Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

to complete thy misery, shouldst thou be not only undertaking the protection and relief of those who mocked and abused, but beaten also, thou thyself wilt are unjustly oppressed. This I think Melancthon confess afterward, that it made no impression on thee; · hath expressed, as well or better than any I have nay, shouldst thou be most lamentably battered and ; ' met withial, in this manner : “God commands both braised, thou wilt neither know who did it, nor at all the magistrates and private men, not to murder the regard it, but, as if no harm had befallen ihee, no innocent, and likewise not to assist unjust cruelty. sooner open thy eyes, but stupidly seek an occasion But quite contrary, the magistrate ought to be the to be drunk and beaten again

guardian of innocent men's lives; and private per

sons in their places ought to oppose, without sedi. CHAP. XXIV.

tion, unjust severity, as much as they are able.

There are many examples of this in the scripture. THE ARGUMENT.-[a] The proneness of good men, Jonathan opposed his father, and helped to preserve

especially while they are weak, and only in the be David, not only by the good testimony he gave ginnings of goodness, to be dejected at the prospe of him, but by other good offices. Obadiah fed rity of the ungodly, and so to be tempted to imitate the prophets, whom Jezebel designed to have killthem, is the reason that the admonition we meet ed. The Eunuch pulled up Jeremiah out of the withal in the first verse is so often repeated. Which dungeon, and the Egyptian midwives saved the Is. we find before, iii. 31. xxiii. 17. and comes again, raelites' children, as Rahab afterwards did the spies. ver. 18. of this chapter.

In the time of Dioclesian, a noble person, in the [b] And, in like manner, for the encouragement « city of Nicomedia in Bythynia, publicly tore down

of well-disposed persons, to depend upon God's - the edict of the Emperor for putting Christians to blessing, in the exercise of a virtuous prudence, death, that he might shew he detested that unjust for the getting, increasing, and preserving an estate, cruelty Examples to the contrary are such as that (ver. 3. 4. 5.), he repeats another observation,

of Doeg, who, in compliance with Saul's fury, slew (ver. 6. 7.), of the advantage which wisdom hath the innocent priests; and many now, either openly over mere strength ; which we had several times or by their silence, confirm the unjust severity which before, xi. 14. XV. 22. XX. 18.

is exercised against our churches. Let such think [c] And then, having shewn that it is not wisdom to of these words of Solomon, “ If thou forbear to

invent new ways of doing hurt, (ver. 8. 9.), he ad deliver them," &c. .. vises to diligence in the acquiring of true wisdom, [e] Who shews with what pleasure such instructions

while we are in a good condition ; for else we shall should be received, and how profitable, nay, t.enot be able to support ourselves when adversity cessary, they are, by the example of honey, (ver. comes. So some understand ver. 10. which we

13. 14.), which was not only reckoned the sweete translate otherwise, and so do most interpreters; est thing in those countries, (as appears by many and therefore I have expressed the sense of our places of scripture), but one of those which was translation first, and only annexed the other to it. most necessary for human life, as appears by the There is a third, which I have taken no notice of words of the son of Sirach, xxxix. 41. For it was in my paraphrase, because it doth not seem to me useful for food, for drink, for medicine, for preto be genuine, which is this : “lf adversity deject serving of dead bodies ; and was so natural to them, thee, and break thy spirit, thou wilt be so much that it seems to have been the food of infants, Isa. , the more unable to get out of it.” But it is an

Whence the ancient Christians were excellent observation, and therefore I thought good wont to give a little milk and honey to those who here to mention it; though the simplest sense seems were baptized, as persons newly regenerate and to be that which we follow, and in brief is this : born again, because honey, as well as milk, wa's “ Thou art not a man of courage, if thou canst not the nutriment of little children in those days aod bear adversity with an equal mind.”

