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THE EMPTINESS OF WORLDLY MIRTH
Ecclesiastes 2:2. I said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, What doeth it?
WHO is it that has ventured to speak thus respecting that which constitutes, in the world’s estimation, the great happiness of life? Was he an ignorant man? or one who from envy decried a thing which he was not able to attain? or an inexperienced man, who had no just means of forming a judgment? or an irritated man, who vented thus his spleen against an object that had disappointed him? Or was he one whose authority in this matter we are at liberty to question! No: it was the wisest of the human race, who had more ample means of judging than any other of the children of men, and had tried the matter to the uttermost: it was Solomon himself, under the influence of the Spirit of God, recording this, not only as the result of his own experience, but as the declaration of Jehovah, by him, for the instruction of the world in all future ages. He had been left by God to try the vain experiment, whether happiness was to be found in any thing but God. He tried it, first, in the pursuit of knowledge; which, to a person of his enlarged mind, certainly promised most fair to yield him the satisfaction which he sought. But partly from the labour requisite for the attainment of knowledge; partly from discovering how little could be known by persons of our finite capacity; partly also from the insufficiency of knowledge to satisfy the innumerable wants of man; and partly from the disgust which had been created in his mind by the insight which his wisdom gave him into the ignorance and folly of the rest of mankind; he left it upon record, as his deliberate judgment, that “in much wisdom is much grief; and that he who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow [Note: Ecclesiastes 1:18.].” He then turned to pleasure, as the most probable source of happiness: “I said in my heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth: therefore enjoy pleasure.” But being equally disappointed in that, he adds, “Behold, this also is vanity [Note: ver. 1.].” Then, in the words of my text, he further adds, “I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?”
In discoursing on this subject, I shall,
Shew what that is which he here pronounces to be “vanity”—
It becomes us, in considering such weighty declarations us that before us, to attain the most precise and accurate views of the terms employed; neither attenuating the import of them on the one hand, nor exaggerating it on the other.
We are not, then, to understand the text as decrying all cheerfulness—
[The Christian, above all people upon earth, has reason to be cheerful. And religion in no way tends to destroy the gaiety of the human mind, but only to direct it towards proper objects, and to restrain it within proper bounds. The ways of religion are represented as “ways of pleasantness and peace.” And “the fruits of the Spirit are, love, joy, peace:” all of which suppose a measure of hilarity, and the innocence of that hilarity, when arising from a becoming source, and kept within the limits of sobriety and sound wisdom. Doubtless that tumultuous kind of joy which is generally denominated mirth, and which vents itself in immoderate laughter, is altogether vain and bad: but a placidity of mind, exercising itself in a way of brotherly love and of cheerful benevolence, can never be censured as unprofitable, much less can it be condemned as verging towards insanity.]
Neither, on the other hand, are we to restrict the text to licentious and profane mirth—
[That needed not to be stigmatized in so peculiar a manner: because the fully of such mirth carries its own evidence along with it. We need only to see it in others: and if we ourselves are not partakers of it, we shall not hesitate to characterize it by some opprobrious or contemptuous name. We need neither the wisdom of Solomon, nor his experience, to pass upon it the judgment it deserves.]
