Ecclesiastes 11:6
Sow your seed in the morning, and do not rest your hands in the evening, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or if both will equally prosper.
Magnificent FailuresC. F. Dole.Ecclesiastes 11:6
The Seed-Time of LifeR. C. CowellEcclesiastes 11:6
Incentives to Christian WorkW. Clarkson Ecclesiastes 11:1-4, 6
Provision for the FutureJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 11:1-6
Fulfill Duty and Disregard ConsequencesD. Thomas Ecclesiastes 11:4, 6

These statements and admonitions respect both natural and spiritual toil. The husbandman who labors in the fields, and the pastor and the missionary who seek a harvest of souls, alike need such counsel. The natural and the supernatural alike are under the control and government of God; and they who would labor to good purpose in God's universe must have regard to Divine principles, and must confide in Divine faithfulness and goodness.

I. THE DUTY OF DILIGENCE. Good results do not come by chance; and although the blessing and the glory are alike God's, he honors men by permitting them to be his fellow-workers. There is no reason to expect reaping unless sowing has preceded; "What a man soweth that shall he also reap." Toil - thoughtful, patient, persevering toil - such is the condition of every harvest worth the ingathering.

II. DISSUASIVES FROM DILIGENCE. If the husbandman occupy himself in studying the weather, and in imagining and anticipating adverse seasons, the operations of agriculture will come to a standstill. There are possibilities and contingencies before every one of us, the consideration and exaggeration of which may well paralyze the powers, hinder effective labor, and cloud the prospect of the future, so as to prevent a proper use of present opportunities. This is a temptation which besets some temperaments more than others, from which, however, few are altogether free. If the Christian laborer fixes his attention upon the difficulties of his task, upon the obduracy or ignorance of the natures with which he has to deal, upon the slenderness of his resources, upon the failures of many of his companions and colleagues, leaving out of sight all counteracting influences, the likelihood is that his powers will be crippled, that his work will stand still, and that his whole life will be clouded by disappointment. The field looks barren, the weeds grow apace, the enemy is sowing tares, the showers of blessing are withheld: what, then, is the use of sowing the gospel seed? Such are the reflections and the questionings which take possession of many minds, to their discouragement and enfeeblement and distress.

III. INDUCEMENTS TO DILIGENCE. It is not questioned that the work is arduous, that the difficulties are real, that the foes are many and powerful, that circumstances may be adverse, that the prospect (to the eye of mere human reason) may be somber. But even granting all this, the Christian laborer has ample grounds for earnest and persevering effort. Of these, two come before us as we read these verses.

1. Our own ignorance of results. We have not to do with the consequences, and we certainly cannot foresee them. Certain it is that amazing blessings have sometimes rested upon toil in most unpromising conditions, in places and among people that have almost stricken the heart of the observer with despair. "Thou knowest not whether shall prosper, this or that;" "With God nothing is impossible."

2. The express command of our Divine Lord. Results we cannot foresee. But direct commands we can understand and obey. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand." Such is the voice, the behest, of him who has a right to order our actions - to control and inspire our life. Whilst we have this commission to execute, we are not at liberty to waste our time and cripple our activities by moodily questioning what is likely to follow from our efforts. Surely the Christian may have faith to leave this in the hand of God! - T.

In the morning sow thy seed.
The morning, as we apply it to Christian youth, stands for brightness, freshness, promise, for "regenerate hope, the salt of life," for opportunity, activity, and corresponding responsibility. The morning is pre-eminently the sowing time. .Noon and eventide will take their complexion from the morning, and morning, whether we improve or waste it, never returns. How important, then, that we should sow well, that our aims should be right, that we should lay up the opportunity and live crowded hours. First, as a matter of fact, we are all sowing. God has so constituted our nature that we must sow. Every thought, emotion, motive, is a seed; all our words and deeds are seeds which must generate, spring up, and bear fruit in our hearts and lives, in the hearts and lives of others, in time and in eternity. Our present characters are the harvests of seeds sown in the past of our lives. The seed we are sowing is imperishable. Be the winds ever so high, be the frosts ever so severe, germinate and spring up the seed must. Outward circumstances may hasten or check the growth, but cannot kill the seed. Like the man who scatters it, it is immortal.

