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ing so prudent a wife ; and her wise conversation increaseth his 24 wisdom, and makes him more fit to advise others. She maketh
fine linen, and selleth [it ;] and delivereth girdles unto the mer25 chant. Strength and honour (are] her clothing ; she has a great
deal of courage and resolution, and laughs at those difficulties by
which others are discouraged ; and she shall rejoice in time to 26 come ; maintain a cheerful spirit even in old age and death. She
openeth her mouth with wisdom : and in her tongue [is] the law of kindness; she discourses prudently and judiciously on the ·most serious and important subjects ; avoids a prettish way of speak. ing ; there is kindness, sofiness, and tenderness in every thing she
says, which is obliging, like a law; one of the most essential quali27 fications of a good wife. She looketh well to the ways of her
household, and eateth not the bread of idleness ; she examines the conduct of her servants, and how they perform their duty: she neither suffers them to gad abroad, or to be idle at home; she sees that her children be well educated and behave themselves aright,
and sets them all an example of diligence : and in consequence of 28 this, Her children arise up, and call her blessed ; her husband
[also,) and he praiseth her : they set themselves to commend her, 29 and say, Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou surely 30 excellest them all. Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty (is) vain;
a graceful behaviour and beautiful features are trifling in themselves, have often covered some ill qualities, and quickly decay; [but] a woman [that] feareth the Lord, she shall be praised;
she will receive sincere and warm commendations from all that 31 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 1116merous assemblies, for qualities and endowments infinitely more excellent and useful. Upon the whole, this is a most amiable description : it shows the women what wives they should be, and the men what wives they should choose. We have reason 10 lament that 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 domestic viriue in many modern wives. Those whoin Providence has favoured with wives that answer to this descrip.. tion in the most iinportant branches of it, can never be sufficiently thankful.
Or, The PREACHER.
T'HE design of this book is 10 show men wherein true happiness
consists, and to guard them against seeking it in those things in which it is not to be found : il is generally supposed to have been written by Solomon in his old age. Some parts of it are rather oba scure ; and it is difficult to enter into his reasoning, though his general scheme and praciical design are very apparent.
I THE words of the Preacher, the son of David, king of Je.. ? 1 rusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher ; vanity of vanities, all (is) vanity, that is, all that relates only to this life. This is the text of his sermon, and the issue of his large inquiry ; it is absolutely vain ; he could not express it more emphatically
than hy saying, it is vainer than vanity itself ; utterly insufficient 3 to procure solid satisfaction and durable happiness. What profit
hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun ? he can find very litile true satisfaction in all his pains about earthly things; and none at all considered in themselves. He argues this from the shortness of human life in general, which he illustrates
by the continual changes which we behold in the natural world. 4 (One] generation passeth away, and (another] generation com
eth: but the earth abideth for ever, or, as some would render it, for 5 an uncertain indeterminate time. The sun also ariseth, and the 6 sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The
wind goeth toward the south, and ilrneth about unto the north;
it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again ac7 cording to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea ; yet.
the sea [is] not full ; unto the place from whence the rivers come, 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 though life 8 should be long there would be little satisfaction 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 s eing, nor the ear filled with hearing ; man's desires are beundless, still sceking after new objects, and yet not heartily acquiescing in any. Nor is any thing better to be expected 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 : and [there is] 10 no new (thing] under the sun. Is there [any] thing whereof
it may be said, See, this [is] new ? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. This is not an 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 same in general now as formerly. No new ex
pedient can be found out to secure the happiness of mankind in earth11 ly things. [There is) no remembrance of former [things ;]
neither shall there be (any) remembrance of [things] that are to come with (those that shall come after ; the names and me mories of the inventors of many things are lost, so will the names and memory of their successors : their inventions did not answer their expectation, they still com/lained of vanity, and so shall we. In the rest of the chapter the preacher shows the vanity of human
wisdom and learning, and its insufficiency to make mon happy ; 12 though it bids fairest for it of all natural things. I the Preacher
was king over Israel in Jerusalem ; I was in circumstances
which gave me every advantage for pursuing knowledge : 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom con
cerning all (things] that are done under heaven : this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised there.
with ; he must search for knowledge with great labour, and ob14 tain it by slow degrees. I have seen all the works of this kind
that are done under the sun; and, behold, all (is) vanity and vex
ation of spirit; we know lirile, and that little is not of much service 15 10 us. [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 and wisdom 16 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 advantages for searching into wisdom than 17 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 follies
and vices ; and here likewise I found disappointment, I perceived 18 that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom, or
speculative knowledge, [is] much grief; there is a great deal of trouble in getting, pursuing, and keeping it : and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow : the more he knows, the clearer views he has of the vanity of human life ; and the more veration he will find, unless his knowledge be imfiroved to religious purposes. Beside aitending to the general purport and design of this book, there are particular passages that may afford us some useful instructions,
1. W E here see, that it is no dishonour to the wisest and best
V 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 engage our peculiar attention to what he says, especially about the vanity of the world. He was the wisest, 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 inquiry 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 ofl ; 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 u3 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 die. sign 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 speculative 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 sorrow : 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 satisfactory 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 he hath sent.
In this chapter are further experiments, how far happiness is to be
found in earthly things. IT SAID in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with
1 mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure ; come on, indulge all lawful delights, and try every agreeable scene : and, behold, this also 2 [is] vanity. I said of laughter, [It is) mad; it transports men
beyond the bounds of reason, prudence, and sobriety; and of mirth, 3 What doeth it? it is soon over, and leaves a man unsatisfied. I
sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom ; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what (was) that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life ; I sought for happiness in entertuinmenis and banquets, yet kept myself within the
bounds of sobriety; but here I met with so much disappointment, 4 that I hate to dwell any longer usion the mention of it. I made
me great works ; I builded me houses; I planted me vine5 yards : I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees 6 in them of all [kind of] fruits : I made me pools of water, 7 to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees : I got
[me] servants and maiciens, and had servants born in my house, whom I could educate as I pleased ; also I had great possessions
of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before 8 me: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar trea
sure of kings and of the provinces : I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, [as] musical instruments, and that of all sorts ; I in a manner drained
the kingdoms and provinces subject to me of all their curiosities. 9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me
in Jerusalem : also my wisdom remained with me ; my genius enabled me to carry these things to greater perfection, than a
person of equal substance but not equal abilities could have done, 10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I
withhell not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour : and this was my portion of all my labour ; It is true I found entertainment in these things ; the forming of plans, and seeing their rising beauties, gave me some pleasure; but
this quas all my portion, the pleasure ceased with the novelty, and IT I quickly wanted some fresh object. Then I looked on all the
works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do : and, behold, all (was) vanity and vexation of spirit, and (there was) no profit under the sun.
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly ; I returned to the examination of wisdom and its opposites, particularly as applied to worldly business ; and no man can try. the experiment more fully than I have done ; for what (can) the
man [do] that cometh after the king? [eren] that which hath 13 been already done. Then I saw thiat wisdom excelleth folly, as