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those who suffer themselves to be seduced by sensual pleasures, the miseries they are exposed to; and the injuries they do themselves; reminding them, above all, that the actions of men are all exposed to God's view; and that he examines all their steps. These considerations, added to the many other motives which the Gospel furnishes us with, ought to inspire us with the greatest abhorrence of impurity. They teach us that wisdom and piety cannot dwell in a heart enslaved by this passion; that we ought with all possible care to avoid the temptations, opportunities, and objects, which might raise loose desires; and endeavour to be pure and chaste, both in body and spirit.
CHAPTER VI. I. Solomon advises not to be too hasty to enter into suretyship for any one with a stranger. II. He exhorts us to avoid idleness, of which he represents the fatal consequences: and to abhor malice, pride, cruelty, and lying. III. He charges us to abstain from uncleanness, and to abhor those sins which it draws men into.
On this chapter we are to consider, I. That the advice which Solomon gives, not to become surety for another, does not mean, that we should never be bound for any person whatever; but this prudent maxim means only, that no one should rashly engage for another; and that the Israelites, in particular, were to beware of being bound for others with strangers. This was founded upon God's command, that the Israelites should not have any particular dealings with the neighbouring nations, and because such suretyship occasioned several inconveniences. II. We ought to remember well what the Wise Man saith of idleness, and of the great mischiefs that attend it; and above all we ought to avoid it, because it corrupts the mind and the heart, and leads us into temptation and into sin. III. Solomon has taught us, that God hates the proud and haughty, deceitful, and cruel men; those who contrive mischief, who bear false witness, and sow division by evil reports. Since those who are guilty of those sins are an abomination to the Lord, we ought utterly to abhor them, and remember that they would be much more abominable in us than they were in the Jews. IV. Young men are here exhorted to follow the good instructions of their fathers and mothers, and never to forget them. Lastly, The curses denounced in this and the following chapter, against adulterers and unclean persons, prove, that the divine vengeance pursues them in a particular manner, and experience confirms the truth of these threatenings; but what the Gospel says of these odious sins should affect us still more, as it leaves not the least room to doubt but God will very severely punish those who give way to them.
This chapter contains exhortations to follow the rules and maxims of wisdom; and, particularly, to study to be chaste, and not to suffer ourselves to be seduced by impure and immodest persons.
The frequent warnings of the Wise Man, from the beginning of this Book, to guard men against impurity, show, that this sin is utterly inconsistent with wisdom and the fear of God; and that none, but those who are destitute of prudence and piety, can give any way to it; but that persons truly wise avoid the snares of sensuality. We find in this chapter, that the impure and unclean are luxurious and impudent, dissolute in their lives, and fond of pleasures and finery. Solomon shows, that we cannot too studiously avoid persons of this character; and that those who are drawn away by the lusts of the flesh, are like brute beasts which have no understanding, and hasten to their own destruction. These warnings will have still greater force, if we consider, that besides the miseries which uncleanness exposes men to in this life, it hurries them into a state most fatal to the soul, and to their eternal welfare; and we should attentively weigh the declarations of the Gospel on this head, which are still more express than those of Solomon.
CHAPTER VIII. I. The Divine Wisdom invites men to receive her instructions, and lay hold of the advantages which she offers to them. II.' She declares that she was with God from the beginning; and by her he finished all his works, and governs the world; that she greatly blesses those who follow her instructions; and that those who reject her make themselves miserable.
We here see, I. God's great goodness and particular care in calling all men, without exception, even sinners, to receive instruction, in withdrawing them from the follies and errors of the world, and communicating to them true wisdom. By thus preventing them, and doing every thing that is necessary to make them happy, God shows, that if they do not arrive at wisdom and happiness, it will be wholly their own fault. II. In this chapter we learn, that Divine Wisdom is the most excellent thing in the world; that she has always been with God; that the world was made by her; and that by her all things subsist in the order wherein we see them; that she sets up kings, and gives them the prudence they stand in need of; and that this wisdom, which was with God before the creation, has been made manifest to render men happy. This was in an especial manner fulfilled when the Son of God came into the world, and declared to men the doctrine of salvation: and this ought to induce us the more to make a good use of the instructions that are given us in the Gospel. Lastly, Solomon teaches us, that this heavenly wisdom is communicated only to those that love her, and desire to receive her; that in order to find her, we need only to desire and seek her; that she cannot dwell with pride and disorderly passions; that those who hearken to her are perfectly happy; but that such as reject her wrong their own souls, and wilfully engage in the ways of death.
Wisdom proposes, under the similitude of a feast, the good things she bestows upon men; exhorts them to receive her instructions, and warns them to avoid the temptations by which the foolish and abandoned woman draws away silly men.
There are three reflections to be made on this chapter: I. That since wisdom invites men, with so much earnestness and tenderness, to the enjoyment of her good things, we ought to improve her gracious invitation, renouncing the errors of the age, and sincerely applying ourselves to the study of true wisdom, which consists in the fear of God, and which will bring us to an eternity of happiness and glory. II. It must be observed, that these wholesome counsels of wisdom are not received by all alike; that wise men hearken to them with pleasure, and improve them; but that worldly and profane men make a mock at them, and only take occasion from them to grow wicked. III. This chapter shows us, that it is one of the greatest follies and most dangerous errors to suffer ourselves to be allured by the charms of voluptuousness; and that we cannot stand too much upon our guard against this temptation, since it is so fatal in its consequences to those who give way to it. This king Solomon himself is a melancholy example of, who was by women led into idolatry in his old age.
Here the Proverbs, or wise sentences of Solomon, begin. Those contained in this chapter relate to the duty of children; to ill-gotten goods; to the happiness of the righteous, and the unhappiness of the wicked; to charity, and the love of peace; to wisdom in discourse; to the advantage of corrections; to slandering; to the fault of speaking too much; to the benefit of conversing with wise men; to the destruction of the wicked, and to the firm and certain condition of the righteous.
The reflections to be made on this chapter, are the following: That the greatest happiness of fathers and mothers is, to bave wise children; that goods gotten by injustice, fraud, or extortion, never last long; that the blessing of God, which alone is true riches, always rests upon the upright; that he who walks in integrity, walks securely, but that they that depart from the right way shall never prosper; that we should avoid quarrels; and that charity covers other men's faults. Besides this, we learn in this chapter, that we ought to be very prudent and discreet in discourse; that it is a great fault to talk too much; that great talkers seldom fail of falling into lying, slandering, and other sins: Solomon tells us likewise, that what the wicked fear, befals them; that at last they come to ruin; but that God gi ants the righteous what they desire; that the fear of the Lord prolongs life, and renders it happy; that the hope of the righteous shall be gladness, and that they shall never be moved. These are most certain truths, and maxims of very great use, which we ought to have continually before our eyes.
CHAPTER XI. The subjects treated of in this chapter, are injustice and deceit, pride, integrity, the vanity of riches,