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ver. 34. So shall thy poverty come as one that tra- leave thee as naked as if thou wert stript by a highves, th; and thy want as an armed man.] Then po- way-man ; nay, the most extreme want and beggary verty shall come swiftly (though in silent and unob- shall unavoidably seize on thee, like an armed man, served paces) upon thee ; and before thou art aware, against whom thou canst make no resistance.
END OF THE SECOND PART OF THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.
THE THIRD PART OF THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.
The ARGUMENT.-[a] Here begins the Third Part of the Book of Proverbs; which are a collection made by some belonging to Hezekiah ; and acknowledged here, (in the entrance of the book), as well as the former, to be Solomon's. Who spake a great many proverbs, (we read 1 Kings, iv. 32.), which no doubt were preserved by his successors in a book; if he did not set them down there himself. Out of which volume, some good men had selected such as they thought most useful for the people; , and besides those in the foregoing chapters, which had been compiled, either in his own days, or soon after, these also which follow were thought good to be added in the days of Hezekiah. Who resto. ring the service of God in the temple to its purity and splendour, (2 Chron. xxix. 3. &c. xxxi. 2. 3. &c.), took care, in all likelihood, for the better instruction of the people in piety, to revive the schools of the prophets also ; and to press them (as he had done the priests) to do their duty faithfully, in teaching the laws of God, and informing the people in all things that might be profitable for them. Out of which schools some were chosen, it is probable, to attend the king himself, who are called his men or servants; who out of their great zeal to promote useful learning, called out more proverbs from among that great heap of three thousand, (which would have been too great a bulk to have been all published, and perhaps all of them not concerning manners, or good government), and such especially as they saw would do good to the prince, as well as to the people; of which nature are those that are put into this collection, many of which belong to the right administration of the public affairs. I am not able to produce express authority for all this ; but I think it may be fairly conjectured from those words, 2 Chron. xxxi. ult. where we read of the pains Hezekiah took about the law, and about the commandments, as well as about the service of the house of God. But who the persons were that he employed in transcribing these proverbs out of the ancient records, is
more obscure. Some of the Hebrews say, Shebna the scribe, and his officers or clerks, that were under the principal secretary. Others add Eliakim and Joah, (who are joined together in 2 Kings, xviii. 26. 37.) Others fancy them to have been Esaiah, (a person of great quality, near of kin to the king, and very familiar with him), together with Hosea and Micah, who all lived in the days of Hezekiah, and might possibly undertake this excellent work. In which they assert some things which are to be found in the foregoing parts of this book, in words but little different, as ver, 24. of this chapter, and ch. xxvi. 13. 15. 22. and other places, of which I cannot stay here to give an account.
[b] They begin this book with a sentence, which the
Lord Bacon applies to all the learning and wisdom of Solomon. “In which,” saith he, “Solomon chal
lenges nothing to himself, but only the honour of
the inquisition and invention of truth ; which it is the glory of God to conceal, and the glory of a king to find out. As if the divine majesty took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not attain greater honour, (or pleasure or recreation either), than to employ themselves in that business; considering the great command they have of , wits, and means, whereby the vestigation of all things may be effected.” Thus he, l. vi. of the Advanc. of Learn. ch. 6. Which is a very ingenious gloss; if we refer both parts of the sentence to one and the same matter; tacitly admonishing Hezekiah, and in him all succeeding kings, not to spend their time in any thing so much as in searching after truth; and endeavouring to understand not only the secrets of govern. ment, but of the law of God, and of all his works; that they may not be imposed upon by false colours and deceitful glosses; which cunning wits are apt to put upon causes that are brought before them ; nay, upon the book of God itself. But if the words be well examined, they will be found to speak rather of different matters; which God conceals, and into which kings penetrate. By which sounc understand one thing, and some another; but taking the word Elohim to relate to God's government of the world, that which I have said in the paraphrase seems to me the nearest to the business, And Jansenius his exposition is not forced, who discourses to this purpose: It is part of God's glory that he need search into nothing ; besides, he perfectly knows all things; and yet need not declare that he takes notice of every thing, (because he can do it when he pleases), but rather seem to dissemble his knowledge, in which he wonderfully declares his patience and long-suffering towards us. But kings on earth must not herein imitate him, for it is their honour to search diligently and inquire into the state of their kingdom, and to correct presently what they find amiss, lest