IN the later end of the former Chapter, he shewed the excellent use of godly wis∣dome in order unto tranquillity, both private and publick, and the mischief which one fool might do in destroying much good: which last clause in that Chapter, he proceedeth in the beginning of this, to demonstrate by three instances, shewing first how folly de∣stroyes a good name, which he illustrateth by an excellent similitude, vers. 1. Second∣ly, how it spoils a mans actions and under∣takings, which by wisdome might be dexte∣rously managed, vers. 2. Thirdly, How it defaceth a mans whole behaviour, and con∣versation, vers. 3.
Then he proceedeth to shew the excel∣lent use of true wisdome, in relation to our behaviour towards Princes, and Persons in Authority, whereby, through prudent Cau∣tion, meekness, and gracious deportment, a man may restrain in himself all thoughts, speeches, or attempts tending unto rebellion, and may allay and pacifie the displeasure which had been conceived against him, in the mind of the Ruler; whereas folly tran∣sporting a man into any disloyal resolutions, doth but ruine himself, and end in fruitless Page 308 and weary labour. Concerning those kind of disloyal Affections, He sheweth, First, The Rise and occasion of them, which may be double. First, Undutifull and Revenge∣full passions, upon any private displeasure of the Ruler against us in our own particular persons, vers. 4. Secondly, Envy or In∣dignation growing out of Errors in Govern∣ment; when a man observes foolish and unworthy persons to be advanced, and those more Honourable and deserving to be de∣pressed and discountenanced, vers. 5.6, 7.
Secondly, he sheweth the great danger of Disloyalty, and that 1. In regard of acti∣ons and attempts, which usually prove per∣nitious to their Authors, and this illustra∣ted by many lively similitudes, vers. 8, 9, 10, 11.
2. In regard of rebellious and foolish speeches, contrary unto that gracious circum∣spection and decorum which wisdome would teach a man to observe, in the which through the heat of passion, a man usually proceed∣eth on from bad to worse, vers. 12, 13, 14. Concerning which he sheweth, 1. The mischief which they bring, vers. 12. 2. The vanity and fruitlessness of them to the person that utters them, vers. 15. 3. The root of them, ignorance of civil affairs, and want of skill to converse with men, vers. 15. 4. The Page 309 nature of them, they begin in folly, they end in madness, they proceed in babling, and mul∣tiplicity of words, concerning things which a man cannot foresee or know any thing of them, vers. 13, 14.
3. In regard of inward Thoughts and Af∣fections; concerning which he sheweth how little security a man can promise him∣self even in his most secret and in most pro∣jections of disloyalty, in as much as God hath invisible and unexpected means to bring it all to light, vers. 20.
And because Princes might haply here∣upon think themselves free from all tye or duty towards their people, because they should be free from all danger and rebellion from them: He doth therefore further shew the necessary dependance which Prince and people mutually have in regard of Weal and Woe. Thereby deterring Princes from Ty∣ranny and misgovernment: (whereby they utterly subvert the end of Gods ordinance, which was for the peace and prosperity of the people.) And also directing them unto the right means of Government, and proper vertues requisite thereunto, which are, 1▪ Wisdome, and maturity of judgement, that he be not a child, vers. 16. 2. Nobleness of mind, not only in regard of blood, but chiefly in vertuous endowments, raising the Page 310 soul above all sordid & base designs. 3. Tem∣perance and sobriety, eating and drinking to strengthen unto duty, not to disable or in∣dispose unto it, nor to incroach upon it, vers. 16, 17. 4. Diligent attendance, and su∣perinspection over the house of the Com∣mon-wealth, that there may be no ruptures in it, but that all be sound, and in good re∣pair, vers. 18. 5. Moderation in delights, not feast for laughter, nor spend the life in mirth and drinking, because excess in these will require a proportionable in∣crease in money and treasures to maintain them, whence will necessarily arise op∣pressions and extortions upon the people, vers. 19.
Vers. 1. DEad flies cause the oyntment of the Apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly, &c] In these words the wise man doth by an ele∣gant similitude or proverbial speech, illu∣strate what he had last spoken, namely, That one sinner destroyeth much good, as one dead flie doth corrupt and mar a whole vessel of most pretious oyntment, which in those Countries was had in great account, 2 Reg. 20.13. It is here applyed unto a mans good name, which is compared unto sweet oynt∣ment, Eccles. 7.1. Cant. 1.3. and as a flie, Page 311 though but a little creature, can taint and corrupt much precious perfume, a little mix∣ture of folly and indiscretion will stai• and blemish the Reputation of a man, otherwise very wise and honourable. And this so much the rather, because of the malignity and ingratitude of men, who do more ha∣stily censure one error, then value many graces, and with whom one small miscar∣riage doth blot out the memory of all other deservings: as one little cloud doth serve to overshadow the whole body of the Sun. Therefore it concerneth us to walk so much the more unblameably, that we may not by the least oversight or folly blemish our profession, or cause it to stink in the nostrils of others, Gen. 34.30. Phil. 2.15. 1 Tim. 6.1. 2 Cor. 6.3. 1 Pet. 2.15. much less by our leaven sour the whole mass, and derive in∣fection upon many others, 1 Cor. 5.6. Gal. 5.9.
Dead flies] Flies of death, the Genitive Case in the place of an Adjective, Psal. 2.9. & 31.3. Rom. 7.24. Phil. 3.21. Judg. 7.13. 2 Thess. 2.3. 2 Pet. 2.1. This may be taken either actively, flies which cause death, as the plague of the Locusts is called death, Exod. 10.17. poysonous flies which do render sweet oyntment deadly and mor∣tiferous, as instruments of death, P•al. 7. Page 312 14. (i.) which do cause death: Or else, pas∣sively, flies which are dead, and by their pu∣trifaction do taint the oyntment in the which they are drowned.
