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wherein the plague is with fire. And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean. This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment of woollen or linen, either in the warp, or woof, or anything of skins, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean."
A garment really infected must be burnt. There must be a final forsaking of every real sin. “If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off;" or if not, “thou goest to hell fire, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
So hateful to God is every approach to sin. Therefore, even on suspicion of evil, examine anxiously. If there be even suspicion as to a garment, the priest shuts it up-lays it by. So you give over the company you are afraid has an injurious influence on you; you give up the meats about which you are in doubt (Rom. xiv. 15), or about which your brother is in doubt. If you can really rend out the spotted part, this is well. David's pride of heart when he numbered the people, must be rent from him by the sharp stroke that cut off 70,000 threads of life. Hezekiah's pride must be rent off by the sword that is to destroy his people, and carry his wealth to Babylon. Peter's self-confidence must be torn from him, by his being placed among the other disciples in abasement; “Lovest thou me more than these?”
If, however, again the plague break out, the garment is no doubt deeply spoiled. It is to be burnt. Thus, when Israel's plenty and security—their garment of beauty and confidence-led them to indulgence and sin, the Lord rent off the pieces. But when, at last, the same sin ever returned, then he cast them away into an enemy's land.
But, lastly, if the garment out of which the piece was rent, be found remaining clean, then “let it be washed a second time." Let Peter, after his recovery from his fall, be warned once more, to impress the special need he has of securing himself against the temptation in time to
There is to be no doubtful holiness with God. He requires in his people definite and distinct purity. He likes us to make much use of His Holy Spirit, so that our freedom from the world's snares and the world's maxims may be plain to every eye. Oh, how holy is our God! How holy in himself! His heart has no other than holi. ness as its feeling. And when his eye looks abroad on us, it is holiness it searches for. He seeks for holiness in our person, and holiness in our circumstances-a holy people moving amid holiness! Hence it was that when Isaiah was enjoying a truly divine and heavenly gaze of the Lord of Glory, he perceived at once that both the person and his circumstances ought to be holy before such a God. He felt not only “ Woe is me because I am a man of unclean lips ;" but even had he been himself holy and pure, still, before such a God, how distressing the thought, “I dwell among a people of unclean lips !" Alas! alas! I am a leper myself—“Unclean, unclean !" and my garments have the fretting leprosy also! I dwell among the unclean!
There remains yet the mention of an unclean earth. That subject is taken up, chap. xiv. 33. But it is not mixed up with the person and his garments, because these two may be clean, while still the earth remains unpurified. There is to be a cleansing of our persons and of our circumstances now; but not a cleansing of the land or of its properties till an after period. And, to show this the more, observe that the laws about the person and his garment came into full operation while they wandered in the desert. But those laws that con'cerned the land—typical of the earth—did not come into operation till they reached Canaan. See chap. xiv. 34, “ When ye be come into the land of Canaan.” We are journeying onward to a pure land, to a new earth ; but, meantime, we are carefully to see that our persons and circumstances be pure. No sight is more peculiar, and perhaps more attractive to the eye of angels and of God, than holiness in full bloom, though springing up from the soil of a cursed earth! Such a magnificent plant, with such waste sands, and barren clay, and rocky soil all around! This recalls the image of the Son of Man, when in Nazareth “he grew up before him as a tender plant !"
Oh, seek to be holy in heart and life, in circumstances and situation! Breathe holiness from within, and breathe holiness on all around! Send a fragrant gale of holiness along the wild desert; it may slacken the pace of some weary, miserable wanderer, as the spices breathed from “ Araby the blessed” delay the ship that passes by. Send up the incense of holiness to the Lord, giving him back his own; and let it be known above that the Spirit who goeth to and fro in all the earth, striving with men, has found a dwelling-place in some souls, and has begun to create a heaven below!
The Leprosy Removed.
BUT GOD, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, FOR HIS GREAT LOVE WHEREWITH HE LOVED US, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN SINS, HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST: (BY GRACE YE ARE SAVED;) AND HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS: THAT IN
THE AGES TO COME HE MIGHT SHOW THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE IN
HIS KINDNESS TOWARDS US THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.”—Eph. ii. 4-7.
Vers. 1, 2, 3, 4. " And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, This shall
be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: he shall be brought unto the priest : and the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar
wood, and scarlet, and hyssop." Here is the remedy in the case of the person. Some have thought this to be used not only in cases of real healing, but in cases also where the leprosy being fully spread, there was no more of the disease in the man than had already appeared. It seems likely that both are meant. In Israel, there were cases, no doubt, wherein symptoms of real leprosy led the man to use means for a cure, and to call on the Lord, who sent his word and healed them. And, no doubt, also, there were those in whom the full-blown leprosy had come forth and who were cleansed, or, pronounced legally clean. At this day in some Eastern Countries, it often happens that after eating away the hands or feet, the stumps of the limbs heal, and the disease is in fact cured. It spreads no further.* These latter cases were types of justified men-having still a polluted nature, yet really forgiven; and no longer conveying infection to others, but “preaching the faith which once they destroyed.”
The leper that was to be cleansed was to direct his steps to the priests and ask an audience. Like the four men at the gate of Samaria (2 Kings viii. 10), when they called to the porter of the city, standing afar off; or like the ten men (Luke xvii. 12) at the entrance of the village, who stood afar off and listed up their voices and said, “ Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."
As much depended on the priest's willingness to listen to his imploring cry, a leprous Israelite would often go up to the spot whence he could call on him desponding or fearful. And the priest, however willing, might be busy so as not to be able to come at once. As, with most wistful eye, the man gazes on the living, cheerful camp, he sees one and another meet the priest and pour some message or entreaty into his ear-so that the priest is detained, and hurried away to this and that part of the camp, while the trembling, weary leper waits at the gate. In this we see that our high priest hath the pre-eminencenever too busy-never unwilling-never unable. waits that he may be gracious.” (Isa. xxx. 18.) Neither the business nor the bliss of heaven will detain him from a wretched soul. He who in the days of his flesh forgot to eat, and even ceased to feel faintness, when a soul
* Malcom's Travels in the Burman Empire.