Wise Companionship
Proverbs 13:20
He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Society is in itself so necessary to human life. Adam, in the state of innocence, could not be happy, though in paradise, without a companion. The chief scope of the text may be summed up in this observation: that every man's present and future welfare doth very much depend upon the right choice and improvement of those friends or companions with whom he doth most familiarly converse. For the clearing of this observation, it may be made very evident from divers Scriptures. Upon this account it is that we have such frequent cautions and threats against conversing with bad company. This was the meaning of all those severe prohibitions in the ceremonial law against touching any unclean thing. It is observable, that he who touched a dead beast was unclean but till the evening (Leviticus 11:24), but he who touched a dead man was unclean for seven days (Numbers 19:11), signifying a bad man to be the most dangerous of all other creatures. The apostle styles wicked men to be such as are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) even whilst they live (1 Timothy 5:6.) There are four things wherein most men place their welfare, some or all of which every rational man doth propose to himself in the choice of his friends. These are reputation, safety, comfort, profit.

1. For reputation or honour. Wicked men are fools in the phrase of the text; and what credit can a wise man expect by conversing with fools? On the other side, good men are the excellent of the earth. Such alone are truly noble and magnanimous. And therefore whoever would propose to himself honour and reputation in his society must make choice only of such companions.

2. For safety. The text tells us that a companion of fools shall be destroyed. If any one shall persuade himself that he can enjoy their company, and yet escape their contagion, he may as well think to suspend the natural operation of fire; whereas on the other side, every one fares the better for the company of those that are good. They are the lights of the world, the salt of the earth, the pillars of a nation, those that stand in the gap to prevent an inundation of judgment. Potiphar's house was blessed for Joseph's sake (Genesis 39:5), and all the passengers in the ship were saved from drowning for St. Paul's sake (Acts 27:24).

3. For comfort. This is one of the principal ends of friendship, to ease and refresh a man amidst the anxieties of life; and there is nothing of greater efficacy to this purpose. But now this cannot be expected from any wicked person; whereas, on the other side, those that are wise in the phrase of the text are the most delightful company that are.

4. And lastly, for profit. There is nothing to be expected from such friends but the increase of our sins and of our punishments; whereas in conversing with those that are good there are these advantages —

(1) Their example will by degrees insinuate into the mind, and obtain the force of precepts, exciting us to a holy emulation.

(2) Their very presence will affect us with some kind of awe against evil.

(3) Their conference, wholesome and savoury, administering grace to the hearers.

(4) Their counsel, faithful, and wise, and hearty.

(5) Their prayers powerful, ready. And it is not easily imaginable what an advantage that is, to have a praying friend or companion.There are three lessons I would briefly insist upon in the application of it.

1. That we would take notice of the great benefit to be obtained by the right improvement of society and mutual converse with one another.

2. That we of this place would be careful, both for ourselves and those committed to our charge, in the right choice of our friends and Company.

3. That we would labour for those proper qualifications and abilities which may render us acceptable and useful in our conversing with others. There are four conditions, amongst many others, that are more especially suitable to this purpose —

(1) A readiness to communicate, according to the gifts we have received, so ministering the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

(2) Humility. That is a sociable grace, lovely in itself, and acceptable to all.

(3) Prudence, in distinguishing of men's tempers, prejudices, infirmities; in discerning of the right seasons and advantages to do good amongst them.

(4) Ingenuity and candour of disposition, in owning of our own weaknesses or faults, another's gifts or pre-eminences.

(John. Wilkins.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

WEB: One who walks with wise men grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Walking with Wise Men a Means of Attaining Wisdom
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