THe Wise man having set forth many va∣nities of this life; and the great disap∣pointment which men meet with, who seek for happiness and satisfaction from them, and thereupon the vexation which naturally ariseth from such a disappointment: and ha∣ving interwoven some general remedies a∣gainst these vanities, namely, the fear and worship of God, and the cheerfull enjoy∣ment of outward blessings: He here proceed∣eth to many other particular means of heal∣ing the vanities of this Life, and procuring tranquillity and peace to the mind of man Page 202 in the midst of them. Such are, 1. A good name, ve. 1. 2. A composed preparedness of mind to entertain death, the chiefest out∣ward evil, and consequently to bear any any other sorrow, verse 2, 3, 6. 3. Mode∣ration and patience of spirit to bear with present evils, and to digest injuries, expect∣ing the end and issue which God will give, vers. 7—10. 4. Wisdome to defend a mans self against the vanity of Riches, vers. 11, 12. 5. Acquiescency in the Government of all things by the wise providence of God, vers. 13, 15. 6. Contentation of heart in all estates, as well adversity as prosperity, con∣sidering Gods wise and just tempering of them together for our good, vers. 14. 7. Prudent and pious moderation of our beha∣viour, so as that we may not by rash zeal, or inordinate walking, expose our selves to danger and trouble, vers. 16, 17. 8. Reso∣lution and constancy in the fear of God, vers. 18. 9. Wisdome of meekness, charity, and patience towards such as offend, consi∣dering the general frailty of humane nature, and the experience and sence of our own weakness, vers. 19—22. 10. Content∣ment with such a measure of wisdome as is in this life attainable, and not to busie and dis∣quiet our thoughts with things which are above us, vers. 23, 24. Now as before in Page 203 the handling of humane vanities he did oc∣casionally intermix some Remedies thereof: so here in handling the remedies of it, and the means to obtain tranqui•lity of mind, he doth here and there intermix some other va∣nities, which are great occasions of vexa∣tion and unquietness to the heart of man: one principal one, whereof he had had very sad experience, he doth here subjoyn, name∣ly, the bitterness of an ensnaring woman, vers. 25—29.
Vers. 1. A Good name is better then pretious oyntment] Or, A name is good before good oyntment. A name, for, a good name, as, a wife, for, a good wife, Prov. 18.22. By a good name, understand that which hath its foundation in an innocent, unblame∣able and profitable life, when a man hath reverence in the conscience of others, 2 Cor. 4.2. for the name of the wicked will rot, Prov. 10.7. So to be a man of name, is meant an eminent person, renowned in his generation, Gen. 6.4. 1 Chron. 5.24. and names of men, Rev. 11.3. & 3.4. may seem to note special persons of honour and renown.
better then sweet oyntment] So the name of Christ which signifieth his gratious do∣ctrine, Act. 9.15. is compared unto sweet Page 204 oyntment, Cant. 1.3. called the sweet sa∣vour of Christ, 2 Cor. 2.14, 15. Pretious Aromatical oyntments were things▪ greatly in use and esteem amongst the Israelites, and a special part of their treasures: appointed by God to anoint the holy vessels of the Ta∣bernacle, Exod. 30.22—33▪ used in the consecration of persons to offices of ho∣nour and eminency, Exod. 28.41. 1 Sam. 16.13. Psal. 89.20. called therefore the oyl of gladness, Heb. 1.9. Isa. 61.3. used likewise in Feasts, great entertainments and expressions of joy, Amos 6.6. Esther 2.12. Psal. 23.5. Luk. 7.46. Reckoned amongst the special blessings of God, and treasures of that people, Psal. 92.10. Job. 29.6. Deut. 33.24. Prov. 21.20. Isa. 39.2. whence some would have it here taken synecdo∣chically to signifie all kind of riches, before which Solomon doth here prefer a good name; as also Prov. 22.1.
and the day of death, then the day of ones birth] Some understand here a note of simi∣litude to joyn the two clauses together, As a good name is better then sweet oyntment, so is the day of death then the day of Birth. Others repeat the former clause in the later, unto such a man who hath a good name, bet∣ter is the day of death, then of birth. And the clauses seem to have Cognation with one Page 205 another: for the day of Birth is a time of fe∣stivity and rejoycing, and accordingly used to be celebrated, Gen. 40.20. Mar. 6.21, 22. in which kind of solemnities, they used to anoint themselves with sweet oynt∣ments: as on the other side, in dayes of sor∣row, they abstained from them, 2 Sam. 14.2. Dan. 10.23. On the other side, The day of Death removes a man wholly out of this world, and leaves nothing of him behind, but only his Name and Memory, which the Lord threatneth wicked men to blot out, and cause it to rot, Deut. 29.20. & 32.26. Prov, 10.7. Job 18.17. But the name of good men remains behind them, as the sweet savour of a pretious perfume, when the sub∣stance of the perfume it self is consumed with the fire: or as spices when they are bro∣ken and dissolved, leave an excellent scent behind them. And so the meaning is, That although the day of birth be a day of feasting and joy, and the day of death a day of sorrow and mourning, yet unto a good man this is much better then the other, and the memo∣rial which he leaves behind him, is much sweeter then that of spices or perfumes. If we take the later clause alone, without con∣nexion to the former, then they relate unto the many vanities and vexations which the life of man is exposed unto; in which con∣sideration, Page 206 That day which delivers a man from them, is better then that day which lets him into the possession of them: for man is born unto much trouble and sorrow, Job. 5.7. & 14.1. but a godly mans death puts a period to all his sins, to all his sorrows, Rom. 7.24. Rev. 14.13. 2 Cor. 5, 6, 7, 8. Phil. 1.23.
V. 2. It is better to go to the house of mourning, &c.] As to a good man, the day of his death is better then the day of his birth, because it puts an end unto all those sorrows and vanities which he was born un∣to: so for those that remain alive, it is bet∣ter to go to a funeral, the house of mourning, then to a feast, or a birth-day solemnity, the house of jollity and rejoycing.
for that is the end of all men] Or, in the which is the end of all men. In which house of sorrow, a man is minded of the common end of all men. A man seeth his own end in the end of another man, and is admonish∣ed of his frailty and mortality, for it is the way of the whole earth, Josh. 23.14. Heb. 9.27.
and the living will lay it to heart] Or, will put it up, and fasten it to his heart; will be seriously and sadly affected with it, and have deep impressions thereby made upon his spirit, of the greatne•s and power Page 207 God, who draweth away our breath, and we perish, Psal. 104, 29. and of his own vani∣ty and baseness, even in his best estate, Psal. 39.5. putting in the heart, noteth diligent attendance on a thing, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Deut. 11.18. Isa. 42.25. Luk. 21.14. whereas feasting and jollity is very likely to draw off the remembrance of God, Job. 1.5. Deut. 8.12—14. Isa. 22.13. Amos 6.3—6. Deut. 32.15. Isa. 5.11, 12.
