Then I looked on all the works that my hands had worked, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold…
I. THE HABIT OF MEN IN PURSUING WORLDLY OBJECTS.
1. By worldly objects we mean those which terminate entirely on the earth, and which occupy human thought and pursuit without any connection with spiritual and eternal things.
2. The cause to which the pursuit of worldly objects is to be ascribed it is of course of immense importance to assign and to remember; and that cause is to be found only in the moral corruption or depravity of human nature.
(1) Men from their depravity are prone to indulge in inordinate attachment to immediate and visible things.
(2) Men from their depravity are apt to indulge an entire and practical disbelief in the existence of eternal realities.
II. THE EVILS BY WHICH THE PURSUIT OF WORLDLY OBJECTS IS INVARIABLY ATTENDED.
1. The pursuit of worldly objects is associated with much disappointment and sorrow in the present state.
(1) Notice the dissatisfaction and sorrow connected with the attainment of worldly objects. When the imagined good is grasped, it leaves "an aching void," a still unsatiated craving, revealing itself at the last but as a detected imposture, which only excited that it might exhaust, which only promised that it might betray, and which only attracted that it might sting.
(2) Observe the disappointment and sorrow connected with the actual or threatened loss of worldly objects. How often has it been, that what man has painfully and laboriously acquired, has been torn suddenly and rapidly away! The fountains of pleasure, honour, and power are dried up and exhaled, like the dew-drop before the sunbeam; and those who have had them are left at last in disgrace, beggary, and penury emphatically as being the very bankrupts and paupers of the world. And then, while worldly objects are actually held within the grasp, how much of anxiety arises from the thought that they may be lost, from the complicated contingency to which human affairs are liable; and especially from the reflection that they must at last be lost, by the arrival of death!
(3) Again: we remind you of the disappointment and sorrow connected with the remembrance of sins committed for the sake of worldly objects. Take especially the cases which have occurred in the pursuit, for instance, of wealth, pleasure, or power. There has been the flagrant violation of moral principle, the perpetration of fraud in the pursuit of wealth, the perpetration of lewdness in the pursuit of pleasure, the perpetration of oppression and cruelty in the pursuit of power.
2. The pursuit of worldly objects places in jeopardy the final and immortal happiness of the soul.
III. THE VAST IMPORTANCE OF TURNING OUR ATTENTION FROM WORLDLY OBJECTS, AND OF SEEKING THE ATTAINMENT OF FAR HIGHER BLESSINGS.
1. As we are devoted to religion, in the present world we obtain solid satisfaction and peace. There is no disappointment in religion; all that it confers is solid and lasting; nor is there one who under Divine grace has been led to yield his heart to its power, who does not at once, according to its legitimate operation, find the storms and tempests of the spirit subside into one placid and beautiful calm.
2. As we are devoted to religion, we secure, beyond the present state, the salvation and immortal happiness of the soul.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.