Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE BOOK of Ecclesiastes is of King Solomon's writing (1: 1, 12), given by God's inspiration. Most of Solomon's very numerous writings (1 Kings 4: 32, 33) were not inspired. But he wrote by inspiration at least Ps. 72 and 127 and perhaps quite a few others that are anonymous (the headings of these two Psalms should be [A Psalm] of Solomon, or Solomon's, or by Solomon, in each case, as can be seen, e.g., in the A.R.V., Rotherham, Young, etc., and not for Solomon, as in the A.V.), the bulk of Proverbs and all of Ecclesiastes and Canticles. There is good reason for believing that Solomon is quite likely the writer of job. In this study we desire to give a brief paraphrase of Ecclesiastes; and as in the case of Lamentations, without quoting the words on which the paraphrases are based, we will merely indicate at the end of each paraphrase the number of the pertinent verse. Solomon in writing this book seems to represent the Ancient Worthies; and his thoughts therein seem to represent those of the Ancient Worthies as they reasoned on the vanity of their and others' experiences under the curse, and on why these experiences were permitted. Accordingly, the book does not give a complete answer as to why such vain experiences under the curse were permitted, but only such an answer as the Ancient Worthies understood. Some of them, like Moses in Ps. 90 and Asaph in Ps. 76: 10, by inspiration wrote on why evil is permitted, but they understood not clearly what they wrote. It was only in the Gospel Age, i.e., in its Harvests, that the fulness of the question was understood. But, as we see from Eccl. 12: 13, 14, the Ancient Worthies
understood so much of the subject as to see that man's experience under the curse was to teach him the vanity of earthly things and occupations under the curse and from it to learn to reverence God and keep His commandments, a lesson that is the concern of all men (Rotherham). The following has been suggested as to the divisions of the book: I, its subject (1: 1-3); II, the subject proved (1: 4-3: 22); III, the subject elaborated along the lines of the things of the curse (4: 1—10: 20); IV, the lessons to be derived from these considerations (11: 1—12: 14). With these introductory words, we will now proceed to our exposition.
The words of this book are the teachings of the Ancient Worthies, who were the executives of God's Old Testament matters (1). One of the main themes of their preaching was the utter emptiness of all the experiences with earthly things, considered in themselves, under the curse (2). At the end of one's life under the curse what profit did one have for himself from his labor, viewed as the Ancient Worthies thought (3)? They contrasted the transitoriness of each generation with the permanence of the physical earth (4). They considered that the sun runs its course continually (5), that the winds have their circuits (6), and that water in its course takes the forms of vapor, clouds and rain, which forms in turn springs, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans and then repeats these processes in perpetual succession (7). They meditated on the unspeakable abundance of labor and on the unsatisfaction of sight and hearing (8), on the constant repetition of things in existence and work and on the absence of new forces in nature (9, 10), on the fact that no one can remember the things as of his experience happening before his time, nor recall things happening after his days (11). The Ancient Worthies as executors in God's Old Testament matters for God's people (12), loved to investigate matters of knowledge on this earth, but found it a wearisome task (13). All their meditation thereon brought them to the conclusion
of their emptiness and of their unsatisfactoriness to the mind (14), of the impossibility of reforming man's depravity and of the innumerability of things lacking (15). As they successively in their generations meditated on their own condition, they recognized the wealth of privilege and knowledge that was theirs as above their predecessors and the greatness of their heart experiences as to the Divine Word (16). Yea, they were much disposed to appraise aright the things of truth, of superstition and of error; and they concluded that such pursuits led to many mental difficulties (17), since they found that in much truth there is also much sorrow, on account of the curse, and since he who increases his understanding of the curse, uncleared by the light of the New Testament, greatly causes distress to abound (18).
