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The Preacher shows that all

ECCLESIASTES.

human courses are vann.

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CHAPTER I.
The title of this book, 1. The general doctrine, All is vanity, 2, 3. Proved from the shortness of life, and the perpetual

changes of all the creatures, 4-7. From the unsatisfying toil of men, and the return of the same things over again,

8–11. The vanity of knowledge, 12–18.
8. M: 3927. THE words of the Preacher, the 5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun A. M. 3027.

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son of David, king of Jerusalem.goeth down, and hasteth to his place
2 » Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, where he arose.
vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

6 6 The wind goeth toward the south, and 3 : What profit hath a man of all his labour || turneth about unto the north : it whirleth about which he taketh under the sun ?

continually, and the wind returneth again ac4 T One generation passeth away, and another cording to his circuits. generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. 7 h All the rivers run into the sea; yet the

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a Verse 12; Chap. vii. 27; xii. 8, 9, 10. Psa. xxxix. 5, | i. 22 ; iii. 9.6; lxii. 9; cxliv. 4; Chap. xii. 8. —c Rom. viii. 20.-d Ch. | Heb.panteth.

e Psalm civ. 5; cxix. 90. { Psalm xix. 5, 6.

John iii. 8.- h Job xxxviii. 10; Ps. civ. 8, 9.

courses.

NOTES ON CHAPTER I.

der the sun-In all worldly matters, which are usuVerse 1. The words of the Preacher-Or, dis- || ally transacted in the day-time, or by the light of

The Hebrew word nyop, here used, may the sun. By this restriction he implies, that the either signify the person who assembles the people, || happiness which in vain is sought for in this lower or the person that addresses them when assembled. I world, is really to be found in heavenly places and “We must not suppose that Solomon was like the things. common or ordinary preachers among the Hebrews; Verse 4. One generation passeth away, &c.yet it is certain he spake much in public for the in- | Men continue but for one, and that a short age, and struction of the people; for there came of all peo- then they leave all their possessions, and therefore ple to hear the wisdom of Solomon: All the earth they cannot be happy here, because the source of sought to Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God happiness must needs be unchangeable and eternal; had put into his heart, 1 Kings iv. 31, 34, and x. and the certain knowledge of the approaching loss 24. From whence it is plain that he made public of all these things must rob a man of solid contentdiscourses on several subjects, and that people were, ment in them. But the earth abideth-Through in a manner, called together from all nations round all successive generations of men; and therefore about to hear them.”—Dodd. “He was not only a man is more mutable than the very earth upon king,” says Poole, “but also a teacher of God's peo-|| which he stands, and which, together with all the ple: who, having sinned grievously in the eyes of all comforts which he enjoyed in it, he leaves behind the world, thought himself obliged to publish his re- him to be possessed by others. pentance, and to give public warning to all, to avoid Verses 5, 6. The sun also risethThe sun is in those rocks upon which he had split."

perpetual motion, rising, setting, and rising again, Verse 2. Vanity, &c.—Not only vain, but vunity and so constantly repeating its course in all succeedin the abstract, which denotes extreme vanity. Saith ing days, and years, and ages; and the like he obthe Preacher-Upon deep consideration and long | serves concerning the winds and rivers, verses 6, 7; experience, and by divine inspiration. This verse and the design of these similitudes seems to be, to contains the general proposition, which he intends show the vanity of all worldly things, and that particularly to demonstrate in the following book. || man's mind can never be satisfied with them, beAll-All worldly things; is vanity-Not in them- | cause there is nothing in the world but a constant selves, for they are God's creatures, and therefore repetition of the same things, which is so irksome, good in their kinds, but in reference to that happi- | that the consideration thereof hath made some perness which men seek and expect to find in them. sons weary of their lives; and there is no new thing So they are unquestionably vain, because they are under the sun, as is added in the foot of the account, not what they seem to be, and perform not what (verse 9,) which seems to be given us as a key to unthey promise, but, instead of that, are the occasionsderstand the meaning of the foregoing passages. of innumerable cares, and fears, and sorrows, and And this is certain from experience, that the things mischiefs. Nay, they are not only vanity, but va- of this world are so narrow, and the mind of man nity of vanities, the vainest vanity, vanity in the so vast, that there must be something new to satisfy highest degree. And this is redoubled, because the the mind; and even delightful things, by too frething is certain, beyond all possibility of dispute. quent repetition, are so far from yielding satisfac

Verse 3. What profit-What real and abiding tion, that they grow tedious and troublesome. The benefit? None at all. All is unprofitable as to the wind goeth, &c.—The wind also sometimes blows attainment of that happiness which all men are in- | from one quarter of the world, and sometimes from quiring after. Of all his labour-Hebrew, his toil- || another; successively returning to the same quarsome labour, both of body and mind, in the pursuitters in which it had formerly been. of riches, or pleasures, or other earthly things; un- Verse 7. The sea is not fullSo as to overflow

There is nothing new

CHAPTER I.

under the sun.

