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Levit. IX. 22 — 24. And Aaron lifted up kis hand towards the peoplcy and blessed them ; and came dorvn from offering of the sin-offerinff, and the bumt'offerinff, and peace-offerings. And Moses and Aaron rvent into the tabemacle of the congregation, and came out and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And 'there came a fire outfrom before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burntoffering and the fat : which when aïl the people sarVj they shouted^ and fell on their faces. In our \^t sermon we saw the solemn consecration of Aaron and his sons to the office of the priesthood. In the present we shall consider the first pahUc service in which
aabon's entrance, &c. 131 thej officiated : and as their appointment had been of God, so a miraculous testimony was given of his approbation and acceptance of their service. Let us consider the subject under the four following heads. I. The sacrifíces offered. II. The blessing pronounced. III. The tokens of God's acceptance. IV. The feelings of the people. I. The text tells us that Aaron came down
from offering the sin-offering, and the bumtoffering, and peace-offerings. These íurther prescribed offerings so immediatelj succeeding those which had been offered at his consecra* tion shews again, and still more stronglj, the consciousness which even the holiest and most accepted persons ought to have of their own siniulness. Those who are holy by office must know and confess that thej are sinners' by nature, even as others. Priests must be as sensible of this truth in their own case, as any of their people ; and must rely as simply and whoUy upon that one great sin-offering of Christ for their own personal pardon and the acceptance of their services, as they teach
132 aaron's entrance their hearers to do for their own. And by the repetition of the bumt'Offering, as well as the sin-offeríng, Aaron was taught, and all who serve in atij ofiice of the ministry are also taught; what entire devotedness of themselves to their holy vocation is required of them, and should be voluntaríly given. Moses had also commanded Aaron to say unto the people, "Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin^offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a bumt-offering ; also a bullock and a ram for peace-offeríngs, to sacrifice before the Lord ; and a meat-offering mingled with oil." The people also, as well as tbeir priests, are again required to bring a sin-offering and a bumt-offering for themselves. Oh ! let not our people think that the whole of religious sërvice is to be done for them by the prie^t. They have their own part to bear in it. He leads the way in the holy service. He confesses sin, he prays to God, he offers praise^ he expresses his belief in the great doctrines of the gospel ; but they must do the same ; they must often repeat the words in which
O HIS OFFICE. 133 ke leads their service ; and I wish that this were done in a more audible voice than maBy use. It would show tbat they take a personal interest in the service. It would prove that they admired and felt what is prepared for them to say. Brethren, your salvation assur-' edly canuot be laid on the shoulders of your minister. You must attend to it yourselves. He may be instrumental in instructing, convincing, stirring up, and bringing you to God ; but you are to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. As the people of Israel must bnng their offering, as well as Aaron must bring his, so you must bring your spiritual sacrífices yourselves, and join with the officiating minister whenever you are expected to bear a part. Very much of the beauty and force of oar liturgy ís lost through thiiï defect in your part of its worship, very much also of your own comfort and improvement; and very much of the honour which is due to God. But besides being required to present the same offerings as Aaron^ the Israelites had somewhat more to bring. They had also to
134 aaron's bntrance offer '^ a biillock and a ram for peace-offerÍDgs^ to sacrifice before tbe Lord, and a meat-offering mingled with oil." As a part of tbe peace-offeriiig, and the whole of the meatoffering, except the memorial of it wbich was bumt unto the Lord, belonged to the priests^ and served for their subsisten^e while they were officiating, they were not reqnired to offer these. There are some duties which peculiarly belong to the priest, there are others which peculiarly belong to the people, and may God dispose and enable both to
perform what is due to each other as full j and cheeríully, as thej are generallj ready to expect what is due to themselves. It is universálly the business and duty of the one to preach the gospel ; it is that of the other to provide that they who preach the gospel may live of the gospel. II. I now pass to the second head proposed, namely, the blessing prouounced upon the people. First^ Aaron blessed them. As soon as he had performed the whole duty of offering his own sacrifices and theirs^ he ^' liíted up his hand toward the people, and
O HIS OFFICE. 135 • blessed them." Then Moses and he went togetber into the tabernacle of the congregation^ for what pnrpose is not mentioned^ but probably that Moses might show him how his services there should be pérformed^ and again they came out, and jained together in blessing the people. In some suitable words they pronounced the pardon and peace of God unto them, and made known to them his acceptance of their offerings, and prayed for all temporal and spiritual blessings for them. This became afterwards a stated and solemn part of the f^riestlj office, and the form of words in which the blessing was to be giyen is thus written down in the book of umbers, " And the liord spake unto Moses^ sajing, speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying^ on this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, the Lord bless thee^ and keep thee : The Lord make his face to shine upon thee^ and be gracious unto thee : The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." It is impossible for us here not to think of that merciful and faithful high priest of ours^
136 aaron's entrance who after having finíshed the work which was given him to do upon earth, having oíFered that great atoning sacrifice^ not indeed for his own sins> for he had no sin, but for the sins of his people^ before he eutered into that tabernacle above^ which has received him until the times of the restitution of all things, having '' led out his disciples as fer as to Bethanj, there liíled up his hands and blessed them; and it came to pass that while he blessed them^ he was parted írom them, and a cloud received him out of their sighf And what does he now that he ever liveth to^ intercede for us, and is continually officiating on our behalf, but pour down all spiritual blessings upon his waiting, praying, and serving people ? To bless in the name of the Lord is also still a part of the ministerial office. St. Paul commonly concludes his epistles with a most affectionate as well as solemn benediction^ as ^* The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God^ and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." And this form our church has adopted wherewith
