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far as light excelleth darkness : the result was, that a discreet,
prudent, regular conduct for this world has greatly the advantage 14 of its contrary. The wise man's eyes [are) in his head, where
they best serve him io look about him, to see his danger, and guide his way ; but the fool walketh in darkness ; rash, imprudent
men blunder on into mischief and vexation : and I myself per15 ceived also, that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I
in my heart, As it happeneth unto the fool, so it happeneth even to me ; we are subject to the same painful events ; and why was
I then (more) wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also 16 [is) vanity. For [there is) no remembrance of the wise more
than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now [is] in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise [man ?] as the fool. The wise die as well as fools, and each are
quickly forgotten : he must be a person of extraordinary character 17 that is talked of for ages. Therefore so far from finding satis
faction, I hated life; because the work that is wrought underthe sun is] grievous unto me : for all (is) vanity and vexation
of spirit. 18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun :
because I should leave it unto the man that shall be af19 ter me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise (man)
or a fool ? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This [is] also vanity. Rehoboam, who was forty years
old when his father died, so that he must have seen his weakness 20 and folly, is doubtless here referred to. Therefore I went about
to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun ; instead of pursuing former schemes, I gave them up, as
one utterly tired with them; nor is this peculiar to me, it is ofien 21 seen in lower circumstances. For there is a man whose labour
[is] in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity ; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein, 10 a man whose character is just
the reverse of his own, shall he leave it [for] his portion. This 22 also (is) vanity and a great evil. For what hath man, such a
man as above described, of all his labour, and of the vexation of 23 his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun ? For all liis
days, or, although all his days, [are] sorrows, and his travail grief ; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night ; though he hath obtained what he has with so much care, labour and fatigue,
yet it must be left to he knows not who. This is also vanity 24 [There is) nothing better for a man, [than] that he should
eat and drink, and (that) he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it (was] from the hand of God : the best way therefore, is not to engage in wany schemes, and perplex himself with much business; but conteniedly to sit
down and enjoy the good thing's God has given hiin with pleasure 25 and thankfulness : but this is not in a man's own power ; For who
can eat, or who else can hasten [hereunto,] more than I ? or, as it may be better rendered, suho can cut or hasica mereunto
without him ? This depends on the divine blessing, and the turn
he gives to the mind, though the materials may be in a man's own 26 possession. For (God) giveth to a man that [is] good in his
sight, that is, to a pious man, wisdom and knowledge to make a good use of his substance, and joy in the using of it : but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God; he gives up the wicked to an insatiable discontented spirit, so that they afflict themselves with many cares and sorrows, to heap uji what in the course of his providence he often gives to the righteous. This also (is) vanity and vexation of spirit.
TE here see the vanity of expecting happiness in mirth
V and pleasure, grandeur and luxury. In spite of all Solomon's reasoning and experience, the present age is trying the experiment over again ; but they will at last join in his conclusion. It is a dangerous experiment ; for few can make it and yet their wisdom remain with them. Therefore it is better to desist and take Solomon's word. Remember that these things cannot quiet a guilty conscience, comfort a drooping spirit, ease a dying body, or save an immortal soul.
2. There are many things which are excellent in theinselves, and of great use in life, that will not make a man happy. Prudence, diligence, and regularity in business, are things highly commendable, and favourable to men's worldly interest, therefore many place all their religion in them ; but they are not the one thing needful. Let us be careful that we are not mistaken ; and while we study the arts of prudence and economy, forget the weightier matters of the law, and continue destitute of the love of God.
3. We are here taught the importance and necessity of true religion to make a man comfortable even in this world. Men may slave and toil ever so much, gain ever such abundance by sagacity, diligence, and frugality, it will not prolong their lives or their memories; it will not insure them a worthy heir ; nor even a comforta. ble use of their own substance. The cheerful enjoyment of what we huve must come from God. It is therefore to be sought by fervent prayer; and is gonerally given to good men ; and this they may have with a little. So that upon the whole, Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Solomon here proceeds to describe che vanity of human wisdom ; it is
confined to a certain time of acting, which if we miss, our contriv.
ances are vain, and the opportunity over. i T o every [thing there is) a season, and a time to every
1 purpose under the heaven, out of which no human wisdom 2 can produce the events God hath affixed to them : A time to be
born, and a time to die ; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up 3 (that which is] planted ; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a 4 time to break down, and a time to build up ; A time to weep,
and a time to laugh ; a time to mourn, and a time to dance ; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing ; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose ; a time to keep, and a time to 7 cast away ; A time to rend, and a time to sew ; a time to keep 8 silence, and a time to speak ; A time to love, and a time to
hate, that is, to break of friendship ; a time of war, and a time 9 of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he
laboureth out of the proper season, or even in it, since there are so 10 many changes? I have seen the travail which God hath given to
the sons of men to be exercised in it ; minding the business of life, observing the proper seasons, and submitting when disapipointed.
