“‘I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter,’ I said, ‘is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?’ Ecclesiastes 2:1-2.
Solomon’s question bids a challenge to all the masters of mirth, to produce any one satisfactory fruit which it affords, if they could. The hearts of young men usually are much given up to pleasure. Sensual pleasures are only seeming and apparent pleasures – but the pains which attend them are true and real. He who delights in sensual pleasures, shall find his greatest pleasures become his bitterest pains. Pleasures pass away as soon as they have wearied out the body, and leave it as a bunch of grapes whose juice has been pressed out. Xerxes, being weary of all pleasures, promised rewards to the inventors of new pleasures, which being invented, he nevertheless remained unsatisfied. As a bee flies from flower to flower and is not satisfied, and as a sick man moves from one bed to another for ease, and finds none; so men given up to sensual pleasures go from one pleasure to another, but can find no contentment, no satisfaction in their pleasures. ‘Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content!’ Ecclesiastes 1:8. There is a curse of unsatisfiableness, which lies upon the creature. Honors cannot satisfy the ambitious man, nor riches the covetous man, nor pleasures the voluptuous man. Man cannot take off the weariness of one pleasure, by engaging in another pleasure. Pleasures seem solid in their pursuit; but are mere clouds in the enjoyment.
Pleasure is a beautiful harlot sitting in her chariot – The four wheels are pride, gluttony, lust and foolishness. The two horses are prosperity and abundance. The two drivers are idleness and security. Her attendants and followers are guilt, grief, shame, and often death and damnation! Many great men, and many strong men, and many rich men, and many hopeful men, and many young men – have come to their damnation by her; but never any enjoyed full satisfaction and contentment in her. Ah! Avoid this harlot – ‘pleasure’, and come not near the door of her house! Augustine, before his conversion, could not live without those pleasures which he much delighted in. But after his nature was changed, and his heart graciously turned to the Lord, he said, ‘Oh! how sweet it is – to be without those sweet delights!’ And as for lawful pleasures, let me only say this – it is your wisdom only to touch them, to taste them, and to use them as you use medicines – to occasionally fortify yourselves against maladies. There are no pleasures so delighting, so satisfying, so ravishing, so engaging, and so abiding – as those which spring from union and communion with God – as those which flow from a from a humble and holy walking with God.”
Thomas Brooks, Apples of Gold.