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Thus, in every dispensation, has it pleased God to appoint an order of men, who should devote themselves exclusively to spiritual services; in the old dispensation, to the tabernacle ; in the new, to the altar. *
We find, therefore, our Lord himself in the Gospels, and the apostles in the Acts and Epistles, setting apart his ministers for their great and important office; and although under the “ better covenant,” the extreme penalty attached to any, the smallest interference with ministerial duties, has been abrogated, and we longer taught “ that the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death,” there still can be no question that the duties and privileges of the Christian ministry, are of the most solemn and awful nature; instituted by our Lord himself, and not without guilt to be intruded upon by any who have not been “ lawfully called, and sent to execute” them. And lest there should be the least doubt in our minds to what limits this exclusion extends, our church most wisely and warily adds, “ And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given them in the congregation, to call
* See Heb. xiii. 10.
and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard.” * We do not hesitate to say, that none but men so called, and so sent, can rightly exercise the ministerial functions; and every holy and devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is so called and so sent, whether, as in our own apostolical church, by the authority of the bishops, or in the Scotch, on non-conforming, or continental churches, “ by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery," is acknowledged by our church herself, in the Article we have just quoted, to be an accredited minister of the religion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
52. And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts.
53. But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel : and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony
54. And the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they.
The Levites, therefore, were always to be close to their work, always dwelling near to the tabernacle, that no time might be lost going to and fro; that whether on the march, or at the
* See Church of England Articles, No. xxiii.
halt, the important charge committed to them might never be for one moment out of sight, or out of mind. How important is every such lesson to the Christian! How earnest, how anxious, how watchful ought we to be, who have been so unspeakably honoured, as to have been made, by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit,
kings and priests unto our God,” that we be daily living in the closest communion with the true ark of the covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ. While every other Israelite “ pitched his tent by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts,” the Levite alone never forsook the centre of all his duties, and all his glory. Let, then, nothing induce us to wander; let us feel more and more, that it is only while enjoying the closest communion with our glorified Head, while drawing out of his fulness, grace for grace, that we can be either useful, or safe, or happy. Let the world retire to its own camp, and sit down beneath its own standard, but let the true child of God always remember that the “ angel of the Lord," ” even the uncreated angel, “ encampeth round about them that fear him," * and that “his banner over them is love." +
* Ps. xxxiv. 7.
+ Cant. ii. 4.
[Here may be read from chapter ii. to chapter
NUMBERS ix. 1-14.
1. And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
2. Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.
3. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season : according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.
When we were reading of the original institution of the passover in the book of Exodus, we were expressly informed that this important service was not intended for the Israelites, during their journeyings in the wilderness, but after their settlement in Canaan. For we are told, 66 And it shall come to pass,
be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this
It is not surprising, therefore, that the Israelites required a renewed order before they thought of solemnising this feast in the desert of Sinai. It was the only time, during the forty years of their wanderings, that it was so celebrated; and whence was this exception, we know not, for we are not informed; but probably, in mercy to the generation that was to be swept away without ever beholding the promised land, the Almighty permitted them, on the first anniversary of their wonderful deliverance, thus to be partakers of the blessings of this holy institution. That these blessings were highly valued by the congregation of Israel, is sufficiently evident, from what immediately follows.
4. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.
5. And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai ; according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.
6. And there were certain men who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day : and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day :
7. And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man : wherefore are we kept back,
* Exodus xii. 25.