In Chapter 2 further proofs on the subject are adduced. They allowed themselves to indulge in joy and pleasure, to find out if they would satisfy, but found that the curse made them empty things (2: 1). They concluded that the curse made laughter unsoundness of mind, and that earthly joy yielded no profit (2). They sought to mingle draughts of joy with their pursuit of truth, and thoroughly to study superstition, in order to learn what would profit humanity, and thus do those useful things all their life (3). They engaged in great enterprises, like building houses, planting vineyards (4), gardens and orchards, with many fruit-bearing trees (5), making reservoirs to irrigate the growth (6), acquiring male and female servants, their children, abundant herds and flocks above those of predecessors in executiveness (7). They acquired in great measure Divine truths, even the treasures of religious executives and their sphere of activities, religious brothers and sisters that declared the Lord's Word and special helpers and other helpers (8). Thus the Ancient Worthies became great and increased above any others who had been in an executive position; and they lost not the truth revealed to them by God (9). They withheld
not any desirable knowledge or joy, since they rejoiced in their efforts, which was the reward of their labor (10). But as they viewed the outcome of their labor it turned out to be empty, troublesome and profitless (11). Then they gave attention to truth, superstition and error. What else could one do who follows in the steps of preceding Ancient Worthies, except to do as they have done in principle (12)? Such study convinced them that truth excelled error as much as light surpasses darkness (13). A truth-man's knowledge is in his mind, but the errorist goes on in error; yet both experience the same thing—death (14). Hence they recognized this as the experience of both, and wondered why they were wiser than the errorists. Hence they recognized the emptiness of their natural course (15). The generality of men after several following generations forget both alike, since in several future generations the present is forgotten. Both the truth-man and the errorist of the pre-Gospel-Age times died alike under the curse (16).
Therefore the Ancient Worthies wearied of their present life, because of its disappointing labors which were full of emptiness and trouble of heart (17). They were even disgusted with their secular occupations and achievements, seeing that they would have to give them up to their successors (18). One does not know whether that successor would be one given up to truth or to error; despite this he would act as executive over all the possessions and gains which the Ancient Worthies individually achieved and over the outcome of their truth work. Certainly this consideration made these labors empty (19). This had the effect of making the Ancient Worthies give up the hope of success in their earthly labors in this life (20). It was indeed a sad reflection for one who had given himself up to work for truth, intelligence and righteousness in earthly matters to see that he would leave his gains as his inheritance to one who cared and did nothing as to truth, intelligence and righteousness. Certainly an Ancient
Worthy must have considered such an effect of his gains as empty and troublesome (21). In view of such an outcome what gain could he have for his hard work and heart worries thereover endured in this life (22), since all the days of such work he had sorrows and grief-filled work, which drove from his heart his night's slumber? Surely this, too, was emptiness (23). The best that an Ancient Worthy could attain in this condition of the curse was to enjoy the earthly blessings of food, drink, raiment and shelter, as products of his work. This they recognized to be God's will for them, since their promises were earthly blessings (24), since under the conditions of the curse none could enjoy life's blessings so well as these, who, despite the curse, were the recipients of covenanted earthly blessings (25); for God gave to the Ancient Worthies as righteous men the best things compatibly with the curse—truth, intelligence and gladness; but to the heathen and the covenant-disloyal Jew God caused the curse to abound in ever-increasing measure, for them so to increase that God might give this increase to the Ancient Worthies as those good before God (see Rotherham, Young and the A.R.V.). Of course, such an outcome was to the evil emptiness, a feeding on wind (26).
Chapter 3 continues to prove the subject discussed in Ecclesiastes. All kinds of experiences in contrasts come to people under the curse, a due time for all earthly contrasted experiences (3: 1): to be born and to die, to plant and to reap (2), to kill and to heal, to destroy and to construct (3), to cry and to rejoice, to grieve over the loved dead and to exult in happiness (4), to cast out stones from a field and to gather stones for useful purposes, to express affection and to suppress its expression (5), to gain and to lose, to retain and to spend (6), to tear and to mend, to hold one's peace and to speak (7), to love the good and to hate evil and those inseparable from evil, to war and to make and keep peace (8). These contrasts show the unprofitableness of earthly things under the curse for
him who experiences them (9). The Ancient Worthies have contemplated the curse which God put upon man for him to undergo (10). God made all things good and lovely in the beginning and has put the ability to know in man's heart, without which he cannot learn God's work from beginning to end (Rotherham; 11). They knew that there was no blessedness in earthly things for them, save the joy of doing well in this life (12), as they also knew that every one of them should use earth's good things for their support and be glad in the gains of his work as gifts from God despite the curse (13). They also knew that God's works were lasting and that nothing can permanently be added to or taken from them by the Ancient Worthies; and these good things God does that they may learn to reverence Him (14). God's past creations will continue; and whatever new thing He will create was in His mind to do from the beginning; and God requires an accounting for past acts (15). They saw that judges decided unrighteously, and that where righteousness should be wickedness existed (16). Their meditations made them conclude that God would judge the righteous and the wicked; for He has appointed a time for every work, therefore for such judging (17). Furthermore, they concluded that, as to man's mode of existence, they wished that He would manifest it to them that they were animals and not compounds of spirit and animal (18), since the same thing happens to both of them, since both die alike, since they have the same life-principle; hence man has no preeminence above the beast as to his mode of existence, a thing that Satan has made men disbelieve. This proves the emptiness of life under the curse (19); for all go into the same condition—the death state, since all animals become of, and will return to dust (20). The Ancient Worthies challenged Satan's original lie (Gen. 2: 4, 5), which almost all believe, and which claims that man at death, but not beast, changes his mode of existence and becomes a spirit and lives on in bliss or torment. They
demand proof that it was a known thing whether the life of man is the one that ascends to live on, and that of the beast is the one that descends to pass away (21). Hence they conclude that the best thing for an Ancient Worthy was that he should do such works as will make him glad as his present portion, since none could reveal to him what the conditions will be after his death (22).
Chapter 4 begins to develop the subject hitherto proven to be true. The Ancient Worthies meditated on the oppressions committed in the earth and the weeping of those suffering comfortless oppression; and they saw that power was in the hands of the oppressors, and no comfort was given the oppressed (4: 1), which facts moved them to speak of the dead as better off than the living (2). They are better off than those who are not yet born, and who are thus yet to experience evil on earth (3). Then they meditated on the toils and righteous works of people whose prosperity was made the object of their fellows' envy, which conditions proved to be another empty and mentally troublous thing (4). The errorist by laziness devours himself (5). It is better to have little in peace of mind than an abundance with toil and trouble of mind (6). Then, again, they took up another subject for study (7); even a solitary one without son or brother, who despite his solitary condition is endlessly toiling, yet not satisfied with the fruits of his labors, asking himself for whom he is toiling and letting himself gain no good therefrom. Surely this is a fruitless and mentally troublous thing (8). It is better to be companioned than solitary; for by their toil they gain more than the solitary one (9). If one has a mishap the other helps him out of it; but alas! when the solitary one has a mishap, he has no one to help him therefrom (10). Again, if two are united in their efforts they encourage one another, but the solitary one has no one to encourage him (11). In a conflict an enemy can prevail over him, but is defeated by the two; and if three struggle against the one they are not without the greatest
difficulty overcome, and that by an exceptionally strong and courageous one (12). A righteous and intelligent youngster is preferable to a foolish, heady, old king (13); for though imprisoned the former may succeed the latter as king, while the latter, though born king, becomes impoverished of his kingdom (14). They noted that all people favored the good and wise youngster who was to be the next king in succession to the foolish, heady, old king (15). All these in numerable people favored him, but later comers will not favor him—a vain and vexatious condition (16).