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whence the rivers come, thither they us. ? return again.

11 There is no remembrance of former 8 All things are full of labour; man cannot things; neither shall there be any rememutter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, brance of things that are to come with those nor the ear filled with hearing.

that shall come after. 9 *The thing that hath been, it is that 12 q 'I the Preacher was king over Israel in which shall be; and that which is done is that || Jerusalem. which shall be done : and there is no new thing 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out under the sun.

by wisdom concerning all things that are done 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be under heaven: mthis sore travail hath God given said, See, this is new? it hath been already to the sons of man 3 to be exercised therewith.

* Heb. return to go.-i Prov. xxvii. 20.- Chap. iii. 15.

1 Verse l.Gen. iii. 19; Chap. iii. 10. Or, to afflict them.

the earth, which might be expected from such vast we should easily find parallels to all present occuraccessions of waters to it. Whereby also he inti- | rences. There are many thousands of remarkable mates the emptiness of men's minds, notwithstand- speeches and actions done in this, and which will ing the abundance of creature comforts. Unto the | be done in the following ages, which neither are, place from whence the rivers come-Unto their nor ever will be, put into the public records or hissprings or fountains; thither they return-By secret tories, and consequently must unavoidably be forpassages of the earth : or their waters, after flowing gotten in succeeding ages; and therefore it is just into the sea, and being mixed with its waters, are and reasonable to believe the same concerning forexhaled by the heat of the sun, become vapours | mer ages. and clouds, descend in showers on the hills and Verse 12. I the Preacher was king—Having asmountains, and feed the springs from which they serted the vanity of all things in the general, he flow again, in streams and rivers, into the lakes, seas, now comes to prove his assertion in those particuand oceans. He seems to speak of the visible and | lars wherein men commonly seek, and with the constant motion of the waters, both to the sea and greatest probability expect to find, true happiness. from it, and then to it again in a perpetual recipro- He begins with secular wisdom. And to show how cation.

competent a judge he was of this matter, he lays Verses 8, 9. All things--Not only the sun, and down this character, that he was the Preacher, winds, and rivers, but all other creatures; are full | which implies eminent knowledge; and a king, who of labour-They are in continual restlessness and therefore had all imaginable opportunities and adchange, never abiding in the same state. The eye vantages for the attainment of happiness, and paris not satisfied-As there are many things in the ticularly for the getting of wisdom, by consulting all world vexatious to men, so even those things which sorts of books and men, by trying all manner of exare comfortable are not satisfactory, but men are speriments; and no ordinary king, but king over Isconstantly desiring some longer continuance or || rael-God's own people, a wise and a happy people, fuller enjoyment of them, or variety in them. The whose king he was by God's special appointment, eye and ear are here put for all the senses, because and furnished by God with singular wisdom for these are most spiritual and refined, most curious that great trust; and whose abode was in Jerusalem and inquisitive, most capable of receiving satisfac- -Where were the house of God, and the most wise Lion, and exercised with more ease and pleasure than | and learned of the priests attending upon it, and the the other senses. The thing that hath been, &c.- seats of justice, and colleges, or assemblies of the There is nothing in the world but a continued and wisest men of their nation. All these concurring tiresome repetition of the same things. The nature in him, which rarely do in any other man, make and course of the beings and affairs of the world, the argument, drawn from his experience, more conand the tempers of men, are the same that they vincing. ever were, and shall ever be; and therefore, because Verse 13. I gave my heartWhich phrase deno man ever yet received satisfaction from worldly notes his serious and fixed purpose, and his great things, it is vain for any person hereafter to expect | industry in it. To search out by wisdomTo seek it. And there is no new thing-In the nature of || diligently and accurately, by the help of that wisthings, which might give us hopes of attaining that || dom wherewith God had endowed me. Concernsatisfaction which hitherto things have not afforded. || ing all things, &c.—Concerning all the works of

Verse 11. There is no remembrance, &c.—This God and men in this lower world; the works of naseems to be added, to prevent the objection, that | ture; the works of divine providence; and the there are many inventions and enjoyments unknown works and depths of human policy. This sore to former ages. To this he answers, This objection travail_This difficult and toilsome work of searchis grounded only upon our ignorance of ancient | ing out these things, God hath inflicted as a just times, which, if we exactly knew or remembered, || punishment upon man for his eating of the tree of The vanity of

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human pleasures.

