Say not you, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
This querulous comparison, preferring former days to present ones, is unwise, inasmuch as it is -
I. BASED UPON IGNORANCE. We know but little of the actual conditions of things in past times. Chroniclers usually tell little more than what was upon the surface. We probably exaggerate and overlook to a very large extent. The good that is gone from us was probably attended with evils of which we have no idea; while the evils that remain we magnify because we experience them in our own person and suffer from them.
II. MARKED BY FORGETFULNESS. Often, though not always so. Often the change for the worse is not in a man's surroundings, but in himself. Leaving his youth and his prime behind him, he has left his vigor, his buoyancy, his power of mastery and of enjoyment. The "times" are well enough, but he himself is failing, and he sees everything through eyes that are dim with years.
III. INDICATIVE OF A SPIRIT OF DISCONTENT. It is the querulous spirit that thinks ill of his companions and his circumstances. He would come to the same conclusion if these were much better than they are. A sense of our own unworthiness and a consciousness of God's patience with us and goodness toward us, filling our souls with humility and gratitude, would dissipate these clouds and put another song into our mouth.
IV. WANTING IN MANLY RESOLUTENESS. If we are possessed of a right spirit, instead of sitting down and lamenting the inferiority of present things we shall gird ourselves to do what has to be done, to improve that which is capable of reform, to abolish that which should disappear, to plant that which should be thriving.
V. LACKING IN TRUSTFULNESS AND HOPEFULNESS. What if things are not all they should be with us; what if we ourselves are going down the hill and shall soon be at the bottom; - is there not a God above us? and is there not a future before us? Let us look up and let us look on. Above us is a Power that can regenerate and transform; before us is a period, an age, nay, an eternity, wherein all lost joys and honors will be "swallowed up of life." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.