The Clean and the Unclean
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat."Leviticus 11:2, 3.
HE MOSAIC LAW ATTACHED great importance to meats and drinks: the Christian religion attaches none. The apostle Peter was shown by the vision of a sheet let down from heaven, not only that all nations were now to receive the gospel message, but that all kinds of food were now clean, and that all the prohibitions which had formerly been laid upon them for legal purposes were now once for all withdrawn. A Christian may, if he pleases, put himself under restrictions as to these matters. You will remember that the apostle Paul says, "I know and am persuaded of the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself, but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." I wot our apostle was tender of weak consciences; but he could expostulate with the brethren somewhat thus, "If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye dogmatizetouch not this, taste not that, handle not the otherand all about things which perish with the using?" The doctrine of the New Testament is expressly laid down, "Every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving." And as for the practice enjoined upon believers, "All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient." In the example of Paul we have full liberty; he would put no embargo upon the conscience. But in his example we have also fervent charity; he would put no stumbling-block in his brother's way. "If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth." The levitical law enjoined many precepts as to meats and drinks; but those carnal ordinances were imposed until the time of reformation. Since then, this Mosaic institution was not designed to be perpetual, we feel certain that it must have had some use at the time when it was first established, and during the time in which it was sustained. As that was pecuharly a typical dispensation, we feel persuaded that we shall not exaggerate the uses of the text if we show that there was something instructive to us and something typical of the better covenant in the command that the people were to eat no creatures but those which divided the hoof and those which chewed the cud.
but the slime of the serpent is on them all,
Beneath the shadow of thy wings."
When I walk abroad in this temple of nature, and seek to behold nature's God, I may not light upon a spot in the universe where the curse of sin has never inflicted a blight, or where the hope of redemption should not inspire a prayer. Sometimes, brethren you get all alone and quiet, but do not imagine that you are even there free from sin. As the most beautiful landscape, so the sweetest retirement cannot shut out uncleanness. As the fly or the insect would intrude into the arbour where the Jew would worship, so sin will haunt and molest us even in the closet of devotion. Get up Christians, and be upon your watch-towers. You may sleep, but your enemies never will; you may suppose yourselves safe, but then are you most in danger. See that you put on the whole panoply of God, and are armed from head to foot, and having done all, watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation. Every morning we ought to ask the Lord to keep us from unknown sins, to preserve us from temptations that we cannot foresee, to check us in every part of life if we are about to go wrong, and to hold us up every hour that we sin not. You will say it must have been an unpleasant thing for the Jew always to have sin before his eye, nor would you wish every aspect of life to be thus fouled before your eye; but it will not be so unpleasant for you, my brother, because you know there is a redemption, and your faith can realize the end of the curse by sin being put away. Shut not your eyes to sin, but keep Christ always before you, and you will walk aright. I wish that some of my hearers had sin before their eyes now. Oh! you that trifle with it, you do not know what it is! Fools make a mock of sin. You laugh at it now; you do not understand what a fire it is that you have kindled to consume your soul! Oh! you that think it is such a little thing, its deadly poison will soon envenom all your blood, and then you will discover that he that plays with sin plays with damnation. May the Lord set sin straight before your eyes, and then set the cross of Christ there too, and so you will be saved. Two prayers I ask all my hearers to praythey are very brief"Lord show me myself." If there is any man here who says he would pray but he does not know what to pray, for; pray that every night and morning"Lord show me myself;" and if God hear you, you will soon be in such a wretched state that you will want another prayer, and then I give you this"Lord show me thyself;" and then if he shall show you himself hanging on the tree, the expiation for guilt, the Great God become man that he might put away sin, your salvation will be accomplished. 'Tis all the prayer that is wanted"Lord show me myself; Lord show me thyself; reveal sin and reveal a Savior." Lord, do this for all of us for thy name's sake.
III. And now, I come to show you a third teaching of my text. As this injunction was meant to separate the Jews from other nations, and to keep the pious Israelite in constant remembrance of his danger of falling into sin, so it was also intended to be A RULE OF DISCRIMINATION BY WHICH WE MAY JUDGE WHO ARE CLEAN AND WHO ARE UNCLEAN, THAT IS, WHO ARE SAINTS AND WHO ARE NOT.
