"Vanity of vanities, saith the
Preacher; all is vanity."
But some man will ask - "If all things
are vanity, wherefore were they made? If they are God's works, how are they
vain?" But it is not the works of God the Preacher means. God
forbid. The heavens is not vain, with all its hosts of planets; not the
earth with all its fruits and flowers. These are all "very good."
Let us then hearken to the Preacher again. "I planted me
vineyards," he saith; "I got me singing men and singing women; I
made me pools of water; I had flocks and herds; I gathered me gold and
silver; and I saw that these are vanity." So are splendid buildings,
vast and overflowing riches, herds of slaves, pomp and vainglory. All these
things are vain because they have no spiritual end.
Where is now the splendour of the palace?
Where their brilliancy lamps and torches, the feast of joyous assemblies?
Where are the crowns and magnificent ornaments? Where are the flattering
reports and the acclamations and the adulation of thousands of spectators?
All have passed away. The wind by one blast has swept the leaves and now
they show to us a dead tree, torn from its roots, so violent has been the
tempest. It lies a broken ruin.
Where are the pretended friends, the swarms
of parasites, the tables charged with luxury, the wine circulated through
entire days? Where are the various refinements of feasting, the supple
language of slaves? What has become of them all? A dream of the night which
vanishes with the day, a flower of spring which fades in the summer, a shade
which passes, a bubble of water which bursts, a spider's web which is torn
Vanity of vanities; all is vanity. Inscribe
these words on your walls, on your vestments, on your palaces, on your
streets, on your windows, on your doors; inscribe them on your consciences,
in order that they may represent them incessantly to your thoughts. Repeat
them in the morning, repeat them in the evening and, in the assemblies of
fashion, let each repeat to his neighbors, "Vanity of vanities; all is
St. John Chrysostom