Lactantius on Hedonism
28 June, 2019
His dates are A.D. 260-330. In his “Divine Institutes,” book 6, chapter 21 is titled “Of the Pleasure of the Ears and of Sacred Literature.” Lactantius says:
. . . Therefore he who is anxious for the truth, who does not wish to deceive himself, must lay aside hurtful and injurious pleasures, which would bind the mind to themselves, as pleasant food does the body: true things must be preferred to false, eternal things to those which are of short duration, useful things to those which are pleasant. Let nothing be pleasing to the sight but that which you see to be done with piety and justice; let nothing be agreeable to the hearing but that which nourishes the soul and makes you a better man. . . Therefore if it be a pleasure to hear melodies and songs, let it be pleasant to sing and hear the praises of God. This is true pleasure, which is the attendant and companion of virtue. . . And if any one shall pass its limits, and shall seek nothing else from pleasure but pleasure itself, he designs for himself death; for as there is perpetual life in virtue, so there is death in pleasure. For he who shall choose temporal things will be without things eternal; he who shall prefer earthly things will not have heavenly things.