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ed; and sanctified all his holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacri. fices. And we may take this opportunity of remarking, that the eighth day is not only a distinguished day in the law of Moses, but it was so among the fathers. • Circumcised the eighth day,' was close. ly connected with “ a Hebrew of the Hebrews.”
appears to be the same reason for circumcising the eighth day, that there is for appointing that day to the priest to enter on his office. All animals were considered as polluted and in their blood for seven days, but on the eighth day they were clean. · When a bullock, or a sleep,
or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the • dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth, it shall be accept• ed,' &c. Lev. xxii. 27. In like manner, as to the human species, • If a woman have born a man-child, then she shall be unclean seven • days, &c. ; and on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be • circumcised, Lev. xii. 2, 3. The same number of days was observed in many other things : thus in cleansing Nazarites, Numb. vi. 9, 10. ; and purifying the altar, Ezek. xliii. 26, 27. One thing is remarkable in this, that in every seven days a Sabbath occurs, and that day was a sign of sanctification from the Lord, Exod. xxxi. 13. ; so Christ, who was the end of all these figures, rested the seventh day, the Sabbath, in the grave, and rose from the dead on the eighth day, (the first day of the new week), whose death was the cleansing of our sins, and his resurrection our complete justification. Thus, we may add, partaking in sanctification from him on the eighth
we are circumcised with the circumcision made without · hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the cir. • cumcision of Christ, being buried with him by baptism.' Now it is remarkable, that in this chapter we are considering, on the eighth day, when the priests were about to enter on their office, it is said, verse 4. for to-day the Lord will appear to you, we have already mentioned an eighth day in which the Lord appeared to his disciples ; but we apprehend this subject still leads us to look forward. . Not only are the priests commanded to offer for their own sins, but burnt, sin), peace and meat offerings are to be sacrificed and offered for the
people, who were thus to be made partakers typically in that holiness which comes by the blood of Jesus, and without which no man shall see the Lord. It must remind us of a glorious day of sanctification, when all the Israel of God shall be justified ; and of which an apostle
says, • We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, • for we shall see him as he is į and every man that hath this hope in • him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' Then shall not only the great High-priest appear, but all the sons of Levi shall be purified; his people shall be kings and priests to God, and they shall reign for ever and ever. In the 5th and 6th verses, we find the people brought the offerings as commanded, and all the congregation drew
near, and stood before the Lord :' And in the conclusion of the chapter we find, that after Aaron had offered the sin, burnt and peace offerings, he lifted up his hands towards the people, and blessed
• them. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle, and came • out and blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared un
to all the people; and there came a fire out from before the Lord • and consumed the sacrifices, which, when all the people saw, they • shouted and fell upon their faces,' verses 22, 23, and 24. This was a glorious day in Israel, and a precious earnest to them and to us of another infinitely more glorious day which is near at hand. We have seen our Great Leader and Priest enter into the heavenly tabernacle ; there he is now performing the service, and soon ill he appear to fulfil the prophetic language of the Psalm cx iii. 25, 26. • Save 6 now, I beseech thee O Lord ; O Lord, I beseech thee, send now
prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh,' &c. Is it possible to read this remarkable piece of history, without remembering, that when the true Aaron came, offering the great sacrifice, and to bless his people, by turning their iniquities from them, he came to his own, and his own received him not; he left them with these memorable words, · Behold
house is left unto you desolate; for I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till
shall say, Blessed is he * that cometh in the name of the Lord,' Matth. xxiii. 39.
In verse 7 Aaron is commanded to go near and offer.' Previous to this Aaron had not offered, but Moses for him, Levit. viii. 14. Now Moses, from the Lord, authorises him to go near and offer, because no man could take this honour to himself. On the other parts of this chapter, we shall trouble our readers with a very few remarks. When Aaron blessed the people, it is said, verse 22. that he lifted up his hand. The lifting up the hand was a gesture frequent in any weighty or important matter, see sa. xlix. 22. ; particularly in swearing, Gen. xiv. 22. ; praying, Psal. xxviii. 2. ; or blessing, Ps. cxxxiv. 2. Thus the Psalmist says, ' Let the lifting up of my hands • be as the evening sacrifice,' Psal. cxli. 2. And Paul exhorts to
lift up holy hands without wrath and doubting, 1 Tim. ii. 8. It was a material part of the priest's office to bless the people, Deut. X. 8. and i Chron. xxiii. 13. and was in part accomplished by Jesus Christ, even on earth, when having off red up his sacrifice, and fi-' nished his earthly ministration, le · lifted up his hands, and blessed his s disciples,' Luke xxiv. 10. The form of Aaron's blessing is expressly prescribed to him, Numb. vi. 23—27.