The conduct reprobated in our text is, the seeking of our happiness in carnal mirth—
[Solomon particularly specifies this: “I said in my heart. Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth.” I will see whether that will afford me the happiness which I am in pursuit of. And we may suppose, that, in the prosecution of this object. he summoned around him all that was gay and lively in his court, and all that could contribute towards the attainment of it. We may take a survey of the state of society in what may be called the fashionable world, and see how the votaries of pleasure spend their time. They go from one vanity to another, hoping that in a succession of amusements they shall find a satisfaction which nothing else can impart. Plays, balls, concerts, routs, the pleasures of the field, of the race-course, of the card-table, form a certain round of employment, which those who travel in it expect to find productive of happiness, of such happiness at least as they affect. And this. I conceive, is what Solomon intended particularly to reprobate as fully and madness. Of course, we must include also in the same description the more vulgar amusements to which the lower classes resort. All, according to their taste, or the means afforded them for enjoyment, whilst they pursue the same object, are obnoxious to the same censure. The degree of refinement which may be in their pursuits makes no difference in this matter. Whatever it be which calls forth their mirth and laughter, it is equally unprofitable and equally insane. So Solomon judged; and]
We now proceed—
To confirm his testimony—
Let us take a candid view of this matter: let us consider pleasure in its true light: let us consider its aspect on us,
[As men, we possess faculties of a very high order, which we ought to cultivate, and which, when duly improved, exalt and dignify our nature. But behold the votaries of pleasure; how low do they sink themselves by the depravity of their taste, and the emptiness of their occupations! A man devoid of wisdom may abound in mirth and laughter as well as he: and there will be found very little difference in their feelings; except, as the more enlarged men’s capacities are for higher objects, the keener sense will they have of the emptiness of their vain pursuits. In truth, we may appeal even to themselves in confirmation of what Solomon has said: for there are no persons more convinced of the unsatisfying nature of such pursuits, than those who follow them with the greatest avidity. But let Scripture speak: “She that liveth in pleasure is dead whilst she liveth [Note: 1 Timothy 5:6.].” It is the fool alone that can say, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry [Note: Luke 12:19.].”]
[As sinners we have a great work to do; even to call to mind, and to mourn over, the sins of our whole lives, and to seek reconciliation with our offended God — — — The time, too, which is afforded us for this is very short and very uncertain — — — And, oh! what an issue awaits our present exertions; even heaven with all its glory, or hell with all its inconceivable and everlasting terrors! Have persons so circumstanced any time for mirth, or any disposition to waste their precious hours in laughter? Is it not much more suitable to them to be engaged according to the direction of St. James, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up [Note: James 4:9-59.4.10.]?” — — —]
As the redeemed of the Lord—
[What redeemed soul can contemplate the price paid for his redemption, and laugh? Go, my Brother, to Gethsemane, and see thy Saviour bathed in a bloody sweat. Go to Calvary, and behold him stretched upon the cross. Hear his heart-rending cry, “My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” See the sun himself veiling his face in darkness, and the Lord of glory bowing his head in death: and then tell me, whether you feel much disposition for mirth and laughter? or whether such a state of mind would become you? Methinks, I need add no more. Your own consciences will attest the justice of Solomon’s remarks. But if there be an advocate for mirth yet unconvinced, then I put it to him to answer that significant question in my text, “What doeth it?”]
Are any disposed to complain that I make religion gloomy?
[Remember, it is of carnal mirth that I have spoken: and of that, not in its occasional sallies, from a buoyancy of spirit, and in combination with love, but of its being regarded as a source of happiness, and of its constituting, as it were, a portion of our daily employment. And if I wrest this from you, do I leave you a prey to melancholy? Go to religion; and see whether that do not furnish you with mirth and laughter of a purer kind: with mirth that is not unprofitable, with laughter that is not mad? The very end of the Gospel is, to “give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heariness:” and if you believe in Christ, it is not merely your privilege, but your duty to rejoice in him, yea, to “rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and glorified.” If the Church, on account of temporal deliverances, could say, “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing [Note: Psalms 126:1-19.126.2.]:” much more may you, on account of the salvation which has been vouchsafed to you. Only, therefore, let the grounds of your joy be right, and we consent that “your mourning be turned into dancing, and that to the latest hour of your lives you put off your sackcloth and gird you with gladness [Note: Psalms 30:11.].” Instead of pronouncing such mirth madness, we will declare it to be your truest wisdom.]
Are there those amongst you who accord with Solomon?
[Remember, then, to seek those as your associates who are like-minded with you in this respect. Affect not the company of those who delight in laughter, and in carnal mirth; for they will only draw you from God, and rob you of the happiness which you might otherwise enjoy. If they appear happy, remember that “their mirth is like the crackling of thorns under a pot [Note: Ecclesiastes 7:6.]:” it may make a blaze for a moment; but it soon expires in spleen and melancholy. Be careful, too, to live nigh to God, and in sweet communion with your Lord and Saviour: for if you draw back from God in secret, you will, in respect of happiness, be in a worse condition than the world themselves: for whilst you deny yourselves the pleasure which you might have in carnal things, you will have no real pleasure in spiritual exercises. But be true to your principles, and you never need envy the poor worldlings their vain enjoyments. They drink of a polluted cistern, that contains nothing but what is insipid and injurious, and will prove fatal to their souls; but you draw from the fountain of living waters, which whosoever drinks of, shall live for ever.]
THE EXCELLENCY OF WISDOM
Ecclesiastes 2:13. Then I saw, that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.
THE more exact is our scrutiny into the things of this world, the more decided will be our judgment respecting them. If persons ever think highly of them, it is because they have never set down seriously to examine their true character, or laboured to form a right estimate respecting them. Solomon possessed means of ascertaining their real value beyond any other person that ever existed: for, possessing wisdom above any other of the sons of men, he had a greater capacity to extract all the sweetness that was in them; and, being a monarch, he could command all things through the whole range of nature, to present to him their tribute of gratification according to their respective abilities. But, after a minute examination of every thing, he was constrained to give this, at last, as the result of his experience: “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.”
Now this, I conceive, refers in part to human wisdom, as occupied in intellectual pursuits. For it is certain, that amongst objects that relate only to this present life, there is nothing to be compared with this. Intellect is that which distinguishes man from the brute creation; and the enlargement of it with arts and sciences is that which elevates man above his fellows. The cultivation of it is more suited to the dignity of man than the gratification of his sensual appetites: in all of which the beasts have as large a capacity of enjoyment as he. The pleasures arising from it are also less apt to cloy: and will endure, when a taste for other enjoyments is passed away. It will gratify, also, when it is not the object of immediate pursuit; because it will supply in reflection much of what it conferred in the actual acquisition. It is also of great use, and qualifies a man for conferring extensive benefits on the world; at the same time that it opens to him a thousand channels of pleasure which are utterly unknown to the unfurnished mind. A person habituated only to bodily exertion has no conception what a fund of satisfaction the exercises of the mind supply, or what delight attaches to the investigation of science and the discovery of truth. Corporeal indulgences, indeed, strike more strongly upon the senses; and therefore, to a carnal mind, seem to furnish a greater measure of delight. But the more eagerly they are sought, the less pleasure they afford; and they bring with them, for the most part, many painful consequences: so that, in comparison of intellectual pursuits, they deserve the name of “folly;” whilst the prosecution of the other may properly be called “wisdom,” Yet it must be confessed, that there is much truth in that observation of Solomon, “In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow [Note: Ecclesiastes 1:18.].” For “much study is undoubtedly a weariness to the flesh [Note: Ecclesiastes 12:12.].” and it is often followed by painful disappointment, I conceive, therefore, that we are by no means to limit the import of our text to human wisdom; but must extend it to that which is divine: in reference to which we may say, without any limitation or exception, “It excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.”
Of this therefore, even of spiritual wisdom, I will now proceed to speak; and its transcendent excellence I will point out in reference to,
Its own proper character—
“Wisdom” is another word for piety—
[Piety in the Scriptures is frequently called by this name. Job says, “The fear of the Lord that is wisdom [Note: Job 28:28.].” And Moses prays, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom [Note: Psalms 90:12.].”
But, not to rest in a mere general definition of the term, I shall consider it as embracing these two points. The receiving of the Gospel, as sinners; and the adorning of it, as saints.
The very first part of wisdom is to receive the Gospel of salvation into our hearts. We all need it; nor can any human being be saved without it; and God offers to us all the blessings of it, freely, without money and without price. Were we under a sentence of death from a human tribunal, and were offered mercy by the Prince, it would be accounted wisdom to accept the offer, and folly to reject it. How much more is it our wisdom to accept a deliverance from eternal death, together with all the glory and felicity of heaven! This must commend itself to every man who reflects but for a moment: and to despise these proffered benefits must, of necessity, be regarded as folly, bordering upon madness
The next part of wisdom must be, to adorn that Gospel by a holy life and conversation; since it cannot otherwise be ultimately of any avail for our acceptance with God. The very intent of the Gospel is to transform man into the Divine image, and thereby to prepare him for the enjoyment of his God; and if this be not attained, heaven itself would be no place of happiness to him. Indeed, if a man profess to embrace the Gospel, and yet continue to walk unworthy of it, he dishonours God far more than he could do whilst he made no such profession: for he “tramples under foot the Son of God, and counts the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and does despite unto the Spirit of Grace [Note: Hebrews 10:29.];” yea, he crucifies the Son of God afresh, and puts him to an open shame [Note: Hebrews 6:6.].” I think, therefore, that the pursuit of holiness in all its branches, with an uniform endeavour to glorify our God, must commend itself to every considerate mind, as true “wisdom.”]
