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braving all the horrors of the pestilence; while, from the golden censer in his hands, taken from the altar of God, the incense ascended in a cloud before the mercy-seat. But when, from the wilderness days of the church, during the ministry of Moses and Aaron, we turn to the present day of the church, still in a wilderness world, and behold the same continually going on in life, by plague and pestilence, from divine visitations, by reason of the continual provocations to the Lord; how unceasingly interesting the subject becomes ! More than three thousand years have run out their course since this event took place in the camp of Israel. And nearly six thousand years have been numbered since "sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, because all have sinned." (Rom. v. 12.) But what a relief to the redeemed and regenerated child of God, when, from the camp of Israel, and from the present wilderness state through which the church is travelling, we behold the Lord Jesus Christ standing up the glorious, gracious High Priest of his people; having made atonement for his people. He hath truly run into the midst of the congregation and put on incense; not, indeed, taken from the altar of the worldly sanctuary, and the services, which were all a "shadow of good things to come; but of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not His incense was, and is, the offering of his own most glorious person; and both the censer and the fire from off the altar, the precious oblation of his own most precious blood. He stood as the typical Aaron did; yea, and he stands now, between "the living and the dead;" between those who, led by grace, come under the shelter of his divine person, blood and righteousness, and live in him and to him; and the dead, who reject the counsel of God against their own souls, and refuse both him that speaks on
earth, and speaks from heaven. And it is wholly by virtue of his Almighty person and merits the plague is stayed among his people. For as the Holy Ghost very blessedly hath taught the church, so the church receives the gracious truth, and finds the blessed efficacy of it in the heart and conscience: "but Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a great and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands: that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats, and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb. ix. 11, 12.)
I detain the reader only to add a short observation from the whole; and which, if so be the Lord hath made him a gracious reader, that with a spiritual apprehension he can, and doth enter into a true scriptural understanding of those great things of God, he will not be displeased with. I would beg him to connect into one point of view the several interesting scenes of this whole chapter. Let him stand with me as upon an eminence, where he overlooks the Korahs, and the Dathans, and the Abirams, the enemies of the church of God in those days; and behold the little handful of the Lord's chosen ones, Moses and Aaron, with the few elders of Israel, which among the lost were found faithful, to whom the whole congregation were opposed; and let him contemplate the prospects and the issue of that memorable day, and then say, how eternally safe and secure the Lord's people are amidst an host of foes combined against them. Oh! how sweet the Scriptures of God are heard by the ear of faith, when the Lord is coming forth for his people's deliverance. "For the oppressor of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord." (Ps. xii. 5.)
And when from the camp of Israel, as it was then,
if the spiritual and enlightened eye turns to the contemplation of the church of our most glorious Christ, as it is now, amidst all that seeming violence and opposition which men and devils make "against the Lord and against his Christ;" the divine fortress is not only impregnable, but in the assaults made against it they are literally accomplishing the very reverse of what they design. The church is garrisoned by the divine presence. And He that keeps it night and day, that none shall hurt it, not only pours in resources to hold out every siege of the enemy, but waters it every moment, And to the eye of faith may be seen what John beheld in vision,-" the Son of God, who is passed into heaven as your great High Priest, with his golden censer; and with whose incense he offers up the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne." (Rev. viii. 3, 4.) Precious Lord Jesus! Under thy censer be it my constant happiness to be found, both in my person and offerings. In the everlasting perfection of thy Almighty person, and in the all-sufficient efficacy of thy blood and righteousness, to stand completely justified before God! Living and dying, in time, and to all eternity, here is my perfect assurance. As the Holy Ghost hath testified, so my faith finds the confidence; "being complete in Him, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily, and who is the head of all principality and power." (Col. ix. 10.)
¶ "And they journeyed from Mount Hor, by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom; and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
"And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread; neither is there any water, and our soul loatheth this light bread." (Numb. xxi. 4, 5.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
THE children of Israel had now nearly finished their long campaign through the wilderness. Eight and thirty years had elapsed since the spies had been directed by the Lord to search the promised land. And now in the circuitous rout by which the Lord had led them, they were again brought near the borders of Canaan. Mount Hor lay on the most southern part of the promised land; near which, by the way of the Red Sea, they had to compass the land of their most antient and inveterate foe, the Edomites of the race of Esau. Here, Aaron was to be gathered to his people, and not enter Canaan. But though deprived, of the type, Aaron had the substance. Though the Lord suffered him not to see the earthly
inheritance of Israel, he had the promise, the Lord himself, even the Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly Canaan. It leads to a most sweet and sacred improvement, and of a spiritual nature, when under divine teaching, the children of God can, and do, trace their mercies through earthly things up to Christ himself in heavenly things. The divine sovereignty is never so blessedly seen, and never so blessedly acknowledged and enjoyed, as when in the midst of apparently thwarting providences, the fulfilment of the Lord's promises is more eminently discoverable. We then behold the Lord carrying on his own holy will, by his own unerring wisdom; and in the very moment of what from our dim sighted view, in this twilight state of being, we conclude to be unfavourable; bringing forth from the very dispensation itself, the reverse of what we expected; and manifesting his faithfulness to his covenant promises, to a thousand generations. "I know the thoughts I think towards you (saith the Lord) thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jer. xxix. 11.) Thus Aaron died in Mount Hor, and not in Canaan. But Aaron, like all the patriarchs of the covenant, died in faith; "not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them; and confessed that they were stangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Heb. xi. 13.)
The like dispensation was in the lot of Moses. was but in the following year, when on the banks of Edrei, the last battle was fought which Israel had to contend for, with the enemies who opposed his way towards the confines of Canaan. And here the Lord gave him a complete victory over Og, king of Bashan. When therefore the man of God had seen this final triumph over all the host of foes this side, Jordan; and as he stood on the skirts of that sacred