My son, if sinners entice you, consent you not.…
The desire to make proselytes to our speculative opinions, and bring over others to think as we do, is not a more constant attendant on our pride and conceit than the desire in men of vicious lives to make the practice of others as bad as their own. Whether it be that many kinds of wickedness require numbers to associate, in order to their being carried on with success, so that they who are engaged in them are constantly beating up for allies; whether the sense of shame is not lessened, and the censure of the decent portion of mankind made more tolerable when multitudes share in it; whether the conscience is not, also, soothed and flattered from the same cause; or whether, lastly, the perversion of their ways has produced in such men a gratuitous desire of doing hurt, and a love of mischief for its own sake; so it is — the loss of his own virtue produces in a man the desire to overcome the virtue of others. The particular sin which the preacher had in his thoughts at the time was that of dishonesty, and the enticement he speaks of was to the taking of property belonging to others, and living upon it, instead of labouring for an honourable and independent livelihood. He selects that species of crime, out of many that would have answered as well, as a specimen whereby to illustrate his argument, and show the ruin and misery to which the path of sin conducts a man. There is one property, common to the language of all enticers of others to sin, of whatever kind the sin be; and Solomon has not failed to notice it in the case he has supposed. It is the pretence of the most disinterested friendship, high professions of good-will and regard for the person they undertake to entice. "Come with us; cast thy lot among us; let us all have one purse." They who entice them to the sin disguise their secret ends, their abominable selfishness, so successfully, under appearance of generosity, that they are blinded for a time, and think the morality which they have learned at home too strict and impracticable, and the kindness they received from their parents and relations hardly worthy to be compared to the friendship of these men. How, then, is a man to judge in this matter? Is he to pass through life with a sour suspicion of mankind, reject all their kindness as a cloak for bad designs, and hold the opinion that no man is ever loved save by his father and mother? Far from it. In the passage before us he propounds a test and criterion whereby a young person may distinguish between true and false friendship; and it is this: that the true will always be accompanied with a concern for his virtue. "If sinners entice thee, consent thou not." I know not how I can better illustrate this maxim of Solomon than by stating, in the royal author's own words, the consequences of listening to the counsels of the ungodly — the solicitations to sin, with which the young are sure to be assailed by cunning and practised offenders. For example, with respect to sins of licentiousness, and the temptations thereto, he says of him that yieldeth to them that he that goeth after the strange woman, "goeth as an ox to the slaughter, and as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life." "For," he says again, "she hath cast down many wounded, yes, many strong men have been slain by her." Again, when he would dissuade from idleness, and inculcate the wisdom of a provident regard to the future, he says, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise." Again, of dishonesty. "The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but every one that is hasty, only to want. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity, tossed to and fro, of them that seek death." "The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them."
(A. Gibson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.