Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.
I. GREATEST FERTILITY IN NATURE IS TO BE SOUGHT. It is man's province to bring out the greatest productiveness in fields and fruit trees. Pruning, manuring, and grafting are essential. The vine needs especial care, and is susceptible of great increase of fruitfulness. So delicate is the blossom of the vine that the pollen of other plants in the vicinity, coming into contact, injures the formation of the fruit. It is a joy to God to see the trees of the field fruitful; how much more to see abundant fruitfulness in us! "Herein is our Father glorified." The least of God's commandments is profitable to observe.
II. NEEDLESS BURDENS ON ANIMALS FORBIDDEN. Every beast is appointed to be the servant of man; but man is required to act towards the inferior creation in God's stead. The burden of service laid upon oxen and asses is heavy enough; let it not be wantonly increased. Both the ox and the ass suffered from an unequal yoking in the plough. God saw the painful effect, and felt grieved. Animal feeling is a gift from God, and is intended to be for enjoyment. We may act in harmony with God, and increase that enjoyment; or we may, in part, frustrate his plan. In every act of man God takes lively interest. All day long he is approving or censuring.
III. OUR PIETY IS TO BE SEEN IN OUR RAIMENT. It is very probable that this prohibition about dress was to counteract a custom among idolaters - a custom which led to superstitious feeling. Some solid reason was at the root of the counsel, whether we can discover that reason or not. Our raiment is in some measure the exponent of our religion. If "Holiness to the Lord" is predicted as the motto to be found on the bells of the horses, so, and much more, should consecration to God be conspicuous on our dress and demeanor. Our raiment often serves as an ensign, and denotes to what party we belong - the Church or the world. If simplicity, modesty, beauty, sterling quality, be in our dress, these are ornaments of our holy faith. Whatever we do, or however we dress, be this our aim, to please God. A child will never be ashamed to acknowledge its father. - D.
I. THE ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH ALL GOD'S PEOPLE MUST WEAR. It may perhaps be said, that as the text merely forbids our interweaving woollen and linen together, it leaves it at our choice whether the garment of our salvation shall be woollen or linen. But it is not so. It must be of linen, and of fine linen only (Revelation 19:7, 8). This robe of righteousness is for two purposes.
Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts.I. THAT THIS PRECEPT EXHIBITS A "POSITIVE" DUTY. The ground of this ordinance is to be sought for, not in the nature of things, but in the will of God.
II. THAT AS THE INCULCATION OF A POSITIVE DUTY THE PRECEPT OF THE TEXT WAS NOT SO BINDING UPON THE JEWS AS THOSE DUTIES WHICH WERE WHOLLY MORAL. A Jew might be reduced to the alternative either of wearing no garment at all, or of wearing one woven of woollen and linen together. The preservation of health is a moral duty, and therefore more important than the observance of a ritual precept.
III. THAT WE, WHO LIVE UNDER THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION, ARE NOT BOUND TO OBSERVE THIS PRECEPT AT ALL. Neither sowing your fields with wheat and rye together, nor ploughing with horses and oxen together, nor wearing a garment of wool, or of linen, or of divers sorts, availeth anything, "but a new creature."
IV. THAT WHILE WE ARE UNDER NO MANNER OF OBLIGATION TO OBSERVE THIS PRECEPT IN ITS LITERAL MEANING, STILL THE MORAL PRINCIPLE WHICH UNDERLIES THAT MEANING, AND WHICH IT WAS INTENDED TO ILLUSTRATE, IS AS BINDING NOW AS EVER — AS BINDING UPON US AS IT WAS UPON THE JEWS. This prohibition, in its primary application to the Israelites, was doubtless intended to show that they were not to mingle themselves with the heathen, nor to weave any of the usages of the Gentiles into the ordinances of God. This is the spirit of the precept, and it is as binding upon us as it was upon them. We are to avoid an accommodating way of dealing with the Divine law. We are not to alter its sacred principles to suit the temper of the times, and the habits of the world.
1. For their justification. The robe of righteousness must not only be such as Jehovah can accept, but it must be such as He cannot reject — it must be the pure, perfect, supernatural, Divine righteousness of an incarnate God.
2. And this robe of righteousness is not only for our justification, but for our sanctification also. The man who has the robe of Christ's righteousness upon him, must have the influences of Christ's Spirit within him, for it is only by our sanctification that we can prove the reality of our justification. There is a renewing process as well as a reconciling one.