I. Sow in the morning FOR YOUR INTELLECTUAL ADVANTAGE. "My mind to me a kingdom is," sang Edward Dyer, the friend of Sir Philip Sidney. But what if that kingdom is enveloped in darkness, or peopled with undisciplined, not to speak of evil, thoughts, the home of the crude, the distorted, the perverted and perverting in knowledge? The kingdom of the mind, to bring joy to its king, need be luminous with knowledge, peopled with wise and pure thoughts, the home of virtue, beauty, and order — a kingdom in which are reaped and sown harvest after harvest of sound attainment and discreet dissemination as life advances. I need hardly say that one of the best instruments of manly culture is reading. Young people should make companions of wise and good books. Read books that have in them, if I may so speak, mountains of strength, and gardens of beauty, and wide cornfields of knowledge, and fruits of ripe wisdom; books through which blow winds of purity, and whose pages are bright with sunshine of unstained joys. Thus will you be sowing in the morning the seed of a harvest of true satisfaction. Some young people begrudge the time and pains which the pursuit of knowledge demands.

II. Sow in the morning THE SEED OF NOBLE MANHOOD AND WOMANHOOD. It has been asserted that "the cardinal elements of national greatness are robust character, independent personality, and sincere religiousness." May not the same be said of individuals? Noble character is the supreme good. Without character even earthly knowledge is a vain possession in view of the highest ends of life, is only a phantasm of the brain, a fugitive mirage, whose illusive tropical gardens turn to dry sand. Without it, material prosperity is the soul's deadly snare. Let me say, in what may seem a commonplace remark, that you must begin to sow it in repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which are the seeds of the new life in the soul. Prayer, humility, courage, self-control, and kindness are precious seeds. Scatter them with no miserly hand. Oh, sow for character. It is of all precious things the most precious — the diamond among jewels, the rose among flowers, the throne in the kingdom of man's possessions. For value, for beauty, for service, for command, it is the one thing needful. Keep the Lord Jesus Christ before you. He is your ideal as well as your Saviour. Self-surrender, faith, love, righteous living and good companionship will lead on to likeness to Him.

III. Sow in the morning THE SEED OF USEFULNESS. The morning is your opportunity, a magnificent opportunity, while it lasts. Soon manhood and womanhood, with the cares of life, and the claims of lawful duties, will overtake you. Then there will be little time to give to the specific task of scattering the seed of saving truth. Fill the morning hours with labour. Let pleasure wait, or be you content with such joys as God gives the husbandman; not the artificial joys of the crowded resorts of the world's pleasures, but natural joys that are well symbolized by the babble of the brook and the skylark's song. You cannot fling abroad a handful of seed, you cannot speak a loving word for your Master, or do a serviceable deed without unsealing in your own heart a fountain of gladness. Oh, the world needs you. Give yourselves to it. Bestow on it your hopefulness and brightness, your purity and tenderness, your best thought and effort. II any here are using the morning to sow evil seed, pause. Remember, if you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind.

(R. C. Cowell)

Thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that
Every one must have been impressed with the curious fact that Columbus failed in most of the things that he tried for. He made a bad mistake at first in his reckonings. He never knew that he had not reached Asia. He looked for gold and wealth, but he died in poverty. Except that he proved that the earth was round, which had already been satisfactorily proved, everything turned out differently from what he thought. And yet we celebrate him as though he had completely succeeded. There is a certain kind of magnificent failure that takes hold of our imagination and sympathy even more effectively than unqualified success. The most thrilling episodes in history are stories like that of Columbus — of men who essayed vast endeavours, and, after all, proved to have done something vastly more important and other than they expected. The Protestant Reformation is such a story of magnificent failure. Nothing is more pathetic than the last weary year of Luthers life, Or the brave Zwingli dying in battle. The reformers had set out only to go a little way, to reform certain abuses and to correct a few errors. But they stirred up faction and war, they divided Germany, they let loose all manner of free thought. A hundred years after Luther the Reformation in Germany still looked like a failure. Now at last we enjoy what they only began to set in movement. The incoming religion is nobler, sunnier, more philosophical, more comprehensive than the reformers would have dared to accept. The story of the famous Savonarola is equally instructive. He did not save Florence. He could not work miracles, His visions did not come true. They put him to death like his Master. But the great world took up the holy impulse of his life; and his name, his passion for justice, his instinct for purity, passed over out of flames — a vitalizing spirit — into the infinite stream of our human destiny. One leaps at once, without citing other examples, to the great primitive Christ story. The story of Jesus is that of the most magnificent failure. As far as the records go, it seems clear that Jesus and His followers alike looked for what did not come. The glorious new kingdom of the sons of God was not ushered in before that generation passed away. The Son of Man did not appear in the skies. The good still suffered, the wicked and oppressors were not cast out. Nevertheless, we see that no one in Jesus' place could have done more. No one ever had such magnificent success. We see the brotherly spirit which possessed Jesus going into all the world, even beyond where His name goes, slowly but surely banishing the ancient hate, banding men together, turning the evil into good. We believe that, if Jesus could see the travail of His soul, he would be satisfied. In the story of Columbus we distinguish two elements working out the evens of his life. He was right, on the whole, in the great main issue; namely, that, the earth being round, one voyaging west would find land, and, going far enough, the continent of Asia. All his greatness and success came of his following a great truth. But Columbus was mistaken by thousands of miles in all the details of his geography. His maps were drawn by guess-work, not from facts. This is typical of what has happened in all the pathetic tragedies. Thus Luther, brave as he was, only partly succeeded. His maps and charts, like Columbus, were not correct. The facts about this world by which to draw the maps in religion were not yet in. And the early Church, too, was right in its main direction. It started out toward the goal of a world religion. It was right to proclaim a good God and a righteous world, a gospel of faith and hope. But the noblest soul that ever sailed the sea of life had to work from the old charts. The unknown spaces of this world were a chaos of strange demonology. This had not yet been discovered to be a universe. Hence disasters and shipwrecks even to those who rightly sailed west. Here we stand to-day Confronting pressing questions of social and political administration. How can we most fairly organize society and humanize the relations of employers and the employed? Or take the gigantic question of the control of the drink traffic and the care of the intemperate. Good and earnest men are conscientiously divided over these questions. It is possible to-day that men are setting out from their Palos, and sailing west to find the distant lands of light. But others are also sailing, like Vasco da Gama, another and seemingly opposite course. It is possible that the men of neither expedition will find exactly what they look for. It is possible to-day that the bravest and noblest may be mistaken in their estimates of the contents of the seas into which humanity sails. Ah, we should be glad to know that the course was so short and the route so simple and straight as some of our friends believe! It may prove again that the world is larger and more capes must be rounded than are down on the present maps. I find everywhere that progress is a resultant of many forces and the impulse of many men. I find that all misunderstanding, narrowness, prejudice, and bitterness, lack of faith in God or man, on the part of any of us, is always so far a waste. But I find more notably yet that, though particular methods fail, no earnest work goes quite to waste, that all is taken up in the final readjustment. Every movement that has the true sailing direction — nay, even the mishaps and wrecks, so be they lie toward the land whither we sail — at last serve the world's fleet of discovery. Vasco da Gama and Columbus each proved to help, and moved at last toward each other. It does not trouble me, therefore, that the good and wise differ, while yet we are only making maps. For this is to live in a world that moves and grows. It is to be learners and seekers of truth. It is to be children here that we may be sons of God by and by.

(C. F. Dole.)

Alike, Either, Equally, Evening, Hands, Idle, Morning, Prosper, Rest, Seed, Sow, Sowing, Succeed, Till, Whether, Withdraw, Withhold
1. directions for charity
7. death in life and the day of judgment
9. in the days of youth

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ecclesiastes 11:6

     4506   seed
     4954   morning
     5156   hand
     5343   idleness

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

     6182   ignorance, human situation

A New Years Sermon to the Young
'Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.... Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.'--ECCLES. xi. 9; xii. 1. This strange, and in some places perplexing Book of Ecclesiastes, is intended to
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Sowing in the Wind, Reaping under Clouds
"He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap."--Ecclesiastes 11:4. SOW when the time comes, whatever wind blows. Reap when the times comes, whatever clouds are in the sky. There are, however, qualifying proverbs, which must influence our actions. We are not to discard prudence in the choice of the time for our work. "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." It is well to sow when the weather is propitious. It is wise
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892

Of Confession and Self-Examination
Of Confession and Self-examination Self-examination should always precede Confession, and in the nature and manner of it should be conformable to the state of the soul: the business of those that are advanced to the degree of which we now treat, is to lay their whole souls open before God, who will not fail to enlighten them, and enable them to see the peculiar nature of their faults. This examination, however, should be peaceful and tranquil, and we should depend on God for the discovery and knowledge
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

Curiosity a Temptation to Sin.
"Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."--Proverbs iv. 14, 15. The chief cause of the wickedness which is every where seen in the world, and in which, alas! each of us has more or less his share, is our curiosity to have some fellowship with darkness, some experience of sin, to know what the pleasures of sin are like. I believe it is even thought unmanly by many persons (though they may not like to say
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

1872-1874. Letter from Rev. A. M. W. Christopher --Letter from Gulf of St. Lawrence-Mrs. Birt's Sheltering Home, Liverpool --Letter to Mrs. Merry --Letter from Canada --Miss
Letter from Rev. A. M. W. Christopher--Letter from Gulf of St. Lawrence-Mrs. Birt's Sheltering Home, Liverpool--Letter to Mrs. Merry--Letter from Canada--Miss Macpherson's return to England-- Letter of cheer for Dr. Barnardo--Removal to Hackney Home. Though human praise is not sought, we cannot but feel peculiar pleasure in giving the following testimony from a servant of the Lord so much revered as the Rev, A. M. W. Christopher of Oxford:-- "Of all the works of Christian benevolence which the great
Clara M. S. Lowe—God's Answers

How the Slothful and the Hasty are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 16.) Differently to be admonished are the slothful and the hasty. For the former are to be persuaded not to lose, by putting it off, the good they have to do; but the latter are to be admonished lest, while they forestall the time of good deeds by inconsiderate haste, they change their meritorious character. To the slothful therefore it is to be intimated, that often, when we will not do at the right time what we can, before long, when we will, we cannot. For the very indolence of
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Jesus Attends the First Passover of his Ministry.
(Jerusalem, April 9, a.d. 27.) Subdivision A. Jesus Cleanses the Temple. ^D John II. 13-25. ^d 13 And the passover of the Jews was at hand [We get our information as to the length of our Lord's ministry from John's Gospel. He groups his narrative around six Jewish festivals: 1, He here mentions the first passover; 2, another feast, which we take to have been also a passover (v. 1); 3, another passover (vi. 4); 4, the feast of tabernacles (vii. 2); 5, dedication (x. 22); 6, passover (xi. 55). This
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

How those are to be Admonished who Decline the Office of Preaching Out of Too Great Humility, and those who Seize on it with Precipitate Haste.
(Admonition 26.) Differently to be admonished are those who, though able to preach worthily, are afraid by reason of excessive humility, and those whom imperfection or age forbids to preach, and yet precipitancy impells. For those who, though able to preach with profit, still shrink back through excessive humility are to be admonished to gather from consideration of a lesser matter how faulty they are in a greater one. For, if they were to hide from their indigent neighbours money which they possessed
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Jeremiah, a Lesson for the Disappointed.
"Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord."--Jeremiah i. 8. The Prophets were ever ungratefully treated by the Israelites, they were resisted, their warnings neglected, their good services forgotten. But there was this difference between the earlier and the later Prophets; the earlier lived and died in honour among their people,--in outward honour; though hated and thwarted by the wicked, they were exalted to high places, and ruled in the congregation.
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

The Wrath of God
What does every sin deserve? God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.' Matt 25: 41. Man having sinned, is like a favourite turned out of the king's favour, and deserves the wrath and curse of God. He deserves God's curse. Gal 3: 10. As when Christ cursed the fig-tree, it withered; so, when God curses any, he withers in his soul. Matt 21: 19. God's curse blasts wherever it comes. He deserves also God's wrath, which is
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

It is not surprising that the book of Ecclesiastes had a struggle to maintain its place in the canon, and it was probably only its reputed Solomonic authorship and the last two verses of the book that permanently secured its position at the synod of Jamnia in 90 A.D. The Jewish scholars of the first century A.D. were struck by the manner in which it contradicted itself: e.g., "I praised the dead more than the living," iv. 2, "A living dog is better than a dead lion," ix. 4; but they were still more
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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