And this far excelleth “folly”—
[I will not go into particulars to characterize “folly:” it shall suffice to take the most lenient view of it that can be imagined: I will comprehend under it no positive vice, nothing that can render it odious in the eyes of men: I will take it only in a negative view, as importing a neglect of the two foregoing dictates of sound wisdom. And now I will ask, Who does not see the superiority of wisdom; and that “it excelleth folly as far as light excelleth darkness?” “Darkness” hath nothing whatever to commend it: it is utterly destitute of every good quality: whereas “light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun [Note: Ecclesiastes 11:7.].” And precisely thus does piety approve itself to every beholder j whilst a neglect of God presents nothing but gloom, the end of which no human imagination can reach.]
Let us view wisdom next,
In its influence on this present life—
There is not a moment of our lives over which it does not cast a benign influence—
[In bringing us to the foot of the Cross, it is the means of effecting our reconciliation with, God, and of filling the soul with peace and joy — — — In stirring us up to mortify our corruptions, it keeps us from innumerable snares to which others are exposed, and from troubles in which others are involved. This seems to have been particularly in Solomon’s mind, when he penned the words of my text;. for he adds immediately, “The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness [Note: ver. 14.].” It conduces also most essentially to the benefit of all around us. It tends to check vice and wickedness in the world, and to promote virtue in every possible way. It calls forth all the acts and offices of love, both in the professor himself, and in all who come within the sphere of its influence. It greatly honours God too, and tends to the advancement of his kingdom upon earth. There is no end to the benefits of true wisdom: for, so far as it prevails and operates, it repairs the ruins of the Fall; and changes this wretched, miserable world into a very Paradise.]
In this respect, how widely different is “folly!”—
[See the world as it is, and then you will see what “folly” has done. Enter into the bosoms of men, and see how full they are of all hateful tempers and dispositions, and how utterly destitute of every thing like solid peace. See what jarrings it has introduced into society, insomuch that there is scarcely to be found a single family which is not more or less torn with disputes and disagreements. See what evils it diffuses on every side; and then say in what light it appears as compared with wisdom. I boldly ask, Does not wisdom excel it “as far as light excelleth darkness?” Darkness is suited to nothing but the deeds of darkness, and the sanguinary excursions of beasts of prey: whereas light administers to the welfare of all, and enables every member of society to execute his functions for the good of the whole: so that in this respect, also, the comparison is fitly made.]
But let us trace “wisdom” yet further,
In its effects upon the eternal world—
[It is here that the great excellence of wisdom will be chiefly found. If there were no future state, folly might, with some semblance of truth, compete with wisdom, because its gratifications are so strong to the organs of sense. But, when we view the aspect of wisdom upon eternity, and reflect that every one of its dictates has a direct tendency to fit the soul for heaven and to augment its eternal bliss, whilst the operations of folly have a directly opposite bearing, all competition between them vanishes; since heaven and hell might as well bear a comparison as they. In truth, the light of heaven and its glory afford a just illustration of the one; whilst “the blackness of darkness” in the regions of hell gives but too just a portrait of the other. The one brings us to the divine image; the other reduces us to the likeness of beasts and devils: the one ensures to us the everlasting fruition of our God; the other entails upon us his everlasting displeasure. In requiring you, therefore, to receive the declaration of my text, that “Wisdom excelleth folly as far as light excelleth darkness,” I do nothing but what every conscience must assent to, and every judgment approve.]
Permit me, then, in conclusion to ask,
What is the judgment you have already formed?
