We have not done all we meant to do, not been all we meant to be, and have a consciousness of imperfection more vivid than ever. Suppose, for instance, his business, which was formerly in a very prosperous state, have failed, can we condemn him for inquiring into the occasion of that failure? The common cry ever was, O terapora! If men may always find out what they have to do in this world, then they have no right to plead ignorance for the neglect of a duty. - Ecclesiastes 9:10 - During the Civil War, Union general George McClellan became well known for being hesitant to respond to the enemy and move his army out into the battle. How glowing was that first level Your whole soul went out after the Beloved! And so every nation has had its fancied golden age. 3. Has the sentiment become a principle, the ecstasy a habit, the passion a law? “when they had left their first love, to remember from whence they had fallen, and to repent, and do their first works [Note: Revelation 2:5. It may be that we are not less pure than formerly, only the Spirit of God has been opening our eyes, heightening our sensibility, and faults once latent are now discovered; the clearer vision detects deformities, the finer ear discords, the pure taste admixtures which were once unsuspected. And here again we must narrow the field of inquiry, and confine ourselves to points in which, as Christians, we have an especial interest. This sermon was preached by Tim Simmonds at CCM:Kingsway on Sunday 18th February 2018 and was based on Ecclesiastes 10:1-20. 1. 1. Watch the sculptor and note how many of his strokes seem to mar the image on which he works, rendering the marble more unshapely than it seemed the moment before, and yet in the end a glorious statue rises under his hand; so the blows of God, bringing us into glorious grace, often seem as if they were marring what little symmetry belonged to us, often as if knocking us out of shape altogether. “Wherefore were the former days better than these?” Yes: to examine into this matter is his bounden duty. 2. We are always looking back with complaint and longing in our own personal lives. 15 I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people. Do not call in question God's ways in making thy former days better than thy present, as Job did (Eccl. Deborah Hannay Sunoo OK, that was different. The moody Papists would murder all the godly, for they be Canaanites and Hagarens. With the lapse of years we have grown more dissatisfied with ourselves; and this more acute sense of worldliness leads us to the conclusion that we have lest the rarer purity of other days. But is it not a higher beauty, a more advanced perfection when the bloom of spring has given place to the golden sheaves and plentiful stores of autumn? Hengstenberg explains, God causes evil days to alternate with good ones, to the end that man should not find anything which will come after him - i:e., in order that he may not be able to fathom anything which … say they, &c. It might be answered, In promptu causa est, - Themselves are the cause, for the times are therefore the worse, because they are no better. Home / Ecclesiastes 7-10 – Who’s wise? The truth is, that the evils are, with scarcely an exception, old. Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. ], [What is the tendency of this inquiry, but to hide from our eyes the blessings we enjoy, to magnify in our minds the evils we endure, and to render us dissatisfied even with God himself? The spring is beautiful with all its stores of bloom and fragrance and song. Now such things as these may be disputed in favour of the latter times beyond the former. Certainly, if ever there was a time and a place that might be specified as that happy ζra when there was no occasion for complaint, it was the state of the Jews in the days of Solomon: for, in respect of peace and prosperity, there never was a nation to be compared with the Jews at that time. 2. But lastly, if the following ages were not the best, whence is it that the older men grow the more still they desire to live? That which is new is the intelligence which discerns them, and the humanity which relieves them.” But we shall speak only of the religious advantages of different times, in endeavouring to prove “that the former days” were not “better than these.”. Of Christian nations these words are not true. Certainly it is a great difficulty in the way of the evolution theory as the one explanation of man and of things. We fully allow that it may be so. 1 A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. Would we for His sake endure hardship, death? Years pass on. Our more dispassionate affection may be equally genuine and positively stronger. What concerns us is the right use of circumstances appointed for us by a wise Providence. 