V. 3. Sorrow is better then laughter] That sorrow which ariseth from the medita∣tion of death, a sad, sober, and composed temper of spirit, whereby a man is rendred capable of instruction, and sensible of serious things which concern his peace, is better, and doth a man much more good, then laughter and the jollity which belongeth un∣to Feastings. The word signifieth anger, and so by some is the sense rendred, that charitable and wholsome Anger which re∣proveth men for their faults, and so maketh them sorrowfull, is better then the flattery of Parasites, which feedeth their foolish lusts with laughter and vain mirth, and so tendeih unto ruine.
for by the sadness of the countenance] Heb. by the illness or badness of the countenance, Neh. 2.2. badness of heart, 1 Sam. 17.28. The heart is made better. Vain lusts and Page 208 foolish exorbitant light affections are check'• and suppressed; as the outward man is grie∣ved, the inward man is amended, Prov. 2•▪30. 2 Cor. 4.16. & 7.9, 10. whereas o• the other side, empty mirth doth dissolv• the heart, and let it out unto more vanity Chap. 2.2, 3. Hos. 4.11. Esther. 1.10. Sam. 25.36.
V. 4. The heart of the wise is in the hou•• of mourning] He proveth sorrow to be be••ter, wholsomer for the soul then laughte• by the judgement and choyce of wise me• and of fools. That which wise men prefer, is indeed better then that which fools make choyce of; but wise men prefer spectacle•▪ places, occasions of sorrow; fools make choyce of the contrary: ergo that is bette• then this. Wise men consider the end of things, and chuse the most proper means unt• the best ends: whereas fools look only on things present and before their eyes. By the house of mourning, we understand any plac• or object which occasioneth mourning; 〈◊〉 the grave is called domus seculi, the house 〈◊〉 ages, or a mans long home, Eccles. 12.5▪ So a trench is called a house of measures▪ 1 Reg. 18.32. Isa. 3.21.
The heart of the wise] When his body is elsewhere, yet his thoughts and heart are thinking on the evil day, which wicked men Page 209 thrust far from them, Amos 6.3. So Job in prosperity did with a religious fear forecast evil, Job. 3.25. Neh. 2.2—5. Psal. 137.6.
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth] Though he may by poverty, busi∣ness or many other diversions be absent in his body, yet by his good will he would have his share in every merry meeting, his heart is upon pleasures, and his love runs wholly that way, so that he is amazed and over∣whelmed through unpreparedness of heart when any sudden evil overtakes him, 1 Pet. 4.3, 4. 2 Pet. 2.13, 14. Houses of joy we read of, Isa. 32.13. Here then we are taught to moderate our selves in regard of outward pleasures, because love of them is the character of a fool, and of an heart e∣stranged from God, Job 21.12, 13. Prov. 21.17. 1 Cor. 7.30. 1 Joh. 2.15, 16.
V. 5. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, then for a man to hear the song of fools] He instanceth in another cause of sorrow, namely, the rebukes of wise and good men, which though they may sad the heart of a man for the present, yet they are much more wholsome and beneficial, then the songs and flatteries of ungodly Parasites, which sooth men in their sins, and feed the flame of their lusts and corruptions. It is better to hear, Page 210 (i.) patiently, and obediently to listen to the counsel and reproof of a prudent friend, who doth seasonably, and faithfully discover his errours to him, then that a man should hear the song of fools, Prov. 13.18. & 15.31.32. & 27.6. Psal. 141.5. It is a token of a wise and teachable disposition, to receive with meekness the words of reproof, as Da∣vid did, not only from Nathan a Prophet, 2 Sam. 12.7—13. but from Abigail a wo∣man, 1 Sam. 25.32, 33. Heb. 13.22. Prov. 9.9. & 17.10. By the song of fools, understand any flattering speeches, or any merry and pleasant discourses, being a Sy∣necdoche, whereby all kind of jests, and bewitching pleasures are signified, Isa. 24.8, 9. Gen. 31.27.
V. 6. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool:] The voyce of thorns, so the noise of chariots, is called the voyce of chariots; and the noise that fire makes in stubble is called the voyce of a flame, Joel 2.5. Ezek. 1.24. Fools are here elegantly compared unto thorns, they are burdens to the place they live in, Gen. 3.17, 18. They are intractable, he must be fenced▪ which toucheth them, 2 Sam. 23.6, 7. They are unprofitable, good for nothing but the fire, Heb. 6.8. The laughter of these fools, that is, all those flatteries, Page 211 jests, vain and frothy discourses, mimical and apish practises, whereby they beget laughter, and feed the delights of vain men like themselves, are compared to the noyse of thorns burning under a pot: as these make a sudden blaze, and a great noise, but do no good, presently go out, and the meat is left as raw as when it was put in; in stipulis magnus sine viribus Ignis Incassum fuerit: whereas a solemn fire in coals or great wood, boyleth the meat without any such noise: so the effuse mirth and jollity of fools, (i.) of wicked men, though it may seem to pro∣mise more pleasure and content, then the more sad and severe conversation of serious men, yet that doth suddenly vanish with∣out leaving any solid joy behind it; where∣as the reproof of wise men sinketh down in∣to the heart, and helps to work out the scum and vanity which lay within it, Psal. 58.9. & 118.12. and as the crackling of thorns to the ear, so the laughter and vain mirth of fools to the heart of a wise man is wholly offensive and unsavory. Hereby seems like∣wise to be noted the aptness of vain men to be caught with every light and empty plea∣sure, as fire doth suddenly take in thorns, and pass thorow them, Exod. 22.6.
V. 7. Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad, &c.] This may be understood two dif∣ferent Page 212 wayes: 1. That even wise men when they see innocence oppressed, and violence prevail instead of justice, or when they themselves are unrighteously oppressed, are hereby much shaken and discomposed, tempted to passion and indignation against so great disorder, Psal. 73.2, 3, 8, 13, 21. Prov. 23.17. Hab. 1.2, 3, 13, 14. 2 Sam. 16.9. and then the later clause is thus to be taken, and It, namely oppression, destroyeth the heart of a gift, (i.) An heart endowed and adorned with excellent gifts from above; which sense the Chaldee Paraphrase favour∣eth: and many times when two substantives come together, the later is taken adjective∣ly, as Psal. 5.6. a man of blood (i.) a bloody man. Psal. 140.11. A man of tongue, (i.) an evil speaker. Luk. 4.22. words of grace (i.) gracious words. Ephes. 4.24. ho∣liness of truth, (i.) true holiness: and in this sense likewise doth the Septuagint, and the Vulgar Latine, render this clause, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Perder Robur Cor∣dis Ejus. So by Cor muneris, they under∣stand Cor munificum & liberale.
