The vanity of life under the sun is evidenced not merely in the experience of the preacher himself, but in the wider outlook which he has been able to take. He now gives us some of the results of that learning in the process of which he had found no personal satisfaction. And first he speaks in greater detail of that mechanism of the universe to which he had referred at the opening of his discourse. There is everywhere a ceaseless routine. Though we have often read some parts of his description as though they were the words of wisdom, there is no doubt that his ceaseless reiteration of the words, "A time... a time... a time," are intended to indicate his sense of the monotony of things, rather than of their variety. Through all experiences men have to pass because the time comes for them so to do. The doctrine of God deduced from such a conception of the universe is of a Being who is absolutely inexorable, and from whom there can be no escape. He is One who has set eternity in the heart of man, that is, created deep and passionate longings there, and yet has given to man no capacity for finding the thing for which he seeks; and, moreover, there is no escape from this inexorable order. The issue of all this is confusion rather than order. In the place of judgment and of righteousness wickedness exists; and the conclusion is that, after all, man is no better than the beasts.
It must be remembered that all this is absolutely true in the case of men who have no commerce with God through revelation. To discover Him in the universe, and recognize Him is not to be at peace with Him; but to be filled rather with the sense of the vanity of all things, and the impossibility of escape.