holy, every one of them, and that Moses replied, 'The man whom the Lord doth choose, he shall be the holy one'" (Numbers 16:3-7). Every man, to be studied fairly, must be viewed both in his public and his private character. Officialism may but present to us a character put on. It may be the fair and honest expression of what a man really is.
I. THE CHARACTER OF AARON AS A MAN. It has been summarized in this way: "Aaron was of an impulsive character, leaning for the most part on his brother, but occasionally showing, as is not infrequent with such minds, a desire to appear independent." It must be borne in mind that Aaron received no such personal revelations from God as Moses received, and that he never occupied other than a subordinate place, and so never felt the sanctifying pressure of supreme responsibility. He was a man who could follow, but could not lead; who could serve, but could not rule. There are such among us; men who are good and trustworthy servants, but who ruin every business of which they have control. And these very men are often like Aaron, hankering after the positions for which they are unfitted. There is tinder of jealousy in such men at the success of others, which a spark will easily set alight. Aarons can carry out; they cannot initiate.
II. THE CHARACTER OF AARON AS A PRIEST. This office suited him precisely, because in it he could be wholly occupied with providing details. A priest is a man who is not required to have a will of his own. A course is prescribed; he is to be loyal in following out that course. Aaron's official character comes out well, but it was subject to some severe strains. He would have kept all right if things had continued in their regular routine. Routine does not weary the Aaron-type of man. But the unusual upset him. He felt nervous. He could not decide and stand firm; he let others overrule him, and unduly influence him; he could not rely on his own judgment; he tried to master difficulties in the weakest of ways, by compromises. - R.T.
They envied Moses.
Homilist.I. RELIGIOUS ENVY.
1. Envy is the chief in many respects of the principalities and powers of darkness in the soul.
2. But for many reasons religious envy is the worst kind of envy.(1) It is the most unreasonable. For in religious possessions there can be no monopoly. The man who envies another on account of his wealth may reason, "Because he has so much, I have so little"; but not so in spiritual riches.(2) It is the most impious. The more true religion a man has in him, the more he pleases and honours his Maker. To envy a man on this account, therefore, implies hostility to Heaven.
II. ITS DOOM (vers. 17, 18). It is here suggested —
1. That the evil passions of mankind are offensive to the Almighty
2. That nature is every moment at the disposal of its Maker.
3. That material events symbolize spiritual realities. Envy is a ruinous passion. It is like a whirlpool; it draws down into ruinous abysses all the faculties and powers of human nature.
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