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ed, oppressed, and persecuted, and the wicked live in easo,

affluence, and Splendour : I said that this also [is] vanity. 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 sun; 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 dispensations

of providence. 16 When I applied mine 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 men are to get wealth, who 17 allow no feep 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 [it;] therefore let us not disquiet ourselves about it, but cheerfully acquiesce in the divine government.

REFLECTIONS.

IF
F we defire to be easy and happy, we must honour

the king, observe the laws of our country, and not unnecessarily blame the administration. No argument can be drawn from this charge, for passive obedience, tho' 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-febje&t 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

great wisdom in every circumstance and station of life, to attend to times and seasons, and em. brace proper opportunities for doing good. This is an

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ECCLESIASTES. IX.

131 important maxim, not only for courtiers, 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 circumstances and retrieving his errors; but thro' giddiness or dulness suffers them to slip? Hence also it is that men fall into great and endless misery in the other world; be. cause they will not hear God's voice to-day, 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 fad 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 fentence

upon them for their iniquities; but because his patience bears long with them, they grow hardened, and fin the more. Yet the sentence will be executed, and tho' they live ever so long and prosperously it shall be ill with them. May the goodness of God then lead us to repentance, and his long-suffering be to us falvation.

4. We are here taught our duty amidst the mysterious conduct of providence. We see good men afflicted, and wicked men prosperous; 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.

CH A P. IX. Solomon having in a former chapter made fome observations on

the unequal distribution of good and evil, he here directs us what our conduet jould be amidst these mysteries of providence.

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OR all this I considered in my heart even to de

clare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, Care] in the hand of God; are under his conduct and protection, he orders their affairs in the wifest and kindest manner; therefore we Mould not complain, but cheerfully refer events to his disposal: neverthelefs no man knoweth either love or hatred (by) all (that)

is] before them; it does not appear at present whether 2 God lovės 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 Kim that sacrificeth, and to him that sacri

ficeth not: as [is] the good, fo [is] the finner; [and] 3 he that fweareth, as [he] that feareth an oath. This

[is] an evil among all [things) that are done under the fun, 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 fons of men is full of evil, and madness [is] in their heart while they live, and after

that [they go] to the dead; they encourage themselves in 4 a course of wickedness, and so hasten their own death. For

to him that is joined to all the living there is hope that they may be recovered from their calamitous state; for a living dog is better than a dead lion; "a living man, in

the lowest circumstances, is 'inore serviceable to the world 5 than the greatest prince when dead. For the living know

that they shall die, are capable of confidering and improv. ing the thoughts of death: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the

memory of them is forgotten; they are incapable of any 6 thing, and foon forgotten. Also their love, and their

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 7 their difpleasure: therefore Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for

God • Some suppose the following verses to be the observations of an epicure, who took occasion to declare his disbelief of a future ftate; but I take them to be Solomon's words, fpeaking only of the present life.

سم

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 cheer

ful manner; for if thou art one that feareth God, he ac8 cepteth thee, and would have thee be joyful. Let thy

garments be always white, neither be fordid nor fad; and

let thy head lack no ointment; let thy appearance be as 9 pleasant as it innocently may. 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 satisfaEtion, 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 plea

sures so far as to become Nothful and dissolute, but attend to 10 the proper business of life. 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 goeft; do not presume too much on your own wisdom, industry, and power, nor yet negleEt every proper exertion of them.

I returned, and law under the sun, 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 octurrences, (1 Kings v. 4.) happeneth to them all; sudden accidents start up in which

all a man's cunning, valour, strength, and influence, are in12 effeElual. 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; fo [are] the fons 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 precautions. 13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it 14 (seemed) great unto me: (There was] a little city, and

few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and belieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

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15 Now

15 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 same poor man. 16 Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: never

theless, 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 to external appearances

than to wisdom; yet this instance shows that wisdom is the 17 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 oftentation,

are more regarded than the noise of an insolent, overbearing 18

Wisdom [is] better than weapons of war: but one finner destroyeth much good; one foolish obstinate man, by his perverseness often puzzles and ruins a good cause, and defeats the endeavours of the wisest of men.

REFLECTION S.

man,

I.

W

E are here taught not to judge of men by their

outward condition, or the events that happen to them. Tho' we are so often exhorted to this 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 tho' the same events may happen to both, yet the design and end of them may be widely different.

2. We fee 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 wifdom. God certainly never gave us fo many good things to be fnares and temptations to us. It is pleasing to him that we should rejoice in his favours, and thow 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 none so well as those that are good. There is no religion in a Novenly dress, a meagre diet, or a gloomy fpirit. God would have all his servants cheerful, and thus Thow that their master is good, and their work pleasant.

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