Pleasure is not happiness

(D. R. Thomason, "Fashionable Amusements" 1831)

"I have seen all the things that are done under the sun;
 all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."
     Ecclesiastes 1:14

Happiness is the primary object of human pursuit.
The desire for happiness, urges our weary steps in
the pilgrimage of life.

Have all the scenes of gaiety and mirth, of beauty
and splendor, by which the gaze has been fixed and
fascinated—supplied enjoyment, either equal to the
expectations, or worthy of the wishes of a rational
and immortal being?

Both observation and experience abundantly confirm the
truth of the paradox—that pleasure is not happiness.
Every votary of pleasure knows it. The varied forms of
fascination by which he has been wooed, have successively,
in their very embrace, surprised him by the concession—
"Happiness is not in me!" The thousand images which
imagination creates, have not satisfied him—but have
left in his soul a painful vacuum, and a distressing
sense of longing.

The moral constitution of his mind precludes any other
result of these worldly pursuits. He was designed for a
higher destiny, and for nobler joys. He possesses a
principle, whose kindred elements are not found in
worldly objects, neither in . . .
  honor nor splendor,
  refinement nor luxury,
  revelry nor mirth,
  beauty nor fine taste.
He seeks, with restless desire—the unseen and spiritual
felicities of the eternal world, and aspires to the happiness
which immortality alone can give. He will know neither
rest nor joy—until he shall have heaven for his home, and
sit forever beneath the smiles of that gracious God, who
is at once the author of his existence, and the source of
his felicity.

In order to escape from wearying toils, painful afflictions,
withering disappointments, and disquieting apprehensions
—we must "quit the mirthful delusive scene!" The giddy
mazes of pleasure's enchantment
have long perplexed;
its empty pageants have already disgusted; its sickly joys
have nauseated and cloyed the heart—while the soul seeks
an introduction to holier and happier joys.

What though the siren's song has long ravished its victim,
and led him so widely astray—yet may he not "pause, reflect,
and return?" Yes, true religion will secure peace, and safety,
and hope. Thousands have proved it. Many a hapless voyager
on life's wide ocean
, who had long pursued vain and perilous
wanderings, borne onward by the fluctuating tide of fashion,
or sported with by the fickle winds of worldliness; living a mad
and fearful lifestyle in the wild storm of passion; or floating,
thoughtless and mirthful, with the current of pleasure—to the
distant vortex of damnation—has been rescued from peril and
misery, and has pursued a prosperous course to the distant
land of his heavenly home, repose and felicity.

From the blandishments of ruinous dissipation, therefore—the
votaries of pleasure are invited to the genuine enjoyments of
piety. Here alone will be found repose, satisfaction, and enduring
pleasure! Let the sublime doctrines and virtuous precepts, which
the oracles of truth inculcate—engage their attentive study and
practical regard. The sentiments here exhibited, will present a
striking contrast to the spirit, maxims, and pursuits of the
mirthful world.

Contact with sacred truths must be close and constant,
that the mind may receive their complexion, and frame
its habits of thought and feeling on the sacred model.
The Word of God must be believed; it must, moreover,
be reverenced and loved. In the same proportion, will
the influence of worldly maxims and examples become
weakened, a taste for mirthful pleasures destroyed—
and the bias of the mind rendered serious and devout.

The pleasures of a pious life are indescribably exquisite.
The elevated duties of piety
  its dignified motives;
  its purifying influence;
  the holy restraint which it imposes on the passions;
  the tranquility which it imparts to the conscience;
  the bright and enduring prospects which it offers to hope;
  the sovereign antidote which it supplies to the afflictions of life
—render the inspired declaration emphatically true: "Her ways
are ways of pleasantness—and all her paths are peace."