THe wise man proceedeth in this Chap∣ter, to give further precepts touching tranquillity of life. And they are, 1. Pra∣ctical prudence with the fear of God, which stamp a kind of majesty and lustre on the face of a man, and make him to be had in reve∣rence Page 248 of others, vers. 1. 2. Obedience to Magistrates, without hastily attempting, or obstinately persisting in any rebellious design it being in their power, as they please, to a∣venge themselves upon us, vers. 2.3, 4, 5. 3. Preparednesse of heart to bear inevitable evils, by a prudent observation of times, and judging of what is in a concurrence, of such and such circumstances fittest to be done, and where things are dark and undiscernable, to dispose our hearts quietly to yield to the pro∣vidence of God, vers. 6, 7, 8. 4. Because it is a very great temptation unto disquietnesse and impatiency of spirit, when a man liveth under wicked Rulers, against whose cruelty▪ all a mans wisdome and meeknesse can hard∣ly be security enough: He therefore, 1. observeth the providence of God in this par∣ticular, vers. 9, 10. 2. the reason of that insolence and excess of evil in the lives of such men, vers. 11. 3. the grounds o• comfort unto good men in this temptation▪ and of terrours and restraint upon evil men, notwithstanding their present power and prosperity, vers. 12.13. Laying down a ge∣neral proposition concerning Gods provi∣dence in the affairs of this life, whereunto good men should submit. vers. 14. 5▪
A cheerfull enjoyment of outward and pre∣sent Page 249 blessings, without anxious sollicitude for the future, vers. 15. 6. A patient rest∣ing in the providence of God, admiring his works, and adoring the unsearchablenesse of his counsels; whose judgements, though they may be secret, yet they cannot be un∣righteous, vers. 16, 17.
Vers. 1. W Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretati∣on of a thing?] He had set his heart to seek out wisdome and folly, Chap. 7.25. And having there handled the later of these two, as the use of the Scripture many times is, when two members or branches of a subject are proposed, to handle the later first, and then to resume the former. Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell toge∣ther in unity, Psal. 133.1. Pleasant as the pretious oynment of Aaron, vers. 2. Good and profitable, as the dew of Hermon, vers. 3. Isa. 56.3, 4, 6.) he doth here return to the former member, shewing the excellency of wisdome, whereunto no other is to be compared. The prefix Caph may be under∣stood, either as a note of similitude, Who is as the wise man? (i.) None is to be compared to him: And so it may be understood as spo∣ken of himself, Who hath attained a greater Page 250 measure of wisdome then I have? who yet with my utmost studies have not been able to finde out the perfection of it. Chap. 7.23, 24. Or it may be taken pro not a veritatis, and so the sense to be, that no man can attain un∣to perfect wisdome, as vers. 16, 17.
and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing?] Here are two sorts of wise men no∣ted unto us, 1. He that is wise in himself: 2. He that is able to teach others wisdom. Or, who is able truly to judg of all affairs, and rightly to discern what in every case is to be done, or left undone? Dan. 2.4, 5, 7. & 4.3.16.
a mans Wisdome maketh his face to shine] This seemeth to allude to the brightnesse of Moses his face, Exod. 34.29, 30, 34. the like whereunto we read of Stephen. Acts 6.15. Hereby is noted, 1. That wisdom doth beautifie a man with tranquillity of mind, and cheerfulnesse of countenance, spem fronte serenat, Psal. 4.6, 6. Prov. 15.13. & 16.24. Psal. 34.5. 2. That it ma∣keth his light of holinesse to shine out unto o∣thers, Matth. 5.16. Joh. 5.35. Phil. 2.15. 3. That it rendreth him reverend, venerable, amiable in the eyes of others, and doth con∣ciliate special honour and favour unto him, in the hearts of those that converse with him, Page 251 Job 29.7—16. 4. That it inlight∣neth his eyes, that he may more clearly un∣derstand what he is to do, and to leave un∣done; the light of the Lord shineth on his wayes, Psal. 25.9. Job 22.28. Psal. 32.8. 1 Joh. 2.20.
