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Ver. 1. THE words of the Preacher, the son of Da- vid, king of Jerusalem.] These are the words of him, who thought the name of a preacher, or public instructor of God’s people, (to whom he calls aloud in this book, to mind what he saith concerning, the supreme good of man), no less honourable than that of the son of king David; whom he succeeded in his throne, and reigned after him in the holy city of Jerusalem. See Annot. [a] Ver. 2. Panity of vanities, faith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.] That good of which you are all desirous, is not there to be found where you seek it ; for all things here below are so frail, so subject to change, and to vanish, that I have no words to express how vain they are. This is the thing which the Preacher first undertakes to prove, that they are mere emptiness, more vain than vanity itself; so full of trouble and care, as well as extremely unstable, that to no purpose are all men's endeavours, who seek for satisfaction from them, especially if they place their highest good in them. See Annot. [b] Ver. 3. What proft bath a man of all his labour

which he takes under the sun *] For proof of this, let every man survey himself, who consists of body and of mind. And let him ask his mind, What great matter there remains, after all it cares for the things of this life 2 what contentment he, or any man else in all this world, hath reaped by his toilsome labours, and anxious thoughts, wherewith he hath racked him. self both day and night 2 which have often ended in disappointment; and when he hath enjoyed his desires, this very thing hath spoiled his pleasures, that he could not long enjoy them. See Annot. [c] Ver. 4. T One generation passeth away, and anothergeneration cometh; but the earth abideth for ever.] I For if they do not presently leave him, he in a short time must leave them, his body (the other part of him) being made out of the earth ; and therefore, how firm and solid soever it now seems, must be crumbled into earth again. Which continues for ever, to receive back those bodies which come out of it; for no generation can abide as the earth doth, but follows the foregoing, as the next that come after shall follow it, unto the graves. See Annot. [c] Ver. 5. The sun also ariseth, and the run goeth down, and bartetb to his place where he arose..] Out of which they cannot return and stand up in their former places, as the sun that quickens all things doth ; which in a constant and regular course ariseth, and makes no more speed to go down, than it doth to appear the next morning, in the same glory again. No ; man dies, and appears here no more ; though if he should, it would be to die again. See Annot. [d] Ver. 6. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about into the north ; it whirleth about continually ; and the wind returneth again according to its circuits.] Nor is the annual course of the sun less certain than its diurnal, but it comes back the next year at a fixed time, to the very same point from whence it moved this. Nay, the winds, as fickle and inconsistent as they are, whirling with a marvellous swiftness round

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mer places, by the vapours which the sun exhales, or by the secret passages through the earth; whilst poor man alone (who is compounded of all these, of the earth, the air, the water, and such heat as the sun administers) passeth away, and cometh to his place no more, but must be content to imitate these things only in their restless agitations. Ver. 8. All things are full of labour ; man cannot atter it : the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.] Which is another thing that increaseth his trouble, that in this short life, which he cannot live over again when it is done, he can neither be quiet, nor move with ease, (as the things forenamed do), nor yet acquire satisfaction with his perpetual motion; but tries himself even in his pleasures, and finds all sort of business so laborious, that he himself is not able to tell how tedious it is ; and after all

is done, he is no better pleased than when he first be-,

gan. For the eye (for instance) and the ear, which are the noblest and most capacious senses, having seen and heard all manner of things, are as desirous of some new entertainment, as if they had enjoyed none at all. See Annot. [e] Ver. 9. The thing that bath been, it is that which shall be ; and that which is done, is that which shall be done : and there is no new thing under the sun.] But alas ! the very same things (like the sun, the wind, and the rivers) come about again, and we are cloyed with seeing and hearing what hath often presented itself unto us already, or, at least, hath been in times before us, and will be again in those that succeed us. There is nothing done now, but (the persons being changed) will be acted over again in future ages, to whom the sun can shew nothing but what we have seen in these days, and others have seen in the foregoing. And therefore it is vain for any man to expect that satisfaction now or in future times, which none have found since the world began ; men will always loathe things present, as they have ever done, and long for those which are coming, which will ever give them the same satiety. See Annot. [f] - Ver. Io. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new * it bath been already of old time which was before us...] Is any man able to contradict this, and point us to the thing which is altogether new, and hath never been seen or heard of before ? It may appear perhaps so to him, but that is to be imputed merely to the shortness of human life ; which makes us ignorant of what hath passed in former ages, (save only in a few things transmitted down to us by ob

