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Monday, April 22nd, 2024
the Fourth Week after Easter
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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 7

Mylne's Commentary on EcclesiastesMylne on Ecclesiastes

Verses 1-29

"A good name is better than precious ointment." Ecclesiastes 7:1

Many who fear not God, nor care for man, think much of losing their good name. On moral principles, it is well it should be so; and, failing at higher rule of action, it is wholesome for society. It is so far well to have a name for moral worth — but will your character bear God’s inspection? That is the question. If your good name consists merely in human merit, I pity you, my friend. This will avail you nothing in the end. Has Christ said of you, "I will write upon him my new name?" (Revelation 3:12.) Is Christ the heart, the head, the substance of your character? Are His merits, your merits? His name, your only trust? His Cross and Blood, the rock on which you stand? His character, the ground of your acceptance with God?

And yet there is a character — "a good name;" the outward witness to the inward grace. "A good reputation among outsiders" is precious to God’s people; not for their own sake, but the Lords.

Beware of seeking a good name for anything but Christian truth. If the world speaks well of you, merely because you are kind, polite, and amiable — it is not a name worth having. Better, if so it happens, be reviled for the name of Christ, than to have praise of men for merely human merit. Plume not yourself upon your character. If it is good, the glory is not yours; then take not to yourself that which belongs to Jesus.

Oh, what a deceptive thing is flattery! The love of a fair name — how stealthily it works upon the soul! Some unwise friend commends you. You say, "Give God the glory; the gifts are His; so are the graces too; grieve not my soul by praising me." Your friend is hardly gone, wondering at your deep humility, when immediately vanity returns; you take the flattery to your soul; you take the praise you had rejected to yourself, and fall in love with your own character!

Simplicity! You lovely grace! How rare it is to find you! We all are actors, more or less, and play our part — thinking what men will say of us. A good name! Often it sickens one to think of it; how SELF has worshiped it; how SELF has suffered from it! My soul, beware! Glory in nothing but in the cross, the righteousness, and the name of Christ. Think not of SELF, nor of your own good name.

"The day of death, is better than the day of one’s birth!" Ecclesiastes 7:1

"This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" (John 6:60) Hard, yes, impossible to flesh and blood. It is spoken to the saints; and yet it is not every professing Christian who can accept it — so few have made their calling and election sure. My soul, you must plead guilty to the charge. Content with present privilege, you have not duly sought to realize the world to come. Shame be upon you, for thus despising your inheritance!

Reader, are you a child of God? If so, I charge you solemnly, halt not halfway between unbelief and glory. The work within you is imperfect, if you do not long for "the Kingdom." I mean not the desire to be done with sorrow, toil, and care; but the desire to be with Jesus — to have no cloud between you and His glory.

Some will tell you that the desire to depart, and be with Jesus, will unfit you for your active duties. This is a great mistake. Who ever longed for glory — and yet who ever acted up to duty, as did Jesus? Can you do better than walk in Jesus’ steps. Can you suggest a better rule? Believe me, nothing will strengthen you for trial, or set you free from love of earthly things; nothing will make you cool in danger, or wise in counsel; nothing make earthly comforts half so sweet, or lawful pleasures half so pleasing — as the desire to be with Jesus — the waiting until He beckons you to glory.

Can it be wrong to wish to be with Jesus — to long to see His face beyond all longing? Say, what is love without it? The love of Jesus! His love to you — your love for Jesus! This is the soul of godliness — the vital principle of Heaven. The more you love Him — the more will you long to be with Him. The more you love Him — the better will you now serve Him.

Some put away the thought of death — and fix the mind alone on Christ’s return. But is this scriptural, or apostolic? Paul earnestly desired Christ’s second coming, longing to see His glory — and yet he also longed for death. (Philippians 1:23.) Which is the better? To wait for Jesus in a world of sin? Or to be with Him now, and thus attend Him when He comes again? (1 Thessalonians 4:14.)

Should fear of death detain your longings here? Is it not always better to depart and be with Jesus?

Reader, what has your birth done for you? It brought you too to a world of sorrow, pain, infirmity, and sin. What will your death do for you? Which will to you be better — birth or death? Say, are you of the Preacher’s mind?

"It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting." Ecclesiastes 7:2

Not so! the worldling thinks. He shuns the house of woe. The darkened room — the solemn stillness — the very fact of death — disturbs him. The chastened looks, the swollen eye, the mourning garb — all have a message to his conscience. They speak to him of what he is not prepared for — the eternal world!

Oh! my soul, you can look back, and tell what a relief it was once to you, to escape such scenes, and find yourself again in haunts of vanity — then you could be at ease once more. But things are now altered for you. For now you find a pleasure in the house of woe, which you would not find in worldly merriment.

Why is it so? Is it a pleasure to hear the mourner’s sob, to see the tear, to listen to the tale of sad bereavement? Oh,

no! but it is a feast to you, because you feed there upon the Savior. He’s present with you in the house of mourning.

Often there you meet with all the saints, in all the fragrance of sanctified affliction — the stars of promise shining upon them in the night of sorrow. You gather light and fragrance to yourself in communing with them. Christ’s glory, seen on them, alights on you. Your soul is full with feasting upon Jesus.

But it is not always so. It is not in every house of woe, that faith and grace are found. In some, the name of Christ is neither named, nor welcomed. It is then your hands hang down; such visits pain you to the heart. Yet even then, the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. For Christ goes where you go — stays with you there — and when you come away, attends you still.

"Sorrow is better than laughter," the Preacher says (verse 3). When things are bright, and sorrow far away — the soul too often forgets that the world is vanity. The sight of sorrow and death . . .
reminds us that all is vanity;
lays bare our secret sin;

shows us at once our deep necessities, and their remedy in Jesus.

To weep with those who weep, in their frail humanity, to be reminded of our own transitoriness; to sympathize with sorrow, until the springs of woe are opened in ourselves — all this is good. It is better than a feast. The vessel of faith mounts on the flood of sympathy, bearing the soul to Jesus! The house of mourning is a blessing. It presents . . .
a void, which must be filled;
a sorrow, which must be comforted;

a corruption, which must be turned to glory.

It shuts us up to Christ — and is not that a feast?

"It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke, than to listen to the song of fools!" Ecclesiastes 7:5

None question this most wholesome truth; but few there are who cordially practice it themselves. "Let others be reproved; but, as for me, I cannot bear it." Thus speaks the human heart.

