Sermon 2264. Sowing in the Wind, Reaping Under Clouds
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JULY 10, 1892.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JULY 3, 1890.
"He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4.
SOW when the time comes, whatever wind blows. Reap when the times comes, whatever clouds are in the sky! There are, however,qualifying proverbs which must influence our actions. We are not to discard prudence in the choice of the time for our work."To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven." It is well to sow when the weather is propitious.It is wise to "make hay while the sun shines." Cut your corn when there is the probability of getting it dry.
But Solomon here is pushing the other side of the matter. He had seen prudence turn to idleness. He had noticed some peoplewait for a more convenient season which never came. He had observed sluggards making excuses which did not hold water. Sohe, with a blunt word, generalizes, in order to make the truth more forcible. Not troubling about the exceptions to the rule,he states it broadly thus-"Take no notice of winds or clouds. Go on with your work whatever happens. 'He that observes thewind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap.'"
I. The first thought that is suggested by these words is this-NATURAL DIFFICULTIES MAY BE UNDULY CONSIDERED. A man may observethe wind and regard the clouds a great deal too much, and so neither sow nor reap.
Note here, first, that in any work this would hinder a man. In any labor to which we set our hands, if we take too much noticeof the difficulties, we shall be hindered in it. It is very wise to know the difficulty of your calling, the sorrow whichcomes with it, the trial which arises out of it, the temptation connected therewith, but if you think too much of these things,there is no calling that will be carried on with any success. Poor farmers, they have a crop of hay and cannot get it in-theymay fret themselves to death if they like-and never earn a penny for a seven years' fretting! We say of their calling thatit is surrounded with constant trouble. They may lose everything just at the moment when they are about to gather it in. Theseed may perish under the clods when it is first sown. It is subject to blight and mildew, and birds and worms-and I knownot what besides-and then, at the last, when the farmer is about to reap the harvest, it may disappear before the sickle cancut it!
Take the case of the sailor. If he regards winds and clouds, will he ever be put to sea? Can you give him a promise that thewind will be favorable in any of his voyages, or that he will reach his desired haven without a tempest? He that observesthe winds and clouds will not sail-and he that regards the clouds will never cross the mighty deep! If you turn from the farmerand the sailor, and come to the trader, what tradesman will do anything if he is always worrying about the competition andabout the difficulties of his trade which is so cut up that there is no making a living by it? I have heard this, I think,about every trade-and yet our friends keep on living and some of them get rich-when they are supposed to be losing money everyyear! He that regards the rise and fall of prices and is timid-and will do no trading because of the changes on the market-willnot reap. If you come to the working man, it is the same as with those I have mentioned, for there is no calling or occupationthat is not surrounded with difficulties.
In fact, I have formed this judgment from what friends have told me-that every trade is the worst trade-for I have found somebodyin that particular line who has proved this to a demonstration! I cannot say that I am an implicit believer in all I hearabout this matter. Still, if I were, this would be the conclusion that I should come to, that he who observed the circumstancesof any trade or calling would never engage in it at all! He would never sow and he would never reap. I suppose he would goto bed and sleep all the 24 hours of the day and, after a while, I am afraid he would find it
become impossible even to do that-and he would learn that to turn, with the sluggard, like a door on its hinges, is not unalloyedpleasure, after all!
Well now, dear Friends, if there are these difficulties in connection with earthly callings and trades, do you expect therewill be nothing of the kind with regard to heavenly things? Do you imagine that, in sowing the good Seed of the Kingdom andgathering the sheaves into the garner, you will have no difficulties and disappointments? Do you dream that when you are boundfor Heaven, you are to have smooth sailing and propitious winds all the voyage? Do you think that, in your heavenly trading,you will have less trials than the merchant who has only to do with earthly business? If you do, you make a great mistake!You will not be likely to enter upon the heavenly calling if you do nothing else but unduly consider the difficulties surroundingit.
But, next, in the work of liberality this would stop us. This is Solomon's theme here. "Cast your bread upon the waters.""Give a portion to seven, and also to eight," and so on. He means, by my text, that if anybody occupies his mind unduly withthe difficulties connected with liberality, he will do nothing in that line. "He that observes the wind shall not sow; andhe that regards the clouds shall not reap." "How am I to know," says one, " that the person to whom I give my money is reallydeserving? How do I know what he will do with it? How do I know but what I may be encouraging idleness or begging? By givingto the man, I may be doing him real injury." Perhaps you are not asked to give to an individual, but to some great work. Then,if you regard the clouds, you will begin to say, "How do I know that this work will be successful, the sending of missionariesto a cultivated people like the Hindus? Is it likely that they will be converted?"
You will not sow, and you will not reap, if you talk like that! Yet there are many who do speak in that fashion. There wasnever an enterprise started yet but somebody objected to it-and I do not believe that the best work that Christ, Himself,ever did was beyond criticism-there were some people who were sure to find some fault with it. "But," says another, "I haveheard that the management at headquarters is not all it ought to be. I think that there is too much money spent on the secretaryand that there is a great deal lost in this direction and in that." Well, dear Friend, it goes without saying that if youmanaged things, they would be managed perfectly, but, you see, you cannot do everything and, therefore, you must trust somebody.I can only say, with regard to societies, agencies, works and missions of all kinds, "He that observes the wind shall notsow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap." If that is what you are doing-discovering imperfections and difficulties,it will end in this-you will do nothing at all!
Going a little further, as this is true of common occupations and of liberality, so it is especially true in the work of servingGod. Now, if I were to consider in my mind nothing but the natural depravity of man, I would never preach again! To preachthe Gospel to sinners is as foolish a thing as to bid dead men rise out of their graves! But, for that very reason I do it,because it has pleased God, "by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe"! When I look upon the alienationfrom God, the hardness of the human heart, I see that old Adam is too strong for me-and if I regarded that one cloud of theFall, and original sin, and the natural depravity of man, I, for one, would neither sow nor reap!
I am afraid that there has been a good deal of this, however. Many preachers have contemplated the ruin of man and they havehad so clear a view of it that they dare not say, "Thus says the Lord, you dry bones, live!" They are unable to cry, "DearMaster, speak through us and say, 'Lazarus, come forth!'" Some seem to say, "Go and see if Lazarus has any kind of feelingof his condition in the grave. If so, I will call him out, because I believe he can come"-thus putting all the burden on Lazarusand depending upon Lazarus for it! But we say, "Though he has been dead four days, and is already becoming corrupt, that hasnothing to do with us. If our Master bids us call him out from his grave, we can call him out and he will come-not becausehe can come by his own power-but because God can make him come, for the day is now when they that are in their graves shallhear the voice of God-and they that shall hear and shall live!
But, dear Friends, there are persons to whom we should never go to seek their salvation if we regarded the winds and the clouds,for they are peculiarly bad people. You know, from observation, that there are some persons who are much worse than others-somewho are not amenable to kindness, or any other human treatment. They do not seem to be terrified by law, or affected by love.We know people who go into a horrible temper, every now and then, and all the hope we had of them is blown away like sereleaves in the autumn wind! You know such and you "fight shy" with them. There are such boys and there are such girls, fullof mischief, levity, or full of malice and bitterness-and you say to yourself, "I
cannot do anything with them. It is of no use." You are observing the winds and regarding the clouds! You will not be oneof those to whom Isaiah says, "Blessed are you that sow beside all waters."
Someone may say, "I would not mind the moral condition of the people, but it is their surroundings that are the trouble. Whatis the use of trying to save a man while he lives, as he does, in such a horrible street, in one room? What is the use ofseeking to raise such and such a woman while she is surrounded, as she is, with such examples? The very atmosphere seems tainted."Just so, dear Friend-while you observe the winds and regard the clouds-you will now sow and you will not reap! You will notattempt the work and, of course, you will not complete what you do not begin.
