Annotations on the book of Ecclesiastes
Reynolds, Edward, 1599-1676.


THe Wise man having spoken of the va∣nity which attendeth on the very high∣est condition of men here below; seems here to make a kind of digression, and to go yet higher unto the consideration of that which principally concerns man in this Life, to wit, The worship of God. This is the su∣preme Remedy of all the other Vanities, and may seem here to be subjoyned (as also it is in the end of the Book) to that purpose, to shew, that though neither knowledge, nor Page  145 pleasures, nor honours, nor crowns can make men happy, though it be beyond the sphere and activity of any Creature to administer compleat tranquility to the heart of a man, yet even in this life a man may be happy by worshipping of God, and Communion with him. As if he should have said, We have gone through the World, and sought high there for satisfaction, as ever any man could arrive, even to Crowns and Thrones, and yet have missed of it. It remains therefore that we go higher yet, before we can be truly hap∣py, and that is from the World to the Sanctu∣ary; from the Thrones of Princes, to the Thrones of Grace; from the Creature, to God, In whose service alone there is com∣pleat felicity.

But besides this I take it, the scope of the wise man is, by way of Prolepsis or answer to a tacite objection, to discover yet a higher and a stranger vanity than any he had spo∣ken of before, namely vanity in the wor∣ship of God, not as it is in it self, but as it is performed by vain & foolish men. They might say, we do easily agree with you in all that you have said, we know we must look a∣bove the Creatures, if ever we intend to ar∣rive at true Happiness. Therefore what pains soever we take about things under the Sun, yet we seek for our Happiness▪ no Page  146 where but in God, and in his service. Solo∣mon now, acknowledging the truth of this in the Thesis, That the Worship of God is the true felicity of man in this life, doth withall assure these men, that they may put vanity in the very Worship of God, and ren∣der that by their foolish and carnal perfor∣mance wholly unprofitable to any such end, yea there may be therein divers vanities, vers. 7. for discovery and avoiding whereof, he prescribeth a solemn caveat to those, who being convinced of vanity in the Creatures▪ do go to God in his Worship to mend them∣selves.

This is, 1. General, relating to all parts of Gods Worship, which is in our Approache unto God, to look to our affections, and to prepare our hearts to meet with him, not resting in outward sacrifices, which are but the oblations of fools, who think they do well, when in truth they do the contrary, vers. 1.

2. Particular, in some species of wor∣ship:

1. In Hearing, which he saith must be done with Readiness, with a docile and tractable spirit, yielding up it self to the whole counsel of God, vers. 1.

2. In Prayer and speaking unto God, where is first condemned a double Vanity▪ Page  147 Rashnesse of tongue, Hastinesse of heart, both enforced by consideration of Gods Greatnesse, and of our own Vilenesse, vers. 2. Secondly, prescribed fewness of words, without vain and unnecessary babling, and that because of Gods Majesty, and the folly of so doing, vers. 3.

3. In Vowes, which being once made, are to be performed, and that cheerfully, without grudging or delay; which doctrine he doth, 1. prove, 2. vindicate from shift∣ings and excuses. He proveth it, 1. By the the folly of the contrary course, it argues a levity of spirit to dally, and to be off and on with God, who as he is constant himself in all his Promises, so he expecteth constancy from us in all ours. 2. By Gods dislike of such folly and falseness, vers. 4.

Next he vindicateth it from a double ex∣cuse which men are apt to make:

1. It was free for me to vow; the thing was in mine own power, therefore it is not so hainous a thing though I do fail, because I was not bound to what I vowed till I had vowed it. This he answereth, That it had been better to have kept this Liberty still, and not to have vowed, then after vowes to resume Liberty when it is too late, vers. 5.

2. But I was mistaken, there was an Er∣rour in my Vow. To this he gives a double Page  148 answer, and sets it on with weighty conside∣rations: First, Look well before thou vow, that thou do not bring a bond of sin upon thy self: Suffer not thy mouth to cause thee to sin. Secondly, Take heed of pretending errour and oversight, out of unwillingnesse to do what thou hast promised: Say not that it was an errour. For consider, 1. Thou art in the presence of the Angel. 2. Thou provokest Gods anger. 3. The damage which by that anger thou wilt suffer, he will destroy the work of thy hands, disappoint thee in that benefit, the preservation whereof thou didst aym at in excusing thy Vow. 4. The folly of such vain excuses. There is a vani∣ty in all parts of Worship when undertaken by fools or wicked men: the fools sacrifice, vers. 1. the fooles voyce, vers. 3. the fooles vow, vers. 4. Divers vanities in all this, vers. 7.

Now having shewed the vanities in the carnal performance of Divine Worship, he doth (as he had done formerly in the other Vanities which he spake of before) prescribe a Remedy of this also, viz. The inward principle of all Right and spiritual Worship which is to fear God, vers. 7.

And because it might be objected, That Piety it self is not likely to secure a man's tranquility and peace, in as much as we find Page  149 poor and righteous men every where, all a Province over, oppressed and persecuted by great men in high place: he removeth this objection, 1. By shewing the compassion of God and his Justice, He sees and regards it. 2. The greatnesse and power of God, that he is higher then any of those that oppresse his servants, vers. 8.

Now he proceedeth to another Vanity, which is in Riches and outward possessions. They are of two sorts;

1. Substantial and Real wealth, in the profits and Fruits of the Earth, Corn, Cattel, &c.

2. Instrumental, in that which is by mens agreement made a measure to other wealth, viz. silver and gold. Concerning both which he sheweth, 1. The excellency of the for∣mer, in regard of real and general profit, be∣fore the later, verse 9. 2. The vanity both of the one and the other, when 1. inordi∣nately loved. 2. Immoderately increa∣sed.

This vanity is shewed, 1. Absolutely, in that the Inordinate love of them is unsatis∣fiable, vers. 10. and that troubles and cares are proportionably increased in the Increase of them, vers. 11.

2. Comparatively, and that 1. in respect of any Real benefit and good in the fruition Page  150 of them. The owner hath no more true pro∣fit by them, (further then that he looks on them as his own) then any of his friends and servants, who are fed and cloathed by them as well as he: onely his cares are increased. 2. In respect of consequent rest and quiet∣ness, the servants heart is lesse troubled, his body more refreshed then the owners, vers. 12. 3. In regard of the evill effects of Riches:

1. The damage and hurt which sometimes a man layes up with them against himself, vers. 13.

2. The uncertainty of their abode with a man, having hurt the owners, they perish themselves, vers. 14.

3. The certainty of parting with them, They must dye, they cannot carry one hand∣ful away with them, vers. 15, 16.

4. The sordid and uncomfortable use of them, vers. 17.

5. Impatiency and fretfulnesse in part∣ing with them, or in getting of them, vers. 17.

Lastly, he gives the Remedy of this Va∣nity and Vexation, in the right use of Riches, viz. In a free and cheerful enjoyment of them: which is here commended,

1. By its goodness to the owners.

Page  1512. By its comelinesse and commendable∣nesse towards others.

3. By its Equity, It is the fruit of a mans Own Labour, and provided for his Own Life.

4. The End of it, and his Right to it, It is His Portion, all that he is ever like to get by it, vers. 18.

5. The Author of it, it is a special gift of God, 1. To give Riches. 2. To gve an heart to enjoy them, vers. 19.

6. Freedome hereby from the trouble of all his Labours, when himself tastes the fruit of them, and hath experience of Gods spe∣cial blessing, in answering the desires of his heart, and causing hm comfortably to enjoy them, vers. 20.

Vers. 1. KEep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God] He had gone up and down the World, from Learn∣ing to Pleasures, from Pleasures to Honours, from Honours to Thrones, to find out Hap∣pinesse, and had met with nothing but Vani∣ty. Now he sends us to a fitter place to find it, The House of God, whether his Tem∣ple, or other Synagogues, where God is pre∣sent to those that serve him, here they shall find remedies against the vanity of other things, and that which will stay and fix their Page  152 hearts, Psal. 73.16, 17. Psal. 4.6, 7. Onely we must take heed of putting vanity into Gods Worship, lest we be there disappoint∣ed of our ayms, as well as elsewhere. This Caveat he gives us in those words, Keep thy foot] or, each foot. The letters are plural, the points direct to read it in the singular number. So foot, for feet, Psal. 119.105. This Enallage of numbers is very usual, the singular for the plural; as Psal. 14.1. The fool hath said, &c. They, i. e. fools are cor∣rupt. In that day a man shall cast away his idols which they have made, Esay 2.20.

Keep thy foot] Seriously advise how thou art to behave thy self in Gods presence, look to thy heart and affections, let thy heart be fixed, thy affections composed, thy thoughts ordered, call all that is within thee together to serve him, Psal. 57.7. & 103.1. A Meta∣phor from men that walk in dangerous ways, who take heed to their steps lest they stum∣ble and fall: Or rather an allusion to the speech of God to Moses, Exod. 3.5. So Exod. 19.21. Josh. 5.15. As Mephibosheth dressed his feet, when he went to David, 2 Sam. 19.24. So they used washings, and purifyings before they came into Gods presence, Exod. 19.14 15. Num. 8.7. Psal. 26.6. Heb. 10.22. Lev. 19.30. & 16.2, 3. Gen. 28.16, 17. Exod. 40.32.

Page  153and be more ready to hear, then to offer the sacrifice of fools] Or, Draw near to hear, rather then with, or as fools, to offer a sacri∣fice, who think to be accepted for their out∣ward work. The Infinitive used for the Imperative, as Exod. 20.8. Matth. 5.39. Luk. 22.42. or we may read it in the Infinitive, thus, for to draw near to hear, i. e. to bring before God an obedient heart, is better then when fools do give a sacrifice. Or, then to give a sacrifice of fools. He doth not for∣bid or condemn sacrifices, but he preferreth obedience, and sheweth the vanity and folly of those, who are very forward in the out∣ward acts of Religion, without the love and service of the heart, 1 Sam 15.22. Hos. 6.6. Isa. 1.11—18. Amos 5.21, 22, 23, 24. Psal. 50.17. & 51.16, 17. Isa. 66.2, 3. Prov. 15.8, 21, 27.

be more ready] The word is, Draw near to Hear. It is a word very frequently used in Scripture, to express our addressing our selves unto the solemn Service and Worship of God, Lev. 1.9. 1 Sam. 14.36. 2 Reg. 16.12. Psal. 73.28. Isa. 5.8.2. Ezek. 44.15, 16. Matth. 15.8. whereunto there is a frequent allusion in the New Testament, Ephes. 2.18. Heb. 4.16. & 7.25. & 10.1, 22. & 11.6. It importeth a serious composing of our hearts, in an humble, reverend, and holy man∣ner Page  154 to appear before God, and to have a com∣fortable accesse unto the Throne of grace, Lev. 10.3. Heb. 12.28, 29.

to hear] Whereas there are two parts of Worship, sacrifice and obedience, be thou most careful of this, which is the spiritual and inward part of service, rather then of that which fools, hypocrites, wicked men can offer as well as thou. Be ready to receive Instruction, and to accept of what God sayes, Psal. 85.8. Job 34.32. 1 Sam. 3.10. Act. 9.6. & 10.33. Jam. 1.19. Be ready to obey and give up thy will to every one of Gods holy Commandements, Psal. 119.128.

then to offer the sacrifice of fools] Then as fools, (i. e.) wicked men do, to offer up sacrifice, and neglect obedience, Mich. 6.6, 7, 8.