countries. How refreshing it was, appears by the [d] And there is a courage to be exercised in our story of Jonathan, 1 Sam. xiv. 17. and in what

charitable succouring of others, as well as in our common use, by the example of our Saviour after own distresses, which he commends in the follow. ; his resurrection, i Luke, xxiv. 41.42. Which may ing words, ver. 11. 12. Where he presses with a all be applied to wisdom, from whence the mind - great deal of warmth (as will appear to those that derives the greatest satisfaction; and therefore understand the Hebrew language, and read the last ought to be, as it were, our daily diet, (without words with an interrogation) the necessity of gi which we cannot subsisi), from the beginning of

ving onr assistance for the rescuing of innocent per our days unto the end of thcin. ...sons, (when their lives are in danger), either by [f] For many gracious promises are made to it, which ::counselling them, or petitioning others in their be must not be so understood, he shows, as if no evil

half, or purchasing their release with money, or using thing should befall good men; but as wisdom our authority or power (if we have any, and can do 1. teaches them to be content with a little, (which it lawfully) for their deliverance. For this chiefly be seems to be denoted by the word which we translate longs to magistrates, and those that are in public offi habitation, ver, 15.), so when they meet with any afces, who ought not to beover-awed by greatmen, from fliction, it instructs them not to despair of better

vii. 15.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

days. So those words are to be understood, ver. but because of the authority given from above unto 16. Which are commonly, not only in sermons, magistrates; whom God would have us in civil afbut in books also, applied to falling into sin; and fairs, though dubious before, to obey. And be. that men may the more securely indulge themselves cause God gives us sometimes more mild and in their sins, and yet think themselves good men, gentle, sometimes less kind, he would have us also they have very cunningly added something to them. to bear onera duriora, if they be tolerable, and For they are commonly cited thus, " A just man obedience be not a sin. For he threatens here a falleth seven times a day," which last words (a severe vengeance to those that are seditious; so he day, or in a day) are not in any translation of the translates the word schonim, which the Chaldee Bible, much less in the original), but only in translates fools, (changelings, in our language), for some corrupt editions of the vulgar Latin ;'which, they are no better, who invert and change this oragainst the plain scope of the context, and mean der, (as some understanå the word), either by ad. ing of the words, seems to understand this place vancing the will of the prince above all law, withof falling into sin. When the word fall, never out any regard to what God himself hash enactsignifies so, but always trouble and calamity; as ed, or by pretending religion and the fear of the abundance of learned men have long ago observed, Lord, for rebellion against, the king, who ordains particularly Tarnovius, and since him, Amama and nothing against God's law." Grotius. Nor needs there any other proof of it, [i] But there is no necessity of glossing upon that than those places (which are many) wherein fall. word, (which we render given to change), for ing and rising again, being opposed, both of them though it be diversely translated, the sense is still have respect to calamities, and the former signi

the same.

And some of the varieties that are of fies, being plunged into them, and the other get opinions about the sense of the batter part of the ing out of them. And so, in the Latin tongue, 22d verse, I have expressed in the paraphrase, and adversities are called, casus, falls, as every body made them agree well enough. . Lud. de Dieu is knows.

alone by himself, (as far as I can find), who would And therefore we must make use of other places, for i have that word we render both of them, to signify

the confuting the fancy of perfection in this life, their years : and the meaning to be, Who knows and for the comfort of those who are cast down by how soon their life may be at a miserable end? their lapses into sin ; and take heed of reading the Among the following sentences, which are rules alsa holy scriptures so carelessly, as to turn our tedi. of wisdom, there is no difficulty, but a little in cine into poison, which is the fault of those, who, ver. 26. and 28. where I have endeavoured to comfrom such mistakes, give way to their evil affec. prehend several expositions, and connect them totions, and let them carry them into'sin,

gether in my paraphrase ; but think not fit to en[8] Against this there follows a severe caution, in large this preface any farther, by giving a particu

the wise man, who would not have us so much as lar account of them.
indulge ourselves in that pleasure we are apt to
take ia seeing our enemies fall into such troubles

