CLEAN AND UNCLEAN"To make a difference between the unclean and the clean." Leviticus. 11:47.
"You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean." Leviticus 11:47
Where is the spectacle, which can compare with the true child of God? He once was as a withered branch. No loveliness—no worth adorned him. But in due time a gracious eye looked on his ruined state; a gracious hand transferred him to the garden of the Lord. And now unfailing grace continues its preserving care. Old things are gone. All things are fresh in verdure—fragrance—bloom.
The believer is a new-born heir of heaven. As such he journeys in new companionship along new paths to his new home. He is no longer of the earth and earthly. While his hands hold the title-deeds of heavenly life, his separated walk is worthy of his lofty prospects. His demeanor is as distinguished, as his hope. His heart is far away; and an uplifted heart uplifts the thoughts, and words, and works. An impulse from on high compels high motives and desires. The stream must seek its native level. The attracted steel must tend towards the magnet. Thus the new man is drawn towards God, and thus he soars above the world's debasing plain.
No doubtful text proclaims this truth. 'Come', is the constant Gospel-cry. What is it to come, but to leave sin, the world, and self, and enter fenced pastures, where Jesus guides His guarded flock?
But more than precept teaches separation. A nation stands its living type. Israel's children picture the family of grace. Were they commingled with the common race of man? Far otherwise. Peculiar ordinances set them apart. Peculiar institutions were a broad barrier around. Peculiar laws raised the high pathway, in which they walked alone.
Their every act in every day was a distinction. Their code was a sign-post guiding from open thoroughfare. Many rules enclosed them within holy bounds. Many commands secured a differing life.
But one especial instance here claims notice. Their tables were hedged around. A garrison of prohibitions circled them. Their diet was most rigidly confined. Were all the beasts, which browsed in meadows, or which climbed the hills, or lurked in forests, their allotted food? Might they partake of all the watery tribe, which sported in the lakes, or hid in the sea's depths? Did all the winged creation minister regalement to their palate? Might choice select all creeping reptiles, at its will? It was not so. Only certain ones might be touched. The rest must be most scrupulously shunned. A mark was fixed on each. There was no animal—no fish—no bird—no insect of the soil, which was not Clean or Unclean—permitted or forbidden. Each had its voice. Taste or taste not.
Reader, it is well to delve the mine of this extensive law. It must be wise; the God all-wise ordains it. It must be good; the hand of love dictates it. What then is the significance of the law? May the Spirit's light reveal!
They stop far short who limit the design to some intrinsic difference in created flesh, or only find a guidance to nutritious food. The palate needed not such heaven-sent aid. Luxury would soon discern the luscious and the vile. Besides, the mark is not, healthy—unhealthy; tasteful—tasteless; but Clean—Unclean. No. These instructions teach the wing of faith to stretch to higher regions of exalted thought. Here is a school to benefit the soul. The mind is hereby disciplined to spiritual advance. The need of inward purity is here prescribed.
The first result is far removal from all heathen contact. God's chosen tribes could hold no social fellowship with idol-worshipers. There was no common eating-table. The foods of the nations were unclean. The Jew could have no seat at impure tables. The dish, there presented, might contain polluted food. Thus a wide gulf divided. Thus a strict ordinance prevented intermixing union. Reader, this law commands God's people to be separate.
The literal code indeed has ceased. All shadows vanish. The Gospel-substance is revealed. But still the principle is divine. It cannot die. The holy significance lives, and will live on, until the last saint shall pass through glory's porch.
The need remains, because the world is still the world. Its baits, its filth, its vile corruptions, are unchanged. It still extends a net for the unwary soul. It still is the broad road going down to hell. It still is the wide gate courting the giddy multitude. Hence Scripture's voice still cries, Beware. Beacons still show a coast bestrewed with wrecks, and wisdom calls the holy pilgrim from a treacherous path.
Reader, you grant, that a clear precept prohibits the world. But perhaps the term conveys no definite idea. Some shrouded phantom passes in shadowy guise. No features broadly stare you in the face. Be not deceived. The world, though masked, has still its own most fearful form. The mass of mankind, strangers to God, and rebels to His grace, are its material. They, whose chief good resides in things of time and sense; they, whose horizon stretches not beyond this fleeting scene; they, whose one object is to press most earthly joy into earth's little day; they, who dance after pleasure's bubble, and scorn the cross, and make not Christ their all, are the vile stones which form the worthless pile. All, who bear Satan's yoke, and do his work, and wear his badge, and heed his will, are subjects of that wide empire—world. The line is really broad. Enlightened eyes discern it. Believers may not cross it. They must be separate, as light from darkness—filth from purity—life from the dreary grave.