2. Oppression, (i.) wealth gotten by op∣pression, maketh a wise man mad. When a wise man turneth oppressor, and seeth bribes and gifts come in apace, he becometh mad in greediness to get more, or mad in Page 213 violence against his poor neighbours, or mad in his understanding, his eye is blinded, his heart is infatuated and besotted, he is be∣reft of his wonted wisdome, ruining his fa∣mily when he thinks to raise and to establish it: and so gifts destroy the heart, (i.) his understanding, Hos. 4.11. Deut. 16.19. Exod. 23.8. Either sense will consist well with the scope of the Wise man in the whole context, which is to perswade unto patience against fretfulness, when oppressors grow rich, and run madding after gain, and to direct them to wait quietly and observe the end of such men, (as David also directeth, Psal. 37.37, 38. & 73.17.) and not to break forth into anger and madness at the present disorder which we conceive to be in these things.
V. 8. Better is the end of a thing, then the beginning▪ &c.] This maxime holds in many things: The Beginnings are difficult and painful, the End fruitful, and rewards those pains; as in the studies of learning, in the wayes of vertue, in the bearing of afflictions, &c. Heb, 12.11. on the other side, the beginnings of vice seem sweet and pleasant, but they end in bitternesse, like the role that was sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly, Rev. 10.9, 10. 2 Sam. 2.26. So in businesse, a man may suddenly enterprize some great work, and glory in the conceit of Page 214 his abilities, who after comes off with shame and is not able to finish it, for want of wis∣dome to forecast events, Luke 13.28— 32. 1. Reg. 20.11. perseverance is that which crowns and honours an enterprize, Matth. 10.22. Heb. 3.6. Rev. 2.26. Ma∣ny begin in the spirit, who end in the flesh, Gal. 3.3. They use to say of the Devil, that he cannot change his feet. He can be∣gin like a Saint, and transform himself into an Angel of light, but he will still end like himself. But though this be appliable many wayes, yet here the scope of the Wise man is to arm us with moderation of spirit against the present and prevailing oppressions which we meet with. Although thou see much violence, and do thy self suffer much evil thereby, yet do not despond, nor give over waiting upon God, do not look only on the present face of things, but patiently expect what issue he will give, go on in his way, be not dismayed nor affrighted from any good purpose; many times the end is comfor∣table, when the beginnings are troublesome, and they who sowed in tears, do reap in joy, Ps. 126.5, 6. Ps. 73.17. Jam. 5:11. Heb. 10.36, 37. Phil. 4.5. Isa. 10.12, 24, 25.
and the patient in spirit, then the proud in spirit] Long in spirit. That can long re∣strain and keep in anger or impatience. Page 215 This is frequently in Scripture attributed unto God, Exod. 34.6. Neh. 9.17. Ps. 145.8. and is the evidence of his power, Num. 14.17, 18. Nahum. 1.3. and so it is of wis∣dome and strength in a man. Prov. 14.29. & 16.32.
then the proud in spirit] The proper An∣tithesis had been, then the hasty, or short in spirit, as the expression is, Prov. 14.29, 17. Exod. 6.9. But his purpose is to shew, that patience is rooted in humility; the meaner esteem men have of themselves, the more willing they are to endure what God inflicts, and to wait his time for an issue out of trouble. Whereas pride and high-mind∣edness makes men wilfull, and impatient of any opposition, Prov. 13.10. Therefore when God humbled David, we find how strong he was to bear the Railing and Cur∣sing of Shimei, 2 Sam. 16.11, 12. Hab. 2, 3, 4.
V. 9. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be an∣gry] Do not fret at the oppression and vio∣lence which thou seest in humane affairs; do not rashly and hastily give way to mur∣muring and impatience. So the Chaldee Paraphrase understandeth it of contumacy and frowardness against God and his provi∣dence, when things go not as we would have them. Be not hastily nor revengefully an∣gry against rich oppressors, Psal. 37.1. Prov. Page 216 23.17, 18. & 24.19. Chap. 5.2. Anger is naturally an hasty passion, and very apt to prevent reason. The Philosopher compares it to dog which barketh at a man before he observe whether it be his master or a stranger; and to an hasty messenger which runs away without his errand. And therefore slowness and deliberation is necessary to keep it in, Jam. 1.19. Prov. 19.11. & 15.18. Tit. 1.7. It being of it self very wilfull, and hasty, Gen. 49.6. Hab. 1.6. David was overtaken in this point in the case of Nabal, 1 Sam. 25.21, 22. and the disciples, whom our Saviour rebuketh for it, Luke 9.54, 55.
for anger resteth in the bosom of fools] A thing is said to be in the bosome, when it is much loved, cherished, delighted in, Deut. 13.6. & 28.56. Joh. 1.18. Ruth 4.16. fools delight in anger. It resteth. It is in his proper place, it never departeth from him, Is ever at hand, ready to enrage and enflame him. A wise man useth anger as Physick, in its proper time, but a fool useth it as his constant dyet. It is bound up in the heart of a fool, and as it were sewed and sealed up in it. It is an Inmate in a fool, it is but as a passenger through the heart of a wise man, it doth not lodge in it all night, Eph. 4.26. therefore the Apostle exhorting unto perfect patience, directeth to us to pray for Page 217 wisdome as the foundation of it, Jam. 1.4, 5.
V. 10. Say not thou, What is the cause that the former dayes were better then these] He doth not forbid us with godly sorrow, and holy zeal to bewail the corruption of the dayes wherein we live, and to be sensible of the sins or judgements which make them evil; for there is no question but some ages are worse then others, there were purer, and then darker and corrupter times of the Church, Gen. 6.11, 12. Amos 5.13. Eph. 5.16. 2 Tim. 3.1—5. 2 Thess. 2.3. Luke 18.8.
But 1. He condemneth our aptness to pass over the good things which we enjoy in our own age, and to look only on that which pincheth us, to complain of wrong, oppression, injustice now, as if former ages had not the like reasons or other evils, which we are freed from, to complain of as well as we. Israel had Gods presence, and Manna in the Wilderness, and they value not that, because they miss the onions they had in Egypt, Exod. 16.3. Num. 11.4, 5, 6. & 14.1—4.
2. He teacheth us not to charge the evils we lie under unto the times, but to our sins, which make the times evil: for that is all one as if a man should think he should be Page 218 better, if he were removed into another chamber, or did lie on another couch. He that is wicked now, would have been so in the best of times, Matth. 23.30. Thou can'st not change the world, thy work is to mend thy self: a bryar is but a bryar, though it be in paradise; and a lilly is a lilly, though it grow in a wilderness.
