BEing disappointed in his expectation from the knowledge of the Creature, he now resolveth to search what good may be found in the use and fruition of it, and so sets himself to try what content either sen∣sual, or rational pleasures could bring to the heart; which he doth, from vers. 1. to ver. 12. and finding that he had changed for the worse, he goes back again to the considerati∣on of wisdome and madnesse, and finding as much disappointment the second time, as he had done the first, vers. 12—23. He con∣cludeth, that there is no comfort nor tran∣quility to be found in the use of Creatures, till by the favour of God it be sweetned unto us, Vers. 24, 25, 26.
Vers. 1. I Said in my heart] I purposed Within my self, and did resolve with intimate affection to try what plea∣sures would do, Chap. 1.16. Luke 12.19.
Go to now] It is an adverbial form of ex∣horting Page 49 and quickening his heart unto such a course.
I will prove thee with mirth] Or, by mirth, as by the instrument of enquiring after hap∣pinesse, Judg. 6.39. 1 King. 10.1. I will make tryal another way whether pleasures will content thee, Psal. 26.2. the word be∣ing deriveable from another root, admits of another sense, but to the same purpose, I will pour out my self in delights, or I will abound in delights. Pleasures do melt and pour out the soul; hence Reuben is said to be unsta∣ble as waters, Gen. 49.4. Ezek. 16.15. Lusts have a greediness and excess in them, Eph. 4.19. I will wholly give my self, my heart shall flow forth into delights, I will fully gra∣tifie my senses, and indulge my fancy in all pleasing things.
therefore enjoy pleasure] Or, see good. To see, is to enjoy, Isa. 53.11. Psal. 34.8. & 4.6. Live plentifully, indulge to thy self all delights, restrain not thy self from any desire of thine eyes.
V. 2. I said of laughter] By laughter, he meaneth any excess of joy, and merriment, when the heart is so full, that it cannot con∣tain its delight within, but it breaketh forth into the face, voice, and outward behaviour, Gen. 21.6. Psal. 126.2. Luke 6.21.
Page 50or I said to laughter, Thou art mad] By a Prosopopoeia. Excess of joy transporteth the mind, and as it were displaceth reason, argues much levity, vanity, incomposedness of judgment. True joy is a severe and se∣rious thing, keeps the heart alwayes in a stayed and fixed condition, but the joy which breaks forth into laughter, is like the crack∣ling of thorns, Eccl. 7.6. and hath a sorrow at the bottom of it: as a mad-man, the more merry he is, is the more miserable, Prov. 14.13. Jam. 4.9.
and of mirth, what doth it?] What good or profit bringeth it with it? Job 35.6, 7. Matth. 20.32. The interrogation bids a chal∣lenge to all the masters of mirth, that were to produce any one satisfactory fruit which it affordeth. Thus we see by the example of Solomon, that the heart cannot stay long on any one enquiry wherein it meeteth with dis-satisfaction, but it quickly hasteneth un∣to another, as a Bee flyeth from flower to flower, when there is not enough in one to satiate it, as a sick man that removes from one bed, couch, chamber, unto another for ease, and finds none, Esay 57.10. Jer. 2.23, 36. 2. That in such kind of changes usu∣ally the heart goeth from better to worse, 〈◊〉 here Solomon from wisdome to pleasure• 3. Here is observable the nature of sensua•Page 51 mirth, it tends towards excess, and so to∣wards undecency and madness: for here is not condemned moderate, but excessive plea∣sure, when a man gives up his heart to it, and makes it the business of his life.
V. 3. I sought in my heart] Upon serious deliberation, and further exploration of that good which men may in this life attain unto, finding that neither wisdome alone, nor plea∣sures alone, could bring me unto it, I pur∣posed to temper them together; and since I found that wisdome and knowledge was ac∣companied with grief and sorrow, I intend∣ed to mitigate those griefs with bodily de∣lights: and yet so, as that my wisdom might restrain those delights from any excess, and from disabling me in the duties which I owed to God or men.
to give my self unto wine] To draw my flesh with wine. Or, to draw forth my flesh unto wine. Abstinence doth shrink and contract the body, and keep it under, 1. Cor. 9.27. Dan. 1.10. feasting and mirth doth draw it forth, Psal. 73.7. That leannesse or wasting of body which by hard studies I had contracted, I now purposed by more deli∣cacy of living, and indulgence to draw forth into freshness, fulness and beauty again. Or, to draw with wine, to spend more time in feasting, banqueting, and delights then for∣merly Page 52 I had done. So drawing signifies some∣times continuance and prolongation of a bu∣siness, Psal. 85.5. Isai. 13.22. Ezek. 12.28. So the glutton, Luk. 16.19.
unto wine] (i. e.) By a Synecdoche, unto all kind of delicates in eating and drinking, in banqueting and feasting. As bread signi∣fies all necessaries, Amos 7.12. with 6.11. so wine all delicates, Prov. 9.2. Cant. 8.2. & 2.4.
yet acquainting mine heart with wisdome] Or, leading my heart by wisdom, resolving to keep such a temper, as to carry my self not licentiously, but wisely in the use of pleasures, to keep my self from being capti∣vated unto, or swallowed up of these carnal delights, as using them not sensually, with a bruitish excesse, but critically and rationally to finde out what real content they do af∣ford unto the heart of an intelligent man. I did so give my flesh unto wine, as though I kept my heart for wisdom still.
and to lay hold on folly] By folly, he meaneth those pleasures, the laying hold on which he found in the event to be nothing but folly. Thus to lay hold on them is fully to possess a mans self with them, and to em∣brace and apprehend them with all one• strength, Isa. 56.4. 1 Tim. 6.19. Phil. 3.12, 13. It may likewise seem to intimate thus Page 53 much, That he held folly from mixing with his pleasures, or coming into his heart along with them, to hold it as a man holds an ene∣my from doing him any hurt, Judg. 12.6. & 16.21.
till I might see what was that good for the sons of men] This was the end of his enqui∣ring; it was not to drown himself in sensua∣lity, but to discover what kind of course was that, which would render this present mor∣tal life more comfortable to a man. He did it not vitiously, but to make an experiment only. Solomon found in himself emptiness and indigency, he felt strong opposition af∣ter some good which might supply those wants; and he had active principles of rea∣son to enquire what that good was, which Nature did so much want, and so greatly de∣sire. And this reason and habitual wisdome he imployed to the uttermost, to discover that good under heaven which might most perfectly satisfie the wants and desires of the reasonable soul.
under 〈◊〉] As before under the Sun. He was not ignorant, but that in the Heavens there was a supreme and infinite good, which the glorified soul should enjoy unto endlesse satisfaction; but he speaketh •here of that good under the Sun, which may most swee∣ten the mortal life of man.
