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CHAPTER I.

PIETY VINDICATED FROM THE CHARGE OF

GLOOM.

“ RELIGION makes men gloomy,” says the thoughtless votary of the world. This allegation, if true, would be a very reasonable ground of prejudice against true piety; but it is made, as we shall see, without

proper

discrimination respecting its nature and influence.

He who brings this charge, judges merely from the serious expression of countenance which many professors of religion wear, and from the voluntary relinquishment of the gayeties of life, which is observed to take place when they unite with the Church of God. No estimation is made of the grand equivalent which piety gives for the renunciation of such vanities. Men look only at the Cross. They take their views from the self-denial and the labors which he who bears it is called upon to

meet. They have no standard to judge by but . their own experience, or rather, they seem not to adopt any other; and finding their own joy -and, we may add, their only joy—to be inseparable from the pleasures and the honors of the world, they conclude, that he who voluntarily foregoes them for the sake of religion must of necessity be condemned to a life of despondency and gloom.

But has it never occurred to those who bring this charge, that since they have not themselves made a practical experiment of the influence of piety, they are not properly qualified judges in the case ? By the laws of God, we are permitted to seek the highest amount of true felicity of which our nature is susceptible. Does this felicity lie in the path of the pleasurist and the worldling? Then would the Christian be unwise for travelling out of it, and deserve to feel the depression, and to be cov. ered with the gloom which are so unjustly ascribed to him. He would be warranted, it might almost be said, in retracing his steps ; in

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