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Solomon proves, that we ought to make use of what God has given us,
by shewing the mutability of all human affairs, ver. 1 - 10.
The immutability and unsearchableness of the Divine counsels,
ver. 11 - 15.
The vanity of honour and power, often an instrument of oppression,
for which God will judge the oppressors, ver. 16, 17.
Whose condition in this world is no better than that of brutes,
ver. 18 - 21.
Therefore live well, ver. 22.
1: A season - A certain time appointed by God for its being and
continuance, which no human wit or providence can alter. And by virtue of
this appointment of God, all vicissitudes which happen in the world, whether
comforts or calamities, come to pass. Which is here added to prove the
principal proposition, That all things below are vain, and happiness is not
to be found in them, because of their great uncertainty, and mutability, and
transitoriness, and because they are so much out of the reach and power of
men, and wholly in the disposal of God. Purpose - Not only natural, but
even the voluntary actions of men, are ordered and disposed by God. But it
must be considered, that he does not here speak of a time allowed by God,
wherein all the following things may lawfully be done, but only of a time
fixed by God, in which they are actually done.
2: To die - And as there is a time to die, so there is a time to rise
again, a set time when they that lie in the grave shall be remembered.
3: To kill - When men die a violent death. To heal - When he who
seemed to be mortally wounded is healed.
4: To weep - When men have just occasion for weeping.
5: Stones - Which were brought together in order to the building of a
wall or house. To embrace - When persons perform all friendly offices one
6: To life - When men lose their estates, either by God's providence,
or by their own choice. To cast away - When a man casts away his goods
voluntarily, as in a storm, to save his life, or out of love and obedience
7: To rent - When men rend their garments, as they did in great and
8: To love - When God stirs up love, or gives occasion for the
exercise of it.
9: What profit - Seeing then all events are out of man's power, and
no man can do or enjoy any thing at his pleasure, but only when God
pleaseth, as has been shewed in many particulars, and is as true and
certain in all others, hence it follows, that all men's labours, without
God's blessing, are unprofitable, and utterly insufficient to make them
10: Seen - I have diligently observed mens various employments, and
the different successes of them. Hath given - Which God hath imposed upon
men as their duty; to which therefore men ought quickly to submit.
Exercised - That hereby they might have constant matter of exercise for
their diligence, and patience, and submission to God's will and providence.
11: He hath - This seems to be added as at apology for God's
providence, notwithstanding all the contrary events and confusions which
are in the world. He hath made (or doth make or do, by his
providence in the government of the world) every thing (which he doth
either immediately, or by the ministry of men, or other creatures)
beautiful (convenient, so that, all things considered, it could not
have been done better) in its time or station, (when it was most fit
to be done). Many events seem to mens shallow judgments, to be very
irregular and unbecoming, as when wicked men prosper, and good men are
oppressed; but when men shall throughly understand God's works, and the
whole frame and contexture of them, and see the end of them, they will
say, all things were done wisely. He hath set - It is true, God hath put
the world into mens hearts, or made them capable of observing all the
dispensations of God in the world; but this is to be understood with a
limitation, because there are some more mysterious works of God, which
no man can fully, understand, because he cannot search them out from the
beginning to the end.
12: Them - In creatures or worldly enjoyments. To do good - To
employ them in acts of charity and liberality.
13: Should eat - Use what God hath given him.
14: For ever - All God's counsels or decrees are eternal and
unchangeable. Nothing - Men can neither do any thing against God's
counsel and providence, nor hinder any work or act of it. Fear - That
by the consideration of his power in the disposal of all persons and
things, men should learn to trust in him, to submit to him, to fear
to offend him, and more carefully study to please him.
15: Hath been - Things past, present, and to come, are all ordered by
one constant counsel, in all parts and ages of the world. There is a
continual return of the same motions of the heavenly bodies, of the same
seasons of the year, and a constant succession of new generations of men
and beasts, but all of the same quality.
16: Moreover - This is another argument of the vanity of worldly
things, and an hindrance of that comfort which men expect in this life,
because they are oppressed by their rulers. Judgment - ln the thrones of
princes, and tribunals of magistrates. Solomon is still shewing that
every thing in this world without the fear of God is vanity. In these
verses he shews, that power, of which men are so ambitious, and life
itself, are worth nothing without it.
17: I said - I was sorely grieved at this, but I quieted myself with
this consideration. Shall judge - Absolving the just, and condemning the
wicked. A time - God will have his time to rectify all these disorders.
There - At the judgment - seat of God. For - For examining not only all
men's actions, but all their thoughts and purposes.
18: I said - And further I considered concerning their condition in
this present world. That God - God suffers these disorders among men,
that he might discover men to themselves, and shew what strange creatures
they are, and what vile hearts they have. Beasts - That altho' God made
them men, yet they have made themselves beasts by their brutish practices,
and that, considered only with respect to the present life, they are as
vain and miserable creatures as the beasts themselves.
19: For - They are subject to the same diseases, pains, and
calamities. So dieth - As certainly, and no less, painfully.
One breath - One breath of life, which is in their nostrils by which
the beasts perform the same animal operations. No pre - eminence - In
respect of the present life.
20: One place - To the earth, out of which they were taken.
All turn - All their bodies.
21: Who knoweth? - True it is, there is a difference, which is known
by good men; but the generality of mankind never mind it: their hearts
are wholly set on present and sensible things, and take no thought for
the things of the future and invisible world.
22: Better - For a man's present satisfaction.
Should rejoice - That he comfortably enjoys what God hath given him.
His portion - This is the benefit of his labours. For - When once he
is dead he shall never return to see into whose hands his estate falls.