Bridges on Proverbs 20:16
 
Charles Bridges on Proverbs 20:16
 
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16.  Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. (Chapter 27:13.)
 
Again and again are we warned against suretyship for a stranger,  any new acquaintance, whose company may entice; much more for a strange woman, whose character has lost all credit. This is the sure road to beggary and ruin. If a man is so weak as to plunge into this folly, he is not fit to be trusted. Lend nothing to him without good security. Nay, if needful, take his garment as his pledge. The letter of the Mosaic law forbade this extremity. But the spirit and intent of the law pointed at the protection of the poor and unfortunate, who were forced to borrow for their own necessity, and therefore claim pity. The command here touches the inconsiderate, who deserve to suffer for their folly, in willfully plunging themselves into ruin. Nor does it in any degree incur the just suspicion of covetousness or close dealing. The love of our neighbour does not involve the forgetfulness of ourselves. The path of godly prudence is the safest for all parties. It never can be wise to assist, where kindness only gives advantage to hurry on to ruin. The refusal may be an exercise of self-denial. It is well that it should be so. Let it be clearly seen to be the sacrifice, not the indulgence, of self-prudence, not selfishness. This grace is one of the combined perfections of Immanuel. (Chapter 8:12.) Let it not be wanting in the profession of his people. It is necessary to the completeness of the Christian profession, and to avoid many occasions of offense to the Gospel.