Early Church Fathers Quotes on Worldly Happiness
For this cause is a man unable to attain happiness, seeing that they call in the fears of men, preferring rather the enjoyment which is here than the promise which is to come. For they know not how great torment the enjoyment which is here brings, and what delight the promise which is to come brings. And if verily they were doing these things by themselves alone, it had been tolerable: but now they continue teaching evil to innocent souls, not knowing that they shall have their condemnation doubled, both themselves and their hearers.
Letter to Diognetus
For happiness consists not in lordship over one’s neighbors, nor in desiring to have more than weaker men, nor in possessing wealth and using force to inferiors; neither can any one imitate God in these matters; nay, these lie outside His greatness.
Shepherd of Hermas
And the second, that is girded about and looks like a man, is called Self-Control; she is the daughter of Faith. Whosoever then shall follow her, becomes happy in his life, for he shall refrain from all evil deeds, believing that, if he refrain from every evil desire, he shall inherit eternal life.
“What kinds of self-indulgence, Sir,” say I, “are harmful?” “Every action,” said he, “is self-indulgence to a man, which he does with pleasure; for the ill tempered man, when he gives the reins to his passion…” -ibid
We cannot sit down in fellowship with them, as neither can they with us. Things in this matter go by their turns. Now they have gladness and we are troubled. “The world,” says Jesus, “shall rejoice; you shall be sorrowful.” Let us mourn, then, while the heathen are merry, that in the day of their sorrow we may rejoice; lest, sharing now in their gladness, we share then also in their grief. You are too dainty, Christian, if you wouldst have pleasure in this life as well as in the next; nay, a fool you are, if you think this life’s pleasures to be really pleasures.
If you seek to live, being a believing man, as do the Gentiles, the joys of the world remove you from the grace of Christ. With an undisciplined mind you seek what you presume to be easily lawful, both your dear actors and their musical strains; nor do you care that the offspring of such an one should babble follies. While you think that you are enjoying life, you are improvidently erring. The Highest commands, and you shun His righteous precepts.
When the Lord says that man should eat bread with groaning, here what are you now doing, who desire to live with joy? You seek to rescind the judgment uttered by the highest God when He first formed man; you wish to abandon the curb of the law. If the Almighty God has bidden you live with sweat, you who are living in pleasure will already be a stranger to Him. The Scripture said that the Lord was angry with the Jews. Their sons, refreshed with food, rose up to play…Hope comes with labor, and the palm is given to victory. If you wish to be refreshed, give help and encouragement to the martyr. Wait for the repose to come in the passage of death.-ibid