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that it consists of more than one; it prevents our confounding the idea of God with that of angel: seeing there is but one God who created the cherubim, and created more than one.” —In this sacred repository were laid up, for perpetual preservation, the awful monuments of the Sinai covenant, of the church established in the wilderness; the memorials of mercies past, the pledges of good things to come—“the tables of the covenant,” the incorruptible manna, and Aaron's rod that budded: signifying to all future generations, the permanency and immutability of the divine law, the unremitting care and attention of the divine providence, the dignity and stability of the Levitical priesthood. But the whole economy, and every instrument of it, in process of time passed away. All was at length carried to Babylon. But the dissolution of the empire which dared to violate their sacredness, was involved in their violation and ‘dissolution. Read the history of it, Dan. v. Verse 1–6. “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels, which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, that the king, and his princes, his wives and his concubines, mightdrink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God, which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”
Read the writing, with the interpretation of it. “This is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing; MENE, God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL, thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES, o is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians,” Verse 25–28. Read the issue. “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom,” Verse 30, 31. Such was the wonderful structure erected to the homour of God, and by his special direction, in the wilderness of Sinai. It was begun and perfected within the compass of little more than six months. Every thing was executed according to the pattern showed to Moses in the Mount. At length it was set up in all its splendour, with a mixture of holy joy and godly fear: and the divine Inhabitant took solemn possession in the eyes of all Israel. “A cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” “Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: we have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true : tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. . Who hath obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away,” Heb. viii. 1, 2, 6, 13.
HISTORY OF AARON.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in Mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying, . Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter 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 o: 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 foom 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.
THE lives of most men, from the womb to the grave, pass away unobserved, unregarded, unknown. When their course is finished, the whole history of it shrinks into two little articles; on such a day they were born, and after so many days they died. Of those who emerge out of the general obscurity, some begin their public career at an advanced period of life, and of course it consists of a few shining, interesting, important events, and is confined within the compass of a very few fleeting years. While the progress of a little selected band, whom an indulgent Providence has vouchsafed signally to nobilitate, and whom the historic pencil is fond to delineate, is distinguished from the cradle to the tomb, by an uninterrupted series of splendid incidents, exemplary virtues, and brilliant actions.
The characters of men are mixed like their fortunes. The most perfect instruction, . for the generality of mankind, which history furnishes, is perhaps supplied from the exhibition of mixed, that is, of imperfect. characters. Unvarying scenes of fraud, violence and blood; the representation of undeviating, unrelenting, unblushing profligacy, must, of necessity, create disgust, or diminish the horror of vice. The real annals of mankind present no model of pure and perfect virtue, but one; and from its singularity, it cannot, in all respects, serve as a pattern for imitation. We contemplate it at an awful distance; we feel ourselves every moment condemned by it; we turn from the divine excellency, which covers our faces with shame, and casts us down to the ground, toward the mercy which has sealed our pardon, and the grace which raises us up again.
The fanciful representations of perfect virtue, which are supplied from the stores of fiction, can but amuse at most; edify they cannot. They want truth, they want nature, they come not home to the bosoms of ordinary men. I might more easily ape the state of a king, than imitate the affectedly sublime virtue of the heroes of romance. Many of the persons whose profession it is to retail those ideal virtues, are notoriously among the most abandoned and profligate of our race. Those examples, therefore, are to be considered as the most useful, as I flatter myself they are more frequent, which exhibit a mixture in which goodness predominates, and finally prevails; in which virtue is seen wading through difficulties, struggling with tempta: V. O. L. I. T. 3 A
tion, recovering from error, gathering strength from weakness, learning wisdom from experience, sustaining itself by dependence upon God; seeking refuge from its own frailty and imperfection in divine compassion, and crowned, at length, with victory over all opposition, and the smiles of approving Heaven. Of this sort, is the history and character which the pen of inspiration, which the pencil of a brother has drawn, for the instruction of this evening. Aaron, the first high priest of the Hebrew nation, and the only brother of Moses, their celebrated legislator, was born in the year of the world two thousand three hundred and seventy: before Christ one thousand six hundred and thirty-four: and before the birth of his brother three years. It is probable he came into the world before the edict of the king of Egypt was published, which commanded all the Israelitish male children to be put to death. For that edict seems to have been directed by a special interposition of Providence, precisely to mark, and eminently to signalize, the first appearance of the great prophet of the Jews. Exposed to no special danger in infancy, the subject of no interesting memoir in early life, distinguished by no memorable talents or exploits in manhood, we see him far declined into the vale of years before we see him at all; and, for all our knowledge of him, earlier or later, we are indebted to the labours of his younger brother. Another, among a cloud of witnesses, to prove that the birthright of nature, and the destination of Providence, are intended to confer distinctions of a very different kind. Moses has shone forty years in the court of Pharaoh, has formed an alliance by marriage with a foreign prince, and cultivated the virtues, and prosecuted the employments of private life for forty years more, before his elder brother is heard of And when he is at length brought upon the scene, at the advanced age of eighty-three, it is to occupy an inferior department to his brother,