There is much mercy in the strict command. Come, mark this. The climate of the world checks growth in grace. True godliness is a tender plant. It cannot thrive, when nipped with chilling winds. A clinging weed destroys the opening flower. A coiling serpent sucks the heart-blood. Rough contact blunts an edge. Thus the world injures souls. It must be left, or holiness will sicken, and wither, and die. The sun of Solomon goes down in clouds of shame, because his swerving heart declined to pleasure's lure. Love therefore warns. "Be not conformed to the world." Rom. 12:2.
The world stands forward, as Christ's open foe. It wages an incessant war against pure truth. Is it not then a traitor's part to hold close converse with the adversary's camp? Is it not shame, and worse than shame, to take familiar counsel with a rebel host? He cannot raise the banner of the cross, or march to victory by Jesus' side, who wavers between hostile ranks. Love cries again, "Come out,"—"Be separate." The true believer glories in his Lord. In every company, act, and step, he is to show the livery of his King. It is false witness to adopt the language of an alien race. It is desertion of the holy service, to take the garb of a strange household. Can Moses live, as an Egyptian prince? He chooses hardships, that he may testify allegiance to the cause of God. "We are the salt of the earth." But mixed with filth, the salt will lose its savor.
All usefulness is slain, when Christ is left. It is a common sneer, that saintliness is a mere pretense, and faith is but hypocrisy's disguise. Suspicion fastens on the wavering steps. The world, with all its blindness, quickly reads the language of the life. It slowly credits a consistent saint. But soon, how soon, it derides inconsistent walk! In such cases, zeal is a pointless arrow and a broken bow. No argument—no eloquence—no diligence prevails. Words, which seem insincere, touch not the heart. No teacher really teaches with a doubtful fame. Therefore Jesus says, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:14
Believer, ponder well these obvious thoughts. Would you know peace, as an unfailing stream? Would you pluck joys from ever-verdant boughs? Would you from morn until night bask in the sunshine of Christ's smile? Would you have happy consciousness, that every step is an ascent towards heaven? Would you be cheered with the sweet hope, that life is not a barren field, or summer brook? Would you pour comfort into many hearts, and wear at last a diadem of saved souls? If such be your desires, avoid the poison of the world. If you tread down the barrier line, if you stray out beyond the fold's wide fence, you wrong your soul—you bring reproach upon the Lord—your days will be uncertain sound—your memory will be no instructive page. Cling to the confines of the cross. There is no blessedness without.
But this rule of unclean foods did more than cause the Jews to dwell alone. It forced UNCEASING VIGILANCE. It placed them in the tower of constant circumspection. It always whispered in their ears, 'Beware!' Their eyes could scarcely look around, without the thought of God's dividing line. Each object of their touch was "Clean or Unclean."
The lesson is most obvious. We thus are taught at every step to ask God's will—at every moment to inquire, 'Is this a lawful path?' It is a grievous error to suppose that each minutest matter is not the seed of some results. The circumstance of every moment affects the soul, and so affects the endless state. The stamp, "Clean or Unclean," belongs to every movement of each mind—to every act throughout each day. Reader, learn hence to cultivate a watchful course. Apply a constant test.
When thoughts arise, (and multitudes, which baffle number, hourly pass the threshold of the heart) examine them in Gospel-light, and let none linger, which are found to be unclean. In converse, words roll forth—many as drops in the fast-flowing tide—each is according to God's will, or adverse to His mind. Pause, and reflect. Pause, and uplift the prayer, "Set a watch upon my mouth, and keep the door of my lips." Let all be checked, which go not forth, as 'Clean', to minister pure grace.
No ground is neutral. We always stand in right or in wrong path. Hence the enquiry should often sift the soul, "What are you doing here?" Is "Clean or Unclean" God's judgment of this place? This line, when drawn by Scripture-rule, would sweep God's children from many a contaminating place.
No book is so insipid, as to have no character, and leave no tinge. How many trifling offsprings of the worldly pen would find an early and unknown grave, if the enquiry, "Clean or Unclean," were solemnly applied. Let, then, the truth be settled in each mind, that there is no indifferency on earth. Each moment flies on high, recording, "Clean or Unclean," concerning life's employ.
Reader, another thought demands reply. Your soul, your precious soul, your never-dying soul, Is it "Clean or Unclean?" By nature it is the vilest filth. All Adam's race flow forth, as unclean waters from an unclean spring. But are you cleansed? Do you live bathing in a Savior's blood? Are you the mansion of His purifying Spirit? Jesus can cleanse from every sin, and He alone. Cleave then to Him. The Spirit sanctifies, and He alone. Seek His indwelling. Now is the only cleansing day. The door will soon be closed. "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still." Rev. 22:11.
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