There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
This is the age of specialists; and one of the most important departments is that which deals with the eye and its defects. We hear in this connection of heredity; the different effects of town and country life, with their near and remote objects; the results of overwork and unhealthy surroundings, etc. So with the inward eye and the vision of the moral life. Here also we have shortsightedness, discrepancy of focus, stealthy cataract; the inflammation that makes light an agony; the eye that exaggerates and sees double, and that which makes everything seem insignificant and far away; and there is an eye that dotes on the dark end of the spectrum.
I. HONEST AND DISHONEST ERROR. The text confines our attention to honest derangement of vision, or what claims to be such. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man." The seat of the trouble is in the man, not in the way. The way remains where it is, and he chooses it and walks into it.
II. INHERENT DIFFICULTIES. Many of our troubles in moral vision arise from the inability to see distance. Some things are present, others are past. It is easy to put paint on paper, but it is aerial perspective that makes a picture. Again, errors of judgment are due to the fact that we give fixed measurements to things that are themselves in motion: growing larger or smaller, advancing or receding. Closely connected with this is the weak eye for angles and the feeble sense of proportion. If we could only see it, there is a difference between self and society, between party and mankind, between time and eternity.
III. DECISION AND INDECISION. Under given conditions a diminished area always makes a brighter disc. Microscopic objects have no mist. Downrightness is always a desirable thing, especially for emergencies that come suddenly and only once. It means health to its possessor and safety to those who know what to expect. It draws to itself unattached particles, and has an incisive momentum that bruises into softer substances. "Yes" and "No" are great civilisers. But clearness that is gained by exclusion may cost too much. When the narrowing process begins it goes on, and self is always the most tempting centre; in fact, the only terminus. It is sometimes difficult for robust natures to see it, but strength of conviction does not necessarily mean correspondence with fact. And fact is the chief thing.
IV. THE CULPABLITY OF MISTAKEN VIEWS. Where and when is the error found blameworthy? Not directly in the region of intellect and its knowledge, but in that of the will and its preferences and energies. The individual error becomes a process and the process becomes a system. There is first light defied and then light debased. This belongs to us, not to circumstance. "Business is business" — how much that is made to cover and countenance? "Others do it, and why should not I?" The same man will always say with regard to any loved indulgence, "This is safe for me, and what have I to do with others?" If we pass from difficulties of the personal life we find the same obscurity or obliquity of view in things that affect communities, nations, and Churches. There was the slavery question, over which the British Parliament struggled for many years, and for which America poured out its blood. So with the great temperance question of to-day.
(G. M. Mackie, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.