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Thirdly; that it is ignorance and inexperience that makes objects appear new, which indeed are old. Fourthly, that the vanity which our forefathers found in things here below, is an infallible argument that we shall experience the same, and shall certainly miscarry, if we think to reap more satisfaction from the creature than they gained before us, Job vii. 8, 9. and chap. xv. 18. Fifthly, that new things are not to be expected under the sun, or in the course of natural causes and effects: but in a spiritual and heavenly conversation all things are new, excellent, and durable. In the study of God's words and ways, there are ever new and wonderful things to be discovered, Ps. cxix. 18; 2 Cor. v. 17; 2 Pet. iii. 13; Rev. xxi. 5. His mercies and judgments are wonderful, and he often brings to pass strange things, which neither we por our forefathers have known, Deut. iv, 32-36; 1 Cor. ii. 9.
12. I the preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom, concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of men, to be exercised therewith.
Haring shewn the vanity of things under the sun in general, Solomon proceeds to some special and principal objects, in which men are now apt to place felicity. lle begins with the knowledge of things natural and human, evincing, that if any person could in this respect make himself happy, he had superior means to any other man. And that his testi. mony should not be disregarded, he delivers it on the word and experience of a convert, a king, an inspired king, a most wise and active king, a king in Jerusalem, the seat of God: I being such a person, so completely furnished 'with all internal as well as external advantages, do testify the truth, which is the result of my own most exact and accurate investigation, that
all is vanity.” “Ithe preacher,” or the convert, who am returned by repentance to the communion of saints, am now able, by sad experience, to seal the truth which I have so dearly purchased, of the vanity of all outward things--"was king:” this book, therefore, was written when he was on his throne, furnished with divine wisdom to fulfil his royal office, and with abundance of wealth to prosecute this enquiry after true happiness, 1 Kings i. 7-15—" over Israel ;" God's peculiar people, a wise and understanding people, Deut. iv. 6,7; for whose good Solomon had sought his wisdom, and for whose welfare he had made this solicitous search" in Jerusalem:” this being twice expressed is emphatical. In Jerusalem was the house of the Lord, and the testimony of Israel, Ps. cxxii.1--3. Here God was specially present, and might be sought most comfortably, Ps. cxxxii. 13, 14. There the priests, officers, and wise men continually attended at the temple, i Chron. xxv. 6. There were the thrones of justice, and public conventions of state, Ps. cxxii. 5. There were the masters of the assemblies, or a college and senate of the most learned men of the nation, Eccles. xii. 11 ; 2 Kings xxii. 14. So that he here met with all the assistance which a learned and wise man could desire in the prosecution of such a design.
“ And I gave my heart:" I set myself cheerfully and intentionally about it, and made it my business and delight, 1 Chron. xxii. 19; 2 Cor. viii. 3—" to seek and search out:" searching is more than seeking, and denotes an orderly and accurate exploring, similar to that of merchants, who with great diligence procure the rarest commodities from several countries, Eccles. vii. 25—" by wisdom," an excellent instrument in such an enquiry as all things done under the sun;" all natural causes and effects, all human counsels and events: this expression is much used by Solomon in this
book, by which is limited the subject of his enquiries :-“ this sore travail,” or afflicting labour, as ch. ii. 23; iv, 8-“ hath God given to the sons of men :” it is his ordinance, he hath called them to search his works and ways" to be exercised,” or afflicted and distracted, “therewith:” therefore not at all to be made blessed. From hence we may obsérve, first, that the best way of teaching is from our own experience and exact disquisition, Ps. Ixvi. 16, 17; Gal. i. 16. Secondly, that sound repentance eminently fits a man to know and search out the will of God, and to discover and teach the vanity of all other things, 2 Tim. ii. 25; Jam. i. 21; Luke xxii. 32; Ps.li. 12, 13. Thirdly, that persons in the highest authority ought by their studies, as well as their power, to seek the welfare of those under them, and zealously to endeavour to attain wisdom and ability for the discharge of their office, Luke ii. 52; Acts vi. 4; 1 Tim. iv. 13—15. Fourthly, that the piety, age, dignity, authority, and experience of a person, though they add nothing to the truth, yet possess great power to persuade and prepare the hearts of hearers to entertain it, Philem. v. 9; 2 Cor. x. 7, 8;xi. 5, 6, 22, 23; xü. 1-5, 11; 1 Cor. ix. 1, 2; xv. 8–10. Fifthly, that a variety of gifts and helps from God should quicken us to a more cheerful and vigorous study of our duties, Mat. xxv. 16, 17. Sixthly, that largeness of heart in the knowledge of things natural, moral, human, and divine, are royal endowments, and worthy of a king's regard, Prov. xxxi. 4. The greater our station, power, and wealth, the more noble and serious should be our thoughts and employments. Seventhly, that those who abound in worldly possessions should be careful to sit loose to them, and to study their vanity, lest they insensibly steal their hearts from God, Ps. Ix. 10. Eighthly, that the due consideration of the wisdom, dignity, and piety of the people, will add vigour to the studies and cares of those who are set over them for their good, 1 Kings iii. 8,9. Minthly, we should improve the advantage of the places where we dwell, and of the persons with whom we reside, to qualify ourselves for the service of the church. It is not only a comfort, but a benefit, to wise and learned men, live where wisdom and learning are professed, Acts i. 4. Tenthly, it is a great blessing when men have assistances and encouragements answerable to their employments, and are excited to improve them, Prov. xvii. 16. Eleventhly, here are the right principles of successful diligence in our calling :-a willing heart, Eccles. ix. 10; attendance on the call of God, and submission to labour and perseverance, Acts xxvii.