Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

workmen are oppressed by cruel masters, and tenants by their landlords. There are few to pity them, and fewer still to redress them. Let us lament such scenes, and carefully avoid such a detestable character; and appear as far as we can, the comforters of those that are oppressed.

2. How malevolent and wretched is that fpirit which leads men to envy those who prosper more than themfelves! When honest men take pains, deal honourably, and meet with success, their neighbours, especially their brother tradesmen, and some who are in plentiful circumstances too, will envy them, misrepresent them, injure them by false suggestions, vile insinuations and endeavours to lessen their reputation and undermine their interests. This is a most wicked disposition, and yet very common.

A man of true charity and christian love is glad to see his neighbour thrive, and takes pleasure in his prosperity.

3. We fee of what an infinuating, growing nature, the love of money is, which should make us careful to guard against it. One would scarcely believe, if one had not seen it, that there are persons in plentiful circumstances, who have no near relations dependant upon them, yet are continually saving; are not content with their own business, but keep pushing into that of any others where there is profit; who have no other pleasure but that of seeing their money, and thinking how much they are worth. They have no excuse for this avarice, and have no good from it. May we therefore beware of the love of money, which increaseth dreadfully in the heart which indulges it; and remember, that labouring incessantly to hoard up wealth, is robbing the soul of good at present, and drowning it in future perdition.

4. The benefit and comfort of society should lead us to cultivate social and kind affections. There are noble helps and comforts from it in almost every circumstance of life. Let us then labour to gain and keep friends, and in order to this show ourselves friendly. This temper should be carried with us into religion; there we shall find the benefit of pious friendship and religious associations; and by strengthening one another's hands in God, and provoking one another to love and to good works, we shall have great aslift.

I ?


ance in the attack of spiritual enemies; and the body of Christ will be edified, while the members are knit together in love

5. We learn, that to be unwilling to be admonished, is one of the worst and most contemptible of characters. A wise child, an humble, teachable person, is much more worthy and honourable than a conceited obftinate old king, with all the dignity that his crown and age could give him. This is often the case of the rich and great; it is often the case of the aged; they think themselves above admonition, efpecially if those who give it are poorer or younger than themselves. Those who need admonition most, bear it worst. But let us show that we are wise (at least not incorrigible fools) by receiving admonition calmly and thankfully, and setting ourselves to correct our errors, and go on to perfection.

[ocr errors]

CH A P. V. .
Solomon having described the vanity of the world in

many stances, and hinted that religion was the only

, antidote against it, here proceeds to caution against those errors in religion into which men are ready to fall; and then returns to the vanity of power and wealth. K

EE P thy foot when thou goest to the house of

God; consider what thou art going about, and behave in the most reverent manner; do not run hastily and rafbly into the divine presence;' and be more ready to hear, to be instručted in his will, and to obey it, than to give the sacrifice of fools, such facrifices as wicked men frequently offer : for they confider not that they do evil; they do not consider that while they go on in wicked courses

, or worship in an indecent manner, they are adding to their 2 guilt. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine

heart be hafty to utter [any] thing before God by way of prayer or vow: for God (is) in heaven, and thou

upon • Here is an allusion to the eastern custom of putting off the shoe in token of reverence; as putting off the hat, and uncovering the head is among us.

upon earth, he is highly exalted above thee: therefore let 3 thy words be few, that is, well considered. For a dream

cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice [is known] by multitude of words; as a multitude of bufiness occasions confused dreams, so in multitudes of

words men are led to say vain and foolish things before they 4 are aware. When thou voweft a vow unto God, defer

not to pay it; for (he hath] no pleasure in fools; he is

highly displeased with them : pay that which thou hast 5 vowed, for God is not to be jested with. Better [is it]

that thou shouldit not yow, than that thou shouldīt

vow and not pay; the one being only a neglect, the other 6 a dire&t contempt of the divine majesty. Suffer not thy

mouth to cause thy flesh to fin; do not entangle thyself with a needless vow, which the frailty of human nature may lead thee to break;' neither say thou before the angel, to the priest, when thou bringest a sacrifice, or the angels that are present at divine worship, that it (was) an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice,

