« PreviousContinue »
and "unto the day of his death, he was "cut off from the house of the Lord," and from the administration of his kingdom *. Awfully impressive is the lesson to be derived from the sudden death of Uzzah, for having put forth his hand to hold the ark of God, though but to save it from falling; "the anger of the Lord was kindled
against Uzzah; and God smote him there " for his error, and there he died by the ark "of God!" Still more tremendous, if possible, was the visitation which attended the presumption of Korah and his confederates, when, the more effectually to record the judgment of the Almighty on such unhallowed presumption, the very censers with which they had offered incense "were "made broad plates for a covering of the "altar, to be a memorial unto the chil"dren of Israel, that no stranger, which is "not of the seed of Aaron, come near to "offer incense before the Lord m." Jeroboam, who " made priests of the low"est of the people, which were not of the
* 2 Chron. xxvi. 16-21.
m Numb. xvi. 39, 40.
1 2 Sam. vi. 6, 7.
"sons of Levi," it is emphatically said, that he "made Israel to sin;" and moreover, that "this thing became sin unto the house "of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to de"stroy it from off the face of the earth".
Shall it be argued that the Israelites were placed under a dispensation so peculiar, that it is in vain to form any judgment of a Christian's duty from the laws imposed on them? Unquestionably, whatever may be true of certain minute observances, no argument as a general principle, or as applicable to the case before us, could be more fallacious; for it must be founded on one or other of these suppositions ;either that an eternal unchangeable God has on some points altered his views of human offences, and can deem that innocent in one age, which he held to be highly criminal in another; or else that a Christian can be guilty of no crime analogous, even in spirit, to the invasion of the Jewish priesthood. Because God no longer visibly interposes in defence of his sacred institutions, shall we conceive him to be altogether un
n1 Kings xii. 31. xiii. 34. and xxii. 52.
offended by their violation? As well might we believe, that he has no vengeance in store for rapacity and oppression and violence, because no prophet now denounces temporal retribution on an Ahab or a Jezebel. And if "the liberty wherewith "Christ has made us free," removes us from all possibility of falling into offences parallel to Korah's presumption, how shall we account for the mention made by St. Jude of those who " perished in the gain"saying of Core "?"
"Whatsoever things were written aforetime," says St. Paul," were written for "our learning ;" and so far from their having been less usefully written, because the Jews were subjected to a temporal dispensation, and in that respect dissimilar to our own, the example only becomes the more effectual to our instruction. Assured though we are, that "the wrath of God is “ revealed from heaven against all ungod“liness and unrighteousness of men r;" yet as the just measure of Divine retribution is reserved for a future state, we might for
• 1 Kings xxi. 17—24.
P Jude 11.
r Rom. i. 18.
the present form the most erroneous ideas of the comparative heinousness of particular sins. What can bid so fair to rectify our judgment in these cases, as the lively and sensible display of the vengeance of the Almighty on the various transgressions of his peculiar people? In the long catalogue of human offences, is there one in which men more readily excuse themselves than that presumption which seeks salvation by its own devices, to the neglect or exclusion of those persons and methods which God has instituted for that momentous purpose?—and on the other hand, is there one of which a careful perusal of the Jewish Scriptures can more irresistibly establish the guilt and danger?
The Jews indeed, even in their most corrupted state, appear never to have lost sight of the established principle, that the Divine commission was necessary for the performance of the ministerial functions. This is evident from the question put by them to John the Baptist; "Why bap"tizest thou, if thou be not that Christ, "nor Elias, neither that prophet "?"
s John i. 25.
That the Gospel dispensation, though it superseded the Levitical priesthood, introduced another, to the validity of whose ministrations the Divine appointment was as indispensable as ever, may be undeniably proved. Of the priesthood St. Paul says, "No man taketh this honour unto himself, "but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. "So also Christ glorified not himself to be "made an High Priest; but he that said "unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have "I begotten thee." Thus even our blessed Saviour himself entered not on his sacred office, till, at the age of about thirty years, he was outwardly and visibly commissioned by the Holy Ghost". By himself personally were his Apostles invested with especial authority to preach, to baptize', to bless the elements of bread and wine in commemoration of his sacrifice, and finally with the power which has ever been esteemed the highest assigned to the Christian ministry, that of the remission and retaining of sins".
t Heb. v. 4, 5. y John iv. 1, 2.
u Luke iii. 22, 23.
* Luke vi. 13.
a John xx. 23.