Boylston Hall was filled to overflowing last evening by an audience composed wholly of students. For an hour Professor Drummond held their closest attention; his words were simple, even informal, the thoughts to which he gave expression were familiar, and if spoken by an ordinary man would have seemed trite and commonplace. Yet the strong intellectualism, the broad tolerance, the ready wit, and above all, the sincerity, earnestness, straightforwardness and manliness of the speaker gave to his words a penetrating significance that makes his address one of the most powerful, as it was one of the most remarkable, to which Harvard students have ever listened.
Religion is with us, he said, and its facts are as real as physical matter, yet men of the world are kept away from it by most superficial reasons. Because they dispise some Christians, they will have nothing to do with any Christians, and yet it would hardly be reasonable to say we will have nothing to do with the world because there are some objectionable people in it. Because they dislike the phrases of Christians of the old school, they shy away from ever speaking of religion, yet they will find the same thoughts underlying all these religious dialects. Because churches are dull they say they are to be eschewed, and yet no man can live his best without the influence of fixed institutions. Just as Darwin lost his love for poetry and music, so a man finds that his religious self weakens and dies unless it is ever and anon refreshed. Because the Bible is arid in places, they will seek no good things in it, yet for purely literary merit the book is in many ways unsurpassed. Few men have been more found thinkers than Paul, and none have been more pure and beautiful in their conception than John.
These, however, are only the minor difficulties. The great mass of men find themselves sometimes in life and most likely during the college life, to be upset upon the main doctrine they have been taught to believe. They lose their child like faith, and despair of ever regaining it. Then is a dark interlude and yet that interlude ought to come to every man, it is essential to real belief. As the old philosophers put it, we have position, opposition and composition. We doubt the doctrine, we find its contradictions and then we unite all once more and the truth is broadened and more strong and real for us.
To follow Christ will do two things, it will help men to keep straight themselves and it will help other men to keep straight The education of the world has been done by Christianity, and America, in its politics, in its commerce sorely needs the influence of strong and right-minded men today. It is not that men who do not follow Christ are always sinful, but they are always wasteful. They live out of the main current of history. The grandest truths are not to be entrusted to the poorest specimens of manhood. They need and must have strong men. Harvard is to maintain her character for honor, manliness and Christianity, and the students who go from her are to put these truths into active and powerful expression.