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religion too. The heads of it, husband and wife, are in a sense one; their children are parts of themselves; their relations and friends living with them are more nearly allied to them than others abroad; and their servants for obvious reasons are particularly interested in their regards. These are all described too as duelling together, and on this account, as we shall more largely shew hereafter, they ought to consider one another as brethren and friends.
Secondly, The virtue recommended is Unity, that is, living together not merely in peace and upon general terms of good will, but in the most perfect amity, friendship, and affection. It is a unity that stands opposed not only to prejudice, malevolence, and hostility; but to neutrality, indifference, and As enmity, with all its wretched attendants of
anger, clamour, and strife, should he for ever held at a distance from the house; so coldness, which is very nearly as inimical to domestic cheerfulness and happiness, should never be permitted to enter into it. All the members of the family, united in nature and interest, should most cordially esteem and love one another, and be ready on all occasions to contribute the utmost in their power to each other's felicity. Now,
Thirdly, In the commendation of this virtue the psalmist is very profus.
Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Domestic friendship is most fit and right in itself, and highly conducive to the comfort of individuals and the happiness of the whole. There is something truly beautiful and lovely in it. Who can behold a family united by the sacred bands of harmony and love, without envying them of this felicity ? Such a society is a little heaven upon earth, and makes the nearest approach to perfection of any civil connection whatever. Too much cannot be said in praise of it. Now all this the psalmist illustrates by two very pleasing compari
The first is taken from the ointment poured on the head of the High Priest. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments. Aaron was by divine appointment the High Priest of the Israelitish church, His duty it was, arrayed in the sacerdotal garments, to offer sacrifice, intercede, and bless. At the proper seasons he approached the altar of God and the mercy-seat as their representative, and procured for them many great national blessings. And in this character he was an eminent type of Christ, who is the great High Priest of our profession, and through whose mediation we obtain peace with God, and all the blessings of grace and glory. To his office, so beneficial to the whole Jewish commonwealth or family, Aaron was initiated by the ceremony here referred to. An ointment of exquisite richness and fragrance was prepared, and poured by Moses upon
his head at the door of the tabernacle a. From his head it ran down upon his beard, even to the skirts or skirt of his garment (for the word is in the singular number): not to the lower skirt of the sacerdotal robe, (for it is not probable, nor was it convenient, that the sacred oil should be poured upon him with such unnecessary profusion) but to the upper skirt of it, the mouth or collar of it, as the word signifies. The fragrance of this rich perfume instantly communicated itself to all who attended this most solemn and pleasing ceremony. They enjoyed the grateful smell, and were the more delighted with it as it was a sure omen of those peaceful and harmonious pleasures with which they were to be blessed through his mediation. Now unity among brethren, the psalmist tells us, is like the ointment thus poured upon the head of Aaron. There is a sweetness and gratefulness in it, especially when sanctified by genuine piety, that fails not to make all the members of the family happy, and to refresh and entertain those who occasionally associate with it. Oh ! how the aromatic savour of this rich cordial diffuses itself through the house, just as did the precious odours with which Mary anointed the feet of the Prince of peace, at the entertainment made for him at Bethany b.
The next figure by which the psalmist illustrates what he commends, is taken from the dew. It is,' says he, as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commandeth the blessing, even life for evermore,'
a See Exod. XXX. 22-ult. Lev. viii. 12.
b John xii. 3.
Dew is a small thick kind of mist or rain, which sometimes falls in a gentle, imperceptible, and plentiful manner on the earth; and contributes not a little to the beauty and fragrance of the garden, and the verdure and fruitfulness of the field. It descends in great abundance in some countries, at particular seasons of the year, and is justly considered as a very great blessing. Mount Hermon, situated on the northern border of the promised land, without Jordan, was famous for it. On which account the psalmist elsewhere poetically describes Tabor and Hermon as rejoicing in God a. The dew is also said to descend on the mountains of Sion, that is, “ the dew of Hermon descended on those mountains," for so the words should be strictly rendered. And if it be enquired how this could be, the answer is, that the clouds which lay on Hermon, being brought by the north winds to Jerusalem, might cause the dews to fall plentifully on that place. But some have thought that not Jerusalem, but the lower parts of mount Hermon are here intended. For it is remarkable that Hermon is actually called Sion in the book of Deuteronomy b. And so they conclude that the summit of that mountain had the particular name of Hermon, and the lower part of it that of Sion. And this being the case, they understand the psalmist as making a further comparison, between the precious ointment upon the head of Aaron that ran down unto his beard, and so to the skirts of his garment; and the dew of Hermon that descended from the summit of that hill to the parts
a Psal. lxxxix. 12.