and the boldnesse, or, strength of his face shall be changed, or, doubled] By the strength of the face, we may understand fiercenesse, Impudence, sourness, austerity; as Dan. 8.23. Deut. 28.50. Prov. 7.13. & 21.29. Isa. 3.9. Psal. 10.4. Jer. 4.3. wisdome changeth all this into mildnesse, meek∣nesse, and serenenesse of countenance; as Moses was the wisest and holiest, so he was the meekest man, Numb. 12.3. Prov. 11.2. 2. By strength of face, we may un∣derstand confidence and courage; For the righteous is bold as a Lion, Prov. 28.1. Guilt and shame cast down the countenance, Gen. 4.5, 6. Righteousnesse and wisdom embol∣den it, 1 Sam. 1.18. Job 11.15. Luk. 21.28. And in this sense, some read the text thus, (which the Original word well bears) The strength of his countenance, his confidence and courage shall be doubled, Chap. 9.19. Isa. 40.31. Prov. 4.18.
V. 2. I counsel thee to keep the kings com∣mandement, and that in regard of the oath of God] I to keep. There is in the Original an Page 252 Ellipsis, and something necessarily to be supplyed, as is usual in other places, Psal. 120.7. Hos. 14.8. 2 Cor. 9.6. Matth. 25.9. 2 Thess. 2.3. 1 Tim. 4.3. Gen. 25.22. Matth. 21.30. I, if thou wilt admit of my coun∣sel or perswasion, thus advise thee. It is put Elliptically, to intimate a special Empha∣sis, and to give authority to the precept, Gal. 5.2.
To keep the Kings command] To observe the mouth of the King. The Angels are said to see, or observe the face of God, in token of obedience and readiness to execute his commands, Matth. 18.10. Esth. 1.14, 1 Reg. 10.8. The mouth is often used for the command, which proceedeth from it, Exod. 38.21. Numb. 4.27. Josh. 1.18. Our obedience must not be according to our own fancies or conjectures, but according unto the prescript of the Law, for the Law is the mouth of the Magistrate. This is one spe∣cial part of prudence, in order unto tranquil∣lity of life, to be faithful and obedient to∣wards Magistrates, and not to make our selves wiser then the Law.
and that in regard of the oath of God] These words are both an enforcement, and a limitation of the duty prescribed;
1. An enforcement: It is necessary to yield obedience unto Magistrates, not onely Page 253 out of fear towards them, because of their sword, but out of conscience towards God, and because of his vowes that are upon us, Rom. 13.5. and so it seems to relate unto some covenant and oath of fidelity, which was taken by them towards their Princes. We read of the covenant between the king and the people made before the Lord, 1 Chr. 11.3. and a promise or league made in the presence of God, was likely to be by the in∣tervention of an oath, as the covenant between Abimelech and Abraham, Gen. 21.23, 24. See Gen. 26.28, 29. & 31.44, 53. And this may seem to be intimated in that phrase of Giving the hand under Solomon; which we render, By submitting themselves unto him, 1 Chron. 29.24. A like Ceremony, where∣unto Abrahams servant used, when he sware faithfulness unto him, Gen. 24.2, 3. & 47.29. So giving the hand, was a ceremonial confirmation of some sworn covenant or pro∣mise, Ezra 10.19. Ezek. 17.18, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Iliad. 2. And hence some here by Iuramentum Elohim, understand the Oath of the Magistrates, who are sometimes in Scripture so called, Exod. 22.28. Psal. 82.1, 6. Josh. 10.34. Thereby to teach them to rule for God, not by their own lust, but by his Law, and for the good of his people. But I rather understand, by the Page 254 Oath of God, an oath sworn unto God, Isa. 19.18. & 44.4. 2 Chron. 15.12, 14. & 34.31, 32. So that we are bound to be obedient unto Magistrates for the Lords sake, 1 Pet. 2.13 — 17. as servants are required upon the same accompt, to yield obedience to their masters, Eph. 6.5—8.
2. This clause containeth a limitation, by which our obedience unto men is to be boun∣ded: Keep the Kings Command; yet so, that thou do not violate thine oath and obe∣dience due unto God. Thy service to the one, must be such as will consist with the fealty to the other; for we are bound unto God and his service by oath and covenant, 1 Pet. 3.21. Neh. 9.38. & 10.29. Psal. 119.106. and no subordinate obedience to others must make us forget our duty unto him, 1 Sam. 19.1. & 22.17. Dan. 3.16, 17, 18. Act. 4.19. & 5.20. 1 Pet. 2.17. Prov. 24.21. 1 Reg. 21.3. Esth. 3.2. 1 Sam. 14.45.
V. 3. Be not hasty to go out of his sight, &c.] Or, Go not hastily out of his sight. When two Verbs finite come together, ei∣ther the later is to be taken infinitively; as Deut. 2.31. Esth. 8.6. Psal. 102.13. or the former adverbially; as Gen. 24.18. 1 Sam. 4.14. Hos. 9.9.
Page 255Be not hasty to go] It signifies such haste, as ariseth out of terrour and perturbation of spirit, in which sense the word is frequently taken, Exod. 15.15. 2 Sam. 4.1. Job 23.15. He sheweth the root of Rebellion, namely, impatience, fear, perturbation of spirit, whereby men fling off from their Allegiance. Servants are said to stand in the presence of their Lords, 1 Reg. 10.8. Esth. 1.4. So that hasting out of their presence, implies, a declining and casting off of obedience, Jon. 1.3. 1 Reg. 12.16. This is one part of obedience here forbidden, hastiness in ta∣king offence, discovering of choler and dis∣content, flying away in passion, either from the presence or from the Commands, or from the anger of a King; not remembring that Kings have many eyes, & can see at a great distance, and long arms, and can easily reach those that flye in discontent from them. Obedience, in∣nocence, calmness of spirit, a meek and yield∣ing disposition, may secure and reconcile a man, (for a soft answer turneth away wrath) when turbulency and unquietness will but plunge him into greater disfavour and dan∣ger. Another and worser Errour, is wilfully to persist in disobedience, and to boyl up the former passion into habitual stubborn∣ness.
Page 256Do not thou stand in an evil thing] If thou have been transported with perturba∣tion, and gone out of the way, cool and draw back betime; do not harden thy self in thy defection, but labour, by forbearance and mildnesse, to recover his favour again, Prov. 15.1. & 25.15. & 30, 32. To stand in a thing, is to have a fixed and unmoved reso∣lution upon it, 1 Cor. 7.37. Ephes. 6.11, 13, 14.
for he doth what soever pleaseth him] This is not spoken to confirm, or give allowance unto any revengefull and cruel Actions of Princes, as if their power did serve to exe∣cute their own lusts; but he sheweth, be∣sides the sinfulness of it, how unsafe, and how fruitless it is to resist those, who have power to do what they please, and who being in∣jured and provoked, can easily break in pie∣ces those who rise up against them.
V. 4. Where the word of a King is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What dost thou?] Think not that thou shalt be able to escape the wrath of a King: for if he but speak the word, he hath power enough to reach thee where ever thou goest: Where ever the Command of a King comes, it is accompanied with power enough to be aven∣ged Page 257 on any that provoke him. He never wants instruments to execute his displeasure. When Saul pronounced death upon the Priests, there wanted not a Doeg to set upon them, 1 Sam. 22.18. Dan. 5.19.
and who may say unto him, What dost thou?] This elsewhere spoken of God, who worketh all things by the counsel of his own Will, and doth whatsoever he pleaseth both in hea∣ven and earth, Job 9.12. But of Princes and Magistrates it cannot be absolutely and so fully spoken; for being subject unto Er∣rour, and miscarriages, they may with humi∣lity and wisdom be admonished, 1 Sam. 14.45, 46. But he speaketh here of the great power which they have, against which the people dare not to mutter, Prov. 30.31. and ought not without much reverence to contest withal, Job 34.18.
V. 5. Whoso keepeth the commandement, shall know no evil] This may be understood either of the Commands of God, Piety and godly Wisdom will teach a man to walk so circumspectly, as that he shall not provoke the wrath of the King to his own ruine: or of Commandment of the King, whereof he spake, vers. 2.
he that observeth his commandement, shall know no evil,] None of the danger before mentioned, vers. 3. shall live securely, and Page 258 quietly out of fear, Rom. 13.3, 4. 1 Tim. 2.2.
and a wise mans heart discerneth both time and judgment] This is a qualification of the precept, a wise man will not for fear of dan∣ger, or hope of advantage, do all that is com∣manded him by a blind obedience, but he considereth the season wherein, and the manner how to execute commands: or he knowes to find out a proper season, and right way to apply himself unto the Prince, to pre∣vent his displeasure, to gain his favour, to qualifie or alter his Commands, if they be any way grievous, 1▪ Chron. 21.3. Judg. 6.27. Gen. 32.7, 8, 13, 16, 17. & 33.12, 14. 1 Sam. 25.18—. 1 Chron. 12.32. Neh. 2.4, 5, 12, 16. Esth. 4.5. & 7.2. & 8.5, 6.
V. 6, 7. Because to every purpose, there is time and judgment: therefore the misery of man is greater upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?] Because to every purpose or enterprize there is a proper season, and pe∣culiar manner of acting, upon which narrow points, the happy success of such underta∣kings do depend, and this cannot without much wisdome be duly observed: hence it cometh to passe, that the misery of man is great upon him. This general is to be ap∣plyed Page 259 to the particular case, a man by incur∣ring the displeasure of his Prince, bringeth much misery upon himself, because he want∣eth that wisdom, which should suggest a pro∣per opportunity, and right way of regaining his favour again. When there is ignorance and folly within, dangers and snares without, it is hard for a man to walk safely. There is no greater part of wisdome then the pru∣dent observing of times, circumstances, and the right manner of transacting businesses that are of weight and consequence unto us, Jer. 8.7, 8. Amos 5.13. Luke 19.44. Prov. 15.23. Act. 22.25 — 29. Act. 23.6, 7.
for he knoweth not that which shall be.] Because a man cannot foresee future events, nor exactly judge of the consequences of actions, therefore it is very difficult to avoid many of those miseries which by reason of this ignorance do attend him. There is one season, and one manner of acting, which would have been seconded with success, if a man could have foreseen it, but any other time, any other way of proceeding, would miscarry: great therefore must needs be the misery of man by reason of this ignorance, who hath • thousand waies to misse the mark, and but one to hit it. A man cannot so much as fore-appoint his own actions for the Page 260 future, much lesse foresee the consequences and issues which vvould follow thereupon, Prov. 27.1. Jam. 4.14. None can foretell a man what shall be, but God alone, Isa. 41.•3. & 44.7. & 46.10. Onely this a wise and holy man may be sure of, that whatever falls out shall be for his good, though it may be contrary to his desire and expectation, 1 Cor. 3.22.
V. 8. There is no man that hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit, neither hath he power in the day of death.] By spi∣rit, he meaneth the breath of life, or the soul. So it is often understood, Gen. 6.19. Job▪ 7.7. Isa. 42.5. Psal. 104.29. Luke 8.55. Jam. 2.26.
This may be understood, 1. Generally, to signifie the weakness which is in man to help himself against the greatest future evil, namely, death: no power, industry, wise∣dome, can keep the Soul, when God by death requires it: no man hath the dominion over his own life, to live as long as it pleaseth himself; nor over death, to repell and resist Heb. 9. it when it comes, Psal. 49.7—10.27.
