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Far as light excelleth darkness: the result was, that a discreet, prudent, regular conduct for this world has greatly the advantage
14 of its contrary. The wise man's eyes [are] in his head, where they best serve him to look about him, to see his danger, and guide his way; hut the fool walketh ill darkness; rash, imprudent men blunder on into mischief and vexation: and I myself per
15 ceived also, that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth unto the fool, so it happeneth even to me ; we are subject to the same fiainful events; and why was 1 then [more] wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also
16 [is] vanity. For [there is] no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now [is] in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise [man ?] as the fool. The wise die as well as fools, and each arc quickly forgotten: he must be a fierson of extraordinary character
17 that is talked of forages. Therefore so far from fmding satisfaction, I hated life; because the work that is wrought under
the sun [is] grievous unto me: for all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.
18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be af
19 ter me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise [man] or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This [is] also vanity. Jtehoboam, who was forty years old when his father died, so that he must have seen his weakness
20 and folly, is doubtless here referred to. Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun ; instead of pursuing former schemes, I gave them up, as one utterly tired with them; nor is this peculiar to me, it is often
21 seen in lower circumstances. For there is a man whose labour [is] in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein, to a man whose character is just the re-verse of his own, shall he leave it [for] his portion. This
22 also [is] vanity and a great evil. For what hath man, such a man as above described, of all his labour, and of the vexation of
23 his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all hi* days, or, although all his days, [are] sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart tnketh not rest jn the night; though he hath obtained what he has with so much care, labour and fatigue, yet it must be left to he knows not who. This is also vanity.
24 [There is] nothing better for a man, [than] that he should eat and drink, and [that] he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it [was] from the hand of God: the best way therefore, is not to engage hi many schemes, and perplex himself with much business; but contentedly to sit down and enjoy the good things God has given him with pleasure
2s and thankfulness; but this is not in a man's own parser; For who can eat, or who else can hasten [hereunto,] more than I? or, as it may be better rendered, 'who can cut or hasten ttiereunt*
vatfiouC htm?' Thin defienda on the divine blessing, and the turn he give» to the mind, though the materials may be in a man's own 26 possession. For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight, that is, to a fiioux man, wisdom and knowledge to make a good vue of hit substance, and joy in the using of it: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [htm that is] good before God; he gives u/i the wicked to an insatiable discontented sjiirit, so thai they afflict themselves viith many cares and sorrows, to hen/i nfi tvha! in the course of his providence he often gives to the righteous. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.
1. "\7f7" E here see the vanity of expecting happiness in mirth VV and pleasure, grandeur and luxury. In spite of all Solomon's reasoning and experience, the present age is trying the experiment over again; but they will at last join in his conclusion. It is a dangerous experiment; for few can make it and yet their wisdom remain with them. Therefore it is better to desist and take Solomon's word. Remember that these things cannot quiet a guilty conscience, comfort a drooping spirit, ease a dying body, or save an immortal soul.
2. There are many things which are excellent in thejnselves,and of great use in life, that will not make a man happy. Prudence, diligence, and regularity in business, are things highly commendable, and favourable to men's worldly interest, therefore many place all their religion in them; but they are not the one /hing needful. Let us be careful that we are not mistaken; and while we study i the arts of prudence and economy, forget the weightier matters of the law, and continue destitute of the love of God.
3. We are here taught the importance and necessity of true religion to make a man comfortable even in this world. Men may slave and toil ever so much, gain ever such abundance by sagacity, diligence, and frugality, it will not prolong their lives or their memories; it will not insure them a worthy heir; nor even a comfortable use of their own substance. The cheerful enjoyment of what We h.n'e must come from God. It is therefore to be sought by fervent prayer; and is generally given to good men ; and this they may have with a little. So that upon the whole, Godliness hath the firomiee fifthe UJc that now is, and of that which is to come.
Solomon here proceeds to describe the vanity of human wisdom; it is confined to a certain time of acting, which if ne miss, our contrivances are vain, and the opportunity over.
1 rT^O every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every
I purpose under the heaven, out of which no human wisdom
2 can produce the events God hath affixed to them : A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up
3 [that which is] planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a
4 time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh ; a time to mourn, and a lime to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to
7 cast away ; A time to rend, and a time to sew ; a time to keep
8 silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate, that is, to break offfriendship; a time of war, and a time
9 of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth out of the firoper season, or even in it, since there are so
10 many changes? I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it ; minding the business of life, observing the proper seasons, and submitting when disappointed.
11 He hath made every [thing] beautiful in his time ; -there is beauty in this variety: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end; there is a vast variety of things, as objects of their pursuits and studies : and God hath set it in their hearts to examine all his works, except what is above their understand
12 ing• I know that [there is] no good in them, that is, in worldly things, but for [a man] to rejoice, and to do good in his life; there is no other satisfaction orfelicity which a man can meet with in worldly enjoyments but to use them with a cheerful temper, and do
13 good to others with them. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, and lay aside distracting fears of future want, it [is] the gift of God, and should be diligently sought and thankfully acknowledged as cowing from him.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it : and God doeth [it,] that [men] should fear before him; God will not vary front his purpose; he has fixed this uncertainty to keep men in a constant dependence, that they may humbly submit,and not murmur at
15 what thry cannot avoid. That which hath been is now ; and that which is to be hath already been ; and God requireth that
• Some understand the passive a« rrfVrrinir to the influence the world hi* upon men ro make them neglect prudent consideratinn ; ochrrs t efrr it to their contiurance in the world; u if he had laid, A man that lives ao shot t a time cannot iudge of the whole of Gud's works.
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which is past; it always has been thus, and always чти be ; therefore it is indecent to comfilain of the settled laws of God's creation ; and as he determines all the events of our lives, he will call tu to an account for the conduct of them.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, [that] wickedness [was] there ; and the place of righteousness, [that] iniquity [was] there ; such is the vanity of flower and authority, without religion; or, as tome understand it, so liable are men to rafiine and ofiftression, -which lessens the value of earthly
17 comforts. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for [there is] a time there for every purpose and for every work; this ivas the comfort I had under this -vanity
18 and ofifiression. I said in mine heart Concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they
'might see that they themselves are beasts; О that God would give these firoud ofifiressors to see that they shall die, not only like men, but like beasts; that their ofiflression shall last out a little time, and that they shall not long enjoy the consequences of it.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befallcth beasts; eveti one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth» so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast, with regard to the body, or for the avoiding
^0 of death: for all [is] vanity. All go unto one place; all are of 21 the same dust, and all turn to that dust again. Who knoweth. the spirit of man that goetli upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Few men, es/iecially great men, consider seriously the difference between the human nature and the brutal, the immortality of the one 'and the mortality of the other. '22 Wherefore I perceive that [there is] nothing bttter, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; take the comfort of what (lod ha» given him without labouring after honour and /¡referment; fur that [is] his portion ; all the good he can have from them: for who shall bring him to see what shall be aftiM- him? who can it-form him what will become of them when he in gone?
!•. ТТ is comfortable among the many changes of life to think, JL that they are under the direction of an Overruling Providence. We live in a world full of changes ; the conditions of men are different, yet continually altering. There are many favourable circumstances in life, which it is our wisdom ю observe and improve. Whatever may appear tu us as casual or contingent, is determined by Providence ; we must not therefore complain of changes, troubles, and labours, for God has allotted them to us; thty are ail beautiful in their season, make upon the whole an admirable scheme of Providence, and are for the good of the world.
2. We also see wherein the true enjoyment of earthly things consists. Not in eagerly pursuing or hoarding them up, but in using them with cheerfulness, and doing good with them. This is the anly good in them. They cannot make us happy themselves; but by a wise, pious, and charitable use of them, they may contribute to it. For these ends they were given us, and to these ends they ought to be employed.
3. The end of God's government and providence, and of the variety of his dispensations, is, that we may fear before Him. They were not designed to perplex and disturb us, but to edify us, by keeping alive in our minds a sense of our constant dependence upon God. They ought to direct our thoughts to him, and engage \is to pray to him for what we want, to give him thanks for what we receive, and to seek wisdom so to improve them, that they may turn to a good account at last.
4. The iniquity and oppression which there is in the world, especially in magistrates and great men, should confirm our faith in a future judgment, and lead us to Solomon's conclusion, that God ivill judge every fiurposc and every work. Let us not stumble at these disorders, but wait for the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
5. How much is it to be lamented that so few consider the immortality of their souls! how they are distinguished from the be; sts by a rational spirit, and what becomes of it after death! What pity is it that rational creatures should live like beasts, only to eat, drink, sleep, work, and play. Few live under the power of this truth, that their souls are immortal. Let us then seriously dwell upon the thought, that we may take due care of our immortal spirits, and lay ufi a good foundation against the time to come, and finally lay hold on eternal life.
The fireaeher here shows that vanity is increased by ofifiression, envy, idleness, covetousness, solitariness, and wilfulness.
1 O O I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are ^3 done under the sun, from firidc, covetousness, revenge, and Htnatrtre : and behold the ^ears of [such as were] oppressed, and they had no comforter; they could not helfi themselves, nor had any to help them; and on the side of their oppressors [there was] power; but they had no comforter. : and this vex
2 ed my spirit; Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive; / thought them in a better condition than those who suffer by ofipression, who fear
3 it, or even behold it. Yea, better [is he] than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done
<- under the sun. Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour,,/"^ his prosfierity, although he ought rather to esteem him for his integrity and diligence; but there are extremes in this case to be avoided* This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.