serving men). For had we continued many generations, that which now seems new and unusual to us, would have appeared familiar and of great antiquity, as really it is. *

Ver, 11. There is no remembrance of former things ; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come, with those that shall come aster.] They that went before us, indeed, might have registered such things, but as they observed little, so they have left the memory of less; nor will this age, or those that follow, be more careful, or if they should, posterity will be as neglient as former ages have been, in preserving those records; for we differ nothing from our forefathers, nor will the ages to come excel this in which we live; but still the vanity of man, and of all his projects and contrivances, will continue

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, where I wanted nothing either for the body or the

mind, and had both opportunity and ability to make trial of all things wherein men place their happiness, and therefore may be believed, when I declare nothing but from my own experience. See Annot. [g] Ver. 13. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom, concerning all things that are done under heaven ; this fore travel bath God given to the sons of men, to be exercised therewith..] And being thus instructed with all the helps and assistances that the powe of such a king could afford, I applied my mind, in the first place, and set my wits to work with all imaginable care and diligence, to search into the nature of all creatures here below, thinking I should be happy if 1 could but find out the causes, beginnings, and progress of things, especially the counsels, contrivances, and endeavours of mankind, with the event of all their actions. But, alas ! I soon found that this was a tedious business, in which when I had travelled a great way, I met with small satisfaction ; nay, found it to be the torture of the mind, unto which God hath condemned mankind, as a punishment for their vain curiosity, and gross negligence of heavenly wisdom. See Annot. [h] Ver. 14. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit..] And having now finished these studies, and taken a serious view of all that falls within the compass of human knowledge, I cannot say that they have given me any solid contentment, for we can know but little, and what we do know of natural

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e straight ; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.] For as there are inextricable disliculties in all sorts of knowledge, of which no man can give an account; so, with all our study, we cannot have skill enough either to prevent misfortunes, or to remove out of the way that which crosseth our designs, much less to alter the nature of things, (no, not so much as in our own constitutions), nor to redress the disorders in government; the defects in which, and in all other things and conditions, we' are so far from being able to supply, that we cannot number them ; and yet the folly of mankind represents every thing to their desires, as if it were completely good, and wanted nothing to make one happy. See Annot. [k] Ver. 16. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem : yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.] I myself still persisted in my reach after knowledge, though I found it so painful and so unsatisfactory; thinking within myself, that there was this good at least in it, that it had gotten me a very great name, and raised me so high in all men's opinion, that I was noted for the wisest person that had ever been in these parts of the world, there being no sort of knowledge where with my mind was not stored in great abundance. See Annot. [b] Ver. 17. And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly : I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit..] And, as the nature of all knowledge is to excite a thirst after more, this made me apply my mind more earnestly to comprehend, not only the greatest, but the meanest matter; to mark, for instance, the actions and occupations of madmen and fools, as well as the motions of wiser persons; but I perceived, that to be pleased merely with fame, was to live upon air; and it was an afflictive thought to observe, how little the most of the world (though they thought themselves very wise) differed from lunatics and distracted folk. See Annet. [m] Ver. 18. For in much wisdom it much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth forrow.] So that, though knowledge be the most excellent of all other earthly goods, being the ornament of the mind, which is the best part of us, yet this also is insufficient for our happiness; because, after it hath cost a man infinite pains (and sometimes exhausted his spirits, and made him melancholy and morose, nay, thrown him into many diseases) to acquire that little wisdom he can attain, which raises also more doubts than it can resolve, and meets with troublesome opposition from various opinions that clash against it, it cannot but fill him with indignation to find folly generally applauded more than his wisdom, and grieve his very soul to see that it is dangerous for a man to know more than his neighbours, and that he is so far from being able to remedy what is amiss, that he is hated if he endeavour it, and rewarded with reproaches for his care of the public good. See Annot. [n]

