Ecclesiastes 4:11
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone?
Friendship a Gain in LifeJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
Mutual ServiceW. Clarkson Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The Advantages of FellowshipD. Thomas Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The Necessity and Benefits of Religious SocietyEcclesiastes 4:9-12
Two Better than OneC. R. Barnes.Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

There is a sense in which we have no choice but to be members of society. We are born into a social life, trained in it, and in it we must live. "None of us liveth unto himself." But there is a sense in which it rests with us to cultivate fellowship with our kind. And such voluntary association, we are taught in this passage, is productive of the highest benefits.

I. FELLOWSHIP MAKES LABOR EFFECTIVE. "Two have a good reward for their labor." If this was so in the day of the writer of Ecclesiastes, how much more strikingly and obviously is it so today! Division of labor and co-operation in labor are the two great principles which account for the success of industrial enterprise in our own time. There is scope for such united efforts in the Church of Christ - for unity and brotherly kindness, for mutual help, consideration, and endeavor.

II. FELLOWSHIP PROVIDES SUCCOR IN CALAMITY. When two are together, he who falls may be lifted up, when if alone he might be left to perish. This is a commonplace truth with reference to travelers in a strange land, with reference to comrades in war, etc. Our Lord Jesus sent forth his apostles two and. two, that one might supply his neighbor's deficiencies; that the healthy might uphold the sick; and the brave might cheer the timid. The history of Christ's Church is a long record of mutual succor and consolation. To raise the fallen, to cherish the weakly, to relieve the needy, to assist the widow and fatherless, - this is true religion. Here is the sphere for the manifestation of Christian fellowship.

III. FELLOWSHIP IS PROMOTIVE OF COMFORT, WELL-BEING, AND HAPPINESS. "How can one be warm alone?" asks the Preacher. Every household, every congregation, every Christian society, is a proof that there is a spirit of mutual dependence wherever the will of the great Father and Savior of mankind is honored and obeyed. The more there is of brotherly love within the Church, the more effective will be the Church's work of benevolence and missionary aggression upon the ignorance and sin of the world.

IV. FELLOWSHIP IMPARTS STRENGTH, STABILITY, AND POWER OF RESISTANCE. TWO, placing themselves shoulder to shoulder, can withstand an onset before which one alone would fall. "The threefold cord is not quickly broken." It must be remembered that the work of religious men in this world is no child's play; there are forces of evil toresist, there is a warfare to be maintained. And in order to succeed, two things are needful: first, dependence upon God; and secondly, brotherhood with our comrades and fellow-soldiers in the holy war. - T.

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun.
There is scarce any sin against which more is said in the Word of God, or which is more reproachful to a man and to a Christian, or more mischievous to society, than oppression. Yet I fear it is a sin which more persons are guilty of, and more suffer by, than is generally known.


1. It is dealing unjustly or unkindly by a person over whose time, goods, trade, or business the oppressor hath power. It is principally the vice of rich men and superiors, who have power over their workmen, servants, tenants, and other inferiors. But it is not confined to them. The poor often meet with very bad, if not the worst, treatment from those who in station and fortune are very little above them. It is oppression, when men impose what terms they please upon others in commerce and dealings, without regarding what is just and right; when they oblige others to sell their goods under their real value, because they are in necessity; or to give more for a commodity than it is worth, because they cannot do without it. Selling bad and damaged goods to persons who dare not refuse to take them, and yet must lose by them, or not sell them again for a reasonable profit, is another instance of this vice. If a person makes a relation, a neighbour, or dependant, pay dearer for what he buys than his other customers, because he is under particular obligations to buy of him, he is an oppressor. Taking exorbitant interest for money lent, or exchange of bills and cash, on account of men's necessities, is extortion and oppression. Where a person, or a combination of persons, engross the whole of any commodity which is to be sold, in order to make an excessive gain of it, or to injure other tradesmen in the same way of business, this is oppression. Again, to be rigorous in exacting debts or other rights to the very utmost farthing, where poverty, sickness, losses, dear seasons, or a large family render men incapable of paying what they owe; to allow them no time to satisfy their creditors; or to strip them of their all; this is cruelly oppressive. Obliging persons, over whom men have power, to vote or act against their consciences; persecuting, reviling, or even bantering, men for their religious sentiments and worship, is dreadful oppression. In the black list of oppressors must likewise be ranged parents, masters and mistresses of families and schools, who behave cruelly and severely to their children, servants, and scholars. There is likewise great oppression in a haughty, insolent, overbearing way of speaking to inferiors, which is very grating and hurtful to any sensible mind.


1. It proceeds from a very bad disposition of mind. The principal source of it is covetousness; an inordinate love of the world (Jeremiah 22:17). In some persons the practice of this sin proceeds from pride; to show their authority over others, and to keep them in awe. Hence they treat their inferiors as if they were of a lower species, and not worthy of common justice. This chows a base, ignoble mind (Psalm 63:6-8). In some, it is owing to luxury and extravagance. They are dressed with the spoils of the poor; and their fine houses, equipages, and entertainments are supported by the properties and comforts of others. It is sometimes owing to sloth; because, like drones in the hive, they will not work, they prey upon the labours of the industrious. It is very often owing to resentment, malice, and ill-nature.

2. Oppression is a high ingratitude and affront to the righteous God. It is ingratitude to Him, because He giveth men all their wealth and power over others, and He doth this, not that they may oppress, but protect, relieve, and serve others, and be a blessing to them. It must, therefore, be horrid ingratitude to abuse and pervert these favours to their injury. But what renders it worse is, that He hath bestowed upon men spiritual blessings and Christian privileges, and, therefore, to oppress and injure them must be proportionably wicked. Further, He hath placed men in different circumstances in life; "made both the rich and the poor." He hath allotted to men such conditions here that they need one another's assistance. The rich want the labour of the poor, as the poor want the money of the rich; and God expects that they should help one another, and so contribute to the general happiness. To oppress the poor, then, is defeating the wise and kind design of God's providence.

3. It is detestable inhumanity and cruelty to the oppressed. "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast." What then must we think of those who are oppressive and cruel to their fellow-men, but that they are utterly void of justice, goodness, and humanity, that they are monsters and not men?

4. It is directly contrary to the design of the Gospel; which is to promote righteousness, love, peace, and happiness upon earth, as well as to secure the eternal salvation of mankind.

5. It will sink men into everlasting ruin. God is a just and righteous Being, and at the judgment-day "He will render to every one according to his works." The Lord seeth and remembereth all the oppression that is done under the sun, and He will at length reckon with those who have done it.APPLICATION.

1. I shall address oppressors; those whose consciences tell them, as in the sight of God, that they have been guilty of this sin in the instances above mentioned or any other. I exhort you, sirs, to hearken to the voice of conscience as the voice of God; to submit to its reproofs; and to be humbled deeply before God for your injustice and cruelty to men.

2. Let me address the oppressed. It may perhaps be the ease of some of you, and I would endeavour to be your comforter. Acknowledge the justice of the Lord in what you suffer from the hand of men. Though they are unrighteous, He is righteous, for you have sinned; and He may choose this method of afflicting you, to lead you to repentance, to exercise your virtues, and make your hearts better. Let me exhort you to guard against a spirit of malice and revenge. Remember that their oppressing you will be no excuse for injustice to them. That "it is no harm to bite the biter" is a very wicked maxim. It is better to suffer many wrongs than to do one. Yea, it is our duty to render good for evil.

3. I would address those who can appeal to a heart-searching God that they are guiltless of this sin. I would exhort you to guard against the love of money, which is the chief root of this evil. To prevent your becoming oppressors, go not to the utmost bounds of things lawful. Keep on the safe side. Be not only just, but honourable, generous, and charitable, and "abstain from the very appearance of evil." Let me exhort you, likewise, to be comforters of the oppressed.

(Job Orton, D. D.)

It was considered honourable for women to toil in olden times. Alexander the Great stood in his palace showing garments made by his own mother. The finest tapestries at Bayeux were made by the queen of William the Conqueror. Augustus, the Emperor, would not wear any garments except those that were fashioned by some member of his royal family. So let the toilers everywhere be respected! The greatest blessing that could have happened to our first parents was being turned out of Eden after they had done wrong. Ashbel Green, at fourscore years, when asked why he kept on working, said: "I do so to keep out of mischief." We see that a man who has a large amount of money to start with has no chance. Of the thousand prosperous and honourable men that you know, nine hundred and ninety-nine had to work vigorously at the beginning. But I am now to tell you that industry is just as important for a woman's safety and happiness. The little girls of our families must be started with that idea. The curse of our American society is that our young women are taught that the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, tenth, fiftieth, thousandth thing in their life is to get somebody to take care of them. Instead of that, the first lesson should be how under God they may take care of themselves. Madame do Stael said: "It is not these writings that I am proud of, but the fact that I have facility in ten occupations, in any one of which I could make a livelihood." Though you live in an elegant residence and fare sumptuously every day, let your daughters feel it is a disgrace to them not to know how to work. I denounce the idea prevalent in society that though our young women may embroider slippers and crochet and make mats for lamps to stand on without disgrace, the idea of doing anything for a livelihood is dishonourable. It is a shame for a young woman belonging to a large family to be inefficient when the father toils his life away for her support. It is a shame for a daughter to be idle while her mother toils at the wash-tub. No woman, any more than a man, has a right to occupy a place in this world unless she pays a rent for it. Society is to be reconstructed on the subject of woman's toil. A vast majority of those who would have woman industrious shut her up to a few kinds of work. My judgment in this matter is that a woman has a right to do anything she can do well. There should be no department of merchandise, mechanism, art, or science barred against her. If Miss Hosmer has genius for sculpture, give her a chisel. If Rosa Bonheur has a fondness for delineating animals, let her make "The Horse Fair." If Miss Mitchell will study astronomy, let her mount the starry ladder. If Lydia will be a merchant, let her sell purple. It is said, if woman is given such opportunities she will occupy places that might be taken by men. I say, if she have more skill and adaptedness for any position than a man has, let her have ill She has as much right to her bread, to her apparel, and to her home as men have. But it is said that her nature is so delicate that she is unfitted for exhausting toil. I ask in the name of all past history what toil on earth is more severe, exhausting, and tremendous than that toil of the needle to which for ages she has been subjected? Oh, the meanness, the despicability, of men who begrudge a woman the right of work anywhere in any honourable calling! I go still further and say that women should have equal compensation with men. By what principle of justice is it that women in many of our cities get only two-thirds as much pay as men and in many cases only half? Here is the gigantic injustice — that for work equally well, if not better, done, women receive far less compensation than men. Years ago one Sabbath night, in the vestibule of this church, after service, a woman fell in convulsions. The doctor said she needed medicine not so much as something to eat. As she began to revive, in her delirium she said, gaspingly: "Eight cents! Eight cents! Eight cents! I wish I could get it done, I am so tired. I wish I could get some sleep, but I must get it done. Eight cents! Eight cents! Eight cents!" We found afterwards that she was making garments for eight cents apiece, and she could make but three of them in a day. Hear it! Three times eight are twenty-four. Hear it, men and women who have comfortable homes. How are these evils to be eradicated? Some say: "Give women the ballot." What effect such ballot might have on other questions I am not here to discuss; but what would be the effect of female suffrage on women's wages? I do not believe that women will ever get justice by woman's ballot. Indeed, women oppress women as much as men do. Do not women, as much as men, beat down to the lowest figure the woman who sews for them? Woman will never get justice done her from woman's ballot. Neither will she get it from man's ballot. How then? God will rise up for her. God has more resources than we know of. The flaming sword that hung at Eden's gate when woman was driven out will cleave with its terrible edge her oppressors. But there is something for women to do. Let young people prepare to excel in spheres of work, and they will be able after a while to get larger wages. If it be shown that a woman can, in a store, sell more goods in a year than a man, she will soon be able not only to ask, but to demand more wages, and to demand them successfully. Unskilled and incompetent labour must take what is given; skilled and competent labour will eventually make its own standard.

(T. DeWilt Talmage.)

They had no comforter
It is the glory of the Gospel that it is not only a religion of conversion, but a religion of consolation. It ministers peace, and makes even the human side of life capable of deep and abiding joy. The promise has been fulfilled, and the soul bears witness that He is true who says, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."

I. THE LATENT PAIN. This pain does not leap forth at once. It is a kind of hidden fire: a sort of slumbering force. Students of life should think deeply on this, that pain lies hidden in pleasure. The strangest fact in life is that the measure of joy is often the measure of sorrow. The height of gain is the length of the shadow of loss. The keener our affection, the more bitter our anguish when bereavement comes. The more ardent our pursuit, the more depressing the disappointment in missing the goal. In Jesus Christ our Lord He has offered us a renewed nature and a restful heart. He has given us a Saviour and a Comforter. We need no more. If the latent pain leaps forth, we have an anodyne for sorrow, a perfect absolution for sin, a balm for broken hearts, a brother born for adversity, and beyond the present the glories of immortal life. At our peril we put Christ away. Out in the wide fields of human search we come upon no footprints of another Saviour.

II. THE CHARLATAN COMFORTERS. Yes! there are comforters. We find that men will put the poppy in the pillow when there is no peace in the heart. They seek comfort. Sometimes in quiet retreats, where the scenes of the city life do not haunt them, Nature's floral groves and woodland shadows constitute a veil to hide the weird forms of guilt and shame and sorrow to be met with in crowded centres of life. But past life will there come back to memory, and unforgiven sin will there send its sharp dagger to the heart. Or it may be that freedom from necessity brings comfort, and that superfluity has made the old days of care and struggle only a memory! Now at all events there are no sleepless nights, no battles amid daily anxiety for daily bread, and we sit under the restful shadow of trees planted long ago! Then, too, much looks like comfort, which comes from ease of circumstance, when the couch is of down, and no spectre of anxiety crosses the earthly threshold. But even then there are deep necessities of the soul, if we are dead to things divine.

III. THE FULNESS OF CHRIST. I do not mean merely Divine perfectness in the quantity of sympathy, but, if I may say so, in the quality of it. Nothing is more wonderful than the way in which the weary soul finds sympathy in the Saviour. There is a revelation of grace in Christ which makes Him the complement of each man's nature. Sorrows differ; doubts differ; needs differ; tastes differ; and even the wounds inflicted by bereavement differ. But Christ searches us, and knows us all. And what sweet response comes from hearts that have trusted in Him, as they unite in testifying, "His grace is sufficient for us!" How patiently Christians suffer! How trustfully they rest! How cheerfully they live! How hopefully they die!

IV. THE MISSING GOOD. No comforter! Then who will show us any good? For we cannot unmake ourselves. There is the connection of comfort with conscience. Divine redemption still, as of old, is a necessity of the human heart. Then there is the connection of comfort with character. We are made new creatures in Christ Jesus. We have new motives, new aims, new desires, new sympathies, new relationship to God. Our life is hid with Christ in God — the blessed God: and then peace flows like a river through the heart. This is life eternal. Then there is the connection of comfort with influence. That man has no comforter who realizes that the influence of his life is an infection of evil, an impulse to the lower life. Even if he possess genius, it may be but an added force for harm. But the Christian has this comfort, though no minstrel sings the story of his chivalry, though no sculptured marble tells the tale of his renown — yet he liveth to the Lord, he dieth to the Lord. The world of holy influence will be the richer for his being!

(W. M. Statham.)

Alone, Furthermore, Heat, Lie, Sleeping, Warm, Warmth
1. vanity is increased unto men by oppression
4. by envy
5. by idleness
7. by covetousness
9. by solitariness
13. by willfulness

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

     5689   friendlessness

Ecclesiastes 4:10-11

     5809   compassion, human

The Order of Thought which Surrounded the Development of Jesus.
As the cooled earth no longer permits us to understand the phenomena of primitive creation, because the fire which penetrated it is extinct, so deliberate explanations have always appeared somewhat insufficient when applying our timid methods of induction to the revolutions of the creative epochs which have decided the fate of humanity. Jesus lived at one of those times when the game of public life is freely played, and when the stake of human activity is increased a hundredfold. Every great part,
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

In making the following thread to the rich literature on Constantine the plan has been to confine almost wholly to Monographs, since to refer to all histories, encyclopædias, and the like which treat of him would be endless. Only such few analyzed references are introduced as have special reasons. Even with this limit it cannot be at all hoped that the list is exhaustive. Considerable pains has been taken, however, to make it full, as there is no really extended modern list of works on Constantine,
Eusebius Pamphilius—The Life of Constantine

And for Your Fearlessness against them Hold this Sure Sign -- Whenever There Is...
43. And for your fearlessness against them hold this sure sign--whenever there is any apparition, be not prostrate with fear, but whatsoever it be, first boldly ask, Who art thou? And from whence comest thou? And if it should be a vision of holy ones they will assure you, and change your fear into joy. But if the vision should be from the devil, immediately it becomes feeble, beholding your firm purpose of mind. For merely to ask, Who art thou [1083] ? and whence comest thou? is a proof of coolness.
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

The Upbringing of Jewish Children
The tenderness of the bond which united Jewish parents to their children appears even in the multiplicity and pictorialness of the expressions by which the various stages of child-life are designated in the Hebrew. Besides such general words as "ben" and "bath"--"son" and "daughter"--we find no fewer than nine different terms, each depicting a fresh stage of life. The first of these simply designates the babe as the newly--"born"--the "jeled," or, in the feminine, "jaldah"--as in Exodus 2:3, 6, 8.
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Letter xxxvi (Circa A. D. 1131) to the Same Hildebert, who had not yet Acknowledged the Lord Innocent as Pope.
To the Same Hildebert, Who Had Not Yet Acknowledged the Lord Innocent as Pope. He exhorts him to recognise Innocent, now an exile in France, owing to the schism of Peter Leonis, as the rightful Pontiff. To the great prelate, most exalted in renown, Hildebert, by the grace of God Archbishop of Tours, Bernard, called Abbot of Clairvaux, sends greeting, and prays that he may walk in the Spirit, and spiritually discern all things. 1. To address you in the words of the prophet, Consolation is hid from
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Scriptures Showing the Sin and Danger of Joining with Wicked and Ungodly Men.
Scriptures Showing The Sin And Danger Of Joining With Wicked And Ungodly Men. When the Lord is punishing such a people against whom he hath a controversy, and a notable controversy, every one that is found shall be thrust through: and every one joined with them shall fall, Isa. xiii. 15. They partake in their judgment, not only because in a common calamity all shares, (as in Ezek. xxi. 3.) but chiefly because joined with and partakers with these whom God is pursuing; even as the strangers that join
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

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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