Dead flies do cause] The Nown is plural, and the Verb singular, which may properly thus be rendred, Any one of dead flies doth cause the oyntment to stink; as Exod. 31.14. Rom. 1.20. Thereby intimating the great mischief and damage may be from very small causes.
cause to send forth a stinking savour] Heb. maketh to stink, exhaleth or belche•• forth; thereby noting a continual Emana∣tion of unsavouriness, so that the stink dot• never cease or give over. When two Verbs o• the same Tense come thus together, Gram∣marians tell us, that the former hath an ad∣verbial signification, as Jer. 13.18. Humbl• your selves, sit down, (i.) sit humbly down▪ Hos. 9.9. They have made deep, they ha•• corrupted, (i.) They have deeply corrupted. Rom. 10.20. Esay is bold and saith, (i.) speaketh boldly. So here, foetere fecit, eru∣ctat, (i.) foetide eructat. Which is well rendred in our Version, causeth to send forth a stink.
so doth a little folly him that is in reputa∣tion for wisdome and honour] The note of similitude is wanting, as in many other Page 313 places, both in the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and in the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as Prov. 11.22. Jer. 17.11. Psal. 125.2.
so doth a little folly] Here is an Ellipsis of the Verb, which is to be repeated out of the former member, namely, It causeth to send forth a stinking savour; as Gen. 1.29, 30. The more eminent any person is for wisdome and honour, the more circumspect ought he to be in his conversation, because a little folly and over-sight will much diminish his reputation; as spots are soonest observed in the whitest and finest garments, and envy (like worms and moths) doth usually feed on the purest cloath, Neh. 6.11. Hierom and the Vulgar read the words to another sense, Pretiosior est sapientia & gloria parva a• tempus stultitia. That sometimes a little folly is more pretious then wisdome and ho∣nour, 1 Sam. 21.13. But this, besides the grammatical incongruity, holdeth no propor∣tion to the former part of the verse, where∣unto it answereth, and therefore is neglected by the best Interpreters.
V. 2. A wise mans heart is at his right hand, but a fools heart at his left] A like kind of proverbial form we had, Chap. 2.14. The right hand is usually the most expedite and ready for action, doth its work more Page 314 surely, more speedily, more decently, there∣fore the right hand is the dearest of the two, Matth. 5.29, 30. and it is noted as a thing strange and unusual when men have been left handed, or able to use both hands alike, Judg. 3.21. & 20.16. 1 Chron. 12.2. So the meaning is, A wise mans heart is ready and prepared unto every good work, he doth things with judgment and counsel, he doth with mature advice and deliberation so weigh his actions, the circumstances, consequen∣ces, probabilities, and events of them, as that he may not afterwards repent of his behavi∣our therein. He worketh by the guidance of his heart, Prov. 15.22. Luke 14.28 — 30. But a fool is left-handed in his works, doth all his business bunglingly, praeposte∣rously, inconsiderately, either when he ad∣viseth about business his hand is absent, and doth not execute it; or when he worketh and goeth about it, his heart is absent, and doth not direct it. A wise man hath the com∣mand of his heart, knowes how to use it sea∣sonably, opportunely, and in conformity to times, places, persons, so that his underta∣kings may be successful and prosperous: whereas a fool is transported with passion, amazed at difficulties, perplexed with un∣certainties, at his wits end, and knowes not which way to take, or what to resolve, goes Page 315 about his business as awkwardly and unde∣cently, as a man would do whose right hand were tyed behind him, and had onely his left hand to help him, Prov. 2.10—15. & 4.26. & 13.16. & 16.22, 23. Examples of this wisdome we have in Jacob, Gen. 32. Joseph, Gen. 41. David, 1 Sam. 16.18. Abigail, 1 Sam. 25. Jethro, Exod. 18.19. the Woman of Abel, 2 Sam. 20. Paul, Act. 23.6. and of the contrary folly, Numb. 14.40—45. 1 Reg. 12.8. Isa. 19.11—17.
V. 3. Yea also when he that is a fool walk∣eth by the way, his wisdome faileth him, &c.] Not onely in his private actions and under∣takings, but in his open conversation amongst men, in his motions, gestures, behaviour, gate, countenance, usual deportment, he is destitute of prudence and common discre∣tion, and bewrayeth the folly of his heart, by the affected fondness of his conversa∣tion.
and he saith to every one, that he is a fool] The Septuagint render it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, whatsoever he thinketh on is folly. Symmachus in Hierom, He suspect∣eth of all men that they are fooles. Where∣unto the Vulgar answereth, Cum ipse insipi∣ens sit, omnes stultos aestimat, being a fool himself, he accompteth all other men fools: as to him that hath the Jaundies every thing Page 316 seemeth yellow; and to him that hath a distempered palate, every sweet thing •asteth bitter; to him that hath a vertiginous brain, every fixed thing seemeth to turn round; so to a man made up of pride and folly, other men much wiser then himself do appear fools. The Chaldee rendreth it, All men say that he is a fool. But the most empha∣tical is as we read it, He saith to All men, That he is a fool: He doth so palpably dis∣cover, and as it were proclaim his own folly, by his gestures and behaviour, as if he would himself tell them that he is a fool, Prov. 6.13. & 12.23. & 13.6. & 18.2. Jude vers. 13.
V. 4. If the spirit of the Ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place] Here he sheweth the excellent use of wisdome in or∣dering our conversation towards Superiours, teaching us to bridle all disloyal passions, to restrain all unlawful attempts, to keep our selves in the same eaven and unmoved tem∣per, whatever provocations we meet with to the contrary.