. Ver. ". BE thou not envious against evil men, neither as they have given us, ver. 17. And to this he

desire annexes another, which cannot be too often repeat- thee into impatience and indignation, to see men ed, (ver. 19.), against fretting at the prosperity of thrive, who are bent upon nothing but wickedness ; those who do ill; which he often prohibits, but much less move thee to think them happy, and to doth it now in the words of his father David, wish thyself among them; but avoid their company, Psal. xxxvii. 1. whose authority was justly held and much more their course of life. See Arg. [a] very great in that church ; and who had made Ver. 2. For their heart studietb destruction, and ibeir many observations, from his own experience, of lips talk of mischief.] For who would grow rich and the shortness of their felicity, and the sudden chan. great by the misery of others, and such men's thoughts ges with which they were often surprized and as are always contriving how to ruin those who stand in tonished.

the way of their wicked designs, and their tongues are [h] An instance he gives of this in the next precept, employed in lies, calumnies, false accusations, and

(ver. 21. 22.), which, saith Melanctbon, (so care all manner of forgeries, not only to give trouble ful were the reformers to prevent all sedition and and vexation unto their neighbours, but to undo rebellion), is to be reckoned among the principal them. sentences that are to be observed in this book, Ver. 3. Through qvisdom is an house builded, and by commanding obedience, and directing the order of understanding it is established :] An estate may be it. “ For first he commands: us to obey God, and gotten, and a family raised, by such wise and pio then the king; whase, office it is to see the laws of means as are recommended in this book ; and there God observed by his subjects, and to make such need no other asts but virtue and prudent management laws as are not repugnant to God's laws, and to to settle and continue it. punish the contumacious, and to pronounce all sen Ver. 4. And by knowledge shall the chambers be filltences according to the laws, &c. And in du- ed with add precious and pleasant riches.] For as true bious cases, their decrees ought to prevail, not only learning and knowledge is the best furniture of the because there is a probable reason on their side, mind, so it is the best able to furnish every room in

See Arg.

the house, not only with all things necessary, but in this case, protesting that they did not understand with what may serve for ornament and for the plea- their innocence, or how to save them ; but dost thou sure of life.

think such things will pass with God, though they Ver.

5. A wise man is strong, yea, a man of know- do with men ? canst thou deceive him with false preledge increaseth strengib.] Wisdom is also able to sup- tences? him, that searcheth into the secrets of all ply the defect of bodily strength, for a man's defence men's hearts? him, that observeth every the very against unjust invaders of his possessions ; or if he least motion of thy soul? by whose wise providence, have outward strength and power, his skill and dex- which serves all men in their kind, thou thyself shalt terity will add such force unto it, as will make it more be deserted, as thou hast deserted others. effectual.

[d] Ver. 6. For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy Ver. 13. My son, eat thou koney, because it is good; war ; and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.] and the bonez.comb, which is sweet to thy taste.] Do For experience tells us, that victory doth not depend not slight, much less nauseate, such precepts as these, so much upon mighty armies, as upon exact con my dear child; but as honey is most acceptable to duct, good discipline, subtile contrivance ; and the thy palate, both for its wholesomeness and for its safety of a pation doth not lie merely in the multi- pleasure, especially that pure part of it which drops tude of the people, but in the number of wise men, of itself immediately from the honey-comb. Se to direct and govern all affairs, (xi, 14.) See Arg. Arg; [e] [b]

Ver. 14. So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto Ver. 7. Wisdom is too high for a fool : he openeth not thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a kis mouth in the gate.] Who are the more valuable, reward, and the expectation shall not be cut off] So because it is no easy thing to be an accomplished per- let that knowledge be to thy mind, which tends to son in all the parts of wisdom, which are above the make thee wise and virtuous; for as nothing is more reach of vain, rash, and heady men, who are not necessary for thee, nothing more delightful, so, if it admitted either to judge or to advise in the com be seriously studied and thoroughly digested, it will mon council of the city, where wise men are not a

abundantly reward thy pains with prosperous sucfraid nor ashamed to speak, and that with great au cess in all thy undertakings, and never put thee in thority.