for they consider not, know not, that they do evil.] Some would have the word, But, to be supplyed, They know not but to do evil: They can onely do evil, even when they worship God; as Isa. 1.6. See Chap. 2.24. Others thus, non attendunt ad facere malum, or ad factionem malt: which is to the sense of our Version. They are here called fools, and that is further expressed, by want of knowledge: They know not, and that doth further appear by doing of evil, Isa. 1.3, 4. Jer. 8.9. The most natural sense is, as we Page  155 render it, They know not that they do evil: when they do evil, they consider it not, they understand it not; the like phrase, 1 Joh. 2.6, 9. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. He that saith to abide, (i.) that he abideth. He that saith to be in the light, (i.) that he is in the light. So here, They know not to do evil, (i.) that they are doing of evil. And hereby is meant by an Auxesis, they think they do very good service; So when the Lord is said not to command a thing, the meaning is, that he doth forbid it, Lev. 10.1. He will not hold them guiltless that take his Name in vain, (i.) he will hold them very guilty, Exod. 20.7. He will withhold no good thing from them that walk upright, (i.) He will largely supply them, Psal. 84.12. He will not break a bruized reed, (i.) he will bind them up and strengthen them, Isa. 42.3. Abraham was not weak in faith, (i.) he was strong, Rom. 4.19. Men may think they do God good service, when they do greatly of∣fend him, Isa. 66.5. Prov. 14.12. Isa. 58.2, 3. Hos. 8.2, 3. Joh. 16.2. Act. 26.9.

These things are here observable;

1. That in Gods Worship we do in a spe∣ciall manner draw nigh unto him.

2. That when we do so, we ought to pre∣pare and compose our hearts and affections Page  156 by faith and humility to appear before God.

3. That a prepared heart brings purposes of obedience, and to hear God in all that he shall say unto it.

4. That mere outward service without the heart prepared obediently to serve the Lord, is but a sacrifice of Fools, a mere for∣mal and ceremonial worship.

5. That Hypocrites may think they please God, when indeed they provoke him, and know not that they do evil, Joh. 4.22.

V. 2. Be not rash with thy mouth] Having spoken in general of the due preparation of the heart unto Gods service, he now giveth direction in the particulars of prayer and vowes.

Be not rash] Go not about Gods Worship as men that in a fright or terrour being ama∣zed, flye hastily they know not whither. Do not precipitate thy words, nor speak any thing hastily, unadvisedly, according to the dictate of carnal and hasty desires before God, or in his house and presence. We know not what to ask as we ought, Rom. 8.26. and are very apt to put our own greedy and sudden passions into prayers, complaints, deprecations, to think God deals not well with us if we be not answered according to Page  157 our wills, and in our own time, Psal. 31.22. & 116.11. Job 10.2, 3, 18. Jer. 15.18. Jon. 4.2, 3. Matth. 20.20, 21. Psal. 77.7—10.

and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God] Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, Matth. 12.34. Therefore the remedy of rashness in our words, is to compose our thoughts and affe∣ctions aright; to let our heart guide our tongue, not to bring raw, tumultuary, indi∣gested thoughts into Gods presence, but to get a collected heart, to pray with under∣standing, with spirit, with judgment, and according to Gods Will; as David found his heart to pray to God, 2 Sam. 7.27. and call'd together his scattered affections, that he might fix them upon God, Psal. 103.1. Dan. 9.2, 3. Rom. 8.26, 27. 1 Cor. 14.15. 1 Joh. 5.14.

We may likewise understand the Caveat, as directed against that carnal pride and con∣tradiction of spirit, whereby the heart is apt to rise against God and his Word, when we hear of more spiritual service required by God, then our foolish sacrifices do amount unto, or our carnal hearts are able to perform, Jam. 1.19, 20. Rom. 10.21. Acts 13.45. & 28.19.

Page  158before the Lord] That is, in his House or Sanctuary. Therefore they who sin here, are said to provoke the Lord to his very face, and to do evil before his eys, Isa. 65.3. & 66.3, 4.

for God is in heaven, and thou on the earth] These are two Arguments to enforce this Caveat upon us; the one drawn from Gods greatness, the other from our vilenesse▪ Mean persons behave themselves with all honour & reverence, when they supplicate unto men of honour and eminency. Much more should men do so unto God. So Christ teacheth us in prayer to come unto God, as with confidence and comfort, because he is a Father; so with reverence and fear, because he is a Father in Heaven, Matth. 6.9.

His being in Heaven denotes, 1. His do∣minion over us as Lord and Master, Eph. 6.9.

2. His glory and majesty above us, 1 Reg. 8.27. that we might learn to fear before him, Mal. 1.6. Deut. 28.58. Heb. 12.18, 29.

3. His holinesse and purity, Deut. 26.15. Isal. 57.15. & 63.15. Hereby to raise us unto heavenly mindednesse in our approa∣ches unto him, Col. 3.1, 2. Lam. 3.40▪ 41.

4. Hs power to answer us, and to do for us according to our desires, 2 Chron. 20.6, 7. Psal. 115.3. Matth. 5.45. & 7.11.

5. His omniscience, he looketh down on us, and seeth how we behave our selves in Page  159 his presence, Matth. 6.32. Psal. 11.4. & 33.13, 14.

