« PreviousContinue »
grow heavier and heavier, we ought not to murmur, nor take unlawful methods to remove it: we should not think it more than we need, or that it is continued longer than is for our good. All proceeds from love; it is not the sword of an enemy, but the rod of a father; that is, a token of his love, and the means of his children's happiness.
4. We are taught the surest and readiest way of thriving in the world. Hearken, ye men of trade, to the exhortation of the wisest man and the greatest trader that ever lived; the merchandise of wisdom is better than that of silver; and the gain thereof than fine gold. Honour the Lord with your substance; do good with it, relieving the poor, and supporting the interests of religion. Honour him with your increase as your substance increases, do the more good with it. This is the way to have his blessing, which maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it. When we have opportunities of doing good, we ought to embrace them quickly and readily; not bid our neighbour come again tomorrow. If he demand justice of us, a just debt, it is unjust to defer payment. If he solicit charity, it is barbarous to keep him in suspense; his wants may be urgent, and we may die before the morrow. Let us never study to find excuses for omitting or deferring to do good; for God loveth a cheerful giver.
5. We are here taught to guard against anxious fears; be not afraid of sudden fear, which is indeed apt to put a man into confusion, because he has not time to recollect himself. But this is a disposition we should strive against, for our own sakes, and the honour of religion. It is very weak to give way to every little alarm, or to believe every story which foolish and wicked men may spread. It is also very unbecoming those who profess to believe that the Lord reigneth. Be not afraid of the desolation of the wicked when it cometh, much less when it is at a distance, and least of all when it is only suspected or rumoured. The Lord is the confidence of his people, and therefore they should not fear. But if they dishonour him and his providence by their unbelief, it may provoke him to give them up a prey to their own tormenting fears, and thus make their lives very miserable. Fear the Lord then and de hart from evil, and fear nothing else.
Solomon here continues his exhortations to all, especially to young people, whom he addresses with the tender concern of a father.
the instruction of a father, and attend
to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, not a trifling, indifferent matter, but what is absolutely necessary for your peace and happiness; forsake ye not my law. recommend these instructions he relates that they were such as he received from his pious father. For I was my father's son, ten
4 der and only [beloved] in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: 5 keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding, labour, traffic for it, that is, seek it as diligently as men do the wealth and honours of this world: forget [it] not; neither 6 decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee, as thy sur7 est, strongest guard. Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to 9 honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver
to thee. Thus far he seems to repeat David's instruction to him; 10 he then goes on, Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and 11 the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the 12 way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When
thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble; wisdom will deliver thee from intricacies and perplexities, which thou wouldst otherwise fall into. Religion is an easy and safe thing. A mind under the influence of irregular passions is straitened: as a man, whose shoe is too tight, is galled, and the speed, the ease, and the gracefulness of 13 his motion spoiled. Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not 14 go keep her; for she [is] thy life. Enter not into the path 15 of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil [men.] Avoid it,
pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away; a beautiful climax or gradation; stay not in the path, go not into it, even for a little while to make experiment; avoid entering upon it, come not near 16 it, go any other way rather than that. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause [some] to fall; they have no satisfaction till they have 17 accomplished their wicked designs. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence; they subsist on ill gotten gain; wickedness is meat, drink, and sleep to them, all their 18 business and pleasure. But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; a wise man makes progress in religion, and he finds its pleasure increasing; as the rising sun shines brighter and brighter till it 19 comes to the perfection of its lustre. The way of the wicked [is] as darkness they know not at what they stumble; little accidents bring mischief upon them; events which they never thought of, and which there was no probability of their falling into.
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my say21 ings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the 22 midst of thine heart. For they [are] life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh; a remedy under all their griefs 23 and troubles. Keep thy heart with all diligence, guard it more cautiously than any thing else; for out of it [are] the issues of life; the heart is the spring of action, and thy actions will be good or bad as thy heart is; and this care will end in life and happi
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee; every thing contrary to sobriety, charity, des 25 cency, and religion. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee; let not thine attention ramble to every object, but keep one great end in view; and then go on 26 steadily and resolutely, without being diverted from it. Ponder
the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established, or, all 27 thy ways shall be ordered aright. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left, shun all extremes, (Eccl. vii. 16, 17.) remove thy foot from evil.
E here see the wisdom and advantage of giving good instructions to children. Solomon was tenderly beloved by his father and mother; and observe how they shewed their affection, not by neglecting and humouring him, but by catechizing and instructing him. The true way in which parents ought to show their love to their children, is to teach them the excellency of wis dom and piety; to inculcate it upon them again and again, with warmth and importunity. The happy consequence of this will be, that they will be likely to remember their instructions, as Solomon did, and take care to impress them on their own children. It is an important argument for giving children a good education, that they will teach their children. Thus will religion be kept up in families, and in the world.
