An example of the emptiness of the happiness of this world from King Solomon

October 25, 2021 • 2 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 309

Observe further how much more accessible man is to misery than to happiness in this life; for but one ungratified desire suffices to make him miserable, and so many things are required to make him happy.

Is there, then, any prince or potentate sufficiently powerful to have everything according to his will and thus free himself from contradictions? Even could he bend men to his will what would protect him from the infirmities of nature, bodily pains, and the anxieties and groundless fears to which the mind is often a prey? How can you expect to find immunity from suffering and contradiction, which the greatest monarchs, with all their power, have never attained?

Only that which contains in itself all good can give you happiness. Why, then, will you seek it so far from God, Who is the supreme Good?

If these reasons be insufficient to convince you, listen to Solomon, than whom no man had a greater share of worldly happiness. What are the words in which he tells us the result of his experience? “Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.” [Eccles. 1, 2.]

Do not hesitate to accept his testimony, for he speaks from experience. Do not imagine that you can find what he could not discover. Consider how limited any one’s knowledge must be compared to his; for was there ever a wiser, a richer, a more prosperous, a more glorious monarch than this son of David? Who ever enjoyed a greater variety of amusements? All things contributed to his pleasure, yet he gives this result of his almost unlimited prosperity: “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.”

Can you, then, expect to realize what Solomon found impossible to attain? You live in the same world, and your resources for happiness are certainly not better than his. His pursuit of pleasure was constant, but in it he found no happiness, but rather, as St. Jerome supposes, the occasion of his fall.

As men more readily accept the lessons of experience than those of reason, God may have permitted Solomon to drink so deep at the fountain of pleasures to teach us how worthless they are, and to save others from a similar misfortune.

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