Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thoughts from Luther on Ecclesiastes 1-2

Just some really good thoughts from Luther on the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes.

He says that he is speaking about the highest and greatest of vanities, that men are extremely vain in all their endeavors, because they are not content with the things that are in the present;
Luther, M. (1999, c1972). Vol. 15: Luther's works, vol. 15 : Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Last Luther's Works (15:13).

With this word, therefore, that attitude which is called “good intentions” is rejected, as is commonly said: “I meant it for the best.” But a good intention is nothing unless it is regulated by the Word of God and takes its beginning from faith. Other intentions, even those that appear to be very good, are deceptive and extremely harmful.
Luther's Works (15:26).

Christian wisdom, therefore, means to commit oneself to the power of God and to turn one’s cause over to Him who judges justly. A Christian can indeed, by the office of the Word, judge sin, but he should not raise his hand against it unless he is compelled to do so by God or commanded by the Word.
Luther's Works (15:27).

Often dinner parties are arranged to create a happy atmosphere, with foods and entertainment intended to make the guests happy. But usually it comes out just the opposite way, and only seldom does a good party result. Either there are gloomy and solemn faces present, or something else upsets all the arrangements, especially when there is such deliberation and planning about how much fun it will be. By contrast, it often happens that someone happens upon a most joyful dinner party by accident, that is, by the gift of God.
Luther's Works (15:29).

As it is a sin to invite anxiety and sorrow by our own counsels and also a sin to refuse to suffer them when they are imposed on us by God, so it is also to be condemned if we run away from happiness and do not accept it when it is given by God. This is what those sanctimonious killjoys do when they “disfigure their faces”
Luther's Works (15:30).

Look at the Roman republic, how the consuls and emperors who followed always revoked what had been done by those who had preceded them; they were bored with the present and the past, and they looked to the future. Why then do you afflict yourself with many cares, as though your descendants were going to approve of what you are doing or even were going to feel the same way?
Luther's Works (15:42).

Those pleasures are to be condemned which we by our own counsels seek to achieve for the future, and those labors are to be condemned which we strive to carry out by our own counsels. But those pleasures and labors which God gives are good, and they are to be used for the present without anxiety about either future afflictions or future pleasures. But who is capable of such things?
He proves that it is a gift of God to be content with the things that are present, for this is given to the man who pleases God with-out any preceding merits.
Luther's Works (15:47). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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