Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

3. Let the uncertainty of all earthly things promote in us caution, diligence, and prayer : caution that we do not exceed in unreasonable mirth, and live without thought and fear. We know that we must die, and that there is nothing to be done in the grave; therefore we should be diligent; embrace every opportunity to do good and get good; be active in the business of our stations, and especially in the work of religion. Opportunities will foon be • over; and after death it will be too late to correct our

errors and mend our state. . To our diligence we thould also add prayer; for the race is not to the swift. If it were always lo, men would forget God: but the fact being otherwise, it is a plain proof of an over-ruling providence, and a call to remember our dependence upon him, and make our requests known to him.

4. We must not think the worse of wisdom, or be backward to pursue it, because it is despised and goes unrewarded. What Solomon observed in his time, has been observed ever since, that wise and useful men are often neglected; and noisy, infolent fools caressed. Many who spend their days and their strength in serving their fellow creatures, have neither recompense nor honour, nor perhaps thanks. But we should not be discouraged from doing our duty by the world's ingratitude. If they are not sensible of the pains we take for their benefit, we shall have the satisfaction of having done good; at least of having honestly endeavoured to do it;, and God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labour of love, but will bountifully re. ward it. ·

C H A P. 1. The principal design of this chapter is to teach us to behave

loyally and dutifully to rulers, as what will contribute to our

peace and happiness. IN EAD flies cause the ointment of the apothecary,

U or perfumer, to send forth a stinking savour: [so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom K 4

[and]

his wisdomwhen he that is therefore

[and] honour; the wifer any man is, the more care he should take of his words and a&tions; it is not jo much the

want of knowledge, as of attention and prudence that leffons le men's chara&ters. A wise man's heart (is) at his right

hand; he goes readily and wisely to work; performs things with dexterity, in the proper time and manner, arid in the most decent order; but a fool's heart at his left'; he goes

aukwardly to work, and therefore generally miscarries. 3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way,

his wisdom faileth [him,) and he faith to every one [that] he [is] a fool, he cannot so much as conceal his folly in the plainest things; he betrays hi: indiscretion by his

gait and air ; especially by being a few minutes in his com4 pany, you will find he is empty and conceited. If the spirit

of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; do not grow fullen and discontented, and quit his service; a

meek, humble behaviour may reconcile him; for yielding 5 pacifieth great offences. There is an evil [which] I

have seen under the sun, as an error (which] proceed6 eth from the ruler ; viz. not taking fufficient care

whom he promotes; Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich, men of considerable rank and ability, fit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, persons of a mean, feruile, mercenary disposition advanced, and princes, men of great worth, walking as servants upon

the earth. But do not on account of these irregularities fo8 ment factions against the government, for He that diggeth

a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a 9 serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth stones fhall

be hurt therewith ; [and] he that cleayeth wood shall be endangered thereby; he that would remove the antient

land marks of government, cut in pieces the fociety to which · he belongs, and break the hedge and fence of publick authofp rity, will find he does it to his own hurt. If the iron be

blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength :' but wisdom [is] profitable to direct,

& man † Some haye thought proper to censure this as a triling, impertinent observation; but Homer represents Nestor (the wiseft among the Greeks) 'as instructing his son in the art of pru. dence, and mention's this fimile as an illustration.

a man pould exercise prudence in the common affairs of life; especially in any attempt to mend a bad government; he had better whet his tool before he begins his work, and consider

of the proper means beforehand, or else he will find it more 11 difficult and troublesome. Surely the serpent will bite

without enchantment, that is, without hising; the wound will be felt before the creature's voice is heard; and a babbler is no better, who without reserve tells in one place

what he has heard in another, especially if it be any thing 12 too free about the governinent. The words of a wife

man's mouth (are] gracious, pleasing to his prince; but

the lips of a fool will swallow up himself; bring him to 13 trouble and sometimes to death. The beginning of the

words of his mouth [is] foolishness: and the end of his talk (is) mischievous madness; he works himself up into

a heat, and then says what doth mischief to others, and 14 brings ruin upon himself. A fool also is full of words: a

