« הקודםהמשך »
A FURTHER description of the common vanity of riches in the hands of a covetous person, is continued in this chapter. He is here described, first, by the good things he possesses: : first, riches in abundance, riches and wealth: secondly, honour, and both these to the utmost of his desires, ver. 2: thirdly, many children: fourthly, many years ; a very extended old age, ver. 3—6. Secondly, by bis misery, which renders all these comforts vain; first, God gives him not power to enjoy it: secondly, a stranger eateth it: thirdly, his soul is not filled with good : fourthly, he hath no burial, ver. 23. Then follows: Thirdly, the censure of this conduct: first, absolutely ; it is an evil, a common evil, a vanity, a disease, ver. I, 3: secondly, comparatively, an un. timely birth is better : for, first, this is born dead, and free from the sense of miseries ; but he excruciates himself with miseries : condly, the one departs in darkness, without
the experimental loss of light and comfort; which the other denies himself: thirdly, the name of the former is obliterated; whilst that of the latter is odious : fourthly, the one never saw the sun, nor knew any thing; the other has indeed seen the sun, but has seen no good, nor known any thing but vexation and sorrow, and at last goes to the same place, ver. 5, 6. This vanity is further opened: First, by the narrow use of riches, and all the labour conversant about them; they terminate on the body, but cannot satiate the mind and appetite, ver. 7. That they cannot satisfy the mind, appears in their insufficiency to gratify wise men any more than fools, ver. 8. Secondly, by the vanity of wandering and endless desires: the wise and foolish, the rich and poor, have things present and necessary ; they have enough to support and maintain life: and this is a real blessing, much superior to permitting the heart to wander and weary itself in endless desires, ver. 9. Thirdly, by the impossibility of improving a person's condition by these things, or of raising him above the state of intirmity and mortality. A man will be only a man, however rich he may be; and all his wealth will not secure him from the evils incident to humanity, ver. 10; nay, he can never be better by such things as do but in
crease vanity, ver. 11. Fourthly, by the ignorance of man to apply all his means of enjoyment to the best practical use; and to resolve, whether a great or moderate estate be better for him; especially considering the shortness of his life, and the impossibility of knowing what will become of his estate or family after his decease, ver. 12. Thus we may connect the two last verses with the preceding argument; or we may consider them as a general conclusion drawn from all the former vanities : since there are so many things that increase vanity, what is man the better for any of them? ver. 11. For, first, he can scarcely know, amongst them all, what is good for himself. Secondly, if he does, he can enjoy that good only for a short space; his very life (the best outward blessing) is vain, and but a shadow. Thirdly, when his mortal life is concluded, he will not in the least be benefited by what comes after him. Fourthly, nor can he please himself with the foresight of futurity; he cannot develope it, nor can any one else declare it to him, ver. 12.
1. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men,
The wise man here shews the misery of a covetous, discontented condition ; and that it is a special gift of God to bestow the sweet enjoyment of temporal blessings, of which persons of this complection are ready to deprive themselves. He represents covetousness not only as a very great, but frequent sin, a sin that spreads over all parts of the habitable world; but the commonness of it rather aggravates than extenuates its criminality, Ps. xiv. 2, 3; Jer, v. 1, 5.
2. A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease,
" A man to whom God hath given," &c, There is a man who has all things that the heart can desire ; not only riches, but substance of all kinds, 2 Chron. i. 11, 12." So that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth.” He is not defective in any means of comfort, nor destitute of any thing which his soul can wish : his substance is commensurate with all just and large desires; it cannot be exhausted or impoverished, Deut. viii. 9; Isai. li. 14; 1 Kings xvii. 16. He speaks not of the boundless desires of covetous men, which are never satisfied, but of the lawful desires which a person of dignity and honour might manifest, suited to the extent of his estate and the quality of his station. He cannot rationally wish for any thing towards the gratification of his desires, which his estate will not plentifully afford, Ps. lxxiii. 7; Luke xii. 17, 18; Job xxi. 7-13; Ps. xvii. 14. All this a covetous person is said to have from God, not in a way of blessing, as if the Almighty prospered and approved of his sordid and sinful methods of gain, but only in a way of providence, causing his sun to shine on the just and unjust, Mat. V. 45.-" Yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof,” ch, v, 18, 19. To eat of them, im. ports a moderate and prụdent use of them, for necessity and delight, receiving them as his own portion, which is the gift of God; but it is a special curse and judgment when there is no heart to enjoy these blessings.--" But a stranger eateth them ;" one that is in no relation of nearness, blood, or friendship to him; or an enemy, who plunders and defrauds him. This is represented as a great affliction, Hosea vii. 9; Deut. xxviii. 33; Isai. i. 7; Lam. v.2; Jer. v. 17.