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His confidence in the ultimate triumph of innocence is thus expressed by Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives;

And that at last he will stand upon the earth.
And though my skin may then have been destroyed,

Still in my flesh I shall behold God :
Whom I choose for myself, and my eyes look for without moving;
For whom my heart pines in my bosom.”

Job c. 19. v. 25–27. And in the twenty-fourth chapter, after concluding his enumeration of the crimes of the wicked, he portrays their end in these terms : “ He is light upon the surface of the waters, bis portion is cursed

upon earth : His way leads not to pleasant places. As drought and heat consume snow-water,

So shall bell the sinner : Friendship shall forget him-sweet food for worms ! He shall be remembered no more; wickedness shall be broken down like a tree."

Job c. 24. v. 18-20.

From these examples it will be seen, that while Job endeavors to adorn his ideas with all the embellishments and amplifications of poetry, the philosophic author of Ecclesiastes is content with exbibiting general truths.

If we examine into the ground of the difference in both the style and general plan of the two writers, we shall find that it arises from the opposite circumstances in which their productions were compared. Job complains of his personal grievances; his bodily pains furnish the theme of his discourse, which consequently turns almost entirely upon himself: while the preacher directs his searching gaze on mankind collectively, and his language partakes of the same general character with his speculations. Thus Job, weighed down by the loss of his earthly possessions, racked with bodily pain, and completely overpowered by the mournful reflections which for many sleepless days and nights had been pent up within his bosom, at length breaks from his fearful silence into terrible complaints, curses the day of his birth and the night of his conception, curses himself and his destiny, wishes in the most solemn manVol. XII. No. 31.


ner that he had never seen the light, describes in his anguish as enviable the lot of an infant prematurely born, and paints in glowing terms the state of undisturbed repose he should have enjoyed, had such been the fate allotted to himself. On the contrary, it is not his individual misfortunes that call forth the preacher's complaining voice; but the sight of the distresses of others, the conviction how often the innocent is made to bend under the yoke of the oppressor, extort bis lamentations, and force him to cry out, “ Happier are the dead in being already dead, than the living in being still alive.” His dicta consequently are of universal application.

A still greater difference between the two works will appear on subjecting them to a closer inspection, a difference which does not lie in the mere choice of expressions or in a greater or less fulness of detail,

but which pervades the entire plan and conduct of each. The preacher, sound in body and unrestricted in his views, casts his intelligent glance over the whole world and the occurrences that take place within it, remains constant to his purpose of combating the doubts and removing the objections which either force themselves upon his attention or are proposed by himself in order to obtain the nearest possible approximations to the truth, and of then laying down the results of his inquiries in the form of universal maxims for the conduct of life. With Job the case is entirely different: he, borne to the earth by his own sufferings both mental and physical, breaks out into complaints which drown the consoling voice of reason, that vainly strives from time to time to make itself heard; driven to desperation by the horrid fate that has so suddenly overtaken him, not only does his own reason prove insufficient to bring him to a state of calmness and resignation, but even the excellent arguments and grounds of consolation presented by his friends fail in making the slightest impression on his agonized

mind. Nought has the power of moderating his affliction, until i at length the majesty of God himself from the clouds, to solve

the dignus vindice nodus, and silence him with the voice of Omnipotence. With a crushed and penitent heart he regrets the rash expressions he had uttered, and feels his troubles soothed.

If we now compare Ecclesiastes with the golden Proverbs of Solomon, which likewise consist of moral aphorisms, un, αποφθέγματα, γνώμαι; or with the maxims of profane authors, such as Pythagoras, Lucretius, and Cato; we shall find some resemblance in the brief periods and condensed phraseology in which they all have presented the results of their investigations, as also in the topics of advice, warning, and consolation suggested by their experience : it being a common practice of the ancients, before the line of demarcation between prose and poetry had been distinctly drawn, to communicate the knowledge they possessed in short harmonious sentences. Yet, notwithstanding this, they are not without striking points of dissimilarity. The moralists, we have mentioned, are accustomed to utter their councils and warnings in language highly figurative and poetical, and accompanied by a certain copiousness of illustration, while the Preacher lays down his rules with remarkable simplicity and conciseness. In the Proverbs of Solomon, wisdom is thus described as the greatest good, and its worth and power exhibited in various lights.

