Watch you and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
There is such a thing as dallying with temptation. Many a maiden will insensibly, and step by step, allow herself to be led to things that, if not wrong, are yet so near it that they lie in its very twilight and she is all the time excusing to herself such permissions and such dalliance, Baying, "I do not intend to do wrong; I shall in due time recover myself." There is many a man who takes the serpent into his hand, because it is lithe', and graceful, and burnished, and beautiful, and plays with that which in some unguarded moment will strike him with its poison fangs; and it is poor excuse, when this dalliance has led him to the very edge of temptation, and has struck the fatal poison into him, for him to say, "I did not mean to." The mischief is done. The damnation is to come. And it is poor comfort to say, "I did not mean to." Pass by it; come not near it; keep far from it, and then you will be safe. But it is not safe for innocent, or inexperienced, or unconscious, or Inconsiderate virtue, to go, by dalliance, near to things that carry in them the very venom of Satan. What should you think of a man who, coming down to New York, should say, "I have had quite an experience this morning. I have been up to one of the shambles where they were butchering; and I saw them knock down oxen, and saw them cut their throats, and saw the blood flow in streams from the great gashes. I spent a whole half-day there, looking at men killing, and killing, and killing." What would you say of a man who said, "I have been crawling through the sewers under the street; for I want to know what is at the bottom of things in this city?" What kind of curiosity would that be? What would you think of a man who went where he could see the offal of hospitals and dissecting rooms, and went wallowing in rottenness and disease, because he wanted to increase his knowledge of things in general? And yet, here are men who take things more feculent, more fetid, more foul, more damnable and dangerous — the diseases, the ulcers, the sores, and the filth of the appetites and the passions; and they will go wading and looking at things that a man should shut his eyes on if they were providentially thrown before him. Why, there are some things that it is a sin to look at twice. And yet there are men who hunt them up! Then again, there are men who live so near to cheating that, though they do not mean to cheat, circumstances cannot bend them without pushing them over. There are many men who are like an apple tree in my garden, whose trunk and roots, and two-thirds of the branches, are in the garden, and one-third of whose branches are outside of the garden wall. And there are many men whose trunk and roots are on the side of honesty and uprightness, but who are living so near the garden wall that they throw their boughs clear over into the highway where iniquities tramp, and are free. It is never safe for a man to run so near to the line of right and wrong, that if he should lose a wheel he would go over. It is like travelling on a mountain road near a precipice. You should keep so far from the precipice, that if your waggon breaks down there is room enough between you and the precipice. Otherwise, you cannot be safe.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.