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WHAT needeth a man to seek things that are above him, whereas he knoweth not what is profitable for him in his life, in all the days of his pilgrimage, and the time that passeth like a shadow? Or who can tell him what shall be after him under the sun?

Ver. 1.  Above him.  We are intent on things which regard us not, while we neglect the important concerns of heaven.  Hebrew may be joined with the preceding.  C.

 

--- Prot. (11.) "seeing there are many thing which increase vanity, what is man the better?  12.) for who knoweth?" &c.  H.

 

--- Some strive to obtain riches or honours, which will prove fatal to them.  C.

 

--- None can perfectly know the nature of things either present or future.  W.


2 A good name is better than precious ointments: and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

Ver. 2.  Name.  "It is necessary for the sake of others," (S. Aug. de B. Vid. xxii.) particularly for those who have to direct souls.  S. Greg. in Ezec.  C.

 

--- In this second part is shewn that felicity is procured by a good life.  W.

 

--- Death.  Speaking of the just, for death is the beginning of sorrows to the wicked.  C.

 

--- Some nations mourned on the birth-day of their children.  Val. Max. ii. 6.  Eurip in Ctes.



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3 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: for in that we are put in mind of the end of all, and the living thinketh what is to come.

Ver. 3.  Come.  While at birth-day feasts (Gen. xl. 20.  Matt. xiv. 6.) people give themselves up to joy, and cherish the idea of living long.  C.


4 Anger is better than laughter: because by the sadness of the countenance the mind of the offender is corrected.

Ver. 4.  Anger.  That is, correction, or just wrath and zeal against evil, (Ch.) is preferable to a misguided complaisance.  Prov. xxvii. 6.  C.

 

--- Anger, when rightly used, helps us to correct our faults.  W.


5 The heart of the wise is where there is mourning, and the heart of fools where there is mirth.

Ver. 5.  Mourning.  They submit willingly to correction, (S. Jer.) or think seriously on the dangers of sin and God's judgments.


6 It is better to be rebuked by a wise man, than to be deceived by the flattery of fools.

Ver. 6.  Wise man.  Much prudence is requisite to correct with fruit, and to persuade the sinner that he is under a mistake.  C.


7 For as the crackling of thorns burning under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool: now this also is vanity.

Ver. 7.  Laughter.  It is loud and soon over.  Eccli. xxi. 23.  Lu. xxvi. 5.  C.


8 Oppression troubleth the wise, and shall destroy the strength of his heart.

Ver. 8.  Oppression.  Lit. "calumny."  The most perfect can  hardly bear it.  Heb. "oppression (or calumny of others.  C.) will make the wise insane, and a present will ruin the heart."  Mont.

 

--- Avarice blinds us.  H.

 

--- Deut. xvi. 19. "a corrupt judge examines ill the truth."


9 Better is the end of a speech than the beginning. Better is the patient man than the presumptuous.

Ver. 9.  Speech.  Heb. "thing."  The best projects often are seen to fail.

 

--- Beginning, as the auditor is on longer kept in suspense.

 

--- Presumptuous.  Rashness must not be confounded with courage.  C.

 

--- Hasty and immoderate anger is hurtful.  W.


10 Be not quickly angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of a fool.

Ver. 10.  Bosom, as in its proper place.  The wise may feel its impressions, but he immediately makes resistance.


11 Say not: What thinkest thou is the cause that former times were better than they are now? for this manner of question is foolish.

Ver. 11.  Foolish.  Men endeavour to excuse themselves by the manners of the age.  But there have always been both good and evil.  C. i. 10.  C.

 

--- Corruption was prevalent in former times as well as now.  M.


12 Wisdom with riches is more profitable, and bringeth more advantage to them that see the sun.

Ver. 12.  With.  Heb. also, "above, or much as riches."  C.

 

--- These are impediments in the hands of the reprobate, while they promote virtue in the good."  S. Amb. Lu. viii. n. 85.

 

--- The man who has only wisdom, cannot do as much good as those who are also rich.  C.

 

--- The moderate use of riches helps the servants of God, while they do not set their hearts upon them.  W.

 

--- The sun, to men on earth.


13 For as wisdom is a defence, so money is a defence: but learning and wisdom excel in this, that they give life to him that possesseth them.

Ver. 13.  Them.  Money may procure necessaries for the body; (H.) but wisdom gives a long and happy life.  Prov. iv. 10.  Bar. iii. 28.  C.


14 Consider the works of God, that no man can correct whom he hath despised.

Ver. 14.  Despised.  God never neglects first.  Trid. Ses. vi. 11.

 

--- He detests sin, and at last abandons the obstinate, though he never fails to offer sufficient graces.  A person who is of an unhealthy constitution, or involved in sin, cannot be cured by man alone.  Yet we must not cease to preach, &c. while we expect all from God, who gives the increase.  1 Cor. iii. 7.


15 In the good day enjoy good things, and beware beforehand of the evil day: for God hath made both the one and the other, that man may not find against him any just complaint.

Ver. 15.  Complaint.  Prosperity and adversity succeed each other, that we may be neither elated nor dejected too much.  S. Bern. ep. xxxvi.