If the spirit of the Ruler] The Chaldee hereby understandeth the power and domi∣nion of any ruling lust, by which a man should not suffer himself to be shaken from his stead∣fastnesse, nor removed out of his place, or from his duty. But this is inconsonant with Page 317 the series of this Chapter, which is much taken up in the Errours of Government, and the inconvenient passions which those Errors may produce in the minds of the people. Others understand it of the spirit of Rule and Government, as we often read of the spirit of Judgment. of Prophecy, of Reve∣lation, of Wisdome, of Knowledg; so the skill of Governing, is called the Spirit of God, 1 Sam. 10.10, 11. & 11.6. & 16.14. Isa. 11.1, 2. And they understand it thus, If the Lord advance thee unto high place of power and Government, Leave not thy place, continue humble and lowly still, forget not thy duty towards thy brethren; as Deut. 17.15—20. But the later clause of this verse plainly leads us to another sense; If the spirit, that is, the wrath and displeasure of the Ruler rise up against thee; so passion is sometimes called, Chap. 7.9. Prov. 25.28. Judg. 9.23. 2 Chron. 21.16. And it seems to denote high displeasure, like that of Saul, of whom it is said, That he Breathed out threats against the Church, Act. 9.1. His rage was as a Terrible Blast of a storm against a wall, Isa. 25.4. And this is further intima∣ted in the phrase of Ascending or rising up, as a grievous Tempest, or as a flame of fire, 2 Sam. 11.20. Ezek 24.8. Psal. 78.21, If Page 318 the high displeasure of the Ruler be, though unjustly and injuriously, lifted up against thee, as Potiphars against Josephs; Sauls against David; Labans against Jacob; Pauls against the Church of Christ, leave not thy place] Contain thy self within the bounds of thine own calling and condition, do not ei∣ther through fear and despair withdraw thy self from thy duty, nor through insolence and impatience, rise up in disloyalty against him, whose spirit is risen against thee; keep still in the rank of a subject, and behave thy self with that lowliness and submission which be∣cometh a subject. He speaketh not against a prudent withdrawing from a storm, and hi∣ding a mans self, as Jacob •led from Esau, and David from Saul, and Elias from Jeza∣bel, and Christ from Herod, Matth. 10.23. but of disloyal and rebellious defection, go∣ing out of his sight, Chap. 8.3. as Israel to their Tents, 1 Reg. 12.16. He requireth us for conscience towards God, to suffer wrongfully, and to be subject even to those that are froward, and injurious, 1 Pe•. 2.18, 19. Not to violate our Allegiance, nor to attempt any conspiracy against them, but onely in our sufferings, to make our prayers and complaints known unto God, who is a Judge between them and us, and is able to Page 319 vindicate our innocency, and to deliver us out of their hands. Every man must keep his station, as Souldiers in an Army are to stay in their own rank, 1 Cor. 7.20, 21. A man cannot expect to have Gods blessing any where, but in his own place. His promises and protection are annexed unto our duty, Psal. 91.11. 2 Chron. 15.2. This was the sin of the Ten Tribes against the house of David, Hos. 8.4. and of Absolom and Sheba against David himself, 2 Sam. 15.10. and 20.1.
for yielding pacifieth great offences] This is a reason ab utili, to perswade unto the du∣ty. For whereas a man might haply con∣ceive, that the wrath of a King is implacable, and their lost love unreconcileable again, and that therefore their case being desperate, a man were as good give over duty, as perish under it: He sheweth, that by submission and lenity of spirit, a man may not onely re∣cover the favour, but prevent and preserve his Prince from many offences. Some ren∣der the wo•ds vir sanans, an healer, paci∣fieth great offences; and so the Septuagint, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: He that by gentle behaviour, seeketh to heal the wound and breach between him and his So∣veraign, shall pacifie great offences. Or, as a man in a course of Physick, will abstain Page 320 from those things which are hurtful unto him: so a wise man will leave off all those sins, whereby the anger of the Ruler may be stirred up against him. Wisdom is of an healing nature, Prov. 12.18. & 16.24. as we see in the carriage of Abigail to David, 1 Sam. 25. and of the Woman of Abel to Joab, 2 Sam. 20. others rendring it by mol∣lities or remissio, yiel••ng▪ or fainting, give a double sense of it; First, That a mans yield∣ing to temptations and passions of disloyalty, doth cause many offences to rest on him, doth bring with it many other sins, through faint∣ing in the day of adversity, Prov. 24.10. Se∣condly, that yielding for a while unto the tempest, doth break the force of it, and cause the heart of a man to relent and to melt to∣wards those, who do with calmnesse and hu∣mility endeavour to divert it, Prov. 15.1. & 25.15. As a tempest which breaketh strong Oaks that resist it, doth no hurt unto the weak Corn which yields unto it: Or as Wooll or mud, doth more abate the force of a Ca∣non bullet, then walls of stone that stand stub∣bornly against it. See Judg. 8.1, 2, 3. Gen. 32.13—20. & 33.4. 1 Sam. 24.16—19. & 25.32, 33.
V. 5, 6. There is an evil which I have s••n under the Sun, as an errour which pro∣ceedeth Page 321 from the Ruler, &c.] Here is inti∣mated another cause of defection and rebel∣lion against Princes, namely, misgovern∣ment, when through their errour and inad∣vertency, unworthy persons are exalted, and men of eminency and desert depressed.
There is an evil] Another evil, or a com∣mon evil; an evil under the Sun, in humane affairs.
as an errour] Which is indeed an errour: It is here Caph veritatis, not a note of com∣parison, or similitude, but of truth; as Judg. 13.23. Neh. 7.2. Hos. 4.4. & 5.10. Luke 22.44. By errour, is noted a fault com∣mitted ignorantly and through inadverten∣cy; as Levit. 4.2. Numb. 15.24. Where∣by we are taught to put the fairest constru∣ction upon the faults of Superiours, in the case of misgovernment; it being so easie a thing for them, who must see much with other mens eyes, and cannot possibly have a clear knowledg of the worth of all persons whom they advance, but may easily be car∣ried into mistakes by the flatteries, or plau∣sible pretences of those that serve them, to be deceived in their opinions, of the fitnesse of persons for those places of trust, wherein they do imploy them.
Folly is set in great dignity; and the rich sit in low places] Fools are very highly ad∣vanced: Page 322 The abstract for the concrete, to denote men extreamly foolish and wicked; as Psal. 5.9. 1 Cor. 2.14. Phil. 3.2. Cant. 5.16. This is matter of much grief and trouble to good men, when power is put into the hands of men, as Vice-gerents for God, who yet will use it all against him. When the great interests of States and Churches, shall be intrusted in the hands of those, who have neither skill nor hearts to promote the good of them, Psal. 12.8. Prov. 28.28. & 29.2. Esth. 3.1—15. This the Lord is often pleased in his providence to permit, some∣times for the punishment of a wicked peo∣ple, Job 34 30. Isa. 19.4. Hos. 13.11. Zach. 11.6. Prov. 28.2. Judg. 9.23, 24. and some∣times for the triall of his faithful servants, and to stir up in them earnest prayer for those who are in authority, that according to their duty they may be friends to those that are pure of heart, 1 Tim. 2.1, 2. Prov 22.11. Psal. 101.6, 7, 8. And sometimes to shew the greatness of his power in destroying ty∣rants, Exod. 9.16.
and the rich sit in low place] This is to be understood in opposition to the former; and so by rich is meant, men of noble endow∣ments for wisdom and goodnesse, Psal. 45.12. To sit in low place, or in an abject and despised condition, is noted here as a posture Page 323 of mourning and great sorrow; as Jer. 13.18. Humble your selves, or make your selves low, sit. So Isai. 47.1. Ezek. 26.16.