My soul, many are your infirmities, and none more humbling, than your dislike to receive reproof. Did I really believe myself as vile as I profess to be — would I become angry at hearing of my faults? I profess to be, "The least of saints — and the chief of sinners!" Such is a vain confession, if I am not prepared to welcome reproof! Oh, for more knowledge of myself; more of that chastened mind; more of that genuine humility which says, "Amen!" when SELF is justly censured.

Oh, what a hypocrite you are, my soul! Ready to feed upon the praise of others, and shine in imagined excellence — but how base, how beyond base, you are in reality! Oh, there is a majesty of soul; a greatness more than human — in welcoming reproof.

Music is sweet. Its cadences fall gently on the ear, and tune the heart to favor those who make it — and we thank them for their melody. Thus should you feel, when kindness prompts a friend to tell you of your faults. What can a friend do more than this? What could a friend require more of you? How grateful should you be to him, who wounds himself, in healing you — to him who is willing to bear your wrath — rather than allow you to go on in sin unchecked.

"A wise man’s rebuke." Who is the "wise man" here spoken of? He who is wise enough to be faithful. Do not say, "He is not entitled to reprove me. His youth, his station, or his character, unfit him for the office. He is too harsh in his reproofs!" Had you a thorn hurting some tender part, would any be too young, too low in rank — to draw it out? Or were you locked in prison, would any be too vile to turn the key, and give you liberty? The only question to be asked is this, "Has he, then, told the truth? Is this failing or sin really mine? Has he hit the nail upon the head?" If so, your thanks are due to him.

Even though he is mistaken, and charges you wrongfully — yet you should thank him for his good intentions.

Reader, is this saying hard to you? Well, so it is to me. Of myself I cannot bear it, and I say, "Alas! who is sufficient for these things?" Would you have this meek grace? I gladly would have it too. Then, what remains for you and I? To learn of Jesus — of Him, who did no wrong, yet meekly suffered (1 Peter 1:21-23) — to study Jesus — to hide ourselves in Jesus — that we, in some poor measure, may follow in His steps!

"The song of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:5

In nothing is character displayed, more than in the kind of music which satisfies the hearer. The songs of drunkards with their cups, bespeak the taste of those who sing them. The militaristic strain, the plaintive ditty, the flaunting ballad — speak for themselves; each tells the mind of him, whose choice they are.

The effect of music on the soul is most mysterious. The ear is pleased with it — but it knows not why. The heart responds instinctively, in cadences as measured as the melody which tunes its sympathy. It is not the sound alone; not the mere chain of notes, vocal, or instrumental; not the bare fact of melody, nor the harmonious blending of melody with melody. All this is purely physical — of itself it speaks no morality. It is that it finds within the bosom a secret, and responsive agency — a wondrous something which accords with it — a harmony of feeling between him who hears, and him who penned the melody.

This principle is native in the soul. With few exceptions, men cannot hear sweet sounds, and be insensible. Hence it exerts a wondrous agency for good — or evil. Tastes are imbibed, propensities encouraged, and habits formed, unconsciously it may be — yet most decidedly. Have you ever observed your mind while listening to a melody? Have you ever traced its after-tendencies in thought and feeling? Have you never found yourself more grave, or mirthful, more noisy, or more thoughtful, according to the sounds to which you have listened? I counsel you to trace these agencies of mind — to analyze your habits, tastes, and feelings — and, if you are given to music, to watch its bearing on your character.

In this, as in all your works, see how to most ensure the Savior’s presence. If sacred sounds attune to holy meditation — suggesting thoughts of better things — awaking sweet remembrances of Jesus, and thus disposing you to fellowship with God — say, has not other music an influence as real, in strict accordance with its character? See, then, I beg you, that your tastes lead not to folly in your melody. For surely, if your soul is injured, you are not wise to harbor it; it then becomes "the song of fools" to you.

"The end of a matter is better than its beginning." Ecclesiastes 7:8

Are all things better in their end, good things — as well as bad; things pleasant — and things painful. Is it alike with all? Is summer best, when ended? Time spent with choice companions — a walk with a bosom friend; are these, too, best when past and gone? Are parting sighs better than smiles at meeting?

The truth is this — all that man does is sinful; nothing passes through his hands without defilement, thus giving birth to sinful actions, thoughts, and tendencies. Thus all things human begin, and end, in sin; sin in the "blade;" sin in the "ear;" sin "in the full corn in the ear." Is not the end of sin, better than the beginning? Each sinner’s course is best when ended; a sinful life is closed, and God is glorified, in judgment or in grace — whatever the sinner’s end.

A sinful world will be far better in its end; for then God’s kingdom will appear, eternal righteousness come in, and sin and sorrow disappear forever.

Things pleasant bring temptation, and while they last, we are never armored against it; when they are ended, the danger is at an end, and this is better.

The Christian should esteem each evening better than the morning; for then there is one day less to come — of sin, of conflict, and temptation — one day the less between the soul and glory.

Say, Christian, would you consent to live your days again? Would you have the shadow to return upon your dial (Isaiah 38:8), even for an hour? Would you bring back your thoughts, your words, your actions? Would you have self dug up, even from the grave of yesterday — to gaze upon its doings? That is far from you, O my soul! All things to you are best, when ended. Whatever there was of pain, is gone. Whatever there was of pleasure, is replaced tenfold. While the thing lasted, pleasure was mixed with pain, enjoyment was marred by sin; but now the thing is gone, and you may be glad.

When all is gone, Jesus is left! All joy — no sorrow; all peace — and no temptation, left in Him! Then say, can you regret the end of times and seasons — the end of all that is sweet and tender, loving and refined? Is not the Preacher right? Is the beginning better than the end?

"Patience is better than pride." Ecclesiastes 7:8

Pride is the opposite of Patience. Man is impatient, since he is proud. Am I impatient with the ignorant — it is that I pride myself upon my knowledge. Am I out of patience with the uncultured — it is from the conceit of my own superior breeding. Many are proud — who think themselves humble. They make confession of their sins, or condescend to men of low degree — they think they are humble. But let vexations come — have they to bear reproof, to meet the faults, or ignorance of others, impatience tells the truth — they are proud, not humble.

Pride argues ignorance of SELF. Would you be humble?

Look at your own corruptions;
survey your features in the Scripture looking-glass;
consider well your own deformity;
study the failings of your character.

Ah! if you know your heart — none will appear so vile, so corrupt, so sinful, as yourself!

You will wonder then how men can bear with you, and not how you can bear with them.

Would you be humble? Think of the cross of Christ. What nailed him to the tree? The bloody sweat; the crown of thorns; the tears; the pains; the taunts; the buffetings; the piercing cry — what caused them all? Your sins! Christian, remember this — your sins! Can you feel this, and yet be proud?

