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Evil Company 


From Thomas Watson's exposition of Shorter Catechism


A London-based Presbyterian, Thomas Watson (1620-1686) was a learned and highly popular preacher and writer, especially renowned for his gift of extemporaneous prayer. His exposition of the Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism is still highly prized and is an excellent introduction to Puritan teaching.



If you would not miss the kingdom of heaven, take heed of evil company. There is a necessary commerce with men in buying and selling, or, as the apostle says, we must go out of the world, but do not voluntarily choose the company of the wicked. 1 Corinthians 5:10. 'I have written unto you not to keep company.' 1 Corinthians 5:11. Do not incorporate into the society of the wicked, or be too much familiar with them. The wicked are God-haters; and 'Shouldest thou love them that hate the Lord?' 2 Chronicles 19:2. A Christian is bound, by virtue of his oath of allegiance to God in baptism, not to have intimate converse with such as are God's sworn enemies: it is a thing of bad report. What do Christ's doves among birds of prey? What do virgins among harlots? The company of the wicked is very defiling, it is like going among them that have the plague. 'They were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.' Psalm 106:35. If you mingle bright armour with rusty, the bright armour will not brighten the rusty, but the rusty armour will spoil the bright. Such as have had religious education, and have some inclinations to good, by mixing with the wicked, are apt to receive hurt. The bad will sooner corrupt the good, than the good will convert the bad. Pharaoh taught Joseph to swear, but Joseph did not teach Pharaoh to pray. There is a strange attractive power in ill company to corrupt and poison the best dispositions; they damp good affections. Throw a fire-ball into the snow, and it is soon quenched. Among the wicked, the heart of zealous affections is lost. By holding familiar correspondence with the wicked, they will dissuade us from strict godliness, and debar us our liberty and pleasure. 'This sect is everywhere spoken against.' Acts 28:22.


Hereupon he, who before looked towards heaven, begins to be discouraged, and gradually declines from goodness. There steals upon him a dislike of his former religious course of life; he thinks he was righteous over much, stricter than needed. There is instilled into his heart a secret delight of evil. He begins to like foolish scurrilous discourse; he can hear religion spoken against, and be silent, nay, well pleased; he loves vanity, and makes sport of sin. He is by degrees so metamorphosed, and made like the company he converses with, that he now grows into disgust and hatred of his former sober ways. He is ill-affected towards good men, transformed into scoffing Ishmael, a breathing devil; and becomes at last as much the child of hell as any of that graceless damned crew he conversed with. And what is the end of all? A blot in the name, a moth in the estate, a worm in the conscience. Oh, if you would not miss the kingdom of heaven, beware of evil company! Bad company is the bane and poison of the youth of this age. Such as were once soberly inclined, by coming among the profane, grow familiar, till at last they keep one another company in hell.




The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982. pp119-120.