ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 6.
Of the Vanity of Earthly Riches.
V.1. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men, it weighs heavily upon a great many unfortunate people; v.2. a man to whom God bath given riches, wealth, and honor, even to the point of luxury, all the highest gifts known to man here on earth, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, lacking nothing of things which are commonly considered most desirable by men, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, either on account of illness or by reason of excessive and oppressive cares, but a stranger eateth it, the heirs of such a man rioting and reveling in the enjoyment of the goods for which they did not labor; this is vanity, and it is an evil disease, it is like a severe illness which deprives a person of all joy in life. V.3. If a man beget an hundred children, the possession of a great many children being considered a most extraordinary blessing of the Lord, and live many years, In a long and happy life, so that the days of his years be many, the full sum allotted to men, and his soul be not filled with good, not having the satisfaction of a real enjoyment of Godís blessings in the status of a child of God, and also that he have no burial, being deprived of honor even in his death, this being considered a great disgrace in Oriental countries; I say that an untimely birth is better than he, it would have been better for him if he had never been born. V. 4. For he cometh in with vanity, naked, poor, into an empty existence, and departeth in darkness, into a future which holds no hope for him, and his name shall be covered with darkness, assigned to utter forgetfulness and oblivion, in an unhonored death. V. 5. Moreover he bath not seen the sun, he has never had any enjoyment of life, nor known anything, shut out from everything that might bring happiness; this bath more rest than the other, that is, the unborn child is less troubled with the annoyances of life than the miser. V.6. Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, more than twice as long as the oldest patriarchs from Adam to Noah, yet hath he seen no good, his own gloomy covetousness depriving him of any true enjoyment of life; do not all go to one place? for the realm of the dead is bound to receive all men without exception. V. 7. All the labor of man is for his mouth, his chief concern in this life being the satisfaction of his hunger and of the sensual enjoyment of food, and yet the appetite is not filled, the soul is not satisfied, for a person living for this world only will never have his fill of sensual delights. V.8. For what hath the wise more than the fool? He who strives after real knowledge seems to have no advantage, according to outward appearances, over one who lives only for the satisfaction of his sensual nature. What hath the poor that knoweth to walk before the living? That is, What advantage has the wise person, who strives for true humility, who leads a quiet and retired life, over him who disregards all considerations of this kind and boldly lives for his own interest alone? V. 9. Better is the sight of the eyes, the pleasant and sensible enjoyment of that which this life offers, than the wandering of the desire, when a person, dissatisfied with his lot, is ever planning something great for himself; this is also vanity and vexation of spirit, such restlessness and dissatisfaction brings only misery. V. 10. That which hath been is named already, men have, in the past, inquired into its nature, and it is known that it is man, that is, man is vanity, all his vaunted greatness is nothing; neither may he contend with Him that is mightier than he, God being the absolute Sovereign of the universe, whom no one can withstand. V. 11. Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, on account of the many trials, dangers, and changes of fortune with which man must contend, what is man the better? namely, in possessing wealth or the means for enjoying sensual delights. V. 12. For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? How can any mere human being, himself subject to change and decay, decide just what special condition of fortunes will be most beneficial to him? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? The future of every personís existence and fortunes is not in his own hands, but under the direction of God, to whom all believers will therefore entrust themselves, with all that they have, in childlike confidence.