IN the end of the former Chapter, the Wise man observed the secret and hidden course of Gods providence; and in this, pro∣ceedeth in the same argument, taking notice of a confused administration of the world in common Events which do equally befall both the good and the bad, even as death at the last hapneth to them all alike, vers. 1, 2, 3. Whereupon he resumeth his former remedy against this vexation, to wit, that we should comfortably enjoy life, and the good things thereof, while we have time to do it, and not defer it till it be too late, because when death comes, it deprives us of all the com∣forts and delights which this present life doth afford unto us; upon which occasion he prai∣seth life before death, because therein we have the liberty of enjoying all good things under the Sun, the sense of all which Death doth bereave us of, vers. 4, 5, 6. And there∣fore since the dayes of our life are but Vani∣ty, we ought with much cheerfulnesse and in∣tention Page 276 of mind to enjoy all the sweet con∣tentments which life doth afford us, yet so, as not to leave the duties of our Calling un∣done, this being all the portion which we can have in this life of all our labours, vers. 7, 8, 9, 10. After which he falleth into the contemplation of another wonderful pro∣vidence of God, whereby events seem to be∣fall men, rather by chance, then by reason and counsel, and contrary to those previous dispositions by which we are led to expect far different effects from those which do come to passe, vers. 11. The reason whereof in part he subjoyns, namely that invincible ig∣norance which is in all men of the proper seasons wherein actions are to be done, or else disability to foresee and prevent the evils which are coming towards them, and do suddenly surprize them, vers. 12. Lastly lest he should seem to dictate unto us a su∣pine neglect of all good means towards our desired Ends, in regard that things seem to be governed rather by chance, then by coun∣sel, He sheweth the excellent use of godly wisdom to deliver us out of such dangers, by an example of One poor, but wise man, who being in a little City meanly man'd and de∣fended, did by his wisdome deliver it from the power and military assaults of a mighty King which came against it. Yet shewing Page 277 withal a very great Vanity amongst men in neglecting so wise a man because of his po∣verty, vers. 13, 14, 15, 16. whence he con∣cludeth, by shewing the excellency of wis∣dome, that silent wisdome is better then cla∣morous and bustling power, and then all in∣struments of war. And withal, that as one wise man may avert much danger, so one wicked man may destroy much good, vers. 17, 28.
Vers. 1. ALl this I considered in mine heart] I gave all this to my heart. I laid it up in mine heart. It noteth special study and attention thereunto, Luke 2.51. & 21.14.
even to declare all this] To prove, exa∣mine, perfectly to understand, and clearly to manifest all this. The word signifies to puri∣fie and purge, because when a thing is soyled and defaced, it is the more difficultly known, 2 Cor. 3.16.17., 18.
That the Righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God] That the per∣sons and works of the best and most prudent men are not in their own power or disposal but are guided by a Divine providence, and by a secret, invisible, and unpreventable di∣rection from above, by him who worketh all things, by the counsel of his own Will: To Page 278 be in the hand of God, noteth, 1. Subjection to his power, Joh. 3.35. Matth. 28.18. Joh. 5.22. 2. Direction and guidance by his povidence, Act. 4.28. Jer. 10.23. Prov. 16.9. & 20.24. Exod. 34.24. 3. Ruling by his powerful though sometimes se∣cret and invisible Government. So the hand of the King, notes the command or or∣der given by the King, 1 Chron 25.3. 4. Custody and protection from evil by his care Ester 2.3. Isa. 62.3. Joh. 10.28, 29. Our works are transient things, and as they come from us, seem to vanish away, and to be no more, they are quickly out of our hands: but they are alwayes in Gods hands, and written in his book, he reserveth them unto the time of Retribution, and keepeth an exact Re∣cord and Register of them: So that no one of them shall be unrewarded, Heb. 6.10. Our persons, our times, our imployments are in the hand of God, men cannot do to us, or dispose of us as they will, Joh. 19, 10, 11, neither can we dispose of our selves as we please: but he who is wisest, and knowes what is best for us, and what uses we are fit∣test for, doth as it pleaseth him, order both our persons, our times, our places, our call∣ings, our work, our wages, as may be most for the glory of his Name, whose we are, and whom it is our happinesse to serve in whatso∣ever Page 279 station he shall be pleased to place us in, 2 Sam. 15.25.26.
no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them] The words admit of such a reading as this; The Righteous, and the wise, and their works are in the hand of God: Also Love and Hatred, to wit, are in the hand of God, He loveth whom he will, he hateth whom he will, Rom. 9.11, 12, 13, 15, 16. No man knoweth any thing that is before him: no man can discover the coun∣sel or the love and hatred of God by any outward things which he looketh on, the same things equally happening to the good and to the bad, Chap. 8.14. Matth. 5.45. Or, no man can know whether the things which he loveth, or the things which he hateth, shall befall him, though he guide his works with never so much rectitude and prudence; events depending on the providence of God, and not on the counsel of man, Rom. 9.16. Jer. 9.23, 24. Isa. 45.9. Jam. 4.13, 14, 15.
