My son, if sinners entice you, do not yield to them.
I. THE TEMPTER. He is always existing in every state of society, and not hard to find. There are human beings who have come to adopt evil as a trade, and, not content with practising it themselves, must have help and sympathy in their work, and turn recruiting sergeants for the devil. The beautiful laws of our being assert themselves amidst all the perversion of depraved choice. Crime, like sorrow, is lonely, and craves partnership. Remorse would soothe itself by fixing the like sting in the bosoms of others. And the criminal, constantly on his defence against society, learns to acquire an allurement of manner which is not the least of his dangerous qualities. The warning to youth against "enticing sinners" of both sexes can never be obsolete. Beware of persons of "peculiarly fascinating manners." What is it that fascinates? Generally it will be found to be some species of flattery, overt or concealed, attacking the weak point of the tempted ones. The warning may be so far generalized into "Beware of the flatterer." Flattery is at the bottom of most temptation.
II. PICTURES OF CRIME.
1. Its aspect of horror. They are to be understood as drawn by the teacher's hand. He is putting the real meaning of the tempter's suggestions into vivid descriptions. The tempter himself will take care not to expose the bloody and hideous aspect of his trade.
"Vice is a monster of so hideous mien, 2. But there is an attractive aspect in crime. "Thou shall cast thy lot into our midst," i.e. shall share and share alike with us, as we say, or take an equal chance for the best of the booty, the lot in such cases being the custom of robbers and of soldiers (Psalm 22:19; Nehemiah 10:35). There is freedom, communism, good fellowship, in the life of the banditti; no distinction of rank or class, poor or rich. In certain times the picture of such a life has proved of overwhelming fascination for young adventurous spirits. In solemn reiterated warning the teacher raises his voice against the treading of their path and way. This simple biblical figure may remind us that every mode of active life, every profession or occupation, is like a path; it leads somewhither. Unless we could cease from activity, we must all be advancing to some moral issue. What will it be? 3. A summary description of the criminal. He runs toward wickedness, hastes to shed blood. The eagerness, the swiftness, and perseverance of the criminal often arouse intellectual admiration, and shame the slothfulness of those who follow noble callings. But the devotion of ability and energy of a high order to such ends is, indeed, one of the most striking proofs we can have of the corruption of man's nature. This is crime revealed in its hatefulness, on the one hand, by its cruel and inhuman conduct and effects; on the other, in its dark source, the utter perversion of the criminal's mind itself. III. THE RECOIL OF EVIL ON THE DOERS. Here again are powerful pictures. Like thoughtless birds, which rush with open eyes into the net, so do these miscreants, in preparing destruction for others, themselves run headlong upon their fate (comp. Job 18:8). While they are lurking for others' blood and laying snares for others' lives, their own are forfeited. This self-defeat of wickedness is a central thought in biblical wisdom (comp. Proverbs 15:32; Proverbs 16:27; Ecclesiastes 10:8; Psalm 7:16; Romans 2:5; Galatians 6:8; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; James 5:8-5). Thus wisdom and folly form an antithesis in their nature, their powers, and their result. 1. Wisdom is at one with religion and morality; folly casts off God and right. 2. Wisdom pursues good ends by good means; folly pursues evil by evil means. 3. The result of wisdom is life and blessedness, health and peace; that of folly is self-undermining, self-overthrow, or "slow suicide." III. THE ROOT OF CRIME. It is like that of all sin, in desire, in misdirected desire, the greed of "unlawful gain," to give the fuller force of the expression. Note: 1. The prevalence of this passion. By far the largest proportion of men's worst actions are probably to be traced to it. Read the reports of the courts of law, listen to the gossip of the hour for illustrations. 2. Its intoxicating, illusory power. The victim of it deceives himself, as in other passions: it is thrift, it is due regard to what is of substantial value to one's interests, etc. And how difficult to distinguish that desire for more, which is the spring of action in commerce as in honourable ambition, the pursuit of knowledge, etc.! The question must be carried to the conscience and to God. 3. Its unsocial character. More than any passion, it separates man from his kind, and assimilates him to the beast of prey. 4. Its suicidal effect. If it does not destroy the man's body, it certainly corrodes and eats away his soul. It dehumanizes him. There is no object more shadowy in one aspect, more unreal, in another more monstrous, than the miser, as depicted by Balzac and other great writers. Covetousness is self-slaughter. - J.
2. But there is an attractive aspect in crime. "Thou shall cast thy lot into our midst," i.e. shall share and share alike with us, as we say, or take an equal chance for the best of the booty, the lot in such cases being the custom of robbers and of soldiers (Psalm 22:19; Nehemiah 10:35). There is freedom, communism, good fellowship, in the life of the banditti; no distinction of rank or class, poor or rich. In certain times the picture of such a life has proved of overwhelming fascination for young adventurous spirits. In solemn reiterated warning the teacher raises his voice against the treading of their path and way. This simple biblical figure may remind us that every mode of active life, every profession or occupation, is like a path; it leads somewhither. Unless we could cease from activity, we must all be advancing to some moral issue. What will it be?
