If you see someone who has taken a road leading to perdition, you first of all warn him, saying: “This way will be the ruin of you; don’t take it!” If he does not avoid it using his own intelligence, you will renew your efforts to restrain him by forbidding and upbraiding him, and you will reinforce this and instil it in his brain either by scaring him with the threat of universal condemnation, or by softening his heart by inculcating fellow-feeling, as will be explained to you below.
If the person is obstinate, persistent, recalcitrant, and mounted on compounded ignorance, he will not be silent but will defend himself. For it is characteristic of corrupters to look on their corruption as good and useful. For by nature, man does not perpetrate iniquitous acts thinking they are iniquitous. He will offer evidence that his way is right, claiming that this is well-known and that you have no right to admonish him and that he has no need for your advice. Rather, you need to learn about his way, for the only smooth path is his and you should not attack the better way.
And if that obdurate person is two-faced, he will also have a forked tongue. On the one hand, he will try to divert the person admonishing him and silence him, and on the other he will defend his way saying: “Outwardly I put things to rights as you wish, and inwardly as I believe.” Then to corroborate what he claims, he says: “Putting things to rights is something I’ve always done; it isn’t that I now do good works having previously spread corruption.”
And if that obdurate, Nimrod-like person persists in spreading his way and declaring the admonisher a lier and making insinuations against the people of truth to this extent, it is clear that the medicine has no effect on him. Only one remedy remains and that is to put him into quarantine. This treatment consists of warning people and informing them that he is a corrupter, not a doer of good, for he does not use his head or employ his intelligence that he might grasp this matter which is so obvious and palpable.
If you have understood the links enumerated in the above example [that is, the progression of the argument], you will have grasped the links between the phrases, both stated and alluded to, in this verse from “And when it is said to them (Wa idhā qīla la-hum)” to the end. For their order is so natural and succinct that the miraculousness glows from beneath it [like live coals].