Page 54all the dayes of their life] That is, time good which is durable, and commensurate to the Soul that feeds on it. Now most of the things he here recounteth are onely for some seasons of life; as painful studies, vigorous pleasures, active negotiations, when age and and infirmities come, they forsake him; and so these good things dye before the man that should enjoy them, 2 Sam. 19.35. Psal. 90.10. Eccl. 1•.3, 4, 5. Therefore in this en∣quiry, the duration of the good, is as requi∣site to be considered as the quality of it; whether it will continue with a man as a stay and comfort to him all the dayes of his life. Nothing will do this but godliness, Psal. 92.13, 14. There can be no time, no condition in a mans life, wherein the fear of God will not be comfortable unto him.
Here we observe; 1. That in all these inquiries Solomon begins with his heart, thereby noting unto us, That the good which must satisfie a man, must bear proportion to his heart, and to his inward man. 2. That he tempers his pleasures and 〈◊〉 pains in seeking knowledge, together; teaching there∣by, that the right use of pleasures, is not to take up the whole man, but to mitigate the bitterness and pains of severer studies there∣by. 3. That a man hath never greater need of the bridle of wisdom, then when he is in Page 55 pursuance of carnall delights. 4. That pleasures and folly are very near of kin; and a very hard thing it is to hold folly so fast in, but that it will get loose, and immixe it self in carnal delights. 5. That a free and full indulgence unto pleasures, though not upon sensual, but critical and more curious aims, will by degrees steal away the heart, & much abate more spiritual and heavenly delights: corruption ever creeping in with curiosity, Prov. 20.1. & 23.3, 6. It is a noble and high frame of spirit, to look out in every thing which a man undertakes, after that which is truly and principally good for his heart, in the use of that thing. 7. That the comfort of a mans life under heaven, is to be doing of that good which God hath given him his strength and life for. 8. That nothing is truely the good of a mans life, which is not commensurate in duration and continu∣ance thereunto, and which will not properly minister comfort unto him into whatsoever various conditions of life, as sickness, poverty, bondage, disfavour, old age, &c. he may be cast into.
V. 4. Having upon further deliberation, de∣clared his purpose, to search for good amongst pleasures and bodily delights; he now shew∣eth what magnificent and royal provisions he made, in order to that design, sumptuo•s diet, stately buildings, vineyards, gardens, or∣chards, Page 56 forests, parks, fish-ponds, honourable retinue of servants; possessions of all sorts of cattel; treasures of gold, silver, and all precious things; musick vocal, instrumen∣tal; and all these in great abundance, as far as royal wealth could procure, largenesse of heart desire, or exquisite wisdom contrive: In all which he took exceeding much joy and delight, being withheld by no manner of im∣pediments from the full fruition of them; yet in the conclusion, he passeth the same censure here, as he had done before, That all was vanity, &c.
I made me great works] I did not stoop to base and inconsiderable things, to find out that pleasure which might satisfie my desires, but I sought it in magnificent works, becom∣ming the royal state of a King; as Esth. 1.4. Of which works, he doth immediately sub∣joyn a large catalogue.
I builded me; Or to my self, or for my self (it is Datrius's Commody) houses, large and stately, thirteen years in building, 1 Reg. 7.1—13. & 9.15, 17, 18, 19. Houses for habitation, and houses for state and pleasure; winter-houses, and summer-houses, Amos 3.15. David had built an house of Cedar be∣fore, 2 Chron. 2.3. but Solomon contenteth not himself with that.
Page 57vineyards] Cant. 8 11. David likewise had vineyards, and orchards, and cattel, and treasures, and servants set over all these, 1 Chron. 7.25 — 31. yet Solomon will have them in greater magnificence, having no wars nor troubles to interrupt him, as his fa∣ther had.
V. 5. I made me gardens and orchards] Gardens for flowers, plants, spices, Cant. 6.2. orchards, or paradises for trees of all sorts; under which we may comprize forrests and parks, or places for choisest cattel, Cant. 4.13, 14. Neh. 2.8. which were places of great pleasure and delight, Esth. 1.8.
V. 6. pools of water, to water therewith the wood, &c.] Artificial ponds, and receptacles of water, whether arising from springs, or otherwise by aqueducts, and other means de∣rived thither, 2 Reg. 18.17. These used to be in, or near great gardens, and near prince∣ly works, 2 Reg. 20.20. Neh. 2.14. & 3.15. Gen. 2.9, 10. Cant. 7.4. To water the wood or forrest, whereby he seemeth to mean the gardens and orchards, before mentioned, for the spaciousness of them. So a forrest is elsewhere called an orchard or paradise, Neh. 2.8. These things in these hot Countries, were accounted special blessings, and from thence they have their name, Josh. 15.19. These things he had as materials for his wis∣dome, 1 Reg. 4.33.
Page 58V. 7. I got me servants and maidens] Some he bought or hired from abroad, others were born unto him in his house: and these he had for the manifold duties of his royal family: Such had David, 1 Chron. 27.26.—31. and so Solomon, 1 Reg. 4.7. & 5.16, 17. & 10.5.
And had servants born in mine house] Sons of mine house; the children of an handmaid born in her masters house, were born ser∣vants unto the master of the house, Gen. 14.14. & 15.3. & 17.12. Jer. 2.14. hereunto David alludeth, when he saith, I am thy ser∣vant, the son of thy handmaid, Psal. 116.16. The servants of Solomon, which were cer∣tain publick officers, appointed by Solomon, we read of long after, Ezra 2.58. Neh. 7.60. who may seem to be those of the Canaanites, whom Solomon made bond-slaves, 1 Reg. 9.21. Some, by sons of the house, understand those officers whom Solomon did set over his house, to order the Affairs thereof, 1 Reg. 4.27.
possessions of great and small cattel] Or, I had cattel both great and small, or herds and flocks. The first word is general to all cat∣tel, great or small; the two next, the species of that general, Gen. 34.23. 1 Reg. 4.22, 23, 26.
above all that were before me in Ierusalem] Page 59 As more wisdom, Chap. 1.16. so more wealth, and provisions for that wisdom to work up∣on, 1 Reg. 3.13. & 10.23.
V. 8. I gathered me also silver and gold] I heaped it up; as Psal. 33.7. 1 Reg. 9.28. & 10.14. & 15.27. The wayes of this great gain were Tribute, 1 Reg. 10.25. Honourers presents, sent out of the high admiration of his wisdom, from other Princes, 1 Reg. 10.10. & 4.34. and merchandize, or free-trade into remote Countries, 1 Reg. 9.26— 28. & 10.15, 28.
and the peculiar treasure of Kings and of Pro∣vinces] Precious rarities, or most choice & de∣sirable things, which men use to lay up in their treasures; the chief rarities of several Coun∣tries, 1 Chron. 29.3. Hence whatsoever is in∣timately dear and honourable, is metaphori∣cally called segullah, Exod. 19.5. Psal. 135.4. Mal. 3.17. The Apostle rendreth it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Tit. 2.14. others, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that which is of principal worth and esteem, Isai. 39.2. The preciousest and most desirable things, which Kingdoms and Provinces could afford, or wherewith Princes and Provinces did use to present him, 1 Reg. 4.21. & 9.11. & 10.2, 10. 2 Chron. 9.9. & 10.24.
I gat me men singers and women singers] These as well as those, because naturally their voices are sweeter then mens: So we finde Page 60 them joyned, 2 Sam. 19.35. 2 Chron. 35.25. So we read, that not onely Moses and the men, but Miriam and the women did sing at the overthrow of Pharaoh, Exod. 15.1. & 20.21. 1 Sam. 8.6, 7.
and the delights of the sons of men, viz. mu∣sical instruments, &c.] The word translated musical instruments, is no where else used in the Scripture, and hath various interpreta∣tions put upon it. Some understanding by it, beautiful daughters, denominated from their brests, as elsewhere from their womb, Judg. 5.30. Others, for choice and deli∣cate women, taken as a prey in war, as we finde there the manner was: and others for divers other things, as we find in Hierom, Drusius, Mercer, and others. But the most received sense, and most agreeable with the former delight of singers, is musical instru∣ments.
V. 9. So I was great, and increased] Or, added to my greatness; as Chap. 1.16. 1 Reg. 10.23.
also my wisdome remained with me] This he addeth, 1. as a rare and unusual thing, that pleasures should not at all smother and suppress wisdom; 2. As an Argument to∣wards the main conclusion, that in the midst of all these delights, he did intend the business for the which he used them, namely, Page 61 by wisdome to observe, what real good and satisfaction they did bring to the heart of man.
V. 10. And whatsoever mine eyes desired, &c.] It might be objected, That his wisdom haply and his fear of God, restrained both his eye and his heart from so full a fruition of these delights, as were requisite to extract all the comfort of them; so Job restrained his eye, Job 31.1. and Solomon adviseth a glutton to restrain his appetite, Prov. 23.2. Numb. 15.39. To this he answereth, That whatsoever his eyes desired, (as the eye is one of the principal seats of desire or lusting, 1 Joh, 2.16. Josh. 7.21.) he did not reserve any thing of it from them, which withheld his heart from any joy: Neither did any accidental hinderance intercede, as war, or sickness, or sorrow, or any notable affliction; which might debar him from a liberal and cheerful use of all this his greatnesse. The eye is here taken synecdochically for all the senses, (for in this ample preparation there was provision for them all.) Much labour and care he had taken to make those provi∣sions for the flesh; (as the Apostles phrase in another sense is, Rom. 13.14.) and there was no other fruit of all that labour, but ha∣ving gotten them, to enjoy them.
Page 62my heart rejoyced] That is, I my self did intimately rejoyce and please my self in the fruit of my labours.
this was my portion of all my labour] This was all the fruit, benefit, and as it were, in∣heritance, which my labours in this kind did purchase for me. A metaphor from the man∣ner of dividing inheritances, Numb. 18.20. or spoils, 1 Sam. 30.24.
V. 11. Then I looked on all, &c.] After all this, I turned and looked back, or took an impartial survey of all my works, which with such painful labours and trouble I had wrought: and found, that the fruit was not answerable to the toyl which was sustained for the reaping of it: but that this also was vanity, a perishing, withering, and dying comfort, a feeding upon wind, and that it left no abiding benefit behind it, Ch. 1.3.
V. 12. And I turned my self, &c.] Here Solomon doth once more seriously apply himself, as he did before, Chap. 1.17. to take a view of wisdom and folly. Because it might haply be objected, That at the first conside∣ration of them, he might let many things slip, which were of weight and moment in his present inquiry. Because, second thoughts, and solemn review of former studies, may haply beget some retractation, and discover Page 63 some error: The later day being usually the disciple of the former; and we use to say, that the second thoughts are the wisest: therefore when the Scripture will put a thing beyond question, it sayes it over again, Gal. 8.9.
I turned my self] This notes reconside∣ration and special heedfulness, to inquire a new into a business, and likewise a weariness of those pleasures which had disappointed him, Joh. 20.14.
to behold wisdom, and madness and folly] To compare the one with the other, that I might the better understand them, as con∣traries serve to set forth one the other. There is nothing more usual in Solomons Proverbs then this kind of Antithesis, to put contraries together for natural illustration.
for what can the man do that cometh after the King] Here man and king; the king seems to be opposed, what further progress can a∣ny more private man make in this disquisiti∣on, then I who am such a king? This is a Prolepsis or answer to a tacite objection; for it might be said, that it was a high and bold attempt for one man out of his particu∣lar experience to passe so confident a sen∣tence of vanity, & vexation, upon all wisdom and greater works. To this he answereth, that no man after him, could do more in this Page 64 enquiry then he had done, who was so emi∣nent in wisdom, in power, and in industry, that was as it were fitted and stirred up by God unto this business; and therefore if a∣ny man after him should set about the same work, he should do no other thing then that which the king had done before him. This appears to be no arrogant boast in Solomon; because the Scripture testifieth the same of him, 1 Reg. 3.12. The Man who will not believe it upon my report, but will make trial of it himself, if he will go with the same wisdom and integrity about it as] have done, shall find the same vanity in the bottom of e∣very creature, as I have found. So here are two reasons why Solomon challengeth belief in this point. 1. The advantages which he so great a king had above any other man, to draw forth all the flower and quintessence of the creature. 2. The double diligence which he used in it, in not onely viewing throughly once, but reviewing again the things upon which he passed such a judg∣ment.
what the man] The words intimate a kinde of i•dignation, disdain, undervaluing of any one who should attempt such an inquiry af∣ter him, as Psal. 8.4. Quid dignum tanto tulit hic promissor hiatu; what is the man who cometh after the king, whom they have Page 65 made king before; so some read the words: but the most genuine and coherent sence is that which our translation expresseth; he that comes after can do nothing but what they have done: i.e. what is done already be∣fore them. The active voice indefinite u∣sed for the passive, as Isa. 9.6. Jer. 12.6. Gen. 16.14. 1 Sam. 23.22.
I would observe hence, 1. That the dou∣ble and multiplyed experience of wise, great and good men, doth gain much credit and strength to the doctrines so confirmed, 1 Joh. 1.3. Heb. Chap. 11. & 12.1. Jam. 5.10, 11.
2. That the more prejudice is in the heart of men against a truth, the more care must be used to vindicate the same from all shew of exception, Tit. 1.11. & 2.8. Act. 6.10. and 18.28.
