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The Book of Proverbs is, for the most part, a collection of independent sentences or apophthegms, and not a connected treatise. The author does not expatiate on the subjects which engage his attention, but in a sententious manner presents the results of his observation and reflection. These condensed sentences evince a profound knowledge of human nature, and, as constituting a portion of its history, are admirably adapted to all times and places. The arrangement of them under separate divisions has been suggested by the circumstance, that the same subject is presented, with some difference of aspect or bearing, in more than one proverb. It is not presumed that the classification is complete, or that it embraces every part of the text; but as it is, it affords a very desirable va1*
riety of subjects, which, in this method, may interest the serious reader, and suggest to his mind trains of salutary and instructive thought. To assist this exercise on the part of the reader, the Reflections, which accompany each separate division, were written. They do not pretend to be an exposition of the Proverbs, nor do they profess to bring out all the points suggested by the inspired writer ; but keeping in view the general subject proposed in the section, they offer hints relating to it, not amplified into treatises, but briefly expressed, and accompanied by an attempt at a personal application of the topic treated. The writer has one simple object in view, which he would be most happy to attain, and that is, to render the perusal of the Proverbs a matter of personal interest and practical benefit to the reader.
The proverbs under each section should first be deliberately and seriously read, and then the accompanying reflections, as showing, by way of example, what kind of thoughts they are calculated to suggest. A single section might with advantage be read in the morning, and made the subject of thought during the day. The mind would thus be stored with sound rules of conduct, and fortified against daily occurring temptations.
Let the reader bear it in mind, that the inspired portions of this volume are incomparably the most important. They are the “Rills from the Fountain of Wisdom." The rest has little pretension, and may greatly need the kind indulgence and forbearance of the reader.