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waters and bread of deceit may be sweet, they have gravel and bitterness in them at last, Prov. ix, 17, 18; 2 Thes. iii. 12: and also that our delights must be proportioned to the decorum of our condition; we must eat our proper portion, and neither luxuriously exceed, nor sordidly live beneath, our own estate and competency, Prov. xxx. 8.-“ For now God accepteth thy works.” This is the principal boundary of our outward pleasures and delights, to keep within such rules of piety and moderation, as that our ways may be pleasing to God. And this shews us the true way of finding sweetness in the créature, and of being joyful in the fruition of our portion; namely, in the divine approbation of our persons and conduct: for religion does not exclude, but only moderates earthly delights, and so moderates them, that though they are not so excessive as the luxurious and sen. sual pleasures of foolish epicures, they are far purer, sweeter, and more satisfactory, as having no guilt, no gall, no curse, no inward sorrow and terrors attending them, Nehem. viji. 10.
8. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
Food and raiment are the substantials of out. ward blessings, 1 Tim. vi, 8. Having directed to cheerfulness in the one, he recommends de. cency and comeliness in the other. Whiteness was anciently an expression of what is pleasing and delightful. Albosque dies, horasque serenas. Candidus et felix proximus annus erit. So the stone of absolution is called a white stone, Rev. ii. 17; the asses on which persons of honour used to ride were white, Judg. v. 10; and white garments were worn in the Eastern countries as a mark of dignity, Esth. viii. 15. Our Saviour therefore manifesting his glory to Peter, James, and John on the mount, appeared in garments as white as the light, Mat. xvii. 2; and the glory of the saints in heaven is represented by white robes, Rev. iii. 4, 5, 18; vi. 11; and xix. 8. Here the expression is used as a symbol of joy and cheerfulness; as, on the contrary, blackness is the colour of grief and sorrow, Jer. xiv. 2. White garments were generally used at feasts and joyful solemnities: when it is said, “ Let thy garments be always white,” it is to be understood not absolutely, as if they were never to mourn, ch. vii. 2. which was the sin of the rich glutton, Luke xvi. 19. but with restriction to the rules of seasonableness and decorum, Prov. v. 19.-" And let thine head lack no ointment.” This was also an expression of joy used in feasts, Luke vii. 46; John xii. 3; and in triumphs, to which the apostle seems to
allude, 2 Cor. ii. 14, 15, 16; and on similar occasions of rejoicing, Amos vi. 6; Prov. xxvii, 9: but in times of humiliation and sorrow they did not anoint themselves, Dan. x. 3. The meaning is, that we should live as freely and cheerfully in the liberal use of divine blessings, as the quality of our degree, the decency of our condition, the rules of religious wisdom, and the fear of God, allow us, without sordidly or frowardly denying ourselves the benefit of those conveniences and comforts which the bounty of Heaven has bestowed upon us.
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.
“ Live joyfully;" i, e. see or enjoy life. So Symmachus, årólavoor Swñs, as 1 Pet. iii. 10; Eccles. ii. 1, 24.-" With the wife whom thou lovest: he speaks not therefore in the person of an epicure, to whom stolen waters are sweet, Prov. ix, 17; but of a lawful and chaste affection, as Prov. v. 15—19.-" Whom thou lovest.” This is the character of a wife, and the duty of the husband, and that which makes their communion comfortable, Ezek. xxiv. 16; Ephes. v. 25, 28, 29: on which account the husband is called the friend of his wife, Jer. iii. 20. A special freeness of delight and liberty of love is allowed in this relation, though still within the bounds of honour and sobriety, Gen. xxvi. 8. It notes also the difference between conjugal and adulterous love, the former being the source of pure and satisfying enjoyment, but the licentious pleasures of the latter lead to a miserable death, Prov. ii. 18; v. 3—11; vi. 26, 32, 33 ; and vii. 23.-“ All the days of the life of thy vanity," as ch. vi. 12. This is repeated to remind us, in the midst of all our earthly delights, that they are perishing and temporary; and the living joyfully all our days is to be understood as the always in the former verse, with restriction to the duties of piety and humiliation, 1 Cor. vii, 5; as it also implies their mutual obligation not to depart from each other, 1 Cor. vii. 10.
-" Which he hath given thee:" this may refer either to the wife, which, he elsewhere tells us, is the gift of God, Prov. xix. 14; or to the days of the life of our vanity, which also are his gift, Job x. 12; Acts xvii. 25; Ps. xxxi. 15.-" This is thy portion in this life,” as ch. ii. 24 ; iii. 13; v. 18, 19; and viii. 15. When thou diest, thou shalt not carry away any of these comforts, as in the world to come there is no
enjoyment of this kind of blessings, Ps. xlix. 17; Mat. xxii. 30.
10. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou
Having enumerated the principal external comforts of life, food, raiment, and marriage, he concludes with a general precept; that in all other things in which our present tranquillity consists, we should freely and cheerfully use them before we descend into the grave, where, as we shall have none of these outward materials to work upon, so, if we possessed them, we should be destitute of all wisdom to improve them, or to reap delight from them.“ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do ;" whatsoever is within thy power and ability, 'whatever works in thy calling belong to thee, or in what state or condition soever the providence of God shall place thee, Gen. xxxii. 13; Levit. v. 7. and xii. 8; Numb. vi. 21; Judg. ix. 33 ; or whatsoever just occasion of becoming cheerfulness offers itself," do it with thy might," vigorously, industriously, instantly, without loss of time, or deferring it till it be too late, Rom. xii. 11; 2 Thes. iii. 8; Tit. iii. 8, 14.