hope of any ihing which shall not answer thy exVer. 8. He that deviseth to do evil, shall be called a pectation. miscbievous person.] He that deviseth new ways and Ver. 15. Lay not wait, 0 wicked man, against the arts of cheating, or doing mischief unto others, is dwelling of the righiecus : spoil not his resting-place.] one of the worst of men, and shall be branded with It is possible, indeed, that a good man's condition may the odious name of an inventer of evil things, (Rom. be very mean, nay, aMicted some time in this world ;

but let not that tempt the wicked subully to contrive Ver. 9. The thought of foolishness is sin: and the to ruin, much less by open violence to disturb his inscorner is an abomination to men.] To contrive any nocent repose, nay, cast him out of his small habitathing that is hurtful unto others, though out of rash- tion, with which he is contented ; ness and folly, is a sin ; but he that makes a jest of Ver. 16. For a just man falleth seven tiines, and it when it is done, and laughs at those who tell him riseth up again; but the wicked shall fall into mischief.] it is a sin, is such a pestilent wretch, that he is or For though a good inan should meet with so many ought to be extremely abhorred of all mankind. So troubles, that thou imaginest he cannot fail to perisha

Ver. 10. If thou fuint in the day of adversity, thy in them, he shall overcome them all, and flourish strength is small.] To despond and desist from any again, when the wicked shall sink under the calamity good design, much more to despair of deliverance that befalls them, and never be able to recover out of when thou fallest into any distress, is an argu. it. Sre Arg. [f] ment of great weakness and feebleness of mind; Ver. 17. Rejoice not suhen thy enemy falleth, and and yet, if thou art remiss in the study of wisdom let not thine beart be glad when he stumbleth.] It is a in a prosperous condition, thy spirit will be apt to great piece of wisdom and virtue also, to pity others sink and be dejected in a worse. See Arg. [c] in their trouble, and not to shew any sign of joy and

Ver. 11. If thou forbear to deliver them that are mirth, when thou seest any man, though he be thy drarun unto death, and those that are ready to be slain.] enemy, in a calamitous condition ; no, not so much Use thy best endeavours to deliver innocent persons, as (upon thy own account) to take any inward pleawho by false accusations, or other ways, are dragged sure in his downfall. to execution, or are in present danger of losing their Ver. 18. Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, life ; and do not think thou canst with a safe con. and ise turn away his wrath from hini.] For though noscience withdraw thyself from succouring them in body sees it, God doth; and such inhumane affections that distress.

are so displeasing to him, that they may provoke Ver. 12. If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not ; him to translate the calamity from ihy enemy unto doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it ? and be thee, and thereby damp thy sinful joy with a double that keepetb thy soul, doth not be know it? and shall sorrow ; first, to see him delivered from his trouble, not be render to every man according to his works '] I and then to find thyself involved in it. know the common excuse which men are apt to make Ver. 19. Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither

i. 30.)

be thou ervicus at the wicked.] Let not thine anger pleasure, so they shall be beloved most dearly, and kindle, (or if it do, quench it presently, that it may honoured by all. not tempt thee to impatience), when thou seest men Ver. 27. Prepare thy work witbout, and make it fit thrive and prosper ; and do not imagine them to be for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine happy men, and thereby be provoked to follow them house.) Do every thing in order; and first mind those in their impious courses. $e Arg. [8]

things which are most necessary; contenting thyself Ver. 20. For there shall be no reward to the evil man ; with a little but in the field, till thou hast gotten an the candle of the wicked skall be put out.] For though estate, by a careful improvement of thy pasturage, a wicked man may live bravely for a time, yet it and of thy tillage ; and then it will be rimely enough shall end quite otherwise than he expected ; and his 10 build thee an house, and to bring a wise into it. splendour, (such as it is), if not in his own days, yet Ver. 28. Be 1:01 a witness against thy neig?bour with. in his posterity, be utterly extinguished.

