[The Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, D.D., in The Living Church.]

The advance of the faith has seen a shifting of the battlefield in the last fifty years: massive redoubts of the past are falling before the enginery of modern warfare; the struggle is on a larger field and along more scientific and thoughtful plans of action. We all know something of the change: the rise of the scientific spirit, which seeks the truth, and which, while opening to us the glory of the universe, has changed our conception of God and man; the rise of the historic spirit, which has studied literature, even Biblical literature, as the geologist studies nature; the rise of industrialism, which has increased wealth, and by rapid transit has shrunken the world, caused the shifting and mixing of races, and has given millions on millions of people money to spend and little knowledge as to how to spend it. Even the faiths of religious races are in close competition, and the Christian ideals are in a hand-to-hand struggle in the centers of their power with Mohammedanism and Buddhism. Never in history has there been such a shaking of forces and an unsettling of conditions. The wonder is that the Christian church, which was largely supported by the logic and traditions of the past, has been able to hold its own, or, if you will, to prevent its retreat from becoming a disastrous rout. Blunders, pathetic efforts to hold untenable positions, tragic defeats of heroes of the faith, have been frequent, but the readjustments have been wonderful; and in spite of all superficial evidence I believe that the Christian church in this country stands as strong and as confident as it ever did in history. The fact that no change of base and no assault has touched the essential truths of the Christian faith has given immense confidence; the growing consciousness that Christ is the truth and that no truth can of itself be unchristian, kindles in every disciple of Christ an enthusiasm for the truth and an assurance that whatever temporary disasters may seem to come, Christ will emerge from every conflict for the truth.

Looking at it too from the industrial point of view, are we not at this very time rising from a situation in which men had, or seemed to have, supreme faith in the powers of mechanism and the results of competition, the increase of wealth and population? These were to make a great nation. Are we not now discovering that behind all these must stand the spiritual resources, men and women of character, of self-restraint, of purity, and of high ideals?

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May 3, 1913

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