3. According to the scope of the place, his principal purpose is, to reprove that re∣pining disposition which is in us, whereby we are apt to murmure at the providence of God, because he hath given us our lot in an age of trouble, when violence haply and oppression prevaileth: and so foo•ishly to charge God, as if humane affairs were not ballanced with so equal and indifferent di∣stribution of blessings as they ought to be; do not, saith he, question the Government of the world, nor the wisdome and righteous∣ness of God therein; Leave Gods work unto him, to whom it belongeth to temper & order the several ages of the world in what manner it pleaseth him. Attend thou on thine own duty, be contented with the present condition of the times, study how to serve God in thy generation, leave not thy station, depart not from thy rank, afflict not thy self with the things which thou can'st not help, walk with God, as Noah did in the worst of times, Gen. Page 219 6.9. and let the badness of the age thou livest in, make thee more wise, more circumspect, more humble, as fire burns hottest in the coldest weather.
otherwise thou doest not wisely inquire con∣cerning this matter] This is a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the meaning is, It is a foolish arrogancy to com∣plain of the providence of God, as if thou wert wise enough to teach him, or to mend his works, Job, 38.2, 3. Job 21.22.
V. 11. Wisdome is good with an inheri∣tance: and by it, &c.] This is to be under∣stood comparatively, for wisdome is good of it self alone, but it is better, more useful and beneficial to a mans self and others, when it meets with an inheritance: As the Rabbins say, Bona est lex cum via terrae; Wisdome without wealth is despised, Chap. 9.15. and wealth without wisdome is a snare, a tempta∣tion, fuel of lust, pride, vanity, luxury, op∣pression, 1 Tim. 6.9. Psal. 49.6. Prov. 28.11. Therefore as life, expressed here by seeing of the Sun, is uncomfortable without the means and supports of life, an inheri∣tance to maintain it: So an inheritance is unweildy and harmfull without wisdome to order it. But wealth in the hand of a wise and good man, is an excellent instrument, whereby he is enabled to do much good, Isa. 23.18. Prov. 3.9. Isa. 60.6, 9. Luke 16.9. Page 220 1 Tim. 6.17, 18, 19. Here we see, 1. It is not having of wealth, but right using of it, which makes life comfortable; for a fool may have it. 2. That wealth without wisdome to use it a∣right, is not good unto the owner of it. 3. That it is an especial skill and wisdome, so to ma∣nage an estate, as that it may be for good to our selves and others. 4. That wealth is a great ornament unto wisdom, Prov. 14.24. and a great instrument unto the works there∣of: Therefore they use to say, That wealth is the sinews of action 5. That it is happier for a wise man to have an inheritance, an estate derived on him from his ancestors, then to be put to get wealth by his own la∣bour and industry: Res non parta labore sed relicta.
and by it there is profit to them that see the Sun] That is, by wisdome with an inheri∣tance, there is more profit, or more ex∣cellent advantage to men in this life, then if they were separated. Or, though wisdome with an inheritance be good, yet the fruit of wisdom is more permanent, and more excel∣lent and beneficial, then the profit of an in∣heritance.
V. 12. For wisdom is a defence, and mo∣ney is a defence] In the Original the words go thus, For in the shadow of wisdom, and in the shadow of money. But the excellency of Page 221 knowledge, &c.] Where there is either an Ellipsis of some Verb, supplyed by the Chal∣dee version, As a man is preserved in the shadow of wisdom so is he preserved in the shadow of money. And by others, A man resteth, and is sheltred against danger under the shadow of wisdom and of money▪ Or else an Hypallage, In the shadow of wisdom, that is, In wisdom there is a shadow. The doubling of the prefix Beth, noteth the pro∣portion of the one, and the other, in that which is in common affirmed of them; as the one is a shadow, so is the other. And so the vulg•• Latin rendreth it, As wisdom defendeth, so money defendeth. Which kind of proportion is commonly expressed by a double Caph; as Isa. 24.2. Or lastly, the Preposition 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 may here from a Nominative Case, as Psal 55.18. Hos. 13.9. and in other places, as some learn∣ed men have observed. A shadow, (i.) a De∣fence, by a Metaphor borrowed from the shelter, which in those hot countries men re∣ceived under trees from the scorching heat of the Sun, Job. 7.2. Isa. 25.4. & 30.2, 3. Psal. 121.5, 6. Num. 14.9. Jon. 4 6, 8. Wis∣dom is thus a refreshing defence from op∣pression and danger, Prov. 3.18. Eccl. 9.15. Act. 23.6—9. And money is a defence; It will arm, it will ransome and buy a man out of danger, Prov. 13.8. & 10.15. & 19.4.
Page 222but the excellence of wisdom is, that wis∣dome giveth life to them that have it] They both defend, and therefore both together are very profitable; but of the two, wisdom is the most excellent; he meaneth spiritual wis∣dom, joyned with the fear of God which is the beginning of it, for this giveth life, Prov. 3.16. & 9.11. which riches cannot do, Psal. 39.5, 6. & 49.16—19. Prov. 11.4. Rich Na∣bal died with sorrow, when wise Abigail saved the life of the family, 1 Sam. 25.33, 37, 38. Therefore wisdom is better then wealth, Prov. 8.11. & 16.16. & 4.5—10. Many times a mans wealth shortneth his dayes, either by his own luxurious and inordinate use of them, or by exposing him to the cruelty of thieves and murtherers. But a mans wisdom will fence him against such dangers; or at least will quiet and comfort him under them, that he shall not sink nor despond.
V. 13. Consider the work of God: for who, &c.] He seemeth to have prescribed wis∣dom, with an inheritance, or unquestionable estate, to be the best remedies against oppres∣sion, violence, and those other evils, which in a bad age we are apt to complain of. But because such may be the badness of the times, and so prevalent the injuries and corruptions thereof, as that neither wealth or wisdom can defend a man against them: He here Page 223 therefore directeth to another act of wisdom, namely, to look above the creatures, and all second causes, unto the righteous hand and irresistible providence of God in them all; and where wisdom cannot mend our condition, nor make the times, or the men thereof, or our affairs therein, so right and orderly as we would have them, there to let it, at the least, teach us contentment, silence, & an humble acquiescency in the good plea∣sure of the Lord. Many things there are, which no humane wisdom can rectifie. In a pub∣lick Pestilence or Famine, no ability of man can purge the air, or open the windows of heaven to supply us. In a shipwrack, no wisdom of man can rebuke the winds and seas, and command a calm. But in all such cases, wisdom must teach us to submit to God, and to wait upon him.
