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life; there is no other satisfačtion or felicity which a man
can meet with in worldly enjoyments but to use them with a ig cheerful temper, and do good to others with them. And
also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy
be diligently fought and thankfully acknowledged as coming 14 from him.
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 from his purpose; he has fixed this uncertainty to keep men in a constant
dependance, that they may humbly submit, and not murmur 15 at what they cannot avoid. That which hath been is
now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is paft; it always has been thus, and always will be; therefore it is indecent to complain of the settled laws of God's creation; and as he deter, mines all the events of our lives, he will call us to an account
for the conduet of them. 6 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 power and authority, wiihout religion;
or, as some understand it, so liable are men to rapine and 17 oppression, which leffens the value of ecrthly comforts. !
said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for [there is] a time there for every pur
pose and for every work; this was the comfort I had 18 under this vanity and oppression. 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; 0 that God would give these proud oppresors to see that they mall die, not only like men, but
like beasts; that their oppresion shall last but a little time, 19 and that they shall not long enjoy the consequences of it. For
that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts ; even 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 of death: for all (is) vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the same duft, and 21 all turn to that dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of
man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that gyeth downward to the earth? Few men, especially great men, consider seriously the difference between the human na.
ture and the brutal, the immortality of the one and the mor22 tality of the other. Wherefore I perceive that [there is)
nothing better, than that a mån should rejoice in his own works; take the comfort of what God has given hine without labouring after honour and preferment; for that [is] his portion; all the good he can have from them : for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him ? who can inform him what will become of them when he is gone ?
T is comfortable among the many changes of life
to think, 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 to observe and improve. Whatever may appear to us as casual of contingent, is determined by providence; we must not therefore complain of changes, troubles, and labours, for God has allotted them to us ; they are all 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 only 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 dependance upon God. They ought to direct our thoughts to him, and engage us 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 will judge every purpose 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 fo few consider the immortality of their souls ! how they are distinguished from the beasts 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 fpirits, and lay up a good foundation against the time to come, and finally lay hold on eternal life.
CH A P. IV. The preacher here shows that vanity is increased by oppreffion, envy, idleness, covetousness, folitariness, and wilfulness.
O I returned, and considered all the oppressions
that are done under the sun, from pride, covetoulness, revenge, and illnature and behold the tears of (such as were] oppressed, and they had no comforter ; they could not help themselves, nor had any to help them; and on the side of their oppressors [there was] power;
but they had no comforter: and this vexed my spirit; 2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead
more than the living which are yet alive; I thought them in a better condition than those who suffer by oppression, who
3 fear it, or even behold it. Yea, better [is he] than
both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen 4 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, for his profperity, altho' 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. 5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his
own flesh; under a pretence of avoiding envy and oppref. fion, he glves himself up to an idle disposition, till he almost starves, or becomes a prey to his uneasy passions, that do as it were devour him. The other extreme is exceflive anxiety,
for 6 Better [is] an handful [with] quietness, than both
the hands full [with] travail and vexation of spirit; a little with a contented mind and a comfortable enjoyment of
it, is better than ever fo much with uneasiness and discontent. 7 Then I returned, and law vanity under the sun, in
the wretched case of a sordid miser, which shows the vanity
of the world, and that the love of wealth grows upon men. : There is one [alone,) and (there is) not a second ; yea,
he hath neither child nor brother; no body to care for but himself, no near relation : yet (is there] no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither [faith he,] For whom do I labour, and bereave my foul of good? This [is] also vanity, yea, it [is] a fore travail; a wicked disposition and a miserable state.
On the other hand, consider the benefits of friendship and society, of which covetousness in a great measure deprives men; but which would tend to cure that fordid difpofition. 9 Two (are] better than one; because they have a good io reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift
up his fellow: but woe to him (that is) alone when he falleth ; for (he hath] not another to help him up. ii Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: bit 12 how can one be warm (alone?] And if one prevail
against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold eord is not quickly broken; near relations and friends may be assistants in danger, helps in labour, and mutual Vol. V.
comforts to each other in various circumstances of life, and especially in adversity.
But society alone cannot make a man happy. Who have more about them than kings? yet they are not always happy. 13 Better, that is, more happy, [is] a poor and a wise child,
than an old and foolish king, who will no more be
admonished, whose dignity and age lead him to reje&t good 14 counsel. For out of prison he, the poor wise child, com.
eth to reign; tho' confined for debt, or in low circumstances, he is speedily advanced; his wisdom bears him above his misfortunes, and fixes him in a considerable station; whereas also [he that is] born in his kingdom becometh poor ; for want of prudent management, he that is born to a large estate, and is, as we say, a little prince, is impoverished and
despised. Another proof of the vanity of the world is, that 15 even wise kings lose the esteem of their subječts." I consider
ed all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead. This would be better rendered, I have seen all the living under the fun
going with the child that is second, that is, the heir apparent 16 to the crown. [There is) no end of all the people,
(even] of all that have been before them; the number of all the people, even of all that have been before him, is without end: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him; tho' vast crouds attend his levees, the time will come. when this young man shall see himself negle&ted, as his father was. Surely this also (is) vanity and vexation of spirit: therefore happiness is not to be found in royal pomp, grandeur, and attendants
. Solomon might speak this feelingly: it must have been very mortifying to see his courtiers leaving him, and crouding after such a fool as Rehoboam
HE many oppressions which are in the world,
are very distresling to a pious, compassionate heart. Let us bless God that we are not under publick oppression by tyrannical princes and cruel judges; tho there is a great deal in private life: many servants and