The Trend of Thought

The student of the philosophy of history looks behind the incidents, the phenomena, of the world's progress, to find in the mental attitude the trend of thought which has dominated the people, and especially the leadership of a given period, the final and sufficient explanation of historic movements and events. He recognizes that the world's struggles but objectify the clashing of ideas, the strife of opinions, and whether by the friction which culminates in great crises and revolutions, or by the quiet illumination and guidance of education and discovery; whether by the impelling conditions which precipitate the struggle for "the survival of the fittest," or by the winsome attractions of a high ideal, humanity has steadily, though with varying speed, advanced toward the higher civilization expressed in universal freedom and economic well-being.

Religious development and progress have been kindred. The most varying, if not vagrant, concepts of spiritual truth have found expression in multiplied sectarian organizations whose dissonances have contributed many a tragic chapter to the story of humanity's noblest aspirations. Nevertheless, despite all the bitter discussion, all the conceited and intolerant wrangling, the Truth, in the interest of which so much unspiritual zeal has been shown, has advanced with stately and irresistible step.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, declares that in his time some indeed preached Christ even of envy and strife; yet, he adds, "Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."

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Among the Churches
June 20, 1901

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