The chapters which follow in this volume reveal Gipsy Smith. They discover his mind and heart processes in a way that is both accurate and unusual.
It was my good fortune to be on the platform just behind the evangelist while he was delivering the addresses which are the make-up of this book, and not only hear them all, but as Chairman of the Executive Committee conducting the campaign, to have in hand the details connected with their delivery.
They were Gipsy's noonday addresses delivered in Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee, on the week-days, Saturdays excepted, from February 12th to March 12th, 1922. The auditorium has a seating capacity of five thousand, but the crowds were so great that the building was not only packed at the noon as well as the night hours, but vast numbers were turned away unable even to get inside the building.
The sensational feature of these addresses, however, apart from the spiritual results of the message, was not in the crowds attracted, but in the wonderful versatility and swift mind and heart reaction of the speaker.
The plan used at the noon hour was this: Each day a local pastor was teamed with the evangelist. The local pastor occupied the first ten minutes, speaking on some passage of his own selection from the Bible.
Gipsy was not only in complete ignorance of what the local pastor was to speak about, but also of his identity until a moment before he arose to speak, when I gave the evangelist the pastor's name, and he was presented by Gipsy to the audience. Thus without any previous special preparation, without any time in which to form an outline or assemble thoughts save the ten minutes of the first speaker's address, in entire ignorance of what the theme was to be, the marvellous addresses in this volume were delivered. And they WERE INVARIABLY ON THE THEME AND THE SCRIPTURE PRESENTED BY THE LOCAL PASTOR.
Gipsy's address followed the first speaker's, not in a general way, not in a few introductory sentences switching into a digression, but closely and logically, so far as the central theme was concerned.
For this reason, these chapters in a striking way reveal the man. He has the resourcefulness of the greatest of preachers. With a mental grasp swift, accurate, and original; with a command of simple words full of colour and action; with a delivery free of all tricks and affectation; with an eloquence sweeping from tears to smiles, mastering the mind, fusing the passions, capturing the will, Gipsy Smith reached in these impromptu addresses at Nashville a height of pulpit power the writer has not known surpassed.
To find satisfying explanation, one needs to go back to Pentecost.
James I. Vance.