An appendix to the critical dissertation on the book of Job : giving a farther account of the book of Ecclesiastes : to which is added, a reply to some notes of the late D--n of B----l, in his new edition of the divine legation, &c. Vol. II, part II /by the author of the critical dissertation online

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Online LibraryUnknownAn appendix to the critical dissertation on the book of Job : giving a farther account of the book of Ecclesiastes : to which is added, a reply to some notes of the late D--n of B----l, in his new edition of the divine legation, &c. Vol. II, part II /by the author of the critical dissertation → online text (page 1 of 5)
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Critical Diflertation



Giving a farther Account of the


To which is added>

A R E P L Y to fome NOTES of the late

D n of B 1, in his new Edition

of the DIVINE LEGATION, &c. Vol. II.
Part II.

By the Author of the CRITICAL DISSERTATION. ade

' J rr>.


Printed for W. JOHNSTON, in Ludgate-Street ; and P. DAVE*

and B. LAW, in Ave-Mary. Lane.





W N the Preface to the Critical Difiertation on the
Book of Job, I have endeavoured to fix the moft
JL likely time for the admiffion of that Book into
the canon of holy Scripture ; viz. in the reign of
Hezekiah, king of Judah. At which time the book
of Proverbs was revifed, and a new addition made to
it from king Solomon's remains, by the men of He-
zekiah (as they are called, Prov. xxv. i . *) or cer-
tain perfons commifiloned by this good king for that
purpofe. Amongft whom we have reafon to conclude
that the prophet Ifaiah, or fome other eminent Pro-
phet of that time, muft have been admitted, and ap-
pointed to fuperintend,_direct, and give the proper
fanction to the whole r as it appears from the Scrip-
ture- hi (lory, that no book could be received into the
number of thofe which were reputed facred or canoni-
cal, but by a Prophetical authority.

That the two other books of Solomon were at the
fame time added to the canon ; as alfo another, which,
for the reafons there given, I fuppofe to be the Book

* Prov. xxv. i . Thefe are alfo Proverbs of Solomon, which the
zaea of Hezelu'ah, king of Judah, copied out.

4 APPENDIX to the Critical "Dijfertation

of Job ; I have likewife endeavoured to mew pro-
bable, from a remarkable fymbol to be found amongft
the ancient traditions of the Jews, and preferved in
the Talmud. The reader, who defires to fee the ar-
gument at large, may confult the Preface.

But having there obferved, that what is told us,
Prov. xxv. gives a ftrong confirmation, a fort of
fcripture-teftimony to the tradition conveyed by this
fymbo!, I proceed thus :

" There is a ftill further confirmation of it to be
" had from the book of Ecclefiaftes, which might
* 6 well deferve to be enlarged on, would the limits of
" this Preface allow it. For if we may judge from
" internal characters, (and we have no other light to
*' go by where hiftory is filent, and the opinions of
" the learned are fo various) I think it will appear
" probable to thofe who confider the matter with at-
" tendon, that this furprizing book called Eccle-
" fiaftes, or the Preacher, and delivered to us in the
" form ofafermon, is indeed a fermon preached by
" Solomon, but long after his death. I mean, that
" it was compofed out of Solomon's remains, and
" had this form and title given to it by thofe that
" were appointed to revife and publim them. A-
" mongft whom the prophet Ifaiah, if I miftake not,
'? hath left us a little mark of his own hand-writing,
" at the conclufipn of the book, for thofe who are
'* capable judges of it. *"

This may feem ftrange to thofe who have not been
ufed to (Indies and refearches of this kind. But
though both Jews and Chriftians agree in the main
concerning the canon of the Old Teftament, and the
facred authority of every book : I mean, of all thofe
that are received by Proteftants, (for the Romanics
add feveral of thofe we call Apocryphal to the num-
ber ; to which their beft writers however give the mo-
deft title of Deutero- canonical) yet the learned both
of Jews and Chriftians know, that fome circumftances
relating to thefe books, or fome pf them, fuch as the

* Pref. p. 4i,4tc A p. 59, 8vo.


on the Bock of J O B. 5

time when, or by whom they were written or compi-
led, when they were received into the canon, and the
like ; are left as matters undetermined ; and concer-
ning which, as we have no authentic hiftory to inform
us, the beft lights we can have mufl be fetched from
the books themfelves.

