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it. A worldly and especially a sceptical mind never understands the uses of adversity.” In all things it sees nothing but sources of affliction, and in all affliction nothing but evil.

Verses 18—20 contain a repetition of the sentiment so often expressed before, to wit, that nothing remains for man but to busy himself in the present, deriving from it all the gratification he can. All the principles of our author culminate in this one sentiment.

“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him; for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor: this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.”


In the first two verses of chapter 6, our author notices a common evil connected with the possession of wealth. God would sometimes bestow upon an individual the greatest abundance of worldly good, and yet entirely deprive the possessor of the power to enjoy what was conferred upon him. Strangers even would inherit all the good which belonged to the owner himself. This he regarded as vanity, (an unwise arrangement of man's estate,) and "an evil disease" with which humanity was afflicted.

Our author was not only in a state of mind to find in things as they are, “evil and only evil continually,” but even to be agonized with the conception of evils purely imaginary. One example of this kind we have in verses 3—5.

"If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say that an untimely birth is better than he: For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Moreover, he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other."

The above passage contains a truism about as manifest and important, and indicating about as great present wisdom in the author, as a statement once made by a somewhat celebrated clergyman of New England. “Large and populous places my friends,” exclaimed the preacher, generally contain a greater number of inhabitants than those that are less extensive and more thinly peopled.” No one can doubt the truth of such a statement as that. Equally manifest and important is the statement of our author that an s6 untimely birth” is rather to be preferred as far certainly as this life is concerned, to the case of an individual in the condition supposed. It is worthy of inspiration thus to record the wise folly of the wisest of the sons of earth when he has made himself a fool, in departing from the counsels of heaven.

The remainder of the chapter is occupied with a reiteration of sentiments previously expressed-sentiments of hopeless despondency in respect to the condition and prospects of man. For example:

"That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.

“Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth a shadow ? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun.

When we read the bitter results of sin as developed in the experience of this individual, once the most favored and highly blessed of all the sons of earth, we feel constrained to lift the fervent prayer, that we may find grace to hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."


Verse 1 of chapter 7 contains a very striking illustration of the manner in which a mind in the state in which Solomon's was, in the presence of a precious truth, instantly reacts upon itself in the wish that it had never had an existence. He commences with the precious sentiment, that a reputation for real goodness is the most valuable and important of all possible acquisitions. Then the sentiment so often repeated in other parts of the book instantly recurs, to wit, that with all the good in possession allotted to the most favored of the sons of earth, death is to be preferred to life, or non-being to existence.

A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth."

The phrase " the day of death” is better “ than the day of one's birth," is not to be understood, as many suppose, as asserted of the good man in respect to whom the declaration would be true. It is an universal affirmation in reference to man irrespective of character, and presents the sentiment that the mind that has divorced itself from the light and consolations of religion, cannot but entertain in respect to human life, and even in reference to existence itself.

The contemplation of death, when it takes full possession of the mind, often induces even in the mind of the sceptic, thoughts true and important. Hence we have the beautiful aphorisms contained in verses 2-12, all of which (with one or two exceptions in which the pervading gloom and dissatisfaction that had settled over the author's mind reappears,) embody sentiments that meet a ready response in every reflecting mind. For example:

“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.”

In verse 13 the author returns to his former state and reassumes his sceptical, embittered reflections on the dispensations of providence in respect to man. “Consider the ways of God,” the dispensations of providence in respect to man. - For who can make straight what he hath made crooked ?" that is, as Rosenmuller explains it, no human power can restore to a perfect and happy state, what God would have imperfect, and a source of unhappiness. In other words the state of man is past remedy. God wills, that, on the whole that state shall be an unhappy one, and none can reverse his arrangements. Hence the admonition verse: 14,-" In the day of prosperity be joyful,” that is, enjoy all the good possible, without, through solicitude of future evils, depriving yourself of what is permitted you to enjoy: “But in the day of adversity consider,” that is patiently endure the evils which you cannot avoid. The reason why we should thus act, living in the present without care or anxiety about the future is given in the remaining part of the verse," "God also hath set the one over against the other to the end that man should find nothing after him," that is the good and the evil allotted to man are so mingled and made to descend to him upon such principles that no one can make any sure calculations in respect to what awaits him in the future, or what will be the. result of any course of conduct which he may pursue. Why then should he indulge in any anxiety about the future, or have any reference to it in what he does? Let him seize the present, and draw from it all the good he can.

