Once again Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, "All of you, listen to Me and understand:
I. ALL POLLUTION IS MORAL POLLUTION. From this all mere ceremonial defilement must be distinguished. Such uncleanness is not moral impurity, nor is ceremonial correctness to be regarded as the testimony of moral purity. The stainless externalist may harbour "within all evil things." The perversion of a wise teaching on the necessity for personal cleanliness and of instructive ceremonials had led to the foolish supposition that a touch of the dead, or the diseased, or the decaying matter, conveyed moral impurity. This is once for all contradicted. Whatsoever is "without the man" conveys not the defilement. It is a moral condition. The heart can defile all things. As that which is from without the man cannot defile, so let it be known "there is nothing from without the man that going into him can" cleanse "him."
II. THE SOURCE OF ALL IMPURITY IS NOT IN GOD'S WORKS, BUT IN MAN'S HEART. "All these evil things proceed from within." Thus Jesus, with his just judgment, traces evil to its hidden source. The heart, not the flesh, is the seat of defilement. This is the fountain which can corrupt God's good and pure gifts. How marked a contrast does he make between a possible ceremonial uncleanness - a very trifle at most (as to moral uncleanness it is nil) - and the greatness, the multiplicity, and the foulness of the "evil things which proceed from within"! Material things cannot in themselves convey moral impurity. Even the excess in the use of the food, which destroys life, comes from within. That the good things of God may be turned into occasions of evil all know, but it is only the heart that can so turn them. Whatsoever is "without the man cannot defile him, because it goeth merely into his body, not into his heart; "and the heart, not the body, is "the man," the true man, the very man.
III. FROM THE THRALDOM OF A FALSE CEREMONIALISM CHRIST REDEEMS HIS DISCIPLES, "MAKING ALL MEATS CLEAN." How needful not only to say what is sin, but to say also what is not sin! From many a yoke which the fathers were not able to bear Christ sets his people free! From child's play to serious work he calls them. From a mere adjustment of articles of dress and of furniture; from punctilios of ritual observance having in themselves no moral significance, and liable to withdraw men from great works and great truths, he turns them aside. He exposes the true evilness in the long catalogue of "evil things" of which the heart, not the flesh, is capable; and be, without many words of exhortation, directs men to seek the cleansing of their unholy hearts, that their lives, their whole man, may be clean also. - G.
Then came together unto Him the Pharisees, and certain of the Scribes.I. WHEN THEY CAME. When Gennesaret turned its heart toward Him. When diseased bodies had felt the virtue of His touch, and imprisoned souls had been set free by His word. Then. As soon as ever the Church's Child was born, the devil sought to drown Him (Revelation 12).
II. WHO THEY WERE THAT CAME. Pharisees and scribes. The learned and the religious. These two classes have always been the greatest opponents of Christ's kingdom.
III. WHENCE THEY CAME. From Jerusalem. Machiavel observed that there was nowhere less piety than in those that dwelt nearest to Rome. "The nearer the Church, the farther from God." "It cannot be that a prophet shall perish out of Jerusalem."
IV. WHERE THEY CAME. To Jesus. As the moth flies at the lamp, and bats fly at the sun, What a contrast between such a coming and those named in Mark 6:56. "I will draw all men unto Me."
Monday Club Sermons.It is the folly of men that, in discharge of me duties of religion, they are satisfied to put ceremonies and confessions that cost but little, in the place of righteousness of heart and life which cost a great deal.
I. There is today an ECCLESIASTICAL ritualism, which is disastrous to piety. It starts with the assumption that its methods of worship are the best possible; and, after a little, declares they are the only ones acceptable to God. The Church usurps the place of Christ. Of any church that estimates ritual above character, that endeavours to build up form rather than shape life, Christ says, "Full well do ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your tradition."
II. There is today a SOCIAL ritualism, which is disastrous to true piety. Public opinion is a power; it has its theory of religion. Certain things done, and certain others left undone, are the credentials of piety. Men's actions are the only things taken into account, not the men themselves. Society has agreed that a little honesty, a little charity, and church going, shall be accepted as religion. Such reject the commandment of God that they may keep their tradition.