out cause ; and deceive not with thy lips.] Do not tes. Ver. 21. My ssn, fear ihou the LORD and the king : tify.any thing against thy neighbour rashly, much less and meddle not with them that are given to change.] when thou hast no ground at all for the accusation ; Take care therefore, my dear child, that thy religion nor seduce any body into a false opinion of hito, by (which teaches thee in the first place to worship, crafty insinuation; much less suborn them secretly by reverence, and obey the great Lord and governor of promises of rewards, to say that which is not true of all the world) make thee humbly obedient to the king, him ; when outwardly thou carriest thyself to him, as God's vicegerent here on earth; and have nothing and pretendest to be his friend. to do with thiose whose discontent with the present Ver. 29. Say not, I will do so to bim, as he bath done state of things, or their love of norelty, makes them to me ; I will rendir to the man according to bis work.] effect a change of government, and depart from Suppose he hath been injurious in that kind to thee duty both to God and man. See Arg. [h]

heretofore, and thou hast now an opportunity to be Ver. 22. For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and revenged; let not that tempt thee to resolve with thywho knoweth the ruin of them both ?] For an unex self to do to him as he hath done to thee; taking pected and dreadful calamiiy shall unavoidably and upon thee that which God hath declared belongs to violently seize on them; but when and how either himself alone, (Deut. xxxii. 35.), to recompense anGod or the king will punish them none can tell, or to him according to his deservings. what terrible vengeance they will take, both upon Ver. 30. I went by the field of the slothful, and by those that move rebellion, and those that associate tbe vineyard of the man void of understandi:ig :) And, with them. See Arg. [i]

to that which I have just now said, (ver. 27.), conVer. 23. These things also belong to the wise. It is cerning diligence, I will add this observation which not good to have respect to persons in judgement.] These I myself made, as I took a view of the state of my things also that follow, belong to the wise and vir- subjects, among whom I found one so lazy and void tuous conduct of thy life. It is a very evil thing, if of consideration, that though he had good land in the thou art a judge, to consider the quality of the person, field, and a fruitful vineyard, (either his greatness, or his relation, or the friendship Ver. 31. And lo, it was all grown over with thorns, thou hast with him, &c.), and not the merits of the and nettles had covered the face thereof; and the stone. cause that is brought before :hee.

wall thereof was broken down. Yet, such was his Ver. 24. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art wretched sloth, instead of corn, I was surprised with righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor the sight of thorns and thistles, which had over-run him.] And whoever he be, that, contrary to the plain his whole field; nor was there any thing but nettles to evidence which is given in ngainst the wicked, shall be seen in his vineyard ; or if there had been any pronounce him innocent, and make a bad cause to be fruit in either, it would have been lost for want of a good, the whole country shall curse him, and wish the fence, which was fallen down, and laid all open to the divine vengeance shall overtake him ; nay, other na

beasts of prey. tions, who hear of his unjust proceedings, shall have Ver. 32. Then I saw, and considered it well; I look. him in great detestation.

ed upon it, and received instruction.] Which rueful Ver. 25. But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, spectacle so deeply affected my heart, and brought so and a good blessing sball come upon them.) But they many thoughts into my mind, that I learnt, by bethat give a check to vice and wickedness, by punish. holding those miserable effects of idleness, to cure that ing evil-doers according to their deserts, shall not only vice in myself, and to correct it in others. lave inward satisfaction in their own mind, but in Ver. 33. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little crease of joy, by hearing others speak well of them; folding of the bands to sleep:] And I cannot do it betnay, God himself, the fountain of all good, shall plen. ter, than in those words before used, (vi. 10. 11.) 1€ tifully bestow his blessings upon them.

thou wilt not rouze up thyself, O sluggard ! but, roll. Ver. 26. Every man skall kiss his lips, that giveth a ing thyself on thy bed, ridiculously desire thy pains right answer.] It is not only justice, but kindness, to may be spared, and that thou mayest still be suffered pass a righteous sentence, without fear or favour; and without any disturbance to enjoy a little more sleep, upon all occasions to speak appositely and consonant and to lay aside all care of thy business, when thou 10 truth; and as such persons give others a singular hast loitered too long already;

[ocr errors]

Ver. 34. So shall thy poverty come as one that tra leave thee as naked as if thou wert stript by a highvelleth; and thy want as an armed man.] Then po way-man; nay, the most extreme want and beggary verty shall come swifily (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..

