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plainly marked out. Conscience, Providence, ministers, good books, and above all, the scriptures, propose it to our choice, and direct us in the way to attain it. It is easily found by unprejudiced minds; but it must be sought daily and diligently, if we whould come to a thorough knowledge of it, and be well skilled in those excellent arts which it teaches. But if this wisdom be neglected, the soul is wronged, whatever else it enjoys; and death, everlasting death, must be its portion. Hearken then to wisdom, for blessed are they that keep her ways.


This chapter contains a description of wisdom and folly, as persons sending their invitations to mankind; and the different reception of their respective guests. These seem to be detached pieces, which Solomon might write and give to young people about his court, to instruct them in the same thing, by a variety of language and images, according to the manner of the easterns. He here describes wisdom as a princess, making a splendid entertainment for her guests.



ISDOM hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars; in allusion to the custom of the eastern princes, who entertained their guests in gardens, where pavil 2 ions or tents were spread upon a number of pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine of various kinds; 3 she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 4 Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither; I am willing to receive the weakest and the vilest: [as for] him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine [which] I have mingled, that is, hear my instructions, and receive my consolations and in order to this, 6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. And my first lesson is, that to despise reproof is a most hate7 ful character: He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame, by being disappointed: and he that rebuketh a wicked [man, getteth] himself a blot, by being censured and reproached. 8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, 9 and he will love thee. Give [instruction] to a wise [man,] and he will be yet wiser: teach a just [man,] and he will increase 10 in learning. The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the holy, that is, of holy things, the 11 doctrines and services of religion, [is] understanding. For by

me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall 12 be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but [if] thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear [it ;] I shall receive

A circumstance of decorum, as it would have been reckoned an infamous thing in those Countries for a lady to be attended by men servants.


neither benefit by the one, nor prejudice by the other; it is thine own interest which is solely concerned.

A foolish woman, that is, folly, the contrast of true wisdom, [is] clamorous: [she is] simple, and knoweth nothing; she speaks in a loud, impudent manner, but is perfectly ignorant of God and re14 ligion. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the 15 high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on

their ways; who pursue their business, or are going to the place 16 where they might receive instruction: Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither; using the same language as wisdom, and urging the great pleasure arising from prohibited gratifications: and [as for] 17 him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters, or pleasures, are sweet, and bread [eaten] in secret is 18 pleasant. But to comply with her invitation would be destructive, for he knoweth not that the dead [are] there; [and that] her guests [are] in the depths of hell; not only the bodies of those who had been murdered in their criminal pursuits, or died martyrs to their lusts, but the spirits of the damned come to the entertainment, assembling as it were to seize their prey, and conduct the sinner down to the depths of hell.



W E may learn to judge of our own character, by the man

ner in which we receive reproof. If we hate those who reprove us, blame them, despise them, call them uncharitable, or impertinent, it shows that we are fools and scorners; but if we love a faithful reprover, take his rebuke well, apply our minds to grow wiser by it, and correct the error which he reproves, it is a sure mark of wisdom, and the way to grow better. Let us try ourselves then by this mark, for, v. 12, if thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.

2. How desirable is it that young people should make a wise choice! Wisdom and folly, holiness and sin, each address them, and solicit their compliance. O that they would examine the proposals of each, but always remember to take into the account future consequences. Wisdom's address is mild and rational, she proposes your benefit, and only requires you to forsake what will be your destruction. But carnal and criminal pleasures are noisy and pressing; they promise you much delight in forbidden enjoyments; but the dead are there; and if you are the guests of folly, the entertainment will end in the depths of hell. Thus does Solomon set before them, thus do faithful monitors and friends, set before them life and death, the blessing and the curse; forsake then the foolish und live.




The former chapters were but by way of preface to recommend what follows to our practice. Here begin those choice and pithy sentences, called proverbs, and which are too unconnected to admit of reflec tions on the contents of each chapter.


HE proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son [is] the heaviness of his mother. 2 Treasures of wickedness, that is, the treasures of wicked men, especially those gotten by wickedness, profit nothing but righteousness delivereth from death, from the judgments consequent 3 upon wickedness and from eternal death. The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked; he will seize it as the property of 4 an enemy and make a spoil of it. He becometh poor that dealeth [with] a slack, that is, with an idle and deceitful hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich, both as to the world and the 5 soul. He that gathereth in summer, who improves his opportu nities, [is] a wise son: [but] he that sleepeth in harvest [is] a son that causeth shame; he loses the benefit he might enjoy, and 6 will be a disgrace to his friends. Blessings [are] upon the head of the just but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked; an allusion to laying on the hand in blessing, and covering the face of a 7 criminal when executed. The memory of the just [is] blessed; though obscure while he lives, though slandered, yet shall he be spoken of with praise: but the name of the wicked shall rot; it 8 shall survive them, but it shall be regarded with abhorrence. The wise in heart will receive commandments; esteem it a privilege and a favour to be taught: but a prating fool shall fall; one who loves to hear himself talk shall fall into troubles and be undone, 9 He that walketh uprightly walketh surely; he is easy and happy in the divine approbation, and the consciousness of his own integrity; but he that perverteth his ways, who useth indirect methods, TO shall be known and discovered. He that winketh with the eye, who gives signs to his accomplices to do a man mischief while he is speaking him fair, causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall. 11. The mouth of a righteous [man is] a well of life; wholesome, instructive words spring up as naturally as good water in a wel', refreshing and strengthening all about him: but violence covereth 12 the mouth of the wicked. Hatred stirreth up strifes; malicious, ill natured people, by slander and telebearing raise disturbances, and make people quarrel about trifles: but love covereth all sins; overlooks and conceals, or extenuates and makes the best of 13 them. In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found; he shows it by his speech: but a rod [is] for the back of him that is void of understanding; nothing but correction will 14 teach a fool his duty. Wise [men] lay up knowledge, continually and safely, as a treasure: but the mouth of the foolish [is] near destruction, by venting unscasonably all he knows, to his own mis

15 chief. The rich man's wealth [is] his strong city; he thinks it will defend him against many of the evils of life: the destruction of the poor [is] their poverty; wicked men take advantage to oppress and ruin them; or, poverty fills them with fear and des16 pair, and so is the cause of their ruin. The labour of the righteous [tendeth] to life; wisdom and goodness make a man's life a blessing to himself and others: the fruit of the wicked to sin; wicked men abuse it, and turn it into a curse, make it an occasion 17 of guilt and ruin. He [is in] the way of life that keepeth instruction; but he that refuseth reproof, when offered to him, 18 erreth, wanders out of the way of life. He that hideth hatred [with] lying or flattering lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is 19 a fool; shows a bad heart, however wise he may seem. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin; a man that is talkative will often sin; but he that refraineth his lips, who hath prudence to consider when and how and to whom he speaks, [is] 20 wise. The tongue of the just [is as] choice silver; when he speaks in his common and ordinary manner what he utters-is of weight and worth: the heart of the wicked [is] little worth, con. sequently his speech is so, even when he has studied what to say. 21 The lips of the righteous feed many, moke others wise; but fools die for want of wisdom; they lose their very lives and their eternal 22 happiness too. The blessing of the LORD on the hand of the diligent, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it; ill gotten riches are attended with regret, cares, and discontent, an evil conscience, 23 and fear of discovery and a future reckoning. [It is] as sport to a fool to do mischief; it is a pleasure to him, he does it with a gay air and without reflection: but a man of understanding hath wisdom; or, so is wisdom to a man of understanding, he taketh pleas24 ure in it. The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him; he hath his fears, but not more than he has reason for; let his imagination be ever so lively, all that he fears shall come upon him : but the desire of the righteous shall be granted, that is, his grand, leading desire, the favour of God and eternal happiness. 25 As the whirlwind passeth, so [is] the wicked no [more ;] though he may for a while make a great bustle, like a whirlwind : but the righteous [is] an everlasting foundation; his hope and happiness 26 is in the divine righteousness and faithfulness. As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, which is troublesome and painful, so [is] the sluggard to them that send him; he neither delivers his message faithfully, performs his business exactly, nor hastens 27 back again. The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened, naturally and judicially. 28 The hope of the righteous [shall be] gladness; shall be answered, and occasion joy: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish; shall be disappointed, and give so much the more sorrow 29 on that account. The way of the LORD [is] strength to the upright, that goes on securely and courageously; his work is easy and delightful but destruction [shall be] to the workers of in30 iquity. The righteous shall never be removed; his soul shall be

kept in peace, and his happiness be secure but the wicked shalį 31 not inhabit the earth. The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom but the froward tongue shall be cut out, or cut off. 32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable; he knows the proper time and manner of speaking, what is acceptable to men, and not displeasing to God; he studies to please as far as is consistent with truth and friendship: but the mouth of the wicked [speaketh] frowardness; he loves to vent his own spleen, though very distasteful to others. Let us avoid this, and remember, that these several maxims relating to the government of the tongue, show its importance, and how carefully it should be attended to.




FALSE balance [is] abomination to the LORD; it is pe culiarly abominable, as it is cheating under a pretence of 2 doing right but a just weight [is] his delight. [When] pride cometh, then cometh shame, being shameful in itself, and exposes them to shame: but with the lowly [is] wisdom; which is pleasing to God and man, and makes them easy and comfortable in them3 selves. The integrity of the upright shall guide them but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them if a man comes to a resolution to preserve strict integrity, that will direct him and make his way plain; it is easy to determine what is fair and honourable. But when the question is, What mean, dishonourable things may be done without discovery? a scene is open for perplexity; and men of great subtilty and refinement are oftenest 4 entangled, exposed, and ruined. Riches profit not in the day of wrath but righteousness delivereth from death; from second 5 death, and makes the first comfortable. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way, so as to bring all his designs and endeavours to a happy issue: but the wicked shall fall by his 6 own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them out of that sin and misery they might fall into but transgressors shall be taken in [their own] naughtiness, and irrecov 7 erably destroyed. When a wicked man dieth, [his] expectation shall perish; all his hope of pleasure and happiness in temporal things, and his expectation of escaping eternal misery: and the hope of unjust [men] perisheth, while the expectation of a good 8 man is answered and outdone. The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead, to that misery he 9 had formerly occasioned to the righteous. An hypocrite with [his] mouth destroyeth his neighbour, by flattering and deceiving him; but through knowledge, or prudence, shall the just be delivered 10 from his snares. When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth and when the wicked perish, [there is] shouting; men have such a regard for their own interest, and such a sense of what is decent and right, that they rejoice both in the one

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