See the work of God] (i.) Diligently view and take notice, in the course of the world, of Gods over-ruling providence. The Scrip∣ture commonly useth words of external sen∣ses, to express the actions of the soul with∣in, Chap. 2.24. & 3.10.
the work of God] Namely, his righteous government of the world; when thou art apt to complain of the times, and the op∣pressions therein, then remember, how crooked soever things are, it is God that Page 224 ordered and appointed all things; and it is vain for thee to think, that by thy sollicitude or anxiety, thou canst rectifie every thing which thou art apt to complain of; for the decrees of God are unalterable, like moun∣tains of brass which cannot be moved▪ Zach. 6.1.15. Therefore make that light by pa∣tience, which thou canst not correct.
for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?] This shews the unal∣terableness of Gods order, which he in his providence hath placed things in. It may be understood, 1. In the course of nature, Be not angry, nor fretfull against Gods work, in unseasonableness of winds or weather, in losses by sea or land, in sicknesses and infirmities or deformities, which God bringeth upon thee or thine; nor at the miscarriage of any means, or weakness of any endeavours thou usest to re∣ctifie these things. This sin was the fault of Is∣rael in the wildernes, they murmured at things which they could not mend, Exod. 17.2, 3. Numb. 11.4, 5, 6, 2 Reg. 6.33. Jon. 4.8, 9. 2. In Civil policy, and the managing of humane societies; If thou see great con∣cussions in States, depopulating of Coun∣tries, translating of Kingdoms, plucking down and rooting up, the Sword devouring as it pleaseth; wonder not, murmur not, but Page 225 seriously consider, that God hath an over∣ruling providence therein, and whatever else displeaseth thee, yet rest silent and contented with what he doth, Job 9.5— 13· Job. 12.14—24. Psal. 75.6, 7. Isa. 2.10—19. Dan. 2.11. Jer. 18.6—10. & 47.6, 7. Ezek. 14.17. 3. In the sins and prevailing wickedness of men in any kind, when thou seest men incorrigible in wickedness, so crooked, that no means will reclaim or rectifie them; consider the work of Gods most righteous judgement in hardning whom he will; and remember that God is so holy that he would not suffer sin to prevail, if he were not also so wise and powerfull as to order it to his own glory, and that no wickedness of man shall proceed further, then to execute what his pre-de∣terminate counsel had appointed, and that the remainder of it he will restrain, Rom. 9.18. 1 Sam. 2.25. Gen. 50.20. Exod. 7.3, 4.2 Thess. 2.11, 12. Act. 4.28. Rom. 11.8. Psal. 76.10.
V. 14. In the day of prosperity be joyfull, but in the day of adversity consider] In the day of good be thou in good. Or, be thou good; That is, joyfull, and cheerfull. The prefix 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, sometimes denoting a No∣minative Case, as some learned have ob∣served. Page 226 Or, it may note a fulness of joy; Be thou very joyfull: as the like phrase seems to import, Exod. 32.22. 1 Joh. 5.19. Joh. 9.34. Mark 5.3, 25. Psal. 29.4. & 33.4. When God gives thee prosper•ty, do thou enjoy it with a cheerfull and a thankfull heart.
but in the day of adversity, or, in the day of evil consider, or, see] Times of trouble and affliction are called evil dayes, Amos 5.13. Eph. 5.16. Eccl. 12.1. Consider; he doth not say, Be thou in evil, or do thou droop and languish under thine affliction; but consider the righteous providence of God, behave thy self wisely, and sutably to his visitation; see from what hand it comes, to what issue it tends; be not fretfull; use not sinfull means to extricate thy self out of trouble; look on it as the work of God, which though it seem crooked unto thee, yet thou canst not make straight, vers. 13. nor by murmuring, or wrestling, mend thy self. Therefore in the day of evil, see to thy self, take heed of any undecent and unbeseeming behaviour of heart; so much the word seeing sometimes doth import, Mar. 12.38. & 13.9. 1 Cor. 10.12. as also se∣rious observing of what is proposed unto us, 1 Sam. 24.11. and accurate perpending and attendance upon it, that we may learn some∣thing Page 227 by it, So should we behave our selves in the time of trouble, Mic. 6.9. Psal. 94.12. & 119.71. Isaiah 26.11. & 42.25.
God also hath set the one over against the other] Hath so ordered and tempered the life of man, that good and evil should be, as it were, interwoven with one another, that the vicissitude of them should take of the heart, either from surfeiting on prospe∣rity, or desponding in adversity; as God hath set Winter and Summer, Day and Night over against one another, Gen. 8.22. Psal. 74.16, 17. so good and evil in the life of man, Lam. 3.38. Isa. 45.7. that in prosperity, a man might not say, He shall never be moved; nor in adversity, He shall never be deliver∣ed; but that in the one, he might learn mo∣deration; and in the other, might exercise faith and hope, and might thankfully receive both good and evil at Gods hand, Job. 1.21. & 2.10. Habet has vices conditio mortaliu• ut adversa ex secundis, ex adversis secunda, nascantur. As in a curious and well pro∣portioned building, one side doth exactly answer unto that which is over-right it, Ezek. 40.21. as in a balance, the weight in the one side, doth poise and answer to the wares in the other; so doth God measure forth good and evil in the lives of men, and pro∣portion Page 228 them to one another, so as may be best fitted for humane frailty, and most conduce unto the spiritual good of his ser∣vants, 1 Cor. 10.13. Psal. 90.15. & 103.9, 14. 2 Cor. 1.4, 5, 9, 10. Isa. 57.16—18.
to the end that man should find nothing af∣ter him] Or, To the end, that man should not be able to find out, or to foresee any thing that is to befall him afterwards; that it being impossible for him, by his providence or prudence, to prevent that order and vi∣cissitude of events, which God hath fore∣ordained, he may thereupon resolve pa∣tiently to submit to the will of the Lord, (which must obtain notwithstanding all our unquietness) and to adore the wisdome and goodness of God, who as he doth by his So∣veraign authority, whatsoever it pleaseth both in heaven and earth, so doth he by his ad∣mirable wisdome, and Fatherly goodness, so dispose of things, and so temper them toge∣ther for the good of his servants, that none, who comes after him, can mend his work, be able to order things better to his own advan∣tage then God hath done; and hereupon since no man can find out any thing superfluous, any thing defective, any thing irregular in the work of God, any thing which if he had been, Page 229 consulted, might have been better done; every man therefore ought to take heed of fretting or complaining, or finding fault with the providence of God towards him, and be∣lieve, that what the Lord doth, is best done, and accordingly acquiesce in it, and with si∣lence and submission yield unto it, 1 Sam. 3.18. 2 Sam. 15.25, 26. & 16.10. Ps. 39.9. Acts 11.17, 18. Isa. 39.8. Rom. 8.28. Job 9.22.13, 14, 15, 32. Mic. 7.9. Lam. 3.26—39. Job 40.4.
V. 15. All things have I seen in the daies of my vanity, &c.] He confirmeth the for∣mer doctrine of Gods dark and wonderful providence, by his own observation and ex∣perience. All these things have I observed in my vain and short life, Chap. 6.12.
there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness] Is oppressed and ruined, being innocent; or, for his righteousness; as Naboth, 1 Reg. 21. Hab. 1.13. In, some∣times is as much as for; as Gen. 29.18. Hos. 12.13. Gen. 18.28. Jon. 1.14. Matth. 6.7. Act 7.29.
and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life] Lives impunely in a wicked way without controul, and that many times, be∣cause he is wicked, Job 21.7. Jer. 12.1, 2. The Lord hereby teaching us, that there is a day to come wherein he hath appointed to Page 230 judge the world in righteousness, called the day of the revelation of his righteous judge∣ments, Acts 17.31. Rom. 2.5. He is most just and righteous now in all his waies of pro∣vidence, but many times in them he hideth himself, Isa. 45.15. that he may exercise the faith and patience of his servants, and that the perdition of wicked men at the last, may by his long suffering and patience to∣wards them, be the more conspicuous.