V. 2. All things come alike unto all: and there is one event, &c.] Some would have these words, and so forward to vers. 13. to be the perverse judgement of the flesh, and the voice of Atheists and Epicures upon the doctrine of providence before observed: But we must remember, that Solomon speak∣eth Page 280 only of outward things, and the different administration of them: and of the reme∣dies of vanity and vexation, in regard of our condition here under the Sun, restraining and limiting all the confused events of worldly things by the holy hand and wise providence of God: And all the precepts which might otherwise seem to savour of Sensuality and Epicurisme by the fear of God, and honest labour in our vocations: which things being premised, all that is here set down, doth well consist with the will of God, and the scope of Solomon in this book, which is to set down such rules de Tranquil∣litate animi, as may make a man comfortably to digest the vanities of this life, and sweet∣ly to pass over the time of his pilgrimage here.
All things come alike to All] Omnia sicut omnibus: So Symmachus, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, All alike unto All. This is the reason why we cannot judge of love or hatred by outward things: for albeit good things are promised unto good men, and evil things threatned unto evil men; yet God doth so proceed in the execution of these promises and threatnings, as that faith only can disco∣ver the difference; all things outwardly, and to the eye of sense appearing alike to all: As if the Lord had subjected all things to the Page 281 domination of Fortune, rather than of Ju∣stice; and that the events of the world, were all rather casual and contingent, than either predetermined by the counsel, or governed by the providence of God.
one event to the righteous and to the wicked, &c.] Moses dyes in the wilderness, as well as those that murmured. Josiah in the wars as well as Ahab. Is Abraham rich? so is Nabal: Is Solomon wise? so is Achitophel: Is Joseph honoured by Pharoah? so is Doeg by Saul. And usually, as to outward things, the advantage is on the side of the worst men, Ps. 73.12, 13. Mal. 3.15.
to the righteous and the wicked,] In re∣gard of their spiritual state and condition to∣wards God. Not that any man is perfectly righteous in this life, Chap. 7.2•. but in∣choatly by the first fruits of the Spirit. Com∣paratively, in opposition to the wicked. E∣vangelically, by sincere dispositions of heart, and by the ordinary prevalency and domini∣on of grace.
to the clean and unclean] Between whom great difference was to be made, Ezek. 22.26.
to him that sacrificeth, and him that sacri∣ficeth not] That carefully observeth, or pro∣phanely neglecteth the worship of God; as we see in the examples of Jeroboam and Jehu.
Page 282as is the good, so is the sinner] The doub∣ling of the prefix Caph, noteth an equal com∣parison, and absolute similitude between the things compared, Gen. 18.25. & 44.18. Isa. 24.2. 1 Reg. 22.4.
and he that sweareth] Namely, falsly or rashly, without truth, or judgement, or righ∣teousness.
as he that feareth an oath] The character of a godly man, who doth so reverence the great name of God, Deut. 28.58. that by the fear thereof, he is kept from swearing rashly by it, and when he is called to swear, doth it with an awful regard towards that glorious and fearful Name.
V. 3. This is an evil amongst all things that are done, &c.] When I consider the course of providence, I found this to be one of the most grievous things which hapneth under the Sun, That all things, the same equal events, both in life & death, do happen not only to the just and the unjust, but even to the maddest and most desperate of sin∣ners, who all their life long do give up them∣selves unto all excess of wickedness.
This is an evil among all things] It is not evil in regard of God, who doth all in a most wise and holy manner: but evil, that is, grievous and troublesome unto man to be∣hold, Page 283 a great temptation unto him to con∣sider, that just and wise men should be ex∣posed to the self-same miseries, with fools and ungodly.
an evil amongst all things] Or, above all other evils: So some render it, hoc pessimum, this is the worst of evils. As the Superla∣tive is often expressed by an Adjective, go∣verning an Ablative case with the Prepo∣sition Caph: Examples whereof, the Learned give in, 1 Sam. 17.12. Prov. 30.30. Cant. 1.8. Luke 1.28. Jer. 49.15.
yea also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, &c.] Yea also; That upon occa∣sion hereof, when men see that it is all one, whether men be good or bad, as to any out∣ward difference in things here below; they judge it vain to serve the Lord, they despise all threats, they undervalue all promises, they let loose the reins, and run headlong unto all kind of wickedness and madness, all sort of furious, headstrong and desperate excess, with boldness and presumption, See Chap. 8.11.
and after that they go to the dead] After a life spent in madness and sensuality, then they dye. Or, Their later end is to go to the dead: 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; so Symmachus. Others, After that, (i.) Following their own Page 284 heart, running after their own lusts, they do at last fall into the pit. The end of all their madness is death, Rom. 6.21.
V. 4. For to him that is joyned to all the living, there is hope] In the written Text it is, Who shall be chosen? but the Maso∣reths direct the reading to be, instead of cho∣sen, joyned, by a transposition of the Origi∣nal letter•. This correction some Learned men have conceived unnecessary. Some ren∣dring it thus, For what or which shall be cho∣sen? Thereby meaning, how difficult it is to resolve, which state or condition to chuse, that of the living or of the dead. Yet quick∣ly passing a judgement on the side of the li∣ving, in regard of the hope a man may have, while he lives, of bettering his condition. Others, annexing these words unto the last of the former verse, thus, After all mens mad∣ness, their end is to dye: Who shall be chosen out, or exempted from that comon condition? Since therefore all men, without any choice or exemption, must dye, most miserable is the condition of those mad men, whose hearts are full of wickedness, even till death over∣take them: For while men live, there is some ground of hope, but the mightiest of sinners, when once dead, are past hope, and Page 285 in a worse condition than the meanest men who are yet alive. Others, retaining the marginal reading, render it thus, by an inter∣rogation, For who will be joyned, to wit, with the dead? Who will chuse a dead man for his companion, since that is, of all, the most hopeless condition? But this is a forced sense; herein therefore Interpreters do most agree, As for him that is joyned to, or is a companion of the living, He hath hope. While life remains, what evils ever befall a man, he is in hope to break through, and to mend his condition: some good things however he doth yet injoy: But, as to the good things of this world, after death there is no hope. Symmachus, whom the vulgar followeth, rendreth it thus, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; Who shall alwaies continue alive? Unto such a man there would be hope. Pagnum & Montanus keep the reading in the Text, and render it thus, Whosoever is chosen unto, or amongst the living, unto him there is hope. The Septuagint renders it differently from all, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; Who is there that commu∣nicateth with, or towards all the living? They seem to follow, not the written Text, but the reading; and so by communicating, mean joyning in fellowship with the living: Page 286 Who is there that shall have the society and communion of all the living? Surely none. According to the sense of Symmachus, and Hierom. Marinus Brixianus offereth two other senses; 1. By reading the word active∣ly, with a different punctation, thus, Who∣soever chuseth any thing while he is yet a∣live, he hath hope to compass and to effect his desire. 2. By keeping to the written Text, in the passive sense, thus, Whosoever shall be chosen unto any life, or condition of life, he may therein have hope; which maketh a clear and a good sense. The Adjective, which we render, Living, being usually taken for the Substantive or abstract, to wit, for life; as Gen. 2.7. Ps. 21.4. Prov. 18.21. Ps. 63.3. I take it, the expression we find Isa. 4.3. may give light unto this place. Every one that is written among the living: To be chosen among the living, here; seems to be the same, with being written amongst the living, there. It is an allusion unto Cities, wherein there is a Matricula or Record kept of such as were Free-men: whereunto the Scripture seemeth to allude, Ps. 87.6. Ezek. 13.9. Heb. 12.23. Jer. 17.13. Luke 10.20. Ps. 4.3. For as the Elect are said to be written in the Book of life, Dan. 12.1. Ps. 69.28. Rev. 17.8. & 21.27. & 22.19. Page 287 so the living may be said to be elected unto life; as all such Enrolements, in the Re∣cords of a City, do follow upon a preceding choice of the persons so enrolled.
for a living Dog is better than a dead Li∣on] A proverbial speech, whereby is meant, that the basest and most contemptible person while he lives, is in a better and more hope∣ful condition than the most honourable, when he is laid in the dust. The Scripture useth the Metaphor of a Dog, to denote the vilest and most abject persons, 2 Reg. 8.13. Matth. 15.16. Rev. 22.15. Phil. 3.2. as on the other side; a Lion is the most noble of beasts, Prov. 30.30. yet a dead Lion is exposed to the scorn of the weakest and most fearful creatures, according to the Greek Epigram: 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉▪ The lowest expression of a vile thing, which the Scripture useth, is, A dead Dog, 1 Sam. 24.14. 2 Sam. 9.8.
V. 5. For the living know that they shall dye] By this knowledge, they gain much, if they rightly improve it: For, 1. Hereby they are perswaded to repent, and to fit them∣selves to meet with the king of terrours. 2. Hereby they are set seriously to consider, how this unavoidable evil may be sweetned, and sanctified unto them, that they may com∣fortably Page 286〈1 page duplicate〉Page 287〈1 page duplicate〉Page 288 desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is best of all, 2 Cor. 5.4. Phil. 1.20. 3. Hereby they are excited unto duty with more vigor, when they look on this as the day of grace, as the time of light, wherin only they can work, Joh. 9.4. Isa. 38.18, 19. Ps. 118.17. Job. 14.14. Ps. 39.1.4. & 90.12. But 4. and which seems most pertinent unto this place, knowing that they shall dye, and that the present comforts of this world, are for the use of the living on∣ly, and not of the dead; therefore they set themselves comfortably to enjoy the good blessings of God here, while they have time to use them, and by a cheerful and thankful enjoyment of present mercies, to fit them∣selves for a happy dissolution. For godliness teacheth us, both quietly to enjoy the world, and willingly to leave it when God calls.
but the dead know not any thing.] This is not spoken absolutely, for the spirits of just men are made perfect, and are with Christ; but according to the subject matter in the context, They know nothing of the things of the world, or any outward comforts and blessings here below under the Sun, they can no longer be delighted with the knowledge or fruition of earthly things, Job 14.•1.
neither have they any more reward] He speaketh not of the reward of a holy life, for Page 289 so the dead have a reward, because their works do follow them, Rev. 14.13. but he speaketh of the comfortable use of outward blessings, as the only reward which worldly things can afford them for all their labour; as it is more plainly expounded in the next verse, and Chap. 3.22. & 5.18, 19. & 8.15.
for the memory of them is forgotten] They are wholly removed from all humane and worldly conversation with men, their house, their families, their friends know them no more. So far are they from enjoying and knowing outward things, that the living do by degrees forget them, Isa. 26.14. Job 10.8, 9, 10.
V. 6. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now perished] He speak∣eth in relation to outward things; living men meet here with objects of all sorts, some lovely, some hateful▪ some things that they pity, some that they envy. But when they are dead, they have no knowledge left of any such things, and consequently no affections at all towards them. And because it were endless to recount particulars, therefore he concludeth in general, That they have not any more a portion for ever in any thing un∣der the sun] They have not the possession, Page 290 the fruition, so much as the contemplation of any worldly things; They carry away nothing with them; their glory, their con∣tents do not descend after them. A cove∣tous man doth no more dote upon wealth, nor an ambitious man upon honour, nor a sen∣sual voluptuous man upon pleasure, all their thoughts, desires, emulations perish; there∣fore if ever we will enjoy the good blessings of God, it must be while we live, because there is no knowledge nor wisdome in the grave whither we go, Ps. 49.17. Luke 12.20. Job 3.17, 18, 19. & 7.7— 10.
V. 7. Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart] In as much as the dead neither know, nor en∣joy any of these worldly blessings; and in as much as God gives them to his servants in love, and as comfortable refreshments unto them in the daies of their vanity: There∣fore he exhorteth unto a cheerful fruition of them, while we have time and liberty so to do, that so the many other sorrows and bit∣terness which they shall meet with in this life, may be mitigated and sweetned unto them. He speaketh not (as some conceiv•) of sensual, epicurean, and brutish excess, but of an honest, decent, and cheerful enjoy∣ment of blessings, with thankfulness, and in the fear of God.
