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- 5. Watch over your oron hearts. Our hearts are prone to wander from God; but let us notice the first motions of evil, and instantly nip our sins in the bud. There can be no evil in our lives, if we indulge no evil in our hearts.
6. To conclude: Let us cultivate religious tempers ; let us be much engaged in prayer; and let us love, honour, and obey God in all things; for then he will be our guide even unto death, and our portion for ever.
..:: Eccles, xü. 8. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is
SOLOMON had very considerable experience both of men and things. The exalted situation in which he was placed by divine providence, afforded him more extensive opportunities of knowledge than that of any individual in private life. Besides, he was a man of deep penetration, and uncommon diligence in searching after truth. The result of his diligent enquiries and long experience, was that view of things which is expressed in our text : “ Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity."
Here are two things: first the preacher; and secondly, his sermon.
I. THE PREACHER.
A preacher, whose business it is to convey instruction, should be furnished with considerable stores of wisdom. In this respect Solomon was well qualified for the important work. His “ wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of EgyptHe was wiser than all men— And his fame was in all nations round about.”
Those Preachers who experience the important truths which they teach, are the most likely to make deep impressions upon the hearts of their hearers. In this respect also, Solomon was well qualified to teach his people. This book contains a great deal of his own experience, as he had passed through the varying scenes of life. It was therefore with strict propriety that he observed of himself, “My heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge." He had proved many things; and found little else than disappointment and vexation of spirit. : .
God has frequently raised up men from the lowest orders of society to preach his word; but Solomon was a royal preacher. He begins this sermon, by informing us, that these are “ the words of the preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem.” Though seated upon the throne of a great nation, he did not think it beneath him to preach. Happy is that nation which has such a monarch. .. : It is indispensibly necessary for every preacher to be faithful in the discharge of his duty. Few preachers have been more so than Solomon. His sermon does not flatter the pride of man. It gives no encouragement to mere men of the world: but it is full of the most mortifying truths, and of the most awful warnings, against those things which are most pleasing to corrupt and depraved nature. · II. THE SERMON.
The sermon proves that all things in this world, are vanity to an unsanctified mind. The word which is rendered vanity, implies either something which is empty in itself, as vapour and smoke; or something which proves empty to us, on account of its insufficiency to make us happy. The following remarks, I hope, will throw considerable light upon the subject. : : 1. No work of God is in vain. All his. works, whether of creation, providence, redemption, or grace, are great and goods " All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.” God never made. one creature in vain. All creatures, from the arch-angel in heaven, to the meanest reptile on earth—from the tall cedar of Lebanon, to the most insigni-. ficant weed, have their proper uses and ends. There is nothing superfluous-nothing wanting in the creation; but all things have been made. by exact weight and measure. ,
2. Some works of men are not vain. Many of our works are not only useful, but ab
solutely necessary; and they are neyer vain when they imitate the works of God. To be useful in life, we must plant and build, reap and sow, buy and sell : we must instruct the ignorant, visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe 'the naked, and comfort the distressed. And who dare say these works are vain? We engage in them with delight; and we reflect upon them with inward satisfaction.
3. Many things in themselves are absolutely vain. Amongst these we may reckon desires which cannot be gratified: imaginations which cannot be realized: affections which have no suitable objects: curiosity in things which are not useful: titles which only feed our pride : riches in such abundance, that we know .not how to dispose of them; company which corrupts our morals: dress which has no other object than that of attracting admiration : and fashions, which,: being devised to gratify Vanity vary as the wind. These may appear substantial blessings at a distance ; but, like vapour and smoke, they contain nothing but emptiness, and produce nothing but vexatious disappointment..
4. Every thing, however good in itself, is Vanity to a mind unchanged. by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The mind of man is so formed, that nothing can satisfy its large desires but God. He must be supreme;