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Lessons From Ecclesiastes

Lessons From Ecclesiastes

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Published by glennpease
BY REV. ICHABOD S. SPENCER, D.D.


"Therefore I hated life ; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grief onto me ; for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
BY REV. ICHABOD S. SPENCER, D.D.


"Therefore I hated life ; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grief onto me ; for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 11, 2013
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LESSOS FROM ECCLESIASTESBY REV. ICHABOD S. SPECER, D.D."Therefore I hated life ; because the work that is wrought under thesun is grief onto me ; for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."THERE are few parts of the sacred Scriptures moredifficult of interpretation than the one which containsthis text The style of the book is peculiar ; and therapid transition of thought from one subject to another,and from one state of mind to another — a transition oftenmade without any express mention of it — ^throws an airof obscurity and, indeed, sometimes an appearance of contradiction over the sentiments uttered.Hence the most extravagant ideas have sometimesbeen deduced from it — ^the most mischievous, the mostabsurd. Some expressions in it have been employed ina manner which might well rejoice libertines ; and thelicentious themselves have sometimes seized upon ideascontained in it to justify all the extravagances of anunbridled licentiousness. They have very eloquentlyrepeated that passage in the seventh verse of the ninthchapter : Go thy way^ eat thy bread vrithjoy, and drink thywine with a merry hearty as if it were a fit motto for aman of pleasure. With equal animation and eloquence,they have recited that passage in the twenty-fourth verseof the second chapter : There is nothing better for a manthan thai he shoidd eat and drink, and that he should make486 LESSOS FBOK BCOLESIASTEahis soul enjoy good in his labor, as if it was designed togive loose reins to indulgence.And infidelity, as well as libertinism, has made itself 
 
meny over the supports supposed to be found in someof these chapters. It has called ideas found here con-tradictory — ^the whole book a jumble of inconsistencies.Bringing together the second verse of the second chap-ter — I said of laughter it is mad, and of mirth what doethit; and the fifteenth verse of the eighth chapter; ThenI commended mirth, because a man hath no better thingunder Ae sun than to eat and drink and to be merry, — ^Infi-delity has put on a malignant smile, as if she had foundat once a refutation of the Bible in its inconsistency andliberty for the indulgence of chosen amusements and sen-suality.Libertines and infidels are not always worth noticing.Most of their pretences are a compound of folly andfiilsehood, both silly and dishonesty And when menhave descended so low as that, they are ordinarily besttreated when left to become wise and right or not, justas they shall choose. Many a foolish man has becomeconfirmed in error when his error has been dignified bynoticing it But some of these ideas are worthy of no-tice, especially as the notice of them may lead us to a just understanding of the writer of this book ; and assome serious minds also have been embarrassed by ex-pressions contained in it. -The text before us has not escaped misconception : /haiedlife; because the work that is wrought under the sun isgrievous unto me. This has been said to justify an entiredisgust with life. It has also been adduced as a proof that a man of religious sentiments must be so fiu* ledoff firom the ordinary feelings of humanity as to ?iaieLESSOS FROM ECOLESIAStES. 437Ufe and the world, and mnst therefore be unfit for so-ciety in respect to enjoying it, or aiming to promote itsgood. And it may be that a true believer sometimes, in
 
dejection and trouble, may seek to justify the gloom of his sentiments and his dark dislike of a wearisome lifeby supposing himself to resemble the author of the text — I hated life.Before, therefore, we enter upon the special considera-tion of the text itself, we propose to ^nish an explana-tion of the peculiarities of this book — a matter whichseems necessary, not only for a just explanation of thetext itself, but for justifying the explanation, and forguarding the book in general from misconstruction.On this point we have several ideas to present. Wewant your entire attention. We are going to teach youa matter for you to remember whenever you read thisbook of Solomon. To this object we devote this ser-mon. We will attend to the particular idea of the texthereafter.Let us enter upon the subject. Let us learn how tointerpret the book before us— a book containing someexpressions which sound strange to many ears.We make one remark, as a clew to the meaning of theauthor, as a key to unlock the mysteries hidden here, asa wand to sweep away the fogs and clouds which infi-delity, worldliness and libertinism (always superficial)have hung round the expressions of this author. Theremark is this : That almost the entire sum of this book is composed in the style of experience and observation. Insome passages the writer speaks from experience. Inothers he speaks from observation. In others still hemingles both these together, grounding his ideas on bothwhat he had seen and what he had himself ^2^.488 LESS08 FROM ECCLK8IASTS9.I. He speaks as a man of experience. Examine the

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