« VorigeDoorgaan »
“ For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.” In this life thou hast opportunities of doing good, of delighting thyself in the studies of knowledge and wisdom, of improving thy strength and invention, of pleasing thyself and others; whilst therefore it is day, whilst thou hast a favourable opportunity, Johu ix. 4. and xii, 35; Gal. vi. 10; whilst the vigour of thy faculties continues, work: for in the grave, or in the state of death, whither thou art every moment hastening, there is no place for any of these things, that not being seculum operis, sed mercedis. If thou wilt be rewarded then, thou must work now. Carpe diem, quàm minimùm credulus postero. Jam te premet nox. Though this precept be applicable to all duties of piety and charity, yet the scope of the passage principaliy refers to the enjoyment of the conveniences' and comforts of the present life, which we are cheerfully to use whilst they are put into our hands, and not put them off till death, when we shall have neither ability nor power to partake of them. We may here also observe what manner of delights he allows; only such as are the fruit of honest labour, and are regu.. lated and moderated by wisdom and discretion. Our very recreations must not be sensual, but rational and industrious.
Ib. f I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understand. ing, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Some consider this verse as the observation of another vanity under the sun, viz. That events and successes frequently happen contrary to the preparation or probability of second causes. Others understand it as a kind of corrective to the former precept, of living joyfully in the use of all outward blessings, as if the wise man should say, Though it were desirable that mortals could thus evenly and comfortably spend their days, yet on further consideration I found, that no man can ever enjoy a stable and constant delight in this world, because future events so often vary from those principles and preparations which preceded them. The sentiment here advanced may have a reference both to the general scope of the former part of the chapter, concerning the powerful and unsearchable providence of God, ch. viii. 16, 17. and ix. 1, 2. and to the words immediately going before. Thus having advised, That whatever our hand findeth to do, we should do it with our might; lest any one should on this ground presume, that events must necessarily happen according to those abilities which he brings to effect them, he properly directs us in all our works to look above second causes, not to trust in our qualifications, to attribute nothing to our own strength, but to remember, " That it is not of him that will. eth, nor of him that runneth, but of God tliat sheweth mercy,” Rom. ix. 16; and accordingly to implore his assistance and blessing in all our labours, " who worketh all our works for us," Isai. xxvi. 12; Ps. cxxvii. 1, 2; Deut. viii. 17, 18; Prov. x. 22; Jer. ix. 23. And having pera formed our duty in the use of such means as God has been pleased to afford, then quietly to refer the success to him, in whose hands are all our ways,
upon whose good pleasure all the issues of things depend." I returned and to
The infinitive mood put for the indi. cative, as Jer. xiv. 5; Zech, xiv. 10.-" I saw under the sun;" I considered the conduct of mankind, and found by observation—" That the race is not to the swift;" i. e. that swiftness does not always avail to win the prize, or to escape danger, 2 Sam. ii. 18, 23; Jer xlvi. 5, 6; Amos ii. 14, 15, 16.--"Nor the battle to the strong:" the strength of the mighty does not always enable them either to fight or to conquer, Judg. vii. 7; 1 Sam. xiv. 6; 2 Chron.
xiv. 9-12; Ps. xxxiii. 17, 18.4" Nor yet bread to the wise:” livelihood and subsistence to men whose wisdom should recommend them to honour and distinguished situations, ch. x. 6, 7; Ps. cxxvii. 2. David was compelled to desire supplies from Nabal; and it was ministered unto Christ, in whom were all the treasures of wisdom, Luke viï. 3; Mat. viii. 20; 2 Cor. xi. 26, 27.-“ Nor riches to men of understanding.” We read of rich fools, 1 Sam. xxv. 2, 3, 25; Luke xii. 16, 20; and of poor wise men, ver. 15.-“ Nor yet favour to men of skill.” Joseph is cast sinto prison, David hated of Saul, and Daniel thrown into the lions' den.- But time and chance happeneth to them all :” their endeavours arrive at such a degree of success as the divine counsel preordained, which being entirely hidden from our eyes, they seem frequently to happen rather casually, than according to any regular means. Hence we learn, that the providence of God has a wise and holy hand in ordering the most casual and fortuitous events in subserviency to the fulfilment of his righteous counsels, 1 Kings xxii. 34; Esth. vi. 1-11; 1 Sam. vi. 7-12; 2 Kings iii. 22, 24. This doctrine is not designed to dishearten us in the use of means, but to direct us so to attend to them, as not to sacrifice to our own net, nor to glory in our own wisdom, but to wait upon the providence and blessing of the Most High, to give him the praise of our successes, and quietly to bear whatever miscarriages he may see fit to befal us, 1 Cor. i. 31; James iv. 13 -16; 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26.
12. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
“ For man also knoweth not his time:" xarçon kurš, so the Septuagint; iurzıgiav áurē, so Symmachus: his proper season and opportunity of working. But by the similitude here used to illustrate this ignorance, it should seem, that 66 his time” denotes the time of evil and calamity, which often befals a man when he little dreams of it. This is called his day, or his hour, Ps. xxxvii, 13; John xvi. 4. and xiii. 1. Calamity comes as a thief in the night, unseen and unexpected, Mat. xxiv. 50; 1 Thes. v. 3; Luke xii. 20: or as a snare of which we think not, Luke xxi. 35.-" As the fishes that are taken in an evil net (evil and destructive to them), and as the birds that are caught in a snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil