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our comfort in giving us necessary provisions for the body ; but if we will suffer desire to wander, it will bring home nothing but vexation and torment. Let the poor be diligent, frugal, and contented; they will then be better esteemed, and live more comfortably, than those who are always covering and never satisfied.
4. Since man knoweth not what is good for himself, let us rejoice in the overruling providence of God. We can see but a little way before us ; often choose and pursue what we cannot obtain ; or, if we obtain it, what only increaseth vanity, and multiplies cares and sorrows. We are apt to think that good for us which we see others eagerly pursuing, or what suits our senses, and therefore has the appearance of good, but we are commonly deceived. We know not the events that are before us ; therefore this should prevent our being anxious about our projects, eager in our pursuits, or sanguine in our expectations. Let us bless God for the views which his word gives us of a particular providence, and its assurances that all his creatures are under his immediate government and direction. Though we know not what is good for us, he does, and will withhold no good thing from them who walk uprightly. Let us therefore take the surest, shortest course to be easy and happy ; namely, to be anxious about nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make known our requests unto God.
Solomon proceeds to give positive advices about happiness, and how it
is to be obtained ; and recommends a care to get and keep a good name,
A GOOD name [is] better than precious ointment ; it M gives a man greater comfort and refreshment while living, than the most agreeable perfumes, and preserves him when dead, better than the most precious embalming ; and the day of death than the day of one's birth, as death is the end of his trouble and
the commencement of his feticity, and seals up his good character. 2 [It is) better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the
house of feasting : for that [is] the end of all men ; and the living will lay [it] to his heart; the contemplation of death is more desirable and useful than any of the enjoyments of life ; it may be expected that active, lively persons should in those circuma 3 stances be impressed. Sorrow, a composed, serious spirit, [is] better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better; affliction is helpful to every grace ; it fills the heart with humanity and compassion, and gives a sense of the uncertainty and vanity of human life ; by this means it is more.
weaned from the world and quickened to embrace true happiness.. $ The heart of the wise [is] in the house of mourning, and chooses
to indulge serious thoughts ; but the heart of fools [is] in the
house of mirth; loves merry meetings, the assembly room, and 5 the play house. (It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise,
the sharpest reproof, than for a man to hear the song of fools, 6 than music or flattery. For as the crackling of thorns under a
pot, which makes a great noise, look's cheerful, but is quickly gone, so [is] the laughter of the fool : this also (is) vanity. Another method to be happy is to command our passions when we have re7 ceived injury. Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad ;
and a gift destroyeth the heart ; it is very painful to be oppressed in judgment, especially when there is reason to believe that the judge hath been bribed ; it transports a man to unusual rage, and
puts him upon some irregular conduct; this is a reason for f.a. 8 tience, for Better [is] the end of a thing than the beginning
thereof : [and] the patient in spirit [is] better than the proud in spirit ; if men would wait the progress of an affair, they would
see it mend as it goes on ; but he that is hasty and impatient often 9 undoes himself by his ungoverned temper. Be not hasty in thy
spirit to be angry : for anger resteth in the bosom of fools ; it makes a visit sometimes to a wise man, but he soon dismisses the guest, he is not easily provoked, nor long angry ; but fools retain
it, turn it into a bosom friend, and act as passion directs. Another 10 way to happiness is to correct a complaining temper. Say not
thou, What is (the cause) that the former days were better than these for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this ; we do not know that they were better ; there have been good and bad in all ages. We read much of the best, and little of the worst; God has wise reasons for the present state of things; there is no age so bad but we may be good in it, and those that are most free in their complaints, may be sure that there are some persons not 80
good as they should be, that is, themselves, or else they would not 11 complain. Wisdom [is] good with an inheritance : and (by it
there is) profit to them that see the sun ; otherwise a rich man 12 is only more ridiculous, wicked, and mischievous. For wisdom
[is] a defence, [and] money [is] a defence ; both are useful in their place : but the excellency of knowledge [is, that] wisdom giveth life to them that have it ; religious knowledge supports under the troubles of life, gives present peace, and secures everlast
ing felicity. Another way to happiness is to accommodate ourselves 13 to the different conduct of Providence. Consider the work of
God : for who can make (that) straight, which he hath made
crooked ? God will proceed in his own way, and we cannot alter 14 his purpose. In the day of prosperity be joyful, 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. God hath so chequered human life, that we cannot from the present
prognosticate wha' will be hereafter, or find any thing upon the 15 whole to complain of, or order for the better. All things] have I
geen in the days of my vanity: there is a just (man) that perisheth in his righteousness, or rather, notwithstanding his righieousness, yea, upon account of it ; and there is a wicked [man) that prolongeth (his life) in his wickedness; a wicked man someo, 16 times enjoys great and long prosperity. Be not righteous over
much ; neither make thyself over wise : why shouldst thou destroy thyself? Do not expose yourselves to calamity by impru.
