He that digs a pit shall fall into it; and whoever breaks an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.
There are many fences which we have constructed, or which the Lord of our life has erected, and we discover that if we break them we shall find ourselves attacked and bitten by the serpent which is within or upon the other side.
I. THE HEDGE OF SOCIAL REQUIREMENTS, There are certain understood enactments of society which must be regarded by us. They may have no claim to be moral laws; they may not have any place in the statutes of the land; still they are obligatory upon us. If we are so self-willed or self-sufficient, if we are so ignorant or so careless, as to violate these, we must pay the appropriate penalty of general disregard. Even though we be free from all vice and all crime, we shall be numbered among transgressors of the unwritten law of society, and our position will be lowered, our influence will be lessened, our reputation will be reduced, our usefulness will be impaired.
II. THE HEDGE OF HUMAN LAW. Human law requires of us that we shall pay the debts we owe, that we shall make our contribution to the protection of the society of which we are members, that we shall respect the rights of our neighbors. Breaking this hedge, we pay the penalty which the law inflicts; this "serpent" may be only a small fine, or it may be loss of liberty or even life.
III. THE HEDGE OF DIVINE LIMITATION. God has set a limit to our faculties, and thus to our enjoyment, our activity, our achievement; and if we heedlessly or ambitiously pass this limit, we are bitten and we suffer. If we break the hedge of:
1. Physical appropriation, or exercise, we suffer in bodily sickness, in nervous prostration, in premature decline.
2. Mental activity. If we think, study, strive, labor on at our desk, beyond the limit of our powers, we pay the penalty in irritability, in softening of the brain, in insanity.
3. Spiritual faculty. If we attempt to enter regions that are beyond our God-given powers, we end either in a skepticism which robs us of our highest heritage, or in a mysticism which fascinates and misleads us.
IV. THE HEDGE OF CONSCIENCE. Conscience commands us, with imperative voice, to keep well within the line of purity, of sobriety, of truthfulness, of reverence. If we go beyond that line, we suffer. We suffer:
1. The condemnation of God.
2. The disapproval of the wise and good.
3. The reproach of our own soul.
4. The loss of self-respect and the consequent enfeeblement of our character; and of all losses this is, perhaps, the worst, for it is one of a series of downward steps at the foot of which is death.
1. Be right at heart with God; you will then have within you a force of spiritual rectitude which wilt keep you in the path of wisdom and virtue.
2. Be vigilant; ever watching character and conduct, so that you are not betrayed unawares into error and transgression.
3. Be docile; always ready to receive the counsel and heed the warning of true and faithful friends.
4. Seek daily the guidance and guardianship of God. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.