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The Book of PROVERBS.

INTRODUCTION.

E have here another book, and another author, namely, Solomon, the wisest of men, who had uncommon abilities, and large experience. It contains excellent maxims for the conduct of life. The word proverb signifies a ruling speech, or observation, that ought to have great weight with mankind; a short sententious speech, of great excellency and importance : and such among the aficients being chiefly similes and comparisons, in which one thing look ed to another for the tetter illustration of it, it became in common use to signify any Wist, important maxim. The first nine chapters are more connected than the rest, and contain a commendation of and exhortation to troe wiidom ; which in the fear of God. The remaining chapters contain directions how to govern ourselves in all circumstances and relations in life. Other parts of scripture are like a rich miiu; where the prrcious ore runs along in one continued vein; but this book is like a hrah of pearls, which, though they are loose and unstrung, are not therefore the less valuable.

1 r I 'H E proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

2 JL To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding ; to make men know when good advice is given, and how to give it to others; or to teach them to avoid errors, and

3 to correct those they have fallen into; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; that is, to mak$ them good in every circumstance, condition, and relation in life;

4 To gtve subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion ; they are designed to teach caution and sagacity to the unexperienced; but they are not intended for them alone, thehc

5 in that in them which may improve the wisest. A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understaud

- 6 in» shall attain unto wise counsels : To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayiqgs; to understand the meaning ofparables, figures, and other ways of instruction, t The fear of the Lord [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction. This verse is a key to the ivhole book. By wUdom, he does not mean common sagacity, rarnal policy t or great learning, but true religion; and by fools heir,

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CHAP. I.

are not meant thou who ivant 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 hot 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 ; bitter than any gay dress.

10 U 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 u/i 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 -ven

19 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 ivhen he has got possession of it, and thinks himself secure.

20 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 1 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 myi counsel, I

27 will as little regard what becomes of you; When your fear comf eth 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 remarta

• It is prohable that luxury prevailed in the peace and plenty of Solomon's reiftn; and yonnpmen who hid spent their fortunes mij?ht turn highwaymen -nd plunderers ; therefore they say. Do m xre do, anal ttiou, though antv comer, sbalt fare a we fare, though we ha« been longer at the trade.

ble change of persons; divine wisdom began its speech at to them t but while speaking it turns from them, and speaks only concerning them; as if he had said, I null have no more to say ts them, but

29 thus and thus shall it be done unto them: For that they iiated

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; 720/ only from real evil, but even the fear of it.

REFLECTIONS.

1. TN order to profit by the instructions of this book, the fear of JL 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 arl 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.

3. 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 hecomes 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 destroction, shall come upon such. They may call for mercy, but God will not hear. v. 26. / will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear tometh. Dreadful expression! enough to make one tnanblc: 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 tools, and perish, without hope and without remer , dy. Let us then receive instruction, and be wise and happy for ever.

CHAP. II.

In order to encourage his pupil to hearken to his advice, Solomon in this chapter i-hoivs him, that wisdom may be obtained; represents the benefits of it, as what would secure the blessing and guidance of Cod, preserve from the snares of evil men and women, andleadhim in the way to happiness.

1 ']\ /TY son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my com,LVJ- mandments with thee, that is,be careful to remember them;

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;

5 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. S.) If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures, with the greatest diligence, resolution, and perseverance, and art not dis

6 courag' d; 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 f 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

11 thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discre

12 tion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee fvom the way of the evil [man,] from the man that speaketh fro ward things, that would instil bad principles into

13 thee; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways 1 i of darkness, of perjdexity, 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 an themselves; Whose ways [are]

crooked, and [they] froward in their paths; who act contrary to 15 rcqaon and undfrstanclmg, and their true interest: To deliver

thee from the strange woman, [even] from the stranger [which] 17 flutteretit with her words, that is, from lewd women ;* Which

* As the Irvi.h law inflicted hravy rmnithirent,; nn these who committedfornication and adulter) , i; i' probable that th'- Jews h.id htrMs among torn, from the neipitbouviygnations. xxl i*!] si"l-iCv I ih.ni to iin1miity and i'!"latrv ; and mi;;htSe tolerated in some corrupt priifdn ol th*ir sutte. The case was the sain" at Athens, where foreign strumpets wtre t»l'r. *i-• A. Ilriif this nam; ,lri»n urcmfn cam* ta be applied to all bad women/ whether foMj«. cti or Israelite!.

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