Imágenes de páginas


covered remue ill qualities, and quickly decay; but.) a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised;

faze will receive Vincere and warm commendations from all 30 that know her. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and

let her own works praise her in the gates; while others have the praise of nobility, fortune, or beauty, she will be commended in the most numerous assemblies, for qualities and endowments infinitely more excellent and useful... Upon the .whole, this is a most amiable description: it lows the women what, wives they bould be, and the men what

[ocr errors]

the general method of female education, and the manners of
so many women are so contrary to this description, and that
there is so little domestick virtue in many modern wives.

Those whon providence has favoured with wives that answer · to this description in the most important branches of it, can

Mever be sufficiently thankful.




[ocr errors]

THE design of this book is to show men wherein true happi-

nels confifts, and to guard them against seeking it in those things in which it is not to be found : it is generally supposed to have been written by Solomon in his old age. Some parts of it are rather obscure ; and it is difficult to enter into his reasoning, tho' his general scheme and practical defign are very apparent.


H E words of the Preacher, the fon of David,

king of Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, faith l the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all [is] vanity, that is, all that relates only to this life. This is the text of his fermon, and the illue of his large enquiry; it is absolutely vain; he could not express it more emphatically than by saying, it is vainer than vanity itself; utterly in

fufficient to procure folid satisfaction and durable happiness. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh

under the sun ? he can find very little true fatisfaction in all his pains about earthly things; and none at all considered in themselves. He argues this from the sbortness of human

life in general, which he illustrates by the continual changes 4 which we behold in the natural world. [One) generation

passeth away, and (another generation cometh: but

the earth abideth for ever, or, as some would render it, 5 for an uncertain, indeterminate time. The sun also ariseth,

and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where 6 he arofe. The wind goeth toward the south, and turn

eth about unto the north; it whirleth about continu.

ally, and the wind returneth again according to his 7 circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea H 3


[ocr errors]

- [is] not full; unto the place from whence the rivers

çome, thither they return again, and thus do the generations of men revolve with very little variety, and never rest in a settled condition, but gradually wear away and vanish.

But tho' life Mould be long, there would be little satisfaction 8 in it, for All things (are] full of labour; man cannot

utter [it,] cannot sufficiently express how tedious life is; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing; man's desires are boundless, still seeking after new objects, and yet not heartily acquiescing in any. Nor is

any thing better to be expezted from new discoveries, since : 9 The thing that hath been, it is that) which shall be;

and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: 1o and [there is] no new [thing] under the fun. Is there

(any), thing whereof it may be said, See, this [is] new iç hath been already of old time, which was before us. This is not a universal proposition ; nevertheless many of the things we value ourselves upon as new discoveries, were known to former ages; and men's labours and enjoyments are the fame in general now as formerly. No new expedient can

be found out to secure the happiness of mankind in earthly I things. "[There is] no remembrance of former (things;] neither Thall there be (any) remembrance of [things] that are to come with (thofe] that shall come after; the names and memories of the inventors of many things are loft, so will the names and memory of their successors: their inventions did not answer their expe&tation, they still come plained of vanity, and so hall we. In the rest of the chapter the preacher lows the vanity of human wisdom and learning,

and its insufficiency to make men happy; tho'it bids fairejt 12 for, it of all natural things. I the Preacher was king

over Israel in Jerusalem ; Į was in circumstances which 13 gave me every advantage for pursuing knowledge : And I

gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning' all (things that are done under heaven: - this fore travel hath God given to the fons of man to be

exercised therewith; he must search for knowledge with 14 great labour, and obtain it by slow degrees." I have leen

all the works of this kind that are done under the sun and, behold, all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit; W

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

know little, and that little is not of much service to us. 15 [That which is crooked cannot be made straight : and

that which is wanting cannot be numbered; there are

many things uneasy and disagreeable in life, which all the wit . 16 and wisdom of men, cannot fully rectify. I communed with

mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all (they] that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge; the distinguished

circumstances in which God hath placed me, gave me greater 17 advantages for searching into wisdom than others. And I

gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly; I applied my mind closely to search into the nature and reason of things, the causes and effects of men's fola lies and vices; and here likewise I found disappointment, P perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom, or speculative knowledge, [is] much grief;

keeping it: and he that increaseth knowledge incréaseth forrow; the more he knows, the clearer views he has of the vanity of human life; and the more vexation he will find, unless his knowledge be improved to religious purposes.

Besides attending to the general purport and design of this book, there are particular Pallages that may afford us fome useful instructions.

REFLECTION S. 1. U E here fee, that it is no dishonour to the wiseft

VV and best of men to be preachers, but much to their glory; for Solomon, so renowned for wisdom, wealth, and dignity, assumes this character. This should teach us, that it is every man's duty to employ what talents God gives him, for the instruction and reformation of the world, and that those especially to whom God has given peculiar wisdom, should communicate it to others for their edification. If they have rank, wealth, and influence, these may help to recommend their instructions, and add weight to all the advice they give. 2. The abilities and circumstances of Solomon should



nomis firit anature of all
passeth optinual fluctuat proof of the

engage our peculiar attention to what he says, especially about the vanity of the world. He was the wiseft, the richest, and the greatest of men; of all men that ever lived, he had the greatest advantage for making the experiment; the result of which, he in this book informs us. It was the issue of a deliberate judgment, founded upon close enquiry and large experience, and therefore worthy of our highest regard.

3. Let us endeavour to impress our hearts with the changeable nature of all earthly things. This is Solomon's first and strongest proof of their vanity. All nature is in continual fluctuation. Generation after generation passeth off; men are engaged in the same pursuits as their ancestors ; the same follies are acted over and over again. Old arts are recovered ; old fashions restored; the disorders, corruptions, and complaints of every age are much the same. Let this therefore abate our pride in our own discoveries and attainments, restrain the folly of despising former ages; and teach us particularly, that what is so changeable can never afford substantial happiness to an immortal spirit.

4. The vanity of speculative knowledge should teach us to pursue that which is practical, useful, and satisfactory. Solomon's design is not to discourage us from pursuing knowledge. It has its difficulties, arising in a great measure from our wrong choice; but it has its pleasures too. Those whose business in life it is to increase in fpeculative knowledge, as subservient to something better, feel the truth of Solomon's observation, v. 18. in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth forrow: but never more sensibly, than when they meet with ill returns from those for whose service they pursue it; and with the best returns they find little fatisfactory in it. May we all therefore, those of us especially who have little time for reading and study, apply our minds chiefly to that which will make us wise to Salvation. He that increaseth in the knowledge of God and divine things, will increase in joy; and find in the end that this is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom her hath sent.


« AnteriorContinuar »