3. A summary description of the criminal. He runs toward wickedness, hastes to shed blood. The eagerness, the swiftness, and perseverance of the criminal often arouse intellectual admiration, and shame the slothfulness of those who follow noble callings. But the devotion of ability and energy of a high order to such ends is, indeed, one of the most striking proofs we can have of the corruption of man's nature. This is crime revealed in its hatefulness, on the one hand, by its cruel and inhuman conduct and effects; on the other, in its dark source, the utter perversion of the criminal's mind itself.
III. THE RECOIL OF EVIL ON THE DOERS. Here again are powerful pictures. Like thoughtless birds, which rush with open eyes into the net, so do these miscreants, in preparing destruction for others, themselves run headlong upon their fate (comp. Job 18:8). While they are lurking for others' blood and laying snares for others' lives, their own are forfeited. This self-defeat of wickedness is a central thought in biblical wisdom (comp. Proverbs 15:32; Proverbs 16:27; Ecclesiastes 10:8; Psalm 7:16; Romans 2:5; Galatians 6:8; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; James 5:8-5). Thus wisdom and folly form an antithesis in their nature, their powers, and their result.
1. Wisdom is at one with religion and morality; folly casts off God and right.
2. Wisdom pursues good ends by good means; folly pursues evil by evil means.
3. The result of wisdom is life and blessedness, health and peace; that of folly is self-undermining, self-overthrow, or "slow suicide."
III. THE ROOT OF CRIME. It is like that of all sin, in desire, in misdirected desire, the greed of "unlawful gain," to give the fuller force of the expression. Note:
1. The prevalence of this passion. By far the largest proportion of men's worst actions are probably to be traced to it. Read the reports of the courts of law, listen to the gossip of the hour for illustrations.
2. Its intoxicating, illusory power. The victim of it deceives himself, as in other passions: it is thrift, it is due regard to what is of substantial value to one's interests, etc. And how difficult to distinguish that desire for more, which is the spring of action in commerce as in honourable ambition, the pursuit of knowledge, etc.! The question must be carried to the conscience and to God.
3. Its unsocial character. More than any passion, it separates man from his kind, and assimilates him to the beast of prey.
4. Its suicidal effect. If it does not destroy the man's body, it certainly corrodes and eats away his soul. It dehumanizes him. There is no object more shadowy in one aspect, more unreal, in another more monstrous, than the miser, as depicted by Balzac and other great writers. Covetousness is self-slaughter. - J.
I. I SHALL MENTION SOME OF THE VARIOUS WAYS BY WHICH SINNERS ENTICE US TO VICE.
My son, if sinners entice thee.
1. Because when we begin to sin it is hard to stop.
2. Because it is dangerous.
3. Because it is disgraceful.
(1) (2) 1. Get rid of the sins we have committed. 2. Try to keep from sinning any more.Said a boy to his sister one day, "I want the spirit to look sin right in the face when it comes to me, and say, 'Begone.'" "Yes," replied the sister, "and one thing more you want; you want God's spectacles to see sin and know it when it comes, for it does not always show its colours." (R. Newton, D.D.)
(2) 1. Get rid of the sins we have committed. 2. Try to keep from sinning any more.Said a boy to his sister one day, "I want the spirit to look sin right in the face when it comes to me, and say, 'Begone.'" "Yes," replied the sister, "and one thing more you want; you want God's spectacles to see sin and know it when it comes, for it does not always show its colours." (R. Newton, D.D.)
1. Get rid of the sins we have committed.
2. Try to keep from sinning any more.Said a boy to his sister one day, "I want the spirit to look sin right in the face when it comes to me, and say, 'Begone.'" "Yes," replied the sister, "and one thing more you want; you want God's spectacles to see sin and know it when it comes, for it does not always show its colours."
(R. Newton, D.D.)
( Matthew Henry.)
1. They represent it as a light and trivial matter, and at the worst as venial and pardonable. "What is it," they will probably say, "but a human weakness and infirmity, to which all men are subject? Can it be criminal to follow the dictates of one's natural passions? You can be no worse than thousands who indulge in the same excesses." They will give soft names to the greatest abominations in order to prevent alarm. In this way the understanding is imposed upon and the conscience is silenced. When vice is painted in all its black colours we are apt to be alarmed at the commission of it, but when it is stripped of its deformity we become more reconciled to it, and more readily yield. But can that be a light matter which is treason against the Almighty and which has subjected us to death? Perhaps we are more in danger from smaller than greater transgressions, because they steal upon us more imperceptibly, and draw us insensibly into the commission of them. Is not this a good argument to be jealous of the very appearance of evil and to loathe the garments spotted with iniquity?
2. By representing the gain and the pleasure which accompany it. Gain and pleasure are the two great charmers which have seduced mankind and led them captive at their will. What foul and black crimes hath the love of money been the means of perpetrating! To this corrupt source may be traced all the fraud and injustice, all the theft and robbery which have been committed. And what is the acquisition of wealth, upon which men are so much set? Is it any substantial, permanent good? Will it preserve health, prolong life, or ward off death? The love of pleasure has ruined many. It enchants the simple. Health has been impaired.