it be out of their power, when it is strengthened by long custom and numerous of. fenders. But especially in difficult and intricate business, covered with darkness and obscurity, perplexed with many windings and turnings, and with crafty and subtile conveyances, there to spy light, and by wisdom and diligence to rip up a foul matter, and searching the cause to the bottom, to make a discovery of all, is a thing most worthy of a king, and tends highly to his honour. In short, as it makes for the glory of God, that he need inquire into nothing, but, when he knows all things, yet conceals that knowledge ; so, on the contrary side, it makes for the glory of kings, that when they are forced to confess that they are ignorant, as well as other men, of many things, they make such diligent inquiry, that they discover and detect those things, which others have entangled, and would have buried in darkness. To some such purpose all interpreters expound these words, save one; who refers both parts of the sentence to kings, (understanding by Elohim, Gods, judges and princes), in this sense ; “wise kings preserve the reverence which is due to their persons and place, by concealing carefully their own intentions and counsels, and by finding out the designs of other men.” Thus Maldonate, which I mention, because it is a great truth, though not the sense of the words, but rather the meaning of the following verse, ver, 2. [c] Which concerns kings also, as some of those that come after likewise do, (which would incline one to think this part of the book of Proverbs, was particularly collected for the use of Hezekiah), and hath received this gloss from the same great man I named before, the Lord Bacon ; who gives this as one of the chief reasons why the hearts of kings are inscrutable, because “they, being at the very top of humau, desires, have not, for the most part, any particular ends proposed to themselves, (none at least to which they vehemently and constantly aspire), by the site and distance of which ends, we may be directed to take the measure and scale of the rest of their actions; whereas there is no private person, who is not altogether like a traveller, that goes intently aiming at some certain terms of his journey, where he may stay and rest; from whence one may probably conjec
ture what he will de; or not do. For if any thing conduce to the end at which he aims, it is likely he will do it; but if it cross his design, he will not. Therefore he passes this judicious observation upon the whole; that princes are best interpreted by their natures, and private persons by their ends.” Advancement of Learning, b. viii. chap. 2.
But from hence also he observes, (in his first book),
that it is best not to be too inquisitive to penetrate into the hearts of kings, since we are so ignorant of the things we see with our eyes every day; which the custom of the Levant aims at, that makes it an heinous offence to gaze and fix their eyes upon princes; which is barbarous in the outward ceremony, but good in the moral : for it becomes not subjects to pry too far into their prince's counsels. But it may as well check the ambition, as the curiosity of private persons, because they can hardly be sure of that favour which they may imagine their prince hath for them ; there being such depths in their inclinations and affections as they cannot sound. .
But in the next verses princes are admonished, that
what he observes out of Pliny concerning nitre, (whose nature is not now well known), that it is exasperated by vinegar or lime. But in the latter end of the verse, I have kept to our translation, which by lebra understands an heart ill affected by grief or sorrow ; which he takes literally for an evil or wicked heart. And makes this the meaning, (which some others have followed), that pertinacious sinners are made more furious by admon1tions. In all ancient translations there follows after this verse this sentence : “As a moth in a garment, or a worm in wood, so is heaviness in the heart of man.” But Saint Hierom, in the latter end of his commentaries upon Isaiah, tells us, that it was sub obelo in Origen's Works. Where he noted all superfluous additions with that mark. [h] I must not omit neither, that the 23d verse will admit of a quite contrary sense to that in our translation, and is by some rendered thus; “as the north wind begetteth rain, (for so it doth in some climates), so a backbiting tongue raiseth up anger and indignation 5" (which appear in the countenance both of him that believes the calumny, and of him that is calumniated, when he knows how he is abused). [i]. There is no great difficulty in ver. 26. But interpreters are divided about this, whether he spake of a just man's falling into sin, or into some calamity. Melancthon understands the latter, and makes this the sense, that “even wise men's minds are extremely troubled, when they see the wicked prevail against the virtuous:” of which he gives a great many examples. But I have taken in both, and have referred it also to all manner of sufferings, and not restrained it to public injustice, as the Lord Bacon doth ; who hath this excellent observation upon the place, (book viii. chap. 2. parab. 25). “This parable teaches us, that states and republics must above all things beware of an unjust and infamous sentence, in any cause of great importance, especially where the innocent is not absolved, but he that is not guilty condemned. For injuries ravaging among private persons do indeed trouble and pollute the streams of justice, yet only as in the smaller rivulets; but such unjust judgements as I mentioned, from which examples are derived, infect- and distain the very fountain of justice. For when the courts of justice side with injustice, the state of things is turned, as into a public robbery, et homo bomini fit lupus, and one man preys upon another.” [k] With this verse, de Dieu connects the next, ver. 27. and gives the easiest account that I find any where, of the Hebrew text; only translating ...tbat particle but, which we translate so, as it is often taken in the scripture. And his sense is this: “ though the just may be trampled under foot for a while by the wicked, yet their glory shall not perish ; but remain so fresh and sweet, that it shall be a glorious thing to inquire into their glorious actions.” So he would have the verse translated
thus: “To eat much honey, indeed, is not good, but to search out their glory, (viz. of just men), is glory.” And if we take the verse by itself, then the sense may be this, as the Belgic interpreters translate it, (of whom he, if I mistake not, was one): “ To eat much honey is not good; but to search into excellent things is a great commendation, and we cannot therein easily offend by excess:” which is quite contrary to the Vulgar Latin, whose sense and meaning (though not the words) may be defended, even without repeating the word mat, as we do in our translation, in this manner: “As honey, though pleasant to the taste, oppresses the stomach, if it be immoderately used; so, upon a curious search into things sublime and glorious; (though they be most sweet and desirable to our understanding), we shall find ourselves overwhelmed with a greater glory than we can bear.” And so the latter part of the verse should word for word be thus translated : “ The search of their glory, (viz. of things as sweet as honey, but transcending our knowledge), is glory;” viz. too bright for our weak minds. [i]. The last verse, which in the Hebrew belongs to all men whose passions are unruly, is by the Vulgar restrained to him that cannot command his tongue; which is part of the sense. For as men may go out of a city without walls when they will, so every thing is blurted out by him, even the greatest secrets; and by too much liberty he disobliges others, and undoes himself.
Ver. I. THES; are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out..] Besides the foregoing lessons sententiously delivered by Solomon, these also were collected out of his works, by some of the servants of that good king, Hezekiah ; who setting himself with all his heart to reform the people of Judah, among other things wherein God blessed his endeavours, (2 Chron. xxxi. 21.), caused these proverbs to be transcribed out of the ancient records, for their fuller instruction. See Arg. [a] Ver, 2. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing ; but the honour of Kings is to search out a matter.] The almighty Creator and Sovereign of the world declares his supereminent majesty, authority, and wisdom, (which cannot be ignorant of any thing), and procures to himself the greatest veneration, by concealing the reasons of his decrees, and of his judgements; but earthly princes, whose knowledge is very imperfect, do themselves the greatest honour, when they decree and judge nothing but after the strictest search and examination, and give the clearest reason for their proceedings. See Arg. [b] Ver. 3. The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.] It is as impossible for vulgar minds to penetrate into the secrets of state, and understand the counsels and designs of wise princes, (and the various ways and means whereby they project to effect their ends), as it is to know how far it is from hence to the highest heavens, or
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how far to the centre of the earth upon which we tread. See Arg. [c] Ver. 4. Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.] As when the finer hath separated the dross from the silver, it will become so pliable, that he may cast or work it into what form he pleaseth. Ver. 5. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousneft. So let the king not only remove the wicked (who are the scum of the nation) from his counsels and company, but punish them severely, and his people will be easily moulded to righteousness, piety, and all manner of virtue; which will settle his kingdom in peace, and make his government durable. Ver. 6. Put not forth thyrels in the presence of tie #ing, and stand not in the place of great men.] And among other virtues, learn humility and modesty, if thou art a subject, though never so rich ; and do not make thyself taken notice of, by too splendid an appearance at court; much less by intruding thyself into the place where none but the great officers or nobles ought to come. See Arg. [d] Ver. 7. For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither, than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.] For it will be much more for thine honour. and thy satisfaction too, if, standing at a distance, thou art invited to come up higher, (whither of thyself thou durst not presume to go), than to have a check given thee for thy forwardness, and to be disgracefully thrust out of the presence of the prince, unto whom thou hast adventured to approach too near. Ver. 8. Go not forth bastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour bath put thee to shame.] Take some time to consider well, both the goodness of the cause, and its weightiness, and how to manage it, before thou bring an action of law against thy neighbour, lest in conclusion thou wish it had not been begun, when he puts thee to open shame, by shewing thou hast impleaded him wrongfully, or for a trifle. Ver. 9. Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself, and discover not a secret to another;] Nay, let me advise thee, though thy cause be just and good, (yet the event being doubtful), to debate things privately, and if it be possible to make up the difference between yourselves, especially if it be about a secret business, which ought not easily to be divulged; or if it cannot be composed, yet let not hatred nor anger proyoke thee to discover other secrets, merely to disgrace thy adversary, when they appertain not to the cause ; Ver. 10. Lest he that heareth it put thee to slame, and thine infamy turn not away.]. Lest not only every one that heareth reproach thee for thy perfidiousness, but he be enraged to retort such infamous things upon thee, as shall stick so close, that thou shalt never be able to wipe off the dirt, nor recover thy credit, as iong as thou livest. Ver. 1 1. A word fitly spoken, is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.] A word of counsel, reproof, or comfort, handsomely delivered, in due time and place,
&c. is no less grateful and valuable, than golden balls, or beautiful apples, presented in a silver net-work basket. See Arg. [e] Ver. 12. As an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wire reprover upon an obedient ear.] A good man will not think himself reproached, but rather obliged, by a prudent reproof; which meeting with an attentive, considering, and patient mind, makes a man receive it so kindly, that he esteems him who bestows it, as much as if he had hung a jewel of gold in his ear, or put the richest ornament about his neck. Ver, 13. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send bim ; for he refresheth the soul of his masters.] A trusty messenger, (or ambassador), that faithfully and dextrously executes his commission to the satisfaction of the persons that sent him, is as welcome, when he returns, as the coldest drink or air is to the reapers in the time of harvest; for he revives the spirits of his masters, who were ready to faint with fear of ill success in their business. Ver. 14. Whoso boasteth himself of a sale gift, i. like clouds and wind without rain..] He that raiseth high expectations by promising much, and then deceives them by performing little or nothing, leaves him that depended on these promises, as sad as the country people are, after the clouds have made a great shew, and the wind a great sound, but are followed by no showers of rain. Ver. 15. By long forbearing is a prince persuaded ; and a soft tongue breaketh the bone..] It is not prudent violently to oppose a prince in his resolutions, who will more easily yield to reason, if one give way to his heat, and patiently expect the fittest time to represent things to him ; but this must be done also with soft and tender language, which is apt to bow the stiffest minds, and work upon the hardest hearts. Ver. 16. Hast thou sound boney feat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it..] All pleasures should be used like honey, which when it offers itself, eat as much as suffices thee for thy refreshment, not as much as thou desirest; for as, moderately taken, it strengthens the body, and prolongs life, so too much of it disturbs the stomach, and turns the pleasure into pain and torment. See Arg. [f] Ver. 17. Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house ; lest be be weary of thee, and so hate thee..] Which is wholesome advice, even in the enjoyment of a good neighbour, or friend, (the sweetest thing in the world); do not upon every light occasion interrupt his weightier affairs, lest, having too much of thy company, it grow not only troublesome, but loathsome to him, and his love turn into hatred of thee. Ver. 18. A man that beareth false witness against bis neighbour, is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.] There is nothing more pernicious than him that makes no conscience of bearing false witness against his neighbour, whose tongue alone serves him instead of a maul to beat down a man's fame, or break in pieces his estate ; nay, instead of a sword, to take away his life, and of a sharp arrow to destroy him, not only when he is near, but much more when he is afar off, not able to answer for himself. - Ver. 19. Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.] As a broken tooth or leg out of joint not only fails a man when he comes to use them, but likewisse puts him into pain, so doth a faithless person serve them that depend upon him, when they have the greatest need of his help; and such also is the considence that a faithless person himself places in riches, or craft, or great friends, &c. which some time or other will disappoint him to his great grief, when he expects the most from them. . Ver. 20. As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and a vinegar upon nitre ; so is he that singeth songs to an heavy beart.] It is as improper to sing pleasant songs to a man full of grief, as to take away his garment from him in sharp weather, or to pour vinegar upon nitre ; for as the one increaseth his sense of cold, and the other irritates the nitre, so such unseasonable mirth makes a sad man's heart far more heavy and sorrowful than it was before. See Arg.
