"To make a difference between the unclean and the clean."
"You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean."
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
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 adversaries 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
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
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.