Whatever exists was named long ago, and what happens to a man is foreknown; but he cannot contend with one stronger than he.
I. THE WAY OF RESISTANCE. The will may be strong, and naturally prone to self-assertion, to energetic volition, and to contention with any resisting force.
1. God is, as the providential Ruler of the world, the Lord and Controller of all circumstances, mightier than man. Men fret against the conditions and limitations of their lot; they would fain possess greater strength and health, a longer life, enjoyments more varied and unmixed, etc. They resent the imposition of laws in the determination of which they had no voice. They are even disposed to believe that the world has been ordered, not by a benevolent Intelligence, but by a hard and cruel fate.
2. God is, as the moral Administrator and Judge, mightier than man. In their selfishness and prejudice, men may and do question the sway of reason in the universe; they assign all things to chance; they deny any laws superior to such as are physical and political; they deem man the measure of all things; they ridicule responsibility. All this they may do; but it is of no avail. God is mightier than they. They may violate his laws, but they cannot escape from their action; they may spurn his authority, but that authority is all the same maintained and exercised. The time comes when the insurgent and the rebel are constrained to admit that they are powerless, and that the Almighty is, and that he works and rules, and effects his righteous purposes.
II. THE WAY OF SUBMISSION. It is the province of religion to point out to men that there is a Power in the universe which is above all, and to summon men to yield to this Power a cheerful subjection.
1. Submission is a just requirement on the part of God, and an honorable attitude on the part of man. He is no tyrant, capricious and unjust, who claims our loyalty and service; but the Being who is himself infinitely righteous. To do him homage is to bow, not before irresistible power merely, but before moral perfection. Resistance here is slavery; subjection is freedom.
2. Submission is the one only condition of efficient work and solid happiness. Whilst we resist God, we can do nothing satisfactory and good; when we accept his will and receive our commands from him, we become fellow-workers with God. Just as the secret of the mechanician's success is in obeying the laws of nature, i.e. the laws of God in the physical realm, so the secret of the success of the thinker and the philanthropist lies in the apprehension and acknowledgment of Divine law in the intellectual and moral kingdoms. Man may do great things when he labors under God and with God. And in such a course of life there is true peace as well as true success. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" - T.
That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man.
I. FATE IS FIXED. "That which hath been." Everything is fate. Most men feel this at times. Do .you ever say, I must obey my destiny? It is no use contending with fate. Mine m an unlucky star. There is some truth in this idea. Christ taught a preordination in all events. But His fate was moral, not mechanical; not a blind destiny, but a wise decree.
II. MAN IS FEEBLE. "Neither may he contend with Him that is mightier than he." And Christless humanity is a very feeble thing. His bodily frame is feeble. An insect's sting has been known to consign it to dissolution. Man's intellect is feeble; still the human intellect can do something great in connection with Christ.
III. JOY IS FUTILE (ver. 11). What the better is man for all he has? What the better for his wealth, his reputation, his philosophy?
IV. LIFE IS FLEETING. It "is a vain life," and all its days are a shadow. A shadow is the nearest thing to anility. A cloud may catch the eye, and its changing views and figures may give amusement for a few minutes — a shadow, who notes it or records it?
V. THE FUTURE IS ENIGMATIC. "Who can tell what shall be after him under the sun?"
(J. Hamilton, D. D.)
Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? —
I. EVERY CONDITION IS CLOGGED WITH VANITY.
1. God never made the world, nor any condition in it, to be a place of rest and satisfaction. And since sin hath so far marred the beauty of the universe, there is a judicial vanity upon the whole creation (Romans 8:20).
2. We know but very little of the true nature of things, nor of ourselves, nor of our temptations, nor of our interests (Job 8:9).
3. That little that we do know of anything, we come so droppingly to the knowledge of it that, ere we can lay things together, so as to compare them, and separate them, and sort them, and compound them, so as if to make a judgment, either things them. selves or our circumstances are altered, or upon alteration.
II. ALL THINGS ON THIS SIDE RELIGION, WHEREBY MEN ENDEAVOUR TO GET ABOVE VANITY, INCREASE IT. The multiplication of cyphers amounts to less than nothing. Can anything of the world supply the soul with grace, satisfy the desires in so much as any one thing, or fill any one faculty of the soul to satisfaction? Can the world fill the mind with heavenly light, or the will with heavenly love, or the conscience with that "peace that passeth understanding"?
III. IT IS ONLY SERIOUS GODLINESS THAT CAN ANY WHIT REALLY ABATE THE VANITY THAT CLEAVES TO EVERY CONDITION. To hate sin and love holiness; to live a life of faith, in dependence upon God and resignation to Him; to live above the transports of hopes and fears about things temporal; in short, to be blessings to the world while we live, and to be blessed with God when we die: this is the business and fruit of serious godliness; and this alone is that which at present can effectually abate the vexatious vanities which every condition swarms with.
1. Serious godliness will make your present condition good for you, be it what it will.
2. Serious godliness will make every change of condition good for us, though the change shock both nature and grace.
3. Serious godliness will make relative afflictions (which of all outward afflictions are the most grievous) good for us; and nothing else can do it.
4. Serious godliness will make horror of conscience and Divine desertions good for us.
5. Serious godliness will force something good out of the evil of sin. The rising ground of a dunghill may help to raise thy flight towards heaven.
6. Though to your own apprehension you have no faith at all to believe any one word of all this, nor any skill at all to know what to do; yet serious godliness will make all this good to thee.Uses: —
1. Set your hears upon serious godliness.
2. Learn to be more than barely contented with your present condition.
3. Make conscience of both sorts of duties, — religious and worldly; and allot fit and distinct times for heavenly and worldly business. But with this difference, let religion mix itself with worldly business, and spare not; but let not the world break in upon religion, lest it spoil it.
4. Whatever you do for the bettering of your condition, follow God, but do not go before Him.
(S. Annesley, LL. D.)
TopicsAble, Ago, Already, Contend, Dispute, Exists, Foreknown, Mightier, Named, Power, Stronger, Thereof, Whatever, Whatsoever
Outline1. the vanity of riches without use
3. though a man have many children and a long life
7. the vanity of sight and wandering desires
10. The conclusion of vanities
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEcclesiastes 6:9
i. editions of chrysostom's works. S. Joannis Chrysostomi, archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera omnia quæ exstant vel quæ ejus nomine circumferuntur, ad mss. codices Gallicos, Vaticanos, Anglicos, Germanicosque castigata, etc. Opera et studio D.Bernardi de Montfaucon, monachi ordinis S. Benedicti e congregatione S. Mauri, opem ferentibus aliis ex codem sodalitio, monachis. Greek and Latin, Paris, 1718-'38, in 13 vols., fol. This is the best edition, and the result of about twenty …
St. Chrysostom—On the Priesthood
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
Appendix iv. An Abstract of Jewish History from the Reign of Alexander the Great to the Accession of Herod
Thoughts Upon Worldly Riches. Sect. I.
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