The fire that consumed the sacrifices on this occasion, came from before Jehovah, and exactly corresponded with what took place in the days of Solomon, 2 Chron. vii. 1. By this miraculous appearance, God gave a visible testimony to the ministration of Moses and Aaron, that all had been done agreeably to his divine appointments, agreeably to what Elijah said on a similar occasion : . Let it be known o this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am t y servant, • and that I have done all these things at t'iy ord,' i Kings viii. 36. The fire thus kindled on the altar, the Jews say was kept alive upon it till their entrance into Canaan ; in like manner, that the fire which came from heaven, and kindled the wood on the altar in the
days of Solomon, was kept alive till the days of Manasseh. When it is said, that the people shouted and fell on their faces, we may readily conclude, that the form of their worship was similar to that occasion ; for he is good, and endureth for ever.
Chap. X. Our attention is here drawn to a most awful occur. rence, at the very opening of the service of the worldly sanctuary,Nadab and Abihu, iwo sons of Aaron, selected to the distinguished honour of serving God in his priesthood, slain by the fire of divine justice, an awful instance of despising and profaning the ordinances of God ; in like manner as Ananias and Sapphira died before the Lord, at the opening of the apostolic churches. The concise account which the Holy Ghost has given of this matter,' has led men (always more anxious to guess at minute outward circumstances, than to at. tend to the spiritual design of what is narrated) to form a very great variety of conjectures, totally unfounded in the text. Their crime is expressly stated to be, offering strange fire before the Lord.' This leads to the simple question, What was the Lord's fire, oppo. sed to which all other fire was strange ? The error, in the view of modern Christians, was a very venal, trifling one. If the incense was burned, what is the difference by what fire it was kindled? But this only shews, that however inattentive we may be to that law, yet every iota and tittle of it was to be fulfilled by Christ, and therefore had a respect to him. There must therefore have been an important TRUTH taught Israel, when they were commanded to use the Lord's fire only; and for despising this TRUTH, by neglecting the ordinance which pointed it out, these young men died before the Lord, evidences of the awful consequences of despising his law. We must therefore pause, to remind our readers, that such pieces of scripture history are not recorded as extraordinary stories, intended merely to interest our passions, and amuse our minds ; they are kept on record in the word of God, to enforce this awful truth, that : if he who de.
spised Moses' law died without mercy,' which contained merely a figure or shadow,' of how much sorer punishment shall we be thought
worthy,' if we are found despising the truth, before whose eyes Jew sus Christ hath been set forth evidently crucified ! We may also re. mind those fashionable Christians, whose creed Pope has so summari. ly expressed, -
For modes of faith, let fools and zealots fight,
He can't be in the wrong, whose life is in the right, --that these two young men died before the Lord, martyrs to Pope's infidel lie! They died, not for murder, adultery, dishonesty or fraud, but because they neglected God's instituted ordinance !
We may understand strange fire, by remembering what is said, Rev. viii. 5. The angel took his censer, and filled it with fire • from the allar.' Fire from God's altar, when his justice was gloriously satisfied, kindling the incense, is alone sweet-smelling and
savoury before him. As the incense offered by the angel, kindled from the fire of the altar, ascended up before God with the prayers of all saints, it brings the crime of Nadab and Abihu to our view, in a very clear manner; and we shall find it to be a crime, of which we are all in danger daily before God. All prayers offered to the Hearer of prayer, which come not up perfumed with incense kindled by the fire of his altar, are but as a smoke in his nostrils, in the highest degree offensive. Prayer, not offered up, or kindled, by a view of the atonement by the blood of Jesus, is dishonouring God. It was this which makes the account of persecuting Saul, given by the angel to Ananias, so satisfactory to him, Behold he prayeth! Paul, the zealous Pharisee, had not lived so long without many, and probably very long prayers ; but they were not so reckoned in the sight of God.
The grand revolution which took place in his mind concerning Jesus Christ, and his death upon the cross, first taught him to pray, that is, to ask mercy, as the chief of sinners, because of the death and righteousness of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross in the of transgressors. We
hear men very animated in their prayers, very loud in their lofty talk, about the divine attributes, nay, even God's goodness and mercy, while only offering strange fire before the Lord; we would do well to remember, that though judgment against our profanity is not speedily executed, although all who dishonour God by their profane worship do pot immediately perish, yet the judgment of Nadab and Abihu is a standing example of what we have to fear. And it were well for us, did we keep our feet when going into the house of God, and beware of offering the sacrifice of fools. It is very
remarkable, that as their error was offering strange fire, so they died by fire from before the Lord. We have repeatedly mentioned, that the glory of the Lord, viz. the glory of his divine justice, appeared like devouring fire on the top of the mount. That fire which blazed terror on Mount Sinai into the consciences of all Israel, and a reflection of which made Moses' face shine, so as the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold him; that fire, we are told in the conclusion of the preceding chapter, came out from before the Lord, and consumed the burnt-offering, evidently instructing Israel as to what should take place in the fulness of time, when the fire of God's justice should burst forth, in its fiercest fames, upon Jesus Christ himself, the true burnt-offering, the lamb of God who beareth away the sin of the world. Now that fire, which took hold of the substitute, being despised and neglected by Nadab and Abihu, it burst upon their own devoted heads. And thus shall it be at last. All for whom Christ died, in whose stead the fire of God's wrath burnt up his soul in agony, shall be safe under the covering of his blood. But on those who despise his great salvation, judging them. selve3 unworthy of eternal life, that fire shall break forth in its awful fury. When our God comes, it shall be in flaming fire, taking
vengeance on all who know not God, and who obey not the gor
• pel.' "A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very terria
pestuous round about him.' . If once his wrath begin to burn, blesse
ed are all they that put their trust in him.' Dying before the Lord, literally means, in his tabernacle ; and accordingly we find their own cousius Mishael and Elzaphan ordered to carry them out.
The reason given by Moses to Aaron for what had happened, de. serves particular notice : “ I will be sanctified in all them that come
nig i me, and before all the people I will be glorified.' The natural language of man's heart is, that the salvation of the guilty by the atonement of another, is dishonourable to God; and that by using our best endeavours for this end, is the greatest honour we can pay our maker. It is thus that man, ignorant of God's justice, goes about to establish his own righteousne In coming nigh to God, we can only sanctify him, by acknowledging his unspotted holiness as manifested at the cross of Christ. The Pharisee considered himself as paying the nighest possible honour to his Maker, when he held up the fil: hy rag's of his own righteousness to him, and thanked God for bestowing them; while the publican had only to mention DIVINE MERCY, in which God is glorified indeed! And so we read, • Verily I say unto you, the one, viz. the publican, “ went down to • his house justified rather than the other. God is also said to be glorified and sanctified in the execution of his judgments, in many such passages as the following : • I will be glorified in the midst of • thee? (Sidon), 6 and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I • shall have executed judgmerits in her, and shall be sanctified in her,' Ezek. xxviii. 22. We may also add, that by those that come nigk
me,' we are, in the Old Testament, literally to understand, the
priests who are nigh unto Jehovah,' Ezek. xlii. 13. see also Num. xvi. 9. So judgment begins at the house of God, 1 Pet. iv. 17. ; at his sanctuary, Ezek. ix. 6. The effect of these words are highly noticeable. Aaron held his peace,' in submissive reverence and godly fear : seeing our God is a consuming fire. I am dumb, I will
open my mouth, because thou hast done it,' Psal. xxxix. 10. The Septuagint uses a remarkable word here," he was pricked, implying that what was said went to his own conscience. And indeed the view here given of the divine character, and the nature of the worship which ould alone be acceptable in his sight, was much fitted to prick the sober mind.
In the 4th verse, the cousins are appointed to carry out the dead bodies, that their brethren might not be defiled by so doing, and so still at liberty to do the duty of the sanctuary.
'In the 6th verse, Aaron and his sons are commanded not to uncover their heads,' or, as the Septuagint reads it, • Ye shall not put off the mitres from
your heads;' neither were they to rend their garments, as is customary with others in making lamentation for the dead : • Ye shall * make no mourning for the dead,' was a binding law of the priesthood. In verse 9. they are prohibited from wine or strong drink when they. entered into the sanctuary. This has led many to suppose,