2. Particularly, to the present argument of obedience to Princes, whose wrath is as the roaring of a Lyon, whose displeasure can∣not Page 261 be avoided. An offender hath no pow∣er to retain his life, when supream authority passeth judgment against it: and therefore we ought wisely to take heed of those provo∣cations which are likely to cast us under so great danger: for the punishment of rebel∣lion can no more be avoided, then the Wind can be held fast. Therefore we ought to keep our selves still within the bounds of duty, and that will preserve us from evil, as vers. 5.
to retain the spirit] To shut it in, to keep it from going away. Neither hath he, or any man, power in the day, or over and against, the day of death, to adjourn and pro∣rogue it; aequo pede pulsat pauperum taber∣nas, regumque turres. The power of a King is as little against death, as the power of the meanest beggar. And therefore some have observed, That whereas when David is men∣tioned upon other occasions, he is usually spoken of by the name of King David; when his death is spoken of, there is no mention of his Dignity and Office, but onely of his name, 1 Reg. 2.1.
and there is no discharge in that warr] Or, no weapon wherewith we can prevail in our war with death. There is no apparatus bellicus against such an Adversary, no arrow or javelin that a man can let flye in this combate; Or, there is no mission into this Page 262 battel, in vain doth any man go forth to make War against death. So the word seem∣eth to be understood, Psal. 78.49. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. So Symmachus ren∣dreth it. It is not possible to stand in bat∣tel array against such an adversary: the Sep∣tuagint render it thus, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. There is no mission or di∣mission in that war; which sense our Inter∣preters seem to follow, in their Version, There is no discharge in that war, no man can have a Vacation or an Exa•ctoration from that warfare. There is no protection or deliverance from the hand of death.
neither shall wickednesse deliver those that are given to it] Unquiet wickedness, sinful shifts, which men in danger are apt to betake themselves unto, though a man turn himself every way, and move every stone, yet he shall not be able to deliver himself. Saul and Pi∣late would fain shift off the guilt of their sins upon the people, 1 Sam. 15.21. Matth. 27.24. and Caiaphas pretended necessity for his persecuting of Christ, Joh. 11.50. but this did not deliver their souls. By wickednesse, here may be understood, in relation to the argument of the text, Rebellion, Sedition, disobedience against Magistrates, as 1 Sam. 24.13. The words are a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, wicked∣nesse shall not deliver, that is, It shall de∣stroy Page 263 those that use it; as Rom. 1.16. Psal. 51.17. Prov. 17.21. Prov. 11.4.
V. 9. All this have I seen, and applyed mine heart unto every work, that is done un∣der the Sun: There is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.] With his wonted transition he passeth on to the observing of another Vanity, which was to be found amongst men; I applyed or gave mine heart unto every work, as Chap. 7.25. teaching us with special attention to observe the wayes of Gods providence in the world, Psal. 111.2. 1 Pet. 1.10, 11. When he was thus considering of the right means of living comfortably, by yielding due obedience un∣to Government: He found that some Prin∣ces were so tyrannical and intolerable, that it was very hard for men to live quietly un∣der them, they go on without controle, and miserably afflict the poor people, Prov. 28.15, 16. for whose good and comfort they were appointed, Rom. 13.4. God thus plea∣sing in his Justice many times to punish the sins of a Nation, by giving them up into the hands, under the will of unrighteous Gover∣nours, Zach. 11.6. Hos. 13.11. Job 34.30. Isa. 10.6. & 14.20. & 19.4. But he shew∣the vanity of such Tyrannical courses. They tend at last to the hurt of those that use them: the Rod which beateth the children, is usu∣ally Page 264 at last thrown into the fire. As their power hath put into their hands a greater li∣berty of sinning, so hath it heaped up for them a greater measure of wrath, Isa. 10.12. Dan. 11.36—40. Isa. 14.4—23. 1 Reg. 15.29, 30.
