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of his duty: secondly, changeable and easily turned with every persuasion: thirdly, passionate and fearful, and accordingly alterable upon sudden impressions : fourthly, sensual and addicted to vain delights: fifthly, craving and covetous, and thus liable to be perverted by gifts: sixthly, vain and open to the flatte. ries of those who know how to make a prey of him. Such impotencies argue childishness in one that governs,
a principal instance of which follows:-" And thy princes eat in the morning.” Though the king be a child, if he has prudent and vigilant counsellors, their care may recompense and supply his defects; but when they are as weak as he is, Prov. xxix. 12. and when all other ministers of state pursue only their private gain and pleasure, without any regard to the public welfare, it cannot be wondered that such a nation have a woe hanging over it.—" Eat in the morning ;” are riotous, luxurious, spend their whole time in sleep and excess, consecrate the flower of their
age (which should have been devoted to God and to the public), to their own vanity and gratification, Jer. xxi. 12; Isai. v. 11, 12; Hos. vii. 3–6; Acts ii. 15; Prov. xxxi. 4. It may, however, afford patience to the afflicted ple to consider, that God does thus reprove kings for their sake, Ps. cv. 14.
17. Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness.
“ The son of nobles," one nobly seasoned with just principles of honour and government; as a son of death, of perdition, of wrath, is one devoted to death, &c.: sons of God, Gen. vi. 2. are persons bred in the church of God, and favoured with a religious education; and sons of the prophets, sons of physicians, are men trained up in such professions.-“ Of nobles;" from a word which signifies whiteness, either because persons of honour were accustomed to wear white raiment, Esth. viii. 15; Rev. iii. 4; sit on white thrones, Rev. xx; ride on white asses, Judg. v. 10; or to denote the purity of manners which rulers should
possess, that they may be examples of integrity to others, Rev. xix. 8. By sons of nobles, we are not to understand such as are descended of noble parents, and who have noble blood in their veins (as the words presbyter, elder, and ancient, in scriptural acceptation, do not so much refer to age, as to wisdom and authority); but those who are noble in virtue, as well as in birth and blood. This is true nobility,
when piety, wisdom, righteousness, courage, and the fear of God, adorn the royal blood, and render persons of this quality truly illustrious, and not dark and obscure, as mean people are, Prov. xxii. 29; Deut. i. 13; Exod. xviii. 21. Nobility of blood, without nobility of virtue and holiness, cannot add to the dignity of a governor, Ps. xvi. 3 ; xlvii. 9; Ixxxvii. 3, 4, 5, 6; and cx. 3 ; Acts xvii. 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 season, Eccles. iii. 1; so to this particular of eating and drinking, Ps. cxlv. 15; Mat. xxiv. 45. Labour and service should precede eating, Luke xii. 35, 37. and xvii. 7, 8, 9. Abraham's servant would not eat until he had transacted his business, Gen. xxiv. 33; and our Saviour preferred his father's work to his own refreshment, John iv. 31, 32. Even wicked men have been sometimes so intent on their pursuits, as to deny themselves food and recreations till their designs could be accomplished, Acts xxiii. 12; Prov. iv. 16: and thus we find magistrates so serious in duty as not only to forbear eating, but to forbid it sometimes when it was necessary, Ezra x. 6; 1 Sam. xiv. 24. In no calling is temperance more requisite than in that of a magistrate, Prov. xxxi. 4. A mul.
tiplicity of business, and frequently of the greatest importance, which requires immediate consultation and dispatch, will not allow of an opportunity for eating and drinking; all delights must then be laid aside, Exod. xii. 34, 39. It was an act of singular wickedness in the king and Haman to sit down to drink when the city was in perplexity, Esth. iii. 15; to be careless of public safety, whilst private luxury was indulged.
“ For strength, and not for drunkenness." The end of eating is to repair that strength which had been weakened in the discharge of duty, and thus to fit us for renewed attendance upon the exercises of our calling. It ought not to be the end of our living, but only a necessary means of preserving life, and of qualifying us for its services: and therefore gluttony and drunkenness ought to be particularly avoided by princes and rulers, because they entirely indispose for all affairs which require to be conducted by wisdom and counsel, Isai. xxviii. 1; Hos. iv. 11. and vii. 5.
18. | By much slothfulness the building decayeth, and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.
This is a proverbial form of speech, designed
to shew the danger of idleness and procrastination in all kinds of business : and it is here used as an illustration of what was said ver. 16. to represent the misery of a land under a childish and careless government, by a comparison drawn from the less to the greater, from a house to a state: for as an house being exposed to wind and weather will eventually drop through, and endanger the rotting of the timber and the ruin of the whole, unless its owner, by timely repairs, prevent the danger; so the commonwealth, being exposed to various evils, from the subtilty and hostility of foreign enemies, and from the rebellion, sedition, and discontents of ill-affected people at home, will be continually in danger of dissolution, if governors, who should be its healers, repairers, and builders, are not exceedingly vigilant of its preservation and safety; which will leave them little time for luxury and intemperance.
Here then, first, a state or kingdom is compared to a house, as sometimes the church is represented by the same figure, i Cor. iii. 9; Ephes. ii. 21. and iv. 15; Heb. ii. 2-6; 1 Tim. iii. 15. Nothing is more usual than to call the kingdom of Israel, the house of Israel, the house of Jacob, &c. Isai. ii, 6. and v. 7; Luke i. 33 ; Obad. ver. 18.