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are not meant those who want common sense, but who are thought. 8 less, and oppose themselves to all true religion and piety. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother; meaning not his own son merely, but all his readers, especially the young, whom he addresses with tender affection as 9 his children: For they [shall be] an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck; better than any gay dress. 10 11 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they
say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily 12 for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit; there is no more danger of a discovery, than if they were swallowed 13 up at once by an earthquake: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil; not only get enough to furnish out a short entertainment, but to live upon in a splendid 14 manner hereafter: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have 15 one purse :* My son, walk not thou in the way with them; 16 refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and 17 make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird, but wicked men are more foolish, they see 18 their danger, and yet run into it. And they lay wait for their
[own] blood; they lurk privily for their [own] lives; the ven19 geance of the magistrate, or of God, will overtake them. So [are] the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; they are like a bird taken in a snare; [which] taketh away the life of the owners thereof, the owner's life to get it, or rather, his own life when he has got possession of it, and thinks himself secure.
Wisdom, in the abstract, which is here represented as a person, crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets; that is, by conscience and Providence, by the scriptures and prophets : 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of 22 the gates in the city she uttereth her words, [saying,] How
long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, that is, folly ? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 that is, religion and good advice. Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you; I will communicate my whole mind to you, 24 and explain things in the clearest manner. Because I have called,
and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man 25 regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would 26 none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will
mock when your fear cometh; if you disregard my counsel, I 27 will as little regard what becomes of you; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress of body and anguish of mind cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me. Here is a remarka
It is probable that luxury prevailed in the peace and plenty of Solomon's reign; and young men who had spent their fortunes might turn highwayinen and plunderers; therefore they say, Do as we do, and thou, though a new comer, shall fate as we fare, though we have been longer at the trade.
ble change of persons; divine wisdom began its speech as to them ; but while speaking it turns from them, and speaks only concerning them; as if he had said, I will have no more to say to them, but 29 thus and thus shall it be done unto them: For that they hated 30 knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They
would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices; suffer the natural consequences of 32 their folly. For the turning away of the simple from the paths of piety, shall slay them, and the ease or prosperity of fools shall destroy them; make them proud, scornful, and forgetful of God, 33 and so hasten their ruin. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil; not only from real evil, but even the fear of it.
N order to profit by the instructions of this book, the fear of God is necessary. This is the first principle which Solomon lays down; and it is indeed a very important one. We should be duly sensible that there is a God; that it is our highest wisdom to please him, and to be careful of offending him. This is the foundation of all useful knowledge. Without some degree of this principle, no instructions will profit. It should recommend this book to our study, that it far exceeds all other systems of morality among the ancients, and that it insists so much on our regard and duty to God; of which they take little or no notice
2. It is our duty to pay a serious attention to the instructions which are delivered by our parents and other teachers. Children should hear the instructions of their fathers, and forget not the law of their mothers; (see v. 8.) for the divine law secures a regard to mothers. If children think themselves wise enough, and too wise to learn, let them remember what Solomon says, v. 5. a wise man will hear and will increase learning. It is a mark of wisdom to hear; and none of us shall loose our labour by studying this book. The aged and experienced, as well as the young, may improve in knowledge and piety by it, and should therefore seriously attend to it.
S. Let us be thankful that we have so many good instructions, for gaining knowledge and regulating our conduct. God uses various methods to communicate wisdom to us; such as reason and conscience, his providence, the holy scriptures, his ministers, and spirit. Instructions are given to all of us; they are plain and open, frequently repeated, strongly and affectionately urged, and have Leen long continued. God is very good to us in these advantages, and it becomes us to receive them with all thankfulness.
4. Let us observe the bad consequences of despising and neglecting this advice; fear and anguish, distress and destruction, shall come upon such. They may call for mercy, but God will not hear. v. 26. I will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear
cometh. Dreadful expression! enough to make one tremble: and what a sad reflection will it be, that they brought all their misery upon themselves, and that they eat only the fruit of their own doings. They live and die fools, and perish, without hope and without remedy. Let us then receive instruction, and be wise and happy for ever.
In order to encourage his pupil to hearken to his advice, Solomon in this chapter shows him, that wisdom may be obtained; represents the benefits of it, as what would secure the blessing and guidance of God, preserve from the snares of evil men and women, and lead him in the way to happiness.
