Verse 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him. Moral honesty cannot be absent where true grace is present. Those who excuse others in trickery are guilty themselves; those who use others to do unjust actions for them are doubly so. If a man be ever so religious, if his own actions do not rebuke dishonesty, he is an accomplice with thieves. If we can acquiesce in anything which is not upright, we are not upright ourselves, and our religion is a lie. And hast been partaker with adulterers. One by one the moral precepts are thus broken by the sinners in Zion. Under the cloak of piety, unclean livers conceal themselves. We may do this by smiling at unchaste jests, listening to indelicate expressions, and conniving at licentious behaviour in our presence; and if we thus act, how dare we preach, or lead public prayer, or wear the Christian name? See how the Lord lays righteousness to the plummet. How plainly all this declares that without holiness no man shall see the Lord! No amount of ceremonial or theological accuracy can cover dishonesty and fornication: these filthy things must be either purged from us by the blood of Jesus, or they will kindle a fire in God's anger which will burn even to the lowest hell.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him; or didst run with him. This was literally true of the Scribes and Pharisees; they devoured widow's houses, and robbed them of their substance, under a pretext of long prayers; they consented to the deeds of Barabbas, a robber, when they preferred him to Jesus Christ; and they joined with the thieves on the cross in reviling him; and, in a spiritual sense, they stole away the word of the Lord, every man from his neighbour; took away the key of knowledge from the people, and put false glosses upon the sacred writings. John Gill.
Verse 18. Thou consentedst with him; became his accomplice. Sunetreces. LXX, i.e., you helped him to carry off his booty and to make his escape. Samuel Horsley.
Verse 18. Thou consentedst with him. Or, thou runnest along with him. Hast been partaker with; namely, thou art his companion; a term taken from commerce of merchants, or from banquets made after the ancient manner, to which divers did contribute, and had their shares therein. John Diodati.
Verse 18. (last clause). To give entertainment to them we know to be dissolute, is to communicate with their sins. Thomas Adams.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Rejection of salutary instruction leads sooner or later to open transgression. Instances, reasons, inferential warnings.