And here comes in the ufe of a fkill in the lan-
guages, grammar, criticifm, &c. together with a
happy genius, and a foberand well-poiled judgment,
not lightly carried away with an affectation of no-
velty, nor yet too fervilely reding in the opinions or
authority of thofe who have gone before him. Indeed
he that mould incline to do this laft, will fcarce know
where to fix : fo .wide is the difference upon thefe
points of learned men amongft themfelves. His
greateft caution therefore mould be to avoid the other
extreme ; to examine the originals with care ; and to
beware, above all, not to put a force upon the facrcd
text, merely for the pleafure or the vanity of extract-
ing from it fomething new.

With this difpofition and caution, I apprehend that
whoever has applied his fludies this way, may have
liberty to offer a conjecture, and fubmit it to the
judgment of the learned : as I now do this relating to
the book of Ecclefiaftes.

The fubject of the book, though it may feem a
paradox to the gay or bufy world, is neverthelefs
the moft interesting and important, viz. The vanity
of human life, with all its cares and toils, refearches*
pleafures, and purfuits ^-when feparated from religion,
or the fear of God, and the obfervance of his laws.

For with this temperament or reflection mufr we
underfland it ; as appears from the conclufion of the
book, as well as from what is intimated cccafionally
in feveral places. And as we have here a fine picture
of the things that are done under the fun, drawn from
the exacted obfervation and experience : fo a divine
providence is all along fuppofed, God's infpecting the
affairs of men afTerted, the fear of him inculcated,
and the certainty of a future judgment, if not plainly
A 3 declared,

6 APPENDIX to tie Critical Differ tat ion

declared, yet fairly argued and implied. So that
fcarce any one, befide Le Clerc, hath fcrupled to ac-
knowledge the two laft verfes to be a fort of recapitu-
lation, (as Jerome calls it) of the whole ; or a con-
clufion naturally following from what had been dif-

But this important fubjeclt is handled in a fermon
r popular oration : and it is this that gives it the
title of Ecclefiaftes, or the Preacher. And as the
firft words are as the text to the fermon, " Vanity of
" vanities, faith the preacher, vanity of vanities, all
" is vanity :" fo it concludes with the fame words
with which it begun (chap. xii. 8.) " Vanity of va-
44 nities, faith the preacher, all is vanity."

For the few verfes that follow, are plainly an ad-
dition made to it by the editors of this difcourfe, (as
I have briefly obferved in the preface to the Critical
DifTertation) giving fome account of the preacher
and his wifdorrr, ver. 9, 10. Of themfelves the col-
ledtors of his writings or his fayings, ver. 1 1 . Of the
caution with which books are to be ufed, ver. 12. And
the drift or defign of this fermon before us, in the laft
two verfes. " Let us hear the conclusion of the
" whole matter, Fear God," &c.

So that it can fcarce be doubted, but that this is in
the nature of an Epilogus, added by thofe who had
the revifal and the publifhing of this book of Solo-
mon's : and who could thefe be, but the fame that
revifed his book of Proverbs ?

But let us proceed to a farther confideration of this
extraordinary book.

There is fomething in the tide of it, which is very
^enigmatical, " The words of the preacher, the fon

" of David, king of Jerufalem." But the word

for Preacher (viz. koheleth) is fceminine. And yet
it appears plain, that Solomon is here the preacher or
the preacherefs. And this hath greatly embarraffed
the interpreters and commentators.

