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The royal preacher having brought to light many vanities attending this life, and represented the great disappointment that ensues from seeking satisfaction from them, together with the consequent vexation of this disappointment; and having interwoven some general remedies for these vanities, such as the fear and worship of God, and the cheerful enjoyment of outward blessings; here recommends several other means of healing the va. nities of this life, and of procuring tranquilțity and peace to the mind in the midst of them. First, a good name, ver. 1. Secondly, a composed preparedness of heart to meditate upon death, the chief outward evil, and consequently to bear any other sorrow, ver. 2, 3, 6. Thirdly, moderation and patience of spirit to sustain present evils and to digest injuries, expecting the end and issue that God will give to them, ver. 9–10. Fourthly, wisdom to defend a man against the vanity of riches, ver. 11, 12. Fifthly, acquiescence in the wise and providential government of all things, ver. 13, 15. Sixthly, contentment in all estates, in adversity as well as in prosperity, in consideration of God's wise and just tempering them together for our good, ver. 14. Seventhly, prudent and pious moderation in our behaviour, so that we may not, by rash zeal, or inordinate walking, expose ourselves to danger and trouble, ver. 16, 17. Eighthly, resolution and constancy in the fear of the Lord, ver. 18. Ninthly, wisdom of meekness, charity, and patience, towards such as offend, remembering the general frailty of human nature, and the experience and sense of our own infirmities, ver. 19–22. Tenthly, contentment with such a measure of wisdom as in this life is attainable, and not busying and disquieting our thoughts with things that are above us, ver. 23, 24. And as before, in enlarging upon human vanities, he occasionally intermixed some remedies for them, so here, in recommending these remedies, and suggesting the means of obtaining tranquillity of mind, he frequently intermingles other vanities, which are perpetual occasions of our vexation and disqui. etude; a principal one, of which he had very sad experience, he subjoins in the close of the chapter, namely, the bitterness of an insyaring woman, ver. 25–29.
1. A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth. · Or, “A name is good before good oint
for a good wife, Prov. xviii. 22. By “ a good name," understand that which has its foundation in an innocent, unblamable, and profitable life, when a man has reverence in the conscience of others, 2 Cor. iv. 2 ; for 6 the name of the wicked shall rot,” Prov. x. 7. So, to be a man of name, is meant an eminent person, re. nowned in his generation, Gen. vi. 4; 1 Chron. v. 24 : and names of men, Rev. xi. 3. and iii. 4. may denote special persons of honour and renown." Better than sweet ointment.” So the name of Christ, which signifies his gracious doctrine, Acts ix. 15. is compared to sweet ointment, Cant. i. 3 ; called the “ sweet savour of Christ,” 2 Cor. ii. 14, 15. Precious aromatical ointments were greatly in use and esteem among the Israelites, and constituted a special part of their treasures : they were apa pointed by God to anoint the holy vessels of the tabernacle, Exod. xxx. 22, 33: were used in the consecration of persons to offices of honour and eminence, Exod. xxviii, 41; 1 Sam. xvi, 13; Ps. lxxxix. 20; called therefore
" the oil of gladness," Heb. i. 9; Isai. Ixi. 3: were used, likewise, in feasts, great entertain. ments, and expressions of joy, Amos vi. 6; Esth. ii. 12; Ps. xxiii. 5; Luke vii. 46: were reckoned amongst the peculiar blessings of God, and the treasures of that people, Ps. xcii. 10; Job xxix. 6; Deut. xxxiii. 24 ; Prov. xxi. 20; Is. xxxix. 2. On which accounts, some would have it here understood synecdochially, to signify all kinds of riches, to all which Solo. mon prefers a good name, as also Prov. xxii. 1. -" And the day of death than the day of one's birth.” Some understand here, a note of si. militude to join the two parts of the sentence together: As a good name is better than sweet ointment, so is the day of death than the day of birth. Others repeat the former clause with the latter: To such a man who hath a good name, better is the day of death than of birth: and the clauses seem to have relation to each other; for a birth-day is a season of festivity and rejoicing, and was accustomed to be celebrated, Gen. x]. 20 ; Mark vi. 21, 22; in which kind of entertainments they used to anoint themselves with sweet ointments, as on days of sorrow they abstained from them, 2 Sam. xiv. 2. On the contrary, the day of death removes a man out of the world, and leaves nothing of him after his decease but his name
and memory, which, as it respects the wicked, the Lord threatens to blot out and cause to rot, Deut. xxix. 20. and xxxii. 26; Prov. x. 7; Job xviii. 17. But the name of good men remains behind them, as the sweet savour of a precious perfume, when the substance of the perfume is consumed with fire; or as spices, when they are broken and dissolved, leave an excellent scent behind them. The meaning evidently is, That although the day of birth be a périod of feasting and joy, and the day of death of sorrow and mourning ; yet, to a good man, this is better than the other, and the memorial which he leaves behind him is much sweeter than that of spices or perfumes. If the latter clause be interpreted without connection with the former, it must relate to the many va. nities and vexations to which human life is exposed, and strongly implies, that the day which delivers a man from them, must be far better than that which introduces him to their sad possession : for man is born to trouble and sorrow, Job v. 7. and xiv. 1 ; but the death of one that is godly puts a final termination to all his sins, and to all his sorrows, Rom. vii. 24; Rev. xiv. 13; 2 Cor. v. 6, 7, 8; Phil. i. 23.
2. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: