Verses 8–10

I. Here is good counsel given about going to law:—1. “Be not hasty in bringing an action, before thou hast thyself considered it, and consulted with thy friends about it: Go not forth hastily to strive; do not send for a writ in a passion, or upon the first appearance of right on thy side, but weigh the matter deliberately, because we are apt to be partial in our own cause; consider the certainty of the expenses and the uncertainty of the success, how much care and vexation it will be the occasion of, and, after all, the cause may go against thee; surely then thou shouldst not go forth hastily to strive.” 2. “Bring not an action before thou hast tried to end the matter amicably (Prov. 25:9): Debate thy cause with thy neighbour privately, and perhaps you will understand one another better and see that there is no occasion to go to law.” In public quarrels the war that must at length end might better have been prevented by a treaty of peace, and a great deal of blood and treasure spared. It is so in private quarrels: “Sue not thy neighbour as a heathen man and a publican until thou hast told him his fault between thee and him alone, and he has refused to refer the matter, or to come to an accommodation. Perhaps the matter in variance is a secret, not fit to be divulged to any, much less to be brought upon the stage before the country; and therefore end it privately, that it may not be discovered.” Reveal not the secret of another, so some read it. “Do not, in revenge, to disgrace thy adversary, disclose that which should be kept private and which does not at all belong to the cause.”

II. Two reasons he gives why we should be thus cautious in going to law:—1. “Because otherwise the cause will be in danger of going against thee, and thou wilt not know what to do when the defendant has justified himself in what thou didst charge upon him, and made it out that thy complaint was frivolous and vexatious and that thou hadst no just cause of action, and so put thee to shame, non-suit thee, and force thee to pay costs, all which might have been prevented by a little consideration.” 2. “Because it will turn very much to thy reproach if thou fall under the character of being litigious. Not only the defendant himself (Prov. 25:8), but he that hears the cause tried will put thee to shame, will expose thee as a man of no principle, and thy infamy will not turn away; thou wilt never retrieve thy reputation.”