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language of Israel, are saying, (ix. 2-5.) "all things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not; as is the good so is the sinner, and he that sweareth as he that feareth an oath; this is an evil ainong all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all; yea also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead : for to him that is joined to all the living there is hope : for a living dog is better than a dead lion : for the living know they shall die ; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten ?” As the mind of this irreligious man sweeps over all human life, from the time of man's birth in nakedness, down to the period when time has worn the letters from his tomb-stone, and the memory of all is alike forgotten; is it any wonder, if such a life disgusts him ? if, sick at heart, he turns away from its darkness, distresses and perishing memory ? Life, the world, time, were never designed to be read in their own light simply. They were designed to be read in the full blaze of eternity. A wise man cannot be anything else than dissatisfied with life, while all his ideas linger on things this side the tomb. He may prosper here, he may not. And whether he does or not, he deems a matter of chance,--and since all die alike and alike are forgotten, a matter of indifference. He is dissatisfied with the world : he is dissatisfied with God when, he thinks of Him ; and dissatisfied with himself whether he considers his experience or contemplates his prospects. “I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me.”—He should look beyond the sun,-beyond the world, -beyond time. His disgust with life cannot be easily cured in any other method. Eternity alone can explain the darkness and disorders of time.
II. After all the earthly bounties of God, and all the provisions He has made to meet the wants, capacities, and tastes of our common humanity ; there never yet has been a man who arrived at anything like a full satisfaction. This was one of Solomon's stings of experience. He tried hard to attain contentment. He run the full round of pleasure. He tried wealth. He tried honor. He tried pomp and splendour. He tried science. He tried wine. He was resolved to be happy: “whatever mine eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor, and this was my portion of all my labor" -ii. 10.) But it all would not do. He tried in vain. His hopes were blasted, and his heart saddened and sickened by the very profusion in which he sought satisfaction. And then he sums up the matter in a method most instructive to a votary.of the world : "I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on all the labour that I had laboured to do, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun”-ii. 11.) “I hated life.”—The difference between Solomon and our worldlings is this : He succeeded ; most of our worldlings fail! He was disgusted by success; most of our worldlings are disgusted by failure! His disgust with life bore off his mind towards the life that is to come; THEIR disgust, confined to experienced things, and not calling their thoughts to things hoped for, only fustens their minds more fixedly on the life that now is. But it will all be in vain. They cannot compel the world to satisfy them. They will be as much disgusted when the next year is closing upon them as they are now, when the last sands of this are falling, and when their hearts are so far from satisfaction. No matter what a worldly man attains, it does not answer his purpose. It disappoints him. It cheats him. It cheats him just as much in successes as in failures, “neither is his eye satisfied with riches”—(iv. 8.) And it is a thousand wonders, that he does not become more disgusted with life than he is, and sooner disgusted. It is a thousand wonders that he does not perceive that his dissatisfaction springs, not from the limitation of his successes, but from the very nature of the objects he pursues. Such objects never can satisfy him. Give him anything and he will crave more. And if he would only stop now, and take one sober thought about the ashes, the phantom, the dream he is persuing, he could not avoid being disgusted with a life distressfully expended on such vanities. Every unbeliever in the world would be disgusted with life, if he would only notice the emptiness of that for which he is spending it. He is doomed —No, he dooms himself, to walk in a valley of trouble. Its end is as dark as its portion is troublesome ; and it is no wonder that as long as he is an irreligious man his most sober and deep thought compels him to wish, or half wish, that he had never lived at all! --There is but one rock of repose for an immortal soul,--and that rock is Christ.
III. The same, or a worse species of dissatisfaction with life may very well result from what is often experienced amid once valued and sought intimacies and attachments.-Let us do the melancholy justice. Let us not attribute all their downcast feelings to a dark and gloomy disposition, nor to the east wind that has shattered their nerves. Where is the man, whose heart has not saddened at the recollection of professions once made to him? Who is there that has not found occasion to exclaim, what a world! —what friendships !—what friends! How soon their affections cool ! How readily they fly from me in trouble! They could love me in prosperity, but they forsake me in adversity! Perfidious wretches ! They could bask in the sunshine of my favour, when my favour was good for anything for them : they could desert me in trouble, unshamed at their perfidy and their mean selfishness! “Two are better than one; for if they fall one will lift up his fellow ; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up”—(iv. 10.) Such laments do not all come from a disordered fancy, from unstrung nerves, or from a melancholy disposition. They come sometimes from the realities of distressful experience ; and that distress strikes so deep and so disgustfully upon the heart, (not now to say so common), that there is little ground to wonder, if life itself, to be spent among such sunshine friends, becomes a matter of disgust :" I hated life.” If you cannot realize it, I can only say, the realization is yet in store for you. You have but one way of avoiding it. You must have a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, to whom you may flee in every time of trouble, and with whose spirit you must be so deeply imbued, that, instead of hating the treacherous that pierce you, you shall pity them, and pray, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”—It is very common that an unbeliever's own companions make him hate life itself.
IV. There are instances in which this detestation of life results in its strongest measure fron an excessive valuation of what one proposes to gain from the world, while life lasts. As ministers of the gospel, we have something to do sometimes with this strange aspect of human nature. Let us tell you a secret : the most extravagant fondness for the world which we are ever called to notice and compelled to deplore, is indicted to us in the language of laments and dissatisfaction. Our acquaintance is unbosoming himself to us. He tells how he feels. He says, I detest the world; I despise it ; I could wish to be dissolved from it; it has done me injustice; life in such a world is little more than a burden !-How is this? Does this complainer realize the world's emptiness? Has he risen superior to its charms? No such thing. Its charms are as dear to him as ever. He is heart-sick ; but does not half know what makes him so. Its charms have escaped him; and his contempt of the world just springs from that fact. He had an excessive love for it, and his lamentations now, are just in proportion to his fondness once, aye, his fondness still. He is not sorry for sin; he is only sorry his sin cannot find the means of indulgence. He is not about to repent; he is only taking revenge upon a world that has cheated him, by calling it hard names, and pouring contempt upon it. Take a little leaf of his heart's biography : I write it in this way: He commenced life in raptures with the world : his heart bounded to its embraces : he did not imagine that friends would be treacherous, fortune capricious, hopes vanishing, riches have wings, and the blood of youth and health soon circulate pain through his bones instead of pleasure. But his dream of fancy was soon broken, Its gilded spell gave place to a hated reality. And now he is disgusted with life in such a world as this, just in the very proportion as he loved and loves still, the things beyond his reach : he hates life just as much as he loves the world ; and he rails at the world simply because it eludes him.- That is a leaf of his heart. He does not own it; he does not believe it simply because he does not know himself, because his heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. His disgust with life is just the result of an excessive worldliness. It does not result from the serious reflections which an immortal soul ought to have-reflections controlled by the contrast between the life that now is and that which is to come.
V. A disrelish for life often springs from the cutting contemplation of the end of all man's endeavors, (ii. 11.) One does not like to labour in vain. It is disheartening to expend much toil for little good ; and it becomes the more so, when the good falls nowhere, either to the man himself, or those who come after him. If there could be any fixed certainty, that beneficial results shall come somewhere, and that, though the laborer does not reach them himself, yet his labor shall bless his successors ; the recollection of this might bring some solace to weary minds and weary muscles ; pride, if not benevolence, might then extend its regards onwards beyond life, and as far as the results of present exertion shall reach -and the man might value life on much the same principle as some men put value on the tomb-stone, that shall tell where they lie-it gives their earthly existence a kind of extension
But behold the reality. Even worldly men are often compelled to see it. There is no certainty ; none that is solacing. Toil and labor must be expended very much in vain. At least the wicked think so, whenever they really think at all. Solomon thought so. Hear him. He asks (ii. 23)—"For what hath man of all his labor and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath labored under the sun ? for all his days are sorrow, and his travail grief, yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity. (ii. 11). Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do ; and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the
So much for the present.- And what in the future? The future is no better. "There is no remembrance of the wise man more than of the fool forever, seeing that which now is, in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man ? as the fool. Therefore I hated life.”—And the future is no better when contemplated in respect to those who shall take the fruits of our labor—"Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun ; because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me ; and who knoweth' whether he shall be a wise man or a fool ? Yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity, (ii. 18, 19). Fools may take our possessions. Fools may be our heirs. All vur labor, instead of profiting them, may only be a curse to them. Rehoboams may inherit the crowns of our Solomons! and personal dissipation, and divided and ruined kingdoms, may be the fruits of all our earthly successes! Who then, can blame a disgust with life? If this is all, who ought not to be disgusted ? Oh, that man would see it ! certainly we do not live here for life's sake! most certainly, the world's history, almost every heart's history, is made by God himself, as a bold lesson to turn man's eyes towards the life to come, as could be written by the sunbeams on the ashes of a burnt world ! -There is only one thing which never cheats endeavor, and never cheats hearts.
VI. But Solomon tried other resources. He was a man of science. Seldom, if ever, hath he been equalled. The wisdom embodied in his Book of Proverbs is unparalleled. Not to speak how of its religion, it is unequalled in its wisdom in reference to the common principles and economy of life. You have been taught how he coined those proverbs. To make a single one of them demanded great labor-extensive and acute observation. His mind examined and weighed everything connected with the subject ; and having attained its knowledge and formed its judgments and made its discriminations, it condensed the whole matter in one short proverb, the embodied wisdom of a world of thought. There never was such a man. He studied everything. He says, "I turned myself to behold wisdom” (ii. 12). "I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven" (i. 13). He applied himself to the sciences and he expresses the superiority of his opportunities and means, by the question, (ii. 12)—“What can the man do that cometh after the king ?” i, e., who can have such advantages for science as royalty furnished him? And he improved them. In the first Book of the Kings, fourth chapter and thirtieth verse, it is said " Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt, for he was wiser than all men.” The twelfth verse of the third chapter of that Book, tells us what God himself said to him-Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart ; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” The thirty-second and thirtythird verses of the fourth chapter furnish us a catalogue of some of the subjects on which he composed treatises, part of which are lost to the world—“He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. He spake of trees, from the ceder-tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall ; he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things and of fishes.” A moralist, a poet, a philosopher, a