III. There is a ritualism of PERSONAL OPINION, which is disastrous to true piety. Every man has his own idea of the conditions on which he personally may be right with God. They forget that it is for God to decide what is satisfactory to Him. It is sometimes argued that, since there are so many opposite theories and conflicting creeds, our acceptance or rejection of what is called religion cannot be of much importance. But religion is a simple matter. Piety is the being and doing what God has commanded; just that; nothing more and nothing less. Those commandments are few, brief, intelligible. Whatever vagueness and confusion there may be in our ideas of religion, it is of our own making. Let God speak for Himself, and listen only to Him, and all is plain.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
Monday Club Sermons.Accepting the traditions of men as our rule, we get to be heirs of a vast deal of rubbish. Just as around the anchored rock in the ever-swinging tide, there gathers all sorts of debris, floating fragments of wrecks, drifting grass and weeds, with perhaps now and then some bright sea blossom, or shell of beauty cast up by the heave of the surge — so a church that takes as pattern of its creed and ceremonial the belief and methods of men of other times, is sure to be cumbered with a mass of outworn mistakes, the refuse and driftwood of centuries, with here and there a suggestion of world long value, but as a whole, out of date and useless.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
Monday Club Sermons.Each generation encumbered the divinely ordained ritual with its own comments; so after awhile men's notions overgrew and hid from sight God's thought, as some wild vine in the forest wreathes its fetters of verdure around the hearty tree, interlacing and interknotting its sprays, looping mesh on mesh of pliant growth, till the tree is smothered and hidden, and the all-encompassing vine alone is seen and seems to bare life.
(Monday Club Sermons.)1 Kings 13). The Man of God was greatly to be pitied, yet he was greatly to be blamed. He had received it explicitly from God that he should neither eat nor drink in idolatrous Bethel; and it was his plain duty to adhere to that command, unless God repealed it in the same way in which he gave it, or with equal evidence that such was His will; whereas he believes an old man of whom he knows nothing, on his own word, under suspicious circumstances, and in opposition to what had been the Word of God to himself. While a direct and palpable temptation to go contrary to God's command was offered, he resisted and repelled the temptation; but when a temptation was offered, which came as a repeal of the command and in relief of his necessities, though on no sufficient authority, then his weakness prevailed. Why, think you, were lying prophets permitted? Why are lying teachers still suffered? Why, even lying wonders? To try the state of men's hearts. Is your heart, by the grace of God, made humble and teachable? then will you be taught of the Spirit "to discern the things which differ" — to detect the fallacies and delusions practised upon it — and "to approve the things which are more excellent." Is your heart self-sufficient, careless, carnal? then will it be deceived and led astray by plausible and flattering pretences. In contending that the Scriptures are the sole rule of faith, we give them exclusive authority over the judgment and the conscience. This authority lies in the real sense, and the just application of that sense, not in any sense or application contrary to that which is just and true, and which man may seek to impose. This sense is to be ascertained, and the right application of it is to be learnt by humble, teachable, diligent, and devout study, with the use of all needful helps thereto. The influence of the Scriptures on the heart is the special work of Him who dictated them. The blessing of God is needful to our success in endeavouring to ascertain the sense and right application of them; but so great are the obstacles to our "receiving with meekness the engrafted Word," that "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, must shine into our hearts" by the special grace of the Holy Spirit, in order to our feeling the transforming influence of the light of the knowledge of His glory, as seen in the face of Jesus Christ. No consent of man in any interpretation or application of Scripture is of binding authority on others. Consent is often contagious — not enlightened. The influence of leaders, the supposed interests of party, early associations, and prejudices, often bias the judgment. But the unerring standard remains. And the deviations of churches, and councils, and nations, from this standard, and the continuance of those deviations for ages, cannot deflect this standard one jot or tittle from its rectitude. But while no consent of men can bind of authority to any interpretation or application of Scripture, yet those views of truth which are commended to us by the consent in them of varied bodies of enlightened and devout men, come to us under a just and commanding influence.
(J. Pratt, B. D.)I. CEREMONIALISM SUBSTITUTES WASHING WITH WATER FOR PURITY OF HEART.
