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18 lent, overbearing man. Wisdom [is] better than weapons of war:
but one sinner destroyeth much good; one foolish obstinate man, by his perverseness ofien puzzles and ruins a good cause, und des
REFLECTIONS. 1. VTE are here taught not to judge of men by their out.
IV ward condition, or the events that happen to them. Though we are so often exhorted to this in scripture, yet we are ready to forget it. God's love and hatred to men is not to be estimated by their external circumstances; but though the same events may happen to both, yet the design and end of them may be widely different.
2. We see what kind of provision the word of God makes for our living comfortably. How frequently are we admonished to enjoy the good things of life, and consult our own comfort, under the limitation of sobriety and wisdom. God certainly never gave us so many good things to be snares and temptations to us. It is pleasing to him that we should rejoice in his favours, and show the cheerfulness of our minds by our dress, diet, and converse with others. It especially becomes those to rejoice in God's good crea. tures whose works he accepts, Innocent mirth becomes none so well as those that are good. There is no religion in a slovenly dress, a meagre diet, or a gloomy spirit. God would have all his servants cheerful, and thus show that their master is good, and their work pleasant.
3. Let the uncertainty of all earthly things promote in us cau. tion, diligence, and prayer : caution that we do not exceed in un. reasonable 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 soon be over ; and after death it will be too late to correct our errors and mend our state. To our diligence we should also add prayer ; for the race is not to the swift. If it were always so, men would forget God: but the fact being otherwise, it is a plain proof of an overrula ing 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 Solo. mon observed in his time, has been observed ever since, that wise and useful men are often neglected ; and noisy insolent 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 dait; and God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labour of love, lut will bountifully reward its
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. 1 D EAD flies cause the ointment of the apothecary, or per.
fumer, to send forth a stinking savour : (so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honour ; the wiser any man is, the more care he should take of his words
and actions ; it is not so much the want of knowledge, as of atten. ition and prudence that lessens men's characters. 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 man. ner, and in the most decent order ; but a fool's heart at his
left; he goes aukwardly to work, and therefore generally miscar. 3 ries. Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his
wisdom faileth [him,) and he saith to every one [that] he [is] a fool; he cannot so much as conceal his folly in the plainest things; he betrays his indiscretion by his gait and air ; especially by being
a few minutes in his company, you will find he is empty and con. 4 ceited. If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not
thy place; do not grow sullen and discontented, and quit his service;
a meek, humble behaviour may reconcile him ; for yielding paci5 fieth great offences. There is an evil (which] I have seen un
der the sun, as an error (which] proceedeth from the ruler ; 6 viz, not taking sufficient care whom he promotes : Folly is set
in great dignity, and the rich, men of considerable rank and abil. 7 ity, sit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, persons
of a mean, servile, mercenary disposition advanced, and princes, men of great worth, walking as servants upon the earth. But
do not on account of these irregularities foment factions against the 8 government, for He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso 9 breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth
stones shall be hurt therewith ; [and] he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby; he that would remove the ancient land marks of government, cut in pieces the society to which he
belongs, and break the hedge and fence of public authority, will find 10 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 ; a man should 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 Il more difficult and troublesome, Surely the serpent will bite
without enchantment, that is, without hissing ; the qound will be felt before the creature's voice is heard ; and a babler is no better,
• Some have thought proper to censure this as a trifting, impertinent o'xservation ; but Monier represents Nestor (the wisest among the Greeks) as instructing his soul in the art of Mindence, and mentions this simile as an illustration.