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[a] Ver. 1. The wisdom, virtue, and dignity of an author, making his work more valuable and regarded, Solomon (or he who composed this book from what he heard him deliver, or found in his writings) begins with his quality, not merely as a king, and as the son of a great king, and of a great people, in a famous city, but, which was most considerable, as a public instructor, having ability and authority to inform all men where they should find that happiness, which they ignorantly sought, but could not meet withal. This he proclaims with a loud voice, desiring serious attention to such a weighty discourse, and that they would often recollect, as he had done, (all which may be the import of the word koheleth *), how frivolous and trivial all those things are which most men pursue with the greatest earnestness.

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[b] Ver. 2. This is the subject of this book, to shew how senseless it is to place our happiness in those frail and inconstant things that we enjoy upon this earth; which he not only pronounces, but proves, to be mere emptiness. So vanity signifies, and what is consequent upon that, dissatisfaction, trouble, and affliction. See Psal. lxxviii. 33. And this, beyond what can be expressed, for our translators take it to be a word of the same import with tohu, which is used in the Hebrew language, when they would signify that of which they speak to be so trivial, that it is below less than nothing, Isa. xl. 17. And yet Soldhon is not content with this single word, but doubles it, to denote the extreme dissatisfaction he found in all things, which made a shew of affording him contentment, but performed nothing of that which they seemed to promise. So the word vanity is also used for that which is also false, lying, and deceitful, Psal. lxxii. 9. and other places, where idols are called vanities. e

[c] Ver. 3. Here begins the proof of his assertion, by considering, first, the mind of man; which runs from one thing to another without any end, but finds no satisfaction remaining from all its restless. thoughts. And then the body of man, (ver. 4.), which, as proud and lofty as it looks, must moulder into dust; and the poorest person perhaps shall tread upon its grave. For it cannot last like the earth from whence it comes, which stands for ever, as a public theatre, whereon men enter and act their part, and then go off and never appear again; and when they go, (as some prettily, rather than solidly, gloss upon the words, “The earth abideth for ever,”), they can carry none of it along with them, but leave it all behind them, unto those that come after, who pass away also, leaving the earth where they found it.

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{d] Ver. 5. The sun also, in a settled course, observes its times of rising and setting ; whereas man, when he goes down to the earth, cannot, like the sun, come up again. So the 5th verse seems to be most naturally connected with the foregoing ; and in like manner the 6th and 7th verses are to be expounded. There are many interpreters, indeed, who look upon the things mentioned in these three verses, only as emblems of the instability of all human affairs, and of the constant revolutions of the same miseries; which cannot be hindered by any human counsels, but will return after all the changes whereby we think to mend ourselves. Upon which sense I have just touched in my paraphrase, but not followed it, because it doth not seem to me to be the scope of these verses. In which man is represented by four comparisons with the earth, the sun, the wind, and the sea, to be more subject to vanity than other things. [e] Ver. 8. Which having thus illustrated, he proceeds here more particularly to consider what he has said in general words, (ver. 3.), of man's vain endeavour to satisfy himself in worldly designs and contrivances; in which he is tired, but comes to no end of his desires. How should he 2 when his whole business here is only to enjoy the very same things over and over again; as all men have done before us, and shall do after us, ver. 9. 19. 11. [f] Ver, 9. We may fancy, indeed, that we have found some new thing ; but this conceit proceeds merely from our ignorance, as the Lord Bacon excellently discourses in his first Book of the Advancement of Learning, chap. viii. “Learning and knowledge,” saith he, “takes away vain and excessive admiration, which is the very root of all weak counsels. For we admire things, either because they are new, or because they are great. As for novelty, there is no man that considers things thoroughly, but hath this printed in his heart, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Nor, can any man much admire a puppet-play, who doth but thrust his head behind the curtain, and seeth the instruments and wires whereby they are a moved. As for greatness, we may say, as Alexander, who, after his great conquest in Asia, received letters of some small fights or skirmishes in Greece, at the taking some bridge, or fort, was wont to tell his friends, That it seemed to him, that they had sent him news of the battles of Homer's Frogs and Mice; so, certainly, if a man consider the universe and the fabric of it, to him this globe of earth, with the men upon it, and their busy motions, (excepting always the divineness of souls), will not seem much more considerable than an hillock of ants, whereon some creep up and down with their corn, others with their eggs, others empty, all about a very little heap of dust.” And, as Melancthon well observes, the same desires, the same counsels, the same ends, the same causes of war, and calamitous events, return again; according to that of Thucydides, “While human nature

