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and xxxiii. 30. comprehending those pleasures and comforts, which tend to render it more tranquil and agreeable. Some consider this verse as a tacit objection against that continual labour which was before prescribed. Since life is short, we ought to avail ourselves of all the means within our power to render it pleasant, without wearying our time and strength in perpetual toil and fatigue. It is much sweeter to enjoy the light and conveniences of life, whilst they are within our command, 1 Cor. xv. 32 ; to which they suppose the following words to be a reply: That when death comes, the good we have performed will remain with us, but that all our pleasures and delights will vanish away. But this expression, “ Truly the light is sweet,” &c. may refer to the former as well as to the succeeding verse. Sow your seed in the morning and in the evening, as long as you have the light of the sun to guide you: for this is the principal comfort and sweetness of life, to be devising and practising liberal things whilst we possess time and opportunity, because the days of darkness and death are approaching, when no man can work.
It seems rather to be a transition to a new topic. In the preceding part of this book, The wise man had exhibited the vanity of all outward things, and had prescribed many gracious and excellent means to remedy this evil, and to dispose the heart to peace and tranquillity. But now, when, by the observation of these precepts, the present life is rendered as quiet and comfortable as an earthly condition is capable, there are great evils coming, which will require much meditation and preparation of heart to meet; and there is a far longer condition as to futurity, which will abide with us after the termination of our days on earth: it is therefore necessary to the completion of that happiness, after which he had been so long enquiring, to secure, not only the comforts of this life, but the assurance of a better. This is the object of the inspired preacher in the remaining part of this book, by the seasonable meditation of death and judgment, and by the fear of God, and keeping his commandments in our youth, to arm us against the terror of future evils, and to qualify us for that felicity which is the whole of man, and which will be fully proportionate to his largest desires. His meaning undoubtedly is this: It is indeed true, to enjoy the “ light of the sun,” and the comforts of the present life, já very sweet: sensually sweet to those who are voluptuous; solidly and substantially sweet to those who have obtained spiritual wisdom
to cure the vanity and vexation of spirit inherent in them. Yet both the one and the other must remember, that though life be sweet under the sun, it is not long, much less perpetual. Days of darkness are to come: there remains, therefore, something more to be effected to the attainment of complete happiness; and such an estate to be secured as may bear full proportion to the capacities of an immortal soul, and may constitute the whole of man. "Light is sweet.” Sweetness is properly the object of our taste, Judg. xiv. 18; Prov. xxiv. 13; but it is usual in Scripture to attribute that which is peculiar to one sense to another; as to see thunder, Exod. xx. 18; to see the smell of a field, Gen. xxvii. 27. It is an abrupt and concise sentence, to which something is to be added : It is indeed sweet to see the sun: life is pleasant, but yet it is vanity, and will terminate in death; by meditating on this great change that awaits us, we should abate our inordinate love of the profits and delights of so vanishing a condition.
8. But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.
Though the enjoyment of life and its com
forts be very sweet, and though a man should, through the course of a long life, take his fill of worldly delights, the serious meditation of death, and our long abode (after all these pleasures) in the house of darkness, are sufficient to demonstrate the vanity of temporal life, how long or how prosperous soever.
WO find such a life described Job xxi. 7–13.
Days of darkness” are to be understood in opposition to light and to seeing the sun, in the former verse ; and include that space of time in which we shall lie in the dust, Ps. Ixxxviij. 11, 12. and cxliii. 3; Eccles. vi. 4; Job x. 21.
" For they shall be many.” Some apply this to the former part of the verse: Thougb the days of life be many, yet remember the days of darkness, and that will make thee judge all things which happen in the world to be but vanity. The words, however, may be thus rendered : If a man live many years, let him rejoice in them all ; but let hiin temper and moderate the enjoyments of life with the meditation of death, and know that every
circumstance which occurs, as well as every man that cometh into the world, is vanity.
Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the way!
of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
Since all that cometh is vanity, youth as well as age; and since the days of life and mirth are very short and inconsiderable in comparison with the succeeding days of darkness ; a young epicure, who is scornful and impatient of such cooling and chilling doctrines as those of death and judgment, might argue: If the days of darkness may be so many, let us not multiply them by denying ourselves the pleasures of light; but let us freely indulge in all our delights, and live to the extent of our desires, i Cor. xv. 32. To which Solomon replies, first, by way of concession ; secondly, by way of solemn premonition. Some suppose the concession to be real and serious, as if he had -said, I would not discourage thee from the use of lawful pleasures, nor debar thee from such amusements as are suitable to the flower of thy age; only be careful not to exceed the bounds of temperance and moderation, but by the consideration of the vanity of all things under the sun, and of the certainty of future judgment, compose thy mind to a sobriety in the enjoyment of these vain delights, and to a readiness to relinquish them, Gal. v. 13; 1 Pet.