The same theme continues to be elaborated in chapter 5, in fact until the end of chapter 10. Evidently the admonition of v. 1 shows that Old Testament people speak and are spoken to; and the whole tenor of the book shows that the speaker represents the Ancient Worthies who admonished their hearers to take heed to their conduct as to God's house, whether in tabernacle or temple form, admonishing them to be quicker to learn than to speak thoughtlessly as to evil and foolishly as an alleged service (5: 1). They advised against the inclination to rash and quick speech as to Divine matters, because God is great and man is little; hence his speech should be little (2). Like the unruled dream that comes from much thought devoted to business, the fool's expressed thoughts-voiced language consists of a superabundance of words (3). They counseled that vows to God be kept scrupulously, since vow breakers were foolish; and God is not pleased with such; hence vows should be kept (4); for it is better not to have vowed at all than to break a vow (5). They cautioned against sinning by word and against charging God's messenger with error, since that would displease God and cause Him to destroy the works of such an one (6); for such things occur from many imaginations and words—vanities all; but as a cure let one reverence God (7). They advised that people marvel not at the treading down of the poor, gross perversion of truth and righteousness in the state; for God the
Most High sees it as the One higher than the doers of such wrongs (8); for God gave the earth to benefit all; even the king is thereby advantaged (9). Love for money never satisfies its possessor; nor does love for much' satisfy its gainer, such ambitions being empty (10). Increased blessings bring increased appropriators of them; and in the end what good do their gainers have therein, except to have seen them (11)? While the hard worker, whether he eat much or little, enjoys sweet sleep, the surfeit of the wealthy prevents sleep (12). The Ancient Worthies saw another grievous ill among men: riches hoarded for one's self alone to his injury (13); but those riches cease to be and there is nothing left, though he have a son; for as he came into being with nothing, so with nothing shall he leave the world, taking with him no portable profit from his toil (15)—surely a great evil to go in all things as he came, with no gain from his useless toil (16); for he always eats in error with much sadness and indignation in ill health (17). By contrast the Ancient Worthies saw one always prospering as to food, drink and joy in prosperous work as a gift from God (18, 19). Even if this is not much, he should remember his experiences as God-sent in its hearty joy (20).
The Ancient Worthies observed another evil experience common among men (6: 1): God's giving a man possessions, affluence and fame unto full satiety, but not giving him, but a stranger, the ability to enjoy these— surely a profitless and evil situation (2). Though a man have 100 children and have longevity, if he is not satisfied with his blessings and has not even a burial, the Ancient Worthies thought an untimely birth were better than he (3); for though it arrived in vain and in darkness left, and its memory is extinct (4), and it neither saw the light nor had any knowledge, yet the latter had more peace than the former (5). Yea, though the former live 2,000 years, yet he saw no real prosperity; for all at death enter the same condition (6). Man's whole toil is to preserve self, yet he cannot fully
satisfy his desires therefore (7), since in death the wise man is not greater than the fool, and since in death the poor who had learned how to conduct himself before the powerful is not inferior to him (8). It is better to observe evil than to have the desires wander thereafter—an empty and mentally troublous thing (9). Whatever one may have been named, it was long ago known that he was human and was unable to overcome one stronger than himself (10). Since there are many things that contribute to increase unprofitableness, what advantage does one get from them under the curse (11); for who really under the curse knows what is for his highest interests, since he spends his empty life as an unsubstantial thing? And who can foretell what will come here after his death (12)?
Chapter 7 still elaborates the subject set forth in 1: 1-3. The Ancient Worthies considered a good character better than the sweet savor of a good reputation, and, because of the curse, the day of one's death as better than the day of his birth (7: 1), that it is better to visit the mourners than the banqueting place; for death is man's end; and the living should learn profitable lessons from it. Under the conditions of the curse distress is more profitable than joy, since it mellows the hard heart from sin to righteousness (3). Therefore the wise prefer to be with the mourners, while the fools prefer joy (4). It is more profitable to listen to the corrections of wise men than to hear the dullard's song (5), since the dullard's laughter is destructive as the burning of thorns under a cooking vessel—a vain thing (6). Oppression drives an intelligent man insane; and a bribe corrupts the disposition of its receiver (7). The outcome of a project is better than its start, even as patience is better than pride (8). People should avoid a quick temper, for such a temper characterizes the foolish (9). One should not ask why past are better than present times; for one cannot in wisdom inquire as to this (10). It is good to combine wisdom with the use of an inheritance; for that profits one in this
life (11). Both wisdom and wealth protect one; but the great good of knowledge is that it understands that truth gives life to its possessors (12). The Ancient Worthies counseled that one should wisely think on God's doings, since none can alter His designs (13). If one has prosperous days, let him be glad; but if days of adversity come, let one consider that God effects these contrasts, that man may come to death, where he will find nothing (14). All kinds of experiences have the Ancient Worthies seen in the emptiness of this life—for one, that a righteous man dies for his righteousness and, for the other, that a lawless man lives long in injustice (15); but they advised not to drive justice to the extreme of unmercifulness, nor knowledge to the extreme of headiness, since either course will destroy one (16). Though sinful, be not extremely wicked, neither foolish, since either will bring one to an untimely death (17). This lesson it is good to practice as one's own and not give it up, for the one who reverences God shall succeed in these experiences (18). Truth makes a wise man stronger than ten mighty men in a city (19), since there is not a sinless man on earth—one doing good and avoiding sin (20). Also one is not to lay too much weight on what he hears, or he might think his servant speaks evil of him (21), since one's conscience tells him that he has spoken evil of others (22). All these things the Ancient Worthies tested by truth, since they were bent on being of the Truth; but they found the bulk of it far from their understanding (23), since it was not yet due and was very profound, beyond their power (1 -Pet. 1: 10-12) of perception (24). Yet they gave themselves to the study of the Truth and the logic of things and of the wrong of error, even erroneousness and the spirit of an unsound mind (25). They found out that a deceitful, intriguing, aggressive woman was worse to endure than death. From her shall every God-pleaser escape, but the wicked shall be her prey (26). The Ancient Worthies in their minute investigations
into human character (27), with heart's earnest desire, found this out, that there was one man in a thousand who was trustworthy, but not one woman in a thousand was such (28); and in all their studies they came to this conclusion, that God originally made man good, but that his depravity invented many evil things (29).
The Ancient Worthies continue further to elaborate the subject of the book in Chapter 8. They begin the investigation of who is an understanding man and of who is a true interpreter. They saw that truth brightens one's face, but by defiance of the face one is disfigured (8: 1). They charged obedience to the rulers' charges, even for the sake of their God-given oath (2), and not to leave rashly his presence, nor insist on an evil proposition, since he is an autocrat (3), since his word is powerful, and since no one may question his actions (4). Whoever obeys his command experiences no evil as a result; and a truth-man's heart will observe time and doctrine (5); for to everything there is occasion and teaching, when the care of man is great thereover (6); for he is not certain as to what or when it should be (7). No man has ability over the power of living to retain it, especially not at the time of his death, from which there is no deliverance, especially shall wickedness not deliver those addicted thereto (8). All this have the Ancient Worthies witnessed and have studied every kind of earthly activity, recognizing that at times one rules over another to his own injury (9). Among other things, they observed the burial of the wicked who had entered and left holy things; and those having so done have vanished from human memory—also an empty thing (10). Many, seeing that there is not a speedy execution of a sentence against evil, fix their wills to do evil (11); despite the sinners' doing wrong a hundred times and his living long, the Ancient Worthies knew of assurance that blessings will attend the pious—those who revere God (12); but the wicked will not be blessed, nor gain life's day, which is a fleeting, unsubstantial thing, because he reverences not
God (13). There is another unprofitable thing under the curse: the righteous experience what is fitting for the wicked, and the wicked experience what is fitting for the righteous. This also the Ancient Worthies thought to be empty (14). Thereupon they thought that a good time was the desirable thing; for temporarily they thought it the best thing on earth that one feast, imbibe and be happy; for these things he earns from his toil in this life given him by God on earth (15). When the Ancient Worthies set their wills to learn truth and see through the affairs of this earth, a course that prevented their eyes' closing in sleep day and night (16); then they considered all the revealed plan of God and learned therefrom that one then could not understand it here on earth, because though he sought diligently to decipher it, yea, though a truth-man studied to know it, yet would he not as an Ancient Worthy then come to understand it (17).