Page 291Go thy way] It is used adverbially, as much as ag• igitur, eia Agedum, by way of adhortation, or encouragement; as Gen. 19.32. Prov. 1.11. Eccles. 2.1. Isa. 1.18. & 55.11. Since in de•th thou canst have no love, nor sense of any outward blessings, therefore hearken to my counsel, make use of thy time, and enjoy mercies while thou maiest.
eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a good (i.) a merry heart] As a sad heart is called an evil heart, Neh. 2.2. 1 Reg. 21.7. Ruth. 3.7. Eccles. 7.3. Enjoy the fruit of thine own labours; as Chap. 3.22. When he saith, Thy bread, wine, &c. he sheweth, that our comforts and delights must be bounded within our own labours and pos∣sessions; though stollen waters, and bread of deceit may be sweet, yet it hath gravel and bitterness in it at the last, Prov. 9.17, 18. 1 Thess. 3.12. And also, that our delights must be proportioned to the decency of our condition; we must eat, panem statuti, our proper portion and dimensum, and not either luxuriously exceed, or sordidly live be∣neath our own estate and condition, Prov. 30.8.
for God now accepteth thy works] It is pleasing unto God, that when thou hast, in the fear of his Name, and in obedience to Page 292 his Ordinance, laboured, and by his blessing, gotten thee thine appointed portion, then thou shouldest, after an honest, cheerful, de∣cent, and liberal manner, without further anxiety, or sollicitousness enjoy the same. This is the principal boundary of our outward pleasures and delights, still to keep our selves within such rules of piety and moderation, as that our waies may be pleasing unto God; And this shews us the true way to find sweetness in the creature, and to feel joy in the fruition thereof, namely, when our per∣sons and our waies are pleasing unto God; for piety doth not exclude, but only mode∣rate earthly delights, and so moderate them, that though they be not so excessive as the luxurious and sensual pleasures of foolish E∣picures, yet they are far more pure, sweet, and satisfactory, as having no guilt, no gall, no curse, nor inward sorrow and terrors at∣tending on them, Nehem. 8.10.
V. 8. Let thy garments be alwaies white] Food and rayment are the substantials of out∣ward blessings, 1 Tim. 6.8. Having dire∣cted unto cheerfulness in the one, he here directs unto decency and comeliness in the other. Whiteness was antiently an expres∣sion of things pleasing and delightful. Al∣bosque dies h•rasque Serenas, in Silius Ita∣liens. Candidus & felix proximus 〈◊〉 eri•,Page 293 in Ovid. So the white stone of absolution, is called a white stone, Rev. 2.17. the Asses on which persons of Honour did ride, were white Asses, Judg. 5.10. In like manner they did use in the Eastern Countreys to use white garments, as expressions of dignity and honour, Esth. 8.15. Therefore our Saviour shewing his glory to Peter, and James, and John, in the Mount, had his garments white as light, Matth. 12.2. And the glory of the Saints in Heaven, is expressed by white Robes, Rev. 3.4, 5, 18. & 6.11. & 19.8. Here it is used as a Symbole of joy and cheerfulness; as on the other side, Black∣ness is the colour of grief and sorrow, Jer. 14.2. They were wont to use white gar∣ments at feasts and joyful solemnities: when he saith, let them be alwaies white, as it is to be understood not absolutely, as if they were never to mourn, Chap. 7.2. this was the sin of the rich Glutton, Luke 16.19. but with restriction to the rules of seasonableness and decency, Prov. 5.19.
And let thine head lack no oyntment] This likewise was an expression of joy used in feasts, Luke 7.46. Joh. 12.3. and in trium∣phal solemnities, whereunto the Apostle seemeth to allude, 2 Cor. 2.14, 15, 16. And in the like occasions of rejoycing, Amos 6.6. Prov. 27.9. As in times of hu∣miliation Page 294 and sorrow, they were wont not to anoint themselves, Dan. 10.3. The mean∣ing is, that we should lead our lives with as much freeness, cheerfulness, and sweet de∣light, in the liberal use of the good blessings of God, as the quality of our degree, the de∣cency of our condition, and the Rules of Re∣ligious wisdome, and the fear of God do al∣low us, not sordidly or frowardly denying our selves the benefit of those good things which the bounty of God hath bestowed upon us.
V. 9. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest] See Life, or enjoy life. So Symma∣chus, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; as 1 Pet. 3.10. Eccl. 2.1, 24.
with the wife whom thou lovest] There∣fore he speaketh not in the person of an Epi∣cure, to whom stollen waters are sweet, Prov. 9.17. but of a lawful and chast love; as Prov. 5.15—19.
whom thou lovest] This is the character of a wife, and the duty of the husband, that which makes their communion comfortable, Ezek. 24.16, 18. Eph. 5.25, 28, 29. there∣fore the husband is called the friend of his wife, Jer. 3.20. There is a special freeness of delight and liberty of love which is al∣lowed in this relation, though still within the bounds of honour and sobriety, Prov. 5.19. Page 295 Gen. 26.8. It noteth also the difference between conjugal and adulterous love, that is, a love wherein a man may live joyfully, or may sweetly enjoy his life with comfort; whereas the pleasures of the other lead unto death, Prov. 2.18. & 5.3—11. & 6.26, 32, 33. & 7.23.
