The Voice in Speech and Song


Chapter 49—Danger of Excessive Emotion

Impression by God's Word, Not Feeling—It is through the Word—not feeling, not excitement—that we want to influence the people to obey the truth. On the platform of God's Word we can stand with safety. The living Word is replete with evidence, and a wonderful power accompanies its proclamation in our world.—Selected Messages 3:375. VSS 290.1

Emotional Preaching—If the preaching is of an emotional character, it will affect the feelings, but not the heart and conscience. Such preaching results in no lasting good, but it often wins the hearts of the people and calls out their affections for the man who pleases them. They forget that God has said: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.”—Testimonies for the Church 5:301. VSS 290.2

Trust in God, Not Man—I am pained beyond measure to see the little discernment existing among our people who have had so great light. They listen to a sermon that stirs their emotions, and the language of their hearts is, “Evermore give us the ministry of this man; he moves our hearts, he makes us feel.” They forget God, and praise and exalt the man, to his injury and the injury of their own souls . When will those who claim to believe the truth cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils? When will they trust in God, make Him just what He is—all and in all?—Letter 8, 1889. VSS 290.3

Temporary Nature of Impulsive Decisions—There are in the ministry men who gain apparent success by swaying minds through human influence. They play upon the feelings at will, making their hearers weep, and in a few minutes laugh. Under labor of this kind, many are moved by impulse to profess Christ, and there is thought to be a wonderful revival; but when the test comes, the work does not endure. Feelings are stirred, and many are borne along by the tide that seems to be setting heavenward; but in the strong current of temptation they quickly float back as driftwood. The laborer is self-deceived, and he misleads his hearers.—Gospel Workers, 382. VSS 291.1

Real Intelligence in Preaching—A man may preach in a spirited manner and please the ear, but convey no new idea or real intelligence to the mind. The impressions received through such preaching last no longer than while the speaker's voice is heard. When search is made for the fruit of such labor, there is little to be found.—Testimonies for the Church 1:447. VSS 291.2

Unnatural Use of the Voice—Some raise their voices to an unnatural key when they speak in the desk; others talk very rapidly, and the people cannot hear what is said. This works disaster to themselves, as well as to others, for their unnatural use of the voice results in injury to the vocal organs. They needlessly exhaust their strength, and make their efforts painful to their congregation. They should exercise self-control, that quality so essential for them as ambassadors of Christ, and overcome their pernicious habits. If they would but do this, they would be able to leave a pleasant impression on the minds of their hearers, and the preaching of the truth would become attractive.—The Review and Herald, October 28, 1890. VSS 291.3

Intensity Without Emotionalism—God would have all move calmly, considerately, choosing our words in harmony with the solid truth for this time, which requires to be presented to the mind as free from that which is emotional as possible, while still bearing the intensity and solemnity that it is proper it should bear. We must guard against creating extremes, guard against encouraging those who would either be in the fire or in the water. VSS 292.1

I beseech you to weed out of your teachings every extravagant expression, everything that unbalanced minds and those who are inexperienced will catch up, and from which they will make wild, immature movements. It is necessary for you to cultivate caution in every statement you make, lest you start some on a wrong track, and make confusion that will require much sorrowful labor to set in order, thus diverting the strength and work of the laborers into lines which God does not design shall be entered. One fanatical streak exhibited among us will close many doors against the soundest principles of truth.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 227, 228. VSS 292.2