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a weak and pusillanimous mind. That his first measures were disastrous is certain; that he was ill advised is not improbable; but such has been the case with monarchs who cannot justly be charged with incompetency to hold the reins of government.

XI. Obj. "The author says, 'I keep the king's commandment,' (ch. viii. 2,) which could not come from Solomon, who was a king himself, and obeyed no monarch upon earth.”* This objection scarcely deserves notice, as it rests upon a translation of the original which is erroneous, though supported by the Vulgate; the true version being, "I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment," where, by "the king," is meant Jehovah, who was, in a peculiar sense, the king of the Israelites; consequently, the words contain an exhortation to reverence and obey God.

XII. Obj. "The book contains assertions inconsistent with the wisdom of Solomon; as, for example, that death is better than life; (ch. iv. 2;) that the creatures of God are vain; (ch. i. 2, &c. ;) that nothing is preferable to eating, and drinking, and enjoying the pleasures of this world; (ch. ii. 24, iii. 12, 13, 22, v. 18, viii. 15, ix. 7, xi. 9;) that man

* Huet, Demonst. Evangel. prop. iv. p. 248. See the following note on chap. viii. 2.

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hath no advantage over the beasts: (ch. iii. 18, 19:) and some parts are contradictory to each other, as ch. iii. 19, compared with ch. xii, 7, which can scarcely be accounted for, on the supposition of its being the work of one man, much less of so wise a man as Solomon."* This objection is built upon a misconception of the scope and meaning of the book; it is unnecessary, however, to examine, at present, the particular passages referred to, as the following paraphrase and notes, it is confidently believed, will convince the attentive reader, that no real contradictions exist, nor a single sentence which militates against its divine authority. When the design of the author is considered, and the chain of reasoning is attended to, every part appears consistent, harmonious, and admirable; the argument is sound, the sentiments pious, the observations highly valuable, the subject most important, and the effect of the whole is to excite frail man to the love, and study, and practice of celestial wisdom.

XIII. Obj. "The writer describes himself as richer than all those who were before him in Jerusalem (ch. ii. 7.) Now a king can only compare himself with kings, for it would be degrading to draw a parallel between himself and private

* Jerom, in Eccles. 12, 13. Bauer, Hermeneut. Sucru, § 64. Voltaire, Philosoph. Dict. art. Solomon; and other writers.


men; but how could Solomon speak of many, when David was the first who placed in Jerusalem the throne of the Hebrew empire? The author of the Ecclesiastes, therefore, lived in a later age. Solomon however might, without derogation, compare himself with foreign kings, as such a comparison is made by the sacred historian; (1 Kings x.23;) and there are grounds for believing, that many princes actually reigned in Jerusalem previous to the Israelitish monarchs. Jerusalem is, probably, the same city which is called Salem, where Melchisedeck was king; and, before its subjugation by David, it was in the possession of the Jebusites, (Joshua xv. 8, 63; Judges i. 21,) who certainly were ruled by supreme governors, or kings, for express mention is made of one who was both a Jebusite and a king (2 Sam. xxiv. 18, 22.) Nor is it easy to discover what indignity it could be, supposing Solomon merely wished to draw a parallel between himself and persons of inferior rank. Would not his wealth and magnificence be the more apparent from the contrast? Nay, is there not a peculiar fitness in the observation, that he had wealth and possessions above all before him in Jerusalem, when we consider the superb mansions he built, the magnitude and splendour of the temple he erected, the brilliancy of his court, the state and royal luxury which

* Eichhorn, Einleitung, § 658.

surrounded him? With equal propriety he might describe himself as having gotten more wisdom than all who had been before him in Jerusalem, (ch. i. 16,) since the fame of his knowledge had spread throughout every adjoining realm. Both passages, indeed, are so evidently in character, and so suitable to the circumstances of the wise monarch, that they in no small degree confirm the opinion which attributes this production to Solomon.

XIV. Obj. "The expressions, ' of making many books there is no end,' and much study is a weariness of the flesh,' (ch. xii. 12,) are incompatible with the character and circumstances of the Solomonic age, in which the existence of many books, or of a prevailing inclination to study, cannot be supposed."* Eichhorn, by whom the objection is advanced, supplies the answer himself, in observing, that, "under Solomon, when the Hebrews arrived at a period to enjoy their late victories, such wisdom as this book teaches might have gained a foundation;" for, in that case, many would addict themselves to speculation, the result of which would be a gradually increasing number of publications. It is consonant with reason to suppose, that many books actually existed at the period of which we are speaking. It was an age

* Eichhorn, ibid.

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of internal peace and tranquillity, when the arts that contribute to the elegance and refinement of society were greatly improved; circumstances extremely favourable to the cultivation of literature. The monarch himself was, for these times, a voluminous author; and this bright example of royal ardour in the cause of letters would be eagerly followed by many who neither possessed his wisdom, nor his inspiration.

Yet it is very doubtful, whether the words of the preacher above quoted really imply the multiplication of books in that age. It is, in my judgment, more natural to interpret them of the possibility of writing innumerable books upon the topics discoursed upon in this treatise of the royal philosopher, and yet with little utility, since all important truths relating to them may be comprehended within narrow limits. Or the observation may be meant comparatively, namely, read and meditate in the pages of inspiration more than in books of mere human composition, which may be multiplied without end, and of which an over-anxious stu wearies and impairs the bodily powers.

Such are the chief reasons which have been brought forward against ascribing the Ecclesiastes to Solomon; and they are manifestly far from overthrowing the evidence adduced for its being the genuine production of that monarch.

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