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those which were made by fire. It was a portion justly belonging to them, and one of the means of their support, separated, as they were from all worldly employments, and consecrated to the service of God. And this was to be a perpetual statute for all who should succeed them in the priests' office.
After giving this command, Moses found that the goat which had been sacrificed as a sin-offering, was entirely consumed by fire, and that Aaron and his sons had not eaten of it, as they had been directed to do. He was greatly displeased at what appeared to him to be an act of disobedience, and inquired particularly into the cause of it.
Behold,” said Aaron in reply, " this day have they offered their sin-offering 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 plead the affecting circumstances in which he was placed, and the bitter anguish that he felt on account of the death of Nadab and Abihu; to show that to eat without any appetite for food, and when his soul was sick with sorrow, would have been no acceptable service on his part and that of his sons.
Moses felt the force of the sentiment, and sympathizing with his brother, expressed his approbation of what he had done ; nor do we find God himself passing any censure upon it. A striking
incident to show, that he desires mercy rather than sacrifice, and that he knows how to pity, and make allowance for, the weaknesses and distresses of our nature.
After those transactions, and while the Israelites were still encamped near Mount Sinai, Moses received from God, and communicated to the people, many additional laws and ordinances. They are recorded in Leviticus, and need to be studied and understood as an essential part of the Jewish code; and as illustrating the principles of the divine government, in separating the children of Israel from all the rest of mankind, to be his peculiar people, and to have him for their immediate, temporul Ruler and Sovereign. No one can derive that full instruction from the Bible which it was intended to impart, without giving particular attention to these and the other laws and ordinances of the Mosaic economy; and the author would again urge upon his reader the great importance of doing this.
Before bringing his instructions to Moses to a close, God, at this time, manifested his indignation, in a very severe manner, against a new offence which was committed among the Israelites. The son of Shelomith, an Israelitish woman, and whose father was an Egyptian, strove with a man of Israel in the camp. During the struggle he be. came so enraged, that he blasphemed the name of tbe Lord, and cursed. He was taken into custody
and carried to Moses, who ordered him, for the present, to be put into confinement, until the will of the Lord should be made known respecting him. This being done, Moses, as we have reason to think, resorted to the tabernacle, and, standing before the Divine glory, made inquiry on the subject. The response was a fearful one, showing the extent of the displeasure of Jehovah against such a sin, and worthy of our perpetual remembrance.
?! Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him, lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel; saying, whosoever curseth his God, shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him : as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.”
This sentence was carried into immediate execution, and is left on record to remind us of the heinous guilt of the blasphemer ; who, though now he may not suffer the penalty that was threatened by the Mosaic law, will have to meet that more awful one in the future world which Divine Jus. tice will inflict, unless he repents and obtains pardon through the Redeemer.
The laws and ordinances which were, at this time, made known to the children of Israel, for their perpetual observance, were accompanied with sanctions of deep import. If they were obedient, God promised them abundant blessings. The seasons should be fruitful. Internal peace should prevail, and complete security against all foreign invaders. Victory should crown all their conflicts with their enemies. Their numberg should increase greatly. God would establish his covenant with them; and dwell with them; and be their God, and they should be his people.
On the contrary, if they would not hearken unto him, and obey his statutes, but break the covenant which had been so solemnly formed between them, they must expect the most tremendous expressions of his displeasure. He would afflict them with terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that should consume the
and cause sorrow of heart. They should sow their seed in vain, for their enemies would reap the harvest, and conquer them, and reign over them. And if all these judgments would not bring them back to obedience, those of seven times greater severity would be infiicted; and of greater and still greater severity, should they continue to hold out in their rebellion. The pride of fruitful. Wild beasts should come among them, to rob them of their children, and destroy their catile, and
prey upon the men and women, making the whole land desolate.
To these horrors should be added still further destruction by the sword of their enemies, and the ravages of pestilence. Their bread should fail them, and their hunger become so uncontrollable, that they would eat the very flesh of their children. Their high places for idolatrous worship, and the images set up there, should be destroyed; and their carcasses should be cast upon the carcasses of the idols, and God would hold them in utter abhorrence. Their cities should be laid waste; their sanctuaries demolished; and the whole land brought into such a state of desolation, that even their enemies should be astonished at it. Those that were left should be carried into captivity, and scattered among the heathen.
And upon them that are left alive of you," such were the denunciations of Jehovah, "I will send a faintness into their hearts in the land of their enemies : and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when no one