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man, like Achan, will endanger the camp, Josh. vii. 1-5; 1 Cor. v. 6; as one leak in a ship, one spark in a barrel of gunpowder, will suddenly undo all. One fool can throw a jewel into the sea, which a thousand wise men cannot recover. Πολλακι και ξυμπασα πολις κάκε άνδρες έπαυροί, Grer totus in agris unius scabie cadit.
In the close of the former chapter was shewn the excellent use of godly wisdom to promote both private and public tranquillity, and the mischief which one fool may do in destroying much good : which last clause the wise king here proceeds to demonstrate by three instances: pointing out, first, how folly destroys a good name, which is illustrated by an admirable similitude, ver. 1. Secondly, how it spoils a man's actions and undertakings, which, by wisdom, might be dexterously managed, ver. 2. Thirdly, how it defaces a person's whole behaviour and conversation. He next illustrates the great advantage of true wisdom in relation to our conduct towards princes and persons in authority, by which we may restrain all thoughts, speeches, or attempts, tending to rebellion, and may pacify the displeasure which may have been conceived against us in the mind of the ruler ; whereas folly, transport. ing a man into any disloyal resolutions, ruins himself, and ends in fruitless and weary labour. Concerning this kind of disloyal affections, he shews, first, their rise and occasion, which may proceed from two causes : first, from undutiful and revengeful passions excited by the displeasure of the ruler against our persons, ver. 4: secondly, from envy or indignation arising out of errors in government, when it is 'observed, that foolish and unworthy persons are advanced, whilst the more honourable and deserving are depressed and discountenanced, ver. 5, 6, 7. Secondly, the great danger of disloyalty: first; in regard to actions and attempts which usually prove pernicious to their authors, and which are illustrated by many lively similitudes, ver. 8, 9, 10, 11: secondly, in reference to rebellious and foolish speeches, contrary to that circumspection and decorum which wisdom should teach us to observe, and in the use of which there is usually a progress from bad to worse, ver. 12, 13, 14. · Here he enlarges, first, on the mischief which they oc. casion : secondly, on their vanity and fruitlessness to the person that utters them, ver. 15 : thirdly, on their root, ignorance of civil affairs, and want of skill to converse with men, ver. 15: fourthly, on their nature; they begin in folly, they proceed in babbling and multiplicity of words concerning things which cannot be foreseen, and they end in madness, ver. 13, 14. Thirdly, with respect to inward thoughts and affections; concerning which he represents how little security can be insured in the most secret and inmost projects of disloyalty, since God has invisible and unexpected means to bring them all to light, ver. 20. And as princes might probably think themselves free from any duty or obligation towards their people, having no apprehension of danger and of rebellion from them, he further demonstrates the necessary dependance of prince and people on each other, with a view of deterring from tyranny and misgovernment (by which they subvert the end of God's ordinance, who has appointed government for the peace and prosperity of the community), as well as of directing them to the proper means of exercising their authority, and to the cultivation of suitable qualifications: such as, first, wisdom and maturity of judgment, in opposition to the inexperience of childhood, ver. 16. Secondly, nobleness of mind, consisting in virtuous endowments, which raise the soul above all sordid and base de. signs. Thirdly, temperance and sobriety; eating and drinking, to strengthen us for duty, but not to indispose or disable us for it, nor to incroach upon it, ver. 16, 17. Fourthly, diligent attention to the house of the common. wealth, and superinspection of it, that there may be no ruptures in it, but that every part be preserved sound and in good repair, ver. 18. Fifthly, moderation in sensual delights ; not to feast for laughter, nor consume life in mirth and drinking, because an excess in these gratifications will require a proportionate increase of money and treasures to maintain them, as well as give rise to oppressions and extortions upon the people, ver. 19.
1. Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour : so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
This verse is an illustration, by a very appropriate similitude, of the concluding assertion in the preceding chapter, that one sinner destroyeth much good, as one dead fly spoils a whole vessel of precious ointment, which, in Eastern countries, was considered as very valuable, 2 Kings xx. 13. The application of this proverbial expression to a person's good name, which is elsewhere compared to sweet ointment, Eccles. vii. 1; Cant. i. 3. is remarkably significant. As a fly, though a diminutive creature, can taint and corrupt much pre