Ecclesiastes 5

* What renders devotion vain. (1-3) Of vows, and oppression.

(4-8) the vanity of riches shown. (9-7) The right use of riches.

(18-20)

1-3 Address thyself to the worship of God, and take time to

compose thyself for it. Keep thy thoughts from roving and

wandering: keep thy affections from running out toward wrong

objects. We should avoid vain repetitions; copious prayers are

not here condemned, but those that are unmeaning. How often our

wandering thoughts render attendance on Divine ordinances little

better than the sacrifice of fools! Many words and hasty ones,

used in prayer, show folly in the heart, low thoughts of God,

and careless thoughts of our own souls.
4-8 When a person made engagements rashly, he suffered his

mouth to cause his flesh to sin. The case supposes a man coming

to the priest, and pretending that his vow was made rashly, and

that it would be wrong to fulfil it. Such mockery of God would

bring the Divine displeasure, which might blast what was thus

unduly kept. We are to keep down the fear of man. Set God before

thee; then, if thou seest the oppression of the poor, thou wilt

not find fault with Divine Providence; nor think the worse of

the institution of magistracy, when thou seest the ends of it

thus perverted; nor of religion, when thou seest it will not

secure men from suffering wrong. But though oppressors may be

secure, God will reckon for all.
9-17 The goodness of Providence is more equally distributed

than appears to a careless observer. The king needs the common

things of life, and the poor share them; they relish their

morsel better than he does his luxuries. There are bodily

desires which silver itself will not satisfy, much less will

worldly abundance satisfy spiritual desires. The more men have,

the better house they must keep, the more servants they must

employ, the more guests they must entertain, and the more they

will have hanging on them. The sleep of the labourer is sweet,

not only because he is tired, but because he has little care to

break his sleep. The sleep of the diligent Christian, and his

long sleep, are sweet; having spent himself and his time in the

service of God, he can cheerfully repose in God as his Rest. But

those who have every thing else, often fail to secure a good

night's sleep; their abundance breaks their rest. Riches do

hurt, and draw away the heart from God and duty. Men do hurt

with their riches, not only gratifying their own lusts, but

oppressing others, and dealing hardly with them. They will see

that they have laboured for the wind, when, at death, they find

the profit of their labour is all gone like the wind, they know

not whither. How ill the covetous worldling bears the calamities

of human life! He does not sorrow to repentance, but is angry at

the providence of God, angry at all about him; which doubles his

affliction.
18-20 Life is God's gift. We must not view our calling as a

drudgery, but take pleasure in the calling where God puts us. A

cheerful spirit is a great blessing; it makes employments easy,

and afflictions light. Having made a proper use of riches, a man

will remember the days of his past life with pleasure. The

manner in which Solomon refers to God as the Giver, both of life

and its enjoyments, shows they ought to be received and to be

used, consistently with his will, and to his glory. Let this

passage recommend to all the kind words of the merciful

Redeemer, "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that

meat which endureth unto everlasting life." Christ is the Bread

of life, the only food of the soul. All are invited to partake

of this heavenly provision.
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