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Volume 11 - Page 37 of 161 Index | Zoom | |
concerning the profitableness of labour (1: 3) until chapter 2: 26, the great subject of
investigation is this one of works, sore travail and labour. After the enumeration of the
time and seasons (3: 1-8), which in effect summarizes the whole round of human
activity, the question of 1: 3 abruptly reappears: "What profit hath he that worketh in that
wherein he laboureth?" The insane idolatry of mere accumulation is exposed in the next
reference to "profit" (5: 9-12):--
"Moreover, the profit of the earth is for all (or consists in the whole): the King himself
is served by the field."
The verses which follow both speak of the failure of silver and of increase to satisfy.
The occupant of the humble cottage, were he taught by this book, would never envy the
owner of the mansion which overlooks his roof. Can that wealthy man eat more than one
meal at a time? wear more than one suit at a time?
"What advantage to the owners thereof saving the LOOKING AT THEM with their
eyes?" (5: 11).
In contrast with all the vexations and taxations of the wealthy is the poor man:--
"The sleep of the labouring man is sweet whether he eats little or much."
A plain and frugal supper satisfies his modest desires, and an extra good meal brings
no nightmare to haunt his slumbers. Again the question is raised in 5: 16, and labour for
riches proves to be labour for the wind, and where is the profit? Did not the Lord Jesus
Himself take up the teaching of Ecclesiastes when He said:--
"For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
(Matt. 16: 26).
Here the truth is enforced by a figure that does not speak merely of accumulating
silver or adding field to field, it contemplates the possession of the whole world--yet
even then we ask where is the profit? there is none, for the reward which the Lord will
give when He comes in the glory of His Father is forfeited. Is not the conclusion of
Ecclesiastes' investigation expressed in the words:--
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth.......but lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven"?
The apostle Paul knew full well that the balance-sheet is not to be made up annually--
it is an affair of life:--
"For me to live is Christ, and to die GAIN" (Phil. 1: 21).
"What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.......I count all things
but loss.......that I may have Christ for my gain" (Phil. 3: 7, 8).
"I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content" (Phil. 4: 11).
We return to the opening chapter, and note the observations which follow immediately
upon his question. He instances the generations of mankind, the sun, the wind, the rivers.
One thing is common to them, a continuous never-ending circle. One generation passeth
away and another generation cometh. The sun is no sooner risen than he seems to hasten