Among the examples in proof of the imperfection and inconstancy of earthly happiness which the Preacher communicates in the above section from the rich treasures of his own experience we find the relation of an ascending grade from lower to higher and more brilliant conditions of happiness.
I. From the sad lot of victims innocently suffering from tyrannical persecution and oppression (1–3), the description proceeds directly to the more lucky but not more innocent condition of persons consumed with envy, dissatisfaction, and jealousy, and who with toilsome efforts chase after the treasures of this earth.
II. Looking with jealous envy on the successful rivals of their struggles, and with scorn on those less fortunate, who are contented with a more modest lot (4–6).—Then follow reflections regarding the happiness of such persons as have risen through the abundance of their goods to a distinguished and influential position in human society, but
III. Who, in consequence of this very wealth, run the risk of falling into a helpless, joyless, and isolated condition, destitute of friends and adherents (7, 8).
IV. The illustration hereby induced of the value of closer social connection of men and harmonious co-operation of their powers to one end (9–12) leads to the closing reflection; this is devoted to the distress and disaster of the highest circles of human society, acknowledging the fate even of the most favoured pets of fortune, such as the occupants of princely or kingly thrones, to be uncertain and liable to a reverse, and thus showing that
V. The sentence against the vanity of all earthly things necessarily extends even to the greatest and most powerful of earth (13–16).