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them by the best means, and therefore comprehends the knowledge of our duty, the fear of God, and a hatred of evil. This wisdom is the greatest excellency of a rational being. It is to be preferred to gold and rubies, and every thing the heart of man can desire. It brings us substance; what is solid and durable, and will afford us the highest and noblest delight. It directs in the government of king. doms, churches, and families; discovers the useful arts of life, and especially ennobles, enriches, and fanctifies the soul. It is absolutely necessary for all the fons of men; all their learning and wealth, without this, will only make them so much the more contemptible and miserable. Let us all then, especially those who are in early life, pursue it; for wisdom loves those that love her, and those that seek her early shall find her.
3. How inexcusable and miserable will they be who hate wisdom! Inexcusable, because it is offered them, and the way to posless it is 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 would 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 blesed are they that keep her ways.
CH A P. IX. This chapter contains a description of wisdom and folly, as per.
fons sending their invitations to mankind; and the different reception of their respettive guests. These seem to be detached pieces, which Solomon might write and give to the young people about his court, to instruet 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.
VITISDOM hath builded her house, the hath
V hewn out her seven pillars ; in allusion to the custom of the eastern princes, who entertained their guests in
gardens, where pavilions or tents were spread upon a num. 2 ber of pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath
mingled her wine of various kinds; she hath also fur3 nished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: h 4 she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso
[is] fimple, let him turn in hither; I am willing to re
ceive the weakest and the vileft: [as for] him that wanteth 5 understanding, she faith to him, Come, eat of my
bread, and drink of the wine (which] I have mingled,
that is, hear my instructions, and receive my confolations : 6 and in order to this, Forsake the foolish, and live; and
go in the way of understanding. And my first lesonis, that 7 to despise reproof is a most hateful character: He that re
proveth a scorner getteth to himself shame, by being dis
appointed: and he that rebuketh a wicked (man getteth] 8 himself a blot, by being censured and reproached. 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, 10 and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD
[is] the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of
the holy, that is, of holy things, the do&trines and services II of religion, [is] understanding. For by me thy days
shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be 12 increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thy
self: but [if] thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear sit;] I shall receive neither benefit by the one, nor prejudice by the
other; it is thire own interest which is folely concerned. 13 A foolish woman, that is, folly, the contrast of true
wisdom, [is] clamorous: [she is] fimple, and knoweth
nothing; she speaks in a loud, impudent manner, but is per14 feetly ignorant of God and religion. For she sitteth at the
door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the 15 city, To call passengers who go right on their ways;
who 6 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.
who pursue their business, or are going to the place where 16 they might receive instručtion : Whoso [is] simple, let him
turn in hither; using the same language as wisdom, and : urging the great pleasute arising from prohibited gratifica
tions: and (as for] him that wanteth understanding, she
faith to him, Stolen waters, or pleasures, are sweet, and 18 bread [eaten) in secret is 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 lufts, but the spirits of the damned come to the entertainment, assembling as it were to seize their prey, and conduet the finner down to the depths of hell.
REFLECTION S. 1. U T E may learn to judge of our own character, by
VV the manner 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 à faithful reprover, take his rebuke well, apply our minds to grow wifer 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 Malt bear it.
2. How desirable is it that young people should make a wise choice! Wisdom and folly, holiness and sin, each ad. dress 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 ad. dress is mild and rational, the 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 does Solomon set before them, thus do faithful monitors and friends, set before them life and death, the blelling and the curse; forsake then the foolish, and live.
CH A P. X. The former chapters were but by way of preface to recommend
what follows to our pra&tice. Here begin those choice and pithy sentences, called proverbs, and which are too unconnected
to admit of reflections on the contents of each chapter. i THE proverbs of Solomon. A wise fon maketh
l a glad father: but a foolish fon sis] the heaviness 2 of his mother. 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 upon wickedness and from 3 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 an enemy, 4'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, hoth as to the 5 world and the foul. He that gathereth in summer, who
improves his opportunities, [is] a wise fon: [but] he that sleepeth in harvest [is] a fon that causeth shame; he
loses the benefit he might enjoy, and will be a disgrace to his 6 friends. Blessings are] upon the head of the just:
but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked; an
allufion to laying on the hand in blessing, and covering • 7 the face of a criminal when executed. The memory
of the just [is] blessed; tho' obscure while he lives, thos Nandered, yet mall he be spoken of with praise: but the
name of the wicked shall rot; it hall survive them, but 8 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 mall fall into troubles and be 9 undone. He that walketh uprightly walketh surely; he Voi, V.
is easy and happy in the divine approbation, and the consciousness of his own integrity: but he that perverteth his
ways, who useth indireEt methods, shall be known and dif10 covered. 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 well, refreshing and strengthening all about him: 12 but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. Hatred
stirreth up strifes; malicious, ill-natured people by Nander and talebearing raise disturbances, and make people quarrel
about trifles: but love covereth all fins; overlooks and 13 conccals, or extenuates and makes the best of 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 corre&tion will 14 teach a fool his duty. Wife [men] lay up knowledge,
continually and safely, as a treasure: but the mouth of the
foolish [is] near destruction, by venting unseasonably all 15 he knows, to his own mischief. 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 despair, and 16 fo is the cause of their ruin. The labour of the righteous
(tendeth] to life; wisdom and goodness make a man's life a blelling to himself and others: the fruit of the wicked to
sin; wicked men abuse it, and turn it into a curse, make in it an occasion of guilt and ruin. He [is in] the way of
life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth re
proof, when offered to him, erreth, wanders out of the way 18 of life. He that hideth hatred (with] lying or flattering
lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool; mows a 19 bad heart, however wife he may seem. In the multitude ** of words there wanteth not fin; a man that is talkative
will often fin: but he that refraineth his lips, who hath
prudence to consider when and how and to whom he speaks, 20 [is] wise. The tongue of the juft [is as] choice filver ; when he speaks in his common and ordinary manner what he