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Corruption in the heart, when it breaks forth, is like a breach in the sea, which begins in a narrow passage, till it eats through and casts down all the banks, 2 Tim. ii. 13; as the Pha. risees and other Jews, in their discourses with Christ, usually commenced with arguments (such as they were), and ended with stones, John viii. 33, 48, 59. and x. 24, 31 ; Acts vi. 9; vii. 54, 57; and xix. 28, 34. They first deal foolishly, then they lift up their horn, Ps. Ixxv. 4. 5; and from reproaches they proceed to oaths and madness, Ps. cii. 8; Acts xxii. 22, 23; Prov. xxi. 24 ; 2 Sam. xvi. 13; Prov. xxvi. 18. and xv. 28. Thus a furious man aboundeth in transgression, Prov. xxix. 22.
14. A fool also is full of words : a man cannot tell what shall be ; and what shall be after him, who can tell liim?
Besides the madness and folly of such a man's discourses, they are also many and endless. A wise man is contented with a sufficient number of words to express his meaning; he always speaks such pertinent things as may glorify God and profit the hearers; he speaks with choice and election, and therefore in measure and in moderation. As the orator assigns this reason why learned men do not make so
long and tedious harangues as others of weaker parts, quia doctis est electio et modus. They choose a few topics out of many, and weigh their words before they utter them : on the contrary, fools pour out all that offers itself, verbis humidis et lapsantibus, in ore non in pectore natis defluunt, Prov. xv. 28; xxix. 11; and x. 19; Eccles. v. 7.-"A fool multiplieth worrls," i. e. uses many boasting expressions, vainly reports his own undertakings and purposes, brags what he will do, and what he shall have, as if all events were within his own power ; whereas no man, much less a fool, can either tell or ascertain what shall be after him. There seems to be an emphasis in the words after him: he boasts what he will do, whither he will go, what success he shall have the next month, or the next year, when possibly the next month or year may be after him, inasmuch as he may be cut off before it arrive, Ps. xlix. 11, 18; Luke xii. 19, 20; James iv. 13–16; Eccles. iii. 22. and vi. 12. The latter part of the verse may be considered as descriptive of the humour of such a garrulous person, who says, “ a man cannot tell what shall be after him;" and then repeats it, “what shall be after him, who can tell him ?” therefore let us indulge our inclinations; eat, and drink, and enjoy qur pleasures, whilst we have time and oppar
tunity. The former sense, however, appears preferable.
15. The labour of the fool wearieth
every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.
The inspired preacher having shewn the many attempts of foolish men, both in deeds and words, here discovers the vanity and fruitlessness of them all. All his boasting projects and undertakings prove but labour in vain; as the men of Sodom, who were smitten with blindness, wearied themselves to find the door, Gen. xix. 11. He tires and fatigues himself in the most easy matters, and yet cannot overcome them ; for even children can find their way into a city when they are near it. Or, though he has not wit enough to keep a high road, he will weary himself in more abstruse concerns, which are as difficult for him to manage as to foresee future and contingent events, as hinted in the preceding verse.
The sense seems to resemble what is expressed ver. 10. As the fool is there represented vainly putting forth all his strength to cleave knotty wood with blunt tools, he is here described like an ignorant traveller that has missed his way, going up and down to little purpose, till he quite wearies himself, without being able to find his way into the city, for want of skill or a guide, which otherwise would have been easily and speedily effected. Where there is a deficiency of wisdom to direct our actions, labour will be endless, and we shall much sooner weary ourselves than effect any thing by blind endeavours. If we understand the words in a civil sense, consonant to some passages of the 9th chap. then the expression, “ because he knoweth not to go into the city,” signifies the incapacity of such a person to converse with men of understanding, or to conduct himself properly in any political relations: whereas true wisdom will lead us to understand our way, to make straight paths for our feet, and to have the light shine on our ways in whatever relations we stand, or to whatever employment we are called, Prov. xiv, 8; Heb. xii; Ps. v. 8.
16. Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
The wise man is not only careful to preserve subjects from rebellion and disloyalty, but also to remind princes of their duty ; that they be not wilful, sensual, or tyrannical, but that they manage their office with nobleness of spi
rit, temperance, and industry; and he enforces this by a most weighty argument, viz. that they cannot be good or bad to themselves alone, multitudes being concerned in their manner of governing, and the weal or woe of whole nations depending upon it.
A wicked prince is a great evidence of divine displeasure against a whole people, 1 Sam. viii. 6–18; Isai. xix. 4; Job xxxiv. 30; Prov. xxviii. 2; and a good prince a proof of his love, and that he intends to bless such a nation, 1 Kings x. 9.
- " When thy king is a child.” He does not mean so much in age ; for many in their tender years, by the fear of God and the assistance of prudent counsellers, have governed their people aright, and some of them better at that period than afterwards, 1 Kings iji. 7-12. compared with i Kings xi. 4; 2 Chron. xxiv. 2, 3, 17; 2 Chron. xxv. 1, 2, 14, 27. and xxvi. 3, 4, 5, 16; but in understanding, in experience, in manners, when a man childishly suffers the affairs of a kingdom to be turned upside down, and to be broken to pieces, by his carelessness, and for want of prudence and skill to discern between right and wrong, Ephes. iv. 14; Heb. .y. 13; Isai. iii. 4;1 Cor. xiv. 20.
Such a child was Rehoboam in the strength of his age, a child of one and forty years old, 1 Kings xiv. 21 ; 2 Chron. xiii. 7. This is the character of a prince when he is, first, ignorant or forgetful