Quaker Talk: Only Brief Messages In Meeting??
In the “olden days,” Quaker ministers often preached long & hard. A healthy sampling thereof was taken down, and can be retrieved if one looks hard enough for them. I’m grateful for this mostly neglected lore, as a means of reaching across time, and past the notions cast over the gap by historians (of which I’ve been one.) I think they’ve much to teach us.
Here’s one example, of Friends perhaps not at their best: Elias Hicks preaching, then being answered (rebutted, really) by some others, with confusion ensuing. A “Silent meeting”?? Not very. Read it if thee dare, here. And then, there’s a bunch more here.
I’m referring to Quaker preachers in the traditional mode, like Lucretia Mott, who never, ever “prepared” a sermon. There is, however, a book of many of her messages, all of which were taken down by stenographers. Some were thus recorded as tributes, others gathered to use as ammunition against her suspected “heresies.” Whatever, without them we’d have hardly a clue to what she had to say, and thus little chance to find out if it has anything for us now. So I’m grateful for them. (Here’s one in full, from 1860, posted by one of her definite NON-admirers.)
As for sitting in meeting & listening to them — one’s mileage might vary. Read aloud from the pages, many of the talks take up most of an hour; and in a number of them, she mentions that other Friends had spoken before she did, and likely not epigrammatically. So it appears that in her day, meeting was as much for preaching and listening to same, as for focusing on silence in the current mode.
This throwback style is not mentioned as a norm or ideal, but to point out that even “silent” worship has evolved, and might evolve again . . .