6. His justice and displeasure against evil doers, Psal. 14.2, 3. Rom. 1.18. In all which respects, we ought to take heed of all hasty, rash, and unadvised frame of heart in Gods presence. Mans being on earth, signifieth his baseness and vile condition, his great di∣stance from God, and by reason of corrup∣tion, his great dissimilitude unto him. He is of the earth earthly, 1 Cor. 15.47. Psal. 10.18. This consideration of our natural and sinful vileness, should greatly humble us in our approaches unto God, Job 4.19, 25. & 4.5, 6. & 40.4. Gen. 18.17. Isa. 6.5.

therefore let thy words be few] First, use not rash and vain babling, and empty, heart∣less repetitions as the heathen, Mat. 6.7. but weigh and choose out words to speak unto him, Job 9.14. Eccles. 12.10. He speaketh not against all length in prayer; for Christ prayed whole nights: nor against all repeti∣tion, when it proceedeth from zeal, love, and holy fervency; as that of Daniel, Ch. 9.16, 18, 19. but of that which is a clamorous and vain ingeminating of the same thing without faith or wisdom, 1 Reg. 18.26. Se∣condly, let thy words be few, (i. e.) Let not thy vowes be more then thou mayest comfor∣tably perform.

Page  160V. 3. For a dream cometh through the multitude of businesse, and a fools voice is known by multitude of words▪] (i. e.) As mul∣titude of business produceth dreams, so mul∣titude of words discovereth folly. When two sentences are connected together by a Copula, there is frequently imported a simi∣litude between them, Prov. 17.3. & 25.23, 25, 26, 27. & 26.3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17, 20, 21. Isa. 53.7. Another Argument moving unto the former duty, because, as certainly as much business produceth dreams, so much speech discovereth folly within, Prov. 10.19. Eccles. 10.11—14. Jam. 3.2.

V. 4. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it.] He giveth direction in the other particular, wherein men use to address themselves unto God, viz. Vowes: And as he did in the former forbid rash ha∣stiness, so he doth in this, warn to take heed of grudging delayes. A vow is a solemn promise, or permissory oath made unto God, wherein a man doth voluntarily binde him∣self unto something, which was in his own power to binde himself unto. He doth not direct us here to make such a vow, but ha∣ving made it, to take heed of breaking faith and promise with God, who never fails in any promise of his unto us, Josh. 21.45. nor delayeth to perform it in its time, Exod. 12. Page  161 41, 51. Heb. 2.3. 2 Pet. 3.9. This then is the first Rule concerning vowes, That law∣ful vowes must be speedily and cheerfully performed, Psal. 66.13, 14. & 76.11. Numb. 30.2. Deut. 13.21. Isai. 19.21. Matth. 5.33. God would not have an alteration in a vow, though it were for the better, Lev. 27.10. Thus Hanna made haste to perform her vow in dedicating her child unto God, as soon as he was weaned, 1 Sam. 1.11, 24, 28. God calls on Jacob, and minds him of his vow made before, and expected that he should go to Bethel, and pay it as he had promised, Gen. 35.1. compared with Gen. 28.20, 22.

for he hath no pleasure in fools] He is greatly disple'sed with those, who go about one while to flatter him in making a vow, and afterwards to mock him in refusing or delay∣ing to perform it, Prov. 20.25. This is one reason, drawn from the folly in offending God; whereunto there is another adjoyn∣ed.

V. 5. Better it is that thou shouldest not vow, then that thou shouldest vow and not pay] It was arbitrary, and in our own power to make the vow, for vowes were to be of things in a mans power, Numb. 30.3—15. Deut. 23.22. Acts 5.4. But it is not in our power whether, being made, we will pay it or no, Page  162 for we bring a bond upon our souls, and the vowes of God will be upon us, Psal. 56.12.

V. 6. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin] These words contain the second Rule concerning Vowes, which is to teach us to avoid all rash Vowes which are unad∣visedly made, and that is done two wayes;

1. When we vow things sinful, when our mouth causeth us to sin,

2. When in lawful things we vow, and presently repent, seeking after shifts and evasions to elude the obligation, and to ex∣cuse our selves. Suffer not thy mouth, by making an hasty vow, to cause thy flesh] That is, thy tongue, or thy self to sin. Flesh is taken by a Synecdoche, for he whole man, Gen. 6.12. Isai. 40.5. Rom. 3.20. It may seem here to be used for the whole man, to intimate, that rash vowes are usually groun∣ded upon fleshly, rather then spiritual rea∣sons. A man did not go about them with his soul and spirit, upon solemn and serious grounds, but to gratifie himself in some car∣nal interest or other, or to carry on some sin∣ful end, Acts 23.12, 13. Mal. 1.14. 2 Sam. 15.8, 9. Prov. 7.14. A like expression, Eccl. 11.10.

neither say thou before the Angel] By the Angel some do understand the Priest, or Page  163 Messenger of the Lord towards the people; so they are called, Job 33.23. Mal. 2.7. Rev. 1.20. for in the case of an Oath, where∣in there was errour or ignorance, the person was to bring a sacrifice, and the Priest was to make an atonement for him, Lev. 5.4, 5, 6. And then the meaning is, Do not when thou hast vowed, repent and grudge, and go to the Priest, acknowledging an errour or igno∣rance, that so thou mayest save charges, and lick thy self whole, by offering a sacrifice to excuse a vow. Others, understand the An∣gels of heaven, who are sent forth for the good of the Elect, and who observe our be∣haviour in Gods Worship; as that in the Apostle useth to be understood, 1 Cor. 11.10. Matth. 18.10. Luk. 12.8. 1 Tim. 5.21. the Greek reads it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Before God; it may haply be meant of the Temple or House of God, where they did pay their vowes, Psal. 66.13. wherein there were Cherubims drawn, in token of the pre∣sence of the Angels, and their protection to the Church, 1 Reg. 6.29, 32. Others, understand it of Christ, who is the searcher of hearts, and will not be mocked, cannot be deceived; who is the Angel of the Cove∣nant, and who is in the midst of his people, his Candlesticks, when they come to Wor∣ship, Exod. 23.20, 21. called the presence Page  164 of God, Exod. 33.14. Mal. 3.1. Isa. 63.9. Josh. 12.41. It seemeth to me to have some allusion to the history of Balaam, who when the Angel stood in the way against him, made such an excuse as this, It was an errour, I knew not that thou stoodst against me, if it displease thee, I will go back, Numb. 22.34.