"I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence,

And make myself acquainted with reflection :
Counsel is mine, and deliberation ;

I am understanding, and power is mine.
By me kings reign,

And princes decree justly :
By me princes rule,

And nobles, and all judges of the earth.
I love those who love me,

And those who diligently seek me shall find me.
Riches and honor accompany me,

Dazzling wealth and virtue.
My fruit is better than gold, even than fine gold,

And my profit than choice silver.
I walk in the way of virtue,

In the midst of the paths of justice.
I give to my friends substance,
And fill their treasuries,” etc.

Prov. c. 8. v. 12, 14—21. The language held by the Preacher is to the same effect; he, however, enters into no minuteness of detail, but sets forth its advantages in the following general terms:

Wisdom is good with an inberitance, and still better to those who know wherein happiness consists.

For wisdom protects where wealth protects; but the advantage of acquiring wisdom is, that she gives life to her possessors.”

Eccl. c. 7. v. 11, 12. Another and a still more essential difference is observable

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between the book of Ecclesiastes and the maxims of Solomon, Pythagoras, and Cato. These latter do indeed deliver their precepts in a style generally forcible and concise; but, at the same time, they are dogmatic, and on no occasion disclose the mode by which they have arrived at a knowledge of the truths they undertake to promulgate. The preacher, on the contrary, seems ever solicitous to lead his readers with him along the path of experience, and thus cause them to arrive at the truth as it were simultaneously with himself. In order to accomplish this object he very appropriately adopts the character of a skeptical inquirer, and then in the presence of his readers commences his investigations : In the course of these he himself puts queries and raises objections, in order, by answering and refuting them, to exhibit his doctrines with greater perspicuity and force. In the Proverbs of Solomon the beauty and advantages of wisdom are dwelt upon through several chapters, and its attainment recommended as the highest object of human ambition, but without any intimation of the manner in which the writer obtained his conviction of its extreme importance. The preacher, on the contrary, at once brings forward an example drawn from his own observation, and thence deduces the general principle which it involves. He says,

“This wisdom also bave I seen under the sun, and found it important.

“ There was a small city and but few men in it ; and there came against it a great king, who surrounded it, and raised against it great entrenchments.

“Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and be by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no one noticed that poor man. “Then said I, wisdom is better than strength," etc.

Eccl. c. 9. v. 13-16. On comparing this with one of Cato's precepts, it will be perceived that the latter observes the plan adopted by Solomon, viz. of bestowing his advice as derived from experience, but without communicating more than the result. The words of

Cato are,

“Corporis exigui vires contemnere noli:

Consilio pollet cui vim natura negavit.” We now return to the statement made in the outset, that the work under consideration is a philosophic didactic poem, composed while the investigations on which it is founded were

going on, and executed in such a manner that the opinions of its author are conveyed in the replies to the questions advanced by himself; and this, we think, we have satisfactorily shown to be the case.

Hence there will appear nothing surprising in the fact, that the poet frequently passes quickly from one object to another, and, after dwelling on it awhile, returns to take up again the thread of his investigation at the point where he had quitted it ; that at one time we see him proving and instructing, at another complaining and consoling; and that in so doing his style becomes as varied as his topics: for this very diversity is in strict compliance with the rules laid down for the species of composition under which we have ventured to class his production. And this naturally conducts us to the result which so many have endeavored to reach in vain, viz. that although the poet frequently appears to turn aside from the paths in which he had set out, there is constantly observable an internal bond of connection, a gentle gradation from one division of his subject to another, and even from one scene to another; at the end of which he seeks to condense in one principal assertion the sum of all his experience. How this interconnection of its different parts, as well as the gradual progression of the inquiry through each successive stage, is discoverable in the work before us, will be discussed at length in the sequel.

II. We now come to a consideration of the second question, “What is the object of the book, and what are its contents ?” The only means of obtaining a satisfactory reply, is that of having recourse to an examination of the book itself; and hence the solution of the former part of the query depends entirely on that of the latter. In consequence of this necessity of applying to the body of the work for information as to its design, the obscurity of its language, its frequently varying style, and the apparently conflicting nature of the opinions it maintains, bave had the effect of producing views on the subject nearly as numerous as the persons who have engaged in the investigation. But of all the theories which have yet been broached on this head, there is surely none more shallow or more absurd than that which regards the book of Ecclesiastes as the production of a wavering skeptic, or which is worse, of a patron of infideliity ; since the very reverse of this supposition can be most decidedly proved. If while inspecting a book for the purpose of discovering its tendency we meet with doubts proposed and

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