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14 I have seen all the works that || been before me in Jerusalem: yea, A. M. 3027.

are done under the sun; and behold, || my heart 5 had great experience of all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, straight: and that which is wanting cannot be and to know madness and folly: I perceived numbered.

that this also is vexation of spirit. 16 I communed with mine own heart, say- 18 For 9 in much wisdom is much grief: ing, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth gotten omore wisdom than all they that have | sorrow.

15 " That which is crooked

cannot be made 17

18

Chap. vii. 13.

- Heb. defect.-01 Kings iii. 12, 13; iv. 30; Heb. had seen much.- :-p Chap. ii. 3, 12; vii. 23, 25; 1 Thess. 6. 7, 23; Chap. ii. 9.

V. 21. -9 Chap. xii. 12.

knowledge. To be exercised therewithTo em-fore me-Whether governors, priests, or private ploy themselves in the painful study of these things. | persons. This was no vain boast, but a known and

Verses 14, 15. I have seen all the works, &c.- confessed truth, and the profession of it was necesDiligently observed, and, in a great measure, under-sary to demonstrate his assertion ; in Jerusalem stood them; and behold, all is vanity and vexation | Which was then the most eminent place in the of spirit_Not only unsatisfying, but also an afflic- | world for wisdom and knowledge. I gave my heart tion or breaking to a man's spirit. That which is to know wisdom, &c.— That I might thoroughly uncrooked, &c.-All our knowledge serves only to dis- || derstand the nature and difference of truth and cover our miseries, but is utterly insufficient to re- error, of virtue and vice. I perceived that this move them; it cannot rectify those disorders which is vexation, &c.—Or, feeding upon wind, as the are either in our own hearts and lives, or in the Hebrew on ryy, may be properly rendered, and men and things of the world. That which is want- as a similar phrase is rendered by many, both aning-In our knowledge, and in order to man's com- || cient and modern translators, in verse 14, and by plete satisfaction and happiness; cannot be number- our translators, Hosea xii. 1. edOr, counted out to us from the treasures of hu- Verse 18. In much wisdom is much grief-Or man learning, but what is wanting will be so still; || displeasure to a man within himself, and against all our enjoyments here, when we have done our his present condition; and he that increaseth knouutmost to bring them to perfection, are still defect- | ledge, increaseth sorrow

_Which he does many ive: and that which is wanting in our own know-ways, because he gets his knowledge with hard and ledge is so much, that it cannot be numbered. The wearisome labour, both of mind and body, with the more we know, the more we see of our own igno- | consumption of his spirits, and shortening of his

life ; because he is often deceived with knowledge, Verses 16, 17. I communed with mine own heart falsely so called, and often mistakes error for truth, -I considered within myself in what condition I || and is perplexed with manifold doubts, from which was, and what degrees of knowledge I had gained ; || ignorant men are wholly free; because he hath the and whether it was not my ignorance that made me | clearer prospect into, and quicker sense of, his own unable to rectify those errors, and supply those || ignorance, and infirmities, and disorders; and, withwants of which I complain; and whether wiser | al, how vain and ineffectual all his knowledge is for men could not do it, though I could not; saying, the prevention or removal of them ; and because Lo! I am come to great estateHebrew, 'n bain, I his knowledge is very imperfect and unsatisfying, am grown great, namely, in wisdom, or, I have yet increasing his thirst after more knowledge; magnified, or greatly enlarged ; and have gotten lastly, because his knowledge quickly fades and -Hebrew, 'nodini, have added, more wisdom-As dies with him, and then leaves him in no better, I had a large stock of wisdom infused into me by and possibly in a much worse condition, than that God, so I have greatly improved it by conversation, | of the meanest and most unlearned man in the study, and experience; than all they that were be- || world.

rance.

CHAPTER II. Solomon shows that there is no true happiness to be found in mirth and the pleasures of sense, 1-11. He considers wisdom

again, and owns it to be an excellent thing, and yet insufficient to give happiness, 12–16. He shows that business and wealth are only vanity and vezation of spirit, 17–23. And that if there be any good therein, it is only to those who sit loose to them, 24–26.

The vanity of means

CHAPTER II.

used to obtain happiness.

were

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I "SAID in

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• SAID in my heart, Go to now, I that in Jerusalem before A. M. 3027.

will prove thee with mirth; therefore me; enjoy pleasure: and behold, this also is vanity. | 8 °I gathered me also silver and gold, and

2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, the peculiar treasure of kings, and of the proWhat doeth it?

vinces : I gat me men-singers and women3 I sought in my heart to give myself unto singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as wine, yet acquainting my heart with wisdom; || * musical instruments, and that of all sorts. and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what 9 So 'I was great, and increased more than was that good for the sons of men, which they | all that were before me in Jerusalem : also my should do under the heaven 2 all the days of wisdom remained with me. their life.

10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not 4 I made me great works; I builded me from them, I withheld not my heart from any houses; I planted me vineyards :

joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour : 5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I and this was my portion of all my labour. planted trees in them of all kind of fruits : 11 Then I looked on all the works that my

6 I made me pools of water, to water there hands had wrought, and on the labour that I with the wood that bringeth forth trees : had laboured to do: and behold, all was vanity

7 I got me servants and maidens, and had and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit 3 servants born in my house; also I had great | under the sun. possessions of great and small cattle above all 12 | And I turned myself to behold wisdom,

3

a Luke xii. 19. _b Isa. 1. 11. Prov. xiv. 13; Chap. vii. 6. 4 Chap. i. 17.- Heb. to draw my flesh with wine. - Heb. the RUNDET of the days of their life.

* Heb. sons of my

house.

e 1 Kings ix. 28; x. 10, 14, 21, &c.ment and instruments. Chap. i. 16. ix. 9. - Chap. i. 3, 14.

4 Heb. musical instru-5 Chap. iii. 22 ; v. 18;

NOTES ON CHAPTER II.

Verse 8. I gathered me silver and goldVast Verses 1, 2. I said in my heart-Being disap- || riches; and the peculiar treasure of kings-Riches, pointed of my hopes from knowledge, I resolved to || answerable to the state of a king, or, he means, the try another course. Go to now—0 my soul! I will | greatest jewels and rarities of other kings, which try whether I cannot make thee happy by the en- | they gave to me, either as a tribute, or by way of joyment of sensual delights. This also is vanity- || present; and of the provinces—Which were imIs vain, and unable to make men happy. I said of | posed upon or presented by all the provinces of my laughter, It is mad—This is an act of madness, || dominions. more fit for fools who know nothing, than for wise Verses 9, 10. So I was great-In riches, and pow. men in this sinful, and dangerous, and deplorable er, and glory. My wisdom remained-As yet I was state of mankind. What doth itWhat good doth not wholly seduced from God. And whatsoever it? Or how can it make men happy? I challenge || mine eyes desired—Whatsoever was grateful to my all the epicures in the world to give me a solid an- senses, or my heart desired; I kept not from them swer.

-I denied myself nothing, at least, of lawful deVerse 3. I sought to give myself unto wine-To | lights, but went to the very bounds of them; which gratify myself with delicious meats and drinks; yet was the occasion of his falling afterward into sinful acquainting, &c.—Yet resolving to use my wisdom, || pleasures. I withheld not my heart, &c.-As my that I might try whether I could not arrive at satis- || heart was vehemently set upon pleasure, so I did faction, by mixing wine and wisdom together. To | not resist, or curb it therein, but made all possible lay hold on folly, &c.—To pursue sensual pleasure, | provision to gratify it. For my heart rejoiced-I which was my folly; till i might see, &c.—Till I had the comfort of all my labours, and was not hinmight find out the true way to contentment and dered from the full enjoyment of them by sickness satisfaction, during this mortal life.

or war, or any other calamity. This was my porVerses 4–7. I made me great works— Magnificent | tionThis present enjoyment of them was all the works, for my honour and delight. I builded me | benefit which I could expect from all my labours. houses-Of which see 1 Kings vii. 1, &c.; ix. 15, &c. ; || So that I made the best of them. Cant. viii. 11. I made me gardens-Hebrew, para- Verse 11. I looked on all the works, &c.— I made dises, or gardens of pleasure; I planted trees, &c. a serious review of my former works and labours, -Mixing pleasure and profit together. I made me and considered whether I had obtained that satisfacpools of water-Because the rain there fell but sel- tion in them which I had expected to find ; and bedom; to water therewith the wood–The nurseries hold, all was vanityI found myself disappointed, of young trees, which, for the multitude of them, and wholly dissatisfied in this course. And there were like a wood or forest. I had servants born in was no profit, &c.—The pleasure was past, and I my house-of my bond-servants, which therefore was never the better for it, but as empty as before. were a part of my possessions.

