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Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at

Ecclesiastes Chapter 4

Ecclesiastes 4:1

ecc 4:1

I returned - I considered again. Oppressions - Whether by princes, magistrates, or other potent persons. No comforter - None afforded them pity or succour. But they, &c. - No comfort therein.

Ecclesiastes 4:2

ecc 4:2

I praised - I judged them less miserable. For this is certain, that setting aside the future life, which Solomon doth not meddle with in the present debate; and considering the uncertainty, and vanity, and manifold calamities of the present life, a wise man would not account it worth his while to live.

Ecclesiastes 4:3

ecc 4:3

Better is he - Who was never born. Not seen - Not felt: for as seeing good is put for enjoying it, so seeing evil is put for suffering it.

Ecclesiastes 4:4

ecc 4:4

Right work - All the worthy designs of virtuous men. Envied - Instead of honour, he meets with envy and obloquy.

Ecclesiastes 4:5

ecc 4:5

The fool - Is careless and idle: perceiving that diligence is attended with envy, he runs into the other extreme. Eateth - Wastes his substance, and brings himself to poverty, whereby his very flesh pines away for want of bread.

Ecclesiastes 4:6

ecc 4:6

Better - These are the words of the sluggard, making this apology for his idleness, That his little with ease, is better than great riches got with much trouble.

Ecclesiastes 4:8

ecc 4:8

Alone - Who has none but himself to care for. Brother - To whom he may leave his vast estate. Yet - He lives in perpetual restlessness and toil. For whom - Having no kindred to enjoy it. And bereave - Deny myself those comforts and conveniences which God hath allowed me? A sore travel - A dreadful judgment, as well as a great sin.

Ecclesiastes 4:9

ecc 4:9

Two - Who live together in any kind of society. Because - Both have great benefit by such conjunction, whereby they support, encourage, and strengthen one another.

Ecclesiastes 4:10

ecc 4:10

They - One of them. Fall - Into any mistake, or sin, or danger.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

ecc 4:12

Prevail - Against either of them.

Ecclesiastes 4:13

ecc 4:13

Better - More happy. Now he proceeds to another vanity, That of honour and power. Than a king - Who hath neither wisdom to govern himself, nor to receive the counsels of wiser men.

Ecclesiastes 4:14

ecc 4:14

For he - The poor and wise child is often advanced to the highest dignity. Whereas - That old king is deprived of his kingdom.

Ecclesiastes 4:15

ecc 4:15

I considered - The general disposition of common people, in all kingdoms, that they are fickle and inconstant. With the second child - This may be understood of the king's child, or son and heir, called second, in respect of his father, whose successor he is. Stand up - Arise to reign.

Ecclesiastes 4:16

ecc 4:16

No end - This humour of the common people hath no end, but passes from one generation to another. Before them - Before the present generation. And so here are three generations of people noted, the authors of the present change, and their parents, and their children; and all are observed to have the same inclinations. In him - They shall be as weary of the successor, though a wise and worthy prince, as their parents were of his foolish predecessor.

Next: Ecclesiastes Chapter 5