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and passionate complaints rush to our lips in such trials, may well conceive that he might be ready to accuse God of cruelty or injustice, and to speak unadvisedly with his lips. But "Aaron held his peace." He uttered no expression of wrath, or sullen discontent. The consideration urged by Moses prevented him from charging God foolishly. He became dumb, and opened not his mouth, for it was his doing. He heard the rod and who had appointed it. He meekly received the punishment of his sons' iniquity. Thus he exhibited a beautiful pattern of submission. The aged Eli, in a similar trial, shewed the same spirit. His two sons were also cut off in one day for their irreverence and profaneness in the manner in which they executed the priest's office, in taking the fat, and other parts of the flesh, which he commanded them not, and for other grievous sins of which they were guilty, so that "the sin of the young men was great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord." Their punishment had been foretold to Eli by a man of God; it had been repeated to
him by Samuel, who, when yet but a child, had received it by direct communication from God. The aged priest, for Eli also was the high priest in regular descent from Aaron, did not indeed hold his peace like his great ancestor; perhaps he did better, he spake, but they were the words of the deepest resignation, "It is the Lord," he said, "let him do what seemeth him good."-In the case of holy Job we see this matter carried still further. Intelligence was brought him from different quarters of the destruction of his property, one messenger after another announcing to him in rapid succession that his oxen and asses, his sheep and camels were all carried off by enemies, or destroyed by fire from heaven, and his servants slain with the sword; and the measure of suffering seemed to be filled up, when immediately after these disastrous tidings he was further informed that by one dreadful blow all his children were killed at once by the fall of their eldest brother's house upon them. In these most distressing circumstances we read of him, "Then Job arose, and rent his
mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down before the Lord and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." These are all excellent examples of suffering patience. Aaron holds his peace; Eli expresses his entire resignation; Job blesses the name of the Lord.
May God enable us to imitate the highest of these examples. But if we cannot rise so high as to bless God in our afflictions, then let us endeavour to declare ourselves ready meekly to lie under his hand while he doeth what seemeth him good. Or if this be beyond our faith and strength let us at the least hold our peace, not in sullen discontent, but in patient suffering of his will. We must look for sufferings; they are the lot of humanity; they are the necessary accompaniments of sin. And why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Surely we may rather feel, that it is of the Lord's mercies
that we are not utterly consumed. But affliction and trials are something else besides being the lot of humanity, and the consequences of sin; they are needful corrections and salutary chastisements; the Lord chastens us for our profit. Thus it is good for us to be afflicted; and hence we may say under all our afflictions, and if we see them in a proper light we shall say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."
One thing more must be noticed in the spirit and conduct of Aaron. The goat which had been sacrificed for the sin-offering of the people, had not been eaten as it ought to have been, but had been burnt. This was contrary to appointed order, as its blood had not been carried into the holy place. Here was another irregularity for which Moses reproved Eleazar and Ithamar, the remaining sons of Aaron. Their father answered for them, "Behold this day have they offered their sinoffering and their burnt-offering before the Lord; and such things have befallen me : and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the
Lord ?" He means, I think, that his sons had offered the sacrifices in due order in all other respects. He takes the fault of this offence against order upon himself; and perhaps he had directed them to burn it. He intimates that such a heavy affliction had befallen him that he could not eat with proper cheerfulness and thankfulness. He expresses his belief that if he had felt no grief and shewn no signs of humiliation, God would not have been pleased with him, and his taking food would not have been acceptable in his sight. I think that such is the import of Aaron's answer, and we read that Moses "was content." We conclude that the Lord also accepted the reason assigned, and mercifully regarded the agitated state of the natural feelings of Aaron and his sons. For our God is very pitiful, and of tender mercy, and will not break the bruised reed.
Let me here in conclusion warn you, my beloved brethren, of a fault into which some fall in their earthly sorrows and losses. They desert the house and ordinances of the Lord. Instead of being more exact in the fulfilment