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The first Sunday after Easter.
MORNING. NUMBERS xvi. Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men : and they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown : ' and
3 Suppose all the congregation of
Christ's Church to be equally holy, gether against Moses and
all are not therefore equally fitted against Aaron, and said unto for the office of the ministry. That them, Ye take too much upon can be duly executed only by those you, seeing all the congre
who have received authority there
to* gation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them : wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon 5 Moses and Aaron had received his face: Sand he spake unto their office from Almighty God; it Korah and unto all his com- could not therefore be assumed by
others without sin,- offending the pany, saying, Even to mor
great Being who had invested his row the LORD will shew who chosen servants with the office, and are his, and who is holy; and had given the authority under which will cause him to come near it was to be executed. unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him. This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company; and put fire therein, and put incense in them before the Lord to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy : ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi. And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them ? and he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee : and seek ye the priesthood also ? for which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against
* The argument that others were as holy as Moses and Aaron, comes to nothing. All the soldiers of an armed host may be equally brave, but all are not equally fitted to command. For that, they must receive their commission from supreme authority.
him? And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab : which said, We will not come up : is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards : wilt thou put out the eyes of these men ? we will not come up. 15 And Moses was very wroth, 15 Who shall wonder at the indig. and said unto the LORD, Re- nation of the divine legislator, when spect not thou their offering: that office of which he felt alike the I have not taken one ass authority and the responsibility, was from them. neither have I intruded into by the proud and un
authorized ? hurt one of them. And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow : and take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer. And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation : and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. 22 And they fellu
?? How placable ! how tender are
. upon their faces, and said, o all truly great minds! Moses and God, the God of the spirits Aaron forgot the ingratitude and of all flesh, shall one man presumption of their enemies in sin. and wilt thou be wroth the dreadful calamity hanging over with all the congregation ?
them. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram ; and the elders of Israel followed him. 20 And he spake unto 26 Avoid the company of the wicked. the congregation, saying, De- To commune with them is to breathe part, I pray you, from the the tainted air. Death is in their tents of these wicked men. ways, and in their words. and touch nothing of their's, lest ye be consumed in all their sins. So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side : and Dathan and Abiram came
out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children. And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works ; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them : and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them : for they said, Lest the earth 35 And shall we disregard the swallow us up also. * And threatenings of the same God ? there came out a fire from Punishment may be delayed, but it the LORD, and consumed the is not less sure, if men repent not. two hundred and fifty men that offered incense. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder ; for they are hallowed. $ The censers of 38 We are here beautifully inthese sinners against their structed to regard holy things with own souls, let them make all due reverence. them broad plates for a covering of the altar : for they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed : and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel. And Eleazar the priest took the brasen censers, wherewith they that were burnt had offered ; and they were made broad plates for a covering of the altar : to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD; that he be not as Korah, and as his company : as the Lord said to him by the hand of Moses. But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD. And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation : and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the
Lord appeared. And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, “s Get you up 45 Never were these honoured serfrom among this congrega- vants of the Lord so truly great, as tion that I may consume in this their humiliating token of a
full sense of their own unworthiness them as in a moment. And
before God, even as suppliants. they fell upon their faces.
46 Behold the perfect and heartfelt 46 And Moses said unto Aa
compassion of Moses for his erring ron, Take a censer, and put fellow-creatures, and his complete fire therein from off the altar, forgiveness of the injustice he had and put on incense, and go experienced from them. quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them : for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. 17 And Aaron took 47 This was indeed in the true spirit as Moses commanded, and of the Gospel of Christ-overcoming ran into the midst of the con- evil with good * gregation ; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people : and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living ; and the plague was stayed. Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation : and the plague was stayed.
O God ! grant to thy Church on earth freedom from the presumptuous sin of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram! and so bless thine appointed ministers in the work enjoined them, that having served thee faithfully here on earth, they, and the people severally committed to their charge, may stand before thee hereafter purified together, and together glorified, through the sole merits and mediation of Jesus Christ thy Son.
EVENING. NUMBERs xxii. And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many : and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. He sent mes
* Blessed be our Lawgiver—a greater than Moses—who is daily and hourly standing between us and the plague of our corrupt and sinful hearts, causing even that plague to cease.
sengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor* to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: "come What an indirect acknowledgment now therefore, I pray thee, that Jehovah is the moral governor curse me this people ; for
of the universe—that of kingdoms,
he setteth up one and putteth down they are too mighty for me :
another. When He protects, man peradventure I shall prevail, assails in vain. Reader, cleave to that we may smite them, and God! If He be for thee, it matters that I may drive them out of not who is against thee. the land : for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak. And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam. And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth : come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and 12 O my soul ! cherish this blessed drive them out. 12 And God truth for thy comfort in trial ! Go said unto Balaam, Thou shalt on thy way, rejoicing ; for we know not go with them ; thou shalt
that none can curse where thy God
hath blessed ; and thy God is unnot curse the people : for changeable. Israel's God of blessthey are blessed. And ing then, is now thine ! Balaam rose up in the morn- 13 Balaam would readily havecursed ing, and said unto the princes the people for the rewards of diviof Balak. Get you into your nation (ver. 7). How painfully his
real character shows itself in the land: lor the LORD reruseth expression, “ God refuseth to let me to give me leave to go with go." The will to do evil was in his you. And the princes of heart-the power to do his will was Moab rose up, and they went not in his hand. unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us. And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith
* Beor, the fourth in descent from Esau, was father of Bela and Balaam. Bela was the first king of Edom. The land of Moab was near Edom. Balaam was accounted a prophet of the Lord; but he lived at Pethor, a city of Mesopotamia ; where it is probable that the people blended the worship of the true God with the worship of idols.