2. Let all, and especially young men, avoid evil company. How strongly does Solomon caution against this. If we knew that the plague was in a house, we should avoid it; not only not stay in it, but not go into it; we should not stand near it, nor pass by it, but go some other way. These expressions show the great danger there is of being entangled before we are aware; and what great ⚫ caution is necessary. Let us shun then the society of the wicked, for a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
3. If we desire to be holy and happy, we must keep our hearts with all diligence; to begin with the government of the thoughts and affections, watch over the workings of the mind, and keep it with more care than any thing else. There is a very important reason given for this, for out of it are the issues of life. Our living well or ill depends upon this very thing; and our lives will either be good or bad, as this watchfulness over the heart is kept up or neglected.
4. We see wherein true wisdom consists. What excellent rules for our conduct in this life and preparation for a better, are contained in the close of this chapter! In choosing the right end, wę should act with caution and deliberation; before we resolve on any action or scheme, let us view it narrowly, be exact and critical in considering its nature and consequences, then pursue it steadily, without wavering, or suffering other objects to interrupt us. By these methods we see men prosper in this world; and the like pru
dence, forethought, and steadiness is necessary in the care of the soul; and it is peculiarly necessary for young people to acquire a habit of this. Let us then be careful that we walk circumspectly; not as fools, but as wise men.
Solomon here repeats his cautions to young people, and particularly warns them against uncleanness.
attend unto wisdom, [and] bow thine ear to
my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion thyself, [and that] thy lips may keep knowledge, and be able to 3 instruct others. For the lips of a strange woman drop [as] an
honeycomb, and her mouth [is] smoother than oil; she has 4 many arts of address: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp $ as a two edged sword, wounding both body and soul. Her feet
go down to death; her steps take hold on hell, lead to ruin in 6 both worlds. Lest thou shouldst ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, [that] thou canst not know [them;] her chief design is to keep thee from considering; she knows how to vary the method of address, according to the temper of the person she has to do with; sometimes soothing, and sometimes frowning. 7 Hear me now, therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the 8 words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come 9 not nigh the door of her house; Lest thou give thine honour
unto others, bring disease and untimely death on thyself, and thy years unto the cruel; thy strength and the flower of thy age to 10 harlots, who are cruel both in principles and practices: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours [be] in the Il house of a stranger; And thou mourn at the last, when thy 12 flesh and thy body are consumed, And say, How have I hated in13 struction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed
the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that in14 structed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly; I arrived to sush a pitch of wickedness, that I had lost common shame, so that I could say and do many. lascivious and indecent things before large companies; which a man of common sense and decency, though he had no religion, would be ashamed of. Solomon then recommends marriage, as one remedy against fleshly lusts; which he describes in a beautiful figure, alluding to the scarcity of water in those hot countries, which made the property of a well very valuable.
Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out, of thine own well; intimating that there was as much greater pleasure in an agreeable wife than in those forbidden lusts, as there
This phrase may be understood of the revenge of the husband, who in these countrica might put the adulterer to death.
was in drinking pure water out of a clean well, than dirty water 16 out of a kennel. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, [and] rivers of waters in the streets; the children which flow from this fountain thou mayest bring abroad in public, without refoach ; place them in families of their own, and see a progeny descending 17 from them, like pure streams from a fountain. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee; as if he had said, if thou wilt indulge thyself in unlawful freedoms, thou wilt set thy own wife a bad example, by following which she may destroy the cer18 tainty of thy offspring. Let thy fountain be blessed, or a bles
sing to thee and rejoice with the wife of thy youth, take delight 19 in her company and converse. [Let her be as] the loving hind and pleasant roe; alluding to a custom which still prevails in the east, of having young fawns kept in their houses for their children to play with: let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love, that is, let her be the subject 10 of thy thoughts and the object of thy wishes. And why wilt thou,
my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the 21 bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man [are] before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings; he sees, and will severely punish flagrant lusts. Conscience will likewise punish him if he thus go astray, for
His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins, so that he cannot disentangle 23 himself when he desires and attempts it. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray; this sin hath an unhappy tendency to make men incorrigible, and (like travellers wandering from the right way) to precipitate themselves into unexpected ruin.
E here see what a friend to sobriety and religion consideration is. Solomon represents it as the design of artful sinners to keep those whom they seduce, or would seduce, from pondering the path of life, and endeavours to stupify their understandings. Religion would be minded, and sin avoided, if men would but look about them, and consider the nature and consequences of their conduct. It is therefore the artifice of Satan and his agents to hurry young men on in a round of gaiety and dissipation; and thus to keep them from serious thought. And this is the great mischief that modern diversions do; they banish consideration; and when that is effected, men become an easy prey to every deceiver.
2. The time will come when thoughtless sinners will mourn and lament. They are now jovial and merry; think religion too strict; ministers too precise; and their admonitions mere bugbears, intended only to frighten them from pleasure. But the period is hastening on when they will most certainly be of another mind; especially when the flesh and body are consumed, and they sick and