Think of the pit, from which He snatched you!

Think of the price, at which He bought you!

Think of the grace, with which He clothes you!

Think of the bliss, with which He will crown you!

Say, can you think of this, and be proud!

Man prides himself on many things — his wit, his rank, his power, his moral goodness. For this he sets himself up as some model of perfection. But, oh! my soul, you have a pattern to consider — the God of patience! The more of patience, then, the more of God; the more of God — the more of glory, majesty, and greatness. The more impatience — the more of Satan, the more of all that’s vile.

"Do not be quick in spirit to be angry or vexed, for anger and vexation lodge in the bosom of fools!" Ecclesiastes 7:9

Of human passions, none is so quick as anger. Hence by a hasty one — we mean an angry person: thus man instinctively writes his own character in the words he frames. Satan, indwelling in the soul, invests the passions with an amazing power — and on the stock of fallen nature is engrafted the strength, agility, and cunning of the fiend! Hence all the quickness of the passions; hence the electric speed, at which they move. Temptation lures — then lust conceives — sin is brought forth — the work of moral death all finished in a moment!

Say, who can trace the progress, from the first thought of anger to its outbreak? Oh! my soul, I gaze on you and wonder, to think of all your properties and powers. Within you dwells a world of evil. Where lurks the poison in your veins? In what secret principle is hid the element of anger, ready to show itself so quickly? To see you, in your gentler mood — who could suppose you capable of violence? No tinder less inflammable, when free from sparks — no lake more calm, when undisturbed by winds — than you, when not exposed to provocation.

What angered you, my soul? Your brother differed from you! He dared to have opinions of his own! And so you lost your temper! Or, yet, someone reproved you, slighted, or contradicted you! "Behold, how great a matter, a little fire kindles." (James 3:5.) The smallest trifle sets you in a flame!

Do your brother’s failings anger you? You say, "My feelings are very sensitive; I cannot bear it." My friend, God bears with you! He sees your every sin — and yet He loves you, and bears with you! Boast not of sensitivity — it is a carnal thing. "Sensitive feeling" merits not the name, unless it is joined with meekness. All true refinement comes from God. Nowhere can it be learned, except at the cross of Christ. Restrain your feelings; smother your sensibilities. When words grow quick, be prompt to check them. Deal with your passions, as the Psalmist dealt with wicked men; be dumb with silence. (Psalms 39:1-2.)

Often have you said, "I will not speak a word." But resolution failed. You spoke — your brother answered; reply provoked retort — it was then all over with your meekness! Then learn from your experience; scan well the spot where once your feet have slipped, and, as you near it again, beware!

"Anger rests in the bosom of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9

God’s estimate of folly is different from man’s. In Scripture words:
the godless man is a fool (Psalms 14)
the base man is a fool (Job 30)
the rash man is a fool (Proverbs 14)
the slanderer is a fool (Proverbs 10)
the mocker is a fool (Proverbs 14)
the idolater is a fool (Romans 1)
the lover of pleasure is a fool (Ecclesiastes 7:4)
the undutiful man is a fool (Proverbs 15)
the self-confident man is a fool (Proverbs 28)
the spendthrift is a fool (Proverbs 21), and here,
the angry man is a fool (Job 5:2; Proverbs 14:17).

It must be so. God’s Word is ever right.

Wisdom is the opposite of folly. Wisdom, we know is peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated. Meekness itself is called wisdom — the wisdom from above (James 3.) — the wisdom of saints made perfect; the wisdom of God Himself.

Is meekness wisdom — then anger must be folly. Does not your own experience confirm it? When were you happy in your anger? A savage pleasure it may give you, while it lasts; but it leaves a sting behind!

Is it, then, wise to be unhappy, when you can have it otherwise? Is it wise to lose your temper, and thus reap anger’s bitter fruits? The heaving bosom; the flashing eye; the sharp contention; the sullen mind; the feeling of estrangement from each other; and conflicts between your duty and your moodiness, between pride and due confession of your fault — when did these make you happy? When did you come uninjured from your anger? Whom did you hurt the most — yourself, or him, with whom you lost your temper?

Does anger help you in your prayers? Can you draw near to Jesus in your wrath? Or if He visits you, how does He look on you? Can you return his look? Ah, no; you dare not look on Jesus in your folly. Say not, "I cannot help it." How often they are spoken wrongfully in sin and shame!

Meekness is wisdom; anger is folly. This we may learn from Moses’ history. When Moses walked in meekness, he was wise — for then he found favor with God, and dignity with man. (Numbers 12.) When he was angry, he proved his folly. For this he forfeited his entrance to the promised land. (Numbers 20; Deuteronomy 1:37.) My soul, this was written for your learning Then learn your lesson well.

"Do not say, ’Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions." Ecclesiastes 7:10

Such questions are not wise. They savor either of ignorance, or discontent. If former days really were better, then you are discontent — if not, then you are ignorant. At all events, days past, and present, are just what God has made them — so it is bad to raise the question. Faith takes matters as they come. Blind unbelief asks many questions; it often says, "Why!"

One says, "Trade was far better before I entered business — I wonder how it is?" Another, "Markets were better before I took to farming — How can it be?" A third, "Fortunes were sooner made, when I was young — Why does it happen thus?" "The seasons are not what they once were," exclaims a fourth — "all rain, no sunshine; what can the reason be?"

What are the times, my friend?

Who made, who ordered them?

Out of whose bosom did they come?

Who holds them in His hand?

To quarrel with the times — is to find fault with God! He has made them all beautiful in their seasons. (Ecclesiastes 3:11.) If they do not please you — whose fault is it? Could you have made them better?

Examine well the links which interweave time present with time past — the mysterious chain of providential dealings. Look at the ordering of events, one hanging on the other, in perfect order, though mysterious. Survey the wonders of God’s providence, the wondrous workings of His sovereign power. These are the the sum and substance of the times; times past, times present, and times future; your times and my times; the times of all men in all ages!

To change the times — were . . .
to derange the ordering of Providence from first to last;
to break the golden chain of divine events;
to mar the beauty of God’s structure.

God’s dispensations revolve in fixed and sure orbits, all moving, acting, following, in perfect order. To pluck one adverse event away: to change sunshine for rain — or rain for sunshine; sorrow for joy — or joy for sorrow; easy for hard — or hard for easy, would be as foolish as to arrest the planets in their course, or sweep a constellation from the skies!

