Paths Will Be Made
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” –Prov. 16:25
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” — Prov. 4:18
“Therefore… “Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” — Jer. 6:16
And Remember… “An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” — Isa. 35:8
Man usually makes paths of his own choosing, then builds a philosophy of religion to justify the way he takes. Sometimes men have deliberately fashioned a philosophy and then built their pattern of life to suit. Japan affords an illustration of this attitude. But more often it has been the former approach. At any rate the fact is clear that men are determined to live as they choose for whatever they esteem to be their best good, and that good is not necessarily based upon principles of truth or honor. For there is always a way that seems to be right to a man, even though that way eventually leads to futility and death.
Some facts are too plain to need evidence of their accuracy or justification for their existence. The paths that man has made are not complimentary to him and are a sad commentary on his persistent and stubborn choice of the ways that lead to death. Some have attempted to explain the devious paths man has taken as his evolutionary strivings to be good. But such a solution is but futile rationalizing. Man’s paths have been devious and wandering because his own heart has led him that way. There is but one answer to the bewildering labyrinths of man’s paths through history.
He has chosen his own ways instead of those of God. He has tried to say that there is no fixed pattern for his conduct, regardless of the clear moral demands of the Bible. So long as he can make himself feel reasonably easy about what he does, he always deems it right.
We are observing a striking instance of just such reactions right now. There has been am shocking breakdown in the basic moral relations between men. As a compensation, a lot of public agitation has been forthcoming about the importance of sex education. There can be little question but that there has always been a lack in this regard. But it is not the motivation for the present agitation. Back of it all is the subtle desire of those who wish to remove all moral restraints and justify their own actions. Promiscuity has become so common in many circles that it has become necessary to compensate for conditions that seem to be out of moral control. It is another instance of man’s choosing a path of his own in flagrant disregard of the warnings of God.
The same pattern is seen in the power politics that now dominate the diplomacies of world powers. For a while there was talk of a great brotherhood among the nations of the earth. And then, once more, personal and national selfishness predominated. Age-long tactics were again adopted, followed by an almost endless array of explanations to justify man’s moral failure. Again man has taken the path of his own choosing.
We will not weary you with other examples of the ways of men. To the unprejudiced, the well-being of society has always depended upon man’s basic moral integrity. The Bible has always been right in its declaration that “righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
When men have kept to those clear paths of righteousness marked out by God, society has been peaceful and prosperous. When man, on the other hand, has departed from moral integrity, society has rapidly disintegrated. And it is just as true that, when man has turned back to the paths of righteousness, the pangs and travail of society have been eased. Disregard of these simple facts evidences a flagrant disrespect for the facts of history. Turning back to the days of Rome, we see the quick disintegration of the most powerful nation of history in her time through moral decadence and wanton evil. On the other hand, one cannot read the history of England without sensing the fact that it was the Wesleyan revival that saved the English people and consequently the British Empire from moral destruction. When Wesley began preaching, society in England — both within the Church and without — was corrupt and evil. But the challenging call of the Wesleys for a return to the old paths rescued England just in time.
It is difficult to speak dispassionately concerning conditions which prevail today in our own nation. The deliberate turning to drunkenness by a whole nation, until the man or woman who does not partake becomes the social oddity, is not a complimentary comment on our national life. Statistics for 1947 reveal the fact that the United States spent nine and one-half billion dollars for liquor, almost eight billion for recreation (which includes to a large extent morally questionable forms), nearly three and one-half billion for tobacco, while only a little more than one billion and a half was spent for all religious and welfare interests. We may not like the implications of these facts and we may well cringe from their restatement. The fact remains that we are becoming a pagan people with a rapidity that is ominous and alarming. America is taking the paths of her own choosing, regardless of the nobility of her beginnings.
If pessimism seems to prevail in this brief review of national conditions, we find no reassurance in other parts of the world. With an even more deliberate course the other peoples of the earth are either taking a path utterly neglectful of the right one or else are deliberately determined to avoid the path which leads to life.