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This does not argue any prevalence of that easy kind of tolerance that so readily degenerates into indifferentism, but rather of a wholesome respect for the opinions of others coupled with a firm grasp upon the validity of one's own views.
The University as the ward of a Christian Commonwealth has always been Christian in its character Religion has been recognized officially in the holding of daily prayers, usually conducted by the President, attendance upon which has been voluntary since 1871, in special religious services held in connection with various public occasions, and in addresses upon religious themes which have been given to the students by members of the Faculties.
The atmosphere of the University has always been friendly to the nurture of religious life so far as it has been created by the influence and life of those who have been charged with the work of instruction, the larger number of whom have been in active sympathy and co-operation with the various branches of the Christian church.
But, undoubtedly, the most active and potent religious influence in the University has emanated from the organization known as the Students' Christian Association. This society recently celebrated the thirty-fifth anniversary of its founding, and is now acknowledged to be the oldest association of its kind in this country Its history, interesting and instructive as it is, cannot be told at this time in detail. We can only glance at its most salient points. The Students' Christian Association has passed through three important stages. The beginning of its life is chiefly the work of a company of earnest and devoted young men who were graduated from 1858 to 1861 It is impossible in this sketch to single out the names of those who were most active and zealous in this work. Many of these
noble spirits took part in the civil war and laid down their lives for their country The Association started on its career under the most prevalent and thorough religious awakening that has ever come to bless the life of the University, an awakening that was born of the general revival that swept over all our land in 1857 and 1858.
It was about 1872 that the Association took on a more formal organic life. Its influence now reached farther than before. With the advent of women it gained a new force. It took charge of all religious work in the University, organized prayer-meetings, instituted Bible classes, and sought to develop the missionary spirit and interest in the work of the ministry by organizing Mission" and Ministerial Bands.' The library of religious reading, which was originally collected through the efforts of President Tappan and Dr C. L. Ford for the use of all students, passed under the immediate control of the Association, and was increased by large donations from publishing houses.
The religious life of the student community was considerably stirred by a spiritual awakening which occurred in the winter of 1875. Since that time the only general revival of religious interest that has been inherent among us came as the result of a series of meetings held by the well-known evangelist, Dwight L. Moody
Meanwhile the Christian Association has enlarged the scope of its activities. This has been made possible by the occupancy of its new and beautiful home, Newberry Hall, which was dedicated two years ago. A more systematic study of the Bible has been organized, and opportunities for wider influence have been eagerly improved. The Association has increased its usefulness by conducting mission schools in and about the
city, by holding religious services in the hospitals, and by assisting newly arrived students in finding desirable quarters for residence. With all the good work thus accomplished by this religious body, it still remains true that for some reason the interest and sympathy of the student community as a whole have not been enlisted in this association and its objects to the extent that might be expected. That this is partly due to the exclusiveness of the organization, resulting from the so-called "Portland test" of membership, which shuts out from full participation all who are not already members of evangelical churches, can hardly be doubted. With the recent return to the original basis of membership on which all students who desire to lead a Christian life may cuter into full membership, it is hoped and believed that the Association will commend itself more largely to the interest and sympathy of the entire student community
An interesting phase of the religious life of the University is likely to show itself, and indeed has already begun to appear in connection with the establishing of religious guilds under the auspices of several of the religious denominations represented in the city The Hobart Guild of the Episcopal Church, the Tappan Guild of the Presbyterian Church, the Wesleyan Guild of the Methodist Church, and the Foley Guild of the Roman Catholic Church are, each in its way, trying to shape and direct the religious and social life of the students. Just what the outcome of this movement is to be, it is yet too early to predict. In connection with one or two of these guilds it is the purpose to establish at once chairs of theological instruction in order to train students for the ministry In two of the guilds regular courses of lectures have been founded, of a semi-popular character, on the history of the church,
the evidences of Christianity, church institutions, and kindred themes.
That the organization of schools of theology in this centre of intellectual life is sure to affect directly and powerfully the thought and life of the entire student community needs no argu
It is the prayerful desire of every thoughtful mind that knows anything about the multiform and keen intellectual life of this institution of learning, that this life should become more and more ennobled and consecrated by the purpose to serve God and man in the best possible way That so many of this University's sons and daughters are to be found to-day in foreign fields as well as at home, serving the Master and trying to lift up and bless the children of ignorance and superstition, is a cause of devout gratitude; may their numbers be multiplied.
The religious life of the University owes not a little of its strength to the sympathy and encouragement of the pastors and friends of the local churches. It is becoming better understood that no body of religious people can afford to ignore or to shut out of its sympathy this great centre of intellectual and spiritual power. What the character of this power shall be, whether for good or ill, rests to some extent at least with the Christian people of this State and of the churches of our laud. It is their privilege to help make this University more and more a power for truth and God in the world.
MARTIN L. D'OOGE.