It gives ease to solitude, and gracefulness to retirement. It fills a public station with suitable abilities, and adds a lustre to those who are in possession of them.
7. Learning, by which I mean all useful knowledge, whether speculative or practical, is in popular and mixed governments the natural source of wealth and honor. If we look into most of the reigns from the conquest, we shall find, that the favorites of each reign have been those who have raised themselves. The greatest men are generally the growth of that particular age in which they flourish.
8. A superior capacity for business and a more extensive knowledge, are the steps by which a new man often mounts to favor, and outshines the rest of his cotemporaries. But when men are actually born to titles, it is almost impossible that they should fail of receiving an additional greatness, if they take care to accomplish themselves for it.
9. The story of Solomon’s choice, does not only instruct us in that point of history, but furnishes out a very fine moral to us, namely, that he who applies his heart to wisdom, does at the same time take the most proper method for gaining long life, riches and reputation, which are very often not only the rewards, but the effects of wisdom.
10. As it is very suitable to my present subject, I shall first of all quote this passage in the words of sacred writ, and afterwards mention an allegory, in which this whole passage is represented by a famous FRENCH Poet; not questioning but it will be very pleasing to such of my readers as have a taste for fine writing.
11. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” And Solomon said, “Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee, and thou hast kept from him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant King instead of David my father; and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.”
12. “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, “Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words, so I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”
13. “And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.” And Solomon awoke and behold it was a dream.