That it was an errour] That is, either do not vow so rashly and unadvisedly, as to be at last brought to a necessity of confessing a sinfull errour, but advise before hand that thou maiest not erre. Such a rash vow was that of Jephthah, Judg, 11.30, 31, 35. and that other of Saul, 1 Sam. 14.24, 29, 39, 40. Or else, do not excuse thy self for breaking thy vow, by saying, thou didst it imprudently, and wert mistaken in it, it was an ignorance which thou art willing, by some sacrifice, or other way of devotion to expiate; as sacri∣fices were to be offered for the ignorances of the people, Levit. 2.27. Numb. 15.24, 25. Heb. 9.7. Do not cover a wilfull prevarication with a specious pretence, nor after vowes make enquiry, Prov. 20.25.

wherefore should God be angry at thy voice] The word signifies foaming anger; why should he through anger foam against thee? An interrogation of dehorting. As, Why will Page  165 ye dye, (i. e.) Be careful that you may not dye. This is one reason, God will be an∣gry. Another, Thou shall feel his anger, he will destroy the Work of thy hand, He will not blesse those endeavours, for the ac∣complishing whereof thou didst make that vow; thou destroyest the vow, he will de∣stroy thy work, Deut. 28.15, &c. The third follows.

V. 7. For in the multitude of dreams, and many words, there are many vanities: but fear thou God] Or, In multitude of dreams, there are also vanities: and so in many words. Or, as in multitude of dreams, so also f words there are divers vanities. Some take 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 not for a Noun, but for the Infinitive mood of the Verb; & render it thus, Quia sicut in multipli∣care, or, quando multiplicantur somnia, etiam vanitates multiplicantur: sic se habent verba multa. As when dreams are multiplied, vani∣ties also are multiplied, so is it in many words. In all, the sense is the same. Mercer, a most learned Interpreter, makes the connexion & sense to be thus, I have given thee these cau∣tions to be tender of thy behaviour in the pre∣sence of God, that thou maiest not by dreams, fancies, vanities, or multitude of difficult busi∣nesses, be brought to utter any thing rashly be∣fore God, but amidst all dangers or dreams, or vanities, or difficulties, to fear God, and not to suf¦fer Page  166 thy self to be withdrawn from him by any temptations. But the words seem to pre∣scribe the same remedy against rash vowes, as before against other hasty addresses unto God, vers. 3. There is a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the conjunction copulative, as elsewhere, Gen. 43.8. &. 25.34. The plural & vanitates, is as much, as plurima vanitas, great vanity, or many vanities; as Prov. 1.20. Wisdoms, (i.) principal or excellent wisdom, Isa. 64.6. Our righteousnesses, (i.) most righteous action, Gen. 19.11. Blind∣nesses, (i.) Thick and through blindnesse: Psal. 45.15. With gladnesses, (i.) with great gladness: 2 Pet. 3.11. What manner of per∣sons ought we to be in holy conversations and godlinesses, (i.) In all manner of holy con∣versation and godliness: Cant. 5.16. His palate is sweetnesses, and he is altogether, or every whit of him is desires, (i.) Most sweet, and most desirable: Dan. 9.23. A man of desires, (i.) Greatly desired o be∣loved: Isai. 53.3. A man of sorrows, (i.) Full of sorrows.

but fear thou God] This is the remedy of all vanities in Worship, to serve God rather with inward reverence and fear, then with rash, hasty, many, formal, empty expressions. The fear of God is the foundation of all holy duties, Chap. 12.13. Isa. 29.13. Deut. Page  167 28.58. Mal. 1.6. Heb. 12.28, 19.

V. 8. If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent, &c.] The connexion of these words with the former, stnds thus: The fear of God doth many times expose men unto injury and violence, and that eve∣ry where, all a Province and Country over, and that not onely from ordinary persons, but from great men, and that without remedy; because, if haply they have recourse unto judgment and justice for ease, even they finde wresting, perverting, distorting of ju∣stice: So that a mans tranquility in this life, may seem to be but little mended by Piety and fear of God, whereby he is in danger of being reduced to poverty and distress. This is a stumbling-block, which may cause men to be offended at the waies of God, Matth. 11.5, 6. & 13.21. Gal. 5.11. and good men have stumbled at it, Psal. 73.12, 13. Against this temptation, he here subjoyns a season∣able antidote, they should not be much ama∣zed at it, but rather comfort themselves, that there lyeth an appeal to a higher Court, where they shall certainly be righted, and their innocency vindicated. If thou seest the oppression of the poor; and that such op∣pression, as that thou hast no remedy against it, but it is powerful enough to wry and per∣vert judgment: And yet further, no escape Page  168 from it, but it meets with thee all the Nation or Province over. If you see a poor man that fears God, not onely suffer under the meanness of his condition, but under fraud, calumny, rapine, violence, where ever he goes; as Ezek. 18.12, 18. Job 20, 19. Mic. 3.2. Job 24.2—12, & 19.7, 8. Psal. 74.20. Jer. 6.6, 7. & 20.8. Ezek. 8.17.

marvel not at the matter] Be not amazed or astonished at it: so much the word im∣ports, Isa. 13.8. Job 26.11. Think it not a strange thing, 1 Pet. 4.12▪ Do not think hardly of God, nor distrust his Providence, or grow weary of his service. What wonder at all is it to see power crush poverty; or wick∣edness suppress Piety? Psal. 37.8, 9.

at the matter] Or, at the will, or purpose, to wit, of God, in suffering, and ordering this thing: for these things happen not with∣out his appointment and providence, Hab. .12. Isa. 10.5. Psal. 17.13.