Moments with thee, that is, be careful to remember them;
Y son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my com
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding; command thy roving thoughts, check thy foolish passions, hear with diligent attention and sincere affection; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest direction from men, and above 4 all from God by fervent prayer, (James i. 5.) If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures, with the greatest diligence, resolution, and perseverance, and art not dis5 couraged; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God; know what true religion is, and 6 be inclined to practise it. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of 7 his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding. He layeth
up sound wisdom for the righteous: [he is] a buckler to them 8 that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and 9 preserveth the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand
righteousness and judgment, and equity; [yea,] every good 10 path; thy duty to God and man. When wisdom entereth into il thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discre12 tion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To de
liver thee from the way of the evil [man,] from the man that speaketh froward things, that would instil bad principles into 13 thee; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways 14 of darkness, of perplexity, poverty, shame, and misery; Who
rejoice to do evil, [and] delight in the frowardness of the wicked, 15 that is, to make others as bad as themselves; Whose ways [are] crooked, and [they] froward in their paths; who act contrary to 16 reason and understanding, and their true interest: To deliver thee from the strange woman, [even] from the stranger [which] 17 flattereth with her words, that is, from lewd women;* Which
As the Jewish law inflicted heavy punishments on these who committed fornication and adultery, it is probable that the Jews had hariots among them from the neighbouring nations, which seduced them to impurity and idolatry; and might be tolerated in some corrupt peri. eds of their state. The case was the same at Athens, where foreign strumpets were toler ated. Hence this name strange women came to be applied to all bad women, whether foreigners or Israelites.
forsaketh the guide of her youth, her husband, whom she chose as such, and forgetteth the covenant of her God; her solemn vows 18 of fidelity, to which God was both a party and a witness. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead; the Hebrew is, to the giants, that is, sinners of the old world, who for 19 indulging fleshly lusts were swept down to hell by the flood. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. An awful passage, intimating that it is very uncom mon, and next to impossible, for impure sinners to be reclaimed. Wisdom will keep thee from these paths, and incline thee to a better 20 way; That thou mayest walk in the way of good [men.] and keep the paths of the righteous; the ways of the holy patriarchs 21 and prophets, and other righteous men. For the upright shall
dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it; enjoy the 22 good things of life, and peace with them. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it; their hopes from this world shall be disappointed, their families be extinct, and none left to preserve their memory.
ET us reflect on the importance of gaining wisdom, and the certainty of succeeding in the attempt, as a motive to diligence in the pursuit of it. It is of the utmost importance, as it will teach the fear and knowledge of God, which is the noblest science; and lead us in the paths of religion, which are the most pleasant paths. We are likewise sure of success, for God will give wisdom. But he will not give it to the slothful; we must take pains for it. Let us observe the expressions, we must incline our car, apply our hearts, lift up our voice, seek and search, as men who dig in the mines; we must exert all the powers of the soul; must not be discouraged by any difficulties, but persevere in the attempt; then the gain will amply repay all the toil and labour.
2. In order to make progress in religion, and experience its good effects, it is necessary that we take pleasure in it. It must enter into the heart, and be pleasant to the soul; take possession of the affections, and be pursued and entertained with relish and delight; yea, it must be preferred to every other gain and pleasure. Men neglect religion, or make very little improvement in it, because they come to it with reluctance; do not take delight in it, but esteem it a task, and therefore find it a burden. Let us labour to conquer this unhappy aversion, and regard religion as our most important business and highest pleasure.
3. The study of wisdom, and the practice of piety, are the best securities against evil company and all its snares. The love of reading and study is very useful to all, especially to young minds, particularly when it is attended with a suitable disposition to receive and obey useful instructions. It will keep them from those that speak froward things, that would corrupt their minds, argue or laugh
them out of good principles, dispositions, and resolutions; from men that rejoice to do mischief, and take pleasure in the destruction of their fellow creatures. It will also keep them from the company of bad women, which is more dangerous still, for they have various charms and artifices to allure; and yet their abandoned characters ought, one would think, to deter every person from coming near them. If such should ever tempt young persons, let them remember those awful words, none that go unto her return again; it is a thousand to one that they are never recovered; for whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Finally, wisdom will incline them to walk with the righteous, in the ways of good men; to choose them for their friends and companions, to hearken to their advice, and follow their example; men, whose lives are honourable, whose end is peace, and whose glory will be eternal. Stand therefore in the paths of wisdom and piety; ask for the good old way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest to your souls.
Solomon goes on to recommend the study of wisdom, by the many benefits it brings; and cautions us against those things which are inconsistent with it.
¿My me emy commandments: For length of
Y son, let me again entreat thee, forget not my law but
days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee; a long, 3 healthful, and prosperous life. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee, but practise these duties: bind them as ornaments about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart; keep them in 4 perpetual remembrance: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man; when persons are governed by integrity, they generally find that a good interpreta5 tion is put upon their actions. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, that is, to thine own wisdom and skill, as if that were sufficient for thy direc 6 tion and prosperity. In all thy ways,in all thy undertakings, public and private, daily and solemnly, acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths, and protect and prosper thee in them. Be not wise in thine own eyes, to the neglect of the rule now given: fear 8 the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, or, as some render it, to thy flesh, and marrow to thy bones; it is 9 the way to obtain health of body and cheerfulness of mind. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine 10 increase; with thy tythes, offerings, and first fruits. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with 11 new wine. My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD, as if it was not worth regarding; neither be weary of his correction; afflictions are sent for some good end; they are very beneficial, and tokens of God's love, therefore be patient under them.