1. This is one of the weaknesses of aged men, that they depreciate the present time. 1. If men ought to employ all their powers and faculties in … The testimony of witnesses may be every jot as conclusive as the testimony of your own senses. They often bemoan that things were better then than now B. Compare Jude 1:16, "murmerers, complainers" (Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:14-15). Isaac Newton has been in the news recently, and if you don’t remember who he was, here are some… ... Like this sermon? II. [Acts 7:51] Or if there were any good heretofore more than is now, it may be said of these wise fools, as it was anciently of Demosthenes, that he was excellent at praising the worthy acts of ancestors - not so at imitating of them. And first, it ought to be carefully observed in regard of human nature that it did not grow corrupt by degrees, but became all at once as bad as it was ever to be. The inquiry shows disbelief in our Lord's own words that all dominion is given to Him in heaven and earth, and that He is with us always, even to the end of the world. Better — More quiet and comfortable. So that if a man regard himself as a candidate for immortality, we can defy him to put his finger on an age of the past, in which, as compared with the present, it would necessarily have been more advantageous for him to live. - and blessing God for our gospel privileges, which indeed should drown all our discontents, let every one mend one, and then let the world run its circuits - take its course. Ay, no doubt of it, saith our Saviour, whereas you "fill up the measure of your fathers’ sins," and are every whit as good at "resisting of the Holy Ghost" as they were. II. Now, is this really so? "I do not love God as I once did," is another sorrowful confession of the soul. ", "Do not say"-Solomon is relentless! A time of peace, and love, and joy, when the earth yielded all manner of fruits and flowers, and all nations lived together in harmony and peace. Shall it be said that those who have not visited Constantinople cannot be as certain that there is such a city as others who have? It must be expected, in this distempered world, that troubles of some kind or other will arise; they cannot be wholly averted from individuals, or families, or nations. Say not thou, what is [the cause] that the former days were better than these? It may be that we are not less pure than formerly, only the Spirit of God has been opening our eyes, heightening our sensibility, and faults once latent are now discovered; the clearer vision detects deformities, the finer ear discords, the pure taste admixtures which were once unsuspected. WE ARE NOT TO SAY "WHY WERE THE FORMER DAYS BETTER?" (2) But secondly, for the pre-eminence of the succeeding ages above the former, it may be disputed thus: If the honour be due to antiquity, then certainly the present age must claim it, for the world is now oldest, and therefore upon the very right of seniority may challenge the precedency; for certainly, the longer the world lasts, the older it grows. "I do not make the rapid progress I once did," is another familiar regret. Oh "if we had been in the days of our forefathers," said those hypocrites in Matthew 23:30, great business would have been done. Navigating life under the sun requires mature attention to values. Dissatisfaction with the present. It is also a happiness of nature, that our glad things live in brass, our sad things we write in water, and looking back we see far more joys than sorrows. Now, in the case before us, the fact is so questionable, and certainty with regard to it is so difficult, if not unattainable, that it would be a waste of time to enter upon the inquiry here supposed. We are sojourners who know the Word of God and are familiar with how deeds driven by the flesh can lead to ungodliness. Seize the Day (9:10) Yet impatience with our rate of progress is capable of another construction. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. All things to their vision become lustrous and fair with "the light that never was on land or sea.". The golden age of a nation is not always behind, lost in the myths of its earliest existence. (1) By reason: because there were the same objects to work upon men, and the same dispositions and inclinations in men to be wrought upon, before, that there are now. I think at the end of Ecclesiastes, as Solomon has surveyed the nature of life over his many years, he gives us some guidelines that can point us in the right direction. Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? 2. To every man this is a chequered scene. Never was there such a combination of all ranks and orders of men to diffuse religion and happiness over the face of the earth. And to take the world in a lower epochs, what after-age could exceed the lust of the Sodomites, the idolatry and tyranny of the Egyptians, the fickle levity of the Grecians? (H. Melvill, B. D.). Excuse not thyself with the good thou hast done, from the good thou hast further to do. Then, whatever others may do, you may look forward to better times, when all troubles shall have fled away, and your happiness be unalloyed in the bosom of your God.]