for he that is higher then the highest re∣gardeth, and there be higher then they] High∣er, viz. God, who is higher: the relative without the antecedent, which is very usual: or, The High from above; The High re∣gardeth it. It seemeth to be a vehement and emphatical Anadiplosis: the same word is used for from above, Gen. 27.39. & 49.25. This kind of elegant and emphatical repeti∣tion Page  169 is frequent in the Scripture, Psal. 22.1. Jer. 7.4. & 22.29. Ezek. 21.27. 2 Sam. 18.33. 1 Reg. 18.39. Judg. 5.30. Psal. 98.4, 5, 6. & 124.1, 2. Hos. 2.2. Dan. 10.19. And according to this sense, God is said in a way of Judgment to look down from heaven up∣on the violence of great men, and to speak from thence in his wrath unto them, Psal. 2.4, 5. & 11.4, 5, 6. Exod. 2.23, 24. 1 Sam. 9.16. Psal. 93.4. Or, He that is higher then the High, God, who is the High above all the Earth, the High and Mighty One, above the Potentates of the World, who are called High ones, Isa. 24.21. Isa. 2.11, 12. 2 Sam. 23.1. He that is King of kings, and Lord of lords, Higher then the Kings of the earth, Psal. 89.27.

regardeth] Observeth the violence of proud men to avenge it. Or keepeth the poor who are oppressed by them, Isa. 3.14. Prov. 22.22, 23. Psal. 10.12—18. & 11.5. & 68.5. & 72.14.

and there e higher then they] Namely, The Holy Angels, who are sent forth for the good of the Church, Heb. 1.14. who pitch their tents about believers, and are Guardians over them, Psal. 34.7. & 91.11. who behold the face of God as Ministers ready to exe∣cute his commands in behalf of them, Matth. 18.10. whose service God is pleased to use Page  170 in the punishment of Tyrants, and subver∣sion of States, Isa. 37.36. Act. 12.23.

V. 9. Moreover, the profit of the earth is for all] Here he returneth to consider the vanity of all kind of Riches; amongst which, though some are to be preferred before others, as namely corn and cattel, which are the profits of the earth, yet both the one and the other are unable to make the possessors of them happy. Yet withall, the words may seem to have some relation to what went before, namely, That God in his providence hath so ordered things in the civil body, That the Head cannot say to the Foot, I have no need of thee: the King himself wanteth the help, and cannot subsist without the labour of poor men, and that may be a check unto oppression and violence.

the profit of the earth is for all] Or, above all other profit. He commendeth husbandry, consisting in tillage and grazing, above all other wayes of gain, as extending to the necessary supply of all men whatsoever; for bread is the staffe of life, Isa. 3.1. Gen. 41.55. Prov. 24.27. & 27.23, 24. & 31.16. Adam even in Innocency was to have dres∣sed the earth, Gen. 2.15. There is an ex∣cellency or profit of the earth, in, or above all. The substantive is put for an adjective of the superlative degree; as Gen. 12.2. Psal. 21.7. & 88.9. Cant. 5.16.

Page  171the King himself is served by the field] Or, the King himself is for the field: or the King is served for the fields sake, that under him men may quietly labour and eat the fruits of the earth: or the King himself dresseth his field, is as it were a servant to his field to order and husband it. It lyes on him to take care of husbandry, that he and his people may be nourished. The most simple mean∣ing is to shew, that from the meanest to the greatest, the fruits of the earth are necessary for every mans supportance. Therefore Joseph reserved the fifth of the fruits of the Earth for Pharaoh, Gen. 47.24. and it is re∣corded for the commendation of King Uz∣ziah, that he was a lover of Husbandry, 2 Chron. 26.10.

V. 10. He that loveth silver shall not e satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abun∣dance with increase] This may be under∣stood either Absolutely by it self, to set forth the unsatiable greediness of covetous wret∣ches, whose desires are like the grave, and never say, It is enough, Habak. 2.5, 6, 8, 9. Isa. 5.8. or Comparatively, with relation to what was said before, There is a profit and real benefit which the Earth bringeth un∣to those that labour about it, but money though a man increase it never so much, and though it appear never so lovely Page  172 unto him, yet it cannot of it self satisfie any desire of Nature; if a man be hungry, it cannot feed him; if naked, it cannot cloath him; if cold, it cannot warm him; if sick, it cannot recover him. As it is an instru∣ment of traffick, which answereth unto All things, Eccles. 10.19. So it may be a de∣fence to a man, Chap. 7.12. and may pro∣vide other things for him. But if God should withhold the fruits of the Earth; and forbid that to bring them forth, abundance of wealth would be as useless as so many stones: a man hath no good of money, nor of other rades, further then they purchase or manage for us the fruits of the earth.

The later clause some thus render it, He that loveth it, shall not have any increase by, or in the abundance thereof. Increase here, is a word which signifieth Increase of the earth, such fruits as may be eaten: and mo∣ney is not fructus edulis, though it come out of the earth. But the prefix 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 set before the word Abundance, being sometimes a note of the Accusative case, and expressing the object of an Action, we may well record it as it is in our Version; He that loveth abun∣dance; as Gen. 34.1. & 37.2. Prov. 9.5. Multitude, or Abundance, here, is taken in the same kind, for gathered wealth, as Psal. 37.16.

Page  173V. 11. When goods increase, they aro in∣creased that eat them] He shewed the va∣nity of the love of money; here he shewes the vanity of Husbandry and great possessi∣ons: or else goeth on upon occasion of the last words, he that loveth abundance, shall not e satisfied with increase; because as his wealth increaseth, his charge and family, and friends, and retinue will increase like∣wise. The possessour can have no more real good, nor satisfaction from his great estate, then his servants have, many hands must be set on work, and consequently ma∣ny bellies filled, many backs cloathed, and they all have their real share as fully, as he himself in the things which he possesseth: no man had greater experience of this then So∣lomon, of whose numerous Family, and large expences we read, 1 Reg. 4.22, 26. So we read of the great Family of Abraham, Gen. 14.14.

and what good, or what profit is there to the owners thereof] Chap. 1.3. & 2.14. & 3.9.

saving the beholding of them with their eyes?] He hath no advantage above others, save that he sees them eat that, the property whereof is his: and this is some good; for it is a more blessed thing to give, then to re∣ceive, Act. 20.35. or, he can onely please Page  174 himself with looking on his land on moneys as his own, whereas the real benefit which they yield, doth accrue unto others as well as to himself. And if his eye have any ad∣vantage above his servants in this respect, Theirs have an advantage above his in ano∣ther; for they are refreshed with sweet sleep, which his are usually deprived of.