continues what it is, the like mischiefs will happen, sometimes less, sometimes more direfully.”

[g] Ver. 12. Thus having confirmed his main pro

positions, by such general arguments as reach to all things in this world, he proceeds here to a more particular proof of it, from his own proper experience. And designing (before he declared his own opinion of the chief good, and by what means it may be attained) to confute the vain fancies cf. men about it, he reduces them, as I have shewn in the preface, to four heads. And observing that some place it in knowledge, and curious inquiries into all manner of things, others in pleasure, or in both these together, others in honour and power, others in riches and heaps of wealth, he begins with that which is the most plausible; and demonstrates, from the 13th verse to the end of this chapter, how little satisfaction is to be found in the mere speculation of things, though a man arrive at the highest degree of human knowledge.

[h] Ver. 13. 14. Melancthon restrains these two

verses to political wisdom, in the government of kingdoms. Which gives men a double affliction; First, In that the wisest men often err in their counsels; and, secondly, That events sometimes do not answer to the best counsels that men can follow. Examples of the first are innumerable; sometimes they err through ambition, as Perdiccas, after Alexander; sometimes through a false opinion of right, as Brutus; sometimes through anger, as Marius. And how many ways good counsels have miscarried, it is too long here to remember; because it is here farther observeable, that sometimes mere doubtfulness and uncertainty of mind what course to take, is as great a torment to the mind as any other. Thus Pompey was first perplexed in his counsels, before he saw the disastrous event of his error. To conclude this, all government is so full of cares, perplexities, and impediments, that it made Demosthenes say, if he were to begin the world again, he would rather die than be promoted to it. And Eschines, that he was as glad when he was rid of his office, as he would have been to be delivered from a mad dog.

But this I take to be too strait a sense, though it be

agreeable enough to what he saith, ver. 12. of his kingly office ; and therefore I have enlarged it farther in my Paraphrase, though Gregory Nazianzen

