The second verse contains the formal indictment against the wicked: “_The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor_.” The accusation divides itself into two distinct charges,–pride and tyranny; the one the root and cause of the other. The second sentence is the humble petition of the oppressed: “_Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined_.” The prayer is reasonable, just, and natural. Even our enemies themselves being judges, it is but right that men should be done by as they wished to do to others. We only weigh you in your own scales, and measure your corn with your own bushel. Terrible shall be the day, O persecuting Babylon! when thou shalt be made to drink of the winecup which thou thyself hast filled to the brim with the blood of saints. There are none who will dispute the justice of God, when he shall hang every Haman on his own gallows, and cast all the enemies of his Daniels into their own den of lions.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Verse 2.–“_The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor_.” THE OPPRESSOR’S PLEA. I seek but what is my own by law; it was his own free act and deed–the execution lies for goods and body; and goods or body I will have, or else my money. What if his beggarly children pine, or his proud wife perish? they perish at their own charge, not mine; and what is that to me? I must be paid, or he lie by it until I have my utmost farthing, or his bones. The law is just and good; and, being ruled by that, how can my fair proceedings be unjust? What is thirty in the hundred to a man of trade? Are we born to thrum caps or pick straws? and sell our livelihood for a few tears, and a whining face? I thank God they move me not so much as a howling dog at midnight. I’ll give no day if heaven itself would be security. I must have present money, or his bones. … Fifteen shillings in the pound composition! I’ll hang first. Come, tell me not of a good conscience: a good conscience is no parcel of my trade; it hath made more bankrupts than all the loose wives in the universal city. My conscience is no fool: it tells me my own is my own, and that a well crammed bag is no deceitful friend, but will stick close to me when all my friends forsake me. If to gain a good estate out of nothing, and to regain a desperate debt which is as good as nothing, be the fruits and sign of a bad conscience, God help the good. Come, tell me not of griping and oppression. The world is hard, and he that hopes to thrive must gripe as hard. What I give I give, and what I lend I lend. If the way to heaven be to turn beggar upon earth, let them take it that like it. I know not what you call oppression, the law is my direction; but of the two, it is more profitable to oppress than to be oppressed. If debtors would be honest and discharge, our hands were bound; but when their failing offends my bags, they touch the apple of my eye, and I must right them.–^Francis Quarles.
Verse 2.–That famous persecutor, Domitian, like others of the Roman emperors, assumed divine honours, and heated the furnace seven times hotter against Christians because they refused to worship his image. In like manner, when the popes of Rome became decorated with the blasphemous titles of _Masters of the World_, and _Universal Fathers_, they let loose their blood-hounds upon the faithful. Pride is the egg of persecution.–^C. H. S.
Verse 2.–“_Pride_,” is a vice which cleaveth so fast unto the hearts of men, that if we were to strip ourselves of all faults one by one, we should undoubtedly find it the very last and hardest to put off.–^Richard Hooker, 1554-1600.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 2.–Religious persecution in all its phases based on pride.