all the daies of the life of thy vanity] As Chap. 6.12. This is repeated again, to mind us in the midst of all our earthly content∣ments, that they are perishing and Tempo∣rary things. This living joyfully All our daies, is to be understood as the Alwaies, in the former verse, with restriction to the du∣ties of piety and humiliation, 1 Cor. 7.5. and also it intimateth the duty of cohabita∣tion, that they should not depart one from the other, 1 Cor. 7.10.
which •e hath given thee] That may refer either to the wife, which Solomon elsewhere tells us, is the gift of God, Prov. 19.14. or to the daies of the life of our vanity, which also are the gift of God, Job. 10.12. Act. 17.25. Ps. 31.15.
this is thy portion in this life] As Chap. 2.24. & 3.13. & 5.18, 19▪ & 8.15. when thou dyest, thou shalt carry none of these comforts away with thee; in the next world there is no enjoyment of these kind of bles∣sings, Ps. 49.17. Matth. 22.30.
Page 296V. 10. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might] Having instanced in the principal outward comforts of life, food, rayment, marriage, he concludeth with a general precept, that in all things else wherein the Tranquillity and comfort of life did consist, they should freely and cheer∣fully make use of them, before they go into their graves, where, as they shall have none of these outward materials to work upon, so neither, if they had them, should they have any wisdome or skill to make use of them, or to reap delight from them.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do] Whatsoever is within thy power, and thy abilities can reach unto, whatever works in thy Calling do belong unto thee, or whatso∣ever state and condition the providence of God shall put thee in, Gen. 32.13. Lev. 5.7. & 12.8. Num. 6.21. Judg. 9.33. what∣soever just occasion of honest cheerful∣ness doth offer it self unto thee, embrace it.
do it with thy might] Vigorously, in∣dustriously, instantly, do not slack time, nor defer it till it be too late, Rom. 12.11. 2 Thess. 3.8. Tit. 3.8, 14.
for there is no work, nor device, nor know∣ledge, nor wisdome in the grave whither thou goest] In this life thou hast opportunities of Page 297 doing good, of delighting thy self in the stu∣dies of knowledge and wisdome, of impro∣ving thy strength and invention to pleasure thy self and others, Therefore work while it is day, and while thou hast yet an oppor∣tunity, Joh. 9.4. & 12.35. Gal. 6.10. while there is strength in your hand, while there is wisdome in your head, while the vi∣gour of your faculties last: for in the Grave, or in the state of death, whither thou art every moment hastening, there is no place for any of these things, that is not saculum operis, but mercedis. If thou wilt be re∣warded then, thou must work now. Carpe diem, quam minimum cr•dulus postero. Iam te promet nox. Though this be appliable unto all duties of piety and charity, yet the scope of the place aims principally at the enjoyment of the comforts and commodities of this present life, which we are cheerful∣ly while they are put into our hands, to en∣joy, and not put them off till death, when we shall have neither skill nor strength to use them. Here also we may observe what manner of delights he alloweth them, name∣ly, such as arise from honest labours, and are guided and moderated by art, knowledge, and wisdome. Our delights must not be sensual, but ra•ional and industrious.
V. 11. I returned and saw under the Sun, Page 298 that the race is not to the swift, nor the battel to the strong, &c.] These words some make to be the observation of another Vanity un∣der the Sun, to wit, That Events and Suc∣cesses do sometimes fall out quite otherwise then the preparation or probability of second causes do seem to promise: That things are so done usually in the world, as that no reason can at all be given of them. Others make them a kind of corrective to the former pre∣cept of living joyfully in the use of all out∣ward blessings; Though it were to be wish∣ed that man could thus evenly and comfor∣tably pass over his dayes, yet when I fur∣ther considered, I found, That no man can ever enjoy a stable and constant Delight in this world, in regard that future events do oftentimes quite vary from those principles and preparations which went before them. The words seem to have relation both to the general scope of the Chapter before, Touch∣ing the powerfull and unsearchable provi∣dence of God, Chap. 8.16, 17, & 9.1, 2. & also to the words immediately preceding: for whereas he had advised, That whatever our hand findeth to do, we should do it with our might: Lest any man should thereupon presume, that things must needs fall out ac∣cording to those abilities which he bringeth unto the effecting of them, He here dire∣cteth Page 299 us to look up in all our works, above second causes, not to trust in our own gifts, nor to attribute any thing to our own strength, to remember, that it is not in him that willeth, nor in him that runneth, but in God who sheweth mercy, Rom. 9.16. and accordingly to implore his assistance and blessing in all our labours, who worketh all our works for us, Isa. 26.12▪ Psal. 127.1, 2. Deut. 8.17, 18. Prov. 10.22. Jer. 9.23. And having done our duty, and used such good means as God affordeth, then quietly to refer the success unto God, in whose hand are all the wayes of the children of men, and upon whose good pleasure do all the issues of things depend.
I returned and To see] The Infinitive Mood is put for the Indicative; as Jer. 14.5. Zach. 12.10.
I saw under the Sun] I considered the things which are done in this Life amongst men, and found by my observation, That the race is not to the swift] That swiftness doth not ever avail a man to win the prize, or to escape danger, 2 Sam. 2.18, 23. Jer. 46.5, 6. Amos 2 14, 15, 16.
nor the battel to the strong] That the strength of the mighty doth not alwayes avail them either to fight or conquer, Judg. 7.7. 1 Sam. 14.6. 2 Chron. 14.9—12. Psal. 33.17, 18.
Page 300nor yet bread to the wise] Livelihood and subsistence to men whose wisdome should commend them to honour and great place, Chap. 10.6, 7. Psal. 127.2. David was put to desire supplies from Nabal; and Christ, in whom were all the treasures of wisdome, was ministred unto, Luke 8.2. Matth. 8.20. 2 Cor. 21.26, 27.
nor riches to men of understanding] We read of rich fools, 1 Sam. 25.2, 3, 25. Luke 12.16, 20. and of poor wise men here, vers. 15.
nor yet favour to men of skill] Joseph cast into prison, Daniel in the Lions den, Da∣vid hated of Saul.
But Time and chance hapneth to them all] Their Endeavours do arrive at such a success as the Councel of God had pre-ordained, which is wholly hidden from our eyes, and therefore seem to fall out many times rather at adventure, and casually, then according to any regular means that have been used in order unto them. Whereby we learn, that Divine providence hath a wise and holy hand in ordering the most casual and fortuitous Events, to the execution of his righteous counsells, 1 Reg. 22.34. Esther 6.1— 11. 1 Sam. 6.7—12▪ 2 Reg. 3.22—24. He doth not hereby dishearten us from the use of means, but direct us in the Page 301 use of them, not to sacrifice to our net, nor to glory in our own wisdome, but to wait upon the blessing and providence of God, to give him the praise of our successes, and quietly bear whatever miscarriages he hath ordered to befall us, 1 Cor. 1.31. Jam. 4.13—16. 2 Sam. 15.25, 26.
V. 12. for man also knoweth not his time] Events are then said to be casual, when no praevious knowledge or counsel hath made way unto them. Therefore to prove that even able, wise, and skilfull men are subject in common with others unto Time and chance, he here addeth, That man know∣eth not his time] 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so the Septua∣gint: 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so Symmachus: His proper season and opportunity of working. But by the similitudes here used to illustrate this ignorance, It should seem, that His Time, noteth the time of evil and calamity, which many times befalls a man when he little dreams of it. This is called his day, or his hour, Psal. 37.13. Joh. 16.4. & 13.1. Calamity comes as a Thief in the night, unseen, unexpected, Matth. 24.50. 1 Thess. 5.3. Luke 12.20. Or as a snare which a man thinks not of, Luk. 21.35.
As the fishes that are taken in an evil net, [evil and exitious unto them,] and as the birds that are caught in a snare; so are the Page 302 sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them] Many times when we think things to go best with us, as the fish and the bird go with much hope and promise of good to themselves, unto the bait and snare: so men fall into evil by those very means by which they promised much good unto themselves, Esther, 5.12. Psal. 69.22. 2 Sam. 13.28. Luke 12.19, 20. He intimateth likewise, that as the wisdom of man can easily deceive the simple birds, so the providence and power of God can be too hard for all the wisdome of men, and en∣snare them in their own counsels, Job 5.12.13, 14. Prov. 11.5, 6. He can suddenly infatuate them, Isa. 19.11—15. or sud∣denly start up some unexpected circum∣stance, which shall vary the nature of the whole business, though otherwise never so wisely contrived, 1 Sam. 23.27, 28. Job 22.10. Psal. 64.7.
