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On the vanity and insufficiency of all worldly possessions.
Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun: and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure; and, behold, this also is vanity. I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, (yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom,) and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits; I made the pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees; I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me; I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces;
I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not mine heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on 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, What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about toward the north: it whirleth about continually; and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full : unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, is that which shall be;
and that which is done, is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Yea, I hated all my labour 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 labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun. For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity, yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity, and a great evil. For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? All his days he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness. all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity. Seeing there be many things that
increase vanity, what is man the better? I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man, to be exercised therewith. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Because no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea, further, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.
From the same,
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase this is also vanity. When goods increase they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is
served by the field. The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: a man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? this is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. All this have I proved by wisdom. I the preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem: I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than allthey that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom