Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
5. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
5. Loquutus est autem Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo:
6. Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.
6. Appropinquare fac tribum Levi, et siste eam coram Aharone sacerdote, ut ministret ei.
7. And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.
7. Et custodiant custodiam ejus, et custodiam universi coatus coram tabernaculo conventionis, ut exequantur cultum tabernaculi.
8. And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.
8. Custodiant quoque omnia utensilia tabernaculi conventionis, custodiamque filiorum Israel, ut exequantur culture tabernaculi.
9. And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.
9. Da inquam Levitas ipsi Aharon, et filiis ejus: dati, dati namque sunt illi ex filiis Israel.
10. And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
10. Aharon autem et filios ejus praeficies, custodientque sacerdotium suum: externus sane qui accesserit morietur.
5. And the Lord spake unto Moses. This passage contains two heads: first, That the Levites should be set apart for the ministry of the sanctuary and altar; and, secondly, That they should obey the chief priests of the family of Aaron, and do nothing except by their authority and command. But it has been already said, and we shall hereafter see again, that the tribe of Levi in general was divinely chosen to perform the sacred offices; so that the people might know that no one was worthy of so honorable a charge; but that it depended on the gratuitous calling of God, whose attribute it is to create all things out of nothing. In this way, not only was the temerity of those repressed who might be foolishly ambitious of the honor, but the whole Church was taught that, in order to worship God aright, there was need of extraneous aid. For, if the Levites had not stood between, the Law prohibited the rest of the people from having access to God, since it brought in the whole human race guilty of pollution. But, in order that they might be more certainly directed to the One Mediator, the high priesthood was exalted, and one priest was chosen to preside over all the rest: on this account God would have the Levites subject to the successors of Aaron. At the same time, He had regard to order, for a multitude, which is not governed by chiefs, will always be disorderly. Yet, it is unquestionable that the supreme power of Christ was represented in the person of Aaron; and hence the folly of the Papists is refuted, who transfer, or rather wrest, this example to the state of the Christian Church, 180 so as to set the bishops over the presbyters, and thus to fabricate the primacy of the Roman See. But if the true meaning of this figure be sought, it will be more appropriate to reason that, whatever ministers and pastors of the Church are now appointed, they are placed as it were under the hand of Christ, in order that they may usurp no dominion, but behave themselves modestly, as having to render an account to Him who is the Prince of pastors. (1Pe 5:4.) Hence we conclude that the Papacy is only founded in wicked sacrilege; for Christ is unjustly deprived of His own, if any one else is feigned to be Aaron’s successor. Meanwhile, the political distinction of ranks is not to be repudiated, for natural reason itself dictates this in order to take away confusion; but that which shall have this object in view, will be so arranged that it may neither obscure Christ’s glory nor minister to ambition or tyranny, nor prevent all ministers from cultivating mutual fraternity with each other, with equal rights and liberties. Hence, too, was taken that declaration of the Apostle, that it is not lawful for any man to take this honor upon himself, but that they are the legitimate ministers of the Church who are “called” to be so. (Heb 5:4)
“Lesquels partissent tellement l’ordre de leur Hierarchyie qu’en la fin ils parvienent a la primaute du Siege Romain;” who so divide the order of their Hierarchy, that at length they arrive at the primacy of the See of Rome — Fr.