Walter Scott on ‘Meeting’, Preaching and Exhorting

MEETING.

Agreeably to appointment, a four day’s meeting was held at Mayslick, on the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st ult.  It was supposed that on Lord’s day, fifteen hundred persons were present: five brethren engaged actively in the business of the meeting, and ten or eleven individuals were immersed.

We would just notice that the economy to be observed at such a meeting ought to be maturely considered, for very frequently our best wishes and most zealous efforts are rendered abortive for want of a proper plan, and a few moments deliberation.

The fact of commencing operations at the spur of the moment without any preconcerted plan, frequently proves injurious to our cause.

I very well recollect of three of us, a while before the actual restoration of the Ancient Gospel, standing up and in succession, with only a few minutes intermission between the last two, delivering three set speeches of from two to three hours in length each, and then sitting down without ever affording the audience a single opportunity obey the Son of God.  Things, however, are very much changed since that time, and now we meet to preach the gospel that it may be obeyed by those who hear us.

How then ought the ministering brethren, who are present on such occasions, to proceed, in order to produce the greatest possible effect?

Experience suggests the following to me as the best plan to be pursued.  The laboring brethren who are to be engaged should have the sole direction of this matter, and should then pitch upon one brother who is capable of handling a distinct topic.  When he has enlightened the audience, and has stated, defined, and illustrated his subject, let him give an invitation to the people and be succeeded by his fellows in the character of exhorters.

Exhorters, it ought to be observed, should never introduce new topics, but only new and striking ideas on the same topic.

Exhortations should consist of such things as have a tendency to move the affections of those who have believed but not obeyed; they should be elevated, violent, or tender according to the state of the case; bold & lively, striking and animating, containing great and beautiful images, calculated to move the soul and win the world to God.

The person engaged in delivering the leading discourse should not, I think, be called on to immerse; it is on some occasions too much.  The-man-at-the-fountain should be one of the other brethren.

[Walter Scott] “Meeting” The Evangelist, 1:6, June 4, 1832, p. 139.

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