Page images
PDF
EPUB

by a strict adherence to truth, honesty, sincerity, justice, &c.—They were to banish from their minds hatred and revenge, and to cherish brotherly love and charity. If God's kindness produced these effects, they were encouraged to expect farther blessings from Him; but if they were disobedient, and abused His mercies, and exercised cruelties towards their fellow-creatures, they subjected themselves to the severities of His wrath, and could not be restored to His favour without repentance, atonement, and intercession; so that the Jewish constitution was designed of God as a scheme for promoting true religion and virtue, and as a shadow of the divine things *.

We may suppose, that the people were very desirous of performing acts of religious worship, as soon as they had a place appointed for it; and it was a great ad. vantage to them to have the mode settled, for it was particularly necessary that their worship should be uniform, and that they should agree in their service, as they were to set an example of piety and holiness to the surrounding nations.

The Mosaic institutions were excellently calculated to express the condition of men, as creatures and sinners, and to awaken the attention of idulaters, and make them desirous of being received into a communion, which bore such evident marks of Divine appointment.

The generality of the Israelites did not understand the spiritual meaning of their own ceremonies in its full extent; for the Mosaic Dispensation was the childish state of the Church of Godt; but as they knew

* See a Key to the Apostolic Writers prefixed to a Paraphrase on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, by John Taylor, fourth edition, published in 1697. + Gal. iv. 1, 2, 3, &c.

as

as much as were essential to their salvation; and it is very satisfactory to Christians, to observe the agreement between the Covenant made with God's chosen people Israel, and that which was afterwards sealed by the blood of Christ; because the fulfilment of the Di. vine promises under the one, is an earnest of the ful. filment of them under the other. Only let us do our part, and we may be certain God will faithfully perform his.

SECTION VII.

THE DEATH OF NADAB AND ABIHU.

From Levit. Chap. x.

AND Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

And there went out fire from the LORD, and de. voured them; and they died before the Lord.

Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glo. rified. And Aaron held his peace.

And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren, from before the sanctuary out of the camp.

So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp: as Moses had said.

And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazer and unto Ithamar his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend

your clothes ; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole

house

house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. And

ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die : for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.

And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest

ye it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations : And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean ; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.

die;

ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.

The crime of the rash young men, who were cut off in sọ awful a manner, was presumptuous sin. They were the order of priests, who took it by turns to burn incense on the golden altar. The Lord had sent fire from Heaven to burn the first sacrifices that were laid on this altar, this was called Holy Fire, and it was the business of the priests to keep it from being extinguished. Nadab and Abihu, regardless of the Divine command, which Moses had declared to them, did not wait till it was their turn to burn incense, but took their censers (the utensils made for carrying the offering to the altar) and performed what was instituted as a solemn act of praise, with indecorum and irreverence ; despising the Holy Fire, they made use of common fire, which was a great affront to the Divine Majesty.

There

There is some reason to suppose, from the subsequent command to the priests to abstain from wine, that Nadab and Abihu were in a state of intoxication, from having indulged their appetites too freely with the portion that was allotted to them. The priests, being entirely devoted to the services of religion, were raised above the necessity of procuring subsistence for themselves; and it was upon

this account, that a certain portion of the sacrifices was appropriated to their mainte

nance.

It was necessary to make an example of the first of fenders, in order to deter others from committing the like crime : accordingly we find, that the Holy Fire, which they despised, was made the instrument of their punishment.

Though from a difference of situation we never can be guilty of the very same crime for which these

young men suffered, yet we may collect useful instruction from the relation of it, which should warn us to observe the utmost reverence and devotion in every part of religious worship.

SECTION VIII.

NOSES NUMBERS THE PEOPLE THE ORDER OF EN

CAMPMENT-THE LORD'S BLESSING.

As the children of Israel were very numerous, and the Lord vouchsafed to be their King, He commanded Moses and Aaron to take account of his subjects; and to regulate encampments, for they dwelt in tents, which they carried with them when they moved. When Jacob came into Egypt, his whole family consisted of seventy persons: they increased in two hundred and

fifteen

fifteen years, to upwards of six hundred twenty-five thousand. We may justly suppose, that, besides those which were numbered, there were double the number of women, children, and sick persons; amounting in the whole, to at least one million eight hundred seventyone thousand one hundred persons. What quantities of food must fall daily from heaven to feed such multitudes ! God's promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that “ he would greatly multiply their seed," were now amply fulfilled. A very exact account was taken of the people, in order to distinguish what tribe and family every man belonged to. 6. The whole * body of the people were divided into four large battalions, so placed as to inclose the tabernacle, and each under one general standard. The standard of the camp of Judah was first; it consisted of the tribes of Judan, Issachar, and Zebulun, which pitched on the east side of the tabernacle. On the south side was the standard of the camp of Reuben; under which were the tribes of Reu. ben, Simeon, and Gad. On the west side was the standard of the camp of Ephraim ; under which were the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. And on the north side was the standard of the camp of Dan; under which was the tribes of Dan, Napthali, and Ashur. Between these four great camps and the tabernacle, were pitched the four lesser camps of the priests and the Levites, who had their attendants about it. On the east side encamped Moses and Aaron, and Aaron's sons, who had the charge of the sanctuary. On the south side were the Kohathites, a part of the Levites descended from Kohath, the second son of Levi. On the west side were the Gershonites, another

Stacklouse on the Bible,

branch

« PreviousContinue »