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the waters of Meribah; who faid unto his father, and to his mother, I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children for they have obferved thy word and kept thy covenant. They fhall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Ifrael thy law; they fhall put incenfe before thee, and whole burnt-facrifice upon thine altar. Blefs, Lord, his fubftance, and accept the work of his hands: fmite through the loins of them that rife against him, and of them that hate him, that they rife not again.
Levi had been a partaker with Simeon, in fhedding the blood of the Shechemites, and had fallen under the fame condemnation; but their spirit and zeal in expiating the guilt of the golden calf by the blood of its idolatrous worshippers, has removed the stain, and restored their own blood again, and the dreadful fentence, "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Ifrael," as far as it affects them, is from a curfe turned into a bleffing. They are divided in Jacob, and fcattered in Ifrael, but it is honourably to themselves and usefully to others: as the priests of the Lord, and the inftructors of the people. Why may we not fuppofe Eliezer the high-prieft, arrayed in his facerdotal veftments, standing at the head of his tribe to receive the falutation of Mofes, and that the appearance of this facred officer in the fplendour of his pontifical garb, might fuggeft to Mofes fome of the particulars contained in this bleffing, efpecially the beginning of it? Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one." "Thy Thummim and thy Urim," that is, being interpreted, "thy perfections and thy lights." They were myfteries, of which we have fpoken in a former Lecture, put into the high-prieft's breaft-plate, and were defigned apparently to fignify the graces and office of the priesthood, which was committed to Aaron and his feed, till Chrift came, who fhould obtain and exercife en everlaiting and unchangeable priesthood,
*Deut. xxxiii. 8-11.
hood, after a more excellent order than that of Aa
According to the different ideas of the mystery of the Urim and Thummim, and the connexion here established between them and the temptation at Maffah and the ftrife at Meribah, various turns and interpretations have been given to the words of Mofes."
1. They are fuppofed to be addreffed to God himfelf, and the fenfe to run thus, "Thy Thummim and thy Urim" (O God) be with the man, thy gracious faint, (Aaron and his feed) whom thou temptedft with temptation, or contendedft with (for his fin) at the waters of Meribah, of which we have the hiftory. Numb. xx. "And the Lord fpake unto Mofes and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to fanctify me in the eyes of the children of Ifrael; therefore ye fhall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah, because the children of Ifrael ftrove with the Lord and he was fanctified in them."*
Or, 2dly, they may be addreffed to the whole tribe, and with this fenfe, Thy Thummim and thy Urim (O Levi) be with Aaron and his fons! the holy, chofen, anointed one of thy gracious God, whom thou, in common with the reft of Ifrael, temptedst in Maffah and in the ftrife at Meribah.
Or, 3dly, understanding by the "holy one," the Chrift of God, this will be the fenfe, Thy Thummim and thy Urim (O Levi) is with (or belongs to) the man thy Holy One, (Meffiah, the Chrift) the Holy One of God, whom thou temptedft at Maffah, and didft strive with at Meribah. In this laft interpretation, the weaknefs, infufficiency, imperfection and tranfitorinefs of the Levitical priesthood are implied: it retained not long the Urim and Thummim, but loft them in the Babylonifh captivity, as we find from Ezra, chap. ii. ver. 63. "And the Tirfhatha faid unto them, That they thould not eat of the most holy things till there
Numb. xx. 12, 13,
ftood up a prieft with Urim and with Thummim." And it does not appear they ever had them more, until by Jefus Chrift, our High-Prieft after the order of Aaron, they were reftored in the "light and truth" of the gospel.
The bleffing upon Levi thus proceeds; "Who faid unto his father, and to his mother, I have not feen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have obferved thy word, and kept thy covenant."* This is generally understood to exprefs the devotedness of that tribe to the worship and fervice of God, which laid them under a neceffity of abftractedness from the world, and conftrained them, when employed in the order of their course, to fupprefs all appearance of fecular concern, fuch as mourning for the dead, and the like. Thus when "Nadab and Abihu perished by fire before the Lord," Aaron and his two furviving fons were exprefsly forbid to fhew any figns of forrow. "Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes, left ye die." "And Aaron held his peace." The words are by many interpreters fuppofed particularly to refer to the judgment executed through the zeal of this tribe on their offending brethren in the matter of the golden calf, which is thus defcribed: "And Mofes stood in the gate of the camp, and faid, Who is on the Lord's fide? let him come unto me. And all the fons of Levi gathered themfelves together unto him. And he faid unto them, Thus faith the Lord God of Ifrael, put every man his fword by his fide, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and flay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Mofes: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Mofes had faid, Confecrate yourfelves to-day to the Lord, even every man upon his fon, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a bleffing
Deut. xxxiii. 9.
this day."* And it may perhaps be intended as a warning to the chriftian priesthood, that though their profeffion does not 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 ftricter felf-government, to a greater fuperiority to worldly attachments and pursuits, to have no refpect of perfons in dispensing the bread of life, to "know no man after the flesh," to fit loofer than others to the things of time.
The next article of their prophet's parting bleffing defcribes their glorious privileges. "They fhall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Ifrael thy law: they fhall put incenfe before thee, and whole burnt-facrifice upon thine altar." The priest's lips fhould keep knowledge.
This then is the first duty of their office; to "teach Jacob the judgments of God, and Ifrael his law." Theirs was to be the distinguished honour of training up every fucceeding generation as it arofe, 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 be tween their privileges and their duties, their safety and their obedience, their fecurity and their fidelity. They were still to set before the people "good and evil, the bleffing and the curfe," the promises which allured to the one, the threatenings which deterred from the other. They were under the neceffity, of confequence, of ftudying the law of God, and the hiftory of his providence themfelves, in order to the inftruction of others; and to exhibit a decent conformity, in their own deportment, to what was written, as a pattern to their fellow-citizens. A talk at once painful, dangerous and honourable.
The second duty of their station was, "to put incenfe before God." That facred perfume was emblematical of the prayers, the praises and thanksgiving
* Exod. xxxii. 26-29.
of Ifrael; 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 affurance of his favour and protection; and, as the mouth of the people, to re-convey to God, the effufions of their gratitude, the acknowledgment of their fubmiffion and dependence; their entire confidence in the truth and faithfulness of God, their entire hope in his mercy. These the fons of Levi were to present before the Lord as incense; and with this facrifice of praise from the people, the incenfe of their own grateful acknowledgments would naturally mingle and afcend.
Finally, the bleffing pronounced on this distinguished tribe, impofed on them the office of offering up "whole burnt facrifice 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 neceffity of "burnt facrifice," hence the idea of atonement, hence the fhedding of blood for the remiffion of fin, hence the inftitution of the Levitical priesthood-" the fhadow of good things to come." And thus the daily facrifice, the interceffion of the house of Aaron, and the united characters of teacher and prieft in the fame perfon, prefigured and pointed out "the Lamb of God, who taketh away the fin of the world."-" The one Mediator between God and man, the Man Chrift Jefus." The great Teacher fent from God, who fpake as never man fpake." "God's beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased."
The conclufion of the benediction is prophetic, and defcriptive of their reward, their inheritance, and fecurity. "Blefs, Lord, his fubftance, and accept the work of his hands: fmite through the loins of them that rife against him, and of them that hate him, that they rife not again." * This is the perfection of creature happiness; ample provifion, and the bleffing of the
* Deut. xxxiii. 11.