So, you know, you can go on making all kinds of excuses for doing nothing with certain people because you feel or think thatthey are not those whom God is likely to bless. I know this to be a common case, even with very serious and earnest workersfor Christ. Let it not be so with you, dear Friends! But be you one of those who obey the poet's words-
"Beside all waters sow!
The highway furrows stock!
Drop it where thorns and thistles grow-
Scatter it on the rock."
Let me carry this principle, however, a little further. You may unduly consider circumstances in reference to the businessof your own eternal life. You may, in that matter, observe the winds, and never sow. You may regard the clouds and never reap."I feel," says one, "as if I never can be saved. There never was such a sinner as I am. My sins are peculiarly black." Yes,and if you keep on regarding them and do not remember the Savior and His infinite power to save, you will not sow in prayerand faith. "Ah, Sir, but you do not know the horrible thoughts I have, the dark forebodings that cross my mind!" You are correct,dear Friend, I do not know them. I know what I feel, myself, and I expect that your feelings are very like my own, but, bewhat they may, if, instead of looking to Christ, you are always studying your own condition, your own withered hopes, yourown broken resolutions-then you will still stay where you are and you will neither sow nor reap.
Beloved Christians, you who have been Believers for years, if you begin to live by your frames and feelings, you will getinto the same condition. "I do not feel like praying," says one. Then is the time when you ought to pray most, for you areevidently most in need! But if you keep observing whether or not you are in the proper frame of mind for prayer, you willnot pray. "I cannot grasp the promises," says another, "I should like to joy in God and firmly believe in His Word, but Ido not see anything in myself that can minister to my comfort." Suppose you do not-are you, after all, going to build uponyourself? Are you trying to find your ground of consolation in your own heart? If so, you are on the wrong tack! Our hopeis not in self, but in Christ-let us go and sow it. Our hope is in the finished work of Christ-let us go and reap it, for,if we keep on regarding the winds and the clouds, we shall neither sow nor reap.
I think it is a great lesson to learn in spiritual things, to believe in Christ and His finished salvation, quite as muchas when you are down as when you are up, for Christ is not more Christ on the top of the mountain than He is in the bottomof the valley. And He is no less Christ in the storm at midnight than He is in the sunshine of the day. Do not begin to measureyour safety by your comfort-but measure it by the eternal Word of God which you have believed and which you know to be true-andon which you rest, for still here, within the little world of our bosom, "he that observes the wind shall not sow; and hethat regards the clouds shall not reap." We need to get out of that idea altogether.
I have said enough to prove the truth of my first observation, namely, that natural difficulties may be unduly considered.
II. My second observation is this-SUCH CONSIDERATION INVOLVES US IN SEVERAL SINS.
If we keep on observing circumstances instead of trusting God, we shall be guilty of disobedience. God bids me sow-I do notsow because the wind would blow some of my seed away. God bids me reap-I do not reap because there is a black cloud and beforeI can house the harvest, some of it may be spoiled. I may say what I like, but I am guilty of disobedience. I have not donewhat I was bid to do. I have made an excuse out of the weather and I have been disobedient. Dear Friends, it is yours to dowhat God bids you do, whether the heavens fall down or not and, if you knew they would fall, and you could prop them up bydisobedience, you have no right to do it! What may happen from our doing right, we have nothing to do with-we are to do rightand take the consequences cheerfully. Do you need obedience to be always rewarded by a spoonful of sugar? Are you such a babythat you will do nothing unless there shall be some little toy for you directly after? A man in Christ Jesus will do rightthough it shall involve him in losses and crosses, slanders and re-
bukes-yes, even martyrdom itself! May God help you to do so! He that observes the wind and does not sow when he is bid tocast his seed upon the waters is guilty of disobedience.