. -, for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this. 2. 16 So don’t be too good or too wise! The former days were better than these? THE UNWISDOM OF INQUIRING FOE AN EXPLANATION OF A BELIEF WHICH IS PROBABLY UNFOUNDED. Num Ecclesias suas dereliquit Dominus? Today's sermon was, well, if there's a perfect birthday sermon, I feel like to day was it, for me anyways. When we walk in the shadow of darkness, we know right but choose to do wrong. There is a very common and a very natural feeling with regard to the evidences of Christianity, that they must have been much stronger and much clearer, as presented to those who lived in the times of our Lord and of His apostles, than as handed down to ourselves through a long succession of witnesses. Never were the wants and necessities of human nature provided for in such a variety of forms. Ecclesiastes 7:10; Romans 3:4). "Advice for Subjects" A Sermon on Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 . Say not thou — Namely, by way of impatient expostulation and complaint against God, either for permitting such disorders in the world, or for bringing thee into the world in such an evil time and state of things: otherwise a man may say this by way of prudent and pious inquiry, that by searching out the cause, he may, as far as it is in his power, apply remedies to make the times better; What is the cause that the former days were better? these lines from Horace ( Poet . Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days were better than these, meaning, "why is it so, how is such a downfall of His people consistent with the love and righteousness of God?" This sermon is a reflection on the enjoyment of life as depicted by Solomon in Ecclesiastes. Amongst those who were endued with piety in the Apostolic age, you find none who were “murmurers and complainers.” Their habit of mind is better expressed by those words of the Apostle, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. It is through such a fiery discipline as this that a nation becomes truly great in all those qualities that ennoble them in the sight of God. With the lapse of years we have grown more dissatisfied with ourselves; and this more acute sense of worldliness leads us to the conclusion that we have lest the rarer purity of other days. The כי, assigning a reason for the dissuasion, does not mean that the cause of the difference between the present and the good old times is easily seen; but it denotes that the supposition of this difference is foolish, because in truth every age has its bright and its dark sides; and this division of light and shadow between the past and the present betrays a want of understanding of the signs of the times and of the ways of God. Why should such superior power be supposed to reside in the seeing a miracle? Enjoy the Gift of God (9:9) IV. WHY ONE IS NOT WISE IN THINKING THIS... 1. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need [Note: Philippians 4:11-12. IMPROVEMENT. Memory has a way of forgetting bad things in the past 2. his conclusion is found in ecclesiastes 12:13-14. THE QUESTIONABLE ASSERTION. But may we not misconceive the love we bear to God? The curse of sin is to be fully and for ever removed. Ecclesiastes 7:10. So also in Ecclesiastes 3:14-15, "ye say, it is vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we keep his ordinance and walk in filth before the Lord of Hosts. 2. The times we live in are indeed becoming steadily more difficult. We love those for whose sake we are prepared to suffer. Yes, the Christian religion now appeals to mightier proofs than when it first engaged in combat with the superstitions of the world. What Is Better. In answering such a question, we must take separately the evidences and the truths of our holy religion. [It is not true that former times, on a large and extended scale, were better than these. Authored by Solomon and like Proverbs, it also falls under the classification of wisdom literature in Scripture. It has ever been so, and is likely to be so in the future. I shall now take it in a lower respect; as a case disputable, whether the preceding or succeeding generations are to be preferred; and here I shall dispute the matter on both sides. But we have not that sense of progress now, and this fact is to us, perhaps, a great grief. Many are disposed to imagine that if with their own eyes they could see miracles wrought, they should have a proof on the side of Christianity far more convincing than any which they actually have, and that there would be no room whatever for a lingering doubt if they stood by a professed teacher from God, whilst he stilled the tempest, or raised the dead. Life’s opening years may be beautiful, but its close may be glorious. APPLICATION. It is not the times that debauch men, but men that derive and rob a contagion upon the time: and it is still the liquor that first taints and infects the vessel. We look back to our conversion, to the glittering joy which welled up in our soul in those days, and the memory moves us to tears. The only thing to be sure about is, that the miracle has been wrought. Reality is, some courses of action are better than others. ].” So that it is clear, that the prohibition respecting such inquiries is not universal, but must be limited to such occasions as Solomon had more especially in view. 8 Let your garments always be white, And let your head lack no oil. Sermon by on August 24, 2003. How glowing was that first level Your whole soul went out after the Beloved! As we grow older we are more prone to look back into the past. Exeter Presbyterian Church. 