The happiness of this world is delusive and treacherous

October 21, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 302

But there is one of its evil characteristics of which I must speak—that is, its delusive appearance.

It pretends to be what it is not, and promises what it cannot give. In this way it allures men to their eternal ruin.

As there are real and counterfeit jewels and true and false gold, so there are real and counterfeit virtues and true and false happiness.

Aristotle says that as falsehood sometimes has more appearance of truth than truth itself, so many things which are evil appear more fair than others which are really good.

Such is the happiness of the world, and therefore the ignorant are allured by it, as fish are drawn to their destruction by a glittering bait.

It is the nature of worldly things to present themselves under a bright and smiling exterior which promises much joy.

But experience soon dissipates our illusions; we feel the sting of the hook almost as soon as we take the bait.

Take, for example, the happiness of a newly- married couple. In many cases how brief it is! How soon it is interrupted by troubles and anxieties; by the cares of children; by sickness; by absence; by jealousy; by misfortunes; by grief; and sometimes by death itself, which suddenly changes it for one or the other into a desolate widowhood!

How smilingly the bride goes to the altar, seeing only the exterior of what is before her! Were it given to her to see the weight of responsibility which she takes upon her that day, tears would replace her smiles.

Eagerly as Rebecca desired children, when they were given her, and fought for mastery over each other, she exclaimed, Why was my desire granted me? How many have uttered the same cry when they found the realization of their hopes so far below what they promised!

And honors, dignities, preferments—how attractive they appear! But what anxieties, what jealousies, what passions, what hardships their false splendor conceals!

What shall we say of unlawful love? How pleasing is the prospect which it presents to the senses! But once the sinner has entered this dark labyrinth he finds himself astray, the victim of a thousand harrowing torments. This forbidden tree is guarded by a furious dragon. With the sword of an injured parent or a jealous husband he frequently deprives the sinner, by one blow, of his reputation, his honor, his fortune, his life, and his soul.

Study also the covetous man, or the worldling whose aim is glory to be attained through arms or the favor of the great. How often do their lives form a complete tragedy, beginning with prosperity and ending in ruin! Truly the cup of Babylon is golden without, but filled with abominations.

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