Sunday Considerations: Of Pleasure

“I said of laughter: It is madness! And of mirth: What does it accomplish?” Ecclesiastes 2:2

Of natural gifts none is more rare than cheerfulness; that elasticity of mind, and buoyancy of spirit; that even temper, and sunshine disposition — which cheers the man himself, and all who know him. Cheerfulness, gilded with grace, and sanctified — savors most largely of the mind of Christ. It speaks . .
of peace with God,
of resignation to His will, and
freedom from sordid appetites and cares.

Who would reprove the beaming smile; or, in due season, the hearty laugh? In youth, especially, it is pleasant to behold it — it were a somber thought to wish it gone. The cares of life will throw their shadows soon enough across the mind, and we may wish again to see some of that cheerful elasticity we were accustomed to chide.

But this is not the “laughter,” nor the “mirth,” that Solomon means. He meant the idle laughter, the fool’s mirth; merriment followed as an object; the love of pleasure, as the grand pursuit of life. “Laughter,” like this, is “as the crackling of thorns under a pot.” (Ecclesiastes 7:6.) Empty in sound — it tells of emptiness within, and savors of a mind unused to sober thought and healthy action.

Who should be cheerful as the child of God — as he, who has nothing to fear, whether on earth, or in the world to come? But, oh, my soul, let not your cheerfulness assume an air of levity. Laughter is good in moderation, and the cheerful interchange of merry thought is often refreshing to a jaded mind. But, oh, beware how you indulge it to excess, or slide unwittingly into the habit of unguarded mirth. Such mirth as this must tell most hurtfully upon you. It will . . .
mar the spirit of prayer,
unfit the mind for meditation, and
eat away the taste for heavenly things!

It is pleasing to a man to move his friends to laughter. The play on words, the studied joke, the repartee; the are of mimicking another — his tones, his gait, his actions; to see a company hanging on your words for merriment — all this is captivating.

But, child of God, beware! This will not keep you at the feet of Jesus. Human applause is dangerous, and much to be avoided. When tempted, therefore, to exceed in mirth, and lose yourself amid its fascinations — fall back upon your soberness. Remember Jesus, and the truths of Scripture; think of your past experience, and forbear.
~George Mylne, Excerpt from Devotional and Practical Meditations on the Book of Ecclesiastes ,1859.

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