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A Wise Person is Careful With His Conduct in Response to Bad Government: Ecclesiastes 10:8-11


            The remedy, submission and yielding, seeking reformation by all fair and loving means.  To which duty Solomon exhorts subjects by a dehortation ]an argument to dissuade[ from the contrary, viz., discontentment, rebellion, innovation, and sedition.  This undutiful and rebellious affection against princes is discovered in three particulars, from all which are divided:

            In fact:


            First, secret treachery: the punishment whereof is, that the mischief lights upon the traitor.  He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it, a simile from unwary huntsmen, that making pits to catch wild beasts (usual in eastern countries) and covering them over with leaves & c., fall into the same themselves as they pass that way, verse 8.


            Second, open violence and rebellion: which how ill it succeeds, Solomon shews: By similitudes which are three:

            Image one: Pulling up old hedges, wherein serpents, ests, adders, snakes & c., usually lurk, that endanger the hands and feet of him that goes about it.  He that breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him so that he he that seeks to overthrow the government of a commonwealth, and breakdown the fences and mounds of rule and subjection, & c., verse 8.

            Image two: Removing of great stones, in pulling down of stone walls and old buildings, and lifting, carrying & c. wherein without much care men are greatly endangered: Who so removeth stones shall be hurt therewith73 so that he attempts to lose and remove the joints and pieces of settled government, there is danger that like Sampson, he’ll be crushed in the ruin, verse 9.

            Image three:  Cleaving of knotty and hard timber with ill tools, wherein there is danger of breaking our tools and maiming ourselves: and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby, so is he that uses violent means against a prince, verse 9.

            Third, by the contrary, a wise and gentle carriage of matters, whereby all disorders and government are sooner reformed than by rough and furious courses.  This inferred upon occasion of the last similitude of cleaving of wood, If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge: If the axes and wedges be not sharp, he must put to more strength, yea, but what shall he be better for that?  Not a whit, such a woodcleaver shall but weary himself, sweat out his strength, endanger his limbs by recoiling of the ax or wedge,  so in the former sin, he that will by main strength remove stones shall strain his back, break his joints.  He that rashly and furiously will pluck down a hedge shall scratch himself, put out his eyes, gore his legs.

            So that in sum, the more violence and wilfulness subjects use against rulers, the greater danger they bring themselves into.   But now on the other side, Wisdom is profitable to direct, if art and skill be used, it is not hard for a hedger to new make the oldest hedge, or mason to remove the greatest stones, or carpenter to cleave the most bony and churlish piece of timber: So for subjects by wise and moderate courses to procure reformation of a princes foulest errors and disorders.

73 Prov. 26.27.