The Thought of the Evangelical Leaders: Notes of the Discussions of the Eclectic Society London During Years 1798-1814
The Eclectic Society was formed in 1783 by John Newton, Richard Cecil, Henry Foster and Eli Bates, and held its first meeting at the Castle and Falcon Inn, Aldersgate Street (where both the London Missionary Society and the Church Missionary Society were later formed). Its aim was to provide fellowship for ministers of the gospel in particular, and to encourage biblical and experimental Christianity. The Society increased in size, and meetings were held fortnightly in the vestry of Cecil’s church, St. John’s, Bedford Row, and included several laymen and nonconformist ministers. Besides the illustrious founders, such influential evangelicals as Thomas Scott, author of the famous Bible commentary, and Charles Simeon of Cambridge were also members.
The questions proposed and discussed by the Society covered a wide range of themes, including biblical exegesis and application, ministerial duties, events of national significance, and general matters of theological and ecclesiastical importance linked with the cause of the gospel. Nore were the meetings simply ‘talk-shops’. From them came the Church Missionary Society, The Christian Observer magazine, and the untold intangible benefits to the congregations whose pastors enjoyed the sharpening of their minds and the quickening of their spirits at the Society.
The republication of these Notes is not due to their antiquarian interest, but their rare spiritual value. They suggest questions to which every thinking Christian should give attention; they indicate the lines along which biblical answers will proceed. Ministers will find themselves drawn into the fellowship of the minds of these spiritual masters and receive stimulus for preaching and pastoral counselling. There is help here to strengthen grace in every believer.