V. 12. The seep of a labouring man] Or of a servant, or of him that tilleth the ground, or is conversant about any painful trade and work, Gen. 4.2. 2 Sam. 9.10. Prov. 12.11. Isa. 19.9,

is sweet] Whether he eat little or much: If he eat little, his labour causeth sweet sleep: If much, his healthiness and strength causing good concoction, doth not suffer his sleep to be disquieted with crude and offensive va∣pours. Besides labour taking up the minde, doth free it from those careful thoughts and covetings which are usually the hinderers of sweet sleep.

but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep] This may be understood either of abundance of wealth, with the many cares, businesses, fears, troubles, which are conse∣quent thereupon, Gen. 41.29. Prov. 3.10. Luke 12.16, 17. or of fulness of dyet, glut∣tony and excess of delicious fare, which cau∣seth distempers, and so hindereth sleep. This Page  175 seemeth rather to be intended, (because he mentioned eating before) and so to be di∣rected against rich Gluttons, who spend their time in riot, feasting and excess, and so over∣charge Nature with intemperance, beyond its strength, Luke 16.19. & 21.34. which causeth indigestion and malignant vapours whereby sleep is removed or disquieted, Eccles. 8.16. Prov. 4.16, 17. and this is a great vexation; for sweet sleep is a blessing of God to man, Psal. 127.2. Prov. 3.24.

V. 13. There is a sore evil which I have seen under the Sun] An evil that causeth Sickness, a very grievous and bitter evil. Or an Evil falling on men, Chap. 6.2.

riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt] Prov. 1.19. Either being unto them occasions of sin, & fuel of lust, causing pride, vanity, oppression, violence, gaming, glut∣tony, idleness, excess, Hab. 2.9, 10. Luke 12.15—21. 1 Tim. 6.9, 10. Luke 16.19. Deut. 6.11, 12. & 8.10, 11, 12. Prov. 30.9. Jam. 2.6, 7. & 5.3—6. or else exposing them unto envy and danger, to rapine and violence, Prov. 13.8. 2 Reg. 25.6, 7, 9, 12.

V. 14. But those riches perish by evil tra∣vel] Or, with much affliction. Either by their own improvidence, imprudence, luxu∣ry, &c. or by the fraud, circumvention and Page  176 violence of others, or by casualties and mis∣carriages in trading: or by some secret blast and curse from God, Prov. 23.5. and that after much travel and toyl to get them, after much sollicitude and anxious care to keep them, after much providence and tenderness towards his children to lay up for them.

he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand] O, in his power and possession, Dan. 2.38. Joh. 3.35. 1 Reg. 20.6. 1 Chr. 29.12. his hand, (i.) either the fathers, to to leave unto the son; or the sons, to inherit it after his father.

V. 15. As he came forth of his mothers womb, naked shall he return to go as he came] Though he could secure all his wealth from perishing, yet he himself must leave them, and go out of the World as naked as he came into it, And that which hath no power to free us from death, to comfort us in death, to go with us into another World after death, is no foundation of happiness or solid tran∣quillity, Job 1.21. Psal. 49.17. 1 Tim. 6.7. Luke 12.20, 21.

to go] (i.) To dye, Chap. 6.4. Job 16.22. Psal. 39.13. Phil. 1.23. Return, viz. to the Womb of the common mother, the earth, Job. 1.21. Eccles. 12.7.

and shall take nothing of his labour] That is, of his estate gotten by hard labour, Chap. Page  177 2.19. Prov. 5.10. Deut. 28.33. which he may carry away, or cause to go along with him, in his hand. He cannot carry so much as one handful of all that he hath with him.

V. 16. And this also is a sore evil] As before, vers. 13. That though his Riches haply are not kept for his hurt; nor do not perish in his time, yet they will not at all keep him from death, nor profit him in it. Riches will not profit in the day of wrath.

that in all points as he came, so shall he go] His death and his birth are over against one another in an exact proportion.

and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?] For that which will not stay, which cannot be held fast, which is empti∣ness and very vanity. So words of wind, are empty and vain words, Job 16.3. A man walking in wind, that is, a lying Prophet, Mic. 2.11. so to reap a whirlwind, Hos. 8.7. to fill the belly with the east wind. Job 15.2. to inherit wind, Prov. 11.29. to bring forth wind, Isa. 26.18. To feed upon wind, Hos. 12.1. To speak into the ayr, 1 Cor. 14.9. To beat the ayr, 1 Cor. 9.16. Are ex∣pressions of very vain and fruitless enterpri∣zes. Here money is compared to wind; The one hath wings to fly away with, Prov. 23.5. so hath the other, Psal. 104.3. The Page  178 one cannot be held, Prov. 30.4. neither can the other, 1 Cor. 7.31.

V. 17. All his dayes also he eateth in darknesse, and hath much sorrow and wrath with his sicknesse.] Or, according to the words in their order, thus, Also all his dayes he eateth in darknesse, and much sorrow, and his sicknesse, and wrath. A further vanity of Riches in the hands of a covetous world∣ling, he denies himself a full, free, and com∣fortable enjoyment of outward things, he cannot unbend himself from his arking cares even when he goes to eat, but as he gets, so he useth and enjoyeth his wealth in darkness, i. e. (for the words following are Exegetical) in sorrow, and wrath, even unto very sickness.

All his dayes he eateth in darkness] It may be understood either literally, that he doth so lengthen out his labour, and grudge to spare himself any times even of necessary re∣freshment, as that he deferreth eating till it be dark, and till he can work no longer. Or rather Metaphorically, he eateth without any pleasure, and with much trouble and anxiety of minde; so much darkness commonly im∣porteth, Isa. 49.9, 10. & 50.10. Mic. 7.8.

and hath much sorrow] Or, indignation. The word in some Copies (as the Learned Page  179 observe) is read with the points of a noun; in others, of a verb, and so they render it, multum irascitur, or indignatur, he is very angry, or he sorroweth much, and hath sick∣ness, and wrath. The meaning (as I con∣ceive) is, he eateth in darkness, basely, and wretchedly, as a slave to his riches; he storms, grieves, frets, is even sick with an∣ger and vexation, at the expences he is put unto in keeping but a mean and a sordid Ta∣ble. The Greek by a very easie mistake in the letters which are much alike, read it thus, All his dayes he is in darknesse, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and in mourning, and in sorrow, and in sick∣nesse, and in wrath. His sickness, for, he hath sickness. The Affix is used for the se∣parate and absolute pronoun; as Psal. 115.7. Ezek. 29.3. Our reading, He hath sor∣row and wrath with his sicknesse, (where the conjunction copulative is rendred by the preposition [with] as sometimes elsewhere, 1 Sam. 14.18.) seemeth to intimate such a sense as this, All his dayes, or while he lives, he eats in sorrow, and when he falls sick, and is in danger of death, he hath much wrath and indignation in his sickness, for fear of parting from his wealth, which he so dearly loveth, and hath so hardly laboured for.

V. 18. Behold, that which I have seen, It is good and comely, &c.] Here is subjoyn∣ed Page  180 a remedy of this Vanity, setting forth the right use of riches, to take away all this sinful anxiety which is conversant about them; which is, in the fear of God comfortably to enjoy his good blessings, without afflicting our selves for the future, but casting ou cares upon him, who careth for us.

that which I have seen, is this] He speak∣eth out of experience, and upon exact study and inquiry after the truth; as 1 Joh. 1.1, 3. Joh. 1.14. Chap 1.13. & 2.24. & 3.22.

It is good and comely] Good and comfor∣table to a man himself. Comely, decent, honourable, and of good report toward others. Or, there is a good which is also comely. Or, it is good, yea, it is comely. Or, Be∣hold I have seen that which is good, that which is comely. The like manner of ex∣pression, 1 Sam. 15.20. Psal. 10.6. Teach∣ing us in our conversation, 1. To look unto that which is good in it self, and then to that which is decent towards the world, Phil. 4.8.

that a man eat and drink, and enjoy good of all his labour] Or? In all his labours, to sweeten his labours with a comfortable frui∣tion of the fruit of them. Of all his labours; so the Preposition 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is used, to signifie as much as Ex or De, Exod. 12.43.

Page  181all the dayes of his life which God giveth him] When God gives life, we should not deny the comforts of it to ourselves.

for it is his portion] All the good he can ever have from them: A metaphor from di∣vision of heritances; or from distribution of meat at a feast. It is that which God hath allotted him of all his labour. But withal, he must remember, that God allowes him but a part; God himself, and the poor, and his family, country, friends, challenge part likewise in those goods, wherewith God hath blessed him, Prov. 3.8. 1 Cor. 9.13, 14. 1 Cor. 16.2. Gal. 6.6, 10. 2 Cor. 12.14. 1 Tim. 5.8. Isai. 23.18.

V. 19. Every man also to whom God hath given, &c.] Here is onely a further insisting on the same argument; as Chap. 2.24. & 3.13. & 6.2. He shews, 1. That God gives us our wealth, Deut. 8.18. 2. That he gives us dominion over our wealth, that we may not be captivated unto it; every man is a slave to his estate further then God sets them free. 3. Wherein this power stands; 1. in using it, to eat thereof; 2. in using it proportionable to his condition; or as Divines speak, Secundum decentiam statu∣ti, to take his portion: 3. To use it with fruition and cheerfulnesse, to rejoyce in it, 1 Tim. 6.17. 4. Not to let his joy swallow Page  182 up his duty, nor his delight his labour, but to sweeten his labour with joy, and to moderate his joy with labour, Eph. 4.28. 5. To use, and to enjoy his own, the fruit of his own labour, not to be burdensom or injurious unto others, 2 Thess. 3.12.

V. 20. For he shall not much remember the dayes of his life] Some make the sense to be thus, Although he give not much, or although it be not much which God hath gi∣ven, (which sense the distinguishing Accent doth somewhat favour) yet he shall remem∣ber, that all his life long, God sweetneth that little unto him with the joy of his heart: And a little with joy and cheerfulness, and Gods blessing, is better then much riches of the ungodly, Psal. 37.16. Prov. 17.1. Luk. 12.15. Prov. 15.17. Dan. 1.15. But our Translation preferreth another sense, which seems most consonant to the drift of the place, He that in this manner, doth cheer∣fully enjoy the blessings which God gives him, shall not, with much sorrow or weari∣ness, remember the troubles of his life; nei∣ther shall his labour be very irksome or grie∣vous unto him, because the Lord doth answer him, or doth proportionably unto his labors, return comfort to him in the joy of his heart, in the joyful and contented fruition of them.

Page  183because God answereth him in the joy of his heart] Answereth all his labour with joy, giveth him such joy of heart, as is a full com∣pensation for all his labour. As money is said to answer unto all things, in a propor∣tionable value to them all, Eccl. 10.19. so shall his joy bear a full value to all the labour which was taken for it. Other expositions there are, but this is most genuine and na∣tural.