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The Folly of Solomon.

The Folly of Solomon.

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Published by glennpease

ECCLES. i. 2 : " All is vanity."

ECCLES. i. 2 : " All is vanity."

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 12, 2013
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THE FOLLY OF SOLOMO.BY ROBERT COLLYER,ECCLES. i. 2 : " All is vanity."ALMOST three thousand years ago, a little childwas born to David, King of Israel, whose adventwas felt to be such a blessing, that he was calledSolomon, or ' ; Peace." He was carefully reared,as befitted the future ruler of the nation; hadnatural gifts of surpassing excellence ; was dili-gent in their improvement ; and, so far as we cannow ascertain, was the foremost scholar in theland at that time. The nation of which he wasdestined to be the ruler was then touching thesummit of its greatness ; and this prince becameto Jewry what Alexander, at a later day, was toGreece, and Augustus to Rome. He came tothe throne in due time, and the people shouted,*' God save the king ! " His public life openedbeautifully and well. He made wise treaties as aking, and wonderful decisions as a judge. He84 THE FOLLY OF SOLOMO.developed commerce, manufactures, literature, andart; edited, and partly wrote, one book which,in those early days got unquestioned canoniza-tion, and, in a measure deserved it.He was also the founder and finisher of the first temple on Zion, and offered the firstprayer at its consecration. That prayer has comedown to us: it reveals a sincere and religiousnature. Then he was a great student, philoso-pher, musician, and landscape gardener ; createda beautiful home, and married a- wife more of hisfree choice than commonly falls to the lot of kings. In a word, one thinks he was about all aman can be, and gathered all a man can get, inthis world, to make him content and happy.Then, when he had done, he wrote a sermon,in which he tried to tell what it was all worth.
That sermon is the Book of Ecclesiastes, andits burden is the text I have read you. AndI want to give you the kernel of the discourse, ina few representative sentences, selected from thewhole book.The preacher begins by declaring, that allthe things that happen are an endless repeti-tion. The sun rises and sets ; the wind veersTHE FOLLY OF SOLOMO. 85round and round; the waters are lifted out of the sea, and poured in again. Man is a partof this endless round ; race after race sweeps on,all alike and all alike forgotten ; so that whichhas been shall be, and there is no new thingunder the sun. " I have tried it," cries thepreacher. " I was a king, and what can any mando more than a king? I tell you it is vanity;and you cannot make the crooked straight, ornumber what is wanting. Things are set fastas they are, and so they will stay ; and he thatincreases knowledge increases sorrow. I triedpleasure, planted gardens, opened fountains, in-dulged in wine and mirth and music. I knowexactly what these can do for a man ; and thereis no profit in them. I found them vanity ; so Ihated all my labor that I had done under thesun. Then I dipped into fatalism. I said, * Whatis to be will be ; there is a time for every thingunder the sun, a time to be born, and a timeto die ; a time to weep, and a time to laugh ; atime to love, and a time to hate ; a time to get,and a time to lose ; a time to pull down, and atime to build up.' And, when the time comes,the man must do his work ; but then this is van86 THE FOLLY OF SOLOMO.ity : for, if a man act so blindly, what is he morethan a beast ? There is no pre-eminence ; fate ismaster of both ; all spring from the dust, all go
to the dust; all is vanity. Then I tried man.But I saw the oppressed, and they had nocomforter; and the oppressor, and he had nocomfort. So I praised the dead more than theliving, and that which never knew life more thanthey both. For I saw that every man was forhimself; and, though he had neither child norbrother, he never said, ' Why do I starve my lifefor gain ? ' All is vanity. What is a wise manmore than a fool ? Who can tell a man what isgood, when all his days are as a shadow ? Sor-row is better than laughter; the end is betterthan the beginning. A just man perishes by hisown justice, while a wicked man prolongs his lifein his wickedness. ay, come to that, there isno just man on this earth. I have studied thething out : there is not one man in a thousandupright, and not one woman in the world. Don'tbe righteous overmuch or wicked overmuch. Isee the wicked get the reward of the good, andthe good the reward of the wicked. A man hasno better thing under the sun than to eat andTHE POLLY OF SOLOMO. 87drink and be merry ; for there is no certainty.The dead know not any thing. There is no wis-dom or knowledge or device in the grave whitherwe all hasten. And the race is not to the swift,or the battle to the strong ; or bread to the wise,or fame to the skilful. Servants ride on horses ;princes trudge on foot. You cannot alter thething : it is so, and so it will be. If you dig a pit,you will fall into it ; if you move a hedge, a ser-pent will bite you ; if you take down a wall, thestones will bruise you ; if you listen, you willhear your servant curse you. Money will buyany thing. All is vanity. Childhood and youthis vanity ; old age is vanity. Vanity of vanities,all is vanity."This, my friends, is the substance of this greatman's last estimate of life. You read it, and, asyou read, you watch the writer trying to fightdown the black shadows as they rise. Here and

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