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vows unto God; but be well advised, both what thou undertakest, and how thou shalt perform it; and let those prayers, which thou shalt pour forth unto God, be well digested in thy thoughts, for thou hast to do with a pure and holy, as also with a glorious and omnipotent God, who dwelleth in the heaven; whereas thou, a base silly creature upon earth, art open to his all-seeing eye, and obnoxious to his almighty power; let therefore thy vows be both rare and solemn, and thy prayers free from loquacity and idle babblings:
V. 3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.
For, as in a multitude of businesses there will be troublesome and confused dreams, so in a multitude of words there will be futility and error.
V. 4 For he taketh no pleasure in fools.
It is the part of a fool, to vow that, which either he cannot or will not perform; and God takes no pleasure in those, that are thus impiously foolish.
V. 6 Suffer not thy mouth to make thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
Suffer not thy tongue, through the rashness of thy vow, to make it and thy whole self guilty of a sin before God, and obnoxious to judgment; neither think to excuse it before God and his angels, by a plea of error. Why shouldst thou draw God's anger upon thee, by the sinful temerity of thy vow, so far, as that he should plague thee with an utter destruction?
V. 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
For as there are many vain phantasies in the multitude of dreams, so surely there are many hateful and dangerous vanities in the multitude of hasty vows; but thou, settle thou the fear of God in thy heart, and that shall ever both guide and preserve thy tongue.
V. 8 If thou &c. marvel not for the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they. Be not amazed and dismayed, as if all things were let loose, and as if these earthly things were not orderly swayed by a wise and just Providence; for, as God hath appointed kings and princes over men, so he hath appointed his spiritual creatures in a degree above them, and himself is infinitely above all the degrees of them. V. 9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.
Surely, there is excellent and necessary use of husbandry: whence have we the good things whereby our life is preserved, but from the fruitful bounty of the earth? Even the states of kings cannot well subsist, without a due culture of the earth.
V. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding thereof with their eyes?
If a man have great store of lands, and much stock in his hands,
there must be many hands employed in the managing of it; so that, as his means are greater, so the mouths that spend it are more and what gaineth the owner hereby, above the servant, more than this, that he sees his goods both brought in and wasted; whereof himself can take no more part, than to feed and clothe him?
V. 13 Riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.
I have noted those riches, which men account blessings, to turn to the great harm and mischief of the owners; both of their bodies, and souls, and lives, and estates: for, besides their difficulty in getting, and care in keeping, how ordinarily are they the occasions of violence offered to their persons, of unjust suggestions of capital crimes against their lives, &c.?
V. 14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.
And those very riches have I seen to vanish away under the owner's hand; in the midst of all his toil and travail: so as, the son whom he begets shall have nothing at all left him of that wealth, wherewith his father seemed to abound; neither shall the father have ought to leave him.
V. 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath in his sickness.
He abridgeth himself of all comfort, through his too eager pursuit of wealth; and both pincheth his body, and tortureth his mind with many vexations and discontentments.
V. 20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
His days go away merrily, and seem short, for that God gives him cheerfulness and contentment in the fruition of what he hath.
VI. 2 Yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it.
Yet God hath not given him a free heart, to take comfort and benefit in the use of his riches; but rather hath given him up to such a besottedness therewith, that he cannot find in his heart to bestow any good thing upon himself, but saves it for a stranger that shall come after him.
VI. 3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, &c. and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.
Let a man live to never so fair and full an age, as long life is indeed a blessing of God; and let him be as full of children as of years, as children also are the gift of God; yet, if that man scant and abridge himself of all his due comforts here through his own miserableness, and after his death be debarred of an honest and comely sepulture, I say that an untimely birth is in a condition less ill than he.
VI. 4 For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.
For that abortive birth comes into the world without all noise or
use, and passes away obscurely without notice; and, as it lived not to have a name, so the name and memory of it vanisheth into darkness and oblivion.
VI. 5 This hath more rest than the other.
He hath been freed by so early a death from those vexations, which the old covetous man puts himself unto.
VI. 6 Yea, though he have lived a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
Yea, though he have lived a thousand years twice told, yet, when it is past, what is he the better for that? Is he not now in the same state with the abortive? Do not both of them go alike unto dust? VI. 7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
Indeed, all the labour of man should be, and ordinarily is, for the preservation of his life; but the covetous man toils, he knows not for what; and though nature be content with a little, yet his appetite of having is never satisfied.
VI. 8 For what hath the wise man more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living? q. d. But the same with the rich?
In respect of the outward maintenance of this life, what can the wise man have, which the fool may not? Both of them may and must live by meat: either of them may come to abound or want. What hath the rich, more than the poor man, that knows how to live? His superfluity is nothing to his life.
VI. 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire.
It is far better, for a man to enjoy that present good which is before his eyes, than to discruciate and rack his thoughts with an insatiable desire of what he hath not, or perhaps cannot have.
VI. 10 That which hath been is named already, and it is known to be man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.
There is a wise and infinite Providence of God, under which, eminently amongst the other creatures, man is; whom God hath noted and designed out with all his qualities and endowments, and hath determined to him all his conditions and events; neither can he think to struggle himself out, from the mighty and overruling power of his Creator.
VI. 11 Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is a man the better?
As man is vanity, so are those things which he affecteth; where there are many things therefore, there must needs be an increase of vanity; what is a man the better therefore, for having more vanities besides his own?
VI. 12 For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?
We are commonly subject to mistakings in our opinions, concerning good things: we ofttimes take that for good and profit
able, which is indeed harmful to us, either in the kind or quantity of it; and if in this fleeting and vanishing life we be thus ignorant, in present things, how much more in future? Who can tell a man what shall be after him?
VII. 1 And the day of death better than the day of one's birth. The day of a good and faithful man's death, is much better than the day of his birth; for his death puts an end to those miseries, which his birth begins, and begins those happinesses, which the present life is not capable of.
VII. 2 For that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
For that death, which is the occasion of such mourning, is the end of all men; and those, that are wise amongst the living, will carefully bethink themselves of it, and make due preparation for it.
6 As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter
of fools. A fire of thorns under a pot makes a loud noise with the crackling thereof for a time, but the blaze is soon out; so doth the mirth an i laughter of a fool: after some short semblance of joy, it vanisheth to nothing.
VII. 7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
Extremity of oppression is enough to distemper a very wise man; and bribes are enough to corrupt and destroy the heart of him that receives them.
VII. 8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. There is much doubt and uncertainty in the beginning of things, whereas there is full assurance in the end; the end therefore of a thing is better than the beginning: for indeed, both the beginning and proceeding of all affairs do but drive at a good end; and a meek and patient-spirited man, that can quietly wait for the end and event of things, is better than he that is proud and impetuous, who violently rusheth upon all enterprizes, and will needs force his own terms.
VII. 9 Be not hasty in the spirit to be angry for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Do not give way to a rash and sudden anger; for this techy and choleric disposition argues much folly and misgovernment in the man that is swayed with it.
VII. 10 Say not thou, What is the cause why the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
Be not thou discontentedly querulous at the present condition; as, to complain how bad these times are, in respect of the former; and to murmur at the Providence of God, as if there were some slackness or neglect therein; for this is a foolish thought of thine, and an unjust: rather do thou, in an humble thankfulness and submission, make use of the present.
VII. 11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance.
If a man have a great estate, and wisdom to use it, he may do great matters, and is very happy therein.
VII. 12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of wisdom giveth life to them that have it.
Many a one hath been preserved by his wisdom, and many have been preserved by their money, so as both together must needs be an excellent defence; but, if they must be severed, wisdom and knowledge must needs be the better, as that which both can safeguard the present life, and give a better unto the owner of it.
VII. 13 Consider the work of God: for who can make straight that, which he hath made crooked?
Do not complain of times and events, but consider well the wise and just and powerful proceedings of God; for when he hath thought good, for the punishment of men's sins, to give them up to disorder and perverseness, it is not in the power of human means to rectify them.
VII. 14 But in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
In the day of adversity, bethink thyself of the author of thine affliction, and of the manifold grounds of patience which God hath laid before thee; for God hath given interchanges of welfare and adversity, that man might find no just cause to complain of his proceedings.
VII. 15 There is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness. There is a just and innocent man that miscarrieth, notwithstanding his righteousness, through the cruelty and injustice of op
VII. 16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?
Be not thou too rigid and rigorous, in exacting the extremity of justice upon every occasion; neither do thou affect too much semblance and ostentation of more justice and perfection, than thou hast, or canst attain: neither do thou arrogate more wisdom to thyself, than is in thee; nor curiously seek and search into those mysteries, which God would not have revealed: for why shouldest thou bring upon thee the displeasure and judgments of God, by this proud and sinful affectation?
VII. 17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?
As I would not have thee too just and too wise, so I would not have thee run into the other extreme: every degree of wickedness is too much do not let thyself loose to any evil; neither yield thyself over to a willing ignorance and foolish neglect of wisdom: for why shouldst thou provoke God to hasten his just judgments upon thee, to thine untimely destruction?
VII. 18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.