V. 10. And so I saw the wicked b•ried, who had come and gone from the place of the Holy: and they were forgotten in the City where they had so done: This is also vanity.] These words are obscure, some understanding the former part of wicked Rulers, and the later part of good Rulers: others, the whole, only of wicked ones. The sum of the former sense is this; When I considered the rule of Tyrants over others, I observed that when they were dead and buried, they did as it were come and return again in their Chil∣dren or wicked Successors, who reigned like them, Job 8.18, 19. or when they had been deprived and deposed, and so as it were bu∣ried, I saw them return to domination again. But other good men, who had walked with God in his holy place, are driven out of sight, made to run into corners, and as it were bu∣ried in forgetfulness, Prov. 28.12, 28. Psal. 12.8. even in that City where they had done Right. This he looked on as a great Vanity, that the memory of good men should Page 265 perish; and wicked men should be had in honour. But the other sense which apply∣eth all to wicked Rulers, seemeth to be more genuine, and is followed by our Translation; I saw wicked Rulers continue all their life long in the place of the Holy one, to be had in great honour, and after they had gone in and out before the people in the place of Justice and Government, (which is the Throne of God) I saw them magnificently buried in very great pomp and solemnity, Luke 16.22. yet being dead, notwithstand∣ing all those flatteries and formalities in their funeral, their name and memories did quickly perish and dye with their bodies, in∣somuch, that in that very City where they had lived in so great power, and been buried in so much state, they were presently for∣gotten, neither the Nobleness of their Fa∣milies, nor the flatteries of their Creatures, nor the magnificent Monuments erected for them, were able to preserve their names from rottennesse, Psal. 37.9, 10, 35, 36. Prov. 10.7. By the place of the Holy, or of the Holy one, as Hab. 3.3. understand the Tribunals of Judgment, whereon they sit as his Vicegerents, Deut. 1.17. Psal. 82.1. Exod. 22.28. 1 Chron. 29.23. 2 Chron. 19.6▪ By coming and going, seems to be inti∣mated Page 266 the administration of the publick Of∣fice of Government, elsewhere expressed in the like manner, by going in and out before the people, Numb. 27.17. Deut. 31.2. 1 Reg. 3.7.
and they were forgotten] The Septuagint render it, and they were praised; upon an easie mistake of one letter for another in the original word.
where they had so done] Others, where they had done right, in the first of the two former senses; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as Sym∣machus: or where whatsoever they did was accompted Right, and so it is appliable to the later sense.
This is also Vanity] All the power and pomp of wicked men in their life, and fune∣rals, is but mere Vanity, since when they are gone, their names and memorials perish with them.
V. 11. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily: therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.] Here is intimated the Reason why wicked Rulers go on without remorse or controle in their tyranny and oppression all their life long; namely, because the Judg∣ments of God threatned against them, are not presently put in execution. The pro∣sperity Page 267 of wicked men doth exceedingly strengthen and harden them in their wicked∣ness. This proceedeth from infidelity, and a root of Atheism in their hearts, they can∣not see afar off; or if they do, yet because evil seems far from them, therefore they go on securely, abusing the goodness and long-suffering of God unto presumption, which should have led them unto repentance, Rom. 2.4.
First, we here see that there is sentence pronounced against every wicked work, Isa. 3.10, 11.
Secondly, That the Lord is slow in put∣ting that sentence in execution, being wil∣ling that men should repent, 2 Pet. 3.9.
3. That the sentence being pronounced, though it come slowly, yet it will come sure∣ly against ungodly men. It is every day nearer and nearer, and the longer it stayes, the more heavy it will be. It comes with feet of wooll, but it will strike with hands of lead, Gen. 6.3.
4. That wicked men abuse Gods pati∣ence unto presumption, and because they see all well with them, do despise his threat∣nings to their own destruction, Isa. 5.19. Jer. 5.12. & 17.15. 2 Pet. 3.4. Ezek. 12.22. Psal. 55.19.
