1. Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
2. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
THIS counsel has been lately given. (Chapter 23:17.) But it is very difficult in the false glare of this world’s glory to “walk by faith, as the evidence of things not seen.” (2 Corinthians 5:7. Hebrews 11:1.) In the confined atmosphere of impatience and unbelief, “the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.” (James 4:5.) This evil spirit, if it does not bring the scandal of open sin, curses our blessings, withers our graces, cankers our peace, clouds our confidence, and stains our Christian profession. The full cup in the house of evil men stirs up the desire to be with them. (Psalm 73:10-14.) But if their fearful end did not restrain, their awful character is warning enough.† It is the malignity of Satan himself, studying destruction in their heart; mischief in their lips.† Take away then the delusive veil; and who would envy them? When Haman was studying the destruction of the holy nation, the barbed arrow of discontent was corroding his vitals.† Who would envy Judas, studying his Master’s destruction? In the agony of remorse, his “soul chose strangling, rather than life.”† “Gather not my soul with sinners” — is the prayer of the child of God — “nor my life with bloody men, in whose hands is mischief.”† Let me, instead of studying the destruction, study the salvation, of my fellow-sinners — what can I do to win them to Christ? Let me desire to be with the man of God, employed in this God-like work. The Christian is the only enviable person in the world. The seeming blessings of evil men are God’s heavy curses; and the smart of the stripes is a favor too good for them to enjoy. To judge wisely of our condition, it is to be considered not so much how we fare, as upon what terms. If we stand right with heaven, every cross is a blessing; and every blessing a pledge of future happiness. If we be in God’s disfavor, every one of his benefits is a judgment; and every judgment makes way for perdition.† Instead of envying sinners in their successful wickedness, dread their character more than their end, and rejoice that your Father never counted the poor vanities of this world a worthy portion for you.