There are two tests, but they must both be united. The beast that was clean was to chew the cud: here is the inner-life; every truehearted man must know how to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the sacred Word. The man who does not feed upon Gospel truth, and so feed upon it, too, that he knows the sweetness and relish of it, and seeks out its marrow and fatness, that man is no heir of heaven. You must know a Christian by his inwards, by that which supports his life and sustains his frame. But then the clean creatures were also known by their walk. The Jew at once discovered the unclean animal by its having an undivided hoof; but if the hoof was thoroughly divided, then it was clean, provided that it also chewed the cud. So there must be in the true Christian a pecuhar walk such as God requires. You cannot tell a man by either of these tests alone; you must have them both. But while you use them upon others apply them to yourselves. What do you feed on? What is your habit of life? Do you chew the cud by meditation? When your soul feeds on the flesh and blood of Christ have you learned that his flesh is meat indeed, and that his blood is drink indeed? If so 'tis well. What about your life? Are your conversation and your daily walk according to the description which is given in the Word of believers in Christ? If not, the first test will not stand alone. You may profess the faith within, but if you do not walk aright without, you belong to the unclean. On the other hand, you may walk aright without but unless there is the chewing of the cud within, unless there is a real feeding upon precious truth in the heart, all the right walking in the world will not prove you to be a Christian. That holiness which is only outward in moral not spiritual; it does not save the soul. That religion, on the other hand, which is only inward is but fancy; it cannot save the soul either. But the two together; the inward parts made capable of knowing the lusciousness, the sweetness, the fatness of Christ's truth; and the outward parts conformed to Christ's image and character: these conjoined point out the true and clean Christian with whom it is blessed to associate here, and for whom a better portion is prepared hereafter.
If you read the chapter through you will find there were some two or three animals about which the Jew would have some little difficulty. There was the camel that did chew the cud, but did not exactly divide the hoof. Now this animal seems to me fitly to representthough it may not have been so intendedthose men who seem really to feed on the truth and yet their walk and conversation are not aright. Their feet have been formed rather for the sandy desert of sin than for the sacred soil of godliness. Oh! I know some of youcome, let us be personalthere are some of you if I would always preach the doctrine of predestination, or some other doctrine of that kind, how sweet it would be to you! But your lives are not what they should be. Thank God there are not many of that sort who come here. They get angry with me very soon, and go off to other places where they can get sweet and savoury morsels, which exactly suit their taste, and hear no admonitions about their lives whatever. May the Lord deliver my ministry from ever being comfortable and flattering to souls that live in sin. I hope you will sometimes have to say, "I must either give up that sin or else give up my seat there." I know one who said, "Well! it has come to this: I cannot go there on Sunday evening and keep my shop open in the morning; it will not do for me to go and sit there, and hear the Word, and sing with those people on Sunday evening, and then hear songs and join in revelries on week-nights." I hope the Word of God here will be such a searching Word to some of you that you will even gnash your teeth at the preacher. He would sooner for you to do that than for you to say; "Peace, peace, where there is no peace," sucking in sweet doctrine, and yet living in sin. God deliver us from Antinomianism! We do preach against Arminianism, but that is a white devil compared with the black devil of Antinomianism. God save us from that! If there is any religion that will drug conscience, stimulate crime, crowd jails, and turn this world into an Aceldema, it is the religion of the man who preaches divine sovereignty but neglects human responsibility. I believe it is a vicious, immoral, and corrupt manner of setting forth doctrine, and cannot be of God. It would undermine morality, and put the very life of society in peril if it were largely believed, or if it were preached by men of any great weight who should have any great numbers to follow them. Oh, dear friends! be not as the animal which cheweth the cud but yet divideth not the hoof. Seek not merely to get precious doctrine, comforting to yourselves, but see that your walk is such as it should be.
Then there was another animal. It did not chew the cud, still the Jews thought it did. This was the coneythe nearest approach to it is the rabbit of our land"The coney, because he cheweth the cud but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean." The coney was a very timid creature, which burrowed in the rocks. "The coneys be a feeble folk, but they make their dwellings in the rocks," says Solomon. Now, there are some people who seem as if they like the gospel truth, and they may be put down in the class in which Moses puts the coney, which appeared to chew the cud, though it did not really do so. There are hundreds of this sort we know. They like the gospel, but it must be very cheap. They like to hear it preached, but as to doing anything to extend it, unless it were to lend their tongues an hour, they would not dream of it. The coney, you know, lived in the earth. These people are always scraping. John Bunyan's muck-rake is always in their hands. Neither to dig nor to beg are they ashamed. They are as true misers, and as coyetous, as if they had no religion at all. And many of these people get into our Churches, and are received when thee ought not to be. Coyetousness ought to exclude a man from Church fellowship as well as fornication, for Paul says, "Coyetousness, which is idolatry." He puts the brand right on its forehead, and marks what it is. We would not admit an idolater to the Lord's table; nor ought we to admit a coyetous man; only we cannot always know him. St. Francis Sales, who had a great many people come to him to confession, makes this note, that he had many men and women come to him who confessed all sorts of most outrageous crimes, but he never had one who confessed coyetousness. It is a kind of sin that always comes in at the back-door, and it is always entertained at the back-part of the house. People do not suspect it as an inmate of their own hearts. Mr. Coyetousness has changed his name to Mr. Prudent-Thrifty; and it is quite an insult to call him other than by his adopted name. Old vices, like streets notorious for vice, get new names given them. Avaricious grasping, they call that only "the laws of social economy;" screwing down the poor is "the natural result of competition;" withholding corn until the people curse oh! that is "just the usual regulation of the market." People name the thing prettily, and then they think they have rescued it from the taint. These people, who are all for earth, are like the coneys, who, though they chew the cud, burrow in the ground. They love precious truth, and yet they are all for this earth. If there are any such here, despite their fine experience, we pronounce them uncleanthey are not heirs of heaven.
The next creature mentioned in the chapter is the hare"The hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean." See how he fhes with bounding step over the ground! A clapping of the hands, and how he starts and is away! The hare is such a timid creature; she leayeth her food, and fleeth before the passer-by. I would not say a hard thing, but there are some people who appear to chew the cud, they love to hear the gospel preached; their eyes will sparkle sometimes when we are talking of Christ, but they do not divide the hoof: Like the hare, they are too timid to be domesticated among the creatures whom the Lord has pronounced clean. They do not come out from the world, enter into the Church, and manifest themselves wholly on the Lord's side. Their conscience tells them they should baptized as believersbut they dare not; they should be united with the people of God, and confess Christ before menbut they are ashamed, ashamed, ashamed! One fears lest his wife should know it, and she might ridicule. Some start abashed lest their friends should know it, for the finger of scorn or the breath of raillery could frighten them out of their senses. Others of them are alarmed because the world might, perchance, give them an ill name. Do you know where the fearful go? Not the fearing, not the doubtingfor there are many poor, humble doubters and fearers that are savedbut do you know where the fearful go? The fearful that are afraid of being persecuted, mocked, or even laughed at for Christdo you know where they go? You will find it in the Book of the Revelation"But the fearful and unbelieving shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Have you never read that sentence which says, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels?" There you are, young men! you are ashamed of Christ. You have just come up from the country, and you did not pray to God the other night because there was another young man in the room, and you were ashamed of him! In the name of God I do entreat you, nay, I command you, be not ashamed of your Master, Christ, and of the religion which you learned at your father's knee. There are others of you who work in a large shop, and you do not want to be jeered at, as the other young fellow is who works with you, because he is a Christian. You keep your love as a secret do you, and will not let it out? What! if Christ had only loved you in secret, and had never dared to come here on earth to be despised and rejected of men, where would you have been? "No man lighteth a candle and putteth it under a bushel." Do you think that Christ has lit a candle in your hearts that you may hide it? Oh! I pray you, be not like the hare. Let your hoof be so divided from the rest of mankind that they may say, "There is a manhe is not as bold as a hon, mayhap, but he is not ashamed to be a follower of Jesus; he does bear the sneer and gibe for him, and counts it his honor to be thought evil of for Jesus' sake." Oh! be not, I pray you, like the timid hare, lest you be found among the unclean!
There is one other creature mentioned"The swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you." Now, the swine is the emblem of those who do act rightly. They make a profession; before men they are the most upright and the most devout; but then the inner part is not right; they do not chew the cud. The foot is right, but not the inward part. There is no chewing, no masticating, no digesting the Word of Life. "But," says one, "why pick out a swine, because that does not seem to be a fair comparison." Yes it is, for there are no people in the world more like swine than those Pharisees who make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; whose hoof is divided enough, but whose inward part is very wickedness. I do not know an animal that might more filly picture out those vile, unclean Pharisees. You may say you think it is too hard a picture for you. You are put down thus in the catalogue, and I have no other place in which to put you. You are like swine, unless the grace of God be in you. What good does the swine do? Of what concern is life to him but to feed grossly and slumber heavily? And so your life, since the inward part is wrong, you bring no glory to God, you bring no good to your fellow-men. Oh! that the Lord would show you that dead morality, unattended by the love of God in the soul, will most certainly be of no avail! "You must be born again." "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven."
My text seems to be a dividing one; it divides the house in two. Remember, dear friends, the day is coming when a greater division than that which description can give will occur to all of us. But the same rule will be enforced. We shall be assembled in one crowd, a mightier crowd than language can picture, or imagination grasp. The books shall be openedbooks more terrible than this Book of Mercy. The Book of Life shall be unfolded and read, in which those washed in Jesu's blood, and so made clean, shall find their names recorded. They are borne to heaven. Listen to the music of the angels as they bear them up to God's right hand! Where will you be? Will you be with those who mount to heaven, or with yonder trembling, shrieking, screaming souls, who, as hell opens her mouth, descend alive into the pit? God help you if you are not on the righthand side! It is not too late. Jesus Christ is still preached to you. The way of salvation is very plain. It is thisBelieve in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Believe thou in Jesus. Then make a profession of thy faith in God's own ordained way and method, and you have his promise for it that you will be saved. God help you to believe, and you shall be saved through Jesus, and unto him shall be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.