Page 2685. That Impunity maketh wickednesse more excessive and outragious, and the heart of man is the more filled and emboldened in wickedness, by how much the more expe∣rience it hath of Gods slowness to wrath, Matth. 24.48, 49. Prov. 7.18, 19, 20. 2 Pet. 3.3, 4.
therefore the heart of the sons of men is full in them, or is f•lly set in them to do evil.] is bold in them, so Aquila: therefore the sons of men do evil, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, with a fearless and presumptuous heart; so Symmachus: the phrase noteth an height of confidence and resolvedness on sinful courses, called in the Scripture, madness, excess, greediness, rushing, breaking forth, superfluity, &c. Esth. 7.5. Act. 5.3. Gen. 6.12, 13. Luk. 6.11. Jer. 50.38. 1 Pet. 4.4. Ephes. 4.19. Jer. 6.7. & 8.6. Hos. 4.2. Jam. 1.21.
V. 12, 13. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his dayes be prolonged: yet surely I know, &c.] Here he answereth the Temptation whereby good men are apt to be offended at the prosperity of wicked men, Psal. 73.2, 3. Jer. 12.1. and wicked men to be hardened in their sins thereby: Though a sinner do continue to do evil, and escape punishment an hundred times, never so often, as Chap. 6.3.
Page 269and his dayes be prolonged] Or▪ his punish∣ment delayed: or God do put off his anger, and not straightway execute it upon him, Chap. 7.15. Isa. 48.9. Deut. 4.40. Exod. 20.12. yet surely I know, and do considently affirm, That it shall be well with them that fear God, Isa. 3.10, 11. The order of the consequence is inverted, and first the remu∣neration of good men is mentioned, before the punishment of evil men, to strengthen their faith, and to comfort them against the oppressions and injuries of their potent ad∣versaries, because usually the rage of Ty∣rants doth vent it self against those that fear God.
which fear before him] This is the cha∣racter of a good man, they fear God sincere∣ly, they tremble at his presence, they labour to commend their hearts and consciences to him in well doing, Isa. 8.13. When wick∣ed men prosper and rage, they fret not, they fear not their cruelty, but still they hold fast their integrity, and go on steadily in obedi∣ence and patient waiting on God.
But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his dayes, which are as a shadow] It shall not well] This is a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, less being said then is intended: for the meaning is, It shall be very ill with him; as Exod. 20.7. Psal. 34.5. Rom. 1.16. Psal. Page 270 84.12. Isa. 42.3. Rom. 4.19. Revel. 12 11.
neither shall he prolong his dayes] Long life is oftentimes promised as a blessing, Prov. 28.16. Exod. 20.1•. Psal. 91.16. Prov. 3.2. and the contrary threatned as a curse, Psal. 55.23. and though they seem to live long, their longest life is but as a shadow, which suddenly is gone, Psal. 144.4. wrath doth at last certainly overtake them. Where∣as in Scripture sometimes prolonging of ones dayes, relates to a life after death, and a victory over it, Isa. 53.10.
V. 14. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth] He doth not pass this Cen∣sure upon the wise and righteous providence of God, who ordereth all the seeming con∣fusions and disorders which are in the world, and who is pleased after a seeming inequality to dispence good or evil unto men, contrary to what our reason doth judge most equal and righteous, Job 9.22. & 21.7, 8. But first he speaketh according to the judgment of flesh and blood, which is apt to judge hardly of so strange a distribution, Psal. 73.13, 14.2. He doth it, to shew the vanity of all out∣ward things which do variously happen unto men under the Sun, which being distributed without any great difference, sometimes evil Page 271 things to good men, and good things to evil men, do lead us necessarily to think but meanly of them, and to look after a further Judgment, wherein rewards and punish∣ments shall be in a more notable manner di∣spenced, Chap. 7.15. 1 Cor. 15.19. And even in this distribution there is much good∣ness shewed to one man in his sufferings, whereby his graces are exercised: and much wrath and justice to others in their prospe∣rity, whereby they are many times harden∣ed and ensnared, Psal. 69.22. Hos. 13.6.
