03 November, 2013
Devotional and Practical Meditations on the Book of Ecclesiastes
"In much wisdom is much grief; and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow." Ecclesiastes 1:18
What kind of wisdom causes grief? What kind of knowledge is it, that increases sorrow?
Perhaps it means the knowledge of the world, its vileness, its vanity, its futility, its uncertainty — to have learned that all its show is vain, and all its pleasure is fleeting. This causes grief to those who see its vanity. God's people mourn it. And worldlings oftentimes disgusted with themselves and all around, and having nothing to sanctify the feeling — are filled with bitter disappointment.
Also to know one's own corruption, to catch a glimpse of SELF in all its frailty; to see our sin, to taste its power — to dread the pains, and not to know the remedy — this causes grief. Sorrow like this is turned to joy, when sinners look to Jesus. Yet many saints forget the promises, and fill their souls with bitterness, from lack of faith.
Again, wisdom may mean the education of the schools — the round of human learning, and attainments in the arts. Here also grief is to be found. There is much futility and many vexations — in searching after knowledge. The mind is hampered by its limited capacity; and, having gone thus far, it sighs that it can go no farther. How many a bright experiment, thus ends in grief; and man discovers, to his cost, that human wisdom, after all, is vanity!
But, most of all, wisdom like this occasions grief, in that it tempts the soul to rest in second causes, and thus to slight the Lord. It is true, there is sometimes exquisite delight in following some cherished study; to trace the hidden things of are and science — to bring to light some fact, or principle, unknown before.
But then, what of the eternal world to come! Are you prepared for it? What of your sins? Are they forgiven? What will declining age — what will your death-bed be? What is to be the end of all your labor? If all your wisdom ends in misery; if all your knowledge only perverts your soul — is it not sorrow, after all?
Reader, would you be saved? Then learn true wisdom in another school — the school of Christ. There you will learn to know yourself. This is no trifling part of wisdom. And, better still, there will you learn to know the Savior — God, in Christ Jesus, forgiving sin, changing the heart, and bringing you to eternal glory! This wisdom never grieves; this knowledge adds no sorrow. Taste it, my friend — be happy and be wise!