And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
It is a mortifying truth that that age, which of all others stands most in need of advice, thinks itself the least in want of it. Youth is warm even in its desires, hasty in its conceptions, and confident in its hopes. Talk to it when its passions are high, or when pleasure is glittering around it, it will in all likelihood look upon you as come to torment it before its time, and will none of your reproof. The particular error of youth is its pursuit of licentious pleasures. This writer gives us an interesting picture of a young man, confident in his own wisdom, and relying on his own strength, met by a character whom the world has denominated Pleasure. He paints to us the charms which she displays for his seduction, describes the flattery of her tongue, the crafty wiliness of her allurements, and shows us his simple heart won by her deceptions, and following her guilty call.
I. THE MAN OF PLEASURE BETRAYS AN UTTER WANT OF ACQUAINTANCE WITH HIS OWN BEING. It is among the foremost arguments in support of this kind of life that it is only in conformity with that nature which God has given us. But your nature, as long as it is without the renovation of the Eternal Spirit, cannot possibly be made your guide. In reality full of diseases, the man imagines himself in perfect health. Bound in misery and iron, he dreams that he is happy and at liberty. In following his carnal desires a man is surely "void of understanding."
II. THE MAN OF PLEASURE SHOWS HIS IGNORANCE AND FOLLY IN HIS WANT OF ACQUAINTANCE WITH HIS DUTIES IN THIS WORLD. The sins of impurity are doubly sinful, inasmuch as they incapacitate the follower of them from those exertions to which he is bound in whatever state of life it hath pleased God to call him. The libertine imagines that his duties are easily reconcilable with his pursuits of pleasure; and in few cases does he show himself more void of understanding. It is their direct tendency to enervate the spirit; to absorb the native vigour of the mind; to extinguish generous ambition, that incitement to worthy deeds; and to drown all in dissipation, indolence, and trifling. The pagans made the temple of honour lie through the temple of virtue.
III. THE LIBERTINE SHOWS HIS WANT OF UNDERSTANDING IN HIS IGNORANCE OR DEFIANCE OF OMNIPOTENCE. Of all the instances of want of wisdom, a disregard of the injunctions of Almighty God is surely the most absurd, as well as the most wicked. And it never can be confined to yourself, but involves often the misery, and always the guilt, of others. The man bent on pleasure seldom considers whom he offends, whom he injures, whose confidence he abuses, whose innocence he betrays, what friendship he violates, or what enmities he creates. Your first vice might arise from the seduction of bad companions, but a continuance of it becomes your own sin.
IV. THE LIBERTINE ACTS IN OPPOSITION TO HIS OWN CONVICTION. There is always an inward monitor whispering against him. Rouse, then. Break from the infatuating circle. No longer miscall the things of this world.
(G. Matthew, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,