*ver. 21. If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give water to drink.] If he that hates thee be hungry or thirsty, or wants any other necessaries, take the opportunity to express thy kindness to him, by succouring him in his need, and thereby preserving him from perishing. Ver. 22. For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his bead, and the Lok D shall reward thee..] For if he have the least spark of goodness in him, it will work a change in his mind, and make him throw off all his enmities; or if it have the contrary effect, he shall have so much the sorer punishment, and thou shalt not lose thy reward, which the Lord himself will give thee. Ver. 23. The north-wind driveth away rain ; so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.] As the sharpness of the north-wind scatters clouds, and drives away rain, so a severe countenance, full of indignation against him that traduces his neighbour secretly, not only gives a check, but puts, a stop to his slanderous tongue, which would not tell such lies, if they were not greedily received. See Arg. [h] Ver. 24. It is better to dwell in a corner of the bousetop, than with a brawling woman, and in a wide bouse.] It is more desirable (as was said before, xxi. 9.) to dwell poorly, inconveniently, and alone in the open air, exposed to all the injuries of the weather, nay, to be cooped up in a little corner on the house-top, than to have a spacious habitation and numerous family, governed by a contentious brawling wife, whose perpetual scoldings within doors, upon all occasions, is far worse than the thunder, lightning, and blustering winds, which may molest him without. Ver. 25. As cold waters to a thirty soul, to is good news from a yar country.] Good and certain news, especially from a far country, (from whence it is hard to have any true intelligence), is as grateful to him that longed to hear of his friends there, as cool water
is to a thirsty traveller, especially when he meets with it in remote and uninhabited places, where he did not expect it. Ver. 26. A righteous man falling down before the wicked, is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt pring.] A truly religious, just, and charitabie man, is such a blessing unto all about him, that they suffer no les, when he is oppressed (and thrown out of authority} by the violence and craft of wicked men, or when he disgraces himself by any foul sin, or loses his courage, and dare not oppose impiety, than they do when dirt and filth is cast into a public fountain, or a spring is stopped up, or corrupted and made useless. See Arg. [i] - Ver, 27. It is not good to eat much honey : so for men to search their own glory, is not glory..] Honey is very pleasant to the taste ; and to eat much of it (as we said before, ver, 16.) is so far from being wholesome, that it is hurtful; and in like manner, to hunt greedily after honour and glory, of which men are very desirous, proves at last not honourable, but reproachful to them. See Arg. [k] Ver. 28. He that hath no rule over his own spirit, is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.] He that cannot govern his passions, especially his anger, but suffers them to break out upon all occasions, lies open to innumerable mischiefs, like a city unwalled, or whose fortifications are decayed, which is exposed to the rapine of every enemy. See Arg. 
The ARGUMENT.—[a] This chapter begins with a tacit admonition to kings (for whose use principally this last part of the book of proverbs was collected, as I noted in the beginning of the foregoing chapter) to be very careful in disposing preferments only to worthy persons. For bad men are made worse by them, and they do as much hurt to others, by the abuse of their power to the discouraging of virtue, and promoting vice, as snow or hail doth to the fruits of the earth, when they are ripe and ready to be gathered. So that we may make this aphorism out of Solomon's words, that “the blending of summer and winter, would not cause a greater disorder in the natural world, thau the disposal of honour to bad men (and consequently throwing contempt upon the good) doth in the world moral ;” where wicked men, when they are in power, if they can do no more, will at least pronounce anathemas against those that do not deServe It.
[b] So the Hebrews understand the next verse, which I have extended farther, and translated also those two words, zippor and deror, a sparrow and a wild pigeon. (see Psal. lxxxiv. 3. For deror signifying here a particular bird, in all likelihood zippor doth so too; and then all agree it signifies a sparrow, as the other (Bochart) hath proved doth (not a swallow, but) a ring-dove, or turtle, or some of that kind, which are famous for swiftness and strength of flight. And the meaning of this verse is, that