He hath made every [thing) beautiful in his time ; there is beauty in this variety : also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end ; there is a vast variety of things, as objects of their pursuits and studies : and God hath set it in their hearts
10 examine all his works, except whai is above their understand. 12 ing.* I know that (there is) no good in them, that is, in worldly
things, but for (a man] to rejoice, and to do good in his life ; there is no other satisfaction or felicity which a man can meet with in
worldly enjoyments but to use them with a cheerful temper, and do 13 good to others with them. And also that every man should eat
and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, and lay aside distracting fears of future want, it [is] the gift of God, and should be
diligently sought and thankfully acknowledged as coming from him. 14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever : nothing
can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it : and God doeth [it,] that (men) should fear before him ; God will no! vary from his purpose ; he has fized this uncertainty to keep men in a con
stant dependence, that they may humbly submi', and not murmur at 15 what they cannut avoid. That which hath been is now; and
that which is to be hath already been ; and God requireth that
• Some understand the passage as referring to the influence the world has upon men to make them neglect prudeut consideration ; others refer it to their contimrance in the world: as if he had said, A man that lives so short a time cannot judge of the whole of God's works. - VOL. V.
which is past ; it always has been thus, and always will be ; therefore it is indecent to complain of the settled laws of God's crea. tion ; and as he determines all the events of our lives, he will call
us to an account for the conduct of them. 16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment,
[that] wickedness (was) there ; and the place of righteousness, [that] iniquity (was] there ; such is the vanity of power and are thority, without religion ; or, as some understand it, 80 liable are
men to rapine and oppression, which lessens the value of earthly 17 comforts. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous
and the wicked : for (there is) a time there for every purpose
and for every work ; this was the comfort I had under this vanity 18 and oppression. I said in mine heart concerning the estate of
the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts ; 0 that God would give these proud oppressors to see that they shall die, not only like men, but like beasts ; that their oppression shall last but a little
time, and that they shall not long enjoy the consequences of it. 19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts ; even
one thing befalleth them : as the one dieth, so dieth the other ; yea, they have all one breath ; so that a man hath no preemi
nence above a beast, with regard to the body, or for the avoiding 20 of death : for all (is) vanity. All go unto one place ; all are of 21 the same dust, and all turn to that dust again. Who knoweth
the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth ? Few men, especially great men, consider seriously the difference between the human nature and the brutal, the immortality of the one and the mortality of the other. Wherefore I perceive that (there is) nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in liis own works ; take the comfort of what God has given him without labouring after honour and preferment; for that [is] his portion ; all the good he can have from them : for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him ? who can ir: form him what will become of them when he is gone ?
1. It is comfortable among the many changes of life to think,
I that they are under the direction of an overruling Providence. We live in a world full of changes ; the conditions of men are different, yet continually altering. There are many favourable circumstances in life, which it is our wisdom to observe and improve. Whatever may appear to us as casual or contingent, is determined by Providence ; we must not therefore complain of changes, troubles, and labours, for God has allotted them to us ; they are all beautiful in their season, make upon the whole an admirable scheme of Providence, and are for the good of the world.
2. We also see wherein the true enjoyment of earthly things consists. Not in eagerly pursuing or hoarding them up, but in using thein with cheerfulness, and doing good with them. This is the
only good in them. They cannot make us happy themselves ; but by a wise, pious, and charitable use of them, they may contribute to it. For these ends they were given us, and to these ends they ought to be employed.
3. The end of God's government and providence, and of the variety of his dispensations, is, that we may fear before Him. They were not designed to perplex and disturb us, but to edify us, by keeping alive in our minds a sense of our constant dependence upon God. They ought to direct our thoughts to him, and engage us to pray to him for what we want, to give him thanks for what we receive, and to seek wisdom so to improve them, that they may turn to a good account at last.
4. The iniquity and oppression which there is in the world, especially in magistrates and great men, should confirm our faith in a future judgment, and lead us to Solomon's conclusion, that God will judge every purpose and every work. Let us not stumble at these disorders, but wait for the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
5. How much is it to be lamented that so few consider the immortality of their souls ! how they are distinguished from the beasts by a rational spirit, and what becomes of it after death! What pity is it that rational creatures should live like beasts, only to eat, drink, sleep, work, and play. Few live under the power of this truth, that their souls are immortal. Let us then seriously dwell upon the thought, that we may take due care of our immortal spirits, and lay un a good fuundation against the time to come, and finally lay hold on eternal life.
CHAP. IV. The preacher here shows that vanity is increased by oppression, envy,
idleness, covetousness, solitariness, and wilfulness. ICO I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are N done under the sun, from pride, covetousness, revenge, and illnature : and behold the tears of (such as were) oppressed, and they had no comforter; they could not help themselves, nor had any to help them ; and on the side of their oppressors
(there was] power; but they had no comforter : and this ver2 ed my spirit ; Wherefore I praised the dead which are already
dead more than the living which are yet alive ; I thought them
in a better condition than those who suffer by oppression, who fear 3 il, or even behold it. Yea, better [is he) than both they, which
hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done 4 under the sun. Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour, for his pirosperity, although he ought rather to esteem him for his integrity and diligence ; but there are extremes in this case to be avoideda This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.