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thereby,” or “ heated thereby;" shall be burnt thereby, Chaldee; shall not do it without danger, if bis tools be blunt, as it follows in the next verse, Danger attending this employment is mentioned Deut. xix. 5 ; 2 Kings yi. 4, 5.

10. If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength : but wisdom is profitable to direct.

This seems to refer to the words immediately before : he that cleaveth wood, if the iron be blunt, shall be endangered and orerbeated, being necessitated to apply an increase of strength at every stroke ; and all in vain, until wisdom, by whetting the weapon, gets the better of the wood : nay, the more strength is used when the iron is too blunt to enter, the greater the danger of its recoiling upon the labourer. So the more violent and froward the passions of men are against their governors, the more danger do they create to themselves; princes being like strong oaks, that are not easily wrought upon by opposition: but wise, mild, and gentle behaviour may break their displeasure ; just as wisdom, directing a man to sharpen his axe, will enable him, with less exertion, to cleave the strongest timber. It was Æsop's advice to Solon to speak to princes, á “xsa y midesa, either very little, or that which may sweeten and please them.-" Then must he put to more strength ;" or, then it will overcome the strength of him that cutteth. Some understand it of an army ; it will weary the whole strength of an army to cleave wood with a blunt instrument ; or in war, though the arms be blunt, so that strength can do little good, yet wisdom may supply that defect, and gain the victory, as ch. ix. 15, 16.“But wisdom is profitable to direct;" or, “the excellency of direction is wisdom :" the infinitive mood for the noun, as Mercer has observed, as 2 Kings xix. 27 ; Ps. ci. 3. The di. rection afforded by wisdom is more profitable than strength, because it guides our actions, without so much toil and labour, to a better end. It is the most excellent counsellor and moderator ; without it, all other means are hazardous, and labour itself is dangerous : indeed, it is requisite in the meanest and most ordinary occupations; in digging, bearing burdens, cleaving wood, 1 Kings v. 6; Isai. xxviii. 24, 25, 26. Without wisdom, strength of body is useless : a blunt axe will weary the arm of the most robust man, if he has not wisdom to whet it. Art and contrivance can move bodies by the application of engines, which exceed all the strength of the body to stir or stand under; as we find that huge stones were placed in the temple in our Saviour's time, Luke xxi. 5. which Josephus reports to have been twelve cubits one way and eight another. Without wisdom, eloquence cannot prevail ; for unless a person has wisdom to charm a serpent before he bite, all his elo. quence will not afterwards be effectual to heal the wound.

Fl. Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler 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. The meaning is, that he who has offended his ruler, should, by meekness of wisdom, as by a charm, allay his displeasure, before it break forth, and it be too late to pacify him: or, according to the scope of our own version, a wise man should, by meekness and discretion, charm his own bitter tongue and spirit of detraction, which excite him to curse and revile the ruler of the people. Such a vain babbler, whose lawless tongue is perpetually finding fault with government, and speaking evil of dignities, is no better than an uncharmed serpent, Ps. lviii. 4, 5; Rom. iii, 13. It is the evident design of the wise man in this verse, first, to compare the spirit of disloyalty and murmuring in the people against their rulers so often forbidden (Exod. xxii. 28; Acts xxiii. 4; Jude, ver. 12; 1 Pet. ii. 23.) to the biting of a serpent; every rebellious and traitorous speech against those who are over us by God's ordinance, and in his stead, being full of deadly poison, Ezek. ii. 6; a sin into which the querulous disposition of people is very apt to transport them, Exod. xv. 24; xvi. 2; and xvii. 2 ; Numb. xiv. 2. Secondly, to compare a wise and humble behaviour towards offended governors to an enchantment, by which that serpentine spirit of detraction is allayed, as an adder is kept from biting by a charm. In the original it is, if the serpent bite, &c. the conditional conjunction expressing a confirmation or asseveration of a truth; as we likewise render it in other places, Ps, cxxxix. 19; Prov. iii. 34; and xxiii. 18.

12. The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

“ The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious;" Heb. grace. They are so comely and gracious in themselves, that they minister grace

66 will destroy

to others, Ephes. iv. 29; Col. iv. 6. and obtain grace and respect from them; as Abigail not only appeased the wrath of David, but at. tracted his heart and love towards her by her wise and gracious words, Prov. x. 32 ; xv. 1, 2, 4, 26; and xvi. 23, 24.—“ But the lips of a fool will swallow up himself;" or, and drown him," Sept. The noun is plural, and the verb singular, which may be emphatical, to denote, that every one of his words destroys or suddenly ruins, as a whale or a grave presently devours what it swallows. A foolish man, by froward and disloyal speeches, lays snares against his own life, and provokes so much wrath, as utterly to ruin bis character and reputation, and, as it were, to eat up himself, Prov. xix. 28; Prov. xii. 13; Rom. iii. 13.

13. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.

The emphasis of the former verse is here further illustrated, that every one of the fool's words tends to ruin. The more he speaks, the more folly he discovers ; and proceeds from one degree of evil to another, according as his rage or distemper of mind transports him beyond the proper government of his tongue.

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