man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him ? Probably a description of the fool's manner of talking, who multiplies words unnecessarily, or rather, talks confidently of what he will do, and what he will have, and of things past, present, and to come, or in fuch a foolish manner that you cannot tell from what he is

saying what he will say; he rambles, on in impertinence. 15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them,

because he knoweth not how to go to the city; a fool : takeş most pains about, and yet blunders in the most plain and 16 obvious things. Wo to thee, O land, when thy king sis]

a child, a weak, foolih man, and thy princes eat in the morning; are persons addiEted to luxury and intemperance, indulging their appetites, when they should be engaged in

publick business, feasting in a morning, when they should be 17 trying important causes Blessed (art) thou, O land,

when thy king (is] the son of nobles, of an illustrious family and excellent qualities, and thy princes eat in due

feason, for strength, to fit them for their proper business, 18 and not for drunkenness! By much fothfulness the

building decayeth, the rain gets in and rots it; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. This is the case in private life; and it is to in

governinent; government; by luxury and Noth the whole' government is disordered, and oftentimes dissolved. A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all [things;] it procures all worldly advantages; there. fore rulers Jould not waste the publick treasure in luxury

and folly, which they may want to support the fate.? 20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought, neither

his perfon nor government ; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air fhall carry the voice, and that which hath wings fhall tell the matter; a proverbial expression, and intimates, that by : fome surprizing, unexpected method, it may be discovered, as if a bird flying by had heard and told it.

[merged small][ocr errors]

1. UIT E here see the benefit of wisdom and prudence,

y even in the common affairs of life. If we have nothing to do with the government of the nation, yet we should be careful to rule ourselves and our houses well. Let us cultivate that wisdom which is profitable to direct ; and learn it by thought and observation on the conduct of others. Let us learn to do things readily and dextrously; to concert the means well; lay good plans, and pursue them with resolution and caution; that our judgment may not fail us when difficulties occur. There is room for improvement in every branch of wisdom, and by it we shall fave ourselves much pains, and probably much shame. ::

2. Let us earnestly pray that our king may be directed in the choice of counsellors and officers under him; that person's of true worth, honour, and virtue, may not be neglected, and men of shattered heads, and broken fortunes, advanced; that none may be raised to important offices, but those who will facrifice pleasure to business, and keep their heads cool for counsel and judgment. Considering how much the welfare of the nation depends upon this, it should be the subject of our fervent prayers; for the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord.

3. We should learn those lessons of loyalty and subjection, upon which our comfort and happiness so much ode

pend,

pend, and guard against a factious, complaining spirit. Too many by attempting to cure fome defects in a well settled government, have done more harm than good. We are in general very incompetent judges of the administration of government; let us not therefore allow ourselves to find fault with it. Reviling those who rule over us, tho' done fecretly, may be known; the providence of God may by some unsuspected way discover it, and then it will turn to our shame, and the reproach of our profession. Let us therefore lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty: fearing God and honouring the king.

4. We see that diligence and frugality are very necessary for private persons, as well as governors, v. 18. By much Nothfulness the building decayeth, and throidleness of the hands the house droppeth thro'. When men neglect their business, and desert their shops, to pursue their pleasures or to fit with vain persons, poverty, shame, and distress will soon come upon them. v. 19. A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry; but money answereth all things. Yet this must be taken with limitation ; for money cannot supply the wants of the soul; cannot save from fin, sorrow, death, and hell: but it contains a proper caution, to young men especially, not to be expensive in entertainments, dress, or equipage; the feast of one day may consume the money that should support the family for a week ; and leave none to do good with. Those who make the most fplendid entertainments and the greatest appearance, are generally most backward to works of piety and charity; for there is neither charity nor justice without frugality and prudence: but wisdom is profitable to direet.

C H A P. XI. Solomon in this chapter exhorts his readers to liberality, as the

best antidote against the vanity of riches; and then urges a

Serious preparation for death and judgment. IN AST thy bread, or corn, upon the waters : for

a thou shalt find it after many days. Corn was the chief trade of Judea, and a very profitable one; in allusion

« AnteriorContinuar »