King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Ecclesiastes 3

The changes of human affairs. (1-10) The Divine counsels unchangeable. (11-15) The vanity of worldly power. (16-22)

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The changes of human affairs

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

The Divine counsels unchangeable

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

The vanity of worldly power

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Heaven, in this world, where alone things change. S. Jer. — Nothing is here perpetual, but to be used in a proper manner. W. — The heart must not be attached to any thing created. C. — Pleasure had been condemned and approved. C. 2. He shews that all must have its time. M.

Ver. 5. Stones, with a sling, or to render a field useless. 4 K. iii. 25. Is. v. 2. — Embraces. Countenance was sometimes prescribed for married people. Lev. xx. 18. and 1 Cor. vii. S. Jer. S. Aug. Ench. 78. C. — Hatred often succeeds love. v. 8. and 2 K. xiii. 14. H.

Ver. 9. Labour? What advantage does he derive from any of these things? C. i. 3. C.

Ver. 11. Consideration. Lit. “dispute.” Heb. and Sept. “heart.” H. — Pagn. “He has implanted the desire of immortality in their hearts.” — End. If we could discover the properties of each thing, we should be in raptures; (C.) but as we cannot, this increases our vexation. M.

Ver. 12. Well; virtuously: or, perhaps, as literally, to enjoy himself. v. 13. C. — Thus thinks the man of pleasure. Is. xxii. 31. S. Jer.

Ver. 13. God. He gives peace and plenty; and still more, the grace to use these things, so as to obtain heaven. C.

Ver. 14. Feared. The order of the seasons, &c. teaches men to adore Providence. S. Jer. — He has arranged every thing, how mutable soever. S. Aug. Conf. i. 6.

Ver. 15. Past. He causes plants to spring forth afresh. Heb. Sept. &c. “But will God seek after the oppressed?” Here commences another objection. C.

Ver. 17. And then. Prot. “for there is a time there (v. 1.) for every purpose, and for every work.” At the day of judgment all will receive their due. H.

Ver. 18. Beasts. Another doubt; or suggestion of infidels. S. Greg. Dial. iv. 4.

Ver. 19. Man hath nothing more, &c. viz. as to the life of the body. Ch.

Ver. 21. Who knoweth, &c. viz. experimentally; since no one in this life can see a spirit. But as to the spirits of the beasts, which is merely animal, and becomes extinct by the death of the beast, who can tell the manner it acts so as to give life and motion, and by death to descend downward, that is, to be no more? Ch. — Few are able to prove that the soul of man is immortal rather that that of beasts, since the bodies of both are subject to the like inconveniences. The objection is answered C. xii. 7. C. — The difficulty of answering is intimated by “Who?” &c. Ps. xiv. 1. M.

Ver. 22. After him. He knows not who shall be his heir, or how soon he may die. None returns from the other world to inform him of what is there transacted. Thus the libertine encourages himself. C.