Vanity of vanities, yes, all is vanity

Ecclesiastes 1:1-15

In the book of Ecclesiastes, or The Preacher, Solomon has left us his own biography, the progress of a seeker after pleasure, the history of Solomon the prodigal, written by Solomon the preacher. He gives us in the first chapter not only the preface of the book, but the keynote of its sad contents, for it has well been styled the saddest book in all the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Thus speaks Solomon the sage, but we love better to hear the voice of Solomon the saint, for he said, “Thy love is better than wine. He brought me into his banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love.” How dark are the forbidden ways! How sweet the roads of holy fellowship!

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

“As much as if he said, It is all a weary go-round. This system of things is a perpetual self-repetition—quite sickening. One generation goes, another comes. The sun rises, and the sun goes down. That was what the sun did yesterday, and what I expect it will do to-morrow. The wind blows north, and the wind blows south; and this is all it has been doing for these thousand years. The rivers run into the sea, and it would be some relief to find that sea growing fuller; to perceive the clear waters wetting the dry shingle, and brimming up to the green fields, and floating the boats and fishes up into the forest: but even that inconvenient novelty is denied us; for though the rill and many a river have been tumbling many a world of water into it, this tide will not overstep its margin; the flood still bulges, but still refuses to cross its bounds. Words themselves are weariness, and it would tire us to enumerate those everlasting mutations and busy uniformities which make up this endless screw of existence. There are no novelties, no wonders, no discoveries. This universe does not yield an eye-full, or an arm-full to it’s occupant. The present only repeats the past, the future will repeat them both. The inventions of to-day are the forgotten arts of yesterday, and our children will forget our wisdom, only to have the pleasure of fishing up, as new prodigies, our obsolete truisms. There is no new thing under the sun, yet no repose. Perpetual functions and transient objects—permanent combinations, yet shifting atoms—sameness, yet incessant change, make up the monotonous medley. Woes me for this weary world!”

Ecclesiastes 1:13

Solomon began by seeking the Supreme Felicity in knowledge, but the quest was vain. Had he laboured to know Christ he would have found that knowledge a fountain of delight;

 

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