II. CEREMONIALISM SUBSTITUTES THE TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS FOR THE COMMANDS OF GOD.
III. CEREMONIALISM SUBSTITUTES THE WORSHIP OF THE LIPS FOR THE WORSHIP OF THE HEART.
IV. CEREMONIALISM SUBSTITUTES A SUBTLE EVASION FOR FILIAL DUTY.
V. CEREMONIALISM SUBSTITUTES AVOIDANCE OF UNCLEAN FOOD FOR AVOIDANCE OF IMPURE AND MALICIOUS THOUGHTS. Application: It is possible to be, in a sense, religious, and yet, in a deeper sense, sinful, and out of harmony with the mind and will of God. None is wholly free from the temptation to substitute the external, formal, apparent, for the faith, love, and loyalty of heart required by God. Hence the need of a good heart, which must be a new heart — the gift and creation of God by His Spirit.
(J. R. Thomson, M. A.)
I. A GROSS PERVERSION OF THE RELATIVE CLAIMS OF THE PARENT AND THE CHURCH.
II. A WICKED INTERFERENCE WITH THE FIRST COMMANDMENT WITH PROMISE.
III. A CRUEL UNDERMINING OF FILIAL AFFECTION AND FIDELITY AND AS CRUEL AN EXPOSURE OF THE AGED AND ENFEEBLED PARENTS TO A FALSELY JUSTIFIED NEGLECT.
IV. AN UNWARRANTED USURPATION OF AUTHORITY TO WEAKEN THE OBLIGATION OF A DIVINE LAW.
I. CONSISTED MAINLY OF EXTERNAL OBSERVANCES (vers. 2-4).
1. By this feature the same system of religion may be detected in the present day.
2. Religion in this sense is upheld by many strong principles in the nature of man-awakened conscience, self-righteousness, vanity.
3. This system is exceedingly dangerous. Misleads the awakened sinner; produces a deep and fatal slumber.
II. RESTS ON HUMAN AUTHORITY AS ITS WARRANT (vers. 3, 5, 7).
1. By this feature we may detect it in the present day. Among those who take away the right — duty and exercise of private judgment. Among those who derive their religious belief from man — in whatever way.
2. This form of false religion is exceedingly dangerous. It dishonours Christ as a prophet, etc. It gives despotic power to man, which he is not qualified to wield. It degrades the soul to be a servant of servants, etc.
3. Call no man mawr.
III. PUTS DISHONOUR UPON THE SACRED SCRIPTURES.
1. By this feature we detect its existence now. In the Church of Rome, etc., the Scriptures are wholly concealed — made to speak according to tradition and the Church. Amongst ourselves: opinions are not surrendered to them, and they are neglected.
2. This form of religion stands opposed to those Scriptures which it dishonours (John 5:39, and others).
3. Know the Scriptures and revere them.
IV. MADE LIGHT OF THE MORAL LAW (vers. 8-12).
1. May be seen in our own day — in the Church of Rome. May be seen, amongst ourselves, in those who put religious ceremonies in the place of moral duties.
2. This form has its origin in the love of sin, and is accommodated to an unsanctified heart.
3. It has no tendency to purify, but the reverse.
4. Beware of Antinomianism.
V. CONSISTED IN HYPOCRISY, putting on appearances.
VI. WAS VIGILANT AND JEALOUS OF CHRIST AND CENSURED HIS DISCIPLES (vers. 1, 2).
(Geikie's Life of Christ.)
(1) (2) (R. Glover.) (T. Manton.) (C. H. Spurgeon.) (C. H. Spurgeon.) (C. H. Spurgeon.) (Sword and Trowel.) (Burkitt.) (R. Glover.) (Dr. Wylie.) (Buck.) I. Fail to read and study it and to appropriate its blessings. II. When we give precedence to any human authority or law. III. When by our lives we misrepresent it before the world. IV. When we fail to urge its truths upon the anxious inquirer or careless sinner. (J. Gordon.) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (Quesnel.)
(2) (R. Glover.) (T. Manton.) (C. H. Spurgeon.) (C. H. Spurgeon.) (C. H. Spurgeon.) (Sword and Trowel.) (Burkitt.) (R. Glover.) (Dr. Wylie.) (Buck.) I. Fail to read and study it and to appropriate its blessings. II. When we give precedence to any human authority or law. III. When by our lives we misrepresent it before the world. IV. When we fail to urge its truths upon the anxious inquirer or careless sinner. (J. Gordon.) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (Quesnel.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(Sword and Trowel.)
I. Fail to read and study it and to appropriate its blessings.
II. When we give precedence to any human authority or law.
III. When by our lives we misrepresent it before the world.
IV. When we fail to urge its truths upon the anxious inquirer or careless sinner.
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (Quesnel.)