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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 whould 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 blessed are they that keefi her ways.
This chapter contains a description of wisdom and folly, as persons sending their invitations to mankind; and the different reception of their respective guests. These seem to be detached pieces, which Solomon might write and give to young people about his court, to instruct 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.
1 TTTISDOM hath builded her house, she hath hewn out
V V her seven pillars ; Ml allusion to the custom of the eastern princes, who entertained their guests in gardens, where pavil
2 ions or tents were spread upon a number of pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine of various kinds;
3 she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens :• she crieth upon the highest places of the chy,
4 Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither; / am willing to receive the weakest and the vilest: [as for] him that wanteth iin
H derstanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine [which] I have mingled, that is, hear my instructions, and receive my consolations : and in order to this,
6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. And my first lesson is, that to despise reproof is a most hate
7 fid character: He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame, by being disappointed: and he that rebuketh a wicked [man, getteth] himself a blot, by being censured and nprcached.
8 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,] and he will increase
10 in learning. The fear of the Lord [is] the beginning of wisdom ; and the knowledge of the holy, that is, of holy things, the
11 doctrines and services of religion, [is] understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall
12 be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself .but [if] thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear [it ;] I shall receive
• A circumstanrr of decorum, aa it would have been reckoned an infamous tiling iu those, •oauulrs for a lady to be attended by men servants.
neither bene/it by the one, nor prejudice by the other ; it ia thine own interest which U solely concerned.
13 A foolish woman, that is, folly, the contrast of true wisdom, [is] clamorous : [she is] simple, and knoweth nothing; she speaks in. a loud, impudent manner, but is perfectly ignorant of God and re
14 ligion. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the
15 high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways; who pursue their business, or are going to the place
16 where they might receive instruction: Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither; using the same language as wisdom, and urging the great pleasure arising from prohibited gratifications: and [as for]
17 him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters, or pleasures, are sweet, and bread [eaten] in secret is
18 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 lusts, but the spirits of the damned come to the entertainment, assembling as it were to seize their prey, and conduct the sinner down to the depths of hell.
1. "\^7-£ may learn to judge of our own character, by the manV V ner 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 a faithful reprover, take his rebuke well, apply our minds to grow wiser 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 f r thyself; but if thou scomeat, thou alone shalt bear it.
2. How desirable is it that young"people should make a wise choice! Wisdom and folly, holiness and sin, each address them, and solicit their compliance. O that they would examine thtr proposals of each, but always remember to take into the account future consequences. Wisdom's address is mild and rational, slie proposes your benefit, and only requires you to forsake what will Ik: your destruction. But carnal and criminal pleasures arc noisy and pressing; they promise you much delight in forbidden enjoyments; but the dead are tl.ere; and if you are the guests of folly, the entertainment will end in the depths of hell. Thus does Solomon set before them, thus do faithful monitors and friends, set Lefurethim life and death, the Meaning and the curse ; forsake then thefoolish u:id Uve.
Vol. V. D
'The former chapters were but by way of fire face to recommend uftaf follows to our practice. Here begin those choice and pithy sentences, called proverbs, and which are too unconnected to admit of reflections on the contents of each clutpter.
1 r I ''HE proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad
JL father: but a foolish son [is] the heaviness of his mother.
2 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
3 upon wickedness and from eternal dtath. 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
4 an enemy 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, both as to the world and the
5 soul. He that gathereth in summer, who improves his opportunities, [is] a wise son: [but] he that sleepeth in harvest [is] n son that causeth shame ; he loses the benefit he might enjoy, and
6 will be a disgrace to his friends.. Blessings [art] upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked; an allusion to laying on the hand in blessing, and covering the face of a
7 criminal when executed. The memory of the just [i3] blessed; though obscure '.-.-hile he lives, though slandered, yet shall he be spoken of with prahe: but the name of the wicked shall rot; it
8 shall survive them, but it shall he regarded with abhorrence. The wise in heart will receive commandments; esteem it a privihge arid a favour to be taught : but a prating fool shall fall; one who loves to hear himself talk shall full into troubles and be undtnr.
