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12. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice and to do good in his life.
“I know," by my trial and experience, " that there is no good in,” or for,“ them,” i. e. for men, but only with contentment to rejoice in God's blessings, “and to do good in his life," by living in the fear of the Lord, as ch. ii. 24, 25; or to do good to themselves, by a liberal enjoyment of their life and labours, as Ps. xlix. 18; or to do good to others in the time of their prosperity, as Nehem. viii. 10, 12.
13. And also that every man should eat, and drink, and enjoy his labour; it is the gift of God.
Here are the parts of this contentment, to eat, drink, enjoy our labours, and to rejoice in them. By which is meant, not a gluttonous, luxurious, and intemperate use of these things, like those described i Cor. xv. 32; Mat. xxiv. 49; but a free and comfortable enjoyment, without anxious thoughts for the future, yet moderated by the fear of God, as before recommended, ch. ii. 24.
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.
From the unchangeableness of God's provi. dence, the permanent and irrevocable course of his counsels, and the absolute perfections of his works, in which there is nothing defective or superfluous, he farther instructs us to sub, mit with willingness and contentment to our Heavenly Father, whose counsels we are not able, by all our anxiety, to alter or disannul. “I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever.". The works themselves may alter and decay, but the divine counsel is constant and immutable, and disposes of all things to holy ends, beyond the power of any creature to change or evade, Mal. iii. 6. His decrees are like chariots proceeding out of mountains of brass, to denote their firmness and immutability, Zech. vi. 1, 2; which no power can shake or remove, Isai. liv. 10; Job xxxviii. 31
-35; xl. 8; xlii. 2; and ix. 12; Isai. xiv. 27. and xlvi. 10.-“ And God doeth it that men may fear before him.”
His decrees and his unchanging providence are not designed to drive us to despair, and to a wilful neglect of means, in the use of which God expects that we should wait upon him, and by which he communi. cates blessings to his people: at the same time, they do not allow us to lean to our own wisdom, to deify our own counsels, or to burn incense to our own tenets: but we are taught by them, from the consideration of the sovereignty, power, and wisdom of God, in all things to stand in awe of hiin, and to submit to him; to be thankful for blessings, and to be patient under sufferings; because, still it is the Lord that decrees, orders, disposes, and overrules all events and dispensations, Job i. 21; 1 Sam. iii. 18; 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26; Ps. xxxvii, 5, 7.
15. That which hath been, is now; and that which is to be, hath already been ; and God requireth that which is past.
“ That which hath been, is now; and that which is to be," &c. ch. i, 9. This is an explication of the former verse, to shew in what respect what God doeth is for ever. The things themselves pass away, and others succeed in their places; but this series of events is carried on regularly and uniformly by a standing law and fixed decree, appointing a perpetual and corresponding succession of them, one after another, as it has been from the beginning, Gen. viii. 22; Jer. xxxi. 35, 36; Job xxxviii. 10, 33.-“ And God requireth that which is past," or restores and brings it back again. And this is also an excellent argument of contentment in our state and condition, whatever it
be: First, because God does not deal with us in a strange and unusual manner, different from others that preceded us : that which is now our case, has been the case of other good men, and will be the case of our successors, 1 Cor. x. 13. The temptation or trial which is common to man, is that with which men are usually exercised, elsewhere denominated the rod of a man, 2 Sam. vii. 14. Secondly, because God tempers our lives, and does not keep us always in one and the same state. In trouble he brings back and restores comfort to those that wait upon him, Ps. cxxvi. 1, 4; as he did to Job, ch. xlii. 12. In abundance, he can shake our mountain which we thought immovable, and bring back our sorrows again, Ps. xxx. 6, 7. So that in both respects we ought to manifest an awful, reverend, and humble frame of mind towards God in all conditions; quietly referring ourselves in every estate to his fatherly disposal, who knows best what is good for us, through the whole of our present life.
16. 1 And, moreover, I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness
was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
I saw another vanity under the sun. Hay. ing already shewn the vanity of knowledge, of pleasures, aud of human labours, as to the internal anxiety and travail of mind that accompany them, and the outward changes to which they are subject, as well as the innumerable miscarriages and disappointments incident to them; and having pointed out the remedy of this evil, consisting in a free and cheerful enjoyment of God's blessings, regulated by the inward fear of the Lord; the wise man, anticipating an objection which might be brought against divine providence (which he had so much commended), from the prosperous impiety and oppression of wicked men, and the sad condition of the innocent and oppressed, with which temptation many saints have been shaken, Job xxi. 3–13; Ps. Ixxiii. 2-5; Jer. xii. 1, 2; Hab. i. 13; proceeds to vindicate this important doctrine of providence, and to evince the vanity of men in stations of honour and dignity without religion: for all the vanities in this book are to be understood with this restriction, as remedied by the fear of the Lord, which alone renders all outward blessings comfortable to us. The