Le Clerc fuppofes wifdom (hi the Hebrew, choc-
rnah, fcem.) to be luere intended as the fpeaker -, be-


en t'be Brtk ef j O B. 'f

caufe me is introduced in the book of Proverbs as
fpeaking in the publick places or afiemblies, But he
might have recollected, that (he is not there con-
founded with Solomon himfelf, which muft be the
cafe here*, He gets over the firft verfe however pretty
well, by inferring the word fepber, book* " The
*' words of the preacherefs, the book of Solomon, 3 *
" &c. But when he comes to ven 12. " I the ko-
" heleth was king over Ifrael in Jerufalem," he is
hard put to it, and tranflates it, ego qui concionatri-
cem fapientiam fcripfi fui rex Ifraelis, &c. " I who
" wrote the preacherefs wifdomwas king over Ifrael."
He Ihould have faid the book called fo : but this
would have made the fupplement longer flill, which
is too large as it is ; for any thing may be proved in
this way, if it were allowable to fupply or add what
you pleafe.

It is ftrange that one who is fo over fcrupulous
upon fome other occafions, mould be fo pofitive here.
Without doubt, fays he, this muft be the meaning
rem expreflimus quse verbis, ani koheleth, fine dubio

But have we two preachers here or one ? Is it Wif-
dom, or is it Solomon that gives us thefe inftructive
leffbns ? If Solomon, it agrees to him throughout.
If Wifdom, it is impomble to find any fuch con-
gruity. Wifdom, for example, could never fay,
" I fought in my heart to give myfelf to wine and
" to lay hold on folly," &c. chap* ii. 3. Nay where
the words, faith the preacher, are repeated^ it is not
always poifible to apply them to Wifdom, as her
words. And yet this commentator, without fcruple
does fo. For inftance, chap. vii. 27. Vide hoc inveni^
inquit fapientia concionabunda, fmgulas mulieres
perfcrutata, &c But certainly Wifdom never put
Solomon upon making this dangerous experiment. It
was his own great folly, and the fource of all his mif*
conduct in his later years.

This notion however was not peculiar to Le Clero.

Mercier before him had the fame conjecture. But not

A 4 teing

8 APPENDIX to tie Critical DiJJertation

being over- well fatisfiect with it, he gives another ;
wherein he had almoft hit the mark without being
aware of it. " IfWifdom (fays he) that is, the Wif-
* c dom of Solomon, be not here meant ; yet certain-
" ly the foul of Solomon may, the principal part of
" the man : and this comes to the fame thing" *.

But could not this learned man have gone one ftep
farther, and fuppofed the foul of Solomon in his fe-
parate ftate to be here introduced as the preacher,
and that the good leflbns given in this book muft
ftrike with a peculiar force, when taken in this
light ?

This, in mort, clears up the whole myflery of this
title. It is Solomon fubfifting in his feparate foul or
fpirit (the nephelh or ruach, both which are foemi-
nine, and fo agree with the title koheleth) that is here
reprefented as the fpeaker.

Nor is there any room to doubt, but that he fpeaks
to us, for the moft part, in his own words. For fo
wife a man as Solomon muft have made many a cool
remark upon the vanity of his own pleafures, even
while he was purfuing them. I believe there is fcarce-
ly a man of fenfe, but does the fame.

The aphorifms and reflections which we meet with
here, then, are Solomon's. And the work of the
collectors was only to form them into fuch a book as
this, and fo give it the title of a publick fermon or
oration ; (dibre koheleth, the words of the preacher)
wherein this wile king is reprefented as ftill Ipeaking
to his people, and instructing them after his death.

Something of this kind feems to be not obfcurely
hinted to us by the editors themfelves (chap. xii. 9.)
" And moreover becaufe the preacher was wife*' (fay
they) Jtod limmed adhuc docuit " he hath hitherto
" taught (and mail ftill continue to teach,) his peo-
" pie knowledge." You have been long inftrucled

* Dicendum hie fapientine qua: in ipfo Solomrne erat, rationem
haberi vel certe animae ipfius Solomonis, qua; in homine prcecipuas
partfs tenec : qnod eodem rccidit. Mtrc. in Ecclef. cap. i .


