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"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"... this is the law." Lev 7:1
We are thankful for definiteness. Again and again this word occurs in the directions given to Moses. Men are not called upon to make any vital laws for themselves. They are called upon to a kind of legislation which is either limited by momentary convenience or is expressive of an eternal law underlying the very constitution of life and society. It would be impossible, for example, to make a. law to steal. Even if the law were laid down in so many words the heart would instantly detect its wickedness, and the spirit of man, inspired by the Almighty, would rise against it in burning rebellion. Here and there a man might be found base enough to avail himself of such a law; but the great human heart would disallow and disavow so wicked a pretence. There will be no difficulty in asserting the law where the mind and the heart are free from prejudice. God always looks for the honest heart, the pure heart, the contrite heart, the broken heart; with such a heart God has no difficulty, every word of his addresses itself instantly to that heart's necessity and pain. We are not at liberty to fix upon isolated lines in the Bible and magnify these into laws; our duty, where anything is wanting in absolute definiteness, is to compare Scripture with Scripture, and to find out the Biblical and spiritual meaning rather than the narrow letter, which by its very narrowness may fail to express the divine purpose. The way to understand the divine law is to discover it in the very spirit of the whole Bible. To find out one line of vital importance it may be necessary to read the whole Scripture through from end to end. Where does the Bible point to two Christs? Where does the Bible justify the worship of two Gods? Where does the Bible encourage the worship of God and Mammon? The Bible is always calling its readers to definiteness Of conviction and preciseness of religious homage. There is nothing merely dogmatic or narrow-minded in this. It may be made dogmatic and narrow-minded by those who pervert divine instructions; but definiteness has no necessary connection with arbitrary dogmatism. The giving of definite instructions saves time; the giving of definite instructions saves the imagination from fruitless wondering and unprofitable speculation. What doth the Lord thy God require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? They who turn religion into a difficulty, or spiritual worship into a metaphysical puzzle, have in them an evil heart of unbelief, and are not to be trusted as teachers of the divine law.
"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"... that soul shall be cut off from his people." Lev 7:27
There are terrible excisions in life. Expatriation is one. Dismissal from the household circle is another. Expulsion from friendly confidence and association is another. There is a kinship of souls, and that kinship may be forfeited by evil behaviour. Excommunication is not a merely priestly invention; it is based upon a divine decree, and is necessary for social health and honour. Expulsion is threatened to all evil-doers, even by Christ himself. The unprofitable servant is to be cast into outer darkness. Those who have only known the name of Christ are to be disavowed as utterly unknown to him, and are not to be admitted, however loud may be their too-late knocking at his door. The man without the wedding garment is to be turned away from the feast. There is something solemnly awful in this notion of excision. The social touch may be lost He who was once a child at home may be driven away by the scorn of those who have discovered his unworthiness. Had the man never known the warmth of home and the charm of confidence the outer darkness would not be so blank and heavy to him. It is when he remembers what he has lost that the night settles upon him as a burden which he cannot bear. Cut off! Cut off from his people! Living alone for ever! Or, what may be even worse, living for ever amongst strangers who detest his appearance, who suspect his motive, and who flee from his approach! By such hints as these we may get the beginning of an idea of what is meant by eternal punishment! We have all been in a sense cut off from our people. The grand evangelical doctrine is that we may return and be re-established in the household from which we have been ejected. This is, at all events, an encouraging doctrine, full of tender comfort, and pregnant with a suggestion which may well lift the soul out of the deepest despair. The word of the Bible is always a word calling upon the sinner to return. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God is waiting to receive the returning prodigal. This attitude on his part does not express a mere sentiment. He is the very God who first cut off the soul, that through excision he might magnify the grace of salvation. The soul knows when it has been cut off from its people. It has longings and yearnings which tell a bitter tale. It is conscious of necessities which, when allowed freely to express themselves, cry for home and sense of sonship and assurance of security. Imagine a star cut off from its central sun. Imagine a branch cut out of the vine and cast away. Look at a flower plucked up by the roots and disassociated from the processes of the spring. All these images but dimly suggest the appalling condition of the soul that has been cut off from its natural relations, dispossessed and disennobled by the hand of righteousness. Out of all these considerations comes a call to caution, circumspection, and religious anxiety. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Let there be no boasting, as if discipline and watchfulness were no longer necessary. The prayer of the soul should always be, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe."
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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 7". Parker's The People's Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26