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lastly, that there is neither wisdom nor counsel that is able to resist God; and that he is the protector and deliverer of those that trust in him.
The sentences we are now going to read are concerning a good reputation, the providence of God, meekness, piety, the education of children, and the necessity of correcting them betimes; charity, the destruction of the wicked, sloth, the oppression of the poor, the care we should take to improve by instructions, the duty of princes and magistrates, anger, land-marks, and diligence.
From this chapter we may draw the following instructions: That a good reputation is a blessing which we ought by all means to endeavour to acquire and to preserve; particularly, that we may edify others by it; that God is equally the maker of the rich and poor; and that he has made a difference in the conditions of men, for the good of society; but that he will judge them all; that meekness, and the fear of God, compose the whole happiness of man; that it is extremely important to give children a good education, the fruits of which appear through their whole lives, and to correct them early; that God blesses those who help the poor; that he takes in hand the cause of the oppressed, and makes those who trample upon them fall into misery; that it is a very advantageous and agreeable thing, to hear and follow the counsels of wisdom, and altogether worthy of those who govern the people; that we should shun the company of angry people, and take care to do nothing dishonest; and that labour and diligence procure great advantages to men. These rules are of very great use in order to make men live happily in this world; but, above all, remember, they are the indispensable duties which religion and conscience require of us, which should be our chief motive to make them the rule of our conduct.
In this chapter the Wise Man teaches us to be sober, not to desire riches, nor accept a present from an envious or covetous man; to be prudent in our discourses, and just in all our actions, particularly to the poor and fatherless; to correct our children; not to envy the wicked; to fly from drunkards and debauchees; to honour our father and mother; to search after wisdom and truth; and to avoid impurity and intemperance.
The principal instructions we meet with in this chapter, are, to be sober, and not dainty, in eating and drinking; not to desire riches, but consider that they are perishing and transitory; to receive nothing from the covetous, or of those that give with an evil heart; to be circumspect in words; not to remove the bounds of men's possessions, nor to do any injury to the poor, remembering that they have a Protector in heaven who will plead their cause. The Wise Man next recommends the chastising of children, and not being too indulgent to them; never to envy the prosperity of the wicked, but to give ourselves to the fear of the Lord; to avoid the company of drunkards and intemperate persons, lest we fall into the same misery with them. Children ought to learn particularly from hence always to honour their parents, and not to despise them when they are old. Solomon again reminds us, that there is nothing we ought to attain or preserve with greater care than truth and wisdom. Lastly, What we read at the end of this chapter should, in the most powerful manner, dissuade us from drunkenness and impurity, not only for fear of the miseries which these sins expose men to in this world; but especially on account of the evil of so doing, and the punishment which these sins will meet with from God in the life to come.
This chapter contains sentences concerning envy; the care of getting wisdom and prudence; the obligation we are under to defend them who are oppressed; the fear of God's judgments: The divine protection of good men in affliction is likewise here treated of, together with the love of our enemies, the end of the ungodly, and the little reason we have to envy them; the fear of God; the honour due to kings; impartiality in judgments; economy, revenge, and sloth.
The effect which the reading of this chapter ought to produce in us, is to teach us never to envy the wicked, nor join ourselves to them; to make it our chief care to get wisdom; to comfort and defend the afflicted; and to fear the judgment which God has threatened against those who have no pity on them. The Wise Man next teaches us, that if the righteous often fall into affliction, the Lord delivers them; which is the meaning of this sentence, A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: For Solomon did not mean, that the most righteous man falls seven times a day into sin, as several do falsely explain it. It appears from this chapter, that a wise man, and one that fears God, never rejoices at the evil that befals his enemies, nor is jealous at the prosperity of the wicked. He fears God, and honours his superiors; he lives peaceably, without meddling in things that do not concern him; he has no respect to men in the exercise of justice, and renders to every one exactly what is his due; he never returns evil for evil, and abstains from revenge; he is prudent and industrious, and guards against idleness and sloth, not only because they are attended with poverty and many evils, but, above all, because they are an obstacle to virtue, and corrupt the heart. The Gospel prescribes the same rules and in a more perfect manner, which lays us under a still greater obligation not to depart from them.
The Wise Man makes several remarks on the greatness and duty of kings; on humility, quarrels, secrecy, words spoken in season, and reproofs. He proposes rules concerning liberality, meekness, temperance; the correspondence we ought to maintain with our neighbours; the care we should take to comfort the afflicted; the love of enemies, and the way to restrain slanderers. Lastly, He speaks of quarrelsome women, of the ill effects produced by anger, and by the righteous falling into sin.
That which is said of the greatness of kings, at the beginning of this chapter, shows, that they ought to be honoured; and, if they would be happy, they should remove evil men from them. Solomon next teaches us, not to seek after vain-glory, but to be humble; to avoid disputes; to keep secrets; to submit to reproof with cheerfulness; not to boast of any thing, especially of what we have not; by mild speeches to appease those who are enraged; and to be sober and temperate. He advises us not to engage ourselves too far in the affairs of the world, but to live in a religious retirement; and to behave ourselves charitably and prudently towards the afflicted. He exhorts us to return good for evil, in those words which St. Paul quotes, Rom. xii. If thy enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink ; for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head; that is, by this means we shall gain our enemies, and deliver them from a great evil, and shall do a good work which God will reward; or if they still continue to hate us, they will be utterly inexcusable. Towards the
end of this chapter, the Wise Man teaches us, that the way to silence slanderers is to discourage them, and to let them know we take no delight in hearing them. He observes, that the fall of the righteous occasions great evil, and is a dangerous example; and the wicked think, though very unreasonably, that this gives them authority to sin. Lastly, He says it is a token of great weakness, not to be master of our own temper, nor to be able to resist anger.
The sentences in this chapter are upon the following subjects: The advancement of wicked men, rash curses, the evils that proceed from folly, and the way of replying to fools, that is, to such as want wisdom and virtue; their obstinacy in sin, their good opinion of themselves; idleness, contention, the faithlessness of those who deceive their friends, quarrels, back-biting, dissimulation and flattery.
The reflections this chapter affords us are as follow: That honour and preferment are not fit for people without merit and without virtue; that curses pronounced against any one, only harm the person that utters them; that those who are void of wisdom fall into contempt and misery, and occasion many evils to others; that we ought to behave ourselves discreetly towards such persons, and to answer them, or be silent, as prudence shall require. We may farther learn from hence, that the greatest folly, and that which we are seldom cured of, is to have too high an opinion of ourselves; that idleness is a vice that makes a man incapable of doing any good, or of hearkening to any advice; that it is a great imprudence to concern ourselves in the quarrels of others; that if there were no tale-bearers there would be no animosities, and that they are the authors of many evils; that it is great perfidiousness to deceive one's friend, and to pretend friendship, whilst the