V. 16. Be not righteous over much] Some would have this spoken in the name, and ac∣cording to the judgement of carnal Reason, as a politick precept unto neutrality and in∣differency in good courses, seeing piety and righteousness doth so often expose men unto danger, be not therefore over-forward and religious, over-wise and scrupulous; be not so inflexible upon grounds of conscience, remit a little of thy strictness, and accom∣modate thy self to the exigence of times and circumstances, slacken thy hand, strike sail, loosen the rudder bonds in a tempest. Why shouldest thou unnecessarily expose thy self unto danger? But I rather conceive that the name of the mean is here given to the ex∣treme, for a man may many times do a thing conscientiously, and upon an opinion of du∣ty, and thereby involve himself in much trou∣ble and danger, when indeed there was no Page 231 necessity so to do. 1 Sam. 15.21. 2 Sam. 21.1, 2. Joh. 13.8. Rom. 10.2, 3. Phil. 3.6. Act. 26.9. Joh. 16.2. Col. 2.18. 1 Tim. 5.23. and in this sense the meaning is, be not righteous over-much, be not too much bent on a thing, just in thine own opinion, but temper thy zeal with godly wisdome, ad∣vise with others, lean not on thine own un∣derstanding; make not thy self over-wise, as if thine own private judgement were ground enough to regulate all thy behaviours by, flatter not thy self in any opinionative confidence of thine own ability to judge of all that is fit to be done, but think soberly of thy self, Rom. 12.3. The more humble thou art, the more wary and circumspect thou wilt be, and the more wary, the more safe. Some apply this against too much rigor and severity in censuring of men for unjust, when we see them perish, or for righteous when we see them prosper, grounded upon the doctrine of the former verse. But I rather take it for a Caution and direction to mo∣derate our zeal with prudence, least it bring upon us the fore-mentioned danger▪ Matth. 10.16. It was the commendation of Agri∣cola in Tacitus, Retinuit, quod est difficilli∣mum, ex sapientia modum. Quisquis plus justo non sapit, ille sapit.
V. 17. Be not over-much wicked, neither Page 232 be thou foolish, &c.] Though there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness, do not thou thereupon take cou∣rage to let loose the reins to all lust, or to make the impunity of others an encourage∣ment to any excess of wickedness in thy self, for this is folly and madness to run against a rock, because some one or other hath esca∣ped shipwrack. He doth not here allow any degree of wickedness, but because in many things we sin all, and no man by his greatest vigilancy can preserve himself wholly from miscarriage, therefore he warneth us to be∣ware above all, of breaking forth into pre∣sumptuous sins, and superfluity of naughti∣ness, Jam. 1.21. Excess and profuseness of evil, 1 Pet. 4.3. greediness of lust, Eph. 4.19. Jer. 6, 7. & 2 23, 24. & 8.6. Hos. 4.2. Mic. 7.3.
why shouldest thou dye before thy time?] why shouldest thou by excess of sin consume thy body, waste thy strength, cast thy self in∣to the danger of civil justice, or under the curse threatned against desperate sinners, Ps. 55.23. Prov. 10.27. Job. 15.32.
V. 18. It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this, &c.] Take hold, that is, firm∣ly and constantly keep to it, and never let it go, Isa. 56.4. Job 17.9. Prov. 4 13.
of this] Meaning either that which he Page 233 speaks of in the present verse, the fear of God, whereby the heart will be preserved from vitious and imprudent extremes, and the dangers ensuing thereupon. Or else, the mediocrity he before spake of, it is good that thou hold fast this counsel, to follow the middle and safe way, sincerely keeping unto duty, and yet wisely declining danger, and then the clauses [of this] and [from this] must relate unto the two former precepts, it is good that thou take hold of this, namely, that thou be not over-much wicked, and withal that thou with-draw not thine hand from that, namely, that thou be not righte∣ous over-much.
for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all] Of all those dangers, which ex∣tremes are likely to draw men into. He that ordereth his waies in the fear of God, turneth aside neither to the right hand, nor to the left, but doth observe one precept, as that he departeth not from another, shall thereby be preserved from the dangers which lye on either hand, Ps. 34.9—16. shall have comfort in trouble, and deliverance out of it; for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdome, he doth teach them how they may walk without offence, Ps. 25.12, 14. Job 22.28. Ps. 32.7, 8.
V. 19. Wisdome strengtheneth the wise, Page 234 more than ten mighty men that are in the Ci∣ty] By wisdome he meaneth that wisdome which he advised in the three preceding ver∣ses, that fear of God, whereby men are taught to keep an holy moderation, and to avoid all unnecessary and imprudent extremes in evil times, this wisdome will keep a man from the dangers mentioned vers. 15. more than ten, that is, many mighty men, or principal commanders can preserve a city. A godly man, who hath God for his friend, and his Angels pitching their tents about him, is thereby much safer from dangers, than a city is by the power of many Dynastae or Poten∣tates, who are intrusted with the defence of it, 2 Reg. 6.16. Eccles. 9.16. Isa. 8.10. 2 Sam. 20.16—22. Prov. 24.3, 4, 5. Zach. 2.5. Ps. 34 7. Prov. 3.21—26. & 4.12, 13.
V. 20. for there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not] Though some conceive these words to have no relation or connexion to the words going before, or following after, yet they seem to have a very fair aspect both waies. 1. To the former words; there is no man so just, but he will sometimes be overtaken with sin, which will easily expose him unto danger, if he have not spiritual wisdome to behave him∣self, in a fair accommodation towards other. 2. To the following words, there is no man Page 235 so just, who doth not sometimes fall into sin, and therefore he ought to bear with the er∣rors and failings of others. The common cor∣ruption of the best men requireth of them, both wisdome toward themselves to prevent danger, and charity towards their brethren to forgive offences: wisdome towards them∣selves, that they give not occasion to any to reproach and speak evil of the waies of God, Col. 4.5, 6. 1 Thess. 4.11, 12. Eph. 5.13, 16. 2 Cor. 11.12. 1 Pet. 2.12.15, 16. Charity towards others, when they are over∣taken with a fault, as considering themselves, who are without Gods continued assistance, equally obnoxious to the same miscarriages, Gal. 6.1. Col. 3.13.
not a just man upon earth] For the Saints in heaven are made perfect, they sin no more, Heb. 12.23. The words in their absolute sense are a full testimony of the imperfection of our inherent Righteousness in this Life, and that even justified persons come very short of that exact and perfect obedience which the Law requireth, Ps. 103.3, 4. & 143.2. 1 Reg. 8.46. Isa. 64.6. Prov. 20.9. 1 Joh. 1.8, 10. Rom. 7.14—23.
