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CONSECRATION OF AARON AND HIS SONS.
LEVIT. VIII. 1—3.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin-offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; and gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
In all the preceding sermons on the offerings which the children of Israel were required to offer, we have seen an order of men bearing a very important part in the service. These were the priests of the Lord, who officiated in the tabernacle, and ministered in holy things between the Lord and his worshippers. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the book of Exodus, Aaron and his sons were expressly
designated for this sacred office, and particular directions were then given respecting the ceremonies with which they should be consecrated to it, and the robes which they should wear. The priesthood was to remain in that family through all succeeding generations, and no one, who was not of the descendants of Aaron, might on any account intrude into it. Aaron himself was the first high priest. He was succeeded by Eleazar, his eldest surviving son, after the death of Nadab and Abihu, and it continued in his family through seven generations till the time of Eli. On his death it was removed from that branch for the wickedness of Eli's sons, and given to the descendants of Ithamar, Aaron's other son. In the time of Solomon it returned again into the line of Eleazar, in which it continued till the Babylonish captivity.Jeshua, the first high priest after the return of the Jews, was of the same family, but after his time the appointment was very uncertain and irregular, and after Judæa became a Roman province, no regard whatever was paid to the original appointment of
the Lord. The office was often sold to the highest bidder, persons obtained it who were not even of the family of Aaron at all, and it was frequently held for no longer a time than for a single year. The nation was then fast filling up the measure of its iniquities ; its whole civil and ecclesiastical polity was going to decay; and the entire state was full of disorder, confusion, and every evil work.
In the present sermon I propose to consider the consecration of Aaron and his sons. to their respective offices. The congregation was publicly gathered together, that the people might be witnesses of the solemn ceremony, and thereby learn the reverence which was due to those whom God had appointed to minister to them in holy things.
I. The first ceremony was that of ablution. "Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water." This certainly was to intimate that the greatest purity in morals and character is required of those who are appointed to be priests. Having their bodies washed with pure water in this their
public and outward setting apart to their sacred office, doubtless denoted that they should be clear from all moral defilements, "sober, just, holy, temperate," "of good behaviour," and "blameless," as St. Paul teaches that Christian bishops must be, in his epistles to Timothy and Titus. Nothing can be more unbecoming in itself, and nothing has so dreadfully injurious an effect upon religion, as any immoralities on the part of those who should be not only spiritual pastors and teachers, but patterns also of all good and holy living. An immoral priest, let him belong to what church he may, is a disgrace to his profession, and well would it be for himself, well for the whole body of his clerical brethren, well for the particular congregation in which he officiates, well for the Christian community to which he belongs, well for the nation in which he lives, if such a one were not suffered by the rulers of the church, or countenanced by the people. The clergyman should ever be "an example to the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity;" he, above all men, should “shew
himself a pattern of good works ;" his character should be so holy and exemplary that he may ever have a good report of them which are without :" that the enemies of the truths which he preaches, or the office which he bears, may have no evil thing to say of him, and all "may be ashamed who falsely accuse his good conversation in Christ." Oh! that the ministers of the church of Christ were one and all what Christ designed that his church itself might be when he gave himself for it," that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."
II. The second ceremony was that of arraying Aaron and his sons in their appointed garments, made according to express directions given in the twenty-eighth and other chapters of the book of Exodus. The robes of the high priest were principally conspicuous, and were in order as follows, as they are enumerated in the seventh verse.