Mr. Maundrell, in his journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, speaking of the two mounts, Tabor and Hermon, says, “We were sufficiently instructed by experience what the holy psalmist means by the dew of Hermon, our tents being as wet with it as if it had rained all night." See p. 57. edit. 3d.
b Deut. iv. 48.
c This interpretation of the passage Dr. Pococke gives us in his Observations on Palestine. “ If any one,” says he, “ considers this beautiful piece of eloquence of the psalmist, and that Hermon is elsewhere actually called Sion, he will doubtless be satisfied, that the most natural interpretation of the psalmist would be to suppose, though the whole might be called both Hermon and Sion, yet that the highest summit of this mountain was in particular called Hermon, and that a lower part of it had the name of Sion; on which supposition, the dew falling from the top of it down to the lower parts, might well be compared in every respect to the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down unto VOL. II.
But I should rather suppose the mountains of Sion, properly so called, are here intended: for to these what is immediately added best and only agrees,—there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. On these mountains Jehovah, the God of Israel, was pleased to erect his palace, therein he resided, there he from time to time met his favourite people, accepted their sacrifices, answered their prayers, and poured both temporal and spiritual blessings upon them. And if we consider Sion as a type of the Christian Church in its present and especially its future glorious state, there is a further more striking and significant emphasis in the phrase of his commanding there the blessing, even life for evermore : for the best and noblest blessings God has bestowed on his church which he hath redeemed by the blood of his Son. Now the dew of Hermon might, as we observed before, literally speaking, fall upon mount Sion. Or if that is not the sense of the words, the dew of Hermon might be a figure of those refreshing and enlivening joys which so plentifully descended on the tribes of Israel and Judalı, harmoniously assembled from time to time in the temple at Jerusalem: and it was natural enough for the psalmist to make a transition from the one to the other. And these blessings poured on the Jewish church, may be justly considered as further figurative of the superior blessings the Christian church now enjoys, and will hereafter possess in all their perfection. And so we are naturally led to run the parallel between the pleasures of domestic friendship and those peculiar to Christian societies. The former, especially if families are religious, very much resemble the latter. What sweet peace, harmony, and love, prevail in societies, formed on the plan Christ and his apostles have laid down, and consisting of individuals actuated by the genuine spirit of the gospel ! Like brethren, in the noblest sense of the expression, they dwell together in unity, bearing with one another, sympathising with one another, and labouring to promote one another's real welfare. And such is that domestic friendship we mean to recommend. The families
the beard, even unto Aaron's beard, and went down to the skirts of his clothing;' and that both of them in this sense are very proper emblems of the blessings of unity and friendship, which diffuse themselves throughout the whole som ciety," Vol. ii. Fart i. Book i. Ch. xviii.
where it is enjoyed may be compared to the mountains of Sion, to churches established in this and that place, yea I will add to the general assembly and church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven. God commands the blessing upon such families, even life for evermore. And to them our salutations should be directed as were the apostle's to that of Priscilla and Aquila, Greet the church that is in their house a.
The words thus explained, we proceed to a more particular consideration of the nature and blessedness of Domestic Friendship. By this virtue we mean that good-will, harmony, union, and affection which ought to prevail among the several members that compose a family. In discoursing of this subject we shall,
First, Lay down the true and proper grounds of Domestic Friendship;
Secondly, Enumerate some of the natural and pleasing expressions of it; and,
Thirdly, Give sundry directions for the cherishing and promoting it.
First, We begin with laying down the true and proper grounds of Domestic Friendship. Now these are-RelationCharacter-Vicinity—and Interest.
Between beings that bear little or no relation to each other, there can be little or no friendship. On the contrary, relation begets friendship, and the more intimate the relation is the stronger is the inducement to it. Now mankind do all
possess one common nature, and this is a reason why they should all cultivate friendly dispositions towards one another. But familyrelation is the most intimate in nature, and therefore a ground of friendship that demands particular attention. We have already enumerated the several members of which families usually consist: but we must here take a more particular view of them, in order to shew how favourable the relation that subsists between them is to the idea of friendship.
The union between man and wife is, or however ought to be, the result of previous esteem and affection; and it is so very intimate, so mutually beneficial, and so permanent, that one would
a Rom. xvi. 5.