I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts. Psalm 119:63
If there be much benefit to be found in good company, and much hurt and mischief in bad company, then it is best for every good man to keep good company.
Now in good company there is much benefit and in bad company there is much mischief.
As for the mischief of bad company, there is much mischief to be found therein. For as good company will provoke and quicken you unto what is good,so bad company will cool and quench you to what is good.
Bad company is a great quench coal, and will abate your affections unto what is good. Will not water mixed with wine, abate of the strength of the wine? so will bad company abate your strength of affections unto what is good.
What is the reason that many are so cooled unto what is good, but because they have mingled themselves with evil company.
As evil company will quench and cool your affections unto what is good, so they will insensible infect you with what is evil. You see how it is with diseases, though a man have an infectious disease, yet if I keep at a distance from his breath, and the like, I am not infected therewith ; but if I come near him, to suck in his breath, then I am infected. So here, though evil, wicked men are very infectious, yet if I keep at a distance, I shall not be infected with them; but if I come so near, as to suck in their breath by keeping them company, then I am infected by them.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. And he speaks of persons; though you think there is but a little leaven of malice in such or such a mans company yet it is leaven, and a little of that leaven will leaven all the lump.
Were not the Jews infected with the superstition of Egypt, by their conversing with them? Did not Isaiah cry out, Woe is me, for I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean lips; for I dwell in the midst a people of unclean lips.
It may be you think that they will not infect you with their principles or their practices. But they do insensibly infect. Evil company doth in sensibly infect a man with evil.
You see how it is with a white leaf that is set into the oven, and doth stand near the brown bread, it comes out with a black patch on the side thereof.
And will you say, No, I have been often in such company, yet I have not brought their fashions and manners away? Then remember what the apostle saith, Evil communications doth corrupt good manners. And have you not brought a black patch away with you? It may be others see it, though you yourself do not; I believe the word of God rather than your word, Evil communications doth corrupt good manners. It will infect your judgment before you are aware, and your practice before you are aware, for evil company is infecting company. As they do insensibly infect a man with what is evil, so they do, by your company with them, draw you into the fellowship and communion of Satan. For there are two great princes in the world, Christ and the devil; and Christ ruleth in the children of obedience, and those that have communion with them, have thereby communion with Christ ; so Satan ruleth in the children of disobedience, and those that have fellowship and communion with them, have thereby communion with Satan. For how can a man have communion with the members, and not with the head? Now is it not a great
evil and mischief to have communion and fellowship with Satan? This you have that keep company with wicked men.
And if you have communion with Satan and his members here, then you shall have communion with him and his mem
bers hereafter. There is a drought of things to come in this life. Those that stand at the right-hand of Christ here, shall stand at his right-hand in the day of judgment; and those that stand on his left-hand here, shall stand at his left-hand
at the day of judgment. So those that are bound up with the wicked here, shall be bound up with them hereafter.
There is a bundle of life, and there is a bundle of death. Some men there are that shall be bound up in the bundle of life, and some men there are that shall be bound up in the bundle of death. Take them and bind them hands and feet, and cast them into outer darkness saith Christ.
Here is a company of drunkards, bind them together, and cast them into hell for ever. Here is a company of swearers,
and there a company of opposers and jeerers, and there a company of unclean persons, and there a company of mere
moral, civil men; take them and bind them up and cast them into that fire that shall never be quenched.
And I pray tell me, who do you think shall be bound up with these; shall not those that bundle up themselves with them now, that keep company with them now? Come out of her, my people, (saith Christ,) lest you partake with her in her plagues.They that will partake with wicked men in their company now, shall partake with them in their plagues hereafter. And, for the present, what shall you get by all your wicked company, but a reproach and a blot that shall not be wiped off.
Doth not the mingling of the water with the wine alter the colour of the wine? so shall your mingling with evil company do; it shall not only abate of your strength unto what is good, but it shall alter the colour of your profession. Solomon says, It shall be a snare unto you. Prov. 22:25, Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man thou shalt not go, lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare unto thy soul.
What will a wicked man think of himself when you that are Godly shall keep company with him; will not he say, If my condition were not good, and if I were not godly, this man or woman would not keep company with me? Thus you harden and offend him by your company with him; and who among the saints is not offended at your walking and conversing and keeping company with such men.
Now is it nothing in your eye to offend the generation of the righteous and the unrighteous too? Yet this do you do, that are professors of the gospel, by your company with those that are evil. Yet this is not all; but as you offend the godly and the wicked, so you offend God Himself: for the more you converse with wicked men, the less you converse with God and God with you; the more you turn in to them, the more God will turn from you; the more society you have with the world, the less acquaintance you shall have with God. God is offended in a way of anger,the saints in a way of grief, and the wicked in a way of stumbling by your keeping company with them. Oh, what
an evil thing, therefore, is it to keep company with those that are bad. And thus ye see the mischief of evil company.
Now if there is so much benefit in good company, and so much mischief in evil company, then it is and must be best for every good man to keep good company. But as ye have heard there is much benefit in good company and much mischief in bad company, surely, therefore, it is best for every good man to keep good company. It is his duty to do so. He can do no other but do it. And it is best for him to do so.
Therefore a good man will have good company. - W. Bridge