 

--- If we enjoy the advantages of nature, we must be thankful; if we feel pain, we must cheerfully submit to God's will.  H.


16 These things also I saw in the days of my vanity: A just man perisheth in his justice, and a wicked man liveth a long time in his wickedness.

Ver. 16.  Vanity, during this miserable life.

 

--- Wickedness.  This seemed more incongruous under the old law, when long life was promised to the just, (C.  Ps. lxxii. 3.  Ex. xx. 12.) though it chiefly regarded heaven.  H.


17 Be not over just: and be not more wise than is necessary, lest thou become stupid.

Ver. 17.  Over just, viz. By an excessive rigour in censuring the ways of God in bearing with the wicked. Ch.

 

--- Give not way to scruples, (S. Bern.) nor to self-conceit.  Alcuin.

 

--- Become.  Heb. "perish," being oppressed with majesty.  Lorin.  T.  C.



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18 Be not overmuch wicked: and be not foolish, lest thou die before thy time.

Ver. 18.  Overmuch.  No sin can be tolerated.  C.

 

--- But as all offend in many things, (v. 21.  H.) they are encouraged to rise again with diligence and sorrow.


19 It is good that thou shouldst hold up the just, yea and from him withdraw not thy hand: for he that feareth God, neglecteth nothing.

Ver. 19.  From him.  Who is otherwise withdrawn, &c.  Heb. "take hold of this, and not neglect that: for he who feareth God, will walk with all them."  He will avoid all extremes both of virtue and vice.  C.

 

--- Prot. and Mont. "he shall come forth of them all," and advance towards heaven.  H.


20 Wisdom hath strengthened the wise more than ten princes of the city.

Ver. 20.  City.  It has the advantage over more strength.  C. ix. 16.



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21 For there is no just man upon earth, that doth good, and sinneth not.

Ver. 21.  Not.  1 Jo. i. 8.  Crates said it was "impossible to find one who falls not."  Laert. vi.  H.

 

--- We must not flatter ourselves with impeccability, v. 18.  C.

 

--- See Seneca. Clem. i. 6.  Peccavimus omnes, &c. and de Ira. i. 28.  M.



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22 But do not apply thy heart to all words that are spoken: lest perhaps thou hear thy servant reviling thee. 23 For thy conscience knoweth that thou also hast often spoken evil of others.

Ver. 23.  Thy.  We must be satisfied with a good conscience, as we cannot control the thoughts and words of all.  S. Amb.  Of. i. 1.


24 I have tried all things in wisdom. I have said: I will be wise: and it departed farther from me,

Ver. 24.  Me.  This is a proof of having made great progress in wisdom, since the half-learned are the most presumptuous.  C.


25 Much more than it was: it is a great depth, who shall find it out?

Ver. 25.  Much.  Prot. "the which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?"  H.


26 I have surveyed all things with my mind, to know, and consider, and seek out wisdom and reason: and to know the wickedness of the fool, and the error of the imprudent:

Ver. 26.  Reason.  Of all things.  In this natural wisdom consists.  Sept. "and number."  He examined the pretensions of philosophy, which attempted thus to predict future events; but found that it was all deceit, like a harlot.  Olympiod.

 

--- He explored the qualities of different things, as an arithmetician counts numbers.  M.


27 And I have found a woman more bitter than death, who is the hunter's snare, and her heart is a net, and her hands are bands. He that pleaseth God shall escape from her: but he that is a sinner, shall be caught by her.

Ver. 27.  Her.  He speaks by experience, (S. Jer.) as none perhaps ever fell more terribly victims of impure love.  C.

 

--- Though a plurality of wives was then permitted, Solomon did wrong in marrying strangers; and in suffering himself to be deluded by them, so as to erect temples to their respective idols.  H.

 

--- All the attractions of women are replete with danger, and can only be overcome by God's grace, and by flight.  1 Cor. iv. 8.  Prov. vii. 22. and xxii. 14.  C.


28 Lo this have I found, said Ecclesiastes, weighing one thing after another, that I might find out the account, 29 Which yet my soul seeketh, and I have not found it. One man among a thousand I have found, a woman among them all I have not found.

Ver. 29.  Man.  The superior part of the soul rarely thinks of good; but the sensual part always inclines to evil. W.

 

--- Solomon found danger from all women, (S. Jer.) and there is none who may not prove fatal to those who are off their guard.  C.

 

--- Yet some are doubtless innocent, like the bless Virgin.  H.


30 Only this I have found, that God made man right, and he hath entangled himself with an infinity of questions. Who is as the wise man? and who hath known the resolution of the word?

Ver. 30.  Right.  He fell by his own free-will.  S. Aug. de Civ. Dei. xiv. 11.  W.

 

--- The great corruption of the world is not, therefore, to be attributed to God.  Eph. iv. 23.  Our first parents were led by curiosity to examine whether the fruit was good, &c. (S. Cyr. Cat. ii.  Chal.  Boss.) or mankind, in general, make useless enquiries.

 

--- And he.  Heb. and Sept. "they," &c.  C.

 

--- Of the word.  That is, of this obscure and difficult matter (Ch). if this sentence have any connection with the preceding.  It is placed at the head of the next chapter in Heb.  C.


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