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John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
on the Whole Bible

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Chapter 4

Chapter Overview

The misery of the oppressed and the oppressor, verse 1-3.
Of being envied, which occasions sloth in others, verse 4-6.
The folly of hoarding up wealth, verse 7, 8.
The benefit of society, verse 9-12.
The mutability even of the royal dignity, thro' the foolishness of the prince, and the fickleness of the people verse 13-16.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 4
Right work - All the worthy designs of virtuous men. Envied - Instead of honour, he meets with envy and obloquy.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 10
They - One of them. Fall - Into any mistake, or sin, or danger.

Verse 12
Prevail - Against either of them.

Verse 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.

Verse 14
For he - The poor and wise child is often advanced to the highest dignity. Whereas - That old king is deprived of his kingdom.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
on the Whole Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/wen/view.cgi?book=ec&chapter=004>. 1765.  

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