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ECCLESIASTES IV. 1.

“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun; and, behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.”

In this book of the words of the wise man, Solomon preaches the vanity of all things under the sun; or, of all earthly things, and having considered them, one by one, has by that wisdom with which he was especially inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, pronounced them all vanity and vexation of spirit. And the truth of his preaching is witnessed by all those whom God has made wise unto salvation. No amount of earthly possessions can secure happiness, as will appear from the parable of the rich man, who proposed to pull down his barns and build larger, when on the very eve of his aniticipated ease and pleasure, his soul was required of him. Poverty also has its inconveniences and perplexities; and when all is accurately summed up, the full amount is vanity. Yet it is in the earthly nature of mankind to “Stretch their arms like seas, and grasp in all the shore.” To the enlightened child of God all things below the sun are vanity; and all earthly things are a vexation to that spirit which is born of God; which is called the new or inner man; and whose conversation or citizenship is in heaven. Although the things below the sun may feed and nourish our fleshly nature, that very flesh which lives on earthly sustenance is a vanity and vexation to the heaven-born spirit. And that spiritual life which feeds on immortal bread, lives on Christ, by living faith, eats his flesh and drinks his blood, can find no comforter under the sun, no food, no consolation or spiritual enjoyment from earthly or sensual things.

“So I returned,” that is from the pursuit and contemplation of other objects, “and considered the oppressions that are done under the sun.” Literally the world is full of oppressions, and we see the oppressed bearing the yoke. In our favored land, where we have the most liberal and by far the best form of government under the sun, still we find oppression. The strong oppress the weak; the rich too often oppress the poor; the wise and cunning oppress the weak and simple, while the oppressors are themselves oppressed in turn, by that which inflicts on them care, toil and labor. Anti-Christ oppresses the children of God, and has drenched the earth with the blood of the saints, so that in the world, or under the sun, the saints must have tribulation. They are a poor, oppressed and afflicted people, who trust in nothing under the sun; they trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon their God.

“And behold the tears of such as were oppressed.” The bitter tears wrung from the streaming eyes of the widows, the fatherless, the poor, the injured, the robbed and the spoiled, among men in nature, as well as the peculiar trials, and flowing tears of the oppressed, persecuted and afflicted saints, are a witness of the correctness of the wise man’s conclusion, that all below the sun is vanity, and vexation of spirit.

“And they [the oppressed] had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.” Can this be said of the saints of God? It is true God’s people have a holy and heavenly Comforter. “Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive.” But that Comfoiter is the Holy Ghost; is God himself, and their comforts are spiritual and divine. The wise man does not speak of things above; but of things which are under the sun. The comforts of the oppressed saints are above the sun; they are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly, not in earthly places, in Christ Jesus. And as they are in him, they are not under the sun, in the sense in which the wise man speaks, for Jesus is higher than the heavens. They have no comforter in earthly things. Although in the kind and gracious providence of God they are provided with as much of the production of the teeming earth as their heavenly Father knoweth that they have need of, and which they are to receive with thanksgiving, and use as not abusing it, knowing that its fashion passeth away, yet they are not to set their hearts on earthly substance, for it is all vanity.

“What should we wait and wish for then,
From creatures, earth and dust?
They make our expectations vain,
And disappoint our trust.”

With the oppressors there is power,
but not unlimited nor unrestrained; for
“Death and hell shall do no more,
Than what our Father please.”

Power was given to anti-Christ to afflict the saints forty and two months, and power to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, &c., only until the purpose of God is accomplished, and the remainder of their wrath God will restrain. But the oppressed have no power to avert the oppression of earth, and of earthly things. They have no comforter in the things below the sun. God is their portion. He giveth strength and comfort to the weak and fainting, and underneath them are his everlasting arms. We should rejoice in the assurance that from all this vanity and vexation of spirit, God’s children shall, in due time, be delivered, and be made more than conquerors through him that has loved us.

“Wait then, my soul, submissive wait, Prostrate before his awful seat, And ‘midst the terrors of his rod, Trust in your wise and gracious God.”

Middletown, N.Y.
April 1, 1859.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 208 - 211