. A plate of pure gold was tied upon it by a blue lace^ on which was
120 CO SECRATIO OF engraved in conspicuous letters the sentence, " Holiness to the Lord," and placed exactly upon his forehead. The use of it is thus given, " And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel
shall hallow in all their holy gifts, and it shall be always upon his forehead that they may be accepted before the Lord." Such were the garments of Aaron, when he was consecrated the high priest of the children of Tsrael. These he was always to wear whenever he officiated pubUcly in his high and holy bffice. The dresses of his sons, the ordinary priests, were coats and girdles similar to those of their father. Their ephod were only of plain white linen. They had no robe of the ephod, nor breast-plate, and instead of the mitre with its golden plate, they had bonnets on their heads, of which the foifc and material are not mentioned. III. The third ceremony in the consecration of Aaron and his sons was the anointing them with holy oil. This was made of the most precious spices according to express
AARO A O HIS SO S. 121 directÍQDs, and was to be used for these and no other purposes whatever. one was to be made like it, for being applied to so sacred and solemn a ceremony it was to be considered as most hoty unto the Lord. With this Moses '^ anointed the tabemacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times^ and anointed the altar^ and all his vessels^ both the laver and his foot^ to sanctify them. And he poured of the anóinting oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him to sanctify him." We remember how the Psalmist compares the love and unitj of brethren to this anointing. '^ It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard^ that went down to the skirts of his garments." We remember how it is applied in another psalm to our own great and glorious High Priest, and quoted in reference to him
by the Apostle, " Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness, above thy fellows." VOL. m. G
122 CO SECRATIO OF IV. The fourth and last part of the cereluony of the consecration of Aaron and his sons consists o£ the sacrifices which were offered upon that occasion. The first of these was a hullock for a sin-offering. For Aaron and his sons were but poor sinful creatures^ and thev had need to offer a sacrifice for their own sins, before they could be qualified to offer for the sins of the people. A sin-offeritig was therefore brought, which Moses himself» officiating on this special occasion^ kiUed on their behalf, and sacrificed with all the particular ceremonies respecting tbe blood^ and the fat^ and the buming of the body without the camp, which were prescribed for a sin-offering. Then was brought a ram for a bumt-offering. This you remember was in all cases a voluntary oblation. In the present instance it denoted the deep sense which the offerers had of the magnitude and importance of the work to which they were set apart, and well might their minds be under a more than ordínary solemnity. It expressed also their willing dedication of themselves to the service of the Lord in this
AARO A D HIS SO S. 123 offiee. Tbis animal therefore was also offered with the proper ceremonies of the bumtoffering, and was consequently consumed whole upon the altar. ext was brought another ram, which is peculiarly called the ram of consecration, and along with it a
basket of unleayened bread : these were brought as their peace-offering, and offered with the ceremonies appointed for that sacrifice, yet with the addition of one circumstance peculiar to the present occasion. We read in the twenty-third verse, " Moses took the blood of it, and put it upon the típ of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot," and in the following verse we find that he did the same to Aaron's sons. This would intimate to them that the whole of their facuíties and powers were hencefórth to be devoted to the Lord and his service. It would teach them that the work of the ministry required all their attention and activity, and would induce them to " present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which was tbeir reasonable G2
124 CO SECRATIO OF service." It was moreover ordered that the time of their being consecrated should continue for seven dajs, and that so long they should remain day and night in the tabernacle. " Ye shall not go put of the door of the tabemacle in seven dajs, until the days of your consecration be at an end : for seven days shall he consecrate you." " Ye shall abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days^ and keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not." Thus, with as much brevity as I was able, I have gone through the ceremony of the consecration of the first Jewish high priest and his sons. I now invite you to the consideration of some reflections which may be made on it. 1 . We see that in that dispensation of re-
ligion, which God was pleased to give to the Jews, there was a distinct order of men selected by him and solemnly consecrated for administering all its rites. When the divine Saviour came to put an end to that dispensation^ and to bring in a better covenant^ he also
AARO A D HIS SO S. 125 selected and left befaind him a body of men who were to minister his gospel, and were ordained to execute all the sacred ítinctions of the clerical office. The priesthood was no longer confined to one family, but they who had been originally chosen by himself were to commit the same to faithful men by the simple ceremony of the laying on of hands, with prayer for the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost. And thus the ministeríal office has descended through the successive ages of the Chrístian church. They have no sacrífices of buUs or rams or goats or fine fiour to offer, but the spirítual sacrifices of prayer and praise. Their first and special duty is to preach the gospel : for that a dispensation is committed to them. They are to preach Chríst crucified. Their designations are ministers of the «Word, ambassadors for God, To them also belongs the administration of the sacraments aud the ordinances of religion ; and most of their duties wiU be found distínctly defined in the epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus. I ask you to pray for them. Their duties are as arduous as their
126 CO SECRATIO OF office is holj. And if eveti an Aposúe could say, "who is sufficient for these things?" much more may the ministers of Christ in these degenerate days feel their need of the prayers of the church for them. *^ Brethren, pray for us/' said one who may well be considered as
the chief of the Apostles. Let your prayers then ascend to heaven in behalf of those who now are the ministers of God in sacred things, that they may be whoUy devoted to the work of their ministry, that they may be truly enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, and filled with all spirítual wisdom and judgment, that they may be zealous and active, that they may be men of pure and holy lives and character, moreover that they may be successful through the grace of the Holy Spirit in winning soiils and in tuming many from darkness unto light» and from the power of Satan unto God. Pray that their ministry may be grsatly blessed to your own souls. Truly in prayii^ for them you pray for yourselves, for of every spirítual blessing that they receive you become the immediate partakers. Their increase in knowledge, love, faith, and hofiness, is for your
AARO A D HIS SO S. 127 benefit : so that jour prayers when answered for them, retum also with blessings into jour own bosom. And let me not conclude this head without a particular request that he who now miniisters to jon the thiugs of God may be bome on your hearts continuallj, as you are borne on his, before the throne of grace. 2. But I would now direct your thoughts firom the serirants to the master, from the ministers to the glorious and gracious Lord. I would now say to you, " Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession^ Chríst Jesus/" He alone sustaineth this office in the Christian dispensation : and in order that he might sustain it, he took the manhood into tlie godhead. As those whom he came to redeem ^' are partakers of flesh and blood, he also hiínself likewise took part of the same;" '^ he took not on him the naturë of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.'' " Wherefore in all things it behoved him to
be made like unto his brethren that he might be a mercifiil and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciUation for
128 CO SECRATIÓ OF the sins of the people." The priests of the family of Aaron were many, succeedingeach other as a predecessor died. ^' But he continueth ever and hath an unchangeable priesthood." " Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Then the Apostle shews the infinite superiority of Jesus irom his sinless nature. '^ For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people's^ for this he did once, when he offered up himself." The practical uses of this doctrine of the priesthood of Jesus are also strikingly set forth in this Epistle to the Hebrews from which I have ak'eadj quoted so largely. Stedfastness in our profession and confidence in his love and power are deduced firom it, as we see in the fourth chapter, and fourteenth verse, " Seeing then that we have a great Iiigh priest, that is passed into the
AARO A D HIS 80 S. 129 heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace^ that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of ueed/' He repeats these uses with additions, and further
references to these very consecrations, in the tenth chapter and at the twenty-first verse, as you may read at your leisure. My beloved brethren, let these practical uses drawu by the scripture itself from these old testament ordinances and ceremonies be duly regarded by us. So shall we honour our great High Priest above with the honour which is now his due.
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