on the Book of J O B. 9

by his book of Proverbs. And we new give you another
book, compofed out of what we have found among
his writings. We have put it into the form of a fer-
mon for you, that you may be the more affected with
it as you read , and you are to receive it* as if you
heard him fpeaking to you himfelf ; and proclaiming
from his own experience the vanity of all things undef
the fun of all that fplendor and magnificence for
which he had been formerly admired of all the
pleafures he had enjoyed nay, and of all the re-
fearches he had made after wifdom and knowledge,
confidered as matter of curiofity or amufement only ;

and if they ferved to no religious purpofe In

(hort, that there is no true good for man to be found
beneath the fun, " all the days of his vain life which
*' he fpendeth as a fhadow :" unlefs the mind be fo-
lidly fixed on the great author of our beings, who
made the world and governs it ; and the observance
of whole laws therefore muft needs be the true, the
onl ycertain way to happinefs.

Taking the thing in this light, it clears off all that
mift wherein the learned have found themfelyes invol-
ved, when they would endeavour to fix the time for
Solomon's writing fuch a book as this: Some fup-
pofmg it to have been written after his great defection
in his later years, when he had feen his errors and re-
pented of them. But there is nothing faid of this re-
pentance in the fcripture hiftory : and what is more,
there is not the lead hint of it given us in this book
of Ecclefmftes ; which -there certainly would, had it
been in the nature of~a recantation-fermon, as fome
confider it, and publifhed in his life-time. Others
fuppofe it to have been written before his defection.
But there are many pafTages in the book, that are not
to be reconciled with this notion. For it appears that
he had gone through his whole round of pleafures ;
had tried what enjoyment was to be had in a courfe
of madnefs and folly, as well as of wifdom and fo-
briety , and we have here the refult of his dear bought


io APPENDIX to the Critical Differtation.

experience, particularly towards the conclufion of
chap. vii.

But there are feveral other marks to convince us,
that this was a fermon preached by Solomon long
after his death.

It is obfervable that he fpeaks of himfelf as of one
that had formerly exilted, and had reigned in Jeru-
falem, chap. i. 12. Ani koheleth hajithi melee, &c.
I the preacher was king over Ifrael in Jerufalem. An
expreffion that cannot be underflood with any pro-
priety of one that was (till reigning.

He often tells us of the things that he had feen done
under the fun. A phrafe of fpeech the more remarkable,
as it occurs near thirty times in this little book, and
no where elfe in all the Bible. And no wonder, fince
it exactly fuits the ftate of one who had been removed
from the bufy fcene of this world, and whofe fun
was now gone down upon him.

And what a beautiful admonition is given us upon
this fubject, and how aptly does it come from Solo-
mon in the ftate wherein we now fuppofe him. EC-
clef. xi. 7, 8. " Truly the light is fweet, and, a
" pleafant thing it is for the eyes to behold the fun.
" But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them
*' all ; yet let him remember the days of darknefs,
" for they fliall be many. Every thing that lets is
" vanity."

This is the literal rendering of the laft words, Col
Jhe-ba hcbel, omne quod occidit vanitas. And it is
flrange the interpreters mould miftake the meaning
here, where the light of the fun is fpoken of; for it
is the very word, that is always ufed for its fetting.
Zarach ha-fhemefh, u-ba-ha-memefh , the fun riles
and the fun fets fays this fame wile man, chap. i. 5.
of this book. As our preiVnt life is paffed under the
fan, fo the invifible ftate that muft fucceed it, is here
called days of darknefs. Had this been a ftate of utter
extinction, or even infenfibility, thofe days which
the wife man bids us remember, would not be worth
remembering , for they would be abfolutely nothing,


on tit Book of J O B. 1 1

and vanity in the drifted fenfe. But if " every thing
** that fets is vanity ," and thofe days are not fo ;
then their importance mud be greatly heightened by
this circumftance of their duration.

