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25 ren, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not
thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths;
do not show any inclination to go near her; do not hearken to 26 her, but check the first rising of temptation. For she hath
cast down many wounded: yea, many strong [men] have been sain by her; there are many melancholy instan
ces of this in Lot, Samson, David, and others, which are 27 intended for our warning. Her house, however it may be
decked with ornaments, [is] the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death, that is, to the grave and everlast. ing destruction.
R E F L E C TI ON S.
E may hence learn, the regard we should show
to wisdom, namely to keep it as the most valu. able treasure, to have its dictates familiar to our minds, and, by frequent meditation, ready for our use. A superficial knowledge of divine things, a general acquaintance with them only, will not be sufficient: by this alone we shall not perceive their beauty and excellence, whatever degrees of religious knowledge we have gained. May we keep it as the apple of the eye; be very tender of it, that nothing may injure it or deprive us of it: this is the way to be secure against temptation. They are those who are void of understanding that are corrupted and destroyed: whereas to keep the commandments of God, is the way to live comfortably and to secure everlasting life,
2. How the huntsman fetteth to entrap him. There is a beautiful gradation in the motion of the three animals here mentioned; the ox, the deer, and the bird; each goes swifter than the other, and so it represents the increasing speed with which the young finner is hạrried on to his ruin, till he feels himself mortally wounded, and ic is too late to go back.
f Mr. Henry observes, that this story would serve the licentious poets and play-writers of our age to make a comedy on. The harlot, with them would be the heroine, and the audience would be much diverted with her method of decoying the young squire; and those who saw it acted, would go away and be glad to be so picked up. Thus fools make a mock at fin, But Solomon tells it, and all wise men will read and hear it as a very melancholy ftory, and what thould excite their caution.
2. How desirable is it for all, especially the young, to consider the consequences of their actions ! when any pleafures solicit them, to consider how they will end. When the temptation is proposed, every thing looks charming and pleasant; but if they would only consider the dart which will strike them thro', that anguish of conscience which forbidden pleasures will bring; and that place of torment to which they lead, they would not comply. Oh let our young friends therefore be cautious, not high minded, but fear : let them not boast of their strength and resolution, for, V. 26. She hath cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been sain by her. Therefore watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
3. When finners take so much pains to allure and seduce others, what pity is it that wise and good men will take so little to preserve or recover them. What pains is the harlot here represented as taking to corrupt! to procure every thing alluring, to make the temptation plausible, to answer every objection which the person tempted might be apt to make; and all to make another more and more a child of hell. Where do we fee such zeal as this in good men ! Where do we fee such a concern to direct unexperienced fouls! to seek out, take notice of, and encourage, those who appear to be serious; to warn them of the snares of fin; to represent to them the pleasures of religion; and exhort them to taste and see that the Lord is good? The artifices and zeal of finners ought to shame and humble us, that we do no more for one another's souls, and take fo little pains to warn, admonish, and encourage one another ; especially fince so much is to be said in favour of religion, and we may hope for the concurrence of divine grace in our pious attempts to promote it. He that turneth a finner from the error of his ways saveth a soul from death. Therefore exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any be hardened thro' the deceitfulness of fin.
C С НАР.
CH A P. VIII. In this chapter there is an evident contrast or opposition to the allurements of the harlot mentioned in the former chapter.
