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Solomon; some Herdsmen, as Amos; and Priests, as Jeremiah; Fithermen, as some of the apostles: this he did, that all sorts might meet with stile and phrase of speech suitable for them. We may learn, that it is no disgrace to any man, or any man's children, to be preachers: Solomon and David, both kings and both prophets, are of the number; Solomon Itudying to teach the people knowledge, Eccl. xii.9, 10. The Angels, higher than the higheit man, are all ministring fpirits, Heb. i. 14. Yea, Christ, the Prince of the kings of the earth, was the great New - Testament Preacher.-
Thus you have the Penman described in the title of the ... book; “ The words of the Preacher, the son of David,
king of Israel.”
The second verse lays before us the general doctrine of the book; “ Vanity of vanities, faith the Preacher ; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Where, more particularly, we have, 1. The Judgment past upon all earthly things. 2. Tne Person passing this judgment.
ist, To begin with the last of these; we have the Person that pailes this judgment, that all is vanity; it is said to be the Preacher, I told you already what was the meaning of the word; viz. one that is gathered by grace to God, who had learned, by his experience, the vanity of all things in time ; and was convinced, that there was no real advantage in pursuing after these things. Who is it that thus speaks lightly of the world? Indeed, it was one who was a very competent judge, as much as ever any man was. Many speak contemptibly of the world, either because they are hermits, and know it not; 'or beggars, and have it not: But Solo. mon knew it, and had enough of it too; and he spoke of it as one having authority, not only as a king, but as a prophet and preacher; he spoke in God's name, be: ing divinely inspired. Aud, as some think, one main thing he designed, was, to thew that the everlasting throne and kingdom, which God had been lately pro. mising to David and his feed, (for Christ was also the son of David) must be of another world: for all things in this world are subject to vanity ; and therefore have not in them fufficient to anliver the extent of that pro
mise. If Solomon found all things to be vanity; then the kingdom of the Messiah must come, in which only we can inherit substance. And, indeed, the very end and design of our preaching to you, concerning the va. nity of the world, is to recommend Christ to you ; fee. ing, though you should inherit all things your heart can desire in time, you do but inherit paffing shadows and vanity : but in Christ you will inherit everlasting and substantial goodness, faith the Preacher, Prov. vii. 21.
Solomon set the seal of his testimony to the vanity of all earthly things, after the trial of them : they that have had the most trial of earthly comforts, are moft ready to avouch, and most able to preach the vanity of them. Experience is a divine testiniony, as being taken from the works of God, in the event of things coming to pass by providence: and experience is of great au. thority with men, as being an argument more sensible, and less subject to ignorance and error, And hence we may see the great difference between earthly and heavenly things : for earthly things seem good, till men get a trial of them, and then they are found vain, al. together vain ; but heavenly things seem vain, till men get a trial of them, and then, upon a sufficient trial, they are found to be excellent.
« All is vanity, faith the Preacher.” There is one that draws a very strange inference from this word, viz. that reading is preaching ; because Solomon calls his book, though read, the Preacher. But in answer to this, Solomon doth not call his book, but HIMSELF, the Preacher.-And again, one might rather infer from this, that writing is preaching; and that one may deliver his sermon by writing. But that reading is preaching, doth not follow from this. Why, in writing, a minister may and doth make use of spiritual gifts, requisite in a prophet or preacher, to the exercise of his minifterial gifts.; but not so in reading, which even a school-boy may perform, that never attained any spiritual gift at all. Thus much concerning the person passing this judgment.
adly, We have the judgment paft upon all earthly
things, VANITY; “ Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Where observe three things, 1. The subject of the determination; or the thing he passes his judgment upon, in the particle ALL. 2. The determi. nation itself, or the judgment he passes upon them, it is vanity. 3. The aggravation of, or emphatic manner wherein he passes his judgment; “ Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
1. The subject, or the thing he passes his judgment on, namely, ALL; viz. all that is in the world: all the pleasures, all the profits, all the honours, all the pre. ferments, all the lusts of the world; all things under the fun that a man can set his heart upon; all worldly em. ployments and enjoyments; all things besides God, and considered as abstract from him.
