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the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day," Exod. xxxii. 26-29. And it may perhaps be intended as a warning to the christian priethood, that though their profession does call them wholly to renounce the world, to restrain the workings of natural affection, and cease to be men; yet it does call them to a higher degree of heavenly-mindedness, to stricter self-government, to a greater superiority to worldly attachments and pursuits, to have no respect of persons in dispensing the bread of life, to "know no man after the flesh," to sit looser than others to the things of time.
The next article of their prophet's parting blessing describes their glorious privileges. "They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar." The priest's lips should keep knowledge.
This then is the first duty of thy office; to "teach Jacob the judgments of God, and Israel his law." Theirs was to be the distinguished honour of training up every succeeding generation as it arose, in the knowledge of the God of their fathers, in what he had done for them, and what he required of them; of pointing out and inculcating upon them the connexion between their privileges and their duties, their safety and their obedience, their security and their fidelity. They were still to set before the people "good and evil, the blessing and the curse," the promises which allured to the one, the threatenings which deterred from the other. They were under the necessity, of consequence, of studying the law of God, and the history of his providence themselves, in order to the instruction of others; and to exhibit a decent conformity, in their own deportment, to what was written, as a pattern to their fellow-citizens. A task at once painful, dangerous and honourable.
The second duty of their station was, "to put incense before God." That sacred perfume was emble
matical of the prayers, the praises and thanksgiving of Israel; and on Levi was conferred the glorious privilege of standing between God and the people, of conveying from him to them the dictates of his will, the promises of his grace, the assurance of his favour and protection; and, as the mouth of the people, to re-convey to God, the effusions of their gratitude, the acknowledgment of their submission and dependence; their entire confidence in the truth and faithfulness of God, their entire hope in his mercy. These the sons of Levi were to present before the Lord as incense; and with this sacrifice of praise from the people, the incense of their own grateful acknowledgments would naturally mingle and ascend.
Finally, the blessing pronounced on this distinguished tribe, imposed on them the office of offering up "whole burnt sacrifice upon the altar of God." They not only stood between a gracious God and an indebted people; but a holy and offended God, and a frail, offending people. Hence the necessity of "burnt sacrifice," hence the idea of atonement, hence the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, hence the institution of the Levitical priesthood-"the shadow of good things to come." And thus the daily sacrifice, the intercession of the house of Aaron, and the united characters of teacher and priest in the same person, prefigured and pointed out "the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world"-"The one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." The great Teacher sent from God, "who spake as never man spake." "God's beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased."
The conclusion of the benediction is prophetic, and descriptive of their reward, their inheritance, and security. "Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again," Deut. xxxiii. 11. "Deut. xxxiii. 11. This is the
perfection of creature happiness; ample provision, and the blessing of the Almighty poured down, and resting upon it-works and labours of love cheerfully performed, and graciously accepted-every foe subdued, and every ground of fear for ever removed. Here may we not apply to this tribe in particular, what Moses, in the close, applies to Israel in general? "Happy art thou, O Levi who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places," Deut. xxxiii. 29.
Such were the functions, the privileges, the honours and the emoluments of the Levitical priesthood. They suggest to the christian ministry, the vigilance, diligence, fidelity and zeal which become those "who must give account"-the necessity laid upon them "to declare the whole counsel of God"-the assured support on which they may depend, while they conscientiously aim at doing their duty-the glorious "recompense of reward" which is laid up for "the good and faithful servant," in that day when "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever," Dan. xii. 3. May the power of such motives be felt and understood by all who bear the sacred and important office, that by them they may be rendered" steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as they know that their labour is not in vain in the Lord."
The farther progress of Moses through the remaining tribes of Israel shall be the subject of the next Lecture.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And this is the blessing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his deathDEUT. XXXiii. 1.
THE rich man in hell is represented, Luke xvi. 27, 28, as entertaining the fond belief, that the return of one from the dead would certainly be effectual, to the conviction and amendment of a thoughtless and impenitent generation. And men in general are disposed to ascribe an infallible efficacy to means fabricated in their own imagination, while, at the same time, they wilfully neglect to use those which God has appointed, whose operation is undoubted, and of which they are in the entire possession. The man of one talent lays it up in a napkin and buries it, because he cannot, with one, do the work of five or of ten. One man is an infidel, because the miraculous powers which once accompanied the preaching of the gospel, accompany it no more: another affects to despise all external evidence whatever, and looks at Christianity with a suspicious eye, because it called in miracles and prophecy to confirm and support it. The Jews rejected the counsel of God against themselves, saying, "He casteth out devils, by Beelzebub the prince of the devils," Matt. xii. 24. The Greeks accounted the doctrine of the cross foolishness, because it belied their vain philosophy, and exposed their worldly spirit.
Were it possible for the human race to assemble in one general council, in order to settle a mode of religion which should suit the whole, they would speedily be constrained to separate, without coming to any specific, decisive agreement on a point so essential; for pride, and selfishness, and the spirit of contradiction, would instantly raise opposition, and the most salutary idea would be rejected by one party, for no better reason than that it was adopted by another. Were the rich man to come from the dead, commissioned "to tell the secrets of his prison-house;" were Lazarus permitted to leave the bosom of Abraham, in order to display to men the glories of paradise; what could they say that has not been repeated a thousand and a thousand times? The one would be esteemed by a busy, careless, unbelieving world, a poor, moping, melancholy wretch, fit for a place in Bedlam; the other would he called an enthusiastic visionary; and they might, for aught the world cared, return to the places from whence they came, and report that mankind was better employed than to listen to their dreams; that it was election time; that the term was coming on, that a packet was expected, or a fleet arrived.
Men amuse themselves with crying up the advantages of those who saw Christ going about doing good, "healing all manner of sickness among the people;" of those who heard Paul preach, and the like; but the faithful and true witness assures us, that Jesus frequently wrought miracles, and Paul preached in vain. Capernaum, Bethsaida, Jerusalem, remained full of unbelievers; and apostolic eloquence was called babbling by one, it made another to shake under a temporary fit of trembling, and only "almost persuaded" a third to be a christian.
The decision of father Abraham then, in the passage already referred to, is founded in truth and experience. "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead,”