Verse 12. And I turned myself, &c.—Being frusWisdom excelleth folly, as far

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as light excelleth darkness.

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can the man do that cometh after the || ous unto me: for all is vanity and king ? beven that which hath been already done. vexation of spirit.

13 Then I saw 6 that wisdom excelleth folly, | 18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had as far as light excelleth darkness.

taken under the sun: because mI should leave 14 «The wise man's eyes are in his head; || it unto the man that shall be after me. but the fool walketh in darkness; and I myself 19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a perceived also that lone event happeneth to wise man or a fool ? yet shall he have rule them all.

over all my labour wherein I have laboured, 15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth || and wherein I have showed myself wise under to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and the sun. This is also vanity. why was I then more wise? Then I said in 20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart my heart, that this also is vanity.

to despair of all the labour which I took under 16 For there is no remembrance of the wise the sun. more than of the fool for ever; seeing that 21 For there is a man whose labour is in which now is in the days to come shall all be wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as to a man that hath not laboured therein shall the fool.

he 9 leave it for his portion. This also is 17 Therefore I hated life; because the work | vanity, and a great evil.

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i Chap. i. 17; vii. 25.- Or, in those things which have been already done.

- Heb. that there is an excellency in wisdom more than in folly, fc.

* Prov. xvii. 24; Chap. viii. 1.- Psa. xlix. 10; Chap. ix. 2,
3, 11.-
Heb. happeneth to me, even to me.-

_8 Heb. laboured.
m Psa. xlix. 10.-

Heb. give.

trated of my hopes in pleasure, I returned to a se- || That, notwithstanding this excellence of wisdom
cond consideration of my first choice, to see whether | above folly, at last they both come to one end. Both
there was not more satisfaction to be gotten from are subject to the same calamities, and to death it-
wisdom, than I discovered at my first view. For self, which takes away all difference between them.
what can the man do-To find out the truth in this Verses 15, 16. Then I saidwhy was I more
matter; to discover the utmost satisfaction possible | wise–What benefit have I by my wisdom ? or, to
to be found in pleasure; that cometh after the king what purpose did I take so much pains to get wis-
–That succeeds me in this inquiry. So this is add- || dom. For there is no remembrance of the wise-
ed as a reason why he gave over the pursuit of plea- | Their memory, though it may flourish for a season,
sures, and directed his thoughts to another object; || yet will, in a little time, be worn out; as we see in
and why he so confidently asserted the vanity of most of the wise men of former ages, whose very
pleasures, from his own particular experience ; | names, together with all their monuments, are utter-
namely, because he had made the best of them, and || ly lost. As the fool-He must die as certainly as the
it was a vain thing for any private man to expect | fool.
that from them which could not be found by a king, Verses 17-19. Therefore I hated life-My life,
and such a king, who had so much wisdom to in- | though accompanied with so much honour, and
vent, and such great riches to pursue and enjoy | pleasure, and wisdom, was a burden to me, and I was
all imaginable delights; and who had made it his ready to wish, either that I had never been born, or
design and business to search this matter to the bot- | that I might speedily die; because the work, fc., is
tom. Even that which hath been already done- || grievous—All human designs and works are so far
As by others, so especially by myself. They can from yielding me satisfaction, that the consideration
make no new discoveries as to this point. They can of them increases my discontent. I hated all my
make no more of the pleasures of sense than I have labour-All these riches and buildings, and other
done. Let me then try, once more, whether wisdom || fruits of my labour, were aggravations of my mise-
can give happiness.

ry. Because I should leave it, &c.—Because I must, Verses 13, 14. I saw that wisdom-I allowed thus | and that everlastingly, leave them all behind me. much. Although wisdom is not sufficient to make | And who knoweth whether he shall be wise or a fool? men happy, yet it is of far greater use than vain | -Who will undo all that I have done, and turn the pleasures, or any other follies. The wise man's effects of my wisdom into instruments of his folly. eyes are in his head—In their proper place. He Some think he had such an opinion of Rehoboam. hath the use of his eyes and reason, and foresees, Verses 20, 21. I went to cause my heart to deand so avoids, many dangers and mischiefs. But || spair-I gave myself up to despair of ever reaping the fool walketh in darkness-Manages his affairs that satisfaction which I promised to myself. For ignorantly, rashly, and foolishly, whereby he shows there is a man whose labour, &c.—Who uses great that his eyes are not in his head, or are not used industry, and prudence, and justice too, in the manaright. And, or yet, I myself perceived also, &c.— || agement of his affairs; yet to a man that hath not

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