Have you ever considered the effect of association? I believe we are affected or altered in some way by association with any of the human family. The Nazarite forfeited the hair of his separation by touching a dead body, even suddenly; and I doubt if he forfeited it in any other way. I am convinced that we never come in contact with humanity without being either injured or served by it.
Now, that which cannot serve us must injure, if we blend with it. I know it is possible to maintain an elevated region towards another; but then it is plain I am not blending. I am, on the contrary, in a sensibly distinct position, trying to myself, and I only submitting to it, for the sake of testimony, or the good of my inferior company. The moment I blend, the moment we are on equal terms in any line - my distinctness is gone, and my influence too. Could I ever help a person out of a slough by going into it myself? Is not my strength all the more applicable by my using every appliance in my power from the terra firma of a solid footing? By refusing intimacy I do not refuse help; for, in fact, I lose my power to afford moral help the moment I sink into intimacy; the very testimony to my own moral power being, that I keep myself from the slough or its neighbourhood. If I meet on equal terms I fail to show that I am endued with power to help, or that it is a case that needs help. If I touch the dead body, if I lose my hair, my moral power, of what use am I?
A soul in true moral vigour and spiritual perception must feel the company of an unbeliever, or of the world, in any sense most irksome; for it must be braced up to testimony all the time, and guarding itself against any relaxation, which would rob it of its high standing. If I am right with such an one, I must not mingle with him; if I fail to raise him to higher contemplation, I must not sink to his level; for if I do, I have lost my place of testimony towards him, and consequently forfeited my moral power. He has injured me he has fed my old man, which I have suffered to rise up and act in denial of the new; and even though my intent to serve him may be honest, I defeat it.
Nothing so convinces another of power as seeing its action in oneself. When Isaac (in Gen. 26) completely retired from the land of the Philistines, THEN the king owned his superiority. So is it always. If I see that you can surrender the world and its refinements, I must be conscience-stricken that there is something mighty there.
Oh let us ponder this in the Lord's name! Let us preserve inviolably our love and allegiance to Him; and as our souls enjoy the holiness of His way, we shall see more clearly how such associations injure us, and how we neutralize our best intentions by gratifying self.