OTH not wisdom cry? and understanding put
forth her voice; earnestly invite men to receive her? 2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in 3 the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the
entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors, in the
most publick places, in open day; not like the harlot, ashamed 4 to be seen ; her instructions are plain to all. Unto you, O 5 men, I call; and my voice [is] to the fons of man.o
ye fimple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of 6 an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of ek
cellent, or princely, things, worthy the attention of all;
and the opening of my lips [shall be] right things. 7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness [is]
an abomination to my lips, it is the design of all my ada 8 dresses to prevent it. All the words of my mouth (are]
in righteousness; [there is) nothing froward or perverse in them ; nothing to hamper or perplex you, to abridge
you of your just liberty, much less to mislead or pervert 9 you. They (are]all plain to him that understandeth,
and right to them that find knowledge ; who are well
disposed, and endeavour to distinguish between right and 10 wrong. Receive my instruction, and not filver, that is, : rather than filver; and knowledge rather than choice Il gold. For wisdom [is] better than rubies, or the mos
precious gems; and all the things that may be desired 12 are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with
prudence, do not content myself with speculation but extend to practice, and find out knowledge of witty inventions, that is, ingenious inventions, which are of great use in hu
man life, and subservient to the most important purposes. I 13 instruē? men in the first place, that The fear of the Lord
[is] to hate evil, pride, and arrogancy, and the evil
way, and the froward mouth, do I hate, all finful prac14 tices, fander, and detraction. Counsel [is] mine, and found wisdom ; I[am] understanding; I have strength;
I show men what is fit to be done, and inspire them with 15 courage to do it. By me kings reign, and princes decree 16 justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, [even) all
the judges of the earth; that is, by wisdom they make just
and merciful laws for the government of their people, and 17 conduet the weighty affairs of kingdoms and nations. I
love them that love me; and those that seek me early 18 shall find me. Riches and honour [are] with me;
[yea,] durable riches and righteousness, wealth which
wears well, and brings with it a title to a better inheritance. 19 My fruit [is] better than gold, yea, than fine gold; 20 and my revenue than choice silver. I lead, or direct, in
the way of private righteousness, in the midst of the 21 paths of publick judgment. That I may cause those
that love me to inherit substance, make them truly and 22 completely happy; and I will fill their treasures. The
LORD possessed me as his treasure in the beginning of his way, before his works of old; it is an argument that wisdom is the most excellent thing, because it dwelt in God before the creation of the world, and directed his ačtions in all he made. As if he had said, Since it is an attribute difplayed in all his works of creation and providence, therefore,
the more wisdom any creature has, the more he resembles the 23 great creator. I was set
up from everlasting, from the 24 beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were]
no depths, I was brought forth; when (there were] 25 no fountains abounding with water. Before the moun.
tains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields,
nor the highest part of the dust of the world, the ground
on which we tread, or rather, the beginning or mass of dust, 27 before it was distinguished into mountains and plains. When
he prepared the heavens, I (was) there: when he set a
compass upon the face of the depth; marked how far it 28 should extend, and where the hills should be placed: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened
the & Many writers apply all that follows to Chrift, What the new Teitament teaches concerning him, shows that it may be accommodated to him ; but I find no sufficient proof that Solomon intended it of him; nor is any clause of this description applied to him in the new Testament.
29 the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea
his decree, that the waters should not pass his com
mandment: when he appointed the foundations of the 30 earth: Then I was by him, [as] one brought up (with
him :) and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always
before him; producing daily some new work, which he ap31 proved and pronounced to be good ; Rejoicing in the habit
able part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the fons of men; I rejoiced to see how the world was formed
into a fit habitation for man, and the Sons of men enjoying 32 the effects of the divine power and goodness. Now there
fore hearken unto me, Oye children: for blessed (are 33 they that] keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be 34 wise, and refuse it not. Blessed [is] the man that
heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the
posts of my doors ; earnestly desiring to become my disciple, 35 and improving all opportunities to get knowledge. For
whoso findeth me findeth life, that which will make life
pleasant to him, and he shall obtain favour of the Lord. 36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul:
all they that hate me love death; they who hearken to finners, and reject my counsels, do in effe&t choose death; and their perverseness will end in their ruin.
ROM hence we are led to observe and adore the
wisdom of God, as it is displayed in his works. We should take notice of their beauty, order, and exactness; and consider that it is he who hath prepared and adorned the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, fet a bound to the sea, and provided sustenance for man and beast. The more attentively we survey the works of God, the more evident and striking marks of wisdom and goodness shall we perceive; and often take up the pfalmist's admiration, o Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hajt thou made them all.
2. The noble description here given of the effects of wisdom, should increase our esteem of and value for it, Wisdom will lead us to choose the best ends, and to pursue