3. By traducing the principles of good men and turning their manners into ridicule. The gospel hath unfolded a glorious plan of salvation by which God, consistently with the purity of His nature and the perfection of His government, can be reconciled to the chief of sinners. It is nobly adapted to restore peace to the troubled mind and to inspire the hope of immortality. Shall we be laughed out of it by any set of men or for any gratification whatever?
4. By leading the road and calling us to follow them. It must be allowed that example has a powerful influence upon mankind and will often prevail when all other means prove ineffectual. Good-nature may not allow him to separate from his companions. To do as others do hath long been a powerful principle of action, and hath carried men greater lengths than they ever thought of.Before I proceed to the second branch of the subject I shall give an advice or two to the young.
1. Cultivate an early acquaintance with God.
2. Carefully avoid the company of the ungodly. Who knows but your principles may be shaken and your morals corrupted before you are aware?
3. Be earnest in prayer to God that He may never suffer you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. Heaven is your best resource, and from whence your most effectual aids do come.
II. A FEW ARGUMENTS WHICH, BY THE BLESSING OF GOD, WILL ENABLE US TO RESIST THEM.
1. It is mean and dishonourable to be connected with bad men.
2. It is the most prejudicial to your best and eternal interests. The health will be impaired, the soul lost.
3. The infinite obligations you are under to your God and Redeemer.
4. If you consent you will lay a foundation for much anguish and remorse. Loose and dissipated men may put on what appearance of gaiety and mirth they please, but I am apt to think it is more affected than real, more feigned than true.
5. The distress and grief in which you must involve your parents and friends.
(D. Johnstone, D.D.)
II. A METHOD EXPOSED. The word "entice" implies that they do not ask you plainly and directly to commit sin as sin, but rather set before you some real or imaginary pleasure which you can get only by a commission of that which is sin. They dexterously conceal the fact that it is sin. They bait their hook. The sin is to be committed as a means to an end, and the mind is so occupied by the end that the guilt of the means is overlooked. Then it is well to know the enticements which are commonly employed to delude and allure the unwary.
1. One common enticement is the increase of knowledge. The assertion is made that they will "see life."
2. Another is pleasure. That may be good, but it is well to ask, "What will it cost?" It is dear if it can only be bought by the forfeiture of peace of conscience and the favour of God.
3. Another is the love of liberty. You are asked to do the doubtful or the wrong "just to assert your liberty."
4. The tempter promises that you will never be discovered. It is urged, "Nobody will ever know." Yes, God will know.
III. RESISTANCE. ENFORCED. "Consent thou not." Give a plain, downright, emphatic refusal. The right use of the word "No" at the critical turning-points of life will save a man from destruction. There are two excellent maxims as regards our moral actions —
1. Always force yourselves to come to a positive decision in all matters of conduct.
2. Never allow yourselves to deliberate on a matter in reference to which conscience is clear.
IV. A MOTIVE SUGGESTED. In this resistance which has been urged. The text is a parental appeal, and brings to bear upon us all the memories and associations of our earliest home. Cherish them, and they will build for you a breakwater within reach, by means of which you may safely override the fiercest storms and whirlwinds of temptation.
(W. M. Taylor, D.D.)
(A. Gibson, M. A.)
The Southern Pulpit.Sin is not so dangerous as is the sinner. Sin is repellent; but the sinner may be winsome and attractive. The personal element in temptation is often the attractive element.
I. SIN SOMETIMES CLOTHES ITSELF WITH PERSONAL AUTHORITY. As of a master over a servant, or a father over a son. Temptation becomes strong when it enlists authority on its behalf.
II. SIN SOMETIMES CLOTHES ITSELF WITH PERSONAL AFFECTION. Many of the forms of vice depend entirely upon friendship for their propagation. They would die a natural death if it were not for a man's friends.
III. SIN SOMETIMES CLOTHES ITSELF WITH PERSONAL ATTRACTIONS. Consider mental attractions. The learned, the witty, the intellectual bad man, is a power for evil. There is a passing over of power from the man to his sin. The more attractions a man has personally the more ropes has sin to pull upon others with, and the more deceptive attire has sin to clothe itself with.
IV. SIN SOMETIMES CLOTHES ITSELF WITH PERSONAL INFLUENCE. Wealth gives a man influence in a community. So does social or official position. Young men should be taught to recognise sin promptly, no matter what it is clothed in. Christian manliness and independence are the safeguards against the personal elements in temptation. Dare to be right, even if sin should enlist all the powers of the world on its side. Dare to say, "No." This is Christian heroism.
(The Southern Pulpit.)
I. LIFE IS A SCENE OF REAL AND DAILY TEMPTATION. Whether a man wishes it or not, he will be enticed. The mistake of many is that they expect to pass through life without being tried. They are not forearmed. There is not any perfect escape to be expected. It is the necessary discipline through which man must pass. The knowledge and experience of evil is just as inevitable as the knowledge and experience of any of the ordinary affairs of human life.
II. THERE IS ONE PERIOD OF LIFE MORE SPECIALLY EXPOSED TO TEMPTATION THAN OTHERS. At first sight the temptations of youth seem to be at variance with the general principle, that as a man's day is so shall his strength be. Youth's strength and youth's day often seem to be very disproportionate. It seems hard that youth should be so severely tried.
1. The generosity of youth is tried by the callousness and coldness of the world.
2. The guilelessness of youth is tried by severe lessons; friends fall off, and depart like swallows in the winter, when we seem to need them most.
3. The purity of youth is tried by having to go forth into the world of real and actual impurity, to make venture in its own strength against it all.
III. IN SOCIETY WE FIND MANY PERSONS WHOSE CHIEF DELIGHT IT SEEMS TO BE TO THROW TEMPTATIONS IN THE WAY OF YOUTH. No sooner does a man go astray than he strives to drag others with him. It is done —
1. By ridicule.
2. By sly suggestions.
3. By lending bad books and indulging in bad conversation. To overcome these temptations great decision of character is required. To get on in life requires the steady, unbroken bent of a strong will. There is no guarantee for real decision of character except in the fear of God.
(W. G. Barrett.)
I. YOUNG MEN MAY BE EXPOSED TO THE BANEFUL INFLUENCE OF BAD EXAMPLE, TO THE FORCE OF RIDICULE, AND TO THE POWER OF PERSUASION.
II. THE YOUNG ARE ENTICED BY SETTING BEFORE THEM SPLENDID AND SEDUCTIVE REPRESENTATIONS OF THE RICHES AND ENJOYMENT WITH WHICH VICE IS ACCOMPANIED.
III. THE YOUNG ARE ENTICED TO THE COMMISSION OF VICE BY CONCEALING ITS NATIVE DEFORMITY. Sedulously endeavouring to diminish impressions of the danger with which it is attended.
IV. THE YOUNG ARE ENTICED BY MISREPRESENTATIONS OF THE DIVINE BEING AND RELATIONS. God's mercifulness is overpressed, and His justice and holiness are put out of sight. God will never let sin go unpunished.
(John Hunter.)I. THE DANGER.
1. The sinners that entice from within are the man's own thoughts and desires. There is quite an army of these sinners in a young man's breast. Thoughts open up the way, and prepare a trodden path on which the man may follow. A gossamer thread is attached to an arrow and shot through the air unseen, over an impassable chasm. Fixed on the other side, it is sufficient to draw over a cord; the cord draws over a rope, the rope draws over a bridge, by which a highway is opened for all comers. Thus is the gulf passed that lies between the goodly character of a youth fresh from his father's family and the daring heights of iniquity on which veteran libertines stand. From the brink on this side the youth darts over a thought which makes itself fast to something on these forbidden regions. Deeds will quickly follow when the way is prepared.
2. The sinners that entice from without are fellow-men, who, having gone astray themselves, are busy leading others after them. The deed most characteristic that the father of lies ever did was to lead others after him into sin. An evil-doer has a craving for company in his wickedness. By a natural necessity, the licentious recruit among the ranks of the virtuous, the drunken among the ranks of the sober. It is a power of nature that is taken and employed to enslave men. Men are gregarious. The principle of association is implanted in their nature, and is mighty, according to the direction it gets, for good or evil. This great power generally becomes a ready agency of ill.
II. THE ENTICEMENTS. These are manifold. As addressed to well-educated, well-conducted youths, they are always more or less disguised. The tempter always flings over at least his ugliest side some shred of an angel's garment. Few young men who have enjoyed a religious education come to a sudden stand, and at once turn their back upon God and godliness. Most of those who do fall diverge at first by imperceptible degrees from the path of righteousness. The importance of the ancient rule, "Obsta principiis (resist the beginnings"), can never be overrated. Watch the beginnings of evil. High in the list of dangerous enticements stands the theatre. The custom of society encouraging the use of intoxicating drinks constitutes one of the most formidable dangers to youth in the present day. But we never yet met with a drunkard who either became one all at once or who designed to become one. In every case the dreadful demon vice has crept over the faculties by slow degrees, and at last surprised the victim.
III. THE DEFENCE. "Consent thou not." It is a blunt, peremptory command. Your method of defence must differ from the adversary's mode of attack. His strength lies in making gradual approaches; yours is a resistance, sudden, resolute, total. It is not by partial compliances and polite excuses that enticements are to be repelled. With such adversaries you are not obliged to keep terms. Much depends on the unfaltering, undiluted, dignified "No" of one who fears God more than the sneer of fools. The shortest answer is the best. The means of resisting may be found in —
1. Refinement of manners.
2. Profitable study.
3. Benevolent effort.
4. Improving company.But though the society of the good is an instrument of protection not to be despised, it is still subordinate. There is another companion. "There is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother." You cannot fight the enticements of sinful pleasure in your own strength. Under the Captain of salvation you may fight and win.
(William Arnot, D. D.)
I. LOOK AT THE CASE SUPPOSED.
1. It is a common case. Sinners do entice. It is in the nature of sin to make men tempters one of another. The social character of mankind seems to involve this.
2. It is a serious case. Generally speaking, the tempters are stronger than the tempted. The tendencies of our human nature are in the direction of transgression. The principles of every sin are latent in us all. Those principles may be undeveloped because they have not been appealed to; but let an appeal be made, and they will be manifest. Temptation is presented to a nature more or less susceptible.