V. 15. Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the Sun, then to eat, and to drink, and to be merry, &c.] Some make this to be a sensual and carnal deduction drawn from the former ob∣servation, that since by a mans most circum∣spect walking he can no more free himself from evils, then if he lived more loosely, and since evil men do many times go away with the rewards of good men, and good men suffer such things as they had not deser∣ved: since a man gets nothing by his holi∣ness, nor loseth any thing by his wickedness: It is therefore the best way to take our plea∣sures, to eat and to drink and be merry, and to take no further care then how we may for the present gratifie our licentious desires, Page 272 1 Cor. 15.32. Isa. 22.12, 13. Amos 6.3—6. Psal. 73.11, 12. But I rather understand the words in the sense formerly expressed, Chap. 2.24. & 3.12, 13, 22. & 5.18. Since it is impossible for a man to free himself from those common vanities and temptations which are under the Sun, Therefore there is no greater wisdom, no better remedy of our present vexations, then to compose our hearts in an holy calmness and security, not over-curiously or querulously to inquire into the dark providences of God in the World, but with an holy submission to commit our selves to the Lord, and in his fear, and with cheerfulness and thanksgiving to enjoy the present blessings which his bounty hath be∣stowed upon us, without any unquietnesse of spirit at the disorders we see, or any anxious and sollicitous thoughts touching any thing which for the future we may fear, Phil. 4.11, 12, 13. 2 Thess. 3.12.
for that shall abide with him of his labour, the dayes of his life, which God giveth him under the Sun] This is the onely fruit which a man can reap in this life from all his la∣bour; greater benefit he can never expect from any thing under the Sun, then to have food and rayment, with cheerfulness of heart in the use of them.
Page 273V. 16, 17. When I applyed mine heart to know wisdome, and to see the businesse that is done upon the earth] He here concludeth with a reason why a man ought not anxiously to perplex or disquiet his thoughts about the Works of Gods Providence, in the Govern∣ment of the World, why good men are af∣flicted, and ill men advanced; because when a wise man hath applyed his mind, made it his business, broken his sleep in this inquiry, yet he shall come short of what he promised himself, and must at last acquiesce in the So∣veraignty and Dominion of God, whose Works are unsearchable, and whose Judge∣ments past finding out: therefore we must suppresse all rash censures of those things the reasons whereof we are not able to attain unto, and with calmnesse and tranqui∣lity of spirit, labour to enjoy present comforts rather then to busie our selves with curious and fruitlesse inquiries.
to see the businesse that is done on the earth] That is, to discover and get a clear, distinct and satisfying accompt of all the works of Gods providence in the world, to comprehend the reasons of the administrati∣on and Government thereof, to have a rati∣onal view of the compages and whole frame of humane affairs, to reconcile all the seeming absurdities and incongruities which appear in Page 274 them, to look exactly into the Tempera∣ment and Composition of so many infinite, and contrary events, unto the making up of one most exquisite and beautiful work
for there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes] As Chap. 2.23. This he speaketh of his incessant study, in denying himself necessary refreshments, out of the in∣tentnesse of his minde in this inquiry, as strong and fixed thoughts will keep away sleep from our eyes, Psal. 127.2. Ecles. 5.12.
a man cannot find out the work that is done under the Sun] Cannot perfectly understand: or search into the counsel of God in the go∣vernment of humane affaires, his secret Jud∣gements, his admirable contrivances, his va∣rious wisdome Job. 11.7, 8, 9. Psal. 36.6, & 92.5. a man can neither by labour, nor by wisdome, (the two great Engines and In∣struments of discovery,) attain unto it. He doth not hereby discourage us from searching into the works of God, which elsewhere we are directed to observe, Psal. 111.2. & 104.24. & 105.5. & 106.13. Isa. 5.12. But only teacheth us after all, to adore the depths of his wisdome, to rest satisfied that whatever he doth, how contrary so ever it appear unto humane reason, is righteously, holily, and wisely done. Secret and wonder∣ful Page 275 his works may be, but they are never un∣just: and therefore when we cannot under∣stand them. we must admire and adore them, Job 9.2—14: & 40.2.3. Rom. 11.33 —36.