Chapter 9 still pursues to develop the subject set forth in 1: 1-3. All the foregoing things the Ancient Worthies heartily studied to explain, that the righteous and the truth-diligent and their works are in the Divine power, since no one can really appreciate good or ill will—everyone before him (9: 1). Everyone was like everyone else, so far as death is concerned, for they all have the one end—death: the righteous and the wicked, the good and clean and the unclean, the sacrificer and the non-sacrificer; as the good, so the sinner; as the consecrator, so the non-consecrator (2). This is the evil to all on earth: that all must die, yea, that the human heart abounds in sin; an unsound mind is in their heart during life; and thereafter they die (3). There is hope in those who live; for even the lowliest living are better than the mightiest dead (4); for the living know at least this much, that they must die; for the dead are destitute of all knowledge; neither while dead do they have a reward, for their remembering is forgotten (5), since their loving and hating and envying have ceased; neither have they any more a
part for the Age in anything done on earth, spiritism to the contrary notwithstanding (6). To one another the Ancient Worthies counsel that each eat with joy and drink with a happy heart; for God was then accepting in the covenant their work done therein (7). They encourage one another to have clean graces and powers and to be beautiful in holiness (8); also to live happily with their spouses beloved all their empty life on earth in all their days; for God gave it to them as their portion in this life and in their toil on earth (9). Therefore they should diligently do with all energy what their power finds to do, since in the death state to which they were going there was no activity, no planning, no understanding and no truth (10). Considering things further, the Ancient Worthies recognized that not always did the speediest win a race, the strongest a battle, the most intelligent provisions, the most clever wealth and the most skillful a reward, since occasion and accident overtake all (11); for man does not know what is the best time to do or leave undone, since, as fish are caught in nets and birds in snares, men are betrayed at an unfortunate time, when misfortune overtakes them unexpectedly and suddenly (12). This feature of truth the Ancient Worthies saw on earth and it appealed to them as great (13), namely, that when a small city of few warriors was sorely besieged by a great leader who erected strong fortifications against it (14), a poor intelligent man appeared in this city, and by his able plan kept the city safe, yet in ingratitude he was forgotten (15). Thereupon the Ancient Worthies recognized that true intelligence excels physical strength, although the poor man's planning ability was disesteemed and his words were not treasured (16); for the words of the intelligent are listened to in privacy more than the shouts of him who is influential among dullards (17); for truth is stronger than war. The wicked destroy good (18).
With Chapter 10 the development of the book's theme is completed. Therefore in this chapter the
Ancient Worthies are represented to have developed their discussion of the theme to an end. They asserted that sin causes the graces that God develops in His people to stink and ferment; and the same effect is wrought by a little error in one famous for truth and honor (10: 1). A truth-man's affections are in his full control; but an errorist's affections are out of his control (2). An errorist in his activities lacks truth, but thinks that all others are in error (3). If one falls under the displeasure of a ruler, one should keep his condition as an appeaser; for meekness in such cases makes peace for such as have done great wrongs (4). The Ancient Worthies knew another experience of evil under the curse in this earth—a ruler committing a great mistake (5): their exalting a dullard highly and abasing the powerful to low positions (6), this resulting in honoring servants and disgracing their rulers in their sight (7). Whoever lays a snare for others will himself fall into it; and whoever seeks to enlarge his property to others' injury will be stung in that act (8), even as he who removes landmarks to others' damage will be hurt thereby; and whoever engages in dangerous work may come into trouble thereby (9). To work with unsuitable tools increases one's toil; but intelligence will apply time-and labor-saving methods and means (10). Dangerous things will injure, unless controlled properly; and an unbridled tongue will injure its user (11). A truth-man's speech is full of unction; but the speech of an errorist will consume him (12); for his speech begins with error and ends with injurious unsoundness of mind (13). An errorist is loquacious; one can neither foretell what will happen during his life or after his death (14). The errorist's toil so exhausts him that he has no strength to go on his errands (15). It is evil for a country whose ruler is ignorant and inexperienced, and whose leaders, beginning in the morning, feast all day (16), while that country is blessed whose king is noble, and whose leaders observe timeliness on matters of food and drink, to
their strengthening and not to their debauching (17). Idleness failing to repair a house causes it to deteriorate, and through continued laziness an unrepaired house finally collapses (18). Feasting and drinking are intended to make laughter and joy; but money effects all projects (19). Speak not evil to or of the king, nor even think evil of him, nor even speak against the powerful even in secrecy; for informers will betray the matter, and gossip will babble it forth (20).
Chapters 11 and 12 draw certain lessons from the foregoing discussion. The Ancient Worthies advised to do kindnesses to others, assured that they will result in blessings coming to the kind one, even though not until a long time has passed (11: 1), exercising liberality, yea, abounding liberality, to forestall future earthly evils (2), even as full clouds generously give rain as a blessing to man and beast, and as felled trees, wherever they fall, yield thus a blessing (3). Whoever will not undertake projects unless all indications are propitious will have no gains (4). If one cannot understand the operation of the life-principle nor how a fetus develops, how could he be expected to decipher God's creations (5)? Be diligent in work at all fitting occasions, since one cannot tell whether one or another effort will succeed or not, or whether both will prosper equally (6). Light is desirously beneficial; and the eye: is blessed by the sight of the sunlight (7). Though one should live many happy years, let him yet keep in mind that death is coming and that it will last long; for it is all emptiness (8). Let youth rejoice in its experiences and keep its heart in cheerfulness all its days, and let it act out its affections and intelligence; but let it keep in mind the fact that for all its thoughts, motives, words and acts God will judge it (9). Therefore, youth should cast off sorrow of heart and put away the evil of hereditary depravity; for even childhood and youth under the curse are unprofitable (10). Youth is the most fruitful time to keep God in heart and mind; for it is followed by evil days and years,
in which one finds much annoyance (12: 1). Keep Him in mind before nature loses its beauty and troubles follow blessings (2), before the hands and arms become weak, before the legs no longer can support the body, before the teeth become few and unable to masticate, before the eyes grow dim (3), before one ceases to desire company, having little in common with the rising generation, before the ears cease to take in sound, before sleep is short and is easily-disturbed by even a slight sound, before vocal and instrumental music no more delights the ear (4), before fear of great or small things preys on the heart and mind before others and not oneself is chosen for favor and fruitfulness, before the least weight is too heavy to bear, and before aspirations cease; for one surely wends his way to the death state and mourners will follow his bier to the grave, and thereafter miss him as they go about to attend life's affairs (5); yea, remember God before the cord of life breaks, before the body as the container of life is broken in death, before the lungs, which imbibe life-principle from the air, as the fountain of life become wrecked and before the heart as the recipient and propeller of the blood is shattered as life's motor (6); for in death the body returns as dust to the earth and the power to live, because misused, reverts to God, who gave it (7). Death surely proves the utter emptiness of life under the curse; and thus the facts heretofore adduced prove, elaborate and draw lessons from the experience of evil under the curse (8). In view of these things the Ancient Worthies as truth-people taught the Word of God to the people as then due, with much carefulness and by many illustrations in a logical way (9), diligently using persuasive language in writing and speech according to righteousness and truth (10); for their words were stimulating and their well ordered sayings were lastingly impressed upon their hearers, since they were given by God, the one Shepherd of His people, the sheep of His pasture (11). God's Old Testament
people should be admonished by the teaching of the Ancient Worthies, and remember that many not God's servants will not cease writing books, whose study wearies the brain; and therefore they should not be by them given much heed (12). The deductions of the entire subject should be heeded; for they are these: Reverence and obey God; for this is the concern of all men (13), since God will bring all the works of all mankind into judgment, even the most secret ones, whether good or bad, right or wrong (14). Thus Ecclesiastes proves that the Ancient Worthies had a very imperfect knowledge as to why the evil experiences under the curse were by God permitted. The Gospel Church was in this, as well as in practically all other matters, more highly favored than they. But their loyalty, despite greatly less favors than ours, should incite us to greater loyalty to the Lord.