3. It is by no means a hopeless case. There is One who can be a refuge, a strength, and a present helper.
II. LOOK AT THE ADVICE GIVEN. "Consent thou not." Without consent the temptation cannot take effect, and without consent the temptation can do no real harm. If you do consent, be sure "your sin will find you out." To consent now is to expose yourself to greater danger hereafter. If you consent to enticement to-day, it will be almost an impossible thing to refuse to-morrow.
Weekly Pulpit.Some point is gained by regarding this as Solomon's advice to his son Rehoboam, who probably was an only son, and certainly was brought up amidst the dangerous luxuries and flatteries of Eastern court life. One of his chief perils lay in evil companionships. The surface of society never tells the truth concerning it. It is strange to find Rehoboam warned of "wild banditti" (vers. 11-14). Illustrate from the "Prince Hal" of English history and common sentiment concerning such men as "Robin Hood." Drinking, gambling, and impurity are the wild evils of our time, and the caution of the text applies to them.
I. TEMPTATIONS MUST COME. This is a necessary law for those who are placed on probation. Forms of enticement differ in different ages. In each age, in each setting of social circumstances, there is a lawless, self-indulgent side. There is in all young people a love of romance, and a high-spiritedness, which makes them delight in adventure; but selfishness and covetousness are the dispositions which most readily respond to enticements of social evil. None can hope to escape temptation, none should wish to escape it. There is no possible culture of moral character without such testing.
II. SIN LIES IN CONSENTING TO ENTICEMENTS. Personal consent is essential to sin. What advice can then be given to the young?
1. Do not put yourself in the way of temptation.
2. Meet enticement with simple refusal.
III. THE CHARACTER OF AN ENTICEMENT IS SHOWN IN THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO PRESENT IT. We are often placed in difficulty by the disguises of temptation. Especially before we have gained life-experience. By the hands and the neck it does seem like Esau. By the talk it does seem a wise serpent. A fair judgment of it is often beyond our power, But judging those who offer the temptation is always possible. If a man is not a good man, you had better suspect what he wants you to do. If you know a man is good, you may begin with confidence in his advice. If sinners entice, it is always safe not to consent. If the good invite, it is always best to consent at once. God is the infinitely good One, and to His call and invitation instant and unquestioning response should be given.
(Weekly Pulpit.)I. THE TEMPTERS ARE CALLED SINNERS. A sinner here is one who has himself gone out of the straight path of duty, and is now a wilful wanderer, aiming to draw others into his own dangerous course.
II. THE WAY OF TEMPTING CALLED ENTICING. Sometimes the enticement of flattery is employed; sometimes misrepresentation; sometimes allurement; sometimes the barest artifice. The most dangerous artifices are those that tend to shake the only sure foundations of moral obligation and responsibility.
III. HOW ARE THESE TEMPTERS TO BE DEALT WITH? Parental authority and affection enforce the solemn charge. Call in reason to your aid. Call in reflection. Call in self-knowledge. Call in the solemn warnings of God's holy oracles. Call in watchfulness and prayer. Covet the approbation of conscience. Stop to count the final cost. Let the sensual allure, let the unbelieving misrepresent, let the reckless scoff; but by the help of God, in the name of all that is virtuous and praiseworthy, for the happiness of your whole present life, in the aspiration after a life of perfect virtue and of perfect bliss, let your one decisive answer ever be, "No."
I. IS IT NOT STRANGE THE WICKED SHOULD SEEK TO ENTICE OTHERS? That human nature is corrupted appears in the practice and the contagion of vice. Vice, the natural product of a tainted heart, first makes its appearance in the moral constitution; grows by indulgence, and is propagated by example.
1. Sinners are prompted to the seduction of others by natural impulse. It results both from their principles and their habits.
2. The wicked are led to seduction by a second motive. They feel a shame which they refuse to acknowledge; they are anxious to wear off this painful impression in their own minds, and divide the disgrace of their conduct in the opinion of mankind by the society of others.
3. Vice is also attended with fear. The man wants society in order to dissipate thought.
4. Vice, indeed, requires society either for its full enjoyment or the effectual accomplishment of its purposes.
5. Indefatigable is the kingdom of darkness in propagating itself.
6. Infernal influences may be necessary to account for the activity of the wicked in seduction.
II. THE METHODS EMPLOYED IN THE WORK OF SEDUCTION. The efforts of the seducer are not systematic and uniform. They are accommodated to circumstances and tempers. You are not guiltless if you suffer yourselves to be seduced. No temptation amounts to a physical necessity of transgressing; neither sin nor sinners can prevail against you without your own inclination. Your most effectual weapon of defence is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, in connection with the other parts of the Christian armour.
(David Birchan, D. L.)I. THE COMPANY PORTRAYED.
1. Lawlessness. "Sinners" (ver. 10; 1 John 3:4). To sin is to sink.
2. Persuasiveness. "Entice thee." The gilded trappings of many modern amusements, the gay apparel of fallen virtue, the promise of good to be enjoyed that never comes, are baits by which thousands are lured into sin.
3. Combination. "Come with us" (ver. 11). "Combine," said a great politician, when speaking to a class of men who had a grievance which they wished to redress. So says the enemy of souls. In the ranks of the wicked hand joins in hand (Proverbs 11:21).