Well therefore might Solomon now call the days
which he himfelf had pafled under the fun, and
wherein he had rivalled the fun itfelf (as it were) in
its meridian fplendor, the days of his vanity. " All
" things have I feen (fays he) in the days of my va-
" nity:" * And who but would hearken to fuch a
preacher as this, who had tried all things for him to
his coft , and bids him be wife and happy in a cheaper
way ? But I muft not dwell here.

There is another little mark, which feems to mew
that thefe are obfervations and reflections left by So-
lomon, and put into this form by the collectors.
And that is, that we have here feveral detached fen-
tences -f very instructive in themfelves, but which do
not appear to have any great relation to the main fub-
ject of the book, nor any vifible connection with
what went immediately before or after. Thefe then
it is reafonable to fuppofe, might be placed here for
their excellency, and merely with an intention to pre-
ferve them.

However, the vanity of human life, which is the
main fubject of the book, is fhewn in a great variety
of inftances, with an intent to fix the hearts of men
upon that only true remedy for it, that only folid
good, which is to be had in the ways of religion and
virtue. ?V"

There is yet another particular of fome moment,
which is cleared up to us by taking the book in this
light ; and that is, the referve with which a future
date is here fpoken of. For furely it would have
been very wrong to have made Solomon give any de-
fcription of the condition of fouls in the other world,
fince it is left as a thing uncertain what was his own
date there. Bifhop Patrick has a pious reflection
upon this fubject well worth the confidering, Com.

* Ecclef. vii. 16. f See chap, vii, chap. ix. chap. x.


12 APPENDIX to the Critical Differ tation
on i Kings, chap. xi. ver. ult. CalmettoofinhisDicT:*-
on the word Ecclefiaftes) tells us, " Some have made
" a queftion whether Solomon be faved : and his re-
** pentance is ftill at this day a problem in the church. ji

He might, or he might not repent.- The book
before us will ftill retain the fame inftructive leffons
of the vanity of human life, and afford the fame con-
vincing arguments to others to repent.

For though there be nothing faid in particular, or
to gratify the curious, of the nature of the future ftate
either of reward or punifhment ; yet there is enough
faid in the general, to fatisfy us of the reality of fuch
a ftate : nay, (I think) as fair a demonftration of it
given us, as human reafon can form. The certainty
and exadnefs of a divine judgment is aflerted fuch a
judgment here in this life is denied. Let any one re-
concile thefe two things if they can, without conclud-
ing for a future judgment. God's difpenfations to the
righteous and the wicked here in this life, are repre-
fented as oftentimes promifcuous, indifcriminate, nay
fo as that it fometimes fares worfe with the good than
with the bad. Neverthelefs the fear of God and keep-
ing his commandments is declared to be, at all events,
thefafe, the wife, the happy courfe ; and impiety and
wickednefs the contrary.

" Whofo keepeth the commandment (faith this
" wife man) Ihall feel no evil thing: and a wife
" man's heart difcerneth both time and judgment,
" Becaufe to every purpofe there is time and judg-
ment." *

If ever the point of wifdom was fixed rightly, it
is here, in comparing the opportunity of doing things
with the judgment that muft follow them when done :
a divine judgment long delayed indeed fometimes for
wife and gracious purpofes, but in the ifTue certain
and inevitable.

What follows feems to (hew, that this judgment
is to be expected after death.

* Ecclef. viii. 5, 6.

i< There-

en tie book of J O B. 13

' c Therefore the mifery of man is great upon him ;
** for he knoweth not that which fhall be, for who
f< can tell him when it fhall be ? There is no man
*' that hath power over the fpirit, to retain the fpirit}
*' neither hath he power in the day of death : and
ft there is no difcharge in that war, neither lhall
* c wickednefs deliver thofe that are given to it."*

Therefore the mifery, or the wickednefs of man
(for the word rayath fignifies both) is great, becaufe
this judgment of God js a thing future, and the time
when it lhall come uncertain or unknown. Never-
verthelefs death will come, and then, if not before,
muft come the judgment: nor will all the power of
man, or the wickednefs of man, be able to prevent it.
This feems the plain and natural interpretation of this