V. 7. I have seen servants upon horses, and Princes walking as servants upon the earth] By servants, he meaneth men of a low and base condition, fitter to be the tail then the head, Gen. 9.27. Lam. 5.8. which is a thing extreamly preposterous and ab∣surd, when servants do bear rule, men of sla∣vish condition are advanced above those that are free, noble, and pious, Prov. 19.10. & 30.21, 22. Deut. 28.43, 44.
upon horses] This is a note of honour and dignity, Esth. 6.8, 9. Jer. 17.25. Ezek. 23.23. Hereby he meaneth, That abject and vile persons, who ought to be under govern∣ment, were exalted unto the Throne, and unto places of trust and honour. Such an one was Athenion in Greece, who of a poor and mean person, grew up to be a proud and potent tyrant; laid aside wise Counsellors, spoiled Temples and Cities, wasted men of their estates, and filled pits with treasure; as Athenaeus, lib. 5. reporteth. And the like, Zenophon relateth, lib. 2. Helleni∣c 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
and Princes walking as servants upon the earth] As David seemeth to have walked Page 324 when he fled from Absolom, 2 Sam. 15.30.
V. 8, 9. He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it, and who so breaketh an hedge, a ser∣pent shall bite him. Who so removeth stones, shall be hurt therewith: and he that cleaveth wood, shall be endangered thereby] These are four Proverbial similitudes, tending all unto one end, viz. to shew, that evil usu∣ally returneth on the heads of those who were authors of it; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Psal. 7.15, 16. & 9.15, 16. Job 5.13. Prov. 11.5, 6. & 26.27. Esth. 7.10. 2 Sam. 17.23. Exod. 14.28. & 18.11. Obad. ver. 15. Isa. 33.1. Judg. 1.6, 7. Quod quisque ••lieno excogitavit supplicio, excipit suo. He that made the fetters for another, doth many times wear them himself.
The application of this general, in the present case, is, First, against Princes, who do so advance unworthy men, and depresse the well deserving; such disorders in Go∣vernment do, many times, redound unto their own sufferings, and while they oppress the people, they do supplant their own Thrones, Prov. 16.12. & 25.5. 2 Reg. 8.8.15.
Secondly, against such as attempt to alter the long established, and wholsom Constitu∣tions of Nations and People, and do rashly Page 325 over-turn the foundations of Lawes and Customs; such changes are usually mortife∣rous to the undertakers of them, Prov. 22.28. & 24.21, 22.
Thirdly, against the undutiful and rebel∣lious carriages of people towards their Prin∣ces and Rulers, which commonly are perni∣cious unto the authors thereof, as we finde in the examples of Absolom, Sheba, and others, 2 Sam. 18.14. & 20.22. 2 Chron. 23.15. & 25.3. & 33.24, 25. Esth. 2.21, 22, 23.
he that diggeth a pit shall fall into it] It is a similitude drawn from Huntsmen, who dig pits, and then cover them over again, as if they were firm ground, by which means the beasts passing on them, fall in and are taken. Many times in the digging of such a pit, the earth falls on him that openeth it. It is used Metaphorically, for an attempting of evil to ensnare another man, Job 6.27. in the which snare many times a man is ta∣ken himself, Psal. 10.2. & 9.15. Prov. 5.22. Dan. 6.24.
and who so breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him] Serpents and Adders use to harbour in old walls and hedges, so that with∣out much caution, he that rashly removeth them, is in danger of being slung by them, Act. 28.3. Now as hedges do inclose Page 326 grounds, and distinguish the property of one man from another; so the Lord hath set an hedge about his own ordinance of Magistra∣cy, which he will not have violated by any disloyal attempts, as the phrase is used in another case, Job 1.10. Ezr. 9.9. And all trayterous attempts against the Ordinance of God, is a breaking of that mound, and an in∣croaching upon that authority, which seldom escapeth some mischief or other, which the contrivers thereof did not foresee, nor were wise enough to prevent. It is a dangerous thing to confound rule and subjection, and to break down the partition wall between the one and the other. They who are impa∣tient of rule over them, have ruine very near them.
Who so removeth stones shall be hurt there∣with] He that goeth about to demolish a building, and to pull the great stones out of the walls thereof, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; shall be put to pain and labour thereby; So the Sep∣tuagint: 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, shall be broken and torn thereby; So Aquila: 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 shall be hurt, and suffer evil thereby; So Symma∣chus. So dangerous is the attempt of those, who go about to unjoynt, and dissolve the li∣gaments of Government. A-like expressi∣ons we finde, Zach. 12.13. Matth▪ 21.44.
Page 327and he that cleaveth wood shall be endan∣gered thereby] Or, heated thereby; The Chaldee, shall be burnt thereby: Shall not do it without danger, if his Tools be blunt, as it followeth in the next verse. We finde mention of danger in this imployment, Deut. 19.5. 2 Reg. 6.4, 5. So all these four Pro∣verbial Similitudes tend unto one and the same end.
V. 10. If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edg, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct] This seems to relate to the words next immediately be∣fore it. He that cleaveth wood, if the iron be blunt, shall be endangered and over-hea∣ted thereby, as being every stroke necessita∣ted to put to more strength, and all in vain, till wisdom, by whetting the weapon do get the better of the wood. Nay, the more strength is used, when the iron is too blunt to enter, the more danger there is of its re∣coiling upon him that useth it. So in the present case, the more violent and froward the passions of men are against Governours, the more danger do they create unto them∣selves. Princes being like strong Oaks, that are not easily wrought upon by opposition: But wise, mild, and gentle behaviour may break their displeasure: as wisdom directing a man to whet his iron, will with lesse labour Page 328 cleave the strongest Timber. Like here∣unto was that of Esop to Solon, that we should speak unto Princes 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; either very little, or that which may swee∣ten and please them.
then must he put to more strength] Or, then it will overcome the strength of him that cut∣teth. Some understand it of an Army; it will exercise and weary the whole strength of an Army, to cleave wood with it. Or, in War, though the arms be blunt, so that strength can do little good, yet wisdom may supply that defect, and get the victory; as Chap. 9.15, 16.
but wisdom is profitable to direct] Or, the the excellency of direction is wisdom. The Infinitive Mood for the Noun, as Merc•• hath observed; as 2 Reg. 19.27. Psal. 101.3. The direction which wisdom gives▪ is more profitable then strength; it guideth a mans actions without so much toyl and labour, un∣to a better end. It is, of all other, the most excellent moderator and director of the actions of life; because without it, all other means are bootless and full of hazard: with∣out it labour is dangerous; there is wisdom requisite in the most ordinary and meanest works, in digging, in bearing burdens, in cleaving and hewing of Wood; as we read of a Porter, whom a Philosopher took and Page 329 bred unto learning, because he observed a natural wisdom and dexterity, in his ordering of his burden for the more easie carriage; 1 Reg. 5.6. Isai. 28.24, 25, 26. Without it strength of body is useless; a blunt Axe will tire out the arm of the strongest man, if he have not wisdome to whet it. Art and cunning can move bodies, and apply En∣gines, which exceed all the strength of the body alone, to stir or stand under. As we finde what huge stones were placed in the Temple, in our Saviours time, Luke 21.5. Josephus saith of them, that they were 12. cubits one way, and 8. another. 3. Without it, eloquence is to no purpose, for unlesse a man have wisdom to charm a Serpent be∣fore he bite, all a mans eloquence afterward will not be able to heal him.
V. 11. Surely a Serpent will bite without enchantment, and a babler is no better] Or, If the Serpent bite without being charmed, or before he be charmed, there is then no profit to him that is a master of his tongue, or an eloquent man. A mans eloquence will do him no good, after the Serpent hath bit∣ten him; except he do wisely charm him, before the danger become: The meaning is, that a man should by meekness of wis∣dome, as by a charm, allay the displeasure of the Ruler against him, before it break forth, Page 330 and be too late to pacifie him. Or, accord∣ing to the scope of our Version, A wise ma• should, by meekness and discretion, charm his own bitter tongue, and spirit of detracti∣on, whereby he is apt to curse and revile the Ruler of the people. Such a vain babler, whose lawless tongue is ever finding faul• with Government, and speaking evil of dig∣nities, is no better then an uncharmed Ser∣pent, Psal. 58.4, 5. Rom. 3.13. Or, as • Serpent bites most dangerously, which bite• without hissing, doth not give warning of the harm, that a man might flye from it; so of all enemies, a secret detractor is the worst.
The scope is, 1. To compare the spirit of disloyalty and murmuring in the people a∣gainst their Rulers, (so often forbidden, Exod. 22.28. Act. 23.4. Jude vers. 12. 1 Pet. 2.23.) unto the biting of a Serpent, every rebellious & trayterous speech against those who are over us by Gods ordinance and in his stead, is full of deadly poyson, Ezek. 2.6. a sin which the querulous disposition of people is very apt to transport them into. Exod. 15.24. & 16.2. and .17.2. Numb. 14.2.
2. To compare the wise and humble be∣haviour of men towards their offended Governours, unto an Inchantment, whereby Page 331•hat serpentine spirit of detraction is allayed 〈◊〉 an adder is kept from biting by a charm. •n the Original it is, If the serpent bite, &c. We take the conditional conjunction for a Confirmation or Asseveration of a truth. as we likewise render it in other places, Psal. 139.19. Prov. 3.34, & 23.18.
V. 12. The words of a wise mans mouth are Gracious: But the lips of a fool will swal∣low up himself.] He here sheweth, How the words of wise men are not only as a charm to prevent the biting of an enemy, but do fur∣ther conciliate favour and grace.
are Gracious] Heb. Grace. They are so comely and graceful in themselves, that they minister grace to others, Ephes. 4.29. Col. 4.6. and obtain grace and respect from them. As Abigail did not onely ap∣pease the wrath of David, but did greatly draw his heart and love towards her, by her wise and gracious words. Prov. 10.32. & 15.1, 2, 4, 26. & 16.23.24.
But the lips of a fool will swallow up himself] Or, will destroy, and drown him, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; so the 70. the noun is plural, and the verb singular, which may be Emphatical, to note, that every one of his words do destroy: or do suddenly ruine, as a whale, or a grave, doth presently devour that which it swal∣lowes. Page 332 A foolish man by froward and di∣sloyal speeches, layes snares against his ow• life, provokes so much wrath and displeasure as thereby utterly to undo, and, as it were▪ eat up himself, Prov. 19.28. Prov. 12.13 Rom. 3.13.
V. 13. The beginning of the words of hi• mouth is foolishnesse, and the end of his talk is desperate madness.] Hereby we understand the Emphasis of the former verse, where a plu∣ral noun was joyned to a singular verb, not∣ing, that every one of his words, from the be∣ginning to the end, tendeth unto ruine. The more he speaks, the more folly he discovers▪ and goes on from evil unto worse, according as his rage or distemper of minde doth fur∣ther and further transport him. Corruptio• in the heart when it breaks forth, is like breach in the Sea, which begins in a narro• passage, till it eat through and cast down 〈◊〉 the banks, 2 Tim. 3.13. as the Pharisee and other Jewes in their discourses wit• Christ, did commonly begin with arguments (such as they were) and ended with stones Joh. 8.33., 48, 59. & 10.24, 31. Act. 6.9 & 7.54.57. & 19.28, 34. first they deal foolishly, and then they lift up their horn, Psalm 75.4, 5. from reproches they go o••to oathes and madnesse, Psal. 102.8. Act Page 333 22.22 23. Prov. 21.24. 2 Sam, 16.13. Prov. 26.18. & 15.28. Thus a furious man aboundeth in transgression, Prov. 29.22.
V. 14. A fool also is full of words: A man cannot tell what shall be: and what shall be after him who can tell him] Besides the madnesse and folly of such a mans discouses, they are also many and endlesse. A wise man is contented with words enough to ex∣presse his mind, he speaks alwayes pertinent∣ly such things as may bring glory to God, and minister grace to the Hearers. He speaketh with choyce & election, and there∣fore in measure and moderation. As the Orator gives this for the reason why learned men do not make so long and tedious Orati∣ons as others of weaker parts, quia doctis est electio & modus: They choose a few things out of many, and weigh their words before they utter them. Whereas fooles pour out all that offers it self; verbis humidis & lap∣santibus, in ore non in pectore natis de fluunt; as he said, Prov. 15.28. & 29.11. & 10.19. Eccles. 5.7. nature hath given a man but one tongue, and that well fenced in; but two ears, to teach us to be swift to heare and slow to speak, Jam. 1.19.
a fool multiplyeth words] Useth many boa∣sting discourses, vainly reporteth his own un∣dertakings Page 334 and purposes, brags what he will do, and what he shall have, as if all events were in his own power; whereas no man, much lesse a fool, can either tell himself, or understand by any other man, what shall be after him. There seemeth to be an Empha∣sis in the word, After him, He boasteth what he will do, whither he will go, what successe he shall have, the next moneth, or the next year, when haply the next moneth or year may be After him, he may be cut off before it come, Psal 49.11, 18. Luke 12.19, 20. Jam. 4.13 — 16. Eccles. 3.22. & 6.12.
The words may haply be a Mimesis, set∣ting forth the humour of such a garrulous per∣son, who saith, A man cannot tell what shall be after him; and then saith it over again, what shall be after him who can tell him? therefore let us indulge to our genius, eat and drink, and enjoy our pleasures while we have time to enjoy them. The former sense seem∣eth rightest.
V. 15. The labour of the fool wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the City.] Having shewed the many attempts of foolish men, both in deeds and words, He here discovereth the vanity and fruitlesnesse of them all. All his boasting Page 335 projects and undertakings prove but labour in vain. As the Sodomites being smitten with blindnesse, wearied themselves to find out the door, which they could not get to, Gen. 19.11. He tyreth and wearieth out himself in matters which are most easie, and yet cannot overcome them: for even children can find out the way into a City when they are neer unto it. Or, though he have not wit enough to keep a high rode, yet he will be wearying of himself in abstruser things, which are as difficult as to foresee future and contingent events: as in the former verse.
The sense seemeth to be much like that, vers. 10. as there the fool puts to all his strength to cleave knotty wood wtth blunt tooles, and all in vain; whereas a little wisdome to whet his Iron, would make his vvork both more easie, and more effectual: so here the fool, like an ignorant Traveller that hath m•ssed his way, goes up and down to little purpose, till he quite weary himself, and yet can never find the way into the City for want of skill, or a guide to direct him, which otherwise would have been most easi∣ly and speedily done. Where wisdome is wanting to direct our actions, labour will be endlesse, we shall sooner weary our selves, Page 336 then effect any thing by blind endeavours. If we understand the words in a civil sense con∣sonantly to the other passages of the Chapter before, then those vvords, [because he know∣eth not to go into the City] do signifie the Ignorance of such a man to convers with men, or to behave himself wisely in civil or political relations: Whereas true wisdome is to understand our way, and to make strait paths for our feet to walk in, and to have the light shine on our wayes, whatever relation we stand in, or whatever imployment we are called unto, Prov. 14.8. Heb. 12.13. Psal. 5.8.
V. 16. Wo to thee, O Land, when thy King is a child, thy Princes eat in the morn∣ing.] The Wise man is not onely careful to keep Subjects from rebellion and disloyalty, (which was the matter of the greatest part of the Chapter before,) but also to mind Prin∣ces of their duty, that they be not wilful, sensual, tyrannous, but that they manage their office with noblenesse of spirit, with tempe∣rance, and industry, and that by a most migh∣ty argument, because They cannot be good or bad to themselves alone, multitudes are con∣cerned in it, and the weal or woe of whole nations doth depend upon it. A wicked Prince is a great argument of Divine displea∣sure Page 337 against a whole people, 1 Sam, 8.6— 18. Isa. 19.4. Job 34.30. Prov. 28.2. And a good Prince an argument of his Love, and that he intendeth to blesse such a Nation, 1 Reg. 10.9.
when thy King is a child] He meaneth not so much in age; for many have in their tender years, by the fear of God, and the help of prudent Counsellors governed their people aright, and some of them much bet∣ter then afterwards, 1 Reg. 3.7—12. com∣pared with 1 Reg. 11.4. 2 Chr. 24.2, 3, 17. & 25.1, 2, 14, 27, & 26.3, 4, 5, 16. But in understanding, in experience, in manners, when a man childishly suffereth the affaires of a Kingdome to be turned upside down, to be broken to peices by his carelesnesse, and through want of prudence & skill to dis∣cern between right and wrong, Ephes. 4.14 Heb. 5.13. Isa. 3.4. 1. Cor. 14.20. Such a child was Rehoboam in the strength of his age, A child of one and fourty years old, 1 Reg. 14.21, 2 Chron. 13.7. when a man is, 1. Ignorant or forgetfull of his duty.
2. Changeable and easily turned out of it with every perswasion.
3. Passionate, easily angry, and fearful, and accordingly alterable upon such sudden impressions.
Page 3384. Sensual, and given unto vain de∣lights.
5. Craving and covetous, and so easily turned aside by gifts.
6. Vain and subject to be flattered by those who know how to make a prey of him.
These and such like impotencies, argue childishnesse in one that Governs. The wise man instanceth in one principal of these, viz. Sensuality, in the next words.
And thy Princes eat in the morning] Though the King be a child, yet if he have prudent and vigilant Counsellours their care may recompence and supply his defects▪ but where they likewise be as bad as he▪ Prov. 29.12. where all other ministers of State follow onely their private gain and pleasure, without any regard unto publick welfare, no wonder if such a Nation have a wo hang over it.
eat in the moring] Are riotous, luxurious, spend their whole time in sleep, and excesse▪ Rise not up unto service, but unto delights, consecrate the flower and best of their time (which should have been given to God, and to the publick) to their own vanity and riot Jer. 21.12. Isa. 5.11, 12. Hos. 7.3, 4, 5, 6▪ Act. 2.15. Prov. 31.4, This is matter o• patience unto the affl•cted people, vvhe•Page 339 they consider, that God doth thus reprove Kings for their sake, Psal. 105.14.
V. 17. Blessed art thou, O Land, when thy King is the son of nobles; and thy Prin∣ces eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkennesse.] The son of nobles, that is, men trained up, instructed, and shaped with principles of true Nobility, wisdome, and holiness. As a son of death, of perdition, of wrath, is one devoted thereunto: so a son of nobles, is one nobly seasoned with principles of honour and Government. As sons of God, Gen. 6.2. men bred in the Church of God, and under a godly Educa∣tion; sons of the Prophets: sons of Phy∣sitians, men bred in such professions.
of nobles] From a word which signifieth whitenesse, either because persons of honour did use to wear white rayments, Esther 8.15. Rev. 3.4. sit in white thrones, Rev. 20.11. ride on white asses, Judg. 5.10. or to denote the purity of manners which should be in Rulers, that they might be examples of all integrity unto others, Rev. 19.8. By sons of nobles, then, he doth not understand men barely born of noble Parents, and who have noble blood in their veins, (such an Page 340 one likely might the child be of whom he spake in the former verse) but as there he meant a child not in years, but in manners and qualities: (as the words Presbyter, El∣der, Ancient, in the Scripture use, do not so much signifie age, as wisdom, and authori∣ty,) so here he meaneth one noble as well in vertue, as in blood and birth. This is the true nobility, when piety, wisdome, righteou∣nesse, courage, and the fear of God, do a∣dorn the royal blood, and render persons tru∣ly illustrious, and not dark and obscure crea∣tures, as mean persons are, Prov. 22.29, Deut. 1.13. Exod. 18.21. nobility of blood, without nobility of vertue and holi∣nesse, addeth nothing to a Govenou• at all, Psal. 16.3. & 47.9. & 87.3, 4, 5.6. & 110.3. Act. 17.11.
and thy Princes eat in due season] In the time of eating, after they have spent their strength in duty: As to every thing there is a fit time, Eccles. 3.1. so to this particular of eating and drinking, Psal. 145.15. Matth. 24.45. Labour and service should go be∣fore eating, Luk, 12.35, 37. & 17.7, 8, 9. Abrahams servant would not eat till he had done his businesse, Gen. 24.33. and our Saviour preferred his own Fathers work be∣fore his own Refection, Joh. 4.31, 32. Page 341 Sometimes even wicked men have been so intent on their wickednesse, as to deny liber∣ty of eating, drinking, and other refresh∣ments, to themselves, till their designs were to be accomplished, Act. 23.12. Prov. 4.16. and so we find Magistrates so serious in duty, as to forbear eating, and to forbid it e∣ven sometimes when it was necessary, Ezra 10.6. 1 Sam. 14.23. Temperance is in no calling more requisite, then in the Calling of a Magistrate, Prov. 31.4. Multitudes of businesses, and those of greatest importment, and such as do often require immediate consultation and dispatch, (and such are ma∣ny times the affaires of States) will not al∣low liberty of eating and drinking, all de∣lights must be laid aside to attend them. Exod. 12.34.39. It was wickedly done by the King and Haman to sit down to drink when the City was in perplexity, Ester. 3.15. to let publick safety lye still, while private luxu∣ry was served.
for strength, and not for drunkennesse] The end of eating, is to repaire that strength which had been weakened in duty, and so to enable unto the attendance upon duty a∣gain. It ought not to be the end of our li∣ing, but onely a necessary means unto life, and unto the services thereof.
Page 342And therefore Gluttony and Drunkenesse are to be avoyded, as by all men, because of many other evils which are in them, so in special manner by Princes & Rulers, because they do totally indispose for such weighty affaires as are to be managed by wisdome and counsel, Isa. 28.1. Hos. 4.11. & 7.5.
V. 18. By much slothfulnesse the build∣ing decayeth: and through idlenesse of the hands, the house droppeth thorow.] This is a proverbial form of speech, and appliable un∣to all kind of businesses, shewing the dan∣ger of idlenesse and procrastination in them. And it is here used as an illustration of what he had said vers. 16. to set forth the misery of a Land under childish and carelesse Go∣vernment, by a Comparison drawn from the lesser to the greater, from an house to a State; for as an house being exposed to wind and weather, will in time drop thorow, and so endanger the rotting of the Timber, and the ruine of the whole, if the owner thereof do not by timely repairs prevent such a mis∣chief: so the Common-wealth, being expo∣sed to various dangers, from the subtilty and hostility of enemies abroad, and from the rebellion, sedition, and various discontents Page 343 of ill-affected people within it self, will be continually in danger of dissolution, if Go∣vernours, who should be the Healers, Repai∣rers, and Builders thereof, be not exceeding vigilant upon its preservation and safety: which if he be, he will have little time left for luxury and intemperance.
Here then, 1. A State or Kingdome, is compared to an House, as sometimes the Church is, 1 Cor. 3.9. Ephes. 2.21. & 3.15. Heb. 3.2—6. 1 Tim. 3.15. nothing more usual, then to call the Kingdome of Israel, The House of Israel, the House of Jacob, &c. Isa. 2.6. & 5.7. Luke 1.33. Obad. vers. 18.
2. Princes are compared unto the Ma∣sters of the Family, and to those unto whom it belongeth to Heal and Repair the ruines and breaches in that great building, Isa. 3.7. Job 34.17. Isa. 58.12. & 61.4. As else∣where to foundations, Psal. 82.5. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉quasi〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. to Coverings, Ezek. 28.16. to Barrs, which keep a house from be∣ing broken open, Hos. 11.6. to the Coignes, or Corners in a Building, which keep the Compages of a structure together, Isa. 19.13.
3. Misgovernment is compared unto care∣lesness Page 344 in an House-keeper, or Steward, that doth not in time prevent those ruines in an house, which a few breaches uncured, will quickly draw after them. Which, to shew the greatness of it, is called in the duall num∣ber, double slothfulness, or the slothfulnesse of both hands: and so the 70. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, by slothfulnesses. The Building decayeth, is vitiated, weakned, disjoynted, sinketh, inclineth; the 70, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is brought low: a proper expression, being spoken of the roof of the house: and so the word is rendred, Psal. 106.43. Job 24.24. And through idleness of the hands, so the 70, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; the word is, through the hu∣mility, abjection, demission, hanging down of the hands, that do not put themselves forth, nor lift themselves up unto labour; a• Heb. 12.12. Exod. 17.12. The like expres∣sions whereunto we have, Psal. 76.5. & 74.11. Prov. 6.10. & 19.24. & 26.15. Prov. 10.4.
the house droppeth thorow] Which first causeth the walls and timber to rot, and so tendeth unto ruine; and secondly, causeth a mans habitation to be irksome and un∣comfortable unto him, Prov. 19.13. & 27.15.
Page 345V. 19. A feast is made for laughter, and nine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.] These words, if taken absolutely and alone, are to shew the dominion of money in humane affairs above all other things; other common things, even the best of them, Bread and Wine, (whereby the Scripture useth to expresse most out∣ward contents) have a definite and limi∣ted use, proper to themselves, distinct from others. They tend to make men laugh and be merry, but money is the measure of all things; It will feed, and cloath, and har∣bour, and purchase, and extend as a civill Instrument unto all secular provisions. But they seem rather to bear Relation to what went before; slothful men intend not the sup∣portance of their houses, families, or estates, but they spend their whole time in feasting and luxury, and all that, not out of any store which by their provident labours they had laid up, but by the constant expence of treasure, and emptying of their baggs, where∣by at last their houses, families, estates, are wholly brought to ruine.
Some joyn the words unto the former, thus; Through idlenesse of the hands of th•se Page 346 men the house droppeth thorow, who make feasts for laughter, and prepare wine to make their life merry, and whose money doth rea∣dily answer all these greedy lusts and de∣sires of theirs, and doth bring in supplyes and fuel into them. So this Verse looketh back to verse 16. shewing the Cause of the Woe there pronounced against a Land whose Princes were luxurious, and by whose sloth∣fulnes in regard of publick service, the House of the State was ready to decay and drop tho∣row; for by riot and excess, which cannot be maintained without vast proportion of treasure to answer all the exigences of them, such Princes are constrained to crush and oppress the poor people, and to squeeze them with heavy exactions, Jer. 22.13— 19. which is unto the hearts of the people as a continual dropping in a ruinous house, causeth them either through sadness of spi∣rit to fall and despond, and so to become an abject and low condition'd Nation, Ezek. 17.13.14. 2. Reg. 15.20. or else stirreth them unto more resolute practises, to shake off the yoke which they are not willing nor able any longer to bear, 1 Reg. 12.14, 15, 16.
They make a feast for laughter,] So fa∣cere Page 347 panem, vitulum, agnam, are expressions used for dressing of such things towards a feast or entertainment, Dan. 5.1. Gen. 18.7, 8. 2 Sam. 12.4.
and wine maketh merry] Laetificat vitam, maketh a mans life merry, as elsewhere Lae∣tificat Cor, giveth him a merry heart, Ps. 104.15.
But money answereth all things] LXX. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Whereunto agreeth the Vulgar, pecuniae obediunt omnia, Money can command all things, to wit, which are mea∣surable thereby. It being the Instrument and element of Commerce, as the Philosopher calleth it. Symmachus, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Is profitable for all things, which may be bought therewith: or Exaudit omnia, It heareth the desires of men, when men de∣sire such things as they outwardly want; If they have money, that ordinarily can answer this desire, and procure those things for them: a like expression we find, Hos. 2.21, 22.
V. 20. Curse not the King, no not in thy thought: and curse not the Rich in thy bed-chamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.] Because by occasion of such Page 348 sins of mis-government in evil Princes, men might be very apt through impatiency of spirit, to break forth into disloyal thoughts and affection towards them, however they might haply be by fear of danger restrained from seditious speeches, or rebellious practi∣ces: He therefore concludeth this whole Argument with a strict prohibition of all hard and undutiful thoughts and risings of heart against Rulers, notwithstanding their Errors in Government, and Corruptions in living, not so much as secretly in their hearts to wrong them, both for conscience sake, and for fear of wrath, as the Apostle likewise di∣recteth, Rom. 13.5.
Even in thy thought, or in thy conscience curse not the King] Entertain not any l•ght, vain, contemptuous or dishonourable thoughts of him, do not wish any evil to his person, crown or Government, not so much as in thy inmost and most secret retirements, Exod. 22.28. 2 Pet. 2.10. Ps. 62.4. 1 Sam. 10.27. 2 Sam. 19.21. 1 Reg. 2.8. Isa. 8.21.
The second clause, neither curse the Rich, is a re-enforcing of the same precept again, meaning by the Rich, the Governour, Isa. 53.9. In the chambers of thy bed, or, in thy most secret retirement.
And left a man should presume so to do, Page 349 as conceiving thoughts to be free, and far e∣nough out of the sight of the Governor to observe or avenge, He addeth the great dan∣ger like to ensue by means which they could not so much as imagine, or suspect.
[for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the mat∣ter] As if he had said, Thy thoughts and secret curses are heard in Heaven, by him who will certainly punish them, however se∣cret they are kept from men. And the Lord can easily find our waies even by bruit Crea∣tures, to bring them to light: as he did re∣buke the madness of Balaam by his asse, 2 Pet. 2.16. and punish the pride of Pha∣raoh and Herod by frogs, lice, and worms, Exod. 8.6, 17. Act. 12.23. We read how a flight of Cranes did discover the murther done upon the Poet Ibycus: and how Bes∣sus, who had slain his father, overthrew a neast of swallows chattering, because, saith he, they accuse me for killing my father. As our Saviour saith in another case, If these should hold their peace, the very stones would cry out, Luke 19.40. So the Lord can by even dead and inanimate Creatures, disco∣ver wickedness. The earth it self, which drank blood in, shall disclose and reveal it, Gen. 4.11. Isa. 26.21. Hab. 2.11. The Chaldee by birds of the air, understand the Page 350Angels of Heaven, who like winged Eagles shall make report of secret wickedness. O∣thers understand it of fame, which is a swift, and as it were a winged Messenger; allu∣ding unto that which is said of Princes, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉▪ That Princes have many Eyes, & many Ears, and long arms, that can see, and hear, and punish offences at at a greater distance.