4. Cruelty. "Let us lay wait for blood."
5. Cowardice. "Let us lay wait." Cruelty and cowardice are often allied.
6. Selfishness (ver. 13). The emptying of other people's houses is of no consequence so that they fill their own. It is said of Napoleon, that for every step he rose in greatness the head of another fell.
7. Sociability (ver. 14). This sounds pleasant enough; but what of the money to be put into the purse? Blood-money.
8. Activity (ver. 16). There is in the wicked an impulse which impels them to hurry into sin.
II. THY COUNSEL GIVEN.
1. Heed good advice (ver. 8). The voice of the tempter is powerless to him who listens reverently to the voice of God (Mark 1:11, 26).
2. Learn to say, "No" (ver. 10).
3. Shun evil company (ver. 15). "Evil companions," says one, "first make us sad, and then they make us bad."
4. Keep away from the haunts of evil. "Refrain thy foot." Some who would not associate with the ungodly frequent the places where the wicked congregate. They go to see, and in some cases as the result of seeing, "fall to rise no more." The Swiss mules have a habit of going close to the edge of dangerous precipices. If men were as sure-footed in the path of life as are mules upon the mountains, they might do so too; but with natures prone to evil, it is safer to keep as far as possible from the place where danger is.
5. Cultivate true godliness. A godly character is a wall of defence which the worldly are often afraid to attack.
(H. Thorne.)I. The EVIL ENTICEMENT mentioned in the text.
1. The wicked deed, it is promised, shall be done in secrecy and with concealment.
2. It is a bold and spirited act to which the young man is incited. The appeal is made to his "pluck" and love of adventure (ver. 12).
3. The allurement is held out of great spoil.
4. The offer of frank and jovial companionship.
II. THE DISSUASIVE WARNING of the text (ver. 10).
1. Consider the awful extremes to which your evil course may lead.
2. Consider how faithfully and plainly you have been warned.
3. The ruinous consequences of a wicked course.
(T. G. Horton.)I. WHO THEY ARE AGAINST WHOSE ENTICEMENTS THE YOUNG ARE TO BE ON THEIR GUARD.
1. Such as have abandoned themselves to vice and crime. The gratification of devils is to have men as sinful and miserable as they are.
2. Those who, however moral in the eye of men, are yet destitute of godliness. It has always been the policy of the enemy of souls to lead men into the depths of iniquity by little and little. The drunkard, for example, is as sober, enlightened, industrious, respected in society, beloved in his own family as any other when Satan first approaches him. Now, were the destroyer of man at once to show to this individual the full picture of that beastliness and misery to which he intended soon to reduce him, there would still be a sufficiency of moral courage, of self-preservation, of human feeling in him to cause him to flee even with horror and with tears from the snare. But Satan is too cunning and too intent upon success. He has patience in mischief, and can exercise it long in order to gain a mighty end.
3. Those especially who are acquaintances or companions. The companionship of the young is usually formed by accidental circumstances, without thought or discrimination. Some become companions at school, some by neighbourhood, some by relationship, some by serving under the same master, or working in the same establishment.
4. Those also who are strangers. Alas! such is the moral condition of man that we must live in this world in a state of constant suspicion. It was by listening to a stranger that our first mother was deceived; and in the same way was the man of God, who had been sent from Judah to denounce the wrath of Jehovah against Jeroboam and his idolatrous altar at Bethel, betrayed into an act of fatal disobedience.
II. THE NATURE OF THE ENTICEMENTS AGAINST WHICH THE YOUNG ARE HERE WARNED.
1. Sinners will entice them by their example.
2. Sinners will entice them by holding out false hopes and representations of enjoyment in the courses to which they allure them.
3. By misrepresenting or denying the truth of God.
4. By ridiculing their moral fears.
5. By appealing to the multitudes. We naturally hate singularity, and in nothing so much as in religion.
6. By flattering kindness and attention.
7. By pretensions to religion.
III. ILLUSTRATE AND ENFORCE THE ADMONITION, "CONSENT THOU NOT."
1. It is only with their own consent that the young can be led astray. The guilt as well as the bitter consequences of their yielding to sin will rest with themselves.
2. To be ready to refuse their consent to the enticements of sinners, their hearts must be well established in regard to both the ways of sin and the ways of righteousness.
3. The young are to cherish in their minds a suspicion and terror of all who would entice them to sin.
4. Let them carry about with them habitually a fear of God and a sense of His presence.
5. Let them consider the extreme difficulty of entering into life. Instead of tampering with sin, and exposing ourselves to its snares, we would have enough ado to gain heaven though no such allurements lay in our path.
6. Let them ponder much and deeply the misery of those who are pursuing the pleasures of sin.
7. Let them keep steadily before their minds the terrors of the wrath that is to come.
8. Let them now give their consent to the invitations of Christ.
(Joseph Hay, M.A.)I. TEMPTATION IS INEVITABLE.
1. The name of temptation is legion, for they are many, and yet one. The strongest agencies appear in human form — sinners, who are agents of the devil. They may be our companions. They may even call themselves our friends.