3. For a man to speak the truth of himself touching the gifts of God bestowed on him. and to mention his own experiences, onely ayming therein at the glory and truth of God, and edification of the Church, is no arro∣gance, or violation of modesty, but an impro∣ving of Gods gifts to the ends for which he gave them, Chap. 1.16.
V. 13. Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly: &c.] That there is an excellency in Page 66 wisdom more then in folly, &c. This So∣lomon confesseth, that indeed there is a great difference between wisdom and pleasures, that being many waies more excellent then those; and therefore though the study of wisdom be not without pain and sorrow, Chap. 1.18. yet it is not therefore to be re∣jected: Wisdom leaves behind it some per∣manent good, as the word here imports, whereas pleasures do perish in their use, and nothing staies behinde them but the sting and sorrow. The sorrow of wisdom is in the getting, but the sorrow of pleasures is after the using, and enjoying of them. It is true, wisdom and knowledg are vain, in order to a higher and nobler end then they bear propo∣tion unto. viz. to make man truly happy, yet they are of excellent use, and singular ornaments to the soul which hath them; so the Apostle, though he tell us that charity is more excellent then gifts, the one serving for edification onely of others, but the other for sanctification of a mans self, yet acknow∣ledgeth that they are all operations of Gods Spirit, and bestowed on men for very profi∣table uses, and accordingly to be earnestly desired, 1 Cor, 12.4, 7, 31. & 14.1, 39. we are so to esteem gifts, as that we prefer salva∣tion and happinesse before them, Luk. 10.20.
Page 67As far as light excelleth darknesse] Wis∣dom to the minde being as light to the body and therefore the Rabins called their wise men, the light of the world; as our Saviour his Apostles. Matth. 5.14. Light is many waies comfortable, it shews things in their distinct forms and shews, it discovers any thing hurtfull, that it may be avoided; or beneficial, that it may be embraced, where∣as darknesse confoundeth all things, and exposeth a man to many dangers. Light is pleasant in it self, Eccles. 11.7. and it is metaphorically used to express the most ex∣cellent things, as joy, Psal. 97.11. Ester. 8.16. liberties, and deliverance, Isa. 9.1. Glory, 1 Tim 6.16. Prosperity. Mic. 7.9. Life it self. Job 3.16, 20. and usually, wisdom and know∣ledg, whereunto it is here compared, Dan. 5.14. And it is very usefull and necessary for direction in our works and labours, Joh. 11.9, 10. But darkness on the other side is very uncomfortable; it is used to express the most calamitous and disconsolate condition, Job. 30.26. Eccles. 5.17. Isa. 8.22. Amos. 5.18.20. Isa. 50.10. Eccles. 11.8. very unusefull, as putting a stop to all labour, Exod 10.23. Josh. 4.9. very dangerous, as causing a man to stumble at every stone, to fall into every pit, to wander out of his way, &c. Josh. 11. Page 68 12. & 12.35. and folly and ignorance in the mind, is usually expressed by the name of darkness Eph. 4.18. & 5.8. Rom. 1.21. In the creation, darkness was the first evil which God removed, and light the first good crea∣ture that he made, Gen. 1.2, 3. light excel∣leth darkness, as the beautifull and orderly frame of nature doth the first confused chaos.
V. 14. The wise mans eyes are in his head] The reason of the former comparison, a wise man is in the light, but a fool in darkness. In his head, as in a watch-tower, from whence he seeth his way before him a far of, taketh notice of things to come, as well as things present, is circumspect, and heedfull, judi∣cious, and wary in his undertakings; There∣fore they who are called wise men in one place, Deut. 16.19. are called men that have their eyes open, in another place, Exod. 23.8. They do in the beginning of a businesse look forward to the end of it, they forecast events, foresee consequences; their eyes try their wayes, as Psal. 11.4. so looking straight forward, denoteth pondering and weighing a mans actions, Prov. 4.25, 26. here it is that Moses said to his father in law, who was a very wise man, thou shalt be to us instead of eyes, to guide and counsel us, Numb. 10. Page 69 31. where the LXX. render it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, thou shalt be an elder, a counsellor, a guide amongst us; so Job saith of himself, that he was eyes to the blind, Job. 29.15. A coun∣sellor, and guide unto them. Thus the ex∣cellency of wisdom is described by the eye, as being the principal part of the body and most beneficial to the whole, 1 Cor. 12.16, 17, 21. Mat. 9.22. and what the eye is to the body, that is to the mind, Eph. 1.18.
But the fool walketh in darknesse] Hereby we understand what is meant by having the eyes in the head, namely, to have them use∣ful for guiding and ordering our waies, so as that we may not erre, wander, stumble, fall, mistake, miscarry in our affairs. The Antithe∣sis should have run thus, but the fools eyes are in his heels, or he hath no •yes to see; but the use of Scripture is to put in the place of the antithesis, that which shall in sense amount thereunto, as Prov. 12.27. the one part of the verse is parabolical or proverbial, but the Antithesis is plain and familiar; so Prov. 14.3. & 15.19. The fool is rash, heady, inconsiderate, cannot discern events, nor foresee dangers; knowes not which way to chuse, or to refuse; his eyes are any where, rather then in his head, Prov. 17.24. is carried headlong in his business, ea∣sily snared and taken, Prov. 4.18, 19. 2 Pet. Page 70 1.19. Matth. 13.15, 16. By darkness here, we may understand blindnesse, Act. 13.11. and then walking in darkness, is a discovery of folly; when a man wants eyes, and yet will be wandring and venturing abroad; when he knowes not whither he goes, nor what dangers are in his way.
Thus far he hath shewed the excellency of wisdome above folly, now he sheweth wherein, notwithstanding they do so far agree, as that vanity belongs unto them both.
And I perceived] The meaning is, not∣withstanding this excellency of the one above the other, yet I perceived that one event hap∣neth to them all] They are equally subject to the same unhappy events; the wisest man that is cann•• by his own counsel exempt himself from the same common calamities which other men fall into: As two ways which seem to part, the one turning to the right hand, and the other to the left, and yet both at last bring to the same Town, Chap. 9.2. & 3.19.
V. 15. Then said I in mine heart] i.e. Therefore, or hereupon I said in mine heart, if it happen to me, even to me, as to the fool, to what end have I taken so much pains to be more wise and learned then he, being by all my wisdom not a whit protected from Page 71 those evils which he hath by his folly exposed himself unto,
That this also is vanity] Some make this to be a judgment on that hasty and angry in∣ference, why was I then more wise? and so the meaning to be; This was my infirmity and vanity, to undervalue wisdom, and mea∣sure it by the casual events which befall it, as Psal. 73.13—15. & 77.10. But the meaning is, that in this respect wisdome is no more able to make a man happy, or to bring perfect tranquility to the Soul, then folly is: albeit in other respects there be a singular excellency in it above the other.
Here then observe, 1. That the most excellent endowments of minde that are, cannot perfectly satisfie the heart of man.
2. That yet there is a special beauty and goodnesse in such gifts, to draw the light of the heart unto them, as being to the minde, as the eye to the head, the guide and the beauty of it; or as light to the eye, a most congenial and suitable good unto it.
3. That events and successes depend not upon the counsels of men, nor upon the gifts of God bestowed on them, but his Pro∣vidence hath the casting voice, and doth over-rule and order them all as pleaseth him, Eccles. 9.11. Psal. 127.1, 2. many times those who have least wisdom or goodnesse, Page 72 have greatest successe, Job 21.7—13. Psal. 73.3—12. Jer. 12.1, 2. Hab. 1.13. Mal. 3.15. and many times the wisest and most cir∣cumspect men, are most frustrated in those courses which were contrived with greatest skill and cunning, 2 Sam. 17.14. Job 5.12, 13, 14. Isa. 19.11—14. 1 Cor. 1.20.
4. That notwithstanding the Providence and Counsel of God hath the pre-eminency in the events of things, yet that hindreth not the excellency of wisdom above folly, nei∣ther are we thereby at all encouraged to finde fault with our selves for any labour in the use of means, onely we must so use them▪ as not to deifie them, nor to trust in them, but wholly to depend upon G•d for his bles∣sing on our counsels, to submit to his wise and holy purposes, when they are disappoin∣ted; to admire his goodness when at any times he turneth our imprudence or impro∣vidence unto good, and maketh the event not answerable to our follies, but to his love.
5. That we cannot judge of the wisdom or folly, the goodness or badness of men by outward events, because these happen alike to all, Chap. 8.14, & 9.11.
V. 16. There is no remembrance, &c.] What he observed in the general before, he now maketh good in two particulars, viz, ob∣livion, Page 73 and death, which are both alike com∣mon to wise men and to fools. Wise men may seem to secure at least their names, though they cannot their bodies from morta∣lity; by such magnificent works as Solomon here wrought, and by such noble contempla∣tions as he was conversant in; but he assures us here the contrary, and elsewhere, that Piety onely keepeth the name from rotting with the body, Prov. 10.7. Psal. 112.6. Psal. 49.11, 12. Jer. 17.13. Time will eat out all the monuments of wisdom; or though they continue, yet the renown of a wise man doth him no good at all, he is not after death sensible of it, or comforted with it, so Chap. 1.11. new wise men that arise in after Ages, will darken and eclipse the honour of those that went before them: and so will it be done to them in the Ages that follow. To be sure, no mere wise or great mans honour, separated from Piety, will hold pace with his being; at the last day there will so much shameful matter be discovered against the wisest of wicked men, as they shall the ••se all their renown, and shall appear to be ves∣sels of dishonour and shame for evermore, 1 Cor. 4.5. 2 Tim. 2.20.
And how dieth the wise man? as the fo•l] The second fate, common to both. Th•s how, is a passionate interrogation, noting Page 74 grief that it is so; wonder that it is no other∣wise; and indignation or disdain that thing• so exceeding different in their worth, should both of them perish alike. Thus there is a Quomodo dolentis, of grieving, Lam. 1.1▪ admirantis, of wondring, Acts 2.7, 8. In∣dignantis or objurgantis, of chiding and dis∣dain, Joh. 5.44. Matth. 23.33. And because it may be objected, That this Argument may as well disable Piety from making a man happy, as wisdom: Since the same question may be framed of them as well as of these▪ How dieth the just man? as the unjust; 〈◊〉 must remember that Piety followes a man• and so abides with him after death, which no other acquired excellencies do either as or∣naments or as comforts, Rev. 14.13. Death doth not cut off their spiritual life and union with Christ, which was that which made them happy here. Wicked men are dead▪ being alive, 1 Tim. 5.6. and good men liv• in death, Joh. 11.25, 26. Mat. 22.32. there∣fore the Jews called their burying place domus viventium, the houses of the living▪ Therefore there is no durable Life or Honou• but in the fear of the Lord.
V. 17. Therefore I hated life, &c.] Thi• is the effect which this great vanity of th• most excellent humane endowment wrougth Page 75 in the heart of Solomon, made him weary of living to so little purpose, as to dye at last like the basest of men. He saw no loveli∣ness or desireableness in life it self, (though •he chiefest outward blessing) all the course •hereof being full of evil, grievous, crucia∣•ing, disquieting labour, all which at last •uns down like the waters of Jordan, into the same lake of death, with the other refuse of men. Many mens poverty, pains, sick∣ness, worldly troubles, have caused them to complain of their life; but here is one who had health, peace, honour, abundance of all the contents which the world could afford, not murmuringly, but as it were judiciously and critically making the same complaints. The greatnesse of his wisdom being such, as that all the comforts of life were too narrow to satisfie the inquiries of it, he saw little va∣luable or desireable in it.
Here observe, 1. That life it self is too mean a thing to bring full content to the soul of man. It must be something better then life which must do it, Psal. 63.3.
2. That in the greatest confluence of worldly things, the life of a man may be full of grievous labour, and he weary of it, not onely out of anguish of spirit, but of na∣tural wisdom observing the vanity there∣of.
Page 763. That the wisdom of man, without ma∣king use of the grace of God, is very apt to undervalue the greatest outward blessing which humane nature is capable of; as So∣lomon here doth life. There is •aturally so much distemper in the heart of man, that ex∣cept all things answer his own desires and expectations, he will fall out with his very life, and pick quarrels with the choycest blessings that God here affords him. As a little cloud hides the light of the whole Sun from the eye, so amidst a multitude of en∣joyments, a little labour or trouble which comes along with them, doth darken the beauty, and remove the content of them all, Gen. 30.1. Psal. 59.15. Esth. 5.13.
4. Concerning this point, of being wea∣ry of Life, or hating it as an unlovely and undesireable thing, we may note, 1. That Life is the choycest and principal outward blessing which God here affords us, and that unto the comfort and preservation thereof all other outward blessings are directed, M•tth. 6.25. 2. That though in a way of obedience we are to undervalue it at the command of God, when he calls on us to lay it down, Luke 14.26. Act. 20.24. 1 Joh. 3.16. Joh. 12.25. and in comparison of a bet∣ter life we may groan for a deliverance from it, and to be with Christ, Phil. 1.23. yet Page 77 it is a great fault out of passion, murmuring, outward troubles, nay out of largeness of heart, as here Solomon doth, to dis-esteem and wax weary of so great a blessing, Gen. 27.46. Numb. 14.2 Job 10.1.. & 36.20. Jon. 4.3, 8.
V. 18. Yea I hated all my labour, &c.] All those magnificent and excellent works, which with so much labour I had wrought. They were all so far from ministring unto my heart any solid contentment, that I grew wholly out of love with them, had no regard nor respect at all unto them. If by hatred here, and in the former verse, be meant only an abatement of that love and delight which his heart might over-sensually take in them, then this was a very commendable fruit of the vanity which he discovered in them, ac∣cording to the counsel of the Apostle, upon the same ground, 1 Cor. 7.29, 30, 31. 1 Joh. 2.15. Love not the world, that seems to be, a worldly and secular life, or Temporal Be∣ing; nor the things of the world, that is, the provisions and materials which are the fuel of lust in the world: and so hatred some∣times signifies an abatement and moderation of love, Matth. 10.37. compared with Luke 14.26. Joh. 12.25. Gen. 29.30, 31. But if by Hatred, is meant a detestation and ab∣horrency Page 78 of them, so as to leave off all care of duty to be exercised in wordly things, ac∣cording to the travel which God hath ap∣pointed for the sons of men, Chap. 1.13. Ephes. 5.28. 2 Thess. 3.10—13. and this to do, because we find not that plenary satis∣faction from them, which they were never ordained to administer, then this was an inordinate hatred, which did not belong un∣to the works themselves, (being in them∣selves good) but unto the sinful distemper of the heart from whence it proceeded. Such was the sullen distemper of Israel in the Wilderness, Numb. 11.6. & 20.4. Jon. 4.1.
Because I should leave it unto, &c.] Here the Wise man doth subjoyn reasons of this his weariness and dislike of all his past labours: 1. Because he was to leave them; there was a necessity of parting with them at the last. As the heart of man in this state of corruption is naturally apt to cleave to the world and worldly things, so there is a peculiar delight in those works which are the fruit of his own wisdom and labour; and he finds it more hard to wean and take off his affection from them, then from any other. As the Apostle saith of a mans own proper lust, so we may of his own labour and work, that it doth more easily draw away the heart, Jam. 1.14. therefore when God punisheth such men, he usually Page 79 doth it in the works of their own hands, in their principal and peculiar imployments; as Tyrus in her merchandize, Ezek. 27.27. Pharaoh in his River, Ezek. 29.3, 4. The Wise man is apt to glory in his wisdom, and the strong man in his strength, &c. Jer. 9.23. Dan. 4.30, 31. This is the first ground of vexation, They must leave their wealth to others, Psal. 49.10, 12.
V. 19. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?] 2. And the reason of his fore-mentioned dislike of all his la∣bour, because he must leave them to the man that comes next after him, who haply may be very unfit to succeed him in so wise and great works. It is not in mans power to leave the works of his hands, when he must him∣self no longer enjoy them, unto such as are most likely to improve or preserve them: but be he what he will, wise or foolish, he must have not only the fruition of my la∣bours, but the dominion over them, Psal. 39.6. And this is a great vanity, to know a mans self how to get great things, and to know how to preserve, and to enjoy them; but not to know what will become of them at the last: A wise man it may be will alter all; a fool will scatter and dissipate all, and so all the fathers wisdome may quickly come to nought by the sons folly, Psal. 39.7.
Page 80Wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed my self wise] Which by my labour and by my wisdome I have gotten. He understandeth humane wisdome in ma∣naging worldly affairs to the best improve∣ment, Isa. 10.13. Ezek. 38.4, 5. These are the two great principles of humane acti∣ons, Wisdome to direct; Labour, to exe∣cute: Wisdome by counsel guideth labour; and Labour through experience encreaseth wisdome. That wisdome is fruitless, which doth not produce labour; and that labour is useless, which is not managed by wisdome. Some conceive, that Solomon here did fore∣see, at least, that Rehoboam by his folly might scatter many of those great works, and lose much of that ample power and wealth which his father by his wisdome had gotten, 1 Reg. 12.13, 15.
V. 20. Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour, &c.] I went about, or, I circled. The meaning is, Having turned hither and thither to take a view of all humane actions, and every where discovering notable vanity in them all, I found my self, after I was wearied in this round, brought at last to utter despair and despondency of spirit, being without hope of ever finding out that in any of my labours for which I h•d undertaken them. When I Page 81 found, after all my labour, this sad uncer∣tainty attending on them, that it was out of my power to dispose them for the future so, but that they might fall into the hands of a fool that would demolish and dissipate them all; who by his folly, would extinguish the monuments of my wisdome; and by his luxury, the fruits of my labour: Then I be∣stirred my self to make my heart despair, to call it wholly off from all my labours. The word importeth a desisting from a pur∣pose or work undertaken, a changing of a mans counsel, finding the attempt to be fruitless or unfeasable, Isa. 57.10. Jer. 2.25. & 18.12. There is a Rational despair, when a man having erroniously sought for some good from that which is wholly unable to afford it, doth thereupon give over so fruitless an inquiry, and betake himself to that which is more effectual, Isa. 55.2. and there is a passionate despair proceeding from that frowardness of heart which such a dis∣appointment is apt to produce in carnal minds, when because a man cannot enjoy that good from a thing which he expected, he will therefore wholly fall out with it, though it be otherwise good in its degree, and doth bring such comfortable fruit as God appointed it for. This is a sinful despair: For the Lord hath made many promises unto Page 82 the labour which we take about outward things, Prov. 12.24. & 13.11. & 31.31. Psal. 128.1, 2. And hath a word of blessing ever proportionable to those ends and uses for which he hath appointed them, Deut. 28.2—8. Matth. 4.4. If Solomon mean here the former despair, then it was an effect of his wisdome, dictating unto him not to place his hopes upon vain things, which would delude and abuse him, but to take off his heart from the inordinate love of empty things. If the later, then it was a corrupt and froward aversion from things good in their degree, because the providence of God might haply dispose otherwise of them than he desired. Duty and labour about outward things, belongs unto us, but the disposition of them into what hands he pleaseth, belong∣eth unto God. In the mean time, it is a good argument to draw off the heart from anxious and inordinate toyl about worldly things: and rather to imploy our thoughts about the education of our children, lest much wealth in the hands of a foolish son, prove an ar∣gument of our folly; whereas a little estate with principles of wisdome and piety in∣stilled into him that must enjoy it, will be a greater blessing unto him, and an evidence of more wisdome in our selves.
V. 21. For there is a man whose labour Page 83 is in wisdome, &c.] i. e. who, 1. by his ha∣bitual skill and faculty of contrivance. 2. by his experimental and improved knowledge; and 3. by his just, honest, and righteous dealing; concurring all 4. with diligent labour, (unto which kind of principles so attempered, the blessing of God is usually annexed,) doth get a fair and full estate: and when he hath all done, must leave it to another who never took thought about it, nor stirred hand or foot towards the gather∣ing of it. This is a third reason of the wise mans weariness of his life and labours, name∣ly, that he should be a very drudge for ano∣ther man, and should use all his skill and pains, and suffer so much anxiety and dis∣quiet only to purchase rest and idleness for his successor. And this is a great and sore evil, that the labour should be one mans, and the fruit thereof anothers, and is often threatned as a punishment, Job. 5.5. Hos. 7.9. & 8.7. Deut. 28.30, 31, 32, 33. Psal. 39.6. Prov. 13.22.
shall he give it for his portion] Or, shall he give his portion. That which in all reason after so much labour should have been the portion of him who laboured for it, he is com∣pelled by death to give or leave it to another man, and so to make it that other mans por∣tion.
Page 84V. 22. for what hath man of all his labour, &c.] What is there unto a man of all his labour? Nehem. 6.6. viz. what profit, com∣fort, advantage, can a man have of such la∣bour wherein all the pain is his, and all the fruit and benefit another mans? Chap. 1.3. & 3.9. Psal. 39 6.
vexation of his heart] Hereby are noted those discruciating, disquieting, careful thoughts, whereby he doth project and con∣trive within himself all waies of gain, and how to increase and preserve a great estate, Psal. 49.11. Hab. 2.5, 6. 1 Tim. 6.9, 10. This may refer to all the three Reasons be∣fore given; 1. What hath man left to him∣self of all his labour and vexation when he is dead and gone, all the world is then gone to him, Job 1.21. 1 Tim. 6.7. Ps. 49.17.2. What good hath he by all that pains which was taken for another man, who if he were wise, would be able to take the pains for himself, and if foolish, will be likely to make all another mans pains fruitless, which he took to provide for him, Job 27.16, 17.3. What hath he of all his Labour more than the other man who sa•e still, and lived quiet∣ly, and saw him toyl and drudge to get him an estate who laboured not for it? nothing at all more as to contentment and fruition, much more as to weariness and vexation.
Page 85V. 23. For all his daies are sorrows, and his travel grief] &c.] These words are very emphatical, to set forth the pain and trouble of such a man who toyls for others: and the wise man closeth this disquisition as he did the first, Chap. 1.18. only this is ex∣pressed with greater emphasis, as being the greater evil of the two; as vers. 21. 1. The words are many, to shew the greatness of the trouble. 2. The word translated sorrows, signifieth a very painful and cruciating grief, the grief of some sore wound, Gen. 34.25. Jer. 51.8. and used in the case of Israels sorrow in their bondage in Egypt, Exod. 3.7. and in Babylon, Lam. 1.12. and to ex∣press the sorrows of Christ, Isa. 53.3, 4. See Job 33.19. Prov. 14.13. 3. The ab∣stract is used for the Concrete, it is not said, all his daies are sorrowful, but very sorrow it self, which addeth much force to the sense, as Gen. 3.6. Ps. 5.9. & 39.5. Hag. 2.8. Gen. 12.2. Cant. 5.16. 4. The word is in the plural number, all his daies are sorrows, (i. e.) full of sorrow, great sorrow, and va∣riety of sorrow; as Isa. 63.6. 2 Pet. 3.11. So it is said, that the Sodomites were smit∣ten with blindness, Gen. 19.11. 2 Cor. 1.3. Eccl. 5.6.
and his travel [or anxious and careful la∣bour] grief. Or, indignation, his wearisome Page 86 imployments, full of disquietness, and of continual sollicitude, meeting withal with many miscarriages and disappointments, do stir up much grief and displeasure of heart.
Hereby is noted the exceeding great trou∣ble of heart, which ariseth out of an inordi∣nate conversing about worldly things, and apprehension of parting with them. For the less measure there is in the labour of getting them, the more trouble there is in the thoughts of parting with them. If the life of the best men be full of evil and labour, Gen. 47.9. Ps. 90.10. Job. 14.1. & 5.7. Our mother brings us forth in sorrow, and unto sorrow: much more unquiet must be the life of those who labour in the fire, and for very vanity, Habb. 2.13.
yea, his heart taketh no rest in the night] The night was appointed by God for man to rest in, as the day to labour, Ps. 104.23. & 127.2. Job 4.13. But such a man depriveth himself of that blessing, which God by the very season offers him, Job 7.3, 4, 13, 14. Eccl. 5.12, 13. Prov. 3.24. Or, if such a mans body, through labour and weariness, do sleep, yet his heart is still taken up with unquiet thoughts and cares; for the heart may be awake when the body sleeps, Cant. 5.2.
V. 24. There is nothing better for a man, Page 87 than to eat, &c.] In this verse, and so to the end of the Chapter, is contained that which is the whole sum and subject of this book, which is to shew, wherein the only good which a man can attain unto in his labour a∣bout worldly things, doth consist, and the happiness of this present life, which is to get the heart seasoned with the s•ar of God, and to be good in his sight, or approved of him; and then in the assurance and joy of his favour, to make use of all outward good things with quiet contentment, with free∣dome, chearfulness, and delight, which is a special blessing which the Lord gives unto his own servants. The Apostle puts all this into two words, Godliness and Content∣ment, 1 Tim, 6.6.
The words admit of a several reading, though all run to the same issue. There is no∣thing better for a man, then—so our ver∣sion. The word [then] according to the read∣ing is to be supplyed, it not being in the O∣riginal. And so Interpreters agree, that such a word as nisi, or tantum, may be un∣derstood, as it is necessarily to be supplyed elsewhere; as Isa. 1.6. where, in the Ori∣ginal, the words run in this manner, There is no soundness it, wounds and bruises, &c. where the word but, or only, is necessarily to be supplyed; no soundness, [but] wounds Page 88 or bruises: So here, There is not good for a man that he eat; the word but is to be sup∣plyed, There is not, or it is not good for a man but that he eat: It is expressed, Chap. 3.12. Others read the words with an inter∣rogation, Is it not good for a man that he eat, &c.? (i. e.) It is good. Others •ead thus, This good is not in a man, (i. e.) in the pow∣er of a man, that he eat and drink, &c. As he cannot help it, but he must in time leave his outward things, which with so much la∣bour he hath gotten, and that to such as, it may be, will not dispose of them to his de∣sire; so even while he doth actually possess them himself, it is not in his power to use them, much less to enjoy with delight and pleasure, without the special gift of God. All amounts to the same issue; which is this: Since there is in all the studies, labours, af∣fairs of men so much vanity and vexation, as hath been here discovered, by the ablest and wisest inquirer into the creature; it remains, if we would effectually free our selves from this vanity and vexation, that giving over those anxious and disquieting labours, we betake our selves to a free, chearful, and comfortable use of those good things which God hath blessed us withal; and that so we may do, to commend our selves by sincerity of heart unto God, from whose hand and gift Page 89 alone this mercy proceedeth, and not from the power or will of man.
make his soul see, or enjoy good] i. e. Make himself to enjoy the good which outward blessings do afford, the like phrase making •o see good is •sed, Ps. 4.6. and 50.23. su∣•ra, vers. 1.
in his labour] 1. In the fruit of labour, •ot of idleness. 2. Of his own labour, of •hat which is righteously his own, not gotten •rom others by violence or injustice.
this also I saw that it was from the hand of God] Or the special gift of God, as vers. 26. Chap. 3.13. & 5 19. 1 Chron. 29.16. It may seem but an easie thing when man hath, with much toyl and trouble, gotten provisions about him, to eat the fruit of his own labours, yet he hath no power to do it without Gods blessing.
Here we may observe. 1. That the ut∣most good of all worldly labours reach no further as to real benefit, then the supply of body, Eccles. 6.7. 1 Tim. 6, 7, 8.
2. That it is not in the power of man, af∣ter all his hard labour for these things, either to use them, or with chearfulness and joy to delight at all in them, without the special hand and gift of God; to say nothing of sickness, or other distempers within, and of robbers without, which may take away the Page 90 taste of any sweetness in them, and conse∣quently the desire of them, 2 Sam. 19.35. Job 33 19, 20. so that the floor and the wine∣press shal not feed us, Hos. 9.2. & 2.9. There is such a sordid and base cruelty in the mind of a man towards himself, as to de∣fraud and grudge himself the fruit of his own labour, Eccl. 6.2, 4, 8. much less can a man with cheerfulness, contentment, and sweet tranquility, make use of these blessings with∣out the special favour of God unto him therein, Prov. 10.22. Ps. 128.1.2. Nehem. 8.10, 12. 1 Chron. 29.22. Act. 14.17. Deut. 8.12—18. Phil. 4, 11, 12, 13.
3. That the happiness of this life standeth in a free, cheerful and contented enjoyment of the good blessings of God, together with the sense and comfort of his fatherly love, 1 Tim. 6.4.
4. That all the sweetness of outward bles∣sings standeth in this, that they are reached out unto us, from the hand, and sanctified by the blessing and grace of a merciful Father, Ps. 37.16. Prov. 15.16. 1 Tim. 4.5. 1 Tim. 6.17. It is the love of God which puts sweetness into all outward mercies.
5. Honest labour whereby a mans bread is his own, is the proper object of our com∣fortable fruition. Then only we can rejoyce Page 91 in our eating and drinking, and other out∣ward delights, when in them we taste the sweet of our righteous labours, Prov. 16.8. Eph. 5.28. 2 Thes. 3.12.
V. 25. for who can eat, or who else can ha∣sten thereunto more than I?] He proveth what he had said, that it is the gift of God; because he so wise, so wealthy a Prince, who had so great variety to hold up his delight, could of himself find nothing in all his great estate, but matter of vexation. What pow∣er can others have to enjoy them, when he could not; or else it may refer to the former part of the fore-going verse. There is no∣thing for a m•n then to eat and drink and enjoy good in his labour: this he proveth by his own experience. As by his own expe∣rience, he hath all along proved the vanity and vexation of the creatures in other re∣spects; so here by his own experience he proveth, that the only tranquility is, having made sure of the favour of God, to eat and drink with cheerfulness. He doth not mean sensual Epicure-like surfeiting on the crea∣tures, but a quiet and free contented use of them; who is fit to eat of my estate, and to make haste so to do, i. e. readily and cheer∣fully to do it, then I my self who laboured it? and I unto whom God hath given such plenty, and such readiness of heart to use it, Page 92 can by my own taste of Gods goodness give to others a judgement and assurance hereof. So vers. 10, 12.
who else can hasten thereunto more than I?] This noteth a special promptitude and cheer∣fulness of heart, which Solomon did put forth in the fruition of the good things he had gathered, as Job 20.2. others read it, who hath taken more care thereunto, to a∣bound in delights and contents then I? Others, who hath quicker senses to discern the comforts of them, then I? but the first sense seemeth more genuine; for as in the former verse, he spake, 1. Of eating and drinking, or of the free using of Gods bles∣sings. 2. Of making the heart to enjoy them: So here he telleth us that his practise, was suteable, who can eat? that relates to the former; and who can hasten more than I, that relates to the later.
V. 26. for God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdome, and knowledge, and joy, &c.] Having commended this free and comfortable use of Gods blessings with God∣liness and contentment by the author of it, it is the gift of God: He here further com∣mends it by the subject of it, unto whom God doth afford so excellent a gift: many gifts of God are common to good and bad men, Matth. 5.45. 1 Cor. 13.1, 3. but this Page 93 is a peculiar blessing which he bestows on his beloved, Ps. 127.2. the subject of it is a good man; the Character of that good man, he is good in his sight, good in the judgement of God, who trieth the heart, Gen. 17.1. 1 Cor. 10.18. Rom. 12.1, 2. 1 Tim. 2.3. Heb. 13.21. The gift of God to this man. 1. Wisdome to get, 2 Know∣ledge to use, 3. Joy to use cheerfully and comfortably all outward blessings, and this is illustrated by an Antithesis.
but to the sinner he giveth travel, to gather and to heap up,] i. e. He giveth them up, or leaveth them to their own greedy desires, to gather and heap together with much anxiety and tormenting sollicitude, Habb. 2.6. Luk. 12.18. Ps. 39.6.
That he may give to him that is good before God] That is, that God may dispose of it by his own over-ruling providence, besides and against the purpose of the gatherer, to whom he pleaseth, or to those that fear him, making wicked men but the drudges and purveyors for others. Isa. 10.7. Prov. 13.22. & 28.8. Job 27.16, 17. Est. 8.1, 2. Isa. 65.13, 14. as wicked men built the Ark, but Noah enjoyed it, according to the Greek proverb, one man makes the garment, but another wears it.
This also is vanity] viz. for a wicked man Page 94 to labour for others whom he loves not, nor ever intended his labour for.
Here we see, 1. Goodness consists in ap∣proving a mans self to God. 2. That sweet and perfect contentment is peculiar unto good men. 3. That wisdome or skill to get riches, is the gift of God, Deut. 8.18. 4. That knowledge to use them, being gotten, is like∣wise Gods gift, as vers. 24. 5. That good men only are the proper subject of true joy, Gal. 5.22. 6. That amongst other curses, God doth many times punish wicked men with giving them up to the insatiable desires of their co∣vetous hearts, to weary themselves in gather∣ing wealth to no purpose of their own, of Eccl. 4.8. 7. Gods providences, that many times disposeth the labours of wicked men for the use and good of the godly.