"Wherefore I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion; for who shall bring him back to see what shall be after him?" Eccles. 3:22
With this chapter the Debater begins to advance evidence of the vanity of all things, from a wider outlook than that of the purely personal. In six chapters (3-8) we find him dealing with relative considerations. First he returned to the MECHANISM OF THE UNIVERSE, already touched upon (1:4-11). He sees a recurrence of opposite circumstances continuously manifest, and concludes that man's wisest course is to adapt himself to these. It is to be observed throughout that this man was by no means an ATHEIST. He believed in God, and in His government of all things. But his conception of man was that he is a being living in the midst of this government without any personal fellowship with the God Who is governing. He thought of man as an ANIMAL ONLY; he is like the beasts—at least this man was not sure that there is any difference. He was an AGNOSTIC. He inquired: "Who knows the spirit of man whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the beast whether it goes downward to the earth?" Therefore his outlook upon life lacked illumination and his conclusion was that there is nothing better than that a man should make the best he could out of the things of the earth that he should rejoice in his own work. This is perfectly natural and inevitable. To attempt to interpret God by circumstances, as they appear to man's partial vision, is to become PESSIMISTIC. It is only when the soul looks out upon circumstances from the standpoint of fellowship with God, and knowledge of Him, that it can be OPTIMISTIC.