Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.…
I. THE PROSPERITY OF THE UNGODLY, WHICH THE GOOD MAN IS GRIEVED AT SEEING, IS A MERE ILLUSION OF FANCY, when no such thing as happiness doth really attend them. The emptiness of worldly good, and its utter insufficiency to answer the endless cravings of our several desires, betray themselves in nothing more, than in that general imagination which seems to haunt all orders of men amongst us, that if they had somewhat which they have not, somewhat which they see others have, and fancy themselves to want, all would be well and easy with them; when yet those others are not more easy than themselves, but are teased with the same incurable imagination, the same dissatisfaction for want of somewhat which they have not, or for some unpleasing circumstance in what they have, which spoils their relish of all the entertainment they can find in life.
II. DIVERS CONSIDERATIONS, WHICH MAY CLEAR THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD FROM ALL REPROACH AND MISCONSTRUCTION IN IT.
1. It is fit and reasonable that some room should he left for the operations of faith, for the trials of virtue, and for liberty of action; all which ends would be defeated if the punishment of sin did in every instance immediately attend it.
2. Without such an interposal from the hand of Providence, as, for the reasons just given, would be improper and inconvenient, the sinner must and will have his chances in the scramble of life, must and will secure to himself more than a common share in the felicities of fortune.
3. Our present state is designed not so much for retribution as for trial; and consequently what best answers to the latter purpose is the fittest portion for us. Now, the ends of trial may be consulted as effectually in a station of prosperity as in a post of adversity; since each hath its proper temptations cleaving to it, which, upon proof, may exemplify the firmness or weakness of our several virtues. And in all reason and decency it ought to be presumed that the great Searcher of hearts is the fittest judge which of the two conditions is most likely to approve them.
4. It follows, as a certain consequence from the promiscuous distribution of adversity and prosperity in this present life, that there must and will be a life beyond it, in which the righteousness of our holy Judge will perfectly clear up the honour of His government, and signalize His never-failing regard to His laws.
(N. Marshall, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.