I. THAT SIN IS THE CONTRADICTION OF THE DIVINE THOUGHT. It is a "strange" thing (ver. 16). The painted harlot is "the strange woman." And while the prostitution of a human being, meant to be a helpmeet for man in all his highest and holiest pursuits to a mere ministress to his unlawful lusts, is the very saddest departure from the Divine ideal, and amply justifies the use of the word "strange woman," we may remember that all sin is a strange thing in the universe of God. How it ever entered there is the problem which can never be solved. But meeting with it here. in whatever form, we say, "This is the contrary of the thought of the Supreme," "This is the exact opposite of his design," "This is something alien, unnatural, intrusive: cannot we cast it out?"
II. THAT SIN MUST STOOP TO FALSEHOOD IF IT WILL WIN ITS WAY. It "flattereth with its words" (ver. 16). Flattery is only another name for a sweet falsehood. The woman that is a sinner uses flattery to accomplish her ends. So sin cannot live without lying. That may be said of sin which was said of a great European usurper, that it "has deliberately taken falsehood into its service." But the most effective and destructive form of it is flattery. Let the young take earnest heed to their danger. When the lips of beauty speak soft and gratifying things, let purity beware; it is only too likely that temptation in its most seductive form is nigh, and that character and reputation are being insidiously assailed.
III. THAT SIN SINKS TO ITS DARKEST DEPTHS THROUGH VARIOUS VIOLATIONS. (Ver. 17.) It is uncertain whether by the "guide of her youth" is to be understood her husband (see Malachi 2:14, 15), her parents, or her God. The second clause clearly refers to the marriage covenant, which is regarded as a sacred bond. Whichever be the correct view of the former clause, it is certain that the sinner of the text could only descend to her shameless depth by violating every promise she has made, by breaking through every fence which once stood between her and guilt. This is the inevitable course of sin. It violates first one vow, then another, until all sacred promises are broken.
(1) Deliberate resolutions,
(2) solemn assurances,
(3) formal vows; - all are infringed.
IV. THAT SIN LEADS STRAIGHT TO THE DOORWAY OF DEATH. (Vers. 18, 19.) It leads:
1. To physical death. Vice carries with it a penalty in the body; it robs of health and strength; it enfeebles; it sows seeds of sickness and death. The "graves of lust" are in every cemetery and churchyard in the land.
2. To spiritual death. "None that go unto her return again" as they went. Men come away from every unlawful indulgence other than they go - weaker and worse in soul. Alas for the morrow of incontinence, of whatever kind it be! The soul is injured; its self-respect is slain, its force is lessened; it is on the incline which slopes to death, and one step nearer to the foot of it. "Her house inclineth unto death."
3. To eternal death. They who resort to forbidden pleasure are fast on their way to the final condemnation; they have wandered long leagues from "the paths of life." We conclude with two admonitions:
(1) Keep carefully away from the beginnings of evil. Shun not only the "strange woman's" door, but the evil glance, the doubtful company, the impure book, the meretricious paper.
(2) The way of escape is immediate and total abandonment of sin. Such resolution made at once, seeking God's strength and grace, will permit the wanderer to "return again." - C.
Which forsaketh the guide of her youth.
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