who without reserve tells in one place what he has heard in another, 12 especially if it be any thing 100 free about the government. The
words of a wise man's mouth Care) gracious, pleasing to his
prince ; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself; bring 13 him to 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
SQys what doch mischief to others, and brings ruin upon himself. 14 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 unneccesarily, or rather, talks confidently of what he will do, and what he will have, and of things past, present, and 10 come, or in such 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 takes most pains 16 about, and yet blunders in the most plain and obvious things. Wo
to thee, O land, when thy king sis) a child, a weak, fuolish man, and thy princes eat in the morning; are persons addicted to luxury and intemperance, indulging their appetites, when they
should be engaged in public business, feasting in a morning, when 17 they should be trying important causes. Blessed (art] thou, O
land, when thy king [is] the son of nobles, of an illustrious fam, ily and excellent qualities, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, to fit them for their proper business, and not for drunkenness! By much slothfulness the building decayeth, the rain gets in and rots it ; and through idleness of the bands the house droppeth through. This is the case in private life ; and
it is so in government ; by lurury and sloth the whole government 19 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 ; therefore rulers should not waste the public treasure in luxury and folly, which they may want to support the state.
Curse not the king, no not in thy thought, neither his person nor government ; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber : for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter ; a proverbial expression, and inti. mates, that by some surprising, unexpected method, it may be discovered, as if a bird flying by had heard and told it.
W E here see the benefit of wisdom and prudence, even in
VV 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 dexter. ously ; to concert the means well; lay good plans, and pursue them with resolution and caution ; that our judgment may not fail us when difficulties accur. There is room for improvement in every branch of wisdom, and by it we shall save 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 persons of true worth, honour, and virtue, may not be neglected, and men of shat. tered heads, and broken fortunes, advanced ; that none may be rais. ed to important offices, but those who will sacrifice pleasure to business, and keep their heads cool for counsel and judgment. Conz sidering 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 depend, and guard against a factious complaining spirit. Too many by attempting to cure some 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 our: selves to find fault with it. Reviling those who rule over us, though done secretly, 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 honour. ing the king.
4. We see that diligence and frugality are very necessary for pri. vate persons, as well as governors, v. 18. By much slothfulness the building decayeth, and through idleness of the hands the house drop preth through. When men neglect their business, and desert their shops, to pursue their pleasures or to sit 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 sin, 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 splendid 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 wisa dom is profitable to direci.
Solomon in this chapter exhorts his readers to liberality, as the best
antidote against the vanity of riches ; and then urges a serious prep
aration for death and judgment. IOAST thy bread, or corn, upon the waters : for thou shalt
☺ find it after many days. Corn was the chief trade of Judea, and a very profitaöle one ; in allusion to this Solomon intimates,
that what is given is not thrown away, but, like corn, is sent on a 2 voyage, which in return will richly repay the merchant. Give a
portion to seven, and also to eight , give in a very liberal manner, and take in as many objects as possible ; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth, how soon you may want the
assistance of others ; and you may expect their help and the pecu3 liar care of Providence if you have been charitable. If the clouds be full of rain, they empty [themselves,] upon the earth ; Prova idence intended they should do so ; and God gives us money, not to hoard up, but to do good with : and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be, and there is no hopes of its bringing forth any more fruit. Thus shall we soon be cut down, and whether we have been fruitful or barren, as opposite characters as north and south)
none can raise us up to the exercise of charity any more. Let us 4 not frame excuses for neglecting liberality; for He that observeth
the wind, lest it should blow away his seed, shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds, who is afraid of a little rain, shall not reap, and will make poor work of his husbandry ; so he that with
holds his charity till every objection can be answered, will never 5 bestow it. As thou knowest not what [is] the way of the spirit,
or wind, (nor] how the bones (do grow] in the womb of her that. is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all ; thou knowest not what will be in future ; how he
may prosper or impoverish thee; therefore be not anxious about 6 futurity, do thy duty, and leave the event to God. In the morn.
ing sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand : for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both (shall be) alike good ; in youth and age, in prosperity and adversity, be always doing good, and depend upon
God for the issue. 7 Truly the light [is] sweet ; and a pleasant (thing it is] for
the eyes to behold the sun ; life and the comforts of it are very 8 agreeable : But if a man live many years, [and] rejoice in them
all ; yet let him remember the days of darkness, adversity and sorrow, especially death ; for they shall be many. All that cometh (is) vanity ; therefore be not too fond of earthly things,
but labour 1o do all the good you can, which will afford the most 9 comforlable reflections. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth ;
and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes ; this