2. The days of old were better than these. “I am not so happy as I once was,” is a lament from Christian lips with which we are almost distressingly familiar. 173, 4): “Difficilis, querulus, laudator temporis acti. Ecclesiastes 7:10. Should we not think him worthy of severe blame. "Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?" A Home Mission Sermon "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. It tells us that we should learn to recognise the things that inhibit life and to live above life’s inhibitions. "For one thing, to believe that the present is worse than the past shows a complete ignorance of history" (Longman p. 189). Thou dost not inquire wisely - Hebrew, with wisdom. if all ranks of the community would unite, as they might well do, to lighten the burthens of each other, and to contribute, according to their respective abilities, to the happiness of the community, we should have little occasion to complain of present times, and none at all to institute invidious comparisons with former times. The author designates this question as one not proceeding from wisdom: מח, like the Mishnic חכמה מתּוך, and על שׁאל, as at Nehemiah 1:2; 'al - zeh refers to that question, after the ground of the contrast, which is at the same time an exclamation of wonder. The tree is beautiful when it is covered with blossoms. That it plays a very important part there can be no question; but looking at it as the one explanation, it is a fact that the past looms brighter in man's memory than either the present or the future: there are always rays of glory trailing down the vistas of time. Take it in its infancy, and with the properties of infancy, it was weak and naked, vexed with poverty, torn with persecution, and infested with heresy. ].” Having tasted of redeeming love, they are become comparatively indifferent to every thing else. CARPE DIEM … Ecclesiastes 7:10 ... in Scripture, they are called the "last days" and the "ends of the world," which are ennobled with his redemption. It is notorious, that they who are most clamorous about the comparative excellence of former times, pass over all our present mercies as unworthy of notice. Here, therefore, wisdom appears as the soul of patience. Watch the sculptor and note how many of his strokes seem to mar the image on which he works, rendering the marble more unshapely than it seemed the moment before, and yet in the end a glorious statue rises under his hand; so the blows of God, bringing us into glorious grace, often seem as if they were marring what little symmetry belonged to us, often as if knocking us out of shape altogether. God gives the gift of youth, so rejoice in it. But when he goes out into the world, everyone he comes in contact with, knows he is a fool. 10. for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this. The only thing to be sure about is, that the miracle has been wrought. Christian values are consistently being attacked. Sermon by on August 31, 2003. They know that “all things shall eventually work together for their good.” “They are hid, in the secret of their Saviour’s presence, from the strife of tongues: and whilst the minds of others are agitated with violent and malignant passions, theirs are “kept in perfect peace.” This, then, I would earnestly recommend to you: Let your first concern be about your own souls. If you were to put implicit faith in the representations you would conclude that there was nothing which had not changed for the worse, and that it was indeed a great misfortune that you had not been born half a century sooner. (A series on Ecclesiastes) An Empty Life? "it is not from wisdom that you ask about this"-we need to talk more sensibly than longing for the supposed good old days. The inquiry shows disbelief in our Lord’s own words that all dominion is given to Him in heaven and earth, and that He is with us always, even to the end of the world. If there have been a plain and visible decline in the national prosperity, all who are affected by it are entitled, with modesty, to inquire whence that decline has arisen: and to express to those who are in authority their sentiments respecting it; and to point out what they conceive to be the most judicious and effectual means of remedying the existing evils — — — In reference to the concerns of the soul, to neglect such inquiries would be the height of folly and wickedness. (Ecclesiastes 7:8-10 ESV) In this section of Ecclesiastes there are proverbs, but with some expansion beyond just a brief statement. Studying the great wisdom of God ... Ecclesiastes 1:3-11; Ecclesiastes 7:13-18; Ecclesiastes 9:7-10; Philip Ryken Bio. The religion of the heart, perhaps, flourishes most when there is most to move to zeal for the insulted law of God. It is possible to be growing in moral strength and grace, in everything that constitutes perfection of character and life, when appearances are decidedly to the contrary. When ye say, every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord and He delighteth in them; or, where is the God of judgment?" “I am not so holy as I once was,” is another note of self-depreciation with which we are unhappily familiar, and with which, perhaps, we are sometimes disposed to sympathize. (10) Concerning.—This preposition is used after “enquire” only in later Hebrew (Nehemiah 1:2). The tinsel has been lost, but the fine gold all remains. Christian values are consistently being attacked. Preaching Today provides pastors and preachers sermon prep help with sermon illustrations, sermons, sermon ideas, and preaching articles. "—Ecclesiastes 9:10 If God had … We are neither to regret the past, nor rest satisfied in the present, but, like St. Paul, forgetting those things that are behind us, and reaching onward to those things that are before us, press forward each and all to the prize of our high calling in Jesus Christ. Sin was never an infant; it was a giant in the very birth; and forasmuch as we should have had precisely the same evil nature whensoever we had lived, it would be very hard to show that any former period would have been better for us than the present. Let it be, that the evidence of miracle is not so clear and powerful as it was; what is to be said of the evidence of prophecy? And here again we must narrow the field of inquiry, and confine ourselves to points in which, as Christians, we have an especial interest. Never was civil liberty held more sacred, or better regulated for the good of the community. And if wisdom ought to be respected, we know that it is the offspring of experience, and experience the child of age and continuance. Others who will come after us will regard our age as we regard the ages that have passed away. 3. 9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. Why a thing is presumes that the thing is. "The thing that hath been, is that which shall be," &c. [Ecclesiastes 1:9-10] Tu sic debes vivere, ut semper praesentes dies meliores tibi sint quam praeteriti, saith a father, (e) - Thou shouldst so live that thy last days may be thy best days, and the time present better to thee than the past was to those that then lived. Our best days and brightest hours are those which have long since passed away. Bosom, as in its proper place. We have not done all we meant to do, not been all we meant to be, and have a consciousness of imperfection more vivid than ever. "I am not so happy as I once was," is a lament from Christian lips with which we are almost distressingly familiar. The essence of religion is submission to the will of God, and that grave tranquillity of mind which follows upon deeper self-renunciation, the chastened cheerfulness which survives the strain and strife of years, is a real, although not perhaps seeming, gain upon the first sparkling experiences of our devout life. When we first realized forgiveness, we felt that there was “no condemnation” if the Spirit of God seemed to hallow our whole nature; our heart was cleansed, and strangely glowed. The first, the testimony of the senses, is granted to the spectator of a miracle; only the second, the testimony of witnesses, to those who are not present at the performance. Give to many. Find Top Church Sermons, Illustrations, and Preaching Slides on Ecclesiastes 7:10. 17 On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. THE PRESENT IS BETTER THAN THE PAST (7:10) A. Expression: The good old days Location: Ecclesiastes 7:10 Verse: Say not thou [do not say], What is the cause that the former [good old] days were better than these? But it is not so now. Experience teaches us that, before asking for the cause, it is well to assure ourselves of the fact. The temperature of your soul seems to have fallen, your love to your God and Saviour does not glow as in those memorable hours when first it was kindled "by the spirit of burning." Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger … The matter in controversy is, the pre-eminence of the former times above the present; when we must observe, that though the words run in the form of a question, yet they include a positive assertion, and a downright censure. Certainly everything is purest in the fountain and most untainted in the original. for thou dost not, from wisdom, ask after this.” Cf. 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