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· 15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better.

thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry : for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the gun ; it is better to enjoy the good things of life in the fear of God, than to torment ourselves with the fear of losing them, or to pretend to account for many dis. pensations of Providence.

When I applied inine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth : (for also [there is that] neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes ;) to expound this

mystery of Providence, I was as diligent and solicitous as those 17 men are to get wealth who allow no sleep to their eyes : Then I

beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun : because though a man labour to seek [it] out, yet he shall not find [it ;] yea, further ; though a wise (man) think to know it,] yet shall he not be able to find fit ;] therefore let us not disquiet ourselves about it, but cheerfully acquiesce in the divine government.


· 1. T F we desire to be easy and happy, we must honour the king,

I observe the laws of our country, and not unnecessarily blame the administration. No argument can be drawn from this charge, for passive obedience, though many commentators have attempted it. We are many of us under the obligation of the oath of God, and all are obliged to allegiance, as being born subjects of the kingdom, and enjoying the protection of the government. Let us then be subject not for wrath only, but for conscience sake : and if we would not be afraid of the power, let us do that which is good.

2. It is a point of great wisdom in every circumstance and station of life, to attend to times and seasons, and embrace proper opportunities for doing good. This is an important maxim, not only for courriers but for all of us. Whence is it that man's misery is so great upon him, but because he is rash and thoughtless, will not look before him, and watch opportunities of honestly mending his cir. cumstances and retrieving his errors; but throngh giddiness or dulness suffers them to slip ? Hence also it is, that men fall into great and endless misery in the other world ; because they will not hear God's voice today, and redeem their time. Let us then mind this wisdom, because time is short, death is at the door, and there is no discharge in that war.

3. How sad is it to abuse the patience and goodness of God ! What Solomon says of wicked princes, is true of other wicked men, v. 11. They know God has passed sentence upon them for their iniquities ; but because his patience bears long with them, they grow hardened, and sin the more. Yet the sentence will be executed ; and though they live ever so long and prosperously, it shall be ill with them. May the goodness of God then lead us to repente ance, and his long suffering be to us salvation,

• 4. We are here taught our duty amidst the mysterious conduct of Providence. We see good men afflicted, and wicked men prose perous ; we should not therefore fret or disquiet ourselves about it, but enjoy the good things of life with thankfulness, cheerfulness, and charity. Let us not puzzle ourselves in endeavouring to account for this, for the attempt will be vain ; it is God's ordering, who is infinitely wise and good, and the justice, beauty, and propriety of these seeming irregularities will appear at last. When difficulties therefore occur which we cannot solve, let us always remember, abide by, and act upon this thought, Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him, v. 12.


Solomon having in a former chanter made some observations on the unequal distribution of good and evil, he here directs us what our conduct should be amidst these mysteries of Providence.

ITOR all this I considered in my heart even to declare

T all this, that the righteous and the wise, and their works, [are) in the hand of God ; are under his conduct and protection, he orders their affairs in the wisest and kindest manner; there. fore we should not complain, but cheer fully refer events to his disposal : nevertheless no man knoweth either love or hatred by

all that is ] before them; it does not appear at present whether God -2 loves or hates them. All [things come alike to all : (there

is) one event to the righteous, and to the wicked ; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean ; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not : as [is] the good, so [is] the

sinner ; [and] he that sweareth, as (he) that fearelh an oath. 3 This [is] an evil among all (things) that are done under the

sun, that (there is one event unto all; this has been a great perplexity to my mind, and a strong temptation : yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness (is) in their heart while they live, and after that (they go) to the dead ; they en.

courage themselves in a course of wickedness, and so hasten their 4 own death.* For to him that is joined to all the living there is

hope that they may be recovered from their calamiious state ; for a living dog is better than a dead lion ; a living man, in the lowa

est circumstances, is more serviceable to the world than the greatest 5 prince when dead. For the living know that they shall die, are

capable of considering and improving the thoughts of death : but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a re

ward ; for the memory of them is forgotten ; they are incapa. 6 ble of any thing, and soon forgotten. Also their love, and their

Some suppose the following verses to be the observations of an epicure, who took oc. casion to declare his disb lief of a future state ; but I takt them to be Solomon's wurds, speaking only of tbe present life.


hatred, and their envy, is now perished ; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the

sun ; no one seeks their favour, or fears their displeasure : there 7 fore Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart ; for God now accepteth thy works : as far as this mortal life is in question, instead of indulging anxiety, and puzzling thyself with intricate questions, endeavour to live in a

cheerful manner ; for if thou art one that feareth God, he accepteth 8 thee, and would have thee be joyful. Let thy garments be always · white, neither be sordid nor sad ; and let thy head lack no oint

ment; let thy appearance be as pleasant as it innocently may. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest, all the days of the

life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity ; this is repeated to remind us that we are not to expect complete satisfaction, but to make the most we can of every relation, to sweeten the troubles of life ; for that [is] thy portion in [this] life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun ; yet indulge not in pleasures 80 far as to become

slothful and dissolute, but attend to the proper business of life. 10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might ; for