You say, "Times past were better than the present." Is God less present now than then? Are His paths more difficult? Are His ways less sure? Has grace, then, changed its character? Is it harder to be found? Is Jesus not the same? Is man less wicked now than then? Does he deserve a milder treatment?

Do not compare times against times — your hard lot against the "fortune" of your forefathers. Compare your "lot" with your deserts — and say which best befits you — to thank God or complain of His providential dealings with you!

"Wisdom is good with an inheritance." Ecclesiastes 7:11

Wisdom is good, with an inheritance, or also without it. But without wisdom — an inheritance is bad. He who inherits nothing, may be wise to "gather substance, and leave it to his children." (Psalms 49.) But to inherit substance, and not be wise — to hoard it or waste it, is dangerous.

Many are wise enough to plod along, and use their earnings well, who have not wisdom to employ what others leave them. Nothing tries our wisdom more than wealth, suddenly inherited. Some men make shipwreck of their virtue, others have lost their reason, upon the quicksands of an inheritance. A poor exchange indeed!

What is it which constitutes the love of money? It is something more than the desire of having. There is in money a mystery of power, to dazzle and to turn the brain; a something which intoxicates the man, and makes him other than he was before.

Poor human nature! Never so little — as when the greatest in your own conceits; never indeed so wretched — as when you think yourself most enviable!

Oh! it is a wonderful sight, to see a man unchanged by an inheritance; with all the humble graces he had before; not proud in manner, nor suddenly transformed in style of living! It is sad to lose your friend in his new inherited estate — that wealth should loose the bonds of fellowship, or cool the flame of love! Yet so it is — alas for poor humanity!

"Wisdom is good with an inheritance" wisdom to humble you beneath your riches; to make you blush at your prosperity, and tremble for your honor; wisdom to clothe the naked; wisdom to feed the hungry; wisdom largely to give to God what God has given to you; wisdom to look to Jesus; wisdom to look beyond your riches; wisdom to desire a better inheritance, "a priceless inheritance — an inheritance that is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay!" (1 Peter 1:4)

Woe to the man that has an inheritance, and lacks this wisdom. Those who bequeath an inheritance, cannot leave wisdom to their heirs. But God never gives His inheritance, but, with it He bestows the gift of wisdom:
wisdom to know the value of the inheritance;
wisdom to love it;
wisdom to adorn it;
wisdom to live according to the grace bestowed;
wisdom to discern evil from good, and good from evil;
wisdom to resist the world, the devil, and the flesh;
wisdom to know that earthly wisdom is nothing, and thus to seek the wisdom "from above."

Reader, may this wisdom, and this inheritance be yours!

"Wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense." Ecclesiastes 7:12

"Money" defends a man from many evils: from hunger, cold, and nakedness; from being houseless, friendless, penniless. It will save a man from injury and insult; many oppress the poor, who would not vex the rich. Money invests a man with dignity. Money will often save from death; food, medicine, medical attendance, may all be had for money. Money will help a man to justice; it pays for "justice," and thus "defends" from loss of property or character. What will money not do in this poor, mercenary world?

"Wisdom," again — mere earthly wisdom — "defends" from much that is hurtful. Wisdom devises remedies; is fertile in resource; and often saves from poverty or shame. It will solve perplexities; and will change adversity to prosperous seasons. What will not wisdom do, if there is only scope to use its powers!

Yes, money and wisdom are means for earthly good; but there they stop. What do they in the hour of death? What in the judgment day? Can money purchase Heaven? Can human wisdom regenerate the soul? Can it know the truth of God? Can it clothe with righteousness, and cover sin?

Wisdom and money! Place not your confidence in either. Will they ease the burdened conscience, or heal a blasted character? Can they bring back the father to the fatherless, or dry the widow’s tears? Many would change their "better fortune," as it’s called, for early days of toil, with less to tempt and dissipate the soul.

There is many a Christian who sighs for his first experience, before zeal for "honors" hampered him, and spoiled his singleness of heart. Learning that has to be unlearned; storing the mind with what must be forgotten.

Reader, beware of this. It will not help you, either for yourself, or for the cure of souls. Wisdom and money!

Would you be wise and rich? Be wise in Jesus — be rich in Him. He is your wisdom — He your riches too. This wisdom gives life. This wealth redeems from death. There is no defense like this! It will . . .
guard you here;
perfect you hereafter;
arm you with power;
beautify with grace;
invest with glory!

In giving Christ, it gives you all. It gives you durable and true riches! (Proverbs 8:18.)

"In the day of prosperity, be joyful." Ecclesiastes 7:14

Prosperity, you meteor of bliss, who woos you not? Who seeks you not? From earliest dawn of hope, before life’s first prospects are begun — you flit before the mind. What merchant, tradesman, man of learning, or aspirant for fame — but desires that he may be prosperous! Some call it "Providence." Some call it "Fortune." Some call it neither — yet all desire to be prosperous. Prosperity is the gift of God.

The Preacher says, "In your prosperity be joyful;" yet he would also say, "Rejoice with trembling." (Psalms 2:11.) God’s gifts are all good, if rightly used — all are meant to be received with thankfulness. All may be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5.)

Prosperity is sweet, but dangerous. It makes the worldly man tenfold more worldly! Christians, from being prosperous, have pierced themselves with many sorrows! (1 Timothy 6:10.) It is well when prosperous times come gradually; not from a sudden rush, but step by step — for then the soul is not so apt to lose its balance, and to forget the Giver in his gifts.

Have you been prosperous in life? I ask you, how is your soul affected by it? God gave you your prosperity; has it drawn your heart to Him? Has having little, made you long for much? Has having much, made you desire more? Has it eclipsed eternal realities from your view, and made you think the less of Heaven? Have you asked a blessing on your increase? And, before you placed it in your coffer, have you, in spirit, given it to the Lord, that He might sanctify it? Has He, then, shared your store? Have you well considered the snare enfolded in each shining gold-piece, and prayed for grace to use it well? Has each step in your prosperity enlarged your heart — humbled you, proved, and bettered you?

There is nothing in gold itself to lead astray. It is in the heart that loves it, the mind that misapplies it. Grace is sufficient for prosperity; nothing can withstand the power of grace. It is well to find a sweetness in prosperity; to eat your food with pleasure; to enjoy your comforts; to be thankful that poverty is not your lot — yet to rejoice with moderation, and a chastened heart; seeing a snare in all things, and watching unto prayer; knowing that this poor world is not your portion, not your inheritance. It is only yours to look at for a season; to use for your need; and, in the end, to leave behind you! Your true prosperity is in better things than these.

"In the day of adversity consider." Ecclesiastes 7:14

In your adversity, consider:
That you deserve it all!
That had you nothing but adversity, it only were your due!
That every moment free from trouble, is a mercy!
That had the full curse been poured on you — your life would be nothing but sorrow and vexation!

Consider that God afflicts you for your profit — to bring your sins to mind, and lead you to the Cross. Believer, God chastens you in love, to make you a partaker of His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10.) How often have you forgotten Him! But He never forgets you — and thus He chastens you.

Consider, how much you live for the world — how little you live for the Lord!

Consider how earthly, sensual, and devilish your nature!

Consider your thoughts — how vain!

Consider your service — how unprofitable!

Consider, then, God’s love in chastening you.

Are you in sickness — then consider your many days of former health — all undeserved by you! Consider your many helps in trouble, Gods presence, and His grace — all undeserved by you!

In sleepless nights, consider how many nights you have slept soundly and sweetly — all undeserved by you! Consider Him, who gives you songs in the night — all undeserved by you!

In poverty, consider how all your former needs have been supplied — food, clothing, lodging, and so many comforts — all undeserved by you!

Have you incurred the loss of sight or hearing; loss of limbs, or power of using them? Consider, then, your former powers; how much enjoyment you have had in seeing, hearing, moving, handling — all undeserved by you!

Are you kept from going to the house of prayer? All your Sabbaths are now spent at home — it may be on a bed of languishing. Consider how many Sabbaths you have spent in full enjoyment of the means of grace — all undeserved by you! Consider Jesus, the Fountain of all ordinances; the Bread of life; the Shepherd of the sheep; the Prophet, Priest, and Teacher of His people. Still you have Jesus — the Lord of the Sabbath, the spring of Sabbath blessings — all undeserved by you!

O tried believer, consider, then, that your afflictions are light — and they are but for a moment. They are all ordered in divine wisdom, tenderness, and love! Consider Jesus! what sufferings He endured — all for unworthy you! Then faint not, nor be weary, but consider your "eternal weight of glory" eternal glory — glory "that far outweighs" all your woes — glory, all undeserved by you!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other." Ecclesiastes 7:14

Adversity and prosperity are divinely balanced against each other with unerring skill. In each, respectively, the due proportions are precisely weighed, so lovingly and wisely, that none should say, "It might have been better done!" Christian, I appeal to you: Could it have been better done? Are God’s ways unjust? Have they been so to you?

It is true, your path is chequered — sweet chasing bitter — and bitter chasing sweet, in quick succession. It may be, that bitter is more frequent than the sweet — that your prosperous times are few and far between. Is there no reason for it? Is God’s divine balance, then, deranged? God knows the reason for your adversity, though unknown to you. He faithfully keeps the balance true between your needs — and their supply; between His chastenings — and your good. He cannot be unkind, or unequal, or unjust. Perhaps you cannot hit upon the specific sin, and say, "For this particular sin I am chastened." But say, my friend — if there is no particular sin, is there no particular lack of virtue in you? Is there no grace to strengthen — no infirmity to check?

God’s ways are always just — His purposes are always wise and loving. How beautiful is His providence! How exquisite is His skill!

Grace is poised against temptation, joys are balanced against sorrows. The lights and shadows of experience thus perfected, and perfecting each other. Were all prosperity — we would be lifted up in pride. Were all adversity — we would faint under the heavy load.

God’s ways are just and equal — look back and see. Had times been pleasant with you, experience been sweet? How surely they were followed by deadness in the soul! Your joy was gone — you knew not why. Ah! but God knew it. It was the adjusting of the scales, that nothing might be out of balance. Has life gone prosperously? Sooner or later, crosses came — some disappointment, something to bring you down, something or other, counter to your will — it was the adjusting of the scales. And just so with health, and other comforts — God keeps the scales perfectly balanced.

Watch God’s providence in great things, watch it in little things — the events, the thoughts, the feelings of the day. You will always find it just — the balance must be kept. Hence all your variations in the scale of comfort — the endless shades and vicissitudes of your experience. All this is well-ordered in God’s wisdom, love, and mercy!

"Do not be over-righteous." Ecclesiastes 7:16

How can this be? Can any man be over-righteous?

When zeal oversteps discretion;
when tasks are self-imposed;
when religious forms are trusted in;
when flesh is vainly mortified —
all this is being over-righteous!

God’s people unwittingly fall into these very errors.

Prayer, as a task, persisted in — that we may think how long our prayers have been — this is a great mistake. It is wrong in principle, and practice too. Have you ever been more fretful after prayer, more worldly, more inclined to levity? The truth is this — you prayed too long; your mind was over-taxed; your soul responded to your weariness. The enemy rejoiced in your infirmity — you were "over-righteous."

Or you have found refreshment in the house of worship. You have gone a second time, and found the same. You went again (three services, three sermons in a day!) — the third occasion undid the other two. Trying to have too much — you lost all. The wearied brain could not recall its former devotion; the jaded memory broke down — you were "over-righteous."

It is often the same in reading Scripture. The mind is proud of its performances, and reads too much. To read each day so many chapters; in a short time to have gone the whole round of Scripture — rapidly to move from the Law, to History, to the Prophets, to the Gospel in the hurry — my friend, you are "over-righteous!" This is not the way to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Were you to spend a lifetime over a single Psalm, gaining daily refreshment to your soul — would be far better, than to scamper rapidly through the Word.

When household duties are neglected for the sake of devotional exercises — this, too, is being over-righteous.

The same is true when others are inconvenienced by our devotional exercises. The family waiting in the hall, the carriage at the door — while prayers are too lengthy. Is not this being "over-righteous?"

Prayer, meditation, and the Scriptures — how good they are! Yet there is a time for all things. If duties rise so thick, that you are hindered in your prayers — even this is better than prayer persisted in, and duties left undone! Beware, then, Christian friend, and do not be "over-righteous."

"Be not over-wicked." Ecclesiastes 7:17

Is there a point in wickedness, which men may safely reach, but which it were dangerous to overstep? Can we covenant with divine justice, that it spares some of our sins? Will God wink at transgression — because it is small; or pardon sins — because they are few? Has man some goodness to make amends for folly; some virtue to neutralize his sin? Is our inherent corruption only partial? Have we merits which to remedy the Fall?

One sin brought ruin on Adam and his race. One sin! Was there, then, no virtue left; no room for further license; no redeeming power in the soul? Was this one wickedness already too much? Let Scripture answer.

Let our own imperfect faculties, inbred corruptions, and fading nature tell the tale. We are fallen, fallen — fallen in body, mind, and soul. Do we innocently enter we the world? Ah, no — we are all ingrained with sin, even from the cradle! We are all steeped in corruption from our mother’s womb. Our sin is born in us — its germ wrapped in the buddings of our infancy, and drawing its nurture from our growth.

Over-wicked! What can be over-wicked, where all is much wicked — comparison’s degrees all lost in universal sin. Man makes comparisons — God knows them not. Our very breath is sin — one moments life involves it; one passing thought incurs the charge.

Over-wicked! Do not mistake the Preacher. He warns you, sinner, to pause in your career, not to run riot in your wickedness; to go no further in tempting God, and trifling with your soul. Before the door of grace is closed, or your heart be hardened more — he urges you to think upon your ways. Before health is ruined in the haunts of vice; before power of thought is lost through idleness; before life itself is sacrificed in sin — he tells you to retrace your steps.

Over-wicked! What is it? The next round of worldly pleasure; the next visit to the alehouse; the next solitary glass of liquor; the next scoffing at the Word — this may but seal your doom, this may be over-wicked to you! Beware, then, ah, beware!

"The one who fears God shall escape them all." Ecclesiastes 7:18

"Escape" from what? Escape . . .
from dangerous extremes;
from snares on either hand;
from being over-righteous,
or being over-wicked.

There is wondrous depth in Solomon’s experience. He always hits the nail upon the head; and Gospel light only confirms his sayings. Can it be otherwise? The same God, who spoke by Paul, or Paul, guided the pen of Solomon. Is it not true, my Christian friend? Are you not exposed to danger, on the right hand and the left — now tempted into carelessness, now led to hush your conscience wrongfully; one moment to neglect your duties — and the next to build too much upon them? How needful, then, the Preacher’s warnings! How comforting his promise, that grace shall do its work from first to last!

By grace we are chosen; by grace we are called; by grace made willing in the day of power. (Psalms 90.) By grace we live. By grace we stand. By grace we are kept. By grace we persevere. By grace we enter glory. But for this grace — what could we do? No faith, no hope, no strength, no peace, were ours.

How could we battle with our sins?

How could we rise above temptation?

How could we flee from snares?

How could we overcome the enemy of souls?

How, but by grace?

In Solomon’s day it was still the same. God called his chosen ones.

By grace He saved them;
by grace He sanctified them;
by grace He glorified them.

Without this grace, how could the promise stand? Man’s strength is nothing; his perseverance nothing; his good intentions less than nothing. It is not man’s "will". God’s "shall" is that which does it. God says, "It shall be," "The one who fears God shall escape them all."

These promises are given, not to exalt us — but to humble us. Boasting is excluded. By what law? The only law that could exclude it — the law of faith and grace. (Romans 3:27.)

Tell man that HE can do it — and you only . . .
feed his pride,
deceive his soul, and
lead him further from God, and deeper into sin.

Tell him that God’s GRACE must do it — and you humble him low in the dust of helplessness. My soul, God’s grace has saved you, built you on Christ, and nourished your soul. It is God Himself who has laid the top-stone of your glory, while saints and angels shouted, "Grace, Grace unto it!" (Zechariah 4:7.)

Oh, my soul, your only hope is this — that God is faithful; that, having loved His own, He loves them to the end. (John 13:1.) In life, in death, through all eternity, this will your glory be — that God’s grace has done it all.

"There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is good and never sins!" Ecclesiastes 7:20

God’s ways are perfect — perfect in wisdom, holiness, and power. God knows no change — no shade of turning. (James 1:17.) God’s words are as perfect as Himself — in truth unbending. God’s only standard of morality is God Himself. His only test of worth is His own intrinsic purity. With God "righteous" means righteous, as He interprets justice — integrity without a flaw.

"Goodness" is likeness to the living God; for God is good — and "good" means God. It means all that is holy, pure, and wise; with no admixture of anything that is not godly. How, then, shall "man be just with God?" (Job 9.) When justice forms the "line," and righteousness forms the "plummet" — who can abide its test? (Isaiah 28 :l7.) Whose character will square with such a scrutiny? Think it not hard. To have a lower test, would set aside the principles of justice. God would no longer be righteous, no longer be good — did He not judge you by His own perfections.

Reader, does not your very conscience tell you so? Conscience informs you of God’s character. Would He be God, if fallen creatures feared Him not? Why do we fear God? Because our conscience feels that God is righteous, and deals with us accordingly.

What means the fear of death; the shrinking from God’s presence; hiding (nay, I should say, the wish to hide) from His all-seeing eye? Why frightened at a shadow? Why startled at a leaf? Why have a dread of darkness? But because you know that God is good; that God is righteous; and you yourself are neither righteous, nor good.

Reader, would you have fellowship with God? Would you inherit glory? You must have righteousness and goodness, as perfect as God Himself. Nothing else can equal your necessities — nothing else comply with God’s demands. Where can this perfectness be had? Where, but in Jesus!

Are you "in Christ," my friend? Ah, what a question! How much depends upon the answer! Are you in Christ? If so, that spotless robe, that perfect righteousness is yours; for it is Christ’s; and you are made the "righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21.) Would less suffice you? Does God require more? As Christ is, so are you — holy, and just, and good; good in God’s goodness; perfect in God’s perfection. Even "in this world" it is done. (1 John 4:17.) By faith it is done already — nothing can be added — nothing shall be taken from it. As Christ is — so are you.

"Do not take to heart everything people say." Ecclesiastes 7:21

That which is spoken to you — it is wise to hear. All else, it would be wise to disregard; it is not intended for you. Your neighbor’s thoughts are sacred. Until he imparts them, you have no right to have them; they are strictly his. That which he speaks to others — is not yours. Even though he speaks of you — you are not right to listen.

Does not your own experience tell you? Are not your thoughts your own? Words are but thoughts expressed. You mean them only for those to whom they are spoken. You deem it invasion of your privilege, if others come to listen. So is it with your neighbor. The devils have as little right to Heaven — as you to penetrate, unbidden, into your brother’s mind. Hence, in all ages, listening has been condemned.

Why do you listen, my friend? To hear others flatter you? Hearken not — it is poison! Or do you listen to your censure — to know what evil they will say of you? If possible, this is worse; it is very treachery. Take care, then, how you listen. To hear SELF spoken of at all, is odious. It is instinct in the soul to hate it. It is nature’s tribute to its own deformity. Conscious of its fall, it shrinks unconsciously from contact with itself.

