Tried and Untried Paths

Because my people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up. -- Jer. 18:15

"When people forget God they always begin to burn incense to their own human vanities. They imagine they are sufficient unto themselves and need neither God nor His laws for their help and guidance."

Moreover, they fancy themselves to be smarter than any generation that ever came before them, and they sneer at "the ancient paths" and turn to walk in paths of their own making, paths not hitherto "cast up" and trodden by the foot of man.

It seems as though these words of the ancient prophet were meant especially for our generation. We hear much these days about a revolt against old laws, old standards and old customs. It is a day in which many are turning from the old tried and proven ways and proposing all sorts of new ways not yet "cast up." This is the meaning of the so-called "revolt of modern youth." But the revolt extends beyond youth and includes many who are old enough to have better sense, but who seem to have been in some way "shell-shocked" out of their better sense.

On of the "ancient paths" particularly singled out as unworthy to be trodden by our advanced generation, is that of old-fashioned courtship, love, and marriage sealed until "death part thee and me." However, we cannot but feel that there is resident in society a saving sense that will not be easily persuaded to adopt as a general custom any sort of "experimental" novelties that imperil the virtue of womanhood and the sacredness of the home.

When we walk in "a way not cast up," we follow voices that we know not and for which there are none to vouch; but when we walk in "the ancient ways," we have for our guidance the voice of experience vouched for by countless generations. We should think well of this before we abandon old ways for new ones.

When it comes to moral conduct, we can be sure that we are safe as long as we follow the findings of human experience as couched in the established moral code of society; but we are treading on dangerous ground when we turn from these findings and begin experimenting with newfangled theories. The great moral discoveries have already been made.

Causes and effects have been determined, and so accurately as to leave no question. If we have any concern for the moral wellbeing of society, or our own, we had better stay off the untried path and stick to the path already "cast up," and that has been well trodden and proven. Many hidden perils lie in the untried path.