dence, excessive rigour, or intemperale zeal, which may bring upon 17 you contempt and persecution. On the other hand, Be not over
much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldst thou die before thy time? The greatest danger lies on the other side, of bringing mischief upon yourselves by criminal indulgences, by the hand of a magistrate, or of God. These two verses are similar to
our Lord's exhortation, ! Be wise as serpents and harmless as 18 doves.' [It is) good that thou shouldst take hold of this ; yea,
also from this withdraw not thine hand : for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all : it is good to take care in both these
respecte ; a truly pitous, conscientious man will prudently decline 19 dangers, and faithfully perform his duty. Wisdom strengtheneth
the wise more than ten mighty [men] which aie in the city, in particular by leading them to avoid estremes. It is not to be exa
pected it will be so diligently pursued and regarded, as to preseri'e 30 men from all error and misery ; For, or rather surely, (there is)
not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not,
therefore they have more need of my instructions ; and particularly, 21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken ; lest thou
hear thy servant curse thee; be not severe in censuring private injuries ; if you have a regard to your own peace, do not hearken to tallers and talebearers, nor be too inquisitive what people say or think of you ; else you will meet with vexatious reports from some who are your inferiors, who depend upon you and are obliged to you. To see and not to see, to hear and not to hear, is a secret
which will be very useful to a man in his journey through life. 22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself
likewise hast cursed others, who have been equally thy superiors, and treated the reputation of others as unkindly as thy own is treated : learn therefore 1o make candid allowances, and consider
the weakness and depravity of human nature. 23 All this have I proved by wisdom : I said, I will be wise ;
but it (was) far from me; I found great difficulty in getting wisa 24 dom, and did not keen to my own good resolution. That which is
far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out ? The compass
is so large, and templations so many, that both my knowledge and 25 virtue had their imperfections. I applied mine heart to know,
and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things,] and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness
[and] madness, what was the greatest folly and madness a man 26 could be chargeable with. And I find more bitter than death the
woman, whose heart (is) snares and nets, [and] her hands (as) band's : whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her ; but the sinner shall be taken by her. I found nothing more puzzling to the human understanding and dangerous to virtue than the arts of a wicked woman ; the grosser snares and a fondness for meats and
drinks, a watchful, pious man may escape ; but she is so great a
plague, that God often gives a man up to her, as a punishment for 27 his former sins. Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, 28 (counting] one by one, to find out the account : Which yet
my soul seeketh, but I find not : one man among a thousand have I found ; but a woman among all those have I not found, He diligently observed the characters of all about him, and found very few men worthy of friendship and throughly to be trusted, whose real sentiments and dispositions he could find out ; and fewer women that were so ; he had generally found more wisdom, good,
ness, rue friendship, and less artifice among men than wo. 29 men ; but this is not to be charged upon God: Lo, this only
have I found, that God had made man upright ; but they have sought out many inventions; they have perverted their own ways, corrupted their original integrity, and devised many ercuses for neglecting their duty. This chapter is so practical that we need not enter upon any fiarticular reflections. Let it be seriously rea viewed, that we may learn from it lo cultivate a scrious, prudent, humble, patient spirit ; let the concluding part especially teach young men to be exceeding watchful against bad women, and exceeding cautious in the choice of wives ; and younger women to be ainbitious to retrieve the honour of their sex, and cultivate intega rity, openness, and honour, which will be pleasing to God, and will Tender them amiable and useful in the world,
Solomon proceeds to some prudential directions which will conductors mun 10 true happiness ; beginning with a general encomium upon wisdom.
I W H O [is] as the wise (man?] who is so excellent as he ?
VV and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? under. stands things himself, urd is useful to others ? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed ; it gives him an agrecable countenance, takes away eve. ry thing morose, sour, and forbidding, and gains him respect and
esteem. 2 I (counsel thee] to keep the king's commandment in all lasu.
ful things, and (that) in regard of the oath of God, not merely to
avoid his displeasure, but out of a principle of conscience and a re3 gard to God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight, to leave his
presence or service through passion and discontent : stand not in an evil thing; if thou hast in any respect offended, though thou
mayest escape hiin for a while, he will find an opportunity to pun. 4 ish thee ; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the
word of a king [is, there is] power to execute his commands : and who may say unto him, What doest thou? who shall call
. 3 him to an account without extreme hazard? Whoso keepeth the
commandment, continues dutiful and loyal, shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judg* ment how to withdraw from public affairs without offending the 6 prince, and when and how to give him humble advice. Because to
every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man [is] great upon him ; men suffer much for want of pirua dence in not observing and seizing fit times, especially in courts. For he knoweth not that which shall be : for who can tell him when it shall be ? he neither knotus nor can any one tell him when 8 the like opportunity will return. [There is) no man that hath
power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither shath he] power in the day of death : and (there is no discharge in (that) war ; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it. Probably this is said with particular reference to princes ; let them consider that there is no giving law to men's thoughts ; and
likewise that death is hastening toward them, when they must 9 give an acccount of all their tyranny and oppression. All this have
I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun : (there is] a time wherein one man ruleth over another
to his own hurt, yea, sometimes is dethroned and ruined in this 10 world. And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and
gone from the place of the Holy, that is, the seat of judgment, which is God's place, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done ; their pomp vanished with them, and could not 80 much as secure them an honourable remembrance: this [is] also vanity.
God has denounced a righteous sentence upon them, but Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil ;* they grow licentious by the delay, and think of nothing but doing
mischief. 12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his [days]
be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him ; who not withstanding all
the oppressions they suffer, continue obedient to him and their gor: 13 ernors : But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall
he prolong [his] days, (which are) as a shadow ; because he feareth not before God: plainly implying that there is a happiness in reserve for every good man ; in comparison with which, a hun
dred years of prosperity enjoyed by a sinner, are not worth men14 tioning : but they see not this distinction made at present. There
is a vanity which is done upon the earth ; that there be just (men,) unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked (men] to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous ; just men are reproached, oppressed, and persccuted, and the wicked live in ease, affluence, and splendor : I said that this also (is) vanity. .
As eastern executions were done speedily, perhaps this may intimate, that if God's judgments were as speedy as theirs, they would not dare to act as they do.