Next, we are guilty also of unbelief if we cannot sow because of the wind. Who manages the wind? You distrust Him who is Lordof the north, and south, and east, and west? If you cannot reap because of a cloud, you doubt Him who makes the clouds, towhom the clouds are the dust of His feet. Where is your faith? Where is your faith? "Ah," says one, "I can serve God whenI am helped, when I am moved, when I can see hope of success." That is poor service-service devoid of faith. May I not sayof it, "Without faith it is impossible to please God"? Just in proportion to the quantity of faith that there is in what wedo, in that proportion will it be acceptable with God! Observing of winds and clouds is unbelief! We may call it prudence,but unbelief is its true name.
The next sin is rebellion. So you will not sow unless God chooses to make the wind blow your way? And you will not reap unlessGod pleases to drive the clouds away? I call that revolt or rebellion. An honest subject loves the king in all weathers. Thetrue servant serves his master, let his master do what he wills. Oh, dear Friends, we are too often aiming at God's Throne!We want to get up there and manage things-
"Snatch from His hand the balance and the rod, Rejudge His judgments, be the god of God." "Oh, if He would but alter my circumstances!"What is this but tempting God, as they did in the wilderness, wishing Him to do other than He does? It is wishing Him to dowrong, for what He does is always right! But we must not so rebel and vex his Holy Spirit by complaining of what He does.Do you not see that this is trying to throw the blame for our shortcomings upon the Lord? "If we do not sow, do not blameus-God did not send the right wind. If we did not reap, pray not to censure us-how could we be expected to reap while therewere clouds in the skies?" What is this but a wicked endeavor to blame God for our own neglect and wrongdoing and to makeDivine Providence the packhorse upon which we pile our sins? God save us from such rebellion as that!
Another sin of which we are guilty, when we are always looking at our circumstances, is foolish fear. Though we may thinkthat there is no sin in it, there is great sin in foolish fear. God has commanded His people not to fear-then we should obeyHim. There is a cloud-why do you fear it? It will be gone directly-not a drop of rain may fall out of it. You are afraid ofthe wind-why fear it? It may never come. Even if it were some deadly wind that was approaching, it might shift about and notcome near you. We are often fearing what never happens. We feel a thousand deaths in fearing one. Many a person has been afraidof what never would occur. It is a great pity to whip yourselves with imaginary rods. Wait till the trouble comes-otherwiseI shall have to tell you the story I have often repeated of the mother whose child would cry. She told it not to cry, butit would cry. "Well," she said, "if you will cry, I will give you something to cry about!" If you get to fearing about nothing,the probability is that you will get something really to fear, for God does not love His people to be fools.
There are some who fall into the sin of stinginess. Observe that Solomon was here speaking of liberality. He that observesthe clouds and the winds thinks, "That is not a good object to help," and that he will do harm if he gives here, or if hegives there. It amounts to this, poor Miser, you want to save your money! Oh, the ways we have of making buttons with whichto secure the safety of our pockets! Some persons have a button always ready. They always have a reason for not giving toanything that is proposed to them, or to any poor person who asks their help. I pray that every child of God here may avoidthat sin. "Freely you have received, freely give." And since you are stewards of a generous Master, let it never be said thatthe most liberal of Lords has the stingiest of stewards!
Another sin is often called idleness. The man who does not sow because of the wind is usually too lazy to sow. And the manwho does not reap because of the clouds is the man who wants a little more sleep, a little more slumber and a little morefolding of the hands to sleep. If we do not want to serve God, it is amazing how many reasons we can find. According to Solomon,the sluggard said there was a lion in the streets. "There is a lion in the way," he said, "a lion is in the streets!" Whata lie it was, for lions are as much afraid of streets as men are of deserts! Lions do not come into streets! It was idlenessthat said the lion was there. You were asked to preach the other night and you could preach, but you said, no, you could notpreach. However, you attended a political meeting, did you not, and talked twice as long as you would have done if you hadpreached?
Another friend, asked to teach in Sunday school, said, "I have no gifts of teaching." Somebody afterwards remarked of youthat you had no gifts of teaching, and you felt very vexed and asked what right had anyone to say that of you? I have heardpersons run themselves down when they have been invited to any Christian work, as being altogether dis-qualified-but whensomebody has afterwards said, "That is true, you cannot do anything, I know," they have looked as if they would knock thespeaker down! Oh, yes, yes, yes-we are always making these excuses about winds and clouds- and there is nothing in eitherof them. It is all meant to save our corn seed and to save us the trouble of sowing it.
Do you not see that I have made a long list of sins wrapped up in this observing of winds and clouds? If you have been guiltyof any of them, repent of your wrongdoing and do not repeat it!
III. I will not keep you longer over this part of the subject. I will now make a third remark very briefly-LET US PROVE THATWE HAVE NOT FALLEN INTO THIS EVIL. How can we prove it?
Let us prove it, first, by sowing in the most unlikely places. What says Solomon? "Cast your bread upon the waters: for youshall find it after many days." Go, my Brothers and Sisters, and find the most unlikely people-and begin to work for God withthem. Now, try, if you can, to pick out the worst street in your neighborhood and visit from house to house. And if thereis a man or woman worse off than another, make that person the objective of your prayers and of your holy endeavors. Castyour bread upon the waters-then it will be seen that you are trusting God, not trusting the soil, nor trusting the seed!
Next, prove it by doing good to a great many. "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight." Talk of Christ to everybody youmeet! If God has not blessed you to one, try another. And if He has blessed you with one, try two others! And if He has blessedyou to two others, try four others-always keep on enlarging your seed plot as your harvest comes in! If you are doing much,it will be shown that you are not regarding the winds and the clouds.
Further, prove that you are not regarding winds and clouds by wisely learning from the clouds another lesson than the onethey seem made to teach. Learn this lesson-"If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth." Say toyourself, "If God has made me full of His Grace, I will go and pour it out on others. I know the joy of being saved. SinceI have had fellowship with Him, I will make a point of being more industrious than ever because God has been unusually graciousto me. My fullness shall be helpful to others. I will empty myself for the good of others, even as the clouds pour down therain upon the earth."
Then, Beloved, prove it by not needing to know how God will work. There is a great mystery of birth-how the human soul cometo inhabit the body of the child and how the child is fashioned. You know nothing about it and you cannot know. Thereforedo not look about you to see what you cannot understand and pry into what is concealed from you. Go out and work! Go out andpreach! Go out and instruct others! Go out to seek to win souls! Thus shall you prove, in very truth, that you are not dependentupon surroundings and circumstances.
Again, dear Friend, prove this by consistent diligence. "In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not yourhand." "Be instant in season, out of season." I had a friend who had learned the way to put a peculiar meaning upon that passageof Scripture, "Let not your right hand know what your left hand does." He thought that the best way was to have money in bothpockets-put one hand into each pocket-and then put both hands on the collection plate. I never objected to this interpretationof the passage. Now, the way to serve Christ is to do all you possibly can-and then much more. "No," you say, "that cannotbe!" I do not know that it cannot be. I found that the best thing I ever did was a thing I could not do. What I could do well,that was my own-but what I could not do, but still did, in the name and strength of the Eternal Jehovah, was the best thingI had done! Beloved, sow in the morning, sow in the evening, sow at night, sow all day long, for you can never tell what Godwill bless-and by this constant sowing you will prove that you are not observing the winds, nor regarding the clouds!
IV. I now come to my concluding observation-LET US KEEP THIS EVIL OUT OF OUR HEARTS AS WELL AS OUT OF OUR WORK.
And, first, let us give no heed to the winds and clouds of doctrine that are everywhere about us now. Blow, blow, you stormywinds, but you shall not move me! Clouds of hypotheses and inventions, come up, as many as you please, till you darken allthe sky-but I will not fear you! Such clouds have come before and have disappeared, and these will disappear, too. If yousit down and think of man's inventions of error and their novel doctrines and how the churches have been bewitched by them,you will get into such a state of mind that you will neither sow nor reap. Just forget them! Give your-
self to your holy service as if there were no winds and no clouds-and God will give you such comfort in your soul that youwill rejoice before Him and be confident in His Truth.