If you hear others in secret conversation — if possible, go from their presence; if not, then make a covenant with your ear; lay curiosity aside, and be determined not to hearken. If you can’t but hear, then make it known that so it is. If this would wound their feelings, then hear, and hearken not. Let not their converse lodge within you. As words follow each other, dismiss them from your door; dwell not upon them for a moment; they soon shall be as though you heard them not. In this, as other things, practice does much; and with the Spirit it will do even more.

How often do we think evil of another! But if we hear another thinking aloud of us — our anger is soon stirred. We are ready to take vengeance on the evil speech of another — but the hidden evil in ourselves we overlook. Oh, then, deal leniently with others — and severely with yourself. Think of your ways, your failings, your infirmities! Think of your many thoughts; think of your many words — and, as you would that others deal with you, so likewise deal with them!

"I said, ’I am determined to be wise’ — but this was beyond me." Ecclesiastes 7:23

READER, how often have you, how often have I, experienced this! A greater one than you or I, expressed the same: "I have the desire to do what is good — but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing!" (Romans 7.) My soul, how is it? Within you dwells the Holy Spirit — the Lord of life and power. None can resist His will. And yet, the evil that is in you gains the day; strength becomes weakness; and wisdom is turned to folly.

Which is the greater wonder — that, being foolish, you are ever wise; or that, at times so wise, you ever should be foolish? How often, on your knees, you have seen the way so straight, the light so clear, God’s grace so strong — that you have felt wisdom were your forever — that folly never would dwell in you again? And yet, my soul, what tales of after-folly have you had to tell!

In your better moments, wisdom is near; so near, that it seems a part and parcel of yourself; it seems the eye you see with, the ear you hear with, the air you breathe, the framework of your thoughts, the substance of your mind — your very being seems suffused with wisdom.

At other times, wisdom is far from you — so very far — as far as innocence from sin, as man from God, as earth from Heaven. In truth it is so. Wisdom has no part in you. Between you, and your better self, is fixed — an impassable gulf; an unmeasured breadth; an untold depth! On either side the gulf are you — and wisdom. On this side wisdom — on the other side are you.

Oh, what a mystery! Your days are spent on one side, or the other; either in wisdom, or in folly. Now flesh is uppermost, and now the Spirit — no union can there be between the two. Each moment of your life you live, either to yourself, or to God.

My soul, bless God for your experience; in mercy is it given. It is not for nothing that wisdom seems to elude your grasp — that

you have known the fitful nature of your frames and feelings:
the bitterness of broken purposes;
the flimsy nature of your best resolves;
the lightning speed with which sin comes between you and your vows;
the wondrous ease with which you pass . . .
from wisdom — to folly;
from thoughts of good — to deeds of evil;
from meekness, humility, and patience — to petulance and pride; from all the virtues of a saint — to all the sinfulness of fallen nature.

It is not for nothing that you are mortified — to see yourself so fickle, and so vile. It is to bless, to teach, to humble you — that when you would be wise, wisdom is far from you.

"That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?" Ecclesiastes 7:24

Wisdom is far from man — as far off as sight is from the blind; as far as God is far. The blind see not the object, whether far or near. Thus, man knows as little about himself, as he knows the Lord. In ceasing to know God, man ceased to know himself. Then light and knowledge winged their flight away, and all was dark indeed.

Sail around our planet, if you will — all distant earthly things come near to you, and you to them; but Truth is still as far from you as ever — no earthly figure can express its range. Soar upwards, if you can; forever wing your way onwards, and on, and on; how hopeless ever to reach the end! It is infinite! As far off as that (if possible, still farther) is man from Truth, and Truth from man. Nothing but a miracle brings man and Truth together. God speaks, and it is done. The Spirit enters, and wisdom lives again; man knows himself; he knows his sins; he knows their remedy; in Christ he knows his God.

Until then grace, truth, and peace were far away; the Lord was far; all, all was far! Now all is near. God’s judgments are a deep, a mighty deep. (Psalms 36:6.) All that God is, all that God does, is deep — His Word, His attributes, His grace, His providence, His essence, His eternal being — all, all is deep. Say, who can fathom it? "It is as high as Heaven, what can you do? It is deeper than Hell, what can you know?" "Can you by searching find out God?" (Job 11:7-8.) Measure the waters in your hand; measure out the heavens with a ruler; take up all the earth’s materials at a grasp; then weigh the hills in scales, the mountains in a balance — then may you measure God — then may you fathom Truth.

The plainest Scripture is too deep for you. The shortest precept — the simplest promise — beggars your understanding, and confounds your heart. But grace supplies a line with which to fathom what is fathomless. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1.)

The Christian fathoms all things; what can be known — he knows; what can be seen — he sees. The rest he leaves, in full assurance of its truth. He rests on Christ, in whom he knows, and sees, and trusts, and lives — in whom he hopes to reign forever!

"So I applied my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things." Ecclesiastes 7:25

We live in stirring days, when deeds are everything — when closet work is often neglected for active business, and little time is given to meditation. Yet, with more thought and prayer — wholesome activity would be greater in the end, and all our actions more successful. Time is not lost, which is spent in meditation — in searching wisdom’s ways, and seeking out profound realities. There is one who often meditates — and yet accomplishes much. There is another who hastens — and yet does little. None works so heartily, nor reaps so fully — as he whose wits are sharpened by prayer and meditation.

Reading either Scripture or Christian books, apart from meditation, does little good. It is much the same as not digesting what you eat — this only starves the soul. How many read the Bible thus!

If thought is exercised at all, it is but to find what commentators say — and thus they have all their knowledge second-hand. How different when the mind is bent on what we read, and help is sought from God, to aid the meditation. The are of thinking is difficult at first; but "practice makes expert." The are of meditation may be learned by dint of effort. It is well to set yourself a task.

You say, "I am quite unused to meditate. How shall I begin?" Deal gently with yourself at first. Select your subject — some passage from the Word. Then fix the time you choose to give; say, five minutes at a time. Begin, and think aloud. This makes it easier, and saves the mind from distracted thoughts, the hardest task of all. The sound even of your own voice will help you; it is like speaking to a friend. And what is meditation, but communing with self — that self may be a constant hearer.

But, more than all, make it a time of prayer — of communing with God. This helps the matter greatly. You take the words of Scripture — ask Jesus what they mean. In doing this, the mind is exercised. A glow of thought attends the effort. You honor Jesus; and He will honor you, by pouring out a largeness of capacity — a quicker mind. The interchange of thought between you and Jesus goes on apace, and you are surprised to find how long the exercise has lasted.