II. THE OFFENSIVENESS OF ALL ATTEMPTS TO WEAVE ANYTHING WITH IT.
1. It is an insult to God the Father, who has determined that every child of His family shall be habited in the one robe of the family — the perfect spotless garment of His only begotten Son, "unto and upon all them that believe." How, then, must that man expect to be dealt with, who, in the wantonness of his resistance to God's method of salvation, shall refuse to rest solely on the righteousness of God's own Son, or shall dream of adding thereto his own imperfect and perishable doings? The consequence can only be, that all the sanctions and severities of God's unchanging law will be let loose upon him in all their force, if he ventures either on his own merits only, in a woollen garment, or conjointly on his own and on the Saviour's in a garment of linen and woollen together, and thus refuse his undivided reliance on Him alone, who magnified the law and made it honourable.
2. Nor, assuredly, is there less insult offered to God the Son, in this attempt to combine works and grace in the matter of salvation. For what purpose was His mission to our world? Did He not pour out His soul an offering for sin, and by His obedience unto death bring in everlasting righteousness? Think you, then, that this great and gracious Saviour will consent to be insulted by men's attempts to join their works with His, and to "wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together," when the fine linen only of His finished work — dyed in His precious blood — is the righteousness of the saints? Know ye not that He lays an absolute claim to all the honour of our salvation? That He will suffer no righteousness to be put in competition with His? That He will not give His glory, nor the least degree of it, to another?
(R. C. Dillon, D. D.)
1. The first are such as preach the law alone, and these are generally Jews, and men of their spirit.
2. The second sort are evangelists or true Gospel preachers, ministers of the New Testament, who preach only the Lord our righteousness, and who will know nothing among their congregations, and souls committed to their charge, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
3. There are others who sin against the law, and against the Gospel, blending both together, and teaching the people to wear the garment of linen and woollen, of all which I intend to speak freely. I do not wonder that St. Peter calls the law a yoke, which neither they nor their fathers could bear, because it must have been so to them who heard not plainly of Jesus and His salvation. Who, under the law, could have any comfort when he knew he was under the curse as long as he continued not in all things of the book of the law to do them? The more sincere the more unhappy such were who served under the law, and heard of no way to heaven but a perfect obedience to all the ordinances of God. The true Christian preacher is one whom the God of the whole earth, the Lord who gave the law, has taught, and who is convinced that the law was given to make sin known, and to make it more exceedingly sinful, and that righteousness comes not by that means, but by Christ Jesus, who is become righteousness to everyone that believeth; and having heard the Gospel with ears to hear, and having understood the gracious sayings of Jesus, and been a witness himself both of the deplorable estate under the law and the deliverance by the merits and Cross of the Lamb, determines only to know and preach Him crucified everywhere. This is the only white linen, the only righteousness which the saints wear above, and which can make them beautiful and fair in the eyes of God Almighty, and in the sight of His holy angels. There are yet other preachers who, in a measure, preach the law, and seem as if they believed morality and obedience were the only cause of our being accepted with God. They insist upon the necessity of making ourselves righteous, but lest they should awaken the consciences of those who hear them, they tell them, When you have done all you can, Christ will do the rest; He will make perfect your good works with His righteousness; you must begin and set about the work by repenting and living a religious life; and if that is not sufficient, when you come to die He will supply the deficiency and make it up with His merits. This is the device of man entirely, and cannot be found in all the Scripture. This is crying peace when there is no peace, and healing the wound slightly. This is mingling the woollen and linen together, and making the commandment of God void by the traditions of men. However the Lord approves of the faithfulness of His people, and will greatly reward their good works and labours of love which have been done for HIS name's sake, and blames such whose works were faulty; yet that righteousness which saves the soul, and is the only proper righteousness, is the obedience, sufferings, and merits of our crucified God and Lord Jesus Christ; and this is imputed to us by believing in Him. This was the way in which the father of the faithful found righteousness, and was justified in the eight of God, and in this only a soul can be clothed at the great day. Have you never made any show of religion, but have lived altogether without seeking righteousness hitherto? Now let it be so no more; come now to Jesus, the Friend of publicans and sinners, and He who hanged naked on the Cross will hide your shame. Or, are you devout and religious? Have you attempted by the law and striven by works to become righteous, and when ye failed patched up your rags with Christ's merits, God's mercy, and the like? Have ye, to quiet your conscience, mingled the woollen and linen together? Now, then, throw away the linsey-woolsey cloth, the forbidden garment, the unclean and illegal dress, and approach naked to Him who clothes the lilies of the field, and He will be your covering, and you shall appear at His wedding in linen clean and white.
2. Scripture has its only true and preeminent meaning when applied to the inner moral robing of Christians. We are not to have our soul's garniture mixed, partly of the wool of carnality and partly of the linen of spirituality. Grant that the great majority of believers, or more strictly half-believers, are sadly mixed in their religious character and experience; grant also that every Christian is mixed — partly spiritual and partly carnal — in the first stage of grace, yet the only and universal standard in the Scriptures of Divine truth is unmixedness of moral character.
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