V. 13, 14, 15, 16. This wisdome have I seen also under the Sun, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little City, &c.] These words may be understood either as the Ob∣servation of another Vanity, namely, the disrespect which is shewed unto wisdome when it is over-clouded with poverty, by the example or parable of a little City, deli∣vered from a great King, by a poor despised Page 303 man: or else in Relation to the words next preceding, thus; Though it be true, that sometimes Events fall out contrary to the second causes, so that even wise men are disappointed in their works of those ends which regularly should have ensued upon them; yet wisdome ought not therefore to be despised, no not in the meanest persons; for as sometimes God doth deny success to the most proper and probable causes, so doth he at other times give great deliverance by unknown and unthought on means. The scope is to shew the excellent use of wis∣dome, and how highly it is to be valued, though it be as a treasure in an earthen vessel, 2 Cor. 4.7. though brought unto us by mean hands: as David blessed God for the wise counsel of Abigail, 1 Sam. 25.32, 33. and Naaman rejected not the advice of a little maid, 2 Reg. 5.2, 3, 4. wisdome, in but a woman, saved a City from destruction, 2 Sam. 20.16—22.
It seemed great unto me] However the wisdome of the poor man was undervalued by others, yet it seemed great unto me; so much the greater, by how much fewer helps and means he had to attain unto it.
There was a little City, and few men with∣in it] Here in a parable, he sheweth the ex∣cellency of wisdome, by the greatness of the Page 304 danger from which it delivereth; set forth by a little City, with few men, and weak de∣fence, assaulted by a great King, with a nu∣merous Army, and strong bulwarks: so that the disadvantage was every way on the City side.
now there was found in it a poor wise man] He found in it: Verbs active of the third person are used sometimes passively, Isa. 9.6. Hos. 10.2. God many times maketh one wife and holy man a means of delivering a whole people, Prov. 11.11. Gen. 50.20. 1 Reg. 2.12. 1 Sam. 17.8, 9, 51, 52. Deut. 32.30.
And he by his wisdome delivered the City] As one Archimedes at Syracuse, by his Art, did more towards the defence of the City, then all the rest that were in it; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.
yet no man remembred that poor man] This deliverance was wrought by a poor man whom no man made any account of, nor expected any such good from, being an obscure unknown person: and when he had wrought it, no man looked after him, to return him thanks for it, 2 Cor. 4.7.
Then said I, wisdome is better then strength] As Chap. 7.19. Prov. 21.22. & 24.3, 4, 5. Hereby we are taught to con∣sider the goodness of things in comparison Page 305 one to another, and to prefer that which is most excellent, 1 Cor. 12.31. & 7.38. 1 Sam. 15.22.
V. 17. The words of wise men are heard in quiet, more then the cry of him that ruleth among fools] Are heard, that is, ought to be heard. As a son honoureth his father, Mal. 1.6. that is, he ought to honour him.
are heard in quiet] That is, either are to be delivered with submission and meekness, Prov. 25.15. 1 Reg. 12.7. Or, Are to be heard with a tractable and calm spirit, without pride or contradiction, Job. 29.21, 22. Jam. 1.21. A wise man speaking, though without clamour, contention, or o∣stentation, doth by his weighty and season∣able advice, more calm the spirits of his hearers, and by his sober and serious counsel more powerfully prevail with them, then all the angry and passionate words of such as have more power, but no skill to manage it: Ille regit dictis animos & pectora mulcet.
V. 18. Wisdome is better then wea∣pons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.] Wisdome is not only better then strength, but then strength armed and se∣conded with military provisions: the poor mans wisdome did not only deliver the City from the great King and his numerous Army, but from his bulwarks and fortifi∣cations Page 306 which he had raised against it.
but one sinner destroyeth much good] By the opposition between a sinner and a wise man, It is evident, that Solomons Wise man here, is also a godly man: otherwise God useth to infatuate and defeat the coun∣sels of worldly wisdome, 2 Sam. 15.31. Isa. 19.11—14. Isa. 29.14. & 44.25. 1 Cor. 1.19.
one sinner] Some render it, Qui in uno peccat. He that in war through folly and inadvertency committeth one Errour, may destroy a whole Army: for they say, In bel∣lo non licet bis peccare. That one Errour in Absalom in preferring the counsel of Hushai before Achitophels, did undo his whole en∣terprize. But it is rather to be understood in opposition to the one poor wise man, vers. 15. one wicked man like Achan will en∣danger the Camp. Josh. 7.1—5. 1 Cor. 5.6. as one leak in a ship, one spark in a barrel of gun-powder will suddenly undo all. One fool can throw a jewel into the Sea, which a thousand wise men cannot get up again: 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. •rex totus in agris unius Scabie cadit.