[there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest ; do not presume too much on your Own wisdom, industry, and power, nor yet neglect every proper ex

ertion of them. 11 I returned and saw under the son, that the race [is] not to

the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour, or preferment, to men of skill ; but time and chance, or occur rences, (1 Kings v. 4.) happeneth to them all; sudden accidents

start up in which all a man's cunning, valour, strength, and influ12 ence, are ineffectual. For man also knoweth not his time : as

the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare ; so (are] the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them ; they do not foresee the evils that may come, or the day of their death ; both may come

suddenly : yet we are not to neglect prudent firecautions. 13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it (seemed] 14 great imto me : [There was) a little city, and few men within

it ; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and 15 built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a

poor wise man, and he by his wisdom, by some wise counsel or

stratagem, delivered the city ; yet no man remembered that 16 same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom (is) better than strength:

nevertheless, the poor man's wisdom [is] despised, and his words are not heard ; such is the folly and ingratitude of men, that

they pay more regard 10 external appearances than 10 wisdom; yet 17 this instance shows that wisdom is the principal thing, for The

words of wise (men are) heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools ; his words, delivered calmly and without ostentation, are more regarded than the noise of an inso18 lent, overbearing man. Wisdom [is] better than weapons of war:

but one sinner destroyeth much good ; one foolish obstinate man, by his fierverseness ofien puzzles and ruins a good cause, and de feats the endeavours of the wisest of men,

REFLECTIONS. 1. W E are here taught not to judge of men by their out

V ward condition, or the events that happen to them. Though we are so often exhorted to tlis in scripture, yet we are ready to forget it. God's love and hatred to men is not to be estimated by their external circumstances ; but though the same events may happen to both, yet the design and end of them may be widely different.

2. We see what kind of provision the word of God makes for our living comfortably. How frequently are we admonished to enjoy the good things of life, and consult our own comfort, under the limitation of sobriety and wisdom. God certainly never gave us so many good things to be snart ; and temptations to us. It is pleasing to him that we should rejoice in his favours, and show the cheerfulness of our minds by our dress, diet, and converse with others. It especially becomes those to rejoice in God's good creatures whose works he accepts. Innocent mirth becomes nove so well as those that are good. There is no religion in a slovenly dress, a meagre diet, or a gloomy spirit. God would have all bis servants cheerful, and thus show that their master is good, and their work pleasant.

3. Let the uncertainty of all earthly things promote in us caution, diligence, and prayer : caution that we do not exceed in unreasonable mirth, and live without thought and fear. We know that we must die, and that there is nothing to be done in the grave; therefore we should be diligent ; embrace every opportunity to do good and get good ; be active in the business of our stations, and especially in the work of religion. Opportunities will soon be over; and after death it will be too late to correct our errors and mend our state. To our diligence we should also add prayer ; for the Tace is nol to the swift. If it were always so, men would forget God: but the fact being otherwise, it is a plain proof of an overruling Providence, and a call to remember our dependence upon him, and make our requests known to him.

4. We must not think the worse of wisdorn, or be backward to pursue it, because it is despised and goes unrewarded. That Solomon observed in his time, has been observed ever since, that wise and useful men are often neglected ; and noisy insolent fools caressed. Many who spend their days and their strength in serving their fellow creatures, have neither recompense nor honour, nor perhaps thanks. But we should not be discouraged from doing our duty by the world's ingratitude. If they are not sensible of the pains we take for their benefit, we shall have the satisfaction of having done good ; at least of having honestly endeavoured to do it ; and God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labour of love, but will bountifully reward. it.


The principal design of this chapter is to teach us to behave loyally

and dutifully to rulers, as what will contribute to our peace and hafi piness.

in EAD fies cause the ointment of the apothecary, or per.

fumer, to send forth a stinking savour : (so doth) a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honour ; the wiser any mun is, the more care he should take of his words

and actions ; it is not so much the want of knowledge, as of atten. I tion and prudence that lessens men's characters. A wise man's

heart [is] at his right hand ; he goes readily and wisely to work ; performs things with dexterity, in the proper time and mana ner, and in the most decent order ; but a fool's heart at his

left ; he goes aukwardly to work, and therefore generally miscar3 ries. Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his

wisdom faileth (him,) and he saith to every one [that] he (is) a fool ; he cannot so much as conceal his folly in the plainest things ; he betrays his indiscretion by his gait and air ; especially by being

a few minutes in his company, you will find he is empty and conA ceited. If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not

thy place; do not grow sullen and discontented, and quit his service;

a meek, humble behaviour may reconcile him ; for yielding paci5 fieth great offences. There is an evil (which] I have seen un

der the sun, as an error (which) proceedeth from the ruler ; 6 viz. not taking sufficient care whom he promotes : Folly is set

in great dignity, and the rich, men of considerable rank and abil7 ily, sit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, persons

of a mean, servile, mercenary disposition advanced, and princes, men of great worth, walking as servants upon the earth. But

do not on account of these irregularities foment factions against the 8 government, for He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso 9 breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth

stones shall be hurt therewith ; [and] he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby ; he that would remove the ancient land marks of government, cut in pieces the society to which he

belongs, and break the hedge and fence of public authority, will find 10 he does it to his own hurt. If the iron be blunt, and he do not

whet the edge, then must he put to more strength :* but wis. dom [is] profitable to direct ; a man should exercise prudence in the common affairs of life ; especially in any attempt to mend a bad government ; he had belter whet his tool before he begins his work, and consider of the proper means beforchand, or else he will find it more difficult and troublesome. Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment, that is, without hissing ; the wound will be felt before the creature's voice is heard ; and a babler is no better,

• Some have thought proper to censure this as a triling, impertinent n'servat'on ; but Homer represents Nestor (the wisest among the Greek: ) as instructing his so. in the art of prudence, and mentions this simile as an illustration.

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