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who would not take this oath of allegiance, but, (as Josephus tells us, l. xxvii. Antiq. cap. 3.), boasting themselves to be the most exact observers of the law of God, and therefore the most in his favour, (while they were full of inward pride, arrogance, and fraud), dared openly to oppose kings, and pre
sumed by their motions to raise war against them,
and annoy them ; refusing, saith he, to take the oath, when all the Jews had sworn to be faithful to Caesar. Of this sect, he adds, there were above six thousand, who were so far from lessening their crime by this refusal, and making what they did against his authority to be no rebellion, that it heightened it very much, and was in itself a piece of rebellion; they having a natural allegiance unto him, by being born his subjects. There are some who, from the beginning of this verse, argue this book not to be Solomon's; because he saith of himself, “I observe the mouth (i. e. commandment) of the king.” So they translate the first words; which the LXX. translate as we do, and so do the Chaldee, the Syriac, and Arabic interpreters. For though the Hebrew word be ox ego, I, it signifies nothing to this purpose, because he doth not say I observe, but simply I, do thou observe. There being a distinct note x I, and what follows; showing that it is a short form of speech, to be supplied by such word as this, I say, or 1 command, or counsel, or rather charge thee. And the reason, perhaps, why the principal verb was omitted, might be, (as the learned Primate of Ireland, Usher, conjectures), because no word could be found significative enough to express the deepness of the charge. Some may think that I have dilated too much upon this verse; but they may be pleased to consider how useful, if not necessary it is, at this time, when men begin again to plead the lawfulness of resistance. Which is so plainly condemned in this place, that the most learned assertors of the old cause were extremely puzzled to make it agree with their principles in the late times of rebellion. There is one who (in his book called Nature's Dowry, ch. 21.) calls in the assistance of a great many Hebrew doctors to help him to another translation of the words, and yet, after all, is forced to acknowledge that our English is right enough ; and is content to admit it, with this proviso, that “the king manage well the affairs of the commonwealth;” as much as to say, do what they would have him. [c] Ver. 3..] The first word in this verse is capable of several senses, which I have endeavoured to express in the paraphrase. . For it originally signifies such a passion and perturbation (particularly that of anger and terror) as makes a man precipitant in his motions; being transported sometimes by ration, and sometimes by razola, in the LXX. ; and the meaning of the wise man is, that in pursuance of the foregoing, counsel, (ver. 2.), we must take care, if we desire to live happily, to suppress our passions, and not to shew the least discontent with
And so it follows, in the end of this verse, “Who may say unto him, What dost thou?” i. e. first,
Who hath any authority to call him to an account? as much as to say, none hath, but God alone. According to that of an eminent Rabbi, (quoted by the fore-named Primate in the entrance of his book about Obedience), “No creature may judge the king, but the holy and blessed God alone.” To allow the people (either collective or representative) to have power to do it, is to make them accusers, judges, and executioners also, in their own cause, and that against their sovereign. Nor, secondly, Can any man safely attempt it, but he shal; meet with punishment either here or hereafter. Which is no new doctrine, but the same with that of St Paul, (as Luther here honestly notes), “They that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation ;” which none shall be able to avoid. “Therefore, it is safe simply to obey magistrates.” Which he repeats again upon ver. 7. “A man cannot do better than simply to obey.” So preachers, saith he, should exhort the tumultuous and seditious. “For judgement, vengeance, or punishment, is ordained and decreed by God to all the disobedient, which mone shall escape.” And thus much the author of Nature's Dowry is forced to acknowledge, from the evident light he saw in this place, “That the scope of the words is, that as we tender our own safety, we ought not to withstand the magistrate in his edicts, which are consonant to the word of God.” And it is wisdom, saith he, (out of Elisha Gallico, an Hebrew interpreter), “in a private man, when the magistrate enjoins what is repugnant to God's will, to remove out of his dominions, rather than contest with him.” Which some conceive to be imported by the word telec, (go out, or go away), in the foregoing verse.
[e] Ver. 5.] From whence he again concludes it is
the most prudent course, as well as most honest, to comply with those that have authority over us, in a
dutiful obedience, or humble submission. So I have expounded the word commandment, for the commandment of the king before mentioned. Which if we do not oppose, it is the way to preserve us from knowing sorrow, as we speak, very agreeably to the Hebrew phrase in this place; if by evil thing, we understand the evil of punishment, rather than of sin. Many, indeed, by commandment, understand the precepts of God; which if we keep, we shall not fall into any evil practices, particularly, not into rebellion. Which is a good sense, and the reader may follow which he pleases ; for the latter part of the verse will agree with either. Wherein he suggests, that the wisest thing we can do, when princes require any thing grievous unto us, is not to rebel, but to watch the fitttest opportunities to petition for redress; and that after such manner as may not give offence; so I have expounded time and judgement, in this and in the next verse. [f] Ver. 6..] For the truth is, a great part of the happiness of our life depends upon our discretion in observing and chusing the fittest opportunity for every thing, and the right manner of doing it. Especially when we have to do with kings, and great persons; concerning whom the wise man may still be thought to speak, both in this and the following verse. [g] Ver. 7..] If the Hebrew reading would bear it, the Vulgar translation (which the Syriac follows) of this verse, hath given an excellent reason, why a man is at such a loss to discern what is fit for him to do upon all occasions, (especially how to direct his behaviour towards kings), “Because he knows little of what is past, and less, or rather nothing, of what is future.” For prudence con'sists in the remembrance of things past, consideration of things present, and foresight of things likely to come hereafter. luther refers it wholly to the miserable condition of a rebel in this manner; “He desires various things, and hopes for mighty matters by his disobedience, but is lamentably deceived. For of the very impunity which he promised himself, he cannot be secure ; but in an hour when he thinks not of it, judgement overtakes him, and he perishes in his disobedience. In short, the wicked contemns present obedience, and minds not future punishment. The wise man acts quite otherwise, and, remembering what mischiefs attend upon the rebellious, is studious, therefore, to be obedient.” [h] Ver. 8.] Hence he takes occasion to give some good advice to princes themselves, (which seems to me the plainest sense of this verse), not to abuse their power, because none can withstand them, or so much as question them ; but to remember how weak they are upon many accounts, and therefore ought to be moderate in their government, if they intend to live happy. For otherwise they must expect their people's hatred, which they cannot hinder, no more than they can death, which is anot in their power to resist. And if they be en*
gaged in war, they will find their subjects assist them so coldly, that it may endanger the loss of their crown. So that clause may be understood, which we translate, “There is no discharge in war,” (the word that being not in the original); that is, it will be too late then to discharge their subjects from the heavy burdens, whereby they have oppressed them, when they have need of their service against an enemy. Or, as I have expressed it in the paraphrase, they cannot command what success they please in war, but the event will be dubious; taking the word mislachat, for a dart, a javelin, or such like weapon, which we cannot direct and guide in that confusion, so as certainly to hit the mark at which it is thrown. So the Targum translates it, “Nor do the instruments of arms profit.” Or we may take it for a commission to raise forces, (it being but once more used in the Bible, Psal. lxxviii. 49. and there the mislachat of evil angels, seems to be a company of angels, sent with a commission to do the execution there mentioned), which is too late to issue in the day of battle, if he be beaten; or if he be not, yet let him not flatter himself (which is the sense of the last clause of the verse) as if he should always escape, for the divine justice will one day lay hold on him, and punish him.