And then, next, let us not lose hope because of doubts and temptations. When the clouds and the winds get into your heart.When you do not feel as you used to feel. When you have not that joy and elasticity of spirit you once had. When your ardorseems a little damped and even your faith begins to hesitate a little, go to God all the same! Trust Him still-
"And when your eye of faith grows dim, Still hold to Jesus, sink or swim! Still at His footstool bow the knee, And Israel'sGod your strength shall be." Do not go up and down like the mercury in the weather glass-but know what you know and believewhat you believe! Hold to it and may God keep you in one mind, so that none can turn you, for, if not, if you begin to noticethese things, you will neither sow nor reap.
Lastly, let us follow the Lord's mind, come what will. In a word, set your face, like a flint, to serve God by the maintenanceof His Truth, by your holy life, by the savor of your Christian character and, that being done, defy earth and Hell! If therewere a crowd of devils between you and Christ, kick a lane through them by holy faith! They will flee before you. If you havebut the courage to make an advance, they cannot stop you. You shall make a clear gangway through legions of them. Only bestrong and of good courage-and do not regard, even, the clouds from Hell, or the blasts from the infernal pit-but go straighton in the path of right and, God being with you, you shall sow and you shall reap unto His eternal Glory!
Will some poor sinner, here, tonight, whether he sinks or swims, trust Christ? Come, even if you feel less inclined, tonight,to hope, than you ever did before! Have hope even now! Hope against hope! Believe against belief! Cast yourself on Christ,even though He may seem to stand with a drawn sword in His hand, to run you through! Trust even an angry Christ! Though yoursins have grieved Him, come and trust Him. Do not stop for winds to blow over, or clouds to burst. Just as you are, withoutone trace of anything that is good about you, come and trust Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you are saved! God give youGrace to do so, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON ECCLESIASTES 11-12.
Ecclesiastes 11:1. Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shall find it after many days. Hoard not your bread, for if you do, it will mildew-itwill be of no use to you. Cast it on the waters. Scatter it abroad. Give it to unworthy men if necessary. Some here have seenan allusion to the casting of seed into the Nile when it overflowed its banks. When the waters subsided, the corn would growand be gathered in, "after many days."
2. Give a portion to seven. And if that is a perfect number, give beyond it.
2. And also to eight. Give to more than you can afford to give to! Help some who are doubtful, some who are outside of theperfect number-give them a portion, a fair portion. Our Savior went beyond Solomon, for He said, "Give to every man that asksof you."
2. For you know not what evil shall be upon the earth. You know not what need there may be of your help, nor what need maycome to you, and how you, yourself, may be helped by those whom you help now.
3. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth. The tree falls the way it is inclined, but when ithas fallen, there it must be. God grant that you and I may fall the right way when the axe of death hews us down! Which wayare we inclined?
4. 5. He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap. As you know not what is theway of the Spirit, nor how the bones grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so you know not the works of God whomakes all. There are great mysteries which we can never comprehend. God alone knows how the soul comes into the body, or evenhow the body is fashioned. This must remain with Him. We do not know how sinners are regenerated. We know not how the Spiritof God works upon the mind of man and transforms the sinner into a saint. We do not know. There are some who know too much,already. I have not half the desire to know what I have to believe and to love. Oh, that we loved God more, and trusted Godmore! We might then get to Heaven if we knew even less than we do.
6. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hand: for you know not whether shall prosper, eitherthis or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. You cannot make the Gospel enter into men's hearts. You cannot tellhow it does enter and change them. The Spirit of God does that-your duty is to go on telling it out. Go on spreading abroadthe knowledge of Christ! In the morning and in the evening, and all day long, scatter the good Seed of the Kingdom. You havenothing to do with the result of your sowing-that remains with the Lord. That which you sow in the morning may prosper, orthe seed that you scatter in the evening. Possibly God will bless both. You are to keep on sowing, whether you reap or not.