and destroy the work of thine hands? This is offensive to 7 God, and tends to bring a curse on what thou doelt. For in

the multitude of dreams and many words (there are] also [divers) vanities; many words uttered in a solemn manner without due consideration, as vows or prayers, are as vain as dreams : but fear thou God; reverence his prefence and majesty, and do not offend him by thy rashness. 8 If thou feeft the oppression of the poor, and violent

perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter : for [he that is) higher than the highest regardeth; and (there be] higher than they; there is one higher than the oppressors, who will punish them

for it. 9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all; another

reason against covetoufness; the necessaries of life are easily obtained ; vegetable nature supplies the whole animal world,

and all men, even the greatest, yea, the king (himself ) is 10 served by the field. He that loveth silver shall not be

I 3

satisfied • Absolute vows against marriage, certain food, or recreations, are to be avoided; for by breaking the vow those things may become sinful which in their own nature are indifferent.

satisfied with silver; he will never think he has enough;

nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this [is] ¡I also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased

that eat them; there is a larger family and retinue, and therefore more expense; and others enjoy his wealth as much

as he: and what good [is there] to the owners thereof, 12 saving the beholding (of them) with their eyes. The

sleep of a labouring man [is] sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep; it brings cares which counterbalance

the satisfaction it affords, and which often prevent his re13 pose. There is a fore evil [which] I have seen under

the sun, (namely,] riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt; the rich are fametimes marked out as obječts

of opprefron and ruin in arbitrary countries, and anxiety 14 often destroys their health, their peace, and their fouls. But those riches perish by evil travail

, by extravagance and imprudence: and he begetteth a fon, and (there is! nothing in his hand; he leaves his family impoverished, which is so much the worse, as his son was educated with the

hope of a fortune, so that he is reduced to peculiar calamity. 15 As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall

he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand; if na

other accident deprives him of his wealth, yet death will 26 strip him of all. And this also [is] a fore evil, [that]

in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind? who hath

taken abundance of pains for that which he can na more hold 17 than he can the wind ? All his days also he eateth in

darkness, either does not allow himself the conveniences of life, or is disturbed by irregular passions, so that he has no comfort in his enjoyments; and (he hath] much forrow and wrath with his sickness; fickness and confinement are peculiarly grievous to him, because they take him of from his favourite pursuits, and are likely to end in death, when he must leave all his pollefions behind him.

Behold (that which I have seen: [it is) good and comely (for one) to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all



[ocr errors]

the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it [is]

his portion, all that falls to his share of the enjoyments and 19 polleons of life. Every man also to whom God hath

given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in

his labour; this [is] the gift of God; it ought to be ac20 knowledged as a singular fruit of his bounty. For he shall

not much remember the days of his life; because God anfwereth [him) in the joy of his heart; he shall not think life tedious and long, nor be too much concerned at the evils that befall him, because God gives him inward tranquillity, the pleasures of religion, communion with himfelf, and the hope of a glorious immortality; these amply compensate all his trouble and sorrow.



E have need to be extremely cautious that our

religious services be not vain and finful. There is much excellent advice on this head in the former part

of the chapter, that should be seriously recollected every fabbath. We should enter upon divine worship with a folemn pause, with great composure of fpirit, and all external marks of reverence. Sensible of the infinite distance be. tween God and us, let us attend to the words we utter, and join heartily in those which are uttered in our name. Our prayers in general ought to be short, because (if they be long) it is next to impossible to keep up a due attention and fervent affection. Let us also remember the caution here given about our vows. As christians, we ought to recollect and

pay them. It were a fad thing that our worship should be vain; that we should be doing evil when we think we are doing good. To imagine that God will connive at our fins, because we pay him folemn worship, is a high affront and indignity. By such services men are contracting new guilt, instead of atoning for past.

2. We fee of what admirable use the fear of God is. A sense of his presence and providence, and a reverence for his majesty and authority, will prevent our being disturbed hy our own or others dreams; it will also prevent our


I 4

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »