The pursuits of butterflies and grasshoppers,
and canary birds!
(J. A. James, "The Great End of Life" 1825)
Pleasure is the supreme good, and chief object of pursuit of
many. To pleasure, they have devoted their lives. Some are
living for sports, others for the gratification of the appetites,
and others for the enjoyment of the round of fashionable
amusements. Pleasure, in one form or other, is the chief
object of pursuit with myriads.
As to the gratification of our animal appetites, it should
not be difficult to persuade us, that to sink to the level of
the brute creation, and hold communion with swine, and
goats and rats, cannot be the chief end of a rational being.
To many, fashionable amusements seem to be the purpose of
life. Multitudes live for pleasures of this kind. Ball succeeds to
concert; the private party to the public assembly; the card party
to the dinner party. In this busy round of fashionable follies,
many pass their lives away!
Can it be, that the chief object of existence is to sing, and play,
and dress and dance? Do not these things, when we reflect upon
them, look more like the pursuits of butterflies and grasshoppers,
and canary birds--than of rational creatures? Is it not melancholy
to see beings with never-dying souls, sinking to the amusements
of children; and employing time as if it were given them for nothing
but mirth; and using the world as if it were created by God only to
be a sort of playground for its inhabitants?
Does this kind of life really satisfy those who pursue it?
Far, very far, from it! Can any person, in reality, be farther
from happiness than those who live for pleasure?
"O Lord, save me from the men of this world--who
have their portion in this life!" Psalm 17:14