Thus, with reference to princes, the LXX. seem
to understand this verse ; who having said, ver. 4. Çarxiv: #eria”, “the king commands with authority,” thus translate the first words of this, so to *Spargo iéario, is writual, but “no man (no, not the king himself) hath authority in all things, for example, not over the spirit of man.” But this verse also may be expounded, (as some interpreters understand it), to be a continuance of the foregoing discourse, in this manner, that no man can bridle the wrath of the prince, (by spirit understanding anger), or hinder the irruption of it. And it is in vain also for men to seek to save themselves from the sentence of death which he hath pronounced against them. For if they should wage war with him, it is not likely they would overcome or escape in the day of battle ; or, if they did, they would meet some time or other with a just punishment for their rebellion. Which is the meaning of the last clause, (if the words be thus taken), “Wickedness (that is, rebellion) shall not deliver those that are the authors of it.” This and the following verse agree very well with that exposition which refers ver, 8. to princes, who sometimes are advanced to rule over others to their own hurt. So we translate the last words of this verse, which Luther (who is not alone in that opinion) will have still to belong to subjects, over whom a prince is sometimes placed to be a scourge unto them. Notwithstanding which, saith he, the king's commandment is to be observed, and sedition not be moved. Which he repeats a
gain, (so full he was of this doctrine), The wise
men here grants that there may be evil governors to punish their subjects, and yet these are also to be tolerated. [k] Ver. 12.J. This verse I have taken wholly to belong to wicked rulers, because all the ancient tranislations do so, as well as our English. Though most of the modern interpreters will have the first part of the verse to refer unto wicked governors, and this matter, will appear so plainly in the paraphrase and annotations which I shall annex to it, that I will give no large account here of this chapter, but only note that the sum of it is this, That the confusion of things here below should not move us to discontent, much less incline us to irreligion ; but rather dispose us, with thankfuhness and sobriety, to enjoy freely that portion of good things, while we have them, which God hath given us. Neither slacking our diligence, nor trusting to it alone, but depending on God's wise providence, which, notwithstanding that seeming confusion, governs all events; disappointing many times the most likely and applauded means, and again succeeding the most unlikely and contemptible. Which should move us to commend ourselves and concerns unto God; and then above all things to value and study true wisdom and prudence in the management of all our affairs, as far excelling mere power, of which we are foolishly ambitious. Ver. 1. I'OR all this I considered in my heart, even to declare all this, that the righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the band of God : no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.] This is no rash assertion, for I Solomon affirm again, (viii. 16.), I have deeply considered all that belongs to this matter, with earnest desire and
the latter part unto good, whose memory is abolish- .
ed, when the other (so bad is mankind) are extolled and honoured; for which I see no reason, but look upon it as contrary to the design of the wise man in this place, and therefore I have rejected it. The place of the holy] may be expounded divers ways, but it seems to me most natural to take it for a pe. riphrase of the place of judgement, (mentioned iii. 16.), in which the judges sustained the person of God, who was in their assembly, and judged in the midst of them, Psal. lxxxi. 1. whence the judgement-seat was called the “place of the holy,” i. e. of God the “Holy One of Israel;” whom the Jews now constantly call by the name of “the Holy, that most blessed One.” St Hierom understands it of the temple, (but then it must be translated not the place of the holy, but the holy place, which is not agree. able to the Hebrew), and expounds the words thus: “The wicked buried, who were esteemed saints in the earth; and while they were thought worthy princes in the church, and in the temple of God.” I have sometimes thought that the words might, according to this sense of the holy place, be thus word for word rendered out of the Hebrew, (if the grammarians will permit holy here to be a substantive), “I saw the wicked buried, and they (that is, such as attend their funeral) came, and even out of the
holy place followed.” That is, the very priests wait
'ed on the herse, to do them the greater honour. Or thus, “ The funeral pomp reached from the very temple to the place of burial.” [l] Ver. I 1.] From whence he takes occasion to shew what is the very root of men's malicious and incurable wickedness. And the first thing to which
he ascribes it is, their thriving a long time in evil
courses; which makes them hope this prosperity will continue to the end of their days. And if they can but live splendidly, they care not what becomes cf them when they die. Now, though there be a pithgam, a decree, a definitive sentence, (as the word signifies), passed against them, yet nothing being done upon it so soon as we expect, it both hardens the heart of those sinners, and mightily discourages better men; who hereupon grow angry, or flag in their duty; to both which Luther would have what follows referred. But it properly belongs to the evil-doers, who, upon the suspence of the judgement passed upon them, sin on with great confidence, and have nothing else in their thoughts but malicious contrivances. Both which may be denoted by this phrase, “their heart is filled in them” to do evil. [m] Ver. 12 3.] Yet this is not to be understood, he here shews, without exception, but semetimes *
advises him that would live as happily as the state of things here will permit, not to grow sullen at this, (ver. 15), much less to doubt of God's good providence; nor to be disturbed, though we are not able to give a reason why virtuous men suffer very much, when the wicked at the same time escape. Which I take to be the meaning of the two last verses, which I have referred to our ignorance of this particular matter, as St Hierom also doth, whose words are these : “He that seeks the causes and reasons of things, why this or that is done, and why the world is governed by various events ; why one man is blind and lame, and another is born with eyes and sound; one is poor, and another is rich; this man is noble, that inglorious ; he gets nothing by his inquiry but only this, to be tormented in his own questions, and to have his disputations instead of a rack, and yet not find what he sought.”
