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meeting each day in the week, for a number of months at a time, and he must either take charge of it himself, or see that some one is provided. In this way, the meeting is never left without a leader. The rules are placed upon the table, so that the leader may see them. A little bell is also provided, which he is expected to use when necessary in enforcing the three-minute rule.
UNION. All evangelical denominations unite in the meetings, and during the eight years which it has existed the most delightful harmony has prevailed. There is a general understanding that no controverted points in theology shall be discussed, and that all denominational peculiarities shall be avoided. If, occasionally, a stranger, not knowing that the meeting is composed of all denominations of Christians, introduces some denominational matter, no notice is taken of it, and the meeting goes on without interruption. Occasionally, a Methodist present may be heard to say “ Amen." With this exception, one could hardly tell to what denomination of Christians those present belonged.
THE SPIRIT OF THE MEETING. It has been remarked by strangers who have attended the meeting for the first time, that the atmosphere of the Old South Chapel was peculiar. They had hardly entered the room before they were convinced that the place was pervaded with the sacred influences of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds who have spent a few days in Boston have said, as they left, that they never before attended such meetings; and, with tears in their eyes, they blessed
God that they had had the opportunity. Nearly every morning, some stranger rises and says, in substance, “I have heard of this meeting, but never before had the privilege to attend it. I thought you had good meetings, and I rejoice to be here. I feel that I have been benefited, and I shall go home and tell my brethren about it. I hope these meetings will always continue ; for you cannot tell, brethren, what an influence you are exerting all over the country. We look to you for information; and when the Spirit of the Lord is with you, and we hear of conversions, we are encouraged.”
Similar remarks have been made by hundreds, and, for aught we know, by thousands, who, having caught the spirit of the meeting, have gone home to labour and pray with increased energy and zeal in the cause of their Master. All seem to be of one heart and one mind. There is a remarkable blending together of those who attend. While certain rules are necessary for the government of the meeting, in which all acquiesce, still there is perfect freedom. No one seeks for superiority. There is a common platform for all. The rich and the poor are there together, all one in Christ Jesus. The most humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord, from any quarter of the wide world, is welcome.
The leader of the meeting seldom reads more than eight or ten verses of Scripture, and if he comments at all upon them, he is very brief. The singing is led by any one who chances to be present. A hymn is given out at the commencement, and after that verses of familiar hymns are voluntarily struck up by any who feel disposed. This is one of the most interesting exercises of the meeting, and one in which nearly the whole congregation participate.
There is a general understanding that on Monday morning special opportunity will be given for the communication of religious intelligence ; consequently, there is more religious news presented on that morn. ing than on any other. Clergymen from abroad are often present, and they are called upon, if they do not rise voluntarily, to take part in the meeting.
On Saturday, the Jews are especially remembered in the prayers, and interesting intelligence is often presented respecting the work of the Lord among them. Occasionally converted Jews have been present, which has added very much to the interest of the meeting. Rev. Dr. Jenks, who has always felt a deep interest in their welfare, has often given very valuable information respecting them, which has quickened the faith of God's people, and incited them to earnest prayer in their behalf.
The Old South Prayer-meeting has been a religious exchange. The audience has not been confined to the people of Boston and its suburbs. Christians from all parts of New England, the country, and even the world, have been accustomed to meet at this place. In this way religious intelligence has been received from every section. Missionaries, upon their arrival in Boston, find their way into the meeting. English and Scotch ministers who occasionally have visited Boston, have sought out the Old South Prayer-meeting, and have contributed their part to the general stock of religious news which is communicated from week to week. There is probably no place in the world where one can obtain so large an amount of information pertaining to the progress of Christ's kingdom as at the Old South Chapel. Within the eight years during which this meeting has been established, disciples of Christ from nearly every State in the Union, and from almost every quarter of the globe where the standard of Christ has been reared, have been present, and given in many instances the most cheering accounts of conversions and the upbuilding of the Redeemer's cause in the localities where they have laboured.
Those who have attended the meeting for the last two or three years will not forget the visits, nor the fervent prayers and earnest addresses, of Rev. Dr. Armstrong, and his son-in-law, Rev. E. G. Beckwith, the President of Oahu College, both from the Sandwich Islands. The names of many others might be mentioned, whose addresses and prayers
have tended greatly to strengthen the faith of the · Christians in Boston, who so constantly have been present in the Old South Chapel.
But the most cheering intelligence which has been communicated to the meeting, and which has tended, perhaps, as much as anything, to induce its supporters to continue to sustain it, has been the statement of the conversions of individuals, and of revivals of religion in distant places, which have been traced directly to the meeting. The influence which the meeting has exerted in inducing others to start similar meetings, and in infusing new life into individual Christians from abroad, who have gone home to wake up their slumbering brethren, is worthy of notice.
But, without further details pertaining to the meeting,-details which will be found in their appropriate place in the book, such as records of conversions traceable to the meeting, incidents and facts related at different times, &c., &c.,—we proceed to give a history of the meeting in its rise and progress. HISTORY OF THE OLD SOUTH
FIRST REPORT._FOUR YEARS AFTER THE MEETING
WAS ESTABLISHED. ax N the autumn of 1850, two Christian bre
thren, one of Park Street, the other of Essex Street Church, engaged in serious
conversation respecting the state of religion in the city, lamenting the condition of the churches : one, our departed friend and beloved brother in Christ, the Rev. Louis Dwight; the other, our Christian brother Blanchard, still happily lives. Mr. Dwight has been peculiarly a man of prayer. It is believed that with him originated the very important prayer-meeting for colleges, which is now so extensively observed on the last Thursday of February, annually. These brethren conferred with others, and there resulted a determination to hold a united prayer-meeting, more especially to seek the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the city, its churches, and its inhabitants generally. The resolution was soon carried into effect; and now, for four successive years, and more, the meeting has been held, by the kind permission of the Old South Church and religious society, in the place where it first assembled, beneath the roof of their chapel, sometimes, indeed, in the vestry or committee-room, at others in the chapel itself.