while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
I. THEIR DEGENERATE COURSE. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse."
1. The persons here described.
(1) Evil men.
(a) They are those in contrast with the men who "would live godly in Christ Jesus."
(b) They are not simply sinners as all men are by nature and practice, but rather wicked men who wear a mask of godliness, yet are full of malice against the saints of God.
(2) Seducers, literally magicians, in allusion to those of Egypt; men who are full of sorceries to captivate and betray the unwary into error.
2. They shall go from bad to worse - both in principle and in practice, in the use of their seductive arts and in the gradual depravation of their character. There is nothing to arrest their downward course; there is no grace in the heart; the principles of evil will work with unchecked energy in their natures.
II. THE EXPLANATION OF THIS DEGENERACY. "Deceiving and being deceived."
1. The method of mental and moral debasement. Let men repeat falsities with sufficient frequency and deliberateness, and they will come by and by to believe them themselves. They begin by deceiving others. They cannot deceive God nor the elect, but by their good words and fair speeches, their lying wonders and their specious arts, they may seduce the simple into error.
2. The retribution that follows upon deception is self-deception. Such deceivers have become sincere in their error, because they have blinded their spiritual eyesight; but now they see truth as error, and error as truth. - T.C.
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse.1. If we consider wicked men as they are in themselves, they are all strongly bent to apostasy; every day they grow worse and worse. As godly men are graduates in God's school, growing from strength to strength, and from one degree of grace unto another, till they become perfect men in Christ, every sermon makes them better, and every ordinance improves them. So wicked men are graduates also, and take degrees in the devil's school; they stand not at a stay, but they grow from evil to Worse. As he that is righteous will go on and be more righteous, so he that is filthy will go on in his filthiness (Revelation 22:11). It is the proper character of wicked men that they fall away more and more (Isaiah 1:5; Proverbs 1:22).
2. But secondly, let us consider them specifically and divisively for such evil men as are deceivers and impostors, and these we see experimentally grow worse and worse. They have no foundation to rest on; they know no stay when once they have passed the bounds of the word, no more than a violent stream doth when it hath broke over those bounds and bonds which before kept it in. Error knows no end; when once men forsake the way of truth they wander in infinitum. As it is in logic, grant one absurdity and I will infer a thousand, and as sin begets sin, blood toucheth blood, and one murder begets another (Hosea 4:2). So error is very fertile and prolific; it speedily brings forth a great increase. One error is a bridge to another; ill weeds spring apace and spread far, when good herbs grow thin and low. A little of this leaven will quickly sour the whole lump (Matthew 16:6). When once men begin to tumble down the hill of error they seldom rest till they come to the bottom.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
1. Because they err themselves and resist the truth.
2. Because they have drawn others into error. The participle of the present tense notes their assiduity and constancy; they make
it their trade to deceive others: they are still deceiving one or other with their smooth, flattering language. As God loves to employ good men for the conversion of others (not that He needs the help of man, but), for the exercising of the graces of His servants, and for the greater manifestation of His own glory, so the devil, who is God's ape, loves to deceive men by men. He hath his agents and emissaries everywhere. As good men delight in converting others, so wicked men delight in perverting others: as those would not go to heaven alone, so these would not go to hell alone: and therefore they labour to make others twofold more the children of the devil than themselves.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(Bacon.)— A man may tell a lie till he believes it to be the truth.
(J. C. Gray.)
Leisure Hour.Mr. Robert Sutcliffe, a member of the Society of Friends, travelling in America early in the present century, had a tough argument with a man engaged in the slave trade, of whom he says: "At length, being hard pressed, he gave up the point in a good deal of warmth, with this remarkable declaration: "Why, sir, you can't suppose that the Almighty looks so narrowly into our actions as you do."
(Canon Wilberforce.)Luke 3:1) became emperor of Rome, he was remarkable for his kindness, amiability, and moderation. But he became one of the most wicked and cruel of tyrants. , too, was so affable and kind in early life, that he was quite popular at the beginning of his reign; but he afterwards caused his mother, his wife, his old tutor Seneca, with multitudes of Christians and others, to be put to death, many of them in excessively cruel ways; and he was guilty of such other enormities, that his people at length conspired against him, when, to escape their malice, he killed himself in the thirty-first year of his age. Robespierre, "the tyrant," and the leading spirit during "the reign of terror" in Paris, through whom thousands of both his friends and foes were slaughtered or subjected to the greatest cruelties, was, in private and early life, amiable and kind. He once, when young, resigned his situation as a member of a criminal court, because he had such an objection to the barbarity of capital punishment, which he characterised as "base assassination." The devil and his angels, Cain, Henry Wainwright, etc., show to what evil an immortal spirit may fall. Wherefore avoid bad company, give up evil or doubtful habits, get God's restraining, converting, and preserving grace.
(H. R. Burton.)
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