V. 21. Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee.] Set not thine heart upon all words that men speak, or all things that they Page 236 do unto thee: set not thine heart over∣curiously to know them: when thou dost know them, lay them not to heart, be not troubled at them, do not set thy self to re∣venge them, let them not disquiet thy mind, see them, and see them not, 1 Sam. 9.20. 2 Sam. 13.20. 1 Sam. 25.25. & 1 Sam. 10.27. Prov. 19.11. & 20.3. It is a great point of wisdome to dissemble injuries, to connive at them, to take no notice of them, to pass them by with meekness and neg∣lect, 2 Sam. 16.10, 11. This meekness he requireth to be shewed even towards mean and abject persons, or towards the poorest servant in a mans family, who doth some∣times, it may be, through our own provoca∣tion, utter some hard and undutiful speeches against us, Joh. 31.13, 14.
V. 22. for oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth, that thou thy self likewise hast cur∣sed others] The order of the words seems to be inverted; for the meaning is, thou art conscious to thy self that thou hast often∣times cursed or spoken evil of others. The consideration of our own frequent passions and infirmities should move us patiently to suffer, and willingly to pardon the over∣sights of our brethren, Gal. 6.1. Tit. 3.3. Jam. 3.1, 2. Matth. 7.1—5. The more sensible any man is of sin in himself, the more Page 237 meek and charitable he will be towards o∣thers. Pride is the ground of contention and censoriousness, Prov. 13.10.
V. 23. All this have I proved by wis∣dome: I said I will be wise, but it was far from me.] He professeth the truth of all which he had before taught, that wisdome is an excellent protection to a righteous man against his own corruptions, and dangers en∣suing thereupon, and confirmeth it by his own experience and tryal, according to that great wisdome which God had given him. Yet withal, he acknowledgeth how short he came of that perfection in wisdome, which he pro∣mised himself by the diligent use of means to attain unto. Professing the great difficulty he found therein: 1. He was endued with the Spirit of God, and with his fear, which is ever accompanied with spiritual wisdome, Ps. 119.99, 100. 2. He had a personal and extraordinary promise of wisdome above any other men, 1 Reg. 3.12. 3. He had used all the means to increase this excellent grace of God in himself; 1. He did very highly prize it, Prov. 3.13—26. & 8.11, 12. 2. He had the benefit of a Reli∣gious education, and his fathers instructions to quicken him in it, Prov. 4.4—13. 3. He set his heart wholly upon it, that ac∣cording to the property of wise men, he Page 237 might be yet wiser, and get more know∣ledge, Prov. 9.9. & 10.14. Eccles. 1.13. 4. He prayed earnestly unto God for it, (which is an excellent means to get wis∣dome, Jam. 1.5. Eph. 1.17. Col. 1.9.) 2 Chron. 1.10. 5. He had humility, and a due sense of his want of wisdome, (which also is a fit disposition of heart to be taught of God, 1 Cor. 3.18. & 8.2. Ps. 25.9. Matth. 11.25.) 1 Reg. 3.7. 6. He had all out∣ward furtherances and accommodations to∣wards the getting of it, wealth, peace, power, authority, to call in all the assistances which might be useful unto him in it, Eccles. 2.9, 10. 7. He had an extraordinary stock of in∣fused wisdome to begin withal, which he greatly improved by long and accurate ex∣perience, 1 Reg. 4.30. Eccles. 1.16. And yet after all this he professeth, That though he said he would be wise, Though the pur∣pose of his heart was wholly set upon it, yet he found that it was far from him. Teaching us thereby, 1. The unsearchable deepness and distance of wisdome in its whole wide∣ness from the noblest and most sublime un∣derstanding of man, Job 28.12—21. & 37.15—23. & 38. per totum. Rom. 11.33, 34. 2. That the most perfect Saints are the most sensible of their imperfection; as the more delicate the senses are, the more Page 239 sharply are they affected with what offends them, Rom. 7.14—24. & 12.3. 1 Cor. 15.9, 10. & 13.9, 10. 3. That it is the nature of spiritual wisdome to discover spiritual wants, and the more the soul knows of God, the greater doth it discern and be∣wail its distance from him; as things neerest the Center make more haste unto it, Exod. 33.11, 18.
V. 24. That which is far off, and exceed∣ing deep, who can find it out?] Or, that which hath been, is far off, and exceeding deep: the word is doubled, to note the super∣lative degree, as Prov. 20.14. He sheweth the cause why he was far from wisdome, be∣cause the works of God, whether of Creati∣on, Redemption, or Providence, are very profound, abstruse, and mysterious, greatly distant from the eye, and beyond the com∣prehension of the weak and narrow reason of man, Prov. 2.4. Job 11.6—10. Ps. 139.6.
V. 25. I applyed mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdome, &c.] Or, I and my heart turned every way, left no means unattempted, exactly to discover wis∣dome, &c. The using of many words unto one purpose, implyes the exquisite and cu∣rious search which Solomon made in this in∣quiry; as Deut. 13.14. See Chap. 1.13, 17. Page 240 & 2.3, 12. Solomon was not so much dis∣couraged by the difficulty, as provoked by the excellency of wisdome, and made no other use of the profoundness and abstruse∣ness thereof, than to multiply his endeavours in searching after it.
to seek out wisdome and the reason of things.] The curious art and subtil contri∣vances of things: the same word is used, vers. 27, 29. Chap. 9.10. 2 Chron. 26.15. whereby we are taught in the disquisi∣tion of knowledge, especially that which is spiritual, not to content our selves with a superficial shew, but to get rooted and grounded principles, that we may be able with full assurance to give a reason of the hope which is in us, 1 Pet. 3.15. and to have a distinct comprehension of the truth, that we may be rooted and fixed on it, Eph. 3.16, 17, 18. & 4.14. and give a clear and deliberate Judgement upon it.
I, and my heart] That is, I did heartily and seriously seek out. The copulative Vau, doth either import a preposition, I with my heart did search, as 1 Sam. 14.19. or a more clear explication; I, that is, my heart: so the learned conceive that copula many times to signifie as much as, That is, as Gen. 35.12. 1 Chron. 21.12. 2 Sam. 17.12. 1 Sam. 17.40. & 28.3.
Page 241And to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness] Or, the foolish∣ness of madness: as the Apostles expression is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a sinning sin, Rom. 7.13. so here the Wise man expresseth the de∣sperate wickedness and folly of corrupt hearts: by wickedness of folly, and foolish∣ness of madness, thereby signifying the vast and deep corruption and deceit which is in the heart of man. The knowledge whereof he did search after, that he might be the better able to convince and to dissect the consciences of others, 1 Cor. 14.24, 25. Heb. 4.12. Ezek. 14.5. Isa. 49.2. Ps. 45.5. Rev. 1.16. only his study is in this order, first he searcheth and seeketh out wisdome, as an antidote against the danger of his se∣cond studies, to discover the wickedness, folly, and madness of sensual pleasures. And therefore we shall observe, that in the par∣ticular wickedness which he specifieth in the next verse, namely, the inticements of a whorish woman, he doth often premise the Commendations of wisdome, and the study of that, as an effectual prevention of that mischief, Prov. 2.10—19. & 5.1, 2, 3. & 6.6, 20—24. Prov. 7.4, 5. & 9.10—13.
