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John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
on the Whole Bible

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Chapter 2

Chapter Overview

Solomon shews, that there is no true happiness to be had in mirth and the pleasures of sense, verse 1-11.
He considers wisdom again, and owns it to be an excellent thing, and yet insufficient to give happiness, verse 12-16.
He shews that business and wealth are only vanity and vexation of spirit, verse 17-23.
And that if there be any good therein, it is only to these who sit loose to them, verse 24-26.

Verse 1
I said - Being disappointed of my hopes from knowledge, I resolved to try another course. Go to - O my soul! I will try whether I cannot make thee happy, by the enjoyment of sensual delights. Vanity - Is vain, and unable to make men happy.

Verse 2
It is mad - This is an act of madness, more fit for fools who know nothing, than for wise men in this sinful, and dangerous, and deplorable state of mankind. What doth it - What good doth it? Or how can it make men happy? I challenge all the Epicures in the world to give me a solid answer.

Verse 3
To wine - To gratify myself with delicious meats and drinks. Yet - Yet resolving to use my wisdom, that I might try whether I could not arrive at satisfaction, by mixing wine and wisdom together. To lay hold - To pursue sensual pleasures, which was my folly. 'Till - 'Till I might find out the true way to contentment and satisfaction, during this mortal life.

Verse 6
The wood - The nurseries of young trees, which for the multitude of them were like a wood or forest.

Verse 8
Peculiar treasure - The greatest jewels and rarities of other kings, which they gave to me, either as a tribute, or by way of present. Of provinces - Which were imposed upon or presented by all the provinces of my dominions.

Verse 9
Great - In riches, and power, and glory. My wisdom remained - As yet I was not wholly seduced from God.

Verse 10
And - Whatsoever was grateful to my senses. Rejoiced - I had the comfort of all my labours, and was not hindered from the full enjoyment of them by sickness or war, or any other calamity. My portion - This present enjoyment of them, was all the benefit which I could expect from all my labours. So that I made the best of them.

Verse 11
Vexation - I found myself wholly dissatisfied. No profit - The pleasure was past, and I was never the better for it, but as empty as before.

Verse 12
I turned - Being frustrated of my hopes in pleasure, I returned to a second consideration of my first choice, to see whether there was not more satisfaction to be gotten from wisdom, than I discovered at my first view. Done - As by others, so especially by myself. They can make no new discoveries as to this point. They can make no more of the pleasures of sense than I have done. Let me then try once more, whether wisdom can give happiness.

Verse 13
I saw - I allowed thus much. Although wisdom is not sufficient to make men happy, yet it is of a far greater use than vain pleasures, or any other follies.

Verse 14
Head - In their proper place. He hath the use of his eyes and reason, and foresees, and so avoids many dangers and mischiefs. Yet - Notwithstanding this excellency of wisdom above folly, at last they both come to one end. Both are subject to the same calamities, and to death itself, which takes away all difference between them.

Verse 15
Why - What benefit have I by my wisdom?

Verse 16
For - Their memory, though it may flourish for a season, yet will in a little time be worn out; as we see it, most of the wise men of former ages, whose very names, together with all their monuments, are utterly lost. As the fool - He must die as certainly as the fool.

Verse 17
Life - My life was a burden to me. Is grievous - All human designs and works are so far from yielding me satisfaction, that the consideration of them increases my discontent.

Verse 18
All my labour - All these riches and buildings, and other fruits of my labour, were aggravations of my misery. Because - Because I must, and that everlastingly, leave them all behind me.

Verse 19
Or a fool - Who will undo all that I have done, and turn the effects of my wisdom into instruments of his folly. Some think he had such an opinion of Rehoboam.

Verse 20
Despair - I gave myself up to despair of ever reaping that satisfaction which I promised to myself.

Verse 21
Wisdom - Who uses great industry, and prudence, and justice too, in the use and management of his affairs. To a man - Who has spent his days in sloth and folly. A great evil - A great disorder in itself, and a great torment to a considering mind.

Verse 22
For what - What comfort or benefit remains to any man after this short and frail life is once ended?

Verse 23
Sorrows - Full of sorrows. Tho' he took great and unwearied pains all his days, yet the toils of his body were accompanied with vexation of mind. His heart - Because his sleep was broken with perplexing cares.

Verse 24
Enjoy - That he should thankfully take, and freely and chearfully enjoy the comforts which God gives him. It was - A singular gift of God.

Verse 25
More than I - Therefore he could best tell whether they were able of themselves, without God's special gift, to yield a man content, in the enjoying of them. Who can pursue them with more diligence, obtain them with more readiness, or embrace them with more greediness?

Verse 26
Wisdom - To direct him how to use his comforts aright; that so they may be blessings, and not curses to him. Joy - A thankful contented mind. To heap up - He giveth him up to insatiable desires, and wearisome labours, that he may leave it to others, yea to such as he least desired, to good and virtuous men.


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 2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
on the Whole Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/wen/view.cgi?book=ec&chapter=002>. 1765.  

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