Thus meditation grows, the more it is exercised. It . . .
feeds the soul,
expands the mind,
increases thought, and,
best of all, it brings you into fellowship with Jesus. This is the very life and soul of meditation.

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

"But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on His Law he meditates day and night." Psalms 1:2

"I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds." Psalms 77:12

"I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways." Psalms 119:15

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." Psalms 119:97

"I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done." Psalms 143:5

"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises." Psalms 119:148

"I found one man among a thousand." Ecclesiastes 7:28

Only "one man among a thousand!" The Preacher tells us elsewhere the kind of man he meant — one who interpreted God’s Word, and ways, entreating men to listen; one, who declared the righteousness of God, and the sinfulness of man; one who bore messages of God’s grace to sinners’ souls — in short, he meant a Christian. Of such he found but one among a thousand! (Job 30:23.) Was grace less frequent then than now? In Christian England (England, Christian so-called) would Solomon still find so small a number? We might expect that greater honor would attend the mission of the Comforter — that when He had to take the things of Christ (John 16:14-15) — Christ born, Christ crucified, Christ risen, and Christ glorified — His teaching would be seen, and known, the more. Yet still we mourn the smallness of the numbers. Still the way is narrow; still the gate is strait; and still few find it. Still the road to misery is broad — and many walk in it! (Matthew 7:14.)

"One man among a thousand!" Ah, were it one in a hundred; one among ten; one out of five; or even one of two — it were sad to think how many still were lost! Full well we know, but for the grace of God, not one among a thousand would be found. One of a million would there be? One of a generation? One of a world? No, not one! This is the character of man; man as he is by nature; man unregenerate, unvisited by grace; man without Christ; man without God, "There is none righteous, no not one." (Psalms 14; Ephesians 2.)

One of a thousand is a miracle of grace; even one from Adam to Adam’s latest child, would still be still a miracle; a greater wonder than if ten thousand worlds were formed anew, and twice ten thousand suns sprang daily into being!

Reader, are you a Christian? If so, your heart and mind present a miracle of miracles; a wonder far greater than anything that nature has to show. Are you disposed to mourn the smallness of the number — that Christians are so few? It is well to mourn — yet better to rejoice; better to know that all the flock are saved; that all the redeemed are written in the Book of Life, and that they shall all surely come to glory. They never shall perish, none can anyone pluck them from the hand of Jesus. He is pledged to guard — to love them to the end. He who chose them — will call them; He who calls them — will keep them; He who keeps them, will glorify them — His word is sure. (Romans 8:30.)

"But not one woman among them." Ecclesiastes 7:28

It is a hard saying — who can hear it? One man among a thousand the Preacher found; but not one woman among them!

Is woman’s heart, then, different from man’s — harder and blinder, further from grace and truth? First in transgression, was it thus she bore the penalty, until she undid the harm, by giving birth to Jesus? If, until then a blight was on her — then since then it is far otherwise. Last at the Cross — first at the grave of Jesus. First in faith, in charity, in patience, in steadfastness and zeal — she shines pre-eminent. Look where you will, she is foremost in the cause; look where you will, among the saints, she far outnumbers man.

Yet, Solomon’s experience confirms our own — that then, or now, in woman or in man — from first to last — it is grace which makes us to differ. Man’s nature, since the Fall, has known no change. The heart, apart from gender or age, has been the same in spiritual blindness and corruption. Lawgivers, patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, bear witness to the fact, which still we have before our eyes. Were godly women rare with Solomon — it was that God called fewer by his grace. Are they now more numerous — it is that more are called by grace — God makes them willing in his day of power. (Psalms 110:3.)

One thing we learn from Solomon — that the fair form of woman conceals a heart as hard, and sinful, as that which dwells in man. We learn that beauty, elegance, and softness, have no effect upon the soul, except to ensnare it — and that all the blandishments of are, and mirthful attire — with all the fascinations of her nature, enhanced a thousandfold by education and a polished life — bestow no real excellence on woman! What are all women, but white-washed sepulchers? Within their walls are "dead men’s bones," and "all uncleanness!" (Matthew 23:27.) Woman has all the infirmities, and sins of fallen nature — the same corruptions, passions, and affections, which reign in rougher man.

By nature more impressible, more easily affected by outward things — so far she is more devotional than man; more frequent in the house of prayer, to forms and ordinances more attentive. But still, within her there is found an ignorance of God, and opposition to the truth. She requires the same Almighty power to renew her soul, as the vilest male needs. How beautiful when woman’s brought to see her own deformity, and say, "All this is true! "

"God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes." Ecclesiastes 7:29

The origin of evil, who can tell? How did it find a place in God’s creation! Satan infected man — -and there we stop. It is not for us to search what never can be known, or guess at that which God has not revealed. All that God made was very good. (Genesis 1.) No taint of sin was on it — no seed of evil in it. God could not give birth to evil; His attributes of wisdom, holiness, and goodness, alike forbid the thought — the thing is impossible. Essential excellence harbors no imperfection; eternal being implies unchanging good.

Sin was an unmixed invention of the wicked one, made from his own materials; he found them not in the fair works of God. Man, self-apprenticed to the fiend, has learned the lesson well. Trained by the devil, now, for six thousand years — no wonder if he is clever at inventing evil. Each circling year beholds new forms of sin; fresh means of doing mischief; fresh vanities discovered; fresh ways of setting at defiance good sense, good order, and good feeling; new blinds to youth and inexperienced ones. Man’s ingenuity is racked for fresh amusements — in other words, for fresh temptations — while grosser evil drives a busy trade in turning out fresh stimulants to vice.

But, oh! my soul, why go so far from home? Within yourself the sin abounds. You have also learned your lesson in the devil’s school; fertile in evil as your fellow-man — you are not behind him in invention — in giving birth to evil. Whence all your readiness for sin? Your ingenuity to frame excuses? Your quickness in devising reasons why SELF be gratified, and sacred duties ignored? How apt to veil your faults! How quick to seize the opportunity of pleasing man! In how many ways you try to cheat the Lord, and rob Him of his service! How often have you countenanced the sinful world, and set your seal on its inventions, by following its pleasures and its sins! What is your life, and what your nature — but one invention of all that’s evil! Mankind at large, are but a storehouse of vanities. What endless shades of evil character! What great variations in sin! No two alike in the complexion of their failings; each mind, each character, framing its special faults and sins, inventing ways peculiar to itself; but all alike showing an ingenuity for sin. How true the Preacher’s word that "God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes."

Bibliographical Information
Mylne, George. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7". Mylne's Commentary on Ecclesiastes. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mce/ecclesiastes-7.html. 1858.
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