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

more obscure. Some of the Hebrews.say, Shebna *CHA P. XXV.

the scribe, and his officers or clerks, that were under

the principal secretary. Others add Eliakim and THE ARGUMENT.-[a] Here begins the Third Part Joah, (who are joined together in 2 Kings, xviii.

of the Book of Proverbs ; . which are a collection 26. 37.) Others fancy them to have been Esaiah,
made by some belonging to Hezekiah ; and ac (a person of great quality, near of kin to the king,
knowledged here, (in the entrance of the book), as and very familiar with him), together with Hosea
well as the former, to be Solomon's. Who spake and Micah, who all lived in the days of Hezekiah,
a great many proverbs, (we read i Kings, iv. 32.), and might possibly undertake this excellent work.
which no doubt were preserved by his successors in In which they assert some things which are to
a book; if he did not set them down there himself. be found in the foregoing parts of this book, in
Out of which volume, some good men had selected words but little different, as ver. 24. of this chap-
such as they thought most useful for the people ; ter, and ch. xxvi. 13. 15. 22. and other places, of
and besides those in the foregoing chapters, which which I cannot stay here to give an account.
had been compiled, either in his own days, or soon [b] They begin this book with a sentence, which the
after, these also which follow were thought good Lord Bacon applies to all the learning and wisdom
to be added in the days of Hezekiah. Who resto. of Soloinon. "In which," saith he,"Solomon chal.
ring the service of God in the temple to its purity lenges nothing to himself, but only the hcuour of
and splendour, (2 Chron. xxix. 3. &c. xxxi. 2. 3. the inquisition and invention of truth; which it is
&c.), took care, in all likelihood, for the better in the glory of God to conceal, and the glory of a
struction of the people in piety, to revive the schools king to find out. As if the divice majesty took
of the prophets also; and to press them (as he had delight to hide his works, to the end to have them
done the priests) to do their duty faithfully, in found out; and as if kings could not attain greater
teaching the laws of God, and informing the peo honour, (or pleasure or recreation either), than to

ple in all things that might be profitable for them. employ themselves in that business; considering the Out of which schools some were chosen, it is probable, great command they have of wits, and means,

to attend the king himself, who are called his men whereby the vestigation of ail things may be effect-
or servants; who out of their great zeal to promote ed.” Thus he, 1. vi. of the Advanc. of Learn.
useful learning, called out more proverbs from a. ch. 6.
inong that great heap of three thousand, (which Which is a very ingenious gloss; if we refer both
would have been too great a bulk to have been all parts of the sentence to one and the same matter;
published, and perhaps all of them not concerning tacitly admonishing Hezekiah, and in him all suca
manners, or good government), and such especial. ceeding kings, not to spend their time in any thing
jy as they saw would do good to the prince, as well so much as in searching after truth; and endeavour-
as to the people; of which nature are those that are ing to understand not only the secrets of govern ·
put into this collection, many of which belong to ment, but of the law of God, and of all his works ;
the right administration of the public affairs. I am that they may not be imposed upon by false colours
not able to produce express authority for all this; and deceitful glosses; which cunning wits are apt
but I think it may be fairly conjectured from those to put upon causes that are brotight before them ;
words, 2 Chron. xxxi. ult. where we read of the

nay, upon the book of God itself.
pains Hezekiah took about the law, and about the But if the words be well examined, they will be
commandments, as well as about the service of the found to speak rather of different matters; which
house of God.

God conceals, and into which kings penetrate, But who the persons were that he employed in tran By which some understand one thing, and some

scribing these proverbs out of the ancient records, is another ; but taking the word Elohim to relate to

« PreviousContinue »