7, 8. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: but if a man lives many years andrejoices in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity. Take Christaway and this is a truthful estimate of human life. Put Christ into the question and Solomon does not hit the mark at all.If we have Christ with us, whether the days are light or dark, we walk in the Light of God and our soul is happy and glad!But apart from Christ, the estimate of life which is given here is an exactly accurate one-a little brightness and long darkness,a flash and then midnight. God save you from living a merely natural life! May you rise to the supernatural! May you get outof the lower life of the mere animal into the higher life of the regenerated soul! If the life of God is in you, then youshall go from strength to strength like the sun that shines unto the perfect day.
9. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of yourheart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Young man, willyou dare, then, to follow your passions and the devices of your own heart, with this at the back-"God will bring you intojudgement"? Oh no, the advice of Solomon apparently so evil, is answered by warning at the end, which is also true-
10. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. "Removesorrow," or rather, anger, ambition, or anything else that would cause sorrow, "from your heart, and put away evil from yourflesh." Let not your fleshly nature rule you! You are in the period when flesh is strong towards evil, when "vanity" is theruin of many.
Chapter 12:1. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth. Now we get on solid ground. There is an irony in the advice,"Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of yourheart, and in the sight of your eyes." There is no irony here-there is solid, sound advice-"Remember now your Creator in thedays of your youth." May every young man take this advice and carry it out!
1-3. While the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them; while the sun,or the light, or the moon, or the stars are not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: in the day when the keepersof the house shall tremble. These arms and hands of ours shake by reason of weakness.
3. And the strong men shall bow themselves. These limbs, these legs of ours, begin to bend under the weight they have to support.
3. And the grinders cease because they are few. The teeth are gone.
3. And those that look out of the windows are darkened. The eyesight begins to fail.
4. And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice ofthe bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low. The old man sleeps very lightly; anything awakens him. He hidesaway from public business. The doors are shut in the streets.
5. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way. There is none of the courage of youth.Daring is gone-prudence, not to say cowardice-sits on the throne.
5. And the almond tree shall flourish. The hair is white and gray, like the early peach or almond tree in the beginning ofthe year.
5. And the grasshopper shall be a burden. A little trouble weighs the old man down. He has no energy now. The grasshopperis a burden.
5, 6. And desire shall fail: because men go to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets; or ever the silver cordis loosed, or the golden cord is broken. Before the spinal cord is broken, or the skull becomes emptied of the living inhabitants.
6. Or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. The circulation of the blood begins to fail,the heart grows weak, it will soon stop. The man's career is nearly over.
7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. This will happen tous all, either to return to dust or else return to God. Whether we die and return to dust, or live until the coming of Christ,our spirit shall return to God who gave it. May the return be a joyous one for each of us!
8-11. Vanity of vanities, says the preacher; all is vanity. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught thepeople knowledge; yes, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find outacceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads. They prickus onward, as the goad does the bullock, when he is trying to stop instead of plowing in the furrow.
11. And as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. The words of the wise are drivenhome, like nails, and clinched. There is one Shepherd who, by means of His servants' words, leads His flock where He wouldhave them go.
12, 13. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much of the study is a wearinessof the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His Commandments: for this is the duty ofman. Or, "this is the whole of man." It makes a man of him when he fears God and keeps His Commandments-he has that whichmakes him "the whole man."
14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil. Dependupon it that it will be so! At the Last Great Day, there will be a revealing of everything, whether it is good, or whetherit is evil. No need for the righteous to fear that revealing, for they will only magnify in that day the amazing Grace ofGod which has put all their iniquities away-and then shall all men know how great the Grace of God was in passing by iniquity,transgression and sin!