Error always has its basis in a very partial induction of facts, and in consequent limited views of providence, Verses 15–17 present a very striking illustration of the truth of the above remark.

"All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that verisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that polongeth his ife in his wickedness, Be not righteous over-much; neither make thyself wer-wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over-much wicked, seither be thou foolish, why shouldst thou die before thy time?

How strange it is, that a man once so wise as Solomon, hould ever conclude, from such facts as are here presented, that ve should adopt the universal maxim, that we should not be -specially scrupulous in our respect for duty, or the principles of wisdom, lest we should destroy ourselves on the one hand, nor that we should yield to temptations, to flagrant wickedDess, lest we should involve ourselves in premature death, on he other? If we act with simple reference to the present, is our author counsels us to do, and make mere wealth and vorldly prosperity the end of existence, the maxim's here vresented will in general hold truc. Seldom do those who practice the more open and flagrant forms of crime, attain to great wealth or long life. Nor do those who most scrupuously adhere to the perfect principles of truth, rectitude, and venevolence, attain to the possession of millions. But conemplate the results of a course of the most scrupulous rectiude, a hundred years hence, as contrasted with that of the lagrantly wicked, or even of the prudent worldling, and prulence itself suggests maxims the precise opposite of those were presented by our author. No man who contemplates life in the light of the endless future before him, cver conceives that present adherence to the principles of rectitude can possibly be too strict.

Verses 18–22 contain certain prudential maxims which our author regards as of pre-eminent importance, and hence in verse 18 he takes special pains to prepare his readers to receive them.

"It is good that thou shouldst take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand, for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all."

The first maxim he presents is the principle to be adopted in our intercourse, and especially in our commercial transactions with men.

Here (verse 19) wisdom is of far more avail than all other resources together. “Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in

The great prudential maxim which should govern us in such relations is, (verse 20) this. That we should always and in respect to all men, act upon the assumption, that men do not act from respect to right, or principle. We should therefore always secure ourselves against injustice, by such ar

the city."

rangements that those with whom we have occasion to transact business may be compelled to do right, though they may not be disposed to do it from principle. Such a course will avail to the attainment of our rights more than any thing else. Such we doubt not is the true meaning and design of verse 20 in the connection in which it here stands. “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."

How often has this passage been cited to prove the universal moral imperfection of men. Yet it embodies only the opinion of a fallible man, in a false position in respect to what is in itself true. Viewed in connection with the context also it clearly appears to have no reference to the subject whatever. As a prudential maxim to be applied in our business arrangements with men, it may be regarded as in general true, and safe as a universal principle of action.

The maxim embraced in verses 21, 22, are worthy of all commendation. No man who is troubled with the passing remarks which others from time to time make of him, will pass quietly through the world.

“Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee; For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others."

Verse 28 (those preceding requiring no particular elucidation,) contains the painful results of our authors observations of human character. Among the thousands of men with ' whom he had had intercourse, he had found here and there one whose character corresponded with his ideal of what' man ought to be. But of the thousand women that he had taken to his bosom, not a solitary individual had he found, that represented the true ideal of female character. “One man among a thousand have I found, but a woman among all those have I not found.” What else could he have expected? His wives and concubines were all selected on the ground of mere external attractions, and for an end totally debasing to humanity. No WOMAN would consent to enter into any such relation. Hence among his a seven hundred wives which were princesses" and his "three hundred concubines," not a Hannah, nor a Ruth, nor a Shunamite could be found.

In the pursuit of error, men often become conscious that they have lost their way, and will consequently avow truths which imply a conviction of the fact. Verse 29 presents a manifest illustration of the truth of this statement.

“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions."

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