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This production of the illustrious Bishop Reynolds is introduced to the religious public, with the pleasing expectation, that they will honour it with a welcome reception. Books of this description have always been acceptable to those who admit the inspiration, and revere the authority, of the sacred Scriptures, and who desire the assistance of writers of eminence in piety and learning. The demand for such publications has cono siderably increased within the last ten years; and while the critical and the learned have been gratified by various elaborate performances, intended to elucidate the sacred writings, by explaining the manners and customs of Eastern nations; readers of a devotional frame of mind have been benefited by the publication of those Expositions and Commentaries, which enter more deeply
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into the hidden treasures of spiritual knowledge contained in the sacred volume.
Without wishing to depreciate the writings of modern expositors (many of whom are an honour to our country), we must admit, that the works of many of the divines of the sixteenth century contain so much biblical knowledge, united to such an intimate acquaintance with “ the things of the Spirit of God,” as render them truly valuable. They have seldom been equalled, and perhaps never surpassed. They have infused such a rich vein of piety into their writings, as to enlighten our understandings, and warm our affections. They were men “ of an excellent spirit.” Their unharmonious periods may not be agreeable to the cold philosophical critic; but Christians, whose pious affections are duly exercised, will read them with peculiar pleasure, and feel their powerful influence on their consciences and lives.
On a slight inspection of this work, it may not appear so evangelical in its spirit and tendency, as many of his other writings ; but it must be remembered, that the Book
of Ecclesiastes is chiefly practical. No sentiment is advanced in this treatise, but what is consonant to the whole system of divine revelation.
The attention of young preachers is particularly directed to the extensive collection of Scripture references in every part of the work: the selection is very judicious, frequently striking, and will afford valuable materials for Scripture illustration.
The present editor thinks it necessary to inform the reader, that the original work (being a part of the English annotations on the Bible, usually called the Assembly's Annotations), is not executed with that perspicuity of style which is apparent in his subsequent productions.
The whole of the Commentary has been carefully transcribed, and the ideas of the author are strictly and fully retained : but the editor has deemed it necessary to alter the construction of most of the sentences; frequently to exchange obsolete words for those now in use; and, in a few instances, to omit redundant paragraphs. It is presumed, that these variations will not depreciate the value of the work, or diminish the reputation of its celebrated author. In this confidence, it is humbly consecrated to the glory of God, and recommended to the attentive perusal of serious Christians of every denomination, accompanied with the affectionate wish, bounded by no sectarian partialities or prejudices, that “grace may be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”
The author of this book, both from its style and title, appears to have been Solomon, since no other son of David was king in Jerusalem ; and he seems to have written it in his old age, when he was led to take a most serious review of his past life. He here enumerates the honours, pleasures, wealth, and wisdom which he had so abundantly enjoyed; the errors and miscarriages into which he had fallen; the large experience he had acquired, as well as the many observations he had made of things natural, moral, domestic, civil, sensual, and divine; together with his curious and critical enquiry after true happiness, and the result of it, how far all things under the sun could contribute to afford this felicity. Concerning which, first, he discovers, in general, the utter vanity and insufficiency of all things here below to make a man blessed, on account of their mutable nature, their weakness, and disproportion to the immortal soul; the weariness contracted by the study of them, and the impossibility