Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/366

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Speaking of "soul-sickness," brings to mind the subject of "religion" in all its bearing upon the consciousness of well-being or ill-being, and the profound interest, comparable to the acknowledged importance of the subject, thus insured. Formerly, certain classes of people at some particular times in their lives would come more or less unexpectedly to a more or less vivid and painful view of their sinful selves; then, perhaps for a longer or shorter period, would go through a series of spasms and stresses of conviction and renunciation and pleading and aspiration; but would in time "come out" of it all so victoriously, that usually forever after God was felt to be so good and so near that "salvation" and the "joy in the Lord" thereof were more or less fully assured forevermore. Along with these fortunately "converted" people, still other classes also have quite naturally experienced such a sufficient "assurance" of their "call," that they have quite uninterruptedly found ample solace for their untoward depression and apprehension, whenever needed. Thus, heretofore, many people have actually found, that when attacks of mental pain came on, they could go unreservedly to the "fount of all mercy" and find what to themselves, at least, was satisfactory relief. Indeed, whatever criticism may be justifiable with respect to religious dogmas and institutions, it certainly is not wise to forget that the human personality everywhere has recognized and does still recognize a supreme worth in its religious consciousness, and has found and still finds its profounder weal or woe in the spirit of religion and the practical exercises inspired by this. Woe indeed is it when religious fears and apprehensions and the general gloom arising from an abiding sense of detachment and loss, comes to pervade all the soul-life and simultaneously sees no or little relief. Joy indeed, too, when relief does come, or when the general religious temperament or atmosphere or experience begets the "joy that abides," in true realization of the Source that is Infinite! It does not do for even the most clearsighted materialist any more than it does for the most devoted metaphysician, to forget that this deepest-sounding and farthest-reaching of all vital experiences may through mental or other pain come to be but a mere travesty of the real life, or that such abject misery and this only may irretrievably "damn" the subject long before the pains of future perdition are possible. "Hell on earth" is not a figure of speech to very many people; it expresses exactly the sufferings of those who are the victims of the sort of psychalgia which is owing to perversions and failure in their religious life.

A concrete case of associated mental and physical distress, occasioned by a succession of experiences certainly not very common, will serve to make plain not only the comparative significance of the more intimate kind of experience, in a way that can not be mistaken, but also somewhat to elucidate the blundering and inefficiency to which sufferers of psy-