O HIS OFFICE. 137 ber ministers are to conclude the service of their moining and evening prayer; while that which I hefore quoted from the book of umbers concludes the office for the visitation of the sick : moreover a declaration of the Apostle's is thrown into the form of a benediction which closes the communion service, and with which alsó the clerg}' generally dismiss their congregations after the sermon. " The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,"
to which is added auother solemn benediction in the name of the Holy Trinity, " Aiid the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with you, and remain with you evermore. Amen." Thus our Chrístian church has adopted the forms of both the old testament and the uew, and blesses her people by the mouth of her ministers in the words of God himself. May your hearts be always waiting to receive the blessing. May it rest upon you in an abundant measure. And may you always return to vour homes from the house of God with the íulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ
138 aaron's entrance accompanying you, and remaining on jour souls in all its own mercy, grace^ and glory. III. I proceed to consider^ under the third head, the tokens of God^s approhation and acceptance. They had been taught to expect this. Moses had said, after commanding Aaron and them to bring their respective offerings, '^ For to-day the Lord wiU appear unto you :" and again, *' And the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you." And so it came to pass, as we also read in the text, '^ The glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people." To put an honour upon the service for the first time performed by the bigh priest of his own appointing, the Lord condescended in some yisible manner to shew his glory. As the glory of the L<^d had íilled the tabernacle when it was first erected and finished, so now it appears again at the first service regularly performed in it by his high priest. Again, at the dedication of the temple by Solomon^ wheu the nation was become a great and mighty nation, and when sacrifices of sheep and oxen were offéred " that cottld not be told nor numbered for multitude/'
O HIS OFFICE. 139 the same exhibitioii of God's favourable acceptance was made manifest. " It came to pass," we read in tbe eigbth cbapter of tbe first book of Kings and tbe tenth verse, " when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled tbe bonse of the Lord, so tbat the piiests could not stand to minister because of the doud ; for the glory of the Lord liad fiUed the bouse of the Lord." The gloiy of tbe Lord has not appeared to the Cfaristian church in the form in wbich it was wont to do to the church of old. Tbe Lord has not descended to earth in a pillar of fire, or a cloud; he hath not come down in the tbunderings and lightnings and loud trumpetsounds with which he descended on Mount Sinai^ wben be came to deHyer his law ; he appears not in the brightness of tbe Shechinah on the mercy-seat ; but be has come in a manner more congenial to the mercy^ and lo^e, and peace, wbich he has deligbled to manifest in the gospel. He has come from heayen in tbe mild radiance of the person of Jesus Cbrist. HE is " the brigbtness of
140 AARO *S E TRA CE his father's glorj and the express image oí his person." He ^' was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory," says that disdple whom he loved, ^^ the glory as of the only-begotten of the father,) full of grace and truth." In the person of Jesus Christ the glorious God has appeared in this our evangelical dispensation ; and if the former covenant was glorious from the fre* queut displays which it had of the glory of God attending it, yet hath it no glory iu comparison of that which has accompanied the promulgation of the gospel, and which so
far excelleth it. The glory of the gospel consists in that great ^^ mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." Besides this visible appearance of the glory of the Lord to the Israelites on this their first public service^ there was another, and yet more decisive testimony of his acceptance of their offerings. For as we further read in the text^ ^^ There came out a fire from before
O HI8 OFFICE. 141 the Lord^ and consumed upon the altar the bumt-offering and the fat/' that is, all that was placed last upon the altar, the parts of the previous offerings having heen bumt by common fire. What a decisive and satisfactory proof was this that the Lord God was among them, had witnessed the service of his appointed high priest^ had accepted their sacrífices, and confirmed the blessing. Oh! how gracious was the Lord in this to both priest aud people. We read in a later part of their history that God was pleased to testify his approbation and acceptance of the dedication and service of the temple by the same sign. In the second book of Chronicles, the seventh chapter and first verse, we find these words^ ^' ow when Solomon had made an end of prayingy the .fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices, and the gloiy of the Lord filled the house." Also in that great tríal of the prophetical character and mission which took place between Elijah and the priests of Baal, recorded in the first book of Kings and the eighteenth chapter, there we also read in the
142 aaron's entrance
thirty-eighth verse, " Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the bumt-sacrifíce^ and the wood^ and the stones, and the dost^ and licked up the water that was in the trench." And as that testimony was given in confirmation of Elijah's office and authority according to his own prayer " let it be known this daj that thou art God in Israel^ and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word," so these tokens were now given in establishment of the office of Aaron as his priest, and of Moses as his law-giver, and that thej also had done all these things according to his directions and commandment. Had the Christian church any thing at the introduction of the gospel, which corresponds to this token of the Lord's presence and acceptance ? Behold " when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they" (that is, the disciples) ^^ were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound fi'om heayen as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting : and there appeared unto tbem cloven tong^es like as of
O HIS OFFICE. 143 fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all fiUed with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues^ as the Spirít gave them utterance." Oh ! yes, the appearance of the Holj Ghost as a dove, and the voice from heaven, testified to the accep* tance of the blessed Jesus in the great work of man's redemption on which he was then entering, and.the descent of the same person of the Holy Trinity upon the disciples in the likeneps of cloven tongues of fire gave proof of the Lord's acceptance of them, and at the same time qualified them for the successful preaching of that work of mercy in all the world.