That word in Hebrew which we translate because
endeavour to give a clearer account and fuller resolution.
of it than this, which is all I can say, that though good men and prudent are under the care of God, (which must satisfy them in all events), by whose special providence both they, and their undertakings and affairs, are approved, directed, governed, and defended; yet (such a secret there is in it) they prove sometimes so unsuccessful, that no man can know by o thing that befals them or others, how God stands affected towards them, but will conclude very falsely, if he judge that God loves him who hath all that his heart desires, or that he hates him who is sorely afflicted. See Annot. [a] Ver. 2. All things come alike to all ; there it one event to the righteous and to the wicked ; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean ; to him that sacrificeth, and to bin that sacrificeth not ; at is the good, so is the sinner , and be that sweareth, as be that feareth an cath.] For there is no certain and constant distinction made between one man and another, in the distribution of things in this world ; but they all fare alike, especially in public calamities; a righteous man, for instance, perishes in a battle as well as the wicked; he that keeps himself pure and undefiled dies in a pestilence, as well as the filthy and unclean ; he that worshippeth God in sincerity and truth, suffers by storms, shipwrecks, and inundations, &c. as well as a profane person or a hypocrite ; and on the contrary, a blasphemer of God, nay, a perjured wretch, prospers and thrives as much as he that dreads the holy name of God, and dare not rashly, much less falsely, take it into his mouth. See Annot. [b]
Ver. 3. This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all ; ya also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead..] This (it must be acknowledged) is one of the most grievous things in this lower world, that all things being thus blended together without any distinction, some draw from thence this lewd and wild conclusion, that there is no difference between virtue and wickedness, and therefore take the greatest licence to do evil confidently and boldly all their life long ; pursuing their own lusts and passions so furiously, that they hasten their end ; and death, which spares nobody, (but is the most common of all other things), seizes on them before they think of it. See Annot. [c] Ver, 4. W For to him that is joined to all the living, there in bope ; for a living dog is better than a dead Jion.] " But who would chuse to be a companion of these men who run themselves so fast out of all hope 2 which still remains (in the midst of all our changes here) as long as a man remains in the number of the living, but is lost when he is dead; in which respect the meanest and most contemptible person here in this world hath the advantage of the greatest king when he is gone out of it. See Annat. [c] Ver. 5. For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten..] For while men live, and are well, they have sense and relish of such things as they possess; and, knowing they must die, are taught thereby to use them with a sober freedom ; because when they are gone from hence, they become perfect strangers to all things here, and can no longer enjoy any benefit of their labours, (iv. 9.), the fruit of which falls into the hands of other men, who never so much as think what is become of them. Ver. 6. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a rtion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.] Nor doth it then signify any thing, whether a man was loved, or hated, or envied by them ; but all these passions are so extinguished with them, that nobody courts their favour, nor fears their ill-will or displeasure; for, though they have been never so powerful, they have nothing more to do with us here in this world; nor can we, if we would transmit any of our enjoyments to them, in the place where they are. Ver. 7, Gothy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry beari i for God now acceptoth thy works.] § And therefore, shaking off both all anxious cares, and also all perplexing thoughts about God’s providence, (ver. I.), excite thyself, by the remembrance of death, to a chearful enjoyment of those good things present, which thou justly possessest; use them while thou hast them, with a well-pleased, contented, nay, joyful mind ; believing, if thou hast approved thyself to God in the rest of thy works, it is very acceptable to him, that thou shouldst thus rejoice
in his love; who hath made all things here for the service of man, and blessed thee with a comfortable portion of them. See Annot. [d] . Ver. 8. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.] For which reason, do not live either sordidly or sadly; but at all seasonable times, entertain thyself and thy friends liberally, with such pleasures as may recreate and refresh thy spirits, after thy honest labours; for innocent mirth, suitable to thy condition, is as becoming those that are good, as the filthy delights of men lewdly voluptuous are aboiminable. See Annot. [e] Ver. 9. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest, all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity ; for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.] Flee, therefore, adultery and fornication, but solace thyself exceedingly with thy own wife; and loving her with the most tender and constant affection, take all the comfort her society can afford; for it is the greatest God hath provided for mankind in this troublesome life; and therefore both seek for such an one as thou canst love, and when thou hast her, delight thyself in her company, with such unalterable kindness, as may help to sweeten the afflictions to which we are subject in this world; for thou canst reap no other fruit of all thy toil in this life, but to take an innocent pleasure, with tranquillity of mind, in such good things as those which the providence of God bestows upon thee. See Annot.
