Page:Psychology and preaching.djvu/198
ISO PSYCHOLOGY AND PREACHING
intrinsically the adjusting act itself." x This means that the discourse must have movement ; and different phases of the subject must be presented with a rapidity corresponding to the rapidity of this normal mental movement. How im perative this is in speaking to children, a very little expe rience will show. But in fact it is just as imperative in addressing adults of any grade of maturity and culture. Adults, especially persons of culture, can grasp more com plex ideas, and their attention can therefore be held longer within a given field; but all the time it will be moving from one to another aspect of this group of related objects or ideas. The shifting of the attention of the mature is just as incessant and rapid as that of the immature mind. It does not appear to be so, first, because the mature mind will dwell longer within a given field; but it does so only because it finds in that field a greater number of points of interest upon which to fix the attention. Second, it does not appear to drift so rapidly as the mind of the child, because, having better voluntary control of the motor nerves and more respect for the conventionalities, the older person will not be so " fidgety " and will more thoroughly mask his in attention; but his mind will be leaping away from the dis course which does not move on to fresh phases of the sub ject, as wantonly as that of the child. People are not always giving attention when they sit with their eyes directed to wards the speaker. The mature mind leaps from one thing to another as rapidly as the immature, but it does not leap so far, perhaps, and its superior control of the muscles may better conceal what is going on. " Move on " is the order which Psychology gives to the speaker.
If he is rapid and skillful enough in his progress, he may control the mental movement of his audience ; otherwise that movement will go on under the control of inclinations, in terests, associations which may be quite foreign to his pur pose. But if there is danger of going too slowly it is also possible to move too rapidly for the best results, and this is
i " Psychology," p. 79