Exhortation (παράκλησις, strictly a calling near, invitation, and so "entreaty," 2Co 8:4; hence admonition, special hortatory instruction in public, Luke in, 18; Ac 13:15; 1Ti 4:13; also "consolation" or comfort, Ro 15:4, etc.) seems to have been recognized in the Apostolic Church as a distinct supernatural or prophetic office or function (χάρισμα, "gift") bestowed by the Holy Spirit (Ro 12:8). As such, it was doubtless a subordinate exercise of the general faculty of teaching (1Co 14:31). Olshausen (Conmment. in loc.) thinks that Paul does not distinguish it as a special charism, but rather regards it as coordinate with eldership. SEE GIFT (SPIRITUAL).
2. It is defined as "the act of laying such motives before a person as may excite him to the performance of any duty. It differs only from suasion in that the latter principally endeavors to convince the understanding, and the former to work on the affections. It is considered as a great branch of preaching, though not confined to that, as a man may exhort, though he do not preach; though a man can hardly be said to preach if lie do not exhort. SEE EXHORTERS. The Scriptures enjoin ministers to exhort men, that is, to rouse them to duty by proposing suitable motives (Isa 58:1; 1Ti 6:2; Heb 3:13; Ro 12:8); it was likewise the constant practice of prophets, apostles, and Christ himself (Isa 1:17; Jer 4:14; Eze 37; Lu 3:18; Lu 12:3; Ac 11:23)" (Buck, Theological Dictionary, s.v.). "The above, and numerous other passages of Scripture, indicate several important particulars: 1. That it was not beneath the dignity, or foreign to the office of the inspired apostles, frequently to exhort. 2. That they enjoined a similar practice and the duty of exhortation upon young ministers of their day. 3. That exhortation, as separate from preaching, was the special office of a certain class of religious teachers in the New-Testament Church. 4. That mutual exhortation for their own profit and edification was enjoined by the apostles upon Christians generally" (Kidder, Homiletics, page 105). SEE EXHORTERS.
3. In the book of Common Prayer, the short addresses of the minister to the people in the daily service, in the communion office, and in the office for the visitation of the sick, are called Exhortations. The first of these, beginning "Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us," etc., was introduced into the English formulary at the Reformation. Palmer (Orig. Liturg. 1:211) compares it to a passage in a sermon of Avitus of Vienne, fifth century. Procter (Common Prayer, page 206) remarks that "it was constructed partly from the preceding sentences, and partly by adaptations from previously existing forms." But, in fact, this exhortation, with the other opening portions of morning prayer, is chiefly due to a ritual drawn up by Calvin, for the church at Strasburg, entitled La Forme des Prieres et Chantes ecclesiasiques (Strasburg, 1545). See Baird, Eutaxia (N. York, 1855, page 191). The exhortations to the communion were also introduced at the Reformation. "The ancient Church, indeed, had no such exhortations, for their daily, or at least weekly communions made it known that there was then no solemn assembly of Christians without it, and every one (not under censure) was expected to communicate. But now, when the time is somewhat uncertain, and our long omissions have made some of us ignorant, and others forgetful of this duty; most of us unwilling, and all of us more or less indisposed for it, it was thought both prudent and necessary to provide these exhortations, to be read when the minister gives warning of the communion, which he is always to do upon the Sunday or some holy day immediately preceding" (Wheatly, On Common Prayer, page 284). The second exhortation was compiled apparently by Peter Martyr at the instance of Bucer (Procter, On Common Prayer, page 344).
Exhorters, a class of lay persons licensed in the Methodist Episcopal Church to exhort, not to preach. The leaders meeting (q.v.), or class (q.v.), recommend such persons, and the preacher issues the license. The duties of an exhorter are "to hold meetings for prayer and exhortation wherever opportunity is afforded, subject to the direction of the preacher in charge; to attend all the sessions of the Quarterly Conference; be subject to an annual examination of character in the Quarterly Conference, and renewal of license annually by the presiding elder, or preacher having the charge, if approved by the Quarterly Conference." This office has been found very useful, both in the edification of the Church, and in developing the talent of persons likely to be called to the ministry. Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1868, pages 113, 114.