IV. I come now to consider the last head of this sermon, namely, the feelings of the people. We read in the conclusion of the text, that " when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces." Their admiration was great, they shouted for joy at these tokens of the Lord's acceptance of their service, and prostrated themselves before him in humble and grateful adoration and praise. The same efiects foUowed in
144 aaron's entrance those other similar instances to which I have referred. For when the same tokens of the Lord's acceptance were manifested at the dedication of the temple by Solomon^ then we read that, " When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves . with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, sajing, For he is good ; for his mercy endureth for ever." And ýi that other case of Elijah and the priests of Baal, in which the fire of the Lord fell, and therebj testifíed of the acceptance of Elijah, ^^ when all the people saw it, thej fell on their faces, and they said, The Lord he is the God, the Lord he is the God." Thus strongly mixed were the feelings of reverence and joy. They exullted in these manifest tokens of the Lord's presence and favour; they worshipped him with holy devotion and reverential awe. And what ? Have we uo cause for holy joy, and animated praise, and profound reverence of God ? Have we no tokens of his presence and favour for which we may bless
O HIS OFFICE. 145
his holy name^ and rejoice in him ? Has not he that believeth a witness in himself ? Does not the Spirit himself bear witness with our spirits that we are the chilclren of God? These are still testimonies of the happiest kind of his mercy and love towards us : these honours now attend on the ministrations of our great High Priest above, and prove to our infinite satisfaction and joy that his sacrifice and offerings are accepted on our behalf, and that we and our services are accepted in him. Let it not be thought that the ministry of Jesus is in any respect inferior to that of Aaron. o. As the glory in which the Lord has appeared among us is greater than that in which he manifested himself to the Israelites, so the tokens by which he assures and rejoices our hearts are greater also. They may not be outward and visible signs : but they are better; they are inward aiid spirítual graces. They may not be beheld with our eyes; but they are felt in our hearts. Let then these tokens of his love and presence and of our acceptauce in Christ have their suitable effects upon us. Let them íill VOL. III. H
146 aaron's i^ntrance us at once with joy and humility ; with jóy that we have such testimonies given to us ; with humility that we are utterly unworthy of even the least of his mercies. Every repeated or increased token of his ^^ kiudness towards us in Christ Jesus" should humble us in the very dust before him, making us more and more conscious that this is far beyond our deserts. That such poor services as we can oflFer him should meet with such retums^ would indeed be beyond all comprehension and belief. But what may we not believe and what may we not expect when we think of the richness and value of the offering offered, and the service performed by the Priest who
now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God? There, Christian brethren, are the meríts and the worthiness. There is the procurer of every token of acceptance and fiivom'; and the more simply we- trust in his meríts, and the more entirely we rely on his sacrífice, the more of such tokens shall we assuredly receive. Alas that any of you should be negligent of Chríst, and of his great undertaking on
O HIS OFFICE. 147 your behalf. What possible bope can you have of the raercy of God, or of any testimonies of your acceptance, while you neither bring the appointed sacrifice, nor rely on the consecrated High Priest ? The appointed sacrifice, even the bumt-offering, and the sin-offering, and the peace-offering, and the meat-offering, is the sacrifice of Christ, which you are to bring, by faith, to the alta,r. He is also the consecrated High Priest of the Christian church, and there is no way of access or possibility of acceptance except tbrough him. Without him every service that you could offer would be rejected. A multitude of sacrifices would be to no purpose ; oblations would be vain ; incense would be an abomination ; even the solemn meeting would be iniquity. Let me then beseech you to apply ypur whole soul to the sacrifice and merits of Christ, that you may be blessed by him, that írom him also you may receive the spiritual tokens of acceptance, and finally partake of his glory in the day when he shall againappeartojudgment.
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