V. 26. And I find more bitter than Death the woman whose heart is snares and nets,Page 242 &c.] He sheweth the discovery which he had made by his study to find out the wick∣edness of folly, and foolishness of madness, by instancing in one particular vanity of the wiles and subtilties of harlots, which it was necessary for him to add to the former cata∣logue of vanities, that he might give to the Church then, and leave a record for all po∣sterity to take notice of his special Repen∣tance for those gross miscarriages which by that means he had been drawn into. And here he gives, 1. The Character of an whorish woman, described, 1. By her subtilty. Her heart is snares and nets, her cunning devices to deceive and intangle sensual persons, are as gins laid to catch silly creatures, who are entised with the bait, but discern not the danger, See Prov. 2.16. & 6.24, 26. & 7.5. & 9.16, 17. & 22.14. 2. By her pow∣er, her hands, wherewith she catcheth, hold∣eth, embraceth him, are as strong cords to hale simple fools as an oxe to the slaughter, Prov. 7.13, 21, 22. Judg. 16.15—19.2. Here is the great danger of these nets and bands to the souls of men.
They are more bitter than death] More pernitious, and bring more heavy miseries with them. We read of the bitterness of death, 1 Sam. 15.32. and of a worse bitter∣ness, the end of a strange woman is bitter as Page 243 wormwood, and her steps take hold on hell, Prov. 5.4, 5. Death may be sweetned and sanctified, made a welcome and desirable thing to a believer, 1 Cor. 15.55. Phil. 1.23. Luke 2.29, 30. But the bitterness of hell is incurable; death may be honourable, to dye in a good cause, in a good old age, to go to the grave in peace, lamented, desired, with the sweet savour of an holy life, and many good works to follow one, Rev. 14.13. Phil. 1.21. Ps. 116.16. But to consume and putrifie alive, under a Tabes of impure l•sts, to perish, as Tiberius did at Capreae, quotidie perire me sentio, to shipwrack a mans honour, ruine his estate, shorten his years, consume his flesh, put a hell into his conscience, to bury his name, his substance, his soul, his carkass, in the bosome of an Har∣lot; this is a bitterness beyond that of death, Prov. 5.9, 10, 11. & 6.26, 33. & 9.16, 17, 18.
who so pleaseth God, shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be taken by her] Here is intimated the great wrath of God against this sin. It is a sin which he useth to give over reprobates, and those whom he in special manner hateth, unto; a sin which few repent of, to take hold of the paths of life again, Prov. 2.19. & 22.14. Amos 7.17. Rom. 1.24—28. Eph. 4.18, 19. A man is not Page 244 preserved from the power of this temptation by his own wisdome or strength, but only by the supernatural grace of God.
V. 27.28. Behold, this I have found, (saith the Preacher,) &c.] This, which he had spoken of, vers. 26. or which follow∣eth, vers. 28.
saith the Preacher] This added, 1. To give credit from his wisdome and experi∣ence to what he here affirms: especially having made so distinct and accurate an in∣quiry, weighing and comparing one by one, to find out the account, and to come to a de∣terminate and clear judgement in the case, and to make a certain conclusion. 2. To testifie to the Church his repentance. This have I found, saith the soul, which, by sound repentance, is returned unto the Congrega∣tion of Saints, which was before ensnared in the nets and bands of seducing women, and that upon serious & sad recollected thoughts, which he hath not yet given over, but doth insist upon the same penitent inquiry still.
one man amongst a thousand have I found, but a woman amongst all those have I not found] The meaning is not to condemn one sexe rather than the other; for all have sin∣ned, and come short of the glory of God, Rom. 3.23.) and Solomon had known good and wise women, as well as men, Prov. 18. Page 245 22. & 19.14. Prov. 12.4. & 31.10—30. But he speaketh here of his observation, ac∣cording to his former sensual conversation with wanton women, which seems to be the reason of the number here mentioned: for Solomon had a thousand wives and concu∣bines, all strange women of the neighbour wicked nations, which turned away his heart from the Lord unto idols. Amongst all these thousand, Solomon had not found one good one, 1 Reg. 11.1—9 Or the s•btil coun∣sels of one man, amongst many, may more easily be discerned, than of any harlot, be∣cause their flatteries and dalliances do steal away the heart, and put out the eyes and judgement, and infatuate a man so, that he can look no further than the present delights wherewith they do bewitch him, Hos. 4.11. Judg. 16.17—21. Prov. 7.21, 22. & 5.6.
V. 29. Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions,] This only: He could not discover all the streams of wicked∣ness and folly amongst men: but the origi∣nal and fountain of them all he doth disco∣ver, namely, the corruption of the heart of man by the fall; this he found, that their wickedness was not from God, nor by creati∣on, but from themselves, and their willing Page 246 entertainment of the temptation of the ser∣pent. Some more subtilly expound these words, as a confirmation of the former: God made Adam Right, and so he continued so long as he was alone: but when the Woman was given unto him, she tempted him, and then they sought out many inventions. Be∣cause the woman was first in the transgression, 1 Tim. 2.14. But here he speaketh of both Sexes together under the name of man, and sheweth, that they were made without any of this sinful and subtle wisdom, after the Image of God, endowed with divine wisdom to discern the way unto true happiness, and with perfect ability to pursue the same, Gen. 1.26. Col. 3.10. But though he were made upright, yet he was as a creature, mutable, & so subject to be overcome by temptation, and accordingly he did easily admit of the tem∣ptation of Satan, and sought out many in∣ventions of his own, did not content himself with that way to happinesse which God had prescribed, but fancied to himself an higher perfection, and yielded to follovv those new wayes unto blessedness, vvhich Satan and his own deceived heart, did suggest unto him, and so fell from his primitive honour, and became like the Beasts that perish, and con∣tracted a bottomless and unsearchable depth of sinful deceit, which none but God can Page 247 throughly search and discover, Jer. 17.9. Isa. 57.10. Jer. 2.23, 24. & 32.22. By many inventions, he meaneth all these vain, though crooked counsels, and carnal shifts wherewith men do pacifie, palliate, excuse, defend all their sinful courses, Psal. 119.133. Rom. 1.21. 2 Cor. 10.5. Gen. 6.5. Ludo∣vicus De Dieu translateth the words thus, Ipsi autem quae sierunt cogitationes Magnatum, They sought out the inventions of mighty men, or of the Angels, who were not con∣tented with their own station, but forsook it, Jud. v. 6. and so relateth to the tempta∣tion of the Serpent, Ye shall be like unto Gods, you shall be advanced into a nobler and more honourable condition, then now you are in, Gen. 3.5. these thoughts, being suggested by Satan, they ambitiously enter∣tained, and so fell from their primitive per∣fection.