also seeins to have a respect to it, when he thus

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the word spirit) feeding on the wind or air; none of which #. neglected in the paraphrase. [k] Ver. 15. The shortness of human wit, though never so much improved, is here represented by two things; first, That it cannot remove what is inconvenient; secondly, That it cannot supply what is deficient in any condition of life. Or, as others will have it, the first part of the verse refers to the inability of man to rectify that perverseness (as the Hebrew word we translate crooked, signifies) which he finds in himself or others; and the latter part, to the small reach of human understanding, which can attain but a very imperfect knowledge, either of words, things, times, persons, or actions; as some branch out the innumerable particulars of which we must be content to be ignorant. [1] Ver. 16. I have not curiously distinguished between wisdom and knowledge, either in this verse, or in the 18th. But there may be this difference pertinently made, That wisdom directs a man, in the practical affairs of life, unto that which is most fit for his purpose, according to the various circumstances wherein he may be. It consists chiefly in a clear judgement, to discern our true interest, and the proper means to compass it, together with a presentness of mind, to obviate sudden accidents. And then knowledge relates to the speculation of natural things, in their causes and effects, their properties and differences, and such-like things. [m] Ver. 17. Madness and folly may refer also to all the idle speculations, wherein men of parts and wit sometimes not only employ, but applaud themselves, as the first of those words seem to import in the Hebrew. This trifling sort of knowledge is notably described by Erasmus, in his Praise of Folly. [n] Ver. 18. If there be any difference to be made between wisdom and knowledge, I have noted it above, upon ver. 16. As for grief and sorrow, they may be thus distinguished, “That the former, in the original word, includes in it indignation, which is a sharp anger mingled with scorn;” to find either our persons and counsels contemned, or our projects and well-laid designs defeated. Such as was in Ahithephel, whose penetrating wit made his rage the greater, to see his judicious advice rejected, and the whole conspiracy utterly disappointed. The other word, (sorrow), properly denotes an extreme great trouble and sickness of mind; and is sometimes applied to pains in the body, which is the effect too frequently of over-hard study. Melancthon understands the whole verse, (as he did, ver. 13. 14.), of the trouble that wise men have, when they are intrusted with government, to see-the-confusions, errors, vices, and calamities of mankind. And their afflictions are the greater, because they are not only more sensible than other men of present evils, but foresee by the present those that are future; and therefore are tormented with a sore pain and grief, both for what they feel, and for what they fear. For they know, that from the first disorders, there commonly follow greater confusions: As when PeVol. III.

ricles had once stirred up a war, there followed the destruction of almost all the great cities of Greece. And it is too truly said by Pindar, “That it is easy for any body to disturb a city; but God alone can restore peace unto it.”

This I take to be too limited a sense; but it is no small

trouble to a wise and prudent person, as Coranus excellently expresses it, to behold the miserable disorders and confusion of human affairs. For how is it possible to avoid it, nay, how can a man chuse but be filled with indignation, to see justice, equity, probity, fidelity, integrity, and constancy, and all other such-like virtues, slighted and disregarded by mankind; and on the contrary, injustice, baseness, perfidiousness, flattery, and such-like vices, possess the world, and carry all before them? Or what man can, without vexation, observe the preposterous judgement of mankind, which magnifies those things, that are not only vain, but hurtful and pernicious, and not only contemn, but hate, those things which are truly good for them, nay, alone desirable 2 No man can either be wise alone to himself, in such a multitude of fools and madmen, without the greatest grief and indignation; nor can he accommodate himself with an equal mind to the dotages of the common people, when he sees that which is better. I shall conclude this chapter, with the Lord Bacon's observation, concerning this anxiety of spirit which arises out of knowledge, in the beginning of his book of the Advancement of Learning. “Solomon,” saith he, “doth not pass this censure absolutely upon wisdom and knowledge, but only sets forth the true bounds wherein human knowledge is to be circumscribed; which if we do not observe, it will prove very troublesome to us and others. And those limitations are three. First, That we do not so place our felicity in knowledge, as to forget our mortality. Secondly, That we use not our knowledge to beget anxiety, but repose and contentment of mind. And, Thirdly, That we do not presume, by the contemplation of nature, to think ourselves able to comprehend the mysteries of God.” The first and last of these are plain enough ; and therefore I shall only note what he saith of the second : That “It is certain, no anxiety or perturbation of mind ariseth from knowledge, but by merc accident. For all knowledge and admiration, (which is the seed of knowledge), is pleasant in itself; but when we fall to frame conclusions from thence, which, obliquely applied to our own affairs, beget either weak fears or immoderate desires, then ariseth that torment and trouble of mind whereof Solomon here speaketh. For then knowledge is no longer dry light, (which Heraclitus was wont to say was the best), but moist light, steeped and infused in the humours of the affections.” As for that exposition which some have given of those words, that “he increaseth the number of his stripes, (or wounds), who increaseth knowledge;” and maketh no use of it, nor takes care that his obedience rises in some good proportion with it; it is

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