These are the beasts which you shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,…
1. There is a natural disgust in everyone to the idea of eating, or even handling, a creeping worm or caterpillar. However difficult this feeling may be to analyse, God has given it to the race for some purpose. All things that are abhorrent to our human instincts — things which we call repulsive — are so many indications of the great truth that we are to make distinctions between clean and unclean, good and evil, right and wrong.
2. Now God saw fit to incorporate this natural instinct of man, which He had implanted, in the law for His people. He forbade their eating these repulsive, crawling things. We know how the natural instinct is often overcome by wilful habits, and we find degraded men taking pleasure in those articles of food which the human palate originally and instinctively rejects. Hence the necessity of a law behind the instinct, when God would teach by it His great spiritual lesson.
3. He would teach us that we may in conscience shrink from gross sins, and yet gradually blunt conscience and indulge in sins we formerly abhorred; and that, therefore, a Divine law must be made the norm of our lives, and not simply the protests of natural conscience.
4. We desire to call your attention to a different class of dalliers with sin — not the gross and vulgar, but the refined and elegant. Their refinement is such that gross forms of sin repel them — not because they are sin, but because they are gross. The nauseous caterpillar has dressed itself up as a beautiful butterfly, and in this form they sport with the creature. But what does God's law say? "Every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you." The wings and pretty colours have not altered the nature of the vermin. The same uncleanness is there as before. How many there are who would shrink with dismay from overt sensuality, and yet will, in the privacy of the chamber, gloat over a licentious novel! It is the very same crawling thing — only now it has pretty wings.
5. One of the most successful cloaks for sin at the present day is so-called art. Art is something very lovely and refined. It is a grand thing for the young to know all about art. It shows high breeding to admire and criticise art. Now, there is a grain of wheat and a bushel of chaff in all this talk. To one genuine artist who only looks to the art, there are a thousand hypocrites, who know nothing about art, and only adopt the language of art to hide their sinful tendencies. In the name of art they go to see the public performances of a loose woman and watch the movements of a play that makes light of the marriage relation. In the name of art they fill their parlours with nudities, in voluptuous form and colour, by which the youth of the families are stimulated to sensuality and debauchery; and, in the name of art, the young artist sits before his nude model for her destruction and his.
6. In every way luxury can devise, passions are inflamed, and then modesty is called prudery. Indecent dressing, lascivious dances, immoral innuendo in conversation, form part of this refined system of destroying the soul, in which Christians engage because they must he in the fashion. The creeping thing down in a dance house in Water Street they would exclaim against; but the winged creeping thing that flies in the uptown parlour they delight in; yet it is the same venomous beast.
7. Is it right for those who are washed in the blood of Christ, and who seek the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, to enter wilfully into a social life where books and pictures and statuary and entertainments are most unblushingly promotive of sensuality and vicious thought? Is it right to become accustomed to such gilded filth, so that we lose our Christian delicacy and reserve, and at last make impurity a fashionable virtue? Satan is cunning in his temptations. He does not come to us in a vulgar form and so disgust us. He puts the many-coloured wings on the slimy crawler, and so fascinates us into his service. "Beware!"
(H. Crosby, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,