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iv. 3. may
as Gen. ii. 7; Ps. xxi. 4 ; Prov. xviij. 21; Ps. Ixiii. 3. The expression we meet with in Isai.
throw light upon this place: “ Every one that is written among the living.” To be “ chosen among the living” here, appears to be similar to being “written among the living" there. It is an allusion to cities, in which there is a matricula, or record of those who are freemen, to which the Scripture seems to refer, Ps. Ixxxvii. 6; Ezek. xiii. 9; Heb. xii. 23; Jer. xvii. 13 ; Luke x. 20 ; Ps. iv, 3. As the elect are said to be written in the book of life, Dan. xii. 1; Ps. Ixix. 28; Rev. xvii. 8; xxi. 27; and xxii. 19; so the living may be said to be elected to life ; like as all such enrolments in the records of a city follow a choice of the persons so enrolled.-“ For a living dog is better than a dead lion." A proverbial speech, by which is meant, that the basest and most contemptible living creature is in a better and more hopeful condition than the most honourable, when he is laid in the dust. The Scripture uses the metaphor of a dog to denote the vilest and most abject persons, 2 Kings viii. 13; Mat. xv. 26; Rev. xxii. 15; Phil. iii: as, on the contrary, a lion is the most noble of beasts, Prov. xxx. 30; yet a dead lion is exposed to the scorn of the weakest and most timid creatures, according to the Greek epigram, Και άτοι νεκρά σώμα λεοντ έφυβρίζεσι λαγωοί. The lowest expression of a vile thing in Scripture is this: a dead dog, 1 Sam. xxiv. 14; 2 Sam. ix. 8.
5. For the living know that they shall die : but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
“ For the living know that they shall die.” By this knowledge they may derive great advantage, if it be rightly improved. First, it is a powerful persuasion to repentance, and to prepare for the approach of the king of terrors. Secondly, it excites to consideration, how this unavoidable evil may be sweetened and sanctified to them, that they may comfortably desire to depart and to be with Christ, 2 Cor. v. 4; Phil. i. 20. Thirdly, it rouses them more vigorously to duty, when they look upon
the present life as the day of grace and the time of light, in which only they can work, John ix. 4; Isai. xxxviii. 18, 19; Ps. cxviii. 17; Job xiv. 14 ; Ps. xxxix. 1, 4. and xc. 12. But, fourthly, knowing that they shall die, and that the present comforts of this life are for the use of the living only, and not of the dead, they are concerned gratefully to enjoy the blessings of Providence in their proper season, as well as to be prepared for a happy dissolution : for godliness teaches us, both quietly to enjoy the world, and willingly to leave it when God calls." But the dead know not any thing.” This is not spoken absolutely, for the spirits of just men are made perfect, and are with Christ, but according to the particular subject in the context. They know nothing of the things of the world, or of any external comforts and blessings, as they can no longer be delighted with the fruition of earthly pleasures, Job xiv. 21 ; Isai. Ixüi. 16.-“ Neither have they any more reward.” He speaks not of the reward of a glorified saint, for in this sense the pious dead are rewarded because they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them, Rev. xiv. 13; but he speaks of the comfortable use of outward enjoyments, as the only reward which the things of the world can afford for all their labour, as it is more plainly expounded in the next verse, and ch. iii. 12; v. 18, 19; and viii. 15._" For the
memory of them is forgotten.” They are entirely removed from all human intercourse; their house, their family, and their friends know them no more. So far are they from the knowledge and enjoyment of earthly accommodations, that the living gradually forget them, Isai. xxvi. 14 ; Job X. 8, 9, 10.
6. Also their love, and their hatred, and their
envy is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
. This is to be understood in reference to outward things : living men here meet with all sorts of objects, some lovely, others hateful; some which excite pity, others which stir up envy. But when they are dead they retain no knowledge of any such things, and consequently no affections towards them. And as it were endless to recount particulars, he therefore concludes in general, That they have not “any more a portion for ever in any thing under the sun.” They have neither the possession, the fruition, nor even the contemplation of any worldly good. They carry away nothing with them as their glory, and their substance does not descend after them. A covetous man can no more dote upon wealth, nor an ambitious man upon honour, nor a voluptuous man upon pleasure; all their thoughts, desires, and emulations perish: the period of our present life is that only in which we can enjoy the boun. ties of Providence, since there is no knowledge nor wisdom in the grave whither we are tending, Ps. xlix. 17 ; Luke xii. 20; Job iii. 17– 19. and yii, 7-10.
7. [Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
As the dead neither know nor enjoy any of these worldly blessings, and as God gives them to his servants in love, for their comfortable refreshment in the days of their vanity, he recommends a cheerful fruition of them, whilst we have time and liberty, that the many
other sorrows and bitternesses to which they are exposed in this life may be mitigated and sweetened unto them. He speaks not (as some conceive) of sensual, epicurean, and brutish excess, but of an honest, decent, and cheerful enjoyment of blessings, in the fear of God, and with thankfulness.--" Go thy way.” It is used adverbially, as uge igitur, eia agedum, by way of exhortation or encouragement, as Gen, xix. 32; Prov. i. 11; Eccleş. ii. 1; Isai. i. 18. and lv. 11.
“ Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a good, i. e. with a merry, heart," in opposition to a sad beart, which is called an evil heart, Neh. ii. 2; 1 Kings xxi. 7; Ruth ii. 17; Eccles. vii. 3. Enjoy the fruit of thy own labours, as ch. iii. 22. When he says, “ thy bread, thy wine,” &c. he intimates that our comforts and delights must be bounded by our own labours and possessions ; for though stolen