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them not boast of their strength and resolution, for, v. 26. She hath cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Therefore watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
3. When sinners take so much pains to allure and seduce others, what pity is it that wise and good men will take so little to preserve or recover them. What pains is the harlot here represented as taking to corrupt to procure every thing alluring, to make the temptation plausible, to answer every objection which the person tempted might be apt to make; and all to make another more and more a child of hell. Where do we see such zeal as this in good men! Where do we see such a concern to direct unexperienced souls! to seek out, take notice of, and encourage, those who appear to be serious; to warn them of the snares of sin; to represent to them the pleasures of religion; and exhort them to taste and see that the Lord is good? The artifices and zeal of sinners ought to shame and humble us, that we do no more for one another's souls, and take so little pains to warn, admonish, and encourage one another; especially since so much is to be said in favour of religion, and we may hope for the concurrence of divine grace in our pious attempts to promote it. He that turneth a sinner from the error of he ways, saveth a soul from death. Therefore exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any be hardened through the deceit fulness of sin.
In this chapter there is an evident contrast or opposition to the allure: ments of the harlot mentioned in the former chapter.
OTH not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice; earnestly invite men to receive her? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. 3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors; in the most public places, in open day; not like the harlot, ashamed to be seen; her instructions are plain to all. 4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice [is] to the sons of man. 5 O ye simple, understand wisdom and, ye fools, be ye of an 6 understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent, or princely, things, worthy the attention of all; and the opening of 7 my lips [shall be] right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness [is] an abomination to my lips, it is the 8 design of all my addresses to prevent it. All the words of my mouth [are] in righteousness; [there is] nothing froward or perverse in them; nothing to hamper or perplex you, to abridge you of your just liberty, much less to mislead or pervert you. 9 They [are] all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge; who are well disposed, and endeav
10 our to distinguish between right and wrong. Receive my instruction, and not silver, that is, rather than silver; and knowledge rath11 er than choice gold. For wisdom [is] better than rubies, or
the most precious gems; and all the things that may be desired 12 are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence, do not content myself with speculation, but extend to practice, and find out knowledge of witty inventions, that is, ingenious inventions, which are of great use in human life, and subservient to the most important purposes. I instruct men in the first place, that 13 The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil, pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate, all sinful prac14 tices, slander, and detraction. Counsel [is] mine, and sound wisdom; I [am] understanding; I have strength; I show men what is fit to be done, and inspire them with courage to do it. 15 16 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, [even] all the judges of the earth; that is, by wisdom they make just and merciful laws for the government of their people, and conduct the weighty affairs of kingdoms and na17 tions. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early 18 shall find me. Riches and honour [are] with me; [yea,] durable
riches and righteousness, wealth which wears well, and brings 19 with it title to a better inheritance. My fruit [is] better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. 20 I lead, or direct, in the way of private righteousness, in the 21 midst of the paths of public judgment, That I may cause
those that love me to inherit substance, make them truly and com22 pletely happy; and I will fill their treasures.* The LORD possessed me as his treasure in the beginning of his way, before his works of old; it is an argument that wisdom is the most excellent thing, because it dwelt in God before the creation of the world, and directed his actions in all he made. As if he had said, Since it is an attribute displayed in all his works of creation and providence, therefore, the more wisdom any creature has, the more 23 he resembles the great Creator. I was set up from everlasting, 24 from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When [there
were] no depths, I was brought forth; [when there were] 25 no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains 26 were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world, the ground on which we tread, or rather, the beginning or mass of dust, before it was distin27 guished into mountains and plains. When he prepared the heav-. ens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; marked how far it should extend, and where the hills 28 should be placed: When he established the clouds above: when 29 he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his command
Many writers apply all that follows to Christ. What the New Testament teaches concerning him, shows that it may be accommodated to him; but I find no sufficient proof That Solonion intended it of him; nor is any clause of this description applied to film in the New Testament,
30 ment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Ther I was by him [as] one brought up [with him :] and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him; producing daily some 31 new work, which he approved and pronounced to be good; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the sons of men; I rejoiced to see how the world was formed into a fit habitation for man, and the sons of men enjoying the effects of 32 the divine power and goodness. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children for blessed [are they that] keep my ways. 33, 34 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed
[is] the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors; earnestly desiring to become my 35 disciple, and improving all opportunities to get knowledge. For
whoso findeth me findeth life, that which will make life pleasant 36 to him, and he shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death; they who hearken to sinners, and reject my counsels, do in effect choose death; and their perverseness will end in their ruin.
ROM hence we are led to observe and adore the wisdom of of their beauty, order, and exactness; and consider that it is he who hath prepared and adorned the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, set a bound to the sea, and provided sustenance for man and beast. The more attentively we survey the works of God, the more evident and striking marks of wisdom and goodness shall we perceive; and often take up the psalmist's admiration, O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all.
2. The noble description here given of the effects of wisdom, should increase our esteem of, and value for it. Wisdom, will lead us to choose the best ends, and to pursue them by the best means, and therefore comprehends the knowledge of our duty, the fear of God and a hatred of evil. This wisdom is the greatest excellency of a rational being. It is to be preferred to gold and rubies, and every thing the heart of man can desire. It brings us substance; what is solid and durable, and will afford us the highest and noblest delight. It directs in the government of kingdoms, churches, and families; discovers the useful arts of life, and especially ennobles, enriches, and sanctifies the soul. It is absolutely necessary for all the sons of men; all their learning and wealth, without this, will only make them so much the more contemptible and miserable. Let us all then, especially those who are in early life, pursue it; for wisdom loves those that love her, and those that seek her early shall find her.
3. How inexcusable and miserable will they be who hate wisdom! Inexcusable, because it is offered them, and the way to possess it is
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 keep 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 á splendid entertainment for her guests.
ISDOM hath builded her house, she hath hewn out
her seven pillars; in allusion to the custom of the castern princes, who entertained their guests in gardens, where pavilions or tents were spread upon a number of pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine of various kinds ; 8 she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens:* she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 4 Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither; I am willing to receive the weakest and the vilest: [as for] him that wanteth un5 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 hateful 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 reproached. 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 wis
dom; 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 circumstance of decorum, as it would have been reckoned an infamous thing in those Countries for a lady to be attended by men servants.
neither benefit by the one, nor prejudice by the other; it is thine own interest which is solely concerned.
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 re14 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.
E may learn to judge of our own character, by the manner 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 for thyself; but if thou scornest, 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 the proposals of each, but always remember to take into the account future consequences. Wisdom's address is mild and rational, se proposes your benefit, and only requires you to forsake what will be your destruction. But carnal and criminal pleasures are noisy an pressing; they promise you much delight in forbidden enjoyments; but the dead are there; 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 before them life and death, the blessing and the curse; forsake then the foolish and