2. It is not a sin to be tempted.
II. THE POWER OF TEMPTATION. Its power lies in the word "entice." Enticements are the bait on the devil's hook. "Pleasure" is one of them. "Seeing life " is another. The love of liberty or of asserting independence is a powerful lure. The dread of being laughed at is a strong compulsion. "Nobody will know " is often the last inducement which subdues the will and silences the conscience.
III. THE LIMITS OF TEMPTATION. Temptation is mighty, but it is not almighty. No one has power over our will so that we must yield.
IV. THE WAY OF ESCAPE. "Consent thou not." traced the ways of the battle. They are "Cogitatio, Imaginatio, Delectatio, Consensio." Consent is the final stage of a lost battle. It is the lowering of the flag before the enemy; the opening of the gates of the citadel of life.
V. SAY "NO" TO THE TEMPTER, BUT SAY "YES" TO CHRIST. He says, "Lo, I am with you alway"; "I have prayed for you that your faith fail not"; "Take therefore the whole armour of God," etc.
(John Reid, M. A.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Let us lay wait for bloodJudges 11:3), the lawless or discontented who came to David in Adullam (1 Samuel 22:2), the bands of robbers who infested every part of the country in the period of the New Testament, and against whom every Roman governor had to wage incessant war, show how deeply rooted the evil was there. The story of St. John and the young convert who became a robber, the most interesting of all apostolic traditions, may serve as another illustration. The history of many centuries (our own, e.g., in the popular traditions of Robin Hood and of Henry V.), presents like phenomena. The robber-life has attractions for the open-hearted and adventurous. No generation, perhaps no class, can afford to despise the warning against it.
(Dean Plumptre.)I. YOUNG MEN ARE IN GREAT DANGER OF BEING DRAWN AWAY TO SINFUL COURSES. Because they have not that grounded experience that others have, nor are so able to look through shows into substances. Because they are wilful and headstrong, and will follow their own lusts, notwithstanding good men's persuasions.
II. SECRECY IS GREAT BAIT TO WICKEDNESS. Because shame is a great bridle to keep men from open wickedness. Many are kept in by it whom no counsel will keep from evil ways. Because fear of punishment is a bit that keeps others from sin. Take heed of secret solicitations to secret evils.
IV. WICKED MEN PROMISE THEMSELVES SUCCESS OF THEIR MISCHIEVOUS PLOTS. They think their mine too deep for men to countermine, and look not to God, who can go beyond them. This shows us how deeply sin is rooted in sinful souls, so that they dare promise themselves good success, not only in lawful, but also in sinful affairs.
My son, walk not thou in the way with them
1. I warn you to shun the sceptic — the young man who puts his fingers in his vest and laughs at your old-fashioned religion, and turns over to some mystery of the Bible and says, "Explain that, my pious friend — explain that"; and who says, "Nobody shall scare me; I am not afraid of the future." Alas! a time will come when the blustering young infidel will have to die, and then his diamond ring will flash no splendour in the eyes of Death as the grim foe stands over the couch waiting for his soul.
2. Again, I urge you to shun the companionship of idlers, There are men hanging around every store, and office, and shop who have nothing to do, or act as if they had not. Idleness is next door to villainy. Thieves, gamblers, burglars, shop-lifters, and assassins are made from the class who have nothing to do.
3. I urge you to avoid the perpetual pleasure-seeker. Look out for the man who always plays and never works.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
I. CHILDREN SHOULD RATHER HEARKEN TO THEIR PARENTS' GOOD COUNSEL THAN TO OTHERS' BAD. Because they are more engaged to parents than to any other for life, education, pains, and means. Parents' counsels are given in love, and are for their good.
II. YOUNG MEN HAVE NEED TO LABOUR FOR KNOWLEDGE TO DISCERN BETWEEN GOOD COUNSEL AND BAD. Because they are often put to it. Young men stand, as Hercules in his dream, between virtue and vice, solicited by both. Because there are fair pretences for all sins. Gluttony is called the free use of the creature; drunkenness, good-fellowship; prodigality is called liberality; covetousness, thrift; lust is entitled love; pride goes for handsomeness. It needs a good touchstone to distinguish between gold and copper well gilt over. No less skill is needed to distinguish between real and apparent good. Weigh things by the light of reason and the light of Scripture.
III. ALLUREMENTS TO SIN APE NO EXCUSE FOR SIN. Because allurers have no power to compel. They may, and ought to be refused.
IV. COMPANY EXCUSES NO MAN IN HIS SINS. Company cannot alter the nature of things. It cannot make good evil or evil good. There is choice of company; all company is not evil. Company may draw our corrupt nature to sin, but cannot excuse us for Sin.
V. CONTINUANCE, OR WALKING IN SIN, IS DANGEROUS. It is the sign of a hard heart to continue in sin. The mouth of the conscience is stopped. It makes the heart more hard still. Custom will make a man not start at the greatest sins.
VI. THE VERY ENTRANCE INTO SINFUL WAYS IS FULL OF DANGER, LIKE A DOWNFALL — no stay till you come to the bottom. Keep out of evil ways, or get out quickly.
1. As the foundation of all, let me mention, first, the authority of the Holy Scriptures, choosing a few out of the many passages to this purpose with which the sacred writings abound. "Make no friendship," saith Solomon, "with an angry man, lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." To this purpose the prophet expostulates very sharply with Jehoshaphat concerning the alliance into which he had entered with Ahab, a wicked and idolatrous king: "Shouldst thou love them that hate the Lord?" There is something very strong and solemn in the adjuration used by St. Paul to the Thessalonians: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly."
2. To this authority of Holy Scripture I add the confirmation of reason, to show that we ought to be careful in the choice of companions from this consideration, that the nature of a man's friends or company must be of great consequence to his well-being. And this appears from hence, because they always have an extraordinary influence, not only upon his own temper and behaviour, but upon all his chief concernments. Now, comfort in distress is one of the chief advantages that may be gained by friendship, and one of the principal ends proposed by it. But how can this be hoped for from any wicked person? However agreeable his temper may be to a mind at ease, however soothing his discourse to the ear of the prosperous, yet can it bring little comfort to a troubled spirit. Besides, the only support in adversity is religion, the firm belief of a wise and good Providence, directing all things to the best ends. And how is it possible for a man to administer comfort from this consideration who lives in rebellion against that great Being? or how can one who hath any love to religion delight in the company of him who disclaims or disregards it? Even our interest is injured by intimacy with wicked men; for being guided by their passions and sacrificing their most sacred obligations to their vices, they are inconstant and insincere, and likely to betray our interests who neglect and forfeit their own. Whereas, in conversing with the good man, there are many advantages. His known sincerity secures us from the anxiety of suspicion; the principles upon which he acts remove all fears of change in him. Reputation, it is evident, cannot be obtained by living in familiarity with wicked men. Friendship either finds or makes men alike; and the world justly supposes that we resemble those with whom we live in strict intimacy. For this reason nothing can be of greater use to our character than a close union with wise and good men. From what hath been said may be drawn some observations worthy of our attention and care.
1. We should fix in our minds a right sense of the great use which may arise to us all from society and mutual converse.
2. All among us who may be considered in the different relations of parents or masters ought to be careful, not only for ourselves, but for those who are committed to our charge or dependent upon us, in the choice of companions.
3. We should labour to acquire those good qualities which are most proper to fit us for receiving and giving improvement by company. Such as candour and ingenuousness of mind, by which we are brought readily to acknowledge our own mistakes and to do justice to the perfections or pre-eminence of another. Such, likewise, is humility, a virtue which makes us inclined to listen and learn. We should also study to bring advantage to company, as well as receive from it; to which end we should establish a persuasion of our truth, honesty, and good-nature.
Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird
1. The antidote for the subtle poison insinuated by the infidel is to be found in the just consideration of Christ's atonement.
2. The antidote to the allurements of the sensual is the just consideration of Christ's example.
3. The most effectual antidote to the stealthy and subtle poison of the companionship and example of the indifferent is the just appreciation of the promises of Christ. Until the infidel can observe the brightness of Christ's glory; until the sensualist can sully the purity of Christ's holiness; until the worldling can demonstrate the fallacy of Christ's promises, safety may always be found by looking unto Jesus, by looking unto Him in our hours of need.
(Thomas Dale, M.A.)
I. VARIETY OF REASONS ARE NEEDFUL TO DISSUADE FROM EVIL, Because of our private unbelief; because of our positive unbelief; because of men's different dispositions.
II. REASONS BROUGHT TO CONFIRM TRUTH MUST BE SOLID ONES. Because nothing but truth should come from an informer (teacher). Reasons ought not only to be true, but to bear up all truths. How can a man think to persuade others by that which does not persuade himself?
III. THERE IS A WORLD OF INJUSTICE IN THE WORLD. Men have different humours and affections. We must be just in the midst of an unjust generation.
IV. WICKED MEN HAVE CUNNING DEVICES TO DO MISCHIEF. To expedite the business the sooner, that they may quickly effect their desire, and to remove all impediments. Take heed of ungodly men's plots. Use the dove's innocency, but with the serpent's subtilty.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
1. The first class of temptations that assault a young man is led on by the sceptic. He will not admit he is an infidel or atheist. Oh, no! he is a "free- thinker"; he is one of your "liberal" men; he is free and easy in religion.
2. The second class of insidious temptations that come upon our young men is led on by the dishonest employer.
3. Temptations to drink.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)I. SIN LAYS TRAPS FOR SOULS. Sin has woven a net and laid it along the path of life. This net is wrought of diverse materials, such as sensuality, avarice, ambition. Traps are adjusted for men of every mental type, of every period in life, in every social grade.
II. THESE TRAPS MUST BE EXPOSED. The fowler conceals his net. Sin works insidiously. It takes advantage of men's circumstances, ignorance, and inexperience. The work of the true philanthropist is to expose the traps.
III. THESE TRAPS BRING RUIN TO THEIR AUTHORS. They lay wait for their own blood. Retribution overtakes them. If they escape violence themselves, the Nemesis pursues them. Their schemes may seem to prosper here, but justice tracks their steps, and their ruin is inevitable.
(David Thomas, D.D.)
So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain
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