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Heb. vi. 8. The laughter of these fools, that is, all those flatteries, jests, vain and empty discourses, mimicry, and buffoonery, by which they excite laughter, and delight persons as vain as themselves, is compared to thorns burning under a pot: for as these make a sudden blaze and a great noise, but do no good; so the noisy mirth of fools, though it may seem to promise more pleasure and satisfaction, than the more solemn and severe conversation of serious characters, suddenly vanishes, without leaving any solid joy behind it; whilst the reproofs of wise men sink down into the heart, and help to work out that levity and vanity that lay within it, Ps. lviii. 9. and cxviii. 12: or as the crackling of thorns is unpleasant to the ear, so the laughter and vain mirth of fools is entirely offensive and unsavoury to the heart of a wise man. The comparison may seem likewise to denote the aptness of such persons to be caught with every light and empty pleasure, as fire suddenly catches thorns, and passes through them, Exod. xxii. 6.
7. Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
This may be understood two different ways: First, that even wise men, when they see inno
cence oppressed, and violence prevail instead of justice, or when they themselves are unrighteously oppressed, are on this account much shaken and discomposed, and tempted to passion and indignation, Ps. lxxiii. 2, 3, 8, 13, 21; Prov. xxiii. 17; Hab. i. 2, 3, 13, 14: and then the latter clause is thus to be rendered:“and it," namely, oppression, “ destroyeth the heart of a gift," i.e. a heart endowed and adorned with excellent gifts from above: which sense the Chaldee paraphrase favours. When two substantives come together, the latter is frequently taken as an adjective; as Ps. v. 6. a man of blood, a bloody man; Ps. cxl. 11. a man of tongue, an evil speaker; Luke iv. 22, words of grace, gracious words; Ephes. iv. 24. holiness of truth, true holiness ; and in this sense likewise the Septuagint and the vulgar Latin render this clause, απολλύει την καρδίαν αγενειας αυτ8, perdet robu cordis ejus. So by cor muneris, they understand cor munificum et liberale. Secondly, oppression, i. e. wealth gained by oppression, maketh a wise man mad. When a wise man turns oppressor, and perceives bribes and gifts to flow in apace, he becometh mad with greediness to get more, or mad in violence against his poor - neighbours, or mad in his understanding; his eye is blinded, his heart is infatuated and besotted; he is bereft of his usual wisdom, ruiping his family when he thinks to raise and establish it; and so gifts destroy his heart, i. c. his understanding, Hos. iv. 11; Deut. xvi. 19; Exod. xxiii. 3. Either sense will agree with the scope of the whole context, which is to persuade to patience, and to guard against fretfulness, when oppressors grow rich, and madly pursue gain; and to direct us to wait quietly and observe the end of such men (as David also directs, Ps. xxxvii. 37, 38. and lxxiii. 17.), and not to break forth into anger and madness at the present disorder which we conceive to be in these things,
8. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it; and the patient in spirit is better ihan the poor in spirit.
" Better is the end of a thing than the be. ginning of it.” This maxim is verified in many particulars: the beginnings are difficult and painful, the end pleasant and fruitful, and abundantly rewards all former pains; as in studies of learning, the ways of virtue, the bearing of afflictions, &c. Heb. xii. 11. On the contrary, the beginnings of vice seem sweet and pleasant, but they end in bitterness; like the roll that was sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly, Rev. x. 9, 10; 2 Sam. ii. 16, So - in the concerns of this life, a man may sudden.
ly enterprize some great undertaking, and glory in the conceit of his abilities, who afterwards procures to himself shame, and is not able to finish it, for want of wisdom to foresee events, Luke xiv. 28–32; 1 Kings xx, 11. Perseverance crowns and honours an enterprize, Mat. X. 22 ; Heb. iii. 6; Rev. ii. 26. Many begin in the spirit who end in the flesh, Gal. iii. 3. It has been said of the devil, that he cannot change his feet; he can begin like a saint, and transform himself into an angel of light, but he will still end like himself. The introduction of this general sentiment in this connection, is designed to arm us with moderation of spirit against present and prevailing oppressjons. Although thou seest much violence, and sufferest much evil from its pressure, yet do not despond, nor give up waiting upon God; look not only on the present face of things, but patiently expect what issue he will give; go on in his way without being dismayed or affrighted from any good purpose: the end is often comfortable when the beginnings are troublesome, and they who sow in tears, reap in joy, Ps. cxxvi. 5, 6. and lxxiii. 17; Jam. v. 11; Heb. x. 36, 37; Phil. iv. 5; Isai. x. 12, 24, 25. -" And the patient in spirit, than the proud in spirit.” Long in spirit; that can long restrain and confine anger or impatience. This is frequently in Scripture attributed to God, Exod. xxxiv. 6; Nehem. ix. 17; Ps. cxlv. 8: and it is the evidence of his power, Num. xiv. 17, 18; Nahum. i. 3; as it is of wisdom and strength in a man, Prov. xiv. 29. and xvi. 32. -" Than the proud in spirit.” The proper antithesis would have been, than the hasty, or short in spirit, as the expression is, Prov. xiv. 29; Exod. vi. 9; but his purpose is to shew, that patience is rooted in humility. The meaner opinion men have of themselves, the more willing they are to endure what God inflicts, and to wait his time for an issue out of trouble. On the contrary, pride and high-mindedness make men wilful, and impatient of any opposition, Prov. xiii. 10: therefore, when God humbled David, we find how strong he was to bear the railing and cursing of Shimei, 2 Sam. xvi. 11, 12; Hab. ii. 3, 4.
9. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Do not fret at the oppression and violence thou seest in human affairs; do not rashly and hastily give way to murmuring aud impatience. The Chaldee paraphrase understands it, of contumacy and frowardness against God