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[40] the last. In times of strife and stress, how often we say that if we hold our own we are doing well, justly declaring that the simple maintenance of the old position and power is in reality growth and progress!

This occasion, then, gives us our subject for to-day: The vitality of religion as tested by the changes and experiences of the past fifty years.

What we want to bring into clearest light is the fact that religion and faith have during this half-century been on trial as perhaps never before since the morning of Christianity; that they have been tested and tried as by fire, and that Burke's penetrating reflection that man is a religious animal has been abundantly verified in the history of these five decades during which some of you have worshipped together as an organized church. During this time the political, intellectual, and religious events have been of such capital importance that the age stands alone and supreme in the annals of mankind. And every one of these events has deeply and profoundly affected faith and the spiritual life of man; every one of them has moved and violently disturbed the very foundations of the creeds and dogmas of the fathers, and with every upheaval and readjustment in thought the cry has been that God was being destroyed, that religion, morality, and character had received a fatal blow.

Probably we do not fully realize the tremendous transformations through which the thoughts of men passed in the last half of the nineteenth century. It might justly be characterized as a period of war; long and bitter have been the conflicts between the hosts of the old and the new, between the past and the present. It is not too much to say that you who have lived during the last two generations have witnessed the clash of the spirit of twenty or more centuries with the spirit of the twentieth century, and you have beheld the banner of victory planted surely and permanently with the army of modern thinkers and believers.

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