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14 November, 2013

Devotional and Practical Meditations on the Book of Ecclesiastes

"I said, 'I am determined to be wise' — but this was beyond me." Ecclesiastes 7:23

READER, how often have you, how often have I, experienced this! A greater one than you or I, expressed the same: "I have the desire to do what is good — but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing!" (Romans 7.) My soul, how is it? Within you dwells the Holy Spirit — the Lord of life and power. None can resist His will. And yet, the evil that is in you gains the day; strength becomes weakness; and wisdom is turned to folly.

Which is the greater wonder — that, being foolish, you are ever wise; or that, at times so wise, you ever should be foolish? How often, on your knees, you have seen the way so straight, the light so clear, God's grace so strong — that you have felt wisdom were your forever — that folly never would dwell in you again? And yet, my soul, what tales of after-folly have you had to tell!
In your better moments, wisdom is near; so near, that it seems a part and parcel of yourself; it seems the eye you see with, the ear you hear with, the air you breathe, the framework of your thoughts, the substance of your mind — your very being seems suffused with wisdom.

At other times, wisdom is far from you — so very far — as far as innocence from sin, as man from God, as earth from Heaven. In truth it is so. Wisdom has no part in you. Between you, and your better self, is fixed — an impassable gulf; an unmeasured breadth; an untold depth! On either side the gulf are you — and wisdom. On this side wisdom — on the other side are you.
Oh, what a mystery! Your days are spent on one side, or the other; either in wisdom, or in folly. Now flesh is uppermost, and now the Spirit — no union can there be between the two. Each moment of your life you live, either to yourself, or to God.

My soul, bless God for your experience; in mercy is it given. It is not for nothing that wisdom seems to elude your grasp — that
you have known the fitful nature of your frames and feelings:
the bitterness of broken purposes;
the flimsy nature of your best resolves;
the lightning speed with which sin comes between you and your vows;
the wondrous ease with which you pass . . .
from wisdom — to folly;
from thoughts of good — to deeds of evil;
from meekness, humility, and patience — to petulance and pride; from all the virtues of a saint — to all the sinfulness of fallen nature.

It is not for nothing that you are mortified — to see yourself so fickle, and so vile. It is to bless, to teach, to humble you — that when you would be wise, wisdom is far from you.