It is evident that the judgment here intended, muft
be either death itfelf, or ibmething after death. Now
though death may fometimes fall upon a wicked un-s
prepared wretch with all the terrors of an execution :
yet as it is the common lot of all, it cannot be confi-
dered in itfelf as a difcriminating judgment ; and there-
fore fomething after death muft needs be meant. And
when we are fo often and exprefsly told in this book,
that to every purpofe there is time and judgment,-]-
that " God fhall judge the righteous and the wick-
" ed. ? 'J " Know, thou that for all thefe things God

" fhaJl bring thee into judgment." || And at the

elofe of all, that at the great moment of the difib-
lution of foul and body, when " the duft fhall return
*' to the earth as it was, the fpirit fhall return to
" (this great Judge, to) God who gave it." Can
any one be fo weak, as to fuppofe, that by return-
Ing to God was meant, that it mall vanifh into the
foft air ; and not rather, that it muft return to give
account of the things done in the body, whether the
man hath lived up to that law which God hath given
him ?

* Ecclef. viii. 6 -8. f Chap. viii. 6. J Chap. iii. 17,
ijChap.xi. 9. Ch.xii, 7.


if4 APPENDIX to the Critical Differtation

His time of life, is emphatically called (Ecclef.
viii. 15.) " the days of his life, which God hatb
" given him under the fun." And if thofe days have
been employed fuitably to the defign of the giver, he
will return to him, no doubt, with great hope and
comfort. Jf otherwife The greateft fceptic of them
all (for this, it feems, is the fafhionable phi'ofophy
among us) might do well to think what a hazard he
muft run. Even a habit of gaming, as much as it
may tend to induce a habit of infenfibility, will
fcarce prepare men, when the fatal hour mail come>
to bear the mock of this dreadful chance.

I have made fo much ufe of this book of Ecclefiaf-
tes in the Critical DifTertation (Part III. Seel:. XII.)
that this might well excufe me for endeavouring to fet
the book in its true light here. Much more when it is
confidered what a bad ufe hath been fometimes made
of it by rakes and libertines j who have miftaken
their own portrait drawn to be expofed, for the very
features and complexion of wifdom itfeif.

But it is time to proceed to the chief proof I inten-
ded, that thefe are obfervations of King Solomon,
put into this form by the revifors and editors of his
remains. This, I think, will appear from chap. xii. 1 1.
when well cleared up ; though it muft be owned that
the pafTage looks obfcure at firft, and in our tranQa-
tion is a mere riddle.

That we may the better find its meaning, and con-
nection with the context, it will be proper to confi-
der thefe fix laft verfes of the book (viz. from ver. 9.
to the I4th.) in their order.

Ver. 9. And moreover becaufe the preacher wa*
wife, yod limmed dayath eth ha-yam, he hath hi-
therto taught the people knowledge.

We can fcarce fuppofe this to have been faid by
Solomon hknfelf, much lefs by Solomon ftill living :
but it comes from the editors with great propriety.

Jt follows " Yea he gave good heed, and fought
t cu: (and) fet in order many proverbs." This plain-
}\ refers to his book of Proverb's : And the different


en the Book of J O B. 15

exprefiions here ufed,' fhew, that there is no necefilty
of fiippofing Solomon himfelf to have been the ori-
ginal author of all the fay ings in that book. It is
more reafonable to believe, that fome of them had
been tranfmitted down to him from the wife obferva-
tions of others ; but were fuch, as for their weight
and truth had recommended themfelves to his exqui-
fite judgment, and were therefore placed in this col-

And a very fine collection it is, take it in what
light you pleafe.-

1 3 4 5

Online LibraryUnknownAn appendix to the critical dissertation on the book of Job : giving a farther account of the book of Ecclesiastes : to which is added, a reply to some notes of the late D--n of B----l, in his new edition of the divine legation, &c. Vol. II, part II /by the author of the critical dissertation → online text (page 1 of 5)