9 He that walketh uprightly walkcth surely ; he is easy and happy in the divine approbation, and the consciousness of his own integr:ty; but he that pervertcth his ways, who useth indirect methods,
TO shall be known and discovered. He that winketli 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; -eholescme, instructive words spring up as naturally as good water in a ivel', refreshing and strengthening all about him: but violence covereth
\2 the mouth of the wicked. Hatred stirreth up strifes ; malicious, ill natured people, by slander and tslrbcaring raise disturbances, and make people quarrel about tsifles: but love covereth all sins ; ox'crlooksand conceals, or extenuates and makes the best of
13 them. In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found; he shows it by his speech: but "a rod [is] for the hack of him that is void of understanding; nothing but correction will
f4 teach a fool his duty. Wise [men] lay up knowledge, ctnfinvally and safely, as a treasure: but the mouth of the foolish [is] nci.r destruction, by vailing unseasonably all he knows, to his own misIS chief. The rich man's wealth [is] his strong city; he thinks it will defend him against many of the evilt of life: the destruction of the poor [is] their poverty; wicked men take advantage to oppress and ruin them; or, poverty fi'As them with fear and dealt fiair, and so is the cause of their ruin. 'The hrbtmr of the righteous [tendeth] to lite; wisdom and goodness male a man's life a blessing to himself and others: the fruit of the wicked to sin; wicked men abuse it, and turn it into a curse, make it an occasion 17 of guilt and ruin. He [is in] the way of life that kecprth instruction ; but he that refuseth reproof, when offtrrd to him, )8 erreth, wanders cut of the wari of life. He that hideth hatred [with] lying or fattering lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is J9 a fool; shows a bad heart, however wise he matf serin. In thG multitude of words there wanteth not -sin; a man that is talkative wilt often sin: but he that refraineth his lips, who hath prudence to consider when and how and to whom he speaks, [is]
20 wise. The tongue of the just [is a«] choice silver; when he speaks in his common and ordinary manner what he utters is of weight and worth: the heart of the w icked [is] little worth, con. scquently his sfieech is so, even when he has studied what to say.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many, make others wise; but fools die for want of w isilom ; they lose their very lives and their eternal
22 hippiness tto. The blessing ofthe Lord on the hand of the diligi n\ it maketh rich, and he addeih no Borrow with it; ill gotten riches are attended with regret, cares, and discontent, an evil conscience,
23 and far of discovery and a future reckoning. [Jt is] as sport to a fool to do mischief; it is a pleasure to him, he dees it t:i:h a gay air and without refection : but a man of understanding hath w:is-. dom i or, so is wisdom to a man of understanding, he taketh pleas
24 urein if. The fear ofthe wicked, it shall comeupon him ; he hath his fears, but not more than he has reason fi,r; let his imagination he ever so lively, all that he fears shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted, that is, his grand, leading desire, the favour of God and eternal happiness.
25 As the whirlwind passeth, so [is] the wicked no [more;] though he may for a while make a great bustle, like a whirlwind: but the righteous [is] an everlasting foundation ; his hope and hafif:inrss
26 is in the divine righ'eousntss and faithfulness. As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, which is troublesome and painful, so [is] the sluggard to them that send him ; he neither delivers his message faithfully, perform<' his business exactly, nor hastens
27 back again. The fear of the I.ordl prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened, naturally and judicially.
28 The hope ofthe righteous [sh,:ll be] gladness; shall be answered, and occasion joy; but the expectation of the wicked shall perish i shall be disappointed, and give so much the more sorrow
29 on that account. The way of the Lord [is] strength to the upright, that goes on securely and courageously; his work is easy and delightful: but destruction [shall be] to the workers of in
?0 iquity. The righteous shall never be removed ;, his soul shall be
ktfit in peace, and his happiness be secure : but the wicked shall
31 not inhabit the earth. The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out, or cut off.
32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable; he knows the proper nme and manner of speaking, what is acceptable to men, and not displeasing to God; he studies to please as far as is consistent with truth and friendship: but the mouth of the wicked [speaketh] frowardness he loves to vent his own spleen, though very distasteful to others. Let us avoid this, and remember, that these several maxims relating to the government of the tongue, show its importance, and how carefully it should be attended to.
1 A FALSE balance [is] abomination to the Lord; it is pe
culiarly abominable, as it is cheating under a pretence of
2 doing right: but a just weight [is] his delight. [When] pride Cometh, then cometh shame, being shameful in itself, and exposes them to shame: but with the lowly [is] wisdom; which is picas-; ing to Cod and man, and makes them easy and comfortable in them
3 selves. The integrity of the uprigbt shall guide them : but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them: if a man comes to a resolution to preserve strict integrity, that will direct him and make his way plain; it is easy to determine what is faix and honourable. But when the question is, What mean, dishonourable things may be done without discovery? a scene is open for perplexity; and men of great subtilty and refinement are oftenest
4 entangled, exposed, and ruined. Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death ; from second
5 death, and makes the first comfortable. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way, so as to bring all his designs and endcari'ours to a hafifiy issue: but the wicked shall fall by his
6 own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them out of that sin and mieery they might fall into t but transgressors shall be taken in [their own] naughtiness, and irrecor
1 erably destroyed. When a wicked man dieth, [his] expectation shall perish; all his hope of pleasure and happiness in temporal things, and his expectation of escaping eternal misery: and the hope of unjust [men] perisheth, while the expectation of a good
8 man is antwet ed and outdone. The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead, to thift misery he
9 had formerly occasioned to the righteous. An hypocrite with [his] mouth destroyeth his neighbour, by flattering and deceiving him; but through knowledge, or piudence, shall ihe ju$t be delivered
10 from his snares. W'hen it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, [there is] shouting; men have such a regard for their own interest, and such a sense of what is decent and right, that they rejoice both in the one