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hind him. If indeed he could carry the earth with him, he might promise himself his usual contentment; but that abides where it was when he leaves it, and can enjoy it no more, Job vii. 10; Ps. xlix. 17. From hence we may observe, first, a determinate time prefixed to the life, states, honours, and offices of men; at the longest, they are but for one generation, in which every man has his service to perform, his warfare to accomplish, his race to run, Job. vii. 1. and xiv. 5; 1 Cor. ix. 24; Phil. jü. 14; 2 Tim. iv. 7 ; Acts xii. 36. Secondly, the providence of God in continuing the several succeeding ages of mankind, that he may still have a seed to serve him, and that one generation may declare his works to another; that the admirable contexture of the works of Providence, unfolded by degrees through various successions of men, may at last most gloriously display his wisdom, justice, and goodness, Ps. xxii. 30, 31. and cii. 18; Isai. xxxviii. 19; Eccles. viii. 17. Thirdly, a man's lalour under the sun is for himself and his posterity ; but his labour about heavenly things will abide with him and benefit himself for ever. Fourthly, as long as the generations of men continue, so long does the Lord, by his decree, continue the earth for their support and accommodation, because he hath given it to the children of men,
Deut. &xxii. 8; and when they are ended, it shall then appear, that the whole creation was subject to vanity and to the bondage of corruption, Rom. viii. 20; 2 Pet. iii. 5, 7.
5. The sun ariseth, and the sun goeth
Or panteth towards the place. A metaphor taken from one who runs earnestly towards some mark, or presses forward with strong desire to some object it would attain, Ps. cxix. 131 ; Job vii. 2. A similar expression we have Ps. xix. 5, 6. and civ. 19. by which is signified an unwearied, yet constant and regular motion, founded on a covenant or ordinance of Heaven, Jer. xxxi. 35, 36. and xxxiii. 20; Job xxxviii. 33; from which, without a special and extraordinary restraint from God, as Josh. x. 12; Isai. xxxviii. 8; Job ix. 7. it never varies. Having affirmed of all things under the sun, that they are vain, he here begins with the sun itself, which, as it were, wearies itself with continual motion. First, if it brought happidess to man at its rising, it would remove it at its setting. Secondly, though the earth abideth for ever, and the sun regularly communicates its warmth, and the winds blow to refresh its fruits, Cant. iv. 16; and the waters pass through it to render it fruitful, Gen. ii. 10, 11: yet all this can benefit a man only in his own generation, but cannot impart to him any durable happiness. Thirdly, the earth abides always alike, the sun moves, the winds blow, the rivers run in one constant motion from one age to another; and if they never yet communicated felicity, they never will, because they minister the same comfort again. Fourthly; mortality and mutability are as natural to man here below. as the continuance of the earth, the motions of the sun, the circuit of the winds, and the flowing of the rivers; so that it is as impossible for him to be happy from creatures on earth, as it is to alter the covenant of day or night, or to stop the regular and invariable courses of the heavens. Fifthly, the sun runs bis course, ob serves his time of rising and setting, and though he sets, he'riseth again in equal glory; but when man departs, he returns hither no more, Job xiv. 7, 12. Sixtblý, observe the constant and steady obedience of other creatures to that law wbich was primarily implanted in them: they act, as it were, intelligently, Ps. civ. 19; willingly, Rom. viii. 20; vigorously, with joy and strength, Ps. xix, 5: and thereby shame those who have indeed a principle of light and reason, but who live not conformably to it. . 6. The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about into the north; it whirleth about continually: and the wind returneth according to his circuits.
As the sun, so the winds have their courses ; by which is denoted the uncertainty of earthly things, which, however they may please in their coming, occasion disquietude in their departure: whereas that which constitutes happiness must be ever present as well as permanent. Here also we may notice the wise providence of God in the circuits of the winds and other sublunary creatures, which he bringeth out of his treasures, and directs, as it pleases bim, for the advantage of men, at this period making them useful to one part of the earth, and at that to another, Ps. cxxxv. 7; Job xxxvii. 9; xxxviii. 22; Jer. x. 13; Deut. xxviii. 12; Ps. lxxviii, 26; Gen. viii. 1. The wise man seems likewise to allude to those winds which in some parts of the world have a very regular and uniforin motion, blowing constantly for several months from one point, and then for as many months from another. The words, going, turning, and whirling about, and returning, are used to shew the restless and unquiet nature of these elements; their busy and speedy motion, as if always out of their place: all which proves how
full they are of vanity, and no less represents the disquieting agitations of the mind of man, until it be fixed on him who is immutable.
7. 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.
Though rivers hastily run into the sea, as into their cistern, yet the sea is not filled, so as either to swell above the earth, or to overflow the bounds within which God has decreed it to remain, Job xxxviij. 8–11; Ps. civ. 8, 9; Jer. v. 22: the reason of this is, because there is a perpetual and proportionable return; for as fast as by some channels waters proceed from their fountains to the sea, by others they return again from the sea into the earth : thus, which ever way we turn our eyes, in every direction we meet with evidences of inconstancy and mutability here below, testifying that vanity to which all things under the sun are subject. First, by the continual motion of these creatures, he seems to describe the restlessness of the mind of man in enquiring after good. Secondly, the dissatisfaction it every where meets with, tinding no reason to rest or stay where it had formerly hasted with the greatest speed: for as all rivers cannot fill the sea, so