2. The judgment he passes upon all these is, VANITY, The things of the world are either to be considered in themselves, as the creatures of God, and so they cannot be called all vanity ; because they were all very good, fhewing forth his power and glory: but confider them with respect to men, and his expecting satisfaction in them, and thus they are vanity; they will disappoint them who seek happiness in them; they are vain ; and not only so, but,
3. Observe the aggravation of this judgment, or the emphatic manner of the preacher's expression of this matter; they are not only vain, but vanity in the abstract; and not only so, but vanity over and over again, three several times repeated : As if he had faid, They are vanity, vanity, vanity : and not only fo, but the fountain of vanity; and therefore called, “ Vanity of vanities;” and again, “Vanity of vanities:" intimating, the vainelt vanities; vanity in the highest degree, nothing but vanity; such a vanity as is the cause of a great deal of vanity : And again, not only this, but the redoubling of the expreffion, intimating the certainty of the thing, and with what a strong conviction the preacher spoke, what a deep fenfe he had of this vanity of all things. So that his judgment is here exaggerated, 1. By expressing it in the concret, VANITY. 2. By cal. ling it, “Vanity of vanities." 3. By repeating and re.
doubling this sentence, “ Vanity of vanities, vanity of ta. nities.” 4. By tripling the doctrine which he intended to make good,“Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” The truth of which doctrine he proved at large, by many cogent arguments, in the fequel of his sermon in this book.
The doctrinal proposition we intend to illustrate from these words, thus explained, shall be the following,
Observ. That all earthly enjoyments, and worldly
things, are vain and empty.
And in speaking to Solomon's text here, viz. The emptiness and vanity of the world, we would incline, through divine favour, to do the following things,
1. Consider what it is in the world that is fo vain and
empty. II. Enquire what is Imported in its being vain, and
vanity itself; and in the phrase, “ Vanity of vani
ties, vanity of vanities.” III. Offer fome Arguments to prove the truth of the
doctrine, viz. that all is vain and empty. IV. Give the Reasons of it, why it is fo. V. Deduce fome Inferences for the application, to
shew what improvement we ought to make of this doctrine.
I. We return to the first thing proposed, To consider what it is in the world that is so vain and empty. Here, for preventing all mistakes, and obviating every wrong turn of thought, in the progress of this discourse, I would have you remember, that I speak not of the things of the world, absolutely considered in themselves ; for thus many things in the world are good and ufeful, in many respects, when used according to God's allowance: but I consider the world here, and the things of it, as wholly vanity, in the following respects.
1. When separate from God; without God the good things of the world are not seen as coming from him, nor improven for leading to him; but esteemed in them
felves above God, fo as men are lovers thereof more than lovers of God. And so,
- 2. When it is made a man's happiness, or any part of his happiness; and so he makes it his end, his fatisfaction, his reft, his God : for thus many make the world their god, their belly their god.
* 3. When opposing or hindering the service of God : when it steals away the heart from duty; and steals away the heart from ordinances, and so obstructs the
service of God. .. 4. When it furthers and promotes fin, and is made
the fuel for feeding and maintaining corrupt luits and affections : when it is but the food of pride and anbition, the food of covetousness and carnality, the food of sensuality and lasciviousness, or the like. Why, in such respects as these, the world, and things in it, ought to be looked upon as base and contemptible vanity: and to be despised, opposed, and mortified.
But now, if the question be asked, What is it in the world that is vain and empty ? Why, saith the Preacher, “ All is vanity.” This word comprehends more than we can tell; for we will not get through all that is included in it. We shall name a few of these things in the world that are but vanity. : 1. All the profits and riches of the world are vanity; “ He that loveth silver, shall not be satisfied with filver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and no good is to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?” Eccl. v. 10, 11. Let a man find as much riches as ever Solomon found, he cannot find happiness therein. Where is it that fatisfying riches are to be had ? No where but in Chrift: “ Riches and honours are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness,” Prov. viii. 18. All the riches of grace and glory are to be found in Christ. . . . . : 2. All the pleasures and delights of the world are vani. ty; " I said in my 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 doth it?" Eccl. ii. 1, 2. See how he enumerates,