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sis is very common in the book of Proverbs. “ For what can the man do that cometh after the king.” Here man and king are opposed; that is, what further progress can any private person make in this disquisition, than I who am so great a monarch? This is an answer to a tacit objection, that it was a lofty and bold attempt ior an individual, from his own personal experience only, to pass so contident a sentence of vanity and vexation of spirit upon all wisdom and great undertakings. To this he answers, that no man after him could do more than he had done in this enquiry, being so eminent in wisdom, power, and industry, and, as it were, fitted and stirred up by God to this business: consequently, if any person in fu- , ture should engage in the same work, he could do nothing but what the king had done before him. This cannot be considered as an arrogant boast of Solomon, because the Scripture testifies the same of him, i Kings iii. 12. He who will not credit it on my report, but will himself make the trial, with the same wisdom and integrity, will find as much vanity in every creature as I have found. So here are two reasons why Solomon challenges belief in this point: First, the advantages which he, a king, possessing so much wiselom and commanding such extensive means, had, beyond
any other person, of drawing forth all the flower and quintessence of the creature. Secondly, the double diligence which he used in it, in not only once thoroughly viewing, but reviewing the things upon which he passed such a judgment.--" What the man.” The words intimate a kind of indignation, disdain, and undervaluing of any one who should attempt such an enquiry after him, as Ps. viii. 4. Quid dignum tanto tulit hic promissor hiatu? He that comes after can do nothing but what they have done ; i. e. what is already done before them: the active voice indefinitely used for the passive, as Isai. ix. 6; Jer. xxiii. 6; Gen. xvi. 14; 1 Sam. xxiii. 22.
I would observe hence, 'first, that the double and multiplied experience of wise, great, and good men, gains much credit to the doctrines so confirmed, 1 John i. 3; Heb. xi. and xii. 1; Jam. v. 10, 11. Secondly, that the more prejudice there is in the heart of men against a truth, the greater care must be taken to vindicate it against all exceptions, Titus i. 11. and ii. 8; Acts vi. 10. and xviii. 28. Thirdly, that it is no arrogance or violation of modesty, for a man to speak of his own gists, and to mention his own experiences, whilst he aims at the glory of God, and the edification of his church; but a proper improvement of them to the ends for which they were given, ch. i. 16.
13. Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.
" Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly;"> that there is a greater excellency in wisdom than in folly. Here Solomon confesses, that there is a wide difference between wisdom and pleasure, the former being in many respects superior to the latter; and, therefore, though the study of wisdom be attended with pain and sorrow, yet it is not, on this ac. count, to be rejected. Wisdom leaves behind it some permanent good, as the word here imports; whereas pleasures perish in the using, and nothing follows them but the sting and sorrow.' The sorrow of wisdom is in the getting, but the sorrow of pleasures is after their use and enjoyment. It is true, wisdom and knowledge are vain to render man truly happy; yet they are valuable endowments, and singular ornaments to those who possess them. So the apostle, though he affirms that charity is more excellent than gifts (the one promoting the edification only of our brethren, the other our own sanctification), acknowledges, that they are all operations of the Spirit of
God, and bestowed for very important uses, and therefore to be earnestly desired, 1 Cor. xii. 4, 7, 31. and xiv. 1, 39: yet we are so to esteem gifts, as to prefer salvation and happiness to them, Luke x. 20.-" As far as light excelleth darkness;" wisdom being that to the mind, which light is to the body: and hence the Rabbins called their wise men, the light of the world, as our Saviour denominated his apostles, Mat. v. 14. Light is comfortable in many respects: it shews objects in their distinct forms; it discovers what is hurt. ful, that it may be avoided; and what is beneficial, that it may be embraced : hut darkness confounds all objects, and exposes a person to many dangers. Light is pleasant in itself, Eccles. xi. 7 ; and is metaphorically used to express the most excellent things, as joy, Ps. xcvii. 11; Esth. viii. 16; liberty and deliver. ance, Isai. ix. 2; glory, 1 Tim. vi. 16; prosperity, Mic. vij.9 ; life itself, Job iii. 16, 20; and usually wisdom and knowledge, to which it is here coinpared, Dan. v. 14. Light is also very useful and necessary to direct us in our labours and operations, John xi. 9, 10: but darkness, on the other hand, is very uncomfortable; it is used to express the most calamitous and disconsolate condition, Job xxx. 26; Eccles. v. 17; Isai. viii. 22; Amos v. 18, 20; Isai. 1. 10; Eccles. xi. 8: it is very unserviceable, as putting a stop to all labour, Exod. x. 23; John ix. 4; very dangerous, as causing a person to stumble at every stone, to fall into every pit, and to wander out of his way, &c. John xi. 10. and xii. 35. And folly and ignorance in the mind are usually expressed by the name of darkness, Ephes. iv. 18. and v. 8; Rom. i. 21. In the creation, darkness was the first evil which God removed, and light the first good that he made, Gen. i. 2, 3 : light excelleth darkness, as the beautiful and orderly frame of nature surpasses the first confused chaos.
14. The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walketh in darkness; and I myself perceived also, that one event happeneth to them all.
« The wise man's eyes are in his head :" this is a reason for the former comparison ; a wise man is in the light, a fool in darkness. “In his head,” as in a watch-tower, from whence he sees his way before him a far off, takes notice of things to come, as well as things present, is circumspect and heedful, judicious and cautious in his undertakings. Therefore, they who are called wise men in one place, Deut.