Do not envy wicked men or desire their company;
I. THE LOVE OF SOCIETY IS A NATURAL INSTINCT.
II. EVIL COMPANY IS OFTEN MOST FASCINATING.
III. THE ASSOCIATIONS THAT ARE FOUNDED UPON MERE FELLOWSHIP IN PLEASURE ABE SELDOM SATISFACTORY, OFTEN CORRUPTING.
IV. THE BAD MAN'S COMPANY IS MORE TO BE SHUNNED THAN THAT OF ONE SUFFERING FROM A CONTAGIOUS DISEASE. "Wicked companions," said a man of the world, the novelist Fielding, "invite us to hell." "They are like to be short graces when the devil plays the host," said another. - J.
Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
The first verse of this chapter is very naturally connected with the close of the chapter preceding. There is little room for "envy" of rich characters as the one there so graphically depicted, and of all men on earth they will be the last whose company will be "desired" by the wise and good. But the counsel before us may be taken more generally. Far be it that "evil men" of any stamp should be envied — either for their boasted freedom or their apparent prosperity. Their freedom is but the semblance of the blessing. It is the reality of bondage. They promise liberty, and are themselves the slaves of corruption. And their prosperity! Oh, deem it not a mark of God's favour! It is all deceitful. It ends in ruin. "Desire not to be with them." How oft-repeated is this counsel! How often is the warning enforced by similar reasons! "For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief." Their designs of evil fully matured find utterance. They communicate their projects to others like-minded with themselves — projects of fraud, peculation, robbery; or if on such matters there be a sense of social honour, and an adherence to the conventional morality of the world, there may be projects of impurity — of lewdness and seduction, of drunken frolic and revel, of the snares of temptation for some simple but sober youth, whom it will be so excellent a joke to induce to join them in sin. All this, under what palliative epithets soever it may pass in the world, is "mischief" and "destruction."
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