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MRS. Rachel White, of Southampton, Pa., asked us a long time ago to write on the words, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,” found in Ecclesiastes, last chapter, first verse. We have not meant to slight her request, but our mind has not been led to take up the subject, so could not do it. Even now we feel we know very little about the real import of the text, but such as we have we freely give. We have never felt that the book of Ecclesiastes was as intensely spiritual as some other portions of the written word, but that it has a spiritual significance we have not the slightest doubt. Generally believed to have been written by Solomon as the first words of the book indicate, “ The Words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem,” the keynote of the entire twelve chapters is struck in the opening language, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? Thus does the preacher announce at the outset his text, and all that follows is an opening up of all contained in those few words. The word “vanity” in Ecclesiastes means much more than merely foolish pride; it expresses the hollow emptiness of all life apart from God. To be born, to toil, to suffer, to experience some fleeting joy, to leave it all, to die, such is the sum total of all mortal existence. Nowhere else in the Old Testament is there such stress laid on the uselessness of all human effort, such emphatic assertion of the vanity of the attempts of man to dignity his existence. Seldom does the writer strike a cheerful note, and only now and then does a glimpse of gospel truth shine through the preacher’s View of things as he portrays them from the viewpoint of the law, for the book of Ecclesiastes certainly expresses the experience of one under the law who realizes his exceeding sinfulness, his extreme emptiness of all good, the utter uselessness of all his efforts. A person in a state of nature, unconvicted, uncondemned, cannot look out upon life as does Solomon here. “Remember now thy Creator” is often addressed to young people by worldly religionists to impress them to “get religion,” to “join some church” while they are young. It is generally believed that in youth impressions are more easily and more lastingly made than in later years, and, therefore, the time to come out on “the Lord’s side “ is while one is young. There is no such thing in reality as one’s getting religion, either in youth or age. Religion is a vital force or principle sent from God through the Lord Jesus that gets hold of sinners in the work of salvation, and they have not the least to do with getting hold of it. Besides, the infirmities of age make it no harder for the Holy Ghost to do its work, any more than the impressionable period of youth makes it at all easier. The idea that the Spirit of God cannot work its will in a sinner at one time as well as another, or that the attitude of the sinner is a help or hindrance to that work, involves the idea that God is not omnipotent, that he is limited in his power, and cannot accomplish his will without our help. Such doctrine will not stand the test of the inspired record, and will not do for those who desire and love the truth. There is no comfort in it. We believe that “Remember now thy Creator” realizes its fullest and completest fulfillment in the life on earth of Jesus. He said the Scriptures testified of him, and this text is included in the law and the prophets to which he had reference. Jesus, in all his life and sufferings, confessed it to be his meat and drink to do the will of the Father, and to finish his work. Everything he did and said was in remembrance of him who sent him into the world to ransom the church from sin and death. Jesus loved and served God with his whole heart, mind and strength; he was entirely consecrated to him, entirely swallowed up in devotion to him. No one of us can ever remember the Creator of ourselves. Only through Christ, who did it himself, can such righteousness be fulfilled in us, and when this work of Christ is manifested in our experience, then is the time of love, of youth; then the winter is gone, the rain is over, spring is at hand, the birds sing. Then, in the day of one’s spiritual youth, when one first receives hope in the mercy of God, is the Creator remembered. Not yet have the evil days come, not yet the years in which we have no pleasure, not yet is the grasshopper become a burden, nor yet the daughters of music brought low and the mourners going about the streets. In one’s spiritual youth, in the days of our first love, when the very face of nature seemed rejoicing with us in praise to God, we could not believe that we ever should grieve, that we would ever be the victim of unbelief, doubt and faithlessness. When the Lord brought the Israelites up out of the Red Sea to witness the destruction of their enemies behind them, it was easy to sing then in the days of their youth, The Lord “hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Also, it was not hard to praise him when under Joshua’s leadership they came up from the Jordan into the promised land. O those were glorious days when the Lord went before them in battle and did all their fighting for them, giving them victory over all opposition, and finally, rest. But how dark the picture later on when Israel grew cold and neglectful toward her God, unmindful of her blessings, forsaking her privileges in Zion and went a whoring after the gods and ways of the heathen, rearing temples to Baal in their groves and on the summits of their high places. Surely now the evil days have come upon her, days when she needs to be stirred up to remember the Creator in the days of her youth, to remember how it was with her in days agone. None but the great Preacher of all preachers, the one supreme Ecclesiast, by his Holy Spirit can awaken and stir up her love and cause her to be ashamed for all her ways. Now, in the evil days, days when she does not feel like singing, when even the littlest thing is a burden, she looks back to the days of her youth, and says with Job, “O that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; as I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle.” Even Solomon himself was not exempt from this falling away. When he ascended the throne in his youth he wanted not wealth, honor, fame or glory, but just wisdom that he might rule Israel justly, wisely and well. In the days of his youth wisdom seemed the principal thing, therefore he desired to get wisdom. B11t, alas, his declining years tell a different tale. “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.” May it not be that Solomon had himself in mind then, as well as the apostasy of others, when he said, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth”? If he was a child of God, which we thoroughly believe he was, he could not help but look back to the days of his youth now when the evil days had overtaken him. Indeed, brethren, if we had not our youth to look back to, the time: of our first love, when we first received a hope, what would become of us? But for that hope we would not have the slightest glimmer to light us through the darkness, and would sink in despair. From our observation, it appears to us there is a general coldness and indifference enwrapping the visible church at this present time all over the country, and we are by no means exempt from it ourself. May the good Lord in his mercy stir up our pure minds to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, and stir us up to return to the first works such as were before these evil days came, in which we have no pleasure. L

Elder H. H. Lefferts

Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 20
October 14, 1914