[I know that in theory you will all accede to this statement. But what has been your practical judgment? If we look at your lives, what will they attest to have been your views of this subject? Has wisdom there shone, and folly been put to shame? Have you really been living with a view to the eternal world, embracing the Gospel thankfully us sinners, and adorning it as saints. I ask not what “you have said” with your lips, but what “you have said” in your lives. It is not by your professions, but by your practice, that God will judge you; and therefore it is by that standard that you must judge yourselves — — —]
What is the conduct you intend hereafter to pursue?
[The world, I acknowledge, gives its voice in direct opposition to the foregoing statement. It represents religion as folly, and the prosecution of carnal enjoyments as wisdom. But its “calling good evil, and evil good,” will not change their respective natures: nor, if the whole world should unite in putting darkness for light, or light for darkness, will either of them lose its own qualities, and assume those of the other. “Sweet” will be sweet, and “bitter” bitter, whether men will believe it or not [Note: Isaiah 5:20.]. Will you then go contrary to the convictions of your own minds, in compliment to an ungodly world? Or will you, for fear of offending them, sacrifice the interests of your immortal souls? I call upon you to seek “wisdom, which is more to be chosen than fine gold [Note: Proverbs 16:16.].” Let your whole life declare its value, and be a standing testimony against the folly of the ungodly. So shall you have in this world a sweet experience of my text, and enjoy an ample confirmation of it in the world above.]
THE DIFFERENT PORTIONS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND WICKED
Ecclesiastes 2:26. God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail.
IN relation to earthly things, men run into two opposite extremes: some seeking their happiness altogether in the enjoyment of them; and others denying themselves the proper and legitimate use of them, in order that they may amass wealth for some future possessor. But both of these classes are unwise: the former, in that they look for that in the creature which is not to be found in it; and the latter, in that, without any adequate reason, they deprive themselves of comforts which God has designed them to enjoy. A temperate use of the good things of this life is no where forbidden: on the contrary, “there is,” as Solomon informs us, “nothing better for a man. than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour.” Doubtless this concession must be taken with certain restrictions; for we are not to spend all our substance on ourselves, but to be doing good with it to others: nor are we to suppose that our life consists in the abundance of the things that we possess, but to be seeking our happiness in God. That which alone will impart solid happiness, is religion: for to the good man God giveth what shall render him truly blessed; namely, “wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail.”
From these words I shall take occasion to shew you,
The different portions of the righteous and the wicked—
The world may be divided into two denominations; the righteous, and the wicked.
“To the righteous, God gives wisdom, and knowledge, and joy”—
[As to carnal wisdom, I am not sure that the wicked have not in general the advantage; as it is said, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light [Note: Luke 16:18.].” But the godly have a discernment of earthly things, or, as my text expresses it, a “wisdom and knowledge” in relation to them, which no ungodly man has ever attained. The godly see the true use of worldly things; and how they may be rendered conducive to the honour of God, and the good of the soul. As instruments for advancing the welfare of mankind, they may be desired and employed to good effect: and in this mode of using them God will confer real and abiding “joy.” Even the portion of them which is consumed upon ourselves will be relished with a richer zest; for “God has given us all things richly to enjoy:” but the thought of honouring God with them, and benefiting mankind, will give to them a kind of sanctified enjoyment, of such as was received from the harvest of which the first-fruits had been duly consecrated to the Lord [Note: Luke 11:41.]. The good man does not merely enjoy the things themselves: he enjoys God in them; and, in so doing, has the “testimony of his own conscience that he pleases God.” Nor is he unconscious that he is laying up treasure in heaven, even “bags which wax not old, and a treasure which never faileth [Note: Luke 12:33-42.12.34, 1 Timothy 6:19.].”]
“To the sinner,” on the other hand, “he giveth travail”—
[A man who neglects his God, can find no happiness in earthly things: in his pursuit of them, he is filled with care, which robs him of all real comfort [Note: See ver. 22, 23.]: in his enjoyment of them, they prove empty and cloying, “his very laughter being only as the crackling of thorns under a pot:” and, his mind being alienated from God, he has no source of peace from religion. Truly “the way of transgressors is hard [Note: Proverbs 13:15.];” or rather I must say, as the Scripture does, “Destruction and misery are in their ways [Note: Romans 3:16-45.3.17.].” Remarkable is that declaration of Zophar, “In the midst of their sufficiency they are in straits [Note: Job 20:22.].” And if this be their state in the midst of life and health, what must it be in a time of sickness and death? Most true is that declaration of Solomon: “What profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind? All his days he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness [Note: Ecclesiastes 5:16-21.5.17.].”
Thus, whilst the blessing of the Lord is upon the righteous, seeing that, whatever he bestow, “he addeth no sorrow with it [Note: Proverbs 10:22.];” he mixes gall and wormwood with the sinner’s cup, and “infuses a curse into his choicest blessings,”]
Let us now notice,
The hand of God, as displayed in them—
It is said in relation to both the righteous and the wicked, that “God giveth to them” their respective portions: both the one and the other are “from the hand of God [Note: ver. 24.].” In them we see,
The true nature of his moral government—
[Even now is there far more of equity in the dispensations of God than a superficial observer would imagine. Doubtless there is a great difference in the states of different men; but the rich and great have troubles of which the poor and destitute have very little conception. The very state of mind fostered by their distinctions is by no means favourable to their happiness; and the habits of the poor so inure them to privations, that they feel much less trouble from them than one would imagine. But let piety enter into any soul; and we hesitate not to declare, that though he were a Lazarus at the Rich Man’s gate, he were happier far than the man of opulence by whose crumbs he was fed. Peace of mind, arising from a sense of reconciliation with God, and a hope of final acceptance with him, is sufficient to weigh down all that an ungodly man ever did. or could, possess. And “the poorest man, if rich in faith and an heir of God’s kingdom,” is more to be envied than the greatest monarch upon earth, who possesses not real piety.
But with equity, goodness also is observable in all the dispensations of Providence. That God is good to the great and opulent, will be readily acknowledged: but he is so to the sinner, whom he leaves to experience the most painful disappointments. If a mother embitter to her child the breast on which he would fondly live, it is that he may learn to affect a more substantial diet: and if God, after all the labour which men put forth to render the creature a source of comfort, cause it to become to them only as “a broken cistern that can hold no water,” it is only that they may the more readily turn to him, and seek him, as “the fountain of living waters.”]
The certain issue of his future judgment—
[Is there, even in this world, “a difference put between him who serveth God, and him who serveth him not?” Much more shall that be found in the day which is especially set apart for the display of God’s righteous judgments. The Prophet Isaiah, as God’s herald, received this awful commission: “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. But woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his deeds shall be given him [Note: Isaiah 3:10-23.3.11.].” And this do we also proclaim. For the righteous is reserved a state of unutterable joy; but for the wicked, a state of utter exclusion from the realms of bliss, “in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone,” “where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” If the present inequalities of his dispensations lead us to expect this, much more does that previous distribution of good and evil which is even now accorded to men in correspondence with their moral habits. What is at this moment felt in the minds of the different characters, may well teach us what to expect in the day of judgment; even a separation of the righteous and the wicked; the one to everlasting fire; and the other to everlasting life, and blessedness, and glory.]
Let me now, from this subject, Recommend,
Religion in general—
[It is this which makes the chief difference between different men. The prince on his throne, and the beggar on the dunghill, are but little apart in comparison of “the good” and “the sinner.” Piety sets men asunder, as far as light from darkness, heaven from hell. Let those then amongst you, who would he happy either here or hereafter, give yourselves up to God, and approve yourselves to him. Only be “good in his sight,” and happiness will be yours, both in time and in eternity.]
A due improvement of all that you possess—
[To squander it away in self-indulgence, or to hoard it for some future possessor, will be alike foolish and vain. Neither of these modes of employing wealth can ever make you happy. The serving of God, and the benefiting of your fellow-creatures, will, on the contrary, bring peace and joy into the soul: for “the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for ever.” Not that any liberality of yours can ever form a ground of hope before God in a way of merit: all that you have is the Lord’s and it is only of his own that you give him: but if you are seeking righteousness and salvation by Christ alone, then will your works be accepted for Christ’s sake: and whatever you dispose of for the advancement of his glory, he will acknowledge it as “lent to him, and he will pay you again.” The talents that are improved for him, shall receive, in due proportion, a recompence at his hands.]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 2". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany