Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless…except…

It is like breath, like a light wind – Clarke shares this amazing paraphrase – –

“O vain deluding world! whose largest gifts

Thine emptiness betray, like painted clouds,

Or watery bubbles: as the vapor flies,

Dispersed by lightest blast, so fleet thy joys,

And leave no trace behind. This serious truth

The royal preacher loud proclaims, convinced

By sad experience; with a sigh repeats

The mournful theme, that nothing here below

Can solid comfort yield: ’tis all a scene.

Of vanity, beyond the power of words

To express, or thought conceive. Let every man

Survey himself, then ask, what fruit remains

Of all his fond pursuits? What has he gain’d,

By toiling thus for more than nature’s wants

Require? Why thus with endlness projects rack’d

His heated brain, and to the laboring mind,

Repose denied? Why such expense of time,

That steals away so fast, and ne’er looks back?Could man his wish obtain, how short the space

For his enjoyment! No less transient here

The time of his duration, than the things

Thus anxiously pursued. For, as the mind,

In search of bliss, fix’d on no solid point,

For ever fluctuates; so our little frames,

In which we glory, haste to their decline,

Nor permanence can find. The human race

Drop like autumnal leaves, by spring revived:

One generation from the stage of life

Withdraws, another comes, and thus makes room

For that which follows. Mightiest realms decay,

Sink by degrees; and lo! new form’d estates

Rise from their ruins. Even the earth itself,

Sole object of our hopes and fears,

Shall have its period, though to man unknown.”

So is this the expression to be applied to all works on earth, to pleasure, grandeur, wisdom, the life of a person, childhood, youth, and length of days, the oblivion of the grave, wandering and unsatisfied desires, unenjoyed possessions, and anomalies in the moral government of the world?

I hear it.  I hear it more from those who have grey hair, and they do not say it with bitterness or scorn, but as a fact, almost forced on themselves as they have advanced in knowledge of people and things and which have resulted in both sorrow and perplexity…

and here we introduce the except…

…for there is another fact, which is held with equal firmness, namely, that the whole universe is made and is governed by a God of justice, goodness, and power.

So it is good for us to remember, that if this world, in its present state, were all, it would not be worth living for; and the wealth and pleasure of this world, if we had ever so much, are not enough to make us happy. What profit has a person of all their labour? All we get by it will not supply the wants of the soul, nor satisfy its desires; will not atone for the sins of the soul, nor hinder the loss of it: what profit will the wealth of the world be to the soul in death, in judgment, or in the everlasting state?

 

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