*... 10. Whatsoever thy band findeth to do, do it with thy might : for there is no work, nor device, nor £nowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.] In which, that thou mayest take the sincerest pleasure, let it not make thee slothful, much less dissolute; but dispose thee rather to be vigorously industrious, in doing all the good that is in thy power ; for which end, lay hold on every occasion that presents itself, and improve it with the utmost diligence; because now is the time of action, both in the employments of the body and of the mind; now is the season of studying either arts for sciences, or wisdom and virtue ; for which thou wilt have no opportunities in the lace whither thou art going in the other world, which is designed for rest from our present labours, and for the reward of them. See Annot. [g] Ver. I 1. ‘T I returned, and saw under the sun, that zbe race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong s aeitber yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill ; but time and chance Bappeneth to them all.] I But do not presume merely on thy own industry, though never, so great, for good success in thy undertakings, nor fancy that nothing shall interrupt thy pleasures, but look up unto God, and leave all to his providence; for, (to return to what I said about events, ver. I.), I have observed, that they do not depend upon our will and pleasure, but upon his ; we being apt to think, that ine who, for instance, can run swiftest, will certainly carry away the prize; and that he who hath the great
est forces, will win the victory in a battle; when it falls out quite otherwise, that both of them lose the day: and more than that, the wise and the learned in their professions, cannot sometimes get their bread, but men of greatest reach are poor, and ingenious artists not at all regarded or encouraged according to their deserts; for there are certain seasons, wherein, by various accidents which unexpectedly start up, all men's nimbleness, strength, valour, wit, cunning, and dexterity, prove ineffectual. See Annot. [h] Ver. 1 1. For man also knoweth not his time: as the jishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare : so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.] For no man can foresee many evils that befal him, no, not the time of his death ; which surprises him unawares, when he thinks no more of it, than the silly fish or birds do of the net or the snare wherein they are caught to their destruction; nay, as they are intangled, when they swim or fly securely, in hope to catch their prey, so do men perish by those counsels and actions from whence they expected the greatest advantages; and are undone by some sudden and unavoidable mischief that seizes them, when they thought themselves at the top of their hopes. See Annot. [i] Ver. 13. T This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me -l But though events be not in our power, being over-ruled by a higher providence, we ought not therefore to imagine, there is no use of prudent counsel and forecast; for that sort of wisdom, which we call political, how mean soever it may seem in some men's eyes, is with me of greater price than wealth and riches. And this single observation shows that I have reason for it. See Annot. [k] Ver. 14. There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it :] There was a city of small circuit, ill fortified, and manned by a very small garrison ; against which a mighty king, with numerous forces, made his approaches; and having intrenched his army, and drawn a strong line about it, and raised his batteries, doubted not to take it speedily, or to have it surrendered into his hands; Ver, 15. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city ; yet no man remembered that same poor man.] When by a strange providence of God, there unexpectedly appeared a wise man, but he so poor that nobody minded him, who saved the city from this imminent danger; and that not by money, for he had none; nor by arms, for the besiegers were far superior in strength ; but merely by his wise counsels, contrivances, stratagems, and conduet, wherein he excelled the greatest warriors; and yet, O feul ingratitude : his citizens, who ought to have recorded his fame, and preserved it to all posterity, soon forgot their deliverer; and, because he was poor, regarded him, after this memorable service he had done them, no more than they had done before. See Annot.  Ver. 16. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength;
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