« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
bad as thy heart is; and this care will end in life and hap24 piness. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and per
verse lips put far from thee; every thing contrary to 25 fobriety, charity, decency, and religion. Let thine eyes
look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee; let not thine attention ramble to every obječi, but keep
one great end in view ; and then go on steadily and resolutely, 26 without being diverted from it. Ponder the path of thy
feet, and let all thy ways be established, or, all thy ways 27 shall be ordered aright. Turn pot to the right hand nor
to the left, shun all extremes, (Eccl. vii, 16, 17.) remove thy foot from evil.
good instructions to children. Solomon was tenderly beloved by his father and mother; and observe how they fhowed 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 wisdom 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 ftand near it, nor pass by it, but go fome 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 excel. lent rules for our conduct in this life and preparation for a better, are contained in the close of this chapter ! In choof. ing the right end, we 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 confequences, then pursue it steadily, without wavering, or suffering other objects to interrupt us. By these methods we fee men prosper in this world; and the like prudence, forethought, and steadiness is necessary in the care of the foul; and it is peculiarly necessary for young people to acquire a habit of this. Let us then be careful that we walk circumspeally; not as fools, but as wise men.
warns them againsi uncleanness.
thine ear to my understanding : hat thou mayest regard discretion thyself, (and that) thy lips may 3 keep knowledge, and be able to instruct others. For the
lips of a strange woman drop [as] an honeycomb, and
her mouth [is] smoother than oil; she has many arts of 4 address: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a 5 two-edged sword, wounding both body and soul. Her feet
go down to death; her steps take hold on hell, lead 6 to ruin in both worlds. Lest thou shouldit ponder the
path of life, her ways are moveable, [thatthou canst not know [them; ] her chief design is to keep thee from considering; she knows how to vary the method of address, eccording to the temper of the person she has to do with;
7 Sometimes soothing, and sometimes frowning. Hear me
now therefore, Oye children, and depart not from the 8 words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and 9 come 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 harlots; who are cruel both in prin10 ciples and pra&tices : Left strangers be filled with thy
wealth; and thy labours [be] in the house of a 11 stranger; And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh 12 and thy body are consumed, And say, How have I 13 hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And
have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor in14 clined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost
in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly; I arrived to such 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, tho' he had no religion, would be ahamed 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 couns
tries, which made the property of a well very valuable. 15 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 lufts, as there was in drinking pure water out of 16 a clean well, than dirty water 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 publick, without reproach; 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 free
doms, thou wilt set thy own wife a bad example, by following 18 which she may destroy the certainty of thy offspring. Let
thy fountain be blessed, or a blesing to thee: and rejoice Vol. V.
with This phrase may be understood of the revenge of the husband, who in those countries might put the adulterer to death,
with the wife of thy youth, take delight in her company 19 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 fatisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love, that
is, let her be the fubje&t of thy thoughts and the obje&t of thy 20 wishes. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a
strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger ? 21 For the ways of man (are] before the eyes of the Lord,
and he pondereth all his goings; he sees, and will feverely punish flagrant lufts. 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 himself, when he desires and attempts 23 it. He shall die without instruction ; and in the great
ness of his folly he shall go astray; this fin hath an unhappy tendency to make men incorrigible, and (like travellers wandering from the right way) to precipitate themselves into unexpected ruin.
'I. E here see what a friend to fobriety and religion
consideration is. Solomon represents it as the design of artful finners 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 fin 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 confideration; and when that is effected, men become an easy prey to every deceiver.
2. The time will come when thoughtless finners will mourn and lament. They are now jovial and merry; think religion too strict; ministers too precise; and their ad
monitions 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 dying. Then they will mourn; and none will mourn more bitterly than the children of good parents, who have been both instructed. and reproved. They will then remember the instructions they before neglected, and the reproofs they before despised; and will with that they had acted otherwise. If therefore it is our desire to remove evil from our flesh, and forrow from our heart, let us ponder the path of our feet, and choose the way of life.
3. Let this chapter be a warning to all, and especially to young people, against the lusts of the flesh. Many are watching for your destruction, both artful women, and wicked men, who would tempt you to impurity, by smooth speeches and fair promises. Their lips drop as the honeycomb, but there is poison in them: and if you are seduced, you are likely to lose your health, your substance, your credit, your peace, and your souls. As the best antidote against their artifices, remember v. 21. the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings; no darkness can hide them; and however light men may make of such crimes, (which it seems to be the design of most modern plays and romances, at least to palliate) the eternal and almighty God hath declared, that whoremongers and adulterers he will judge ; and that they shall all have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. Therefore, dearly beloved, I beseech you as pilgrims and strangers, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against
C H A P. VI.
thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, art 2 bound for him to his creditors, Thou art snared with the
words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth; haft brought thyself into trouble, and art C2