The Voice in Speech and Song


God's Modern Messenger

First Speech (Poland, Maine, 1845)—For three months my throat and lungs had been so diseased that I could talk but little, and that in a low and husky tone. On this occasion I stood up in meeting and commenced to speak in a whisper. I continued thus for about five minutes, when the soreness and obstruction left me, my voice became clear and strong, and I spoke with perfect ease and freedom for nearly two hours. When my message was ended, my voice was gone until I again stood before the people, when the same singular restoration was repeated. I felt a constant assurance that I was doing the will of God, and saw marked results attending my efforts.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 72, 73. VSS 391.1

Strength From the Lord—Sabbath I was very feeble. After speaking to the people I was so wearied I came near fainting. The people said they had never seen me look so wretched before. I lost fifteen pounds of flesh in three weeks. Sunday I entreated the Lord to give me strength to bear my testimony to the people, and I believed. I went upon the stand in great weakness, talked one hour and a half, and left the stand much stronger than I went upon it, and kept all the strength that was given me on that occasion.... VSS 391.2

I have just received an appeal from the most influential men of Dunlap—bankers, ministers, and merchants—to repeat my discourse given Sunday under the tent, on temperance, in the Congregational church.—Letter 22, 1879. VSS 392.1

Power by the Holy Spirit—When I have been expected to speak to many people, at times I have felt that it was impossible for me to appear day after day before great congregations. But I have tried to place myself physically in right relation to God. Then I have said to Him, “I have done all I can do, Lord, using Thine own means, and now I ask for the special blessing which Thou alone canst give to sustain me.” With trembling steps I have walked into the desk to speak to assembled thousands; but the moment I have stood before the congregation, the Spirit of God has always come to me with strengthening power. VSS 392.2

Often I said to my husband while he was with me, “If only I could have the assurance beforehand, how much good it would do me.” He would answer, “God has never failed to bless you the moment you rise to speak; so whatever may be your feelings, you must put your trust in Him, hanging your helpless soul on His promises.” This I have tried to do. I have learned that we must act our part, cooperating with God. He gives strength for every duty.—Manuscript 8a, 1888. VSS 392.3

Voice Given Her of God—When I was only about eleven years old, I heard a minister read the account of Peter's imprisonment, as recorded in the book of Acts; and he read in so impressive a manner that the details of the story in all their reality seemed to be passing before my eyes. So deep was the impression made upon my mind that I have never forgotten it. VSS 392.4

When, a few years afterward, I was speaking in general meetings, I met this man again, and at the close of my discourse he asked, “How did you get that wonderful voice?” I told him that the Lord had given it to me. When I began my public labors, I had no voice, except when I stood before the congregations to speak. At other times I could not speak above a whisper. “And,” I added, “I have often thought of what you said to the people when someone asked you how you became a minister. You told them that your friends said you could never be a minister, because you could not speak properly; but that you went away by yourself and talked to the trees in the woods; and then when driving the oxen, you would talk to them just as if you were in meeting. ‘This,’ you said, ‘is the way I learned to speak in public. “”—Manuscript 91, 1903. VSS 393.1

Divine Aid in Speaking—The following day I was ill, and very weak. The cold had taken a firm hold on my system. I doubted if I should be able to speak on the morrow. However, I ventured to allow the brethren to make an appointment for me to address the people Sabbath forenoon. I made the Lord my entire dependence; for I knew that unless He should be my helper, I could not speak more than a few words. My throat and head were greatly troubled. I was so hoarse that I could scarcely speak aloud. VSS 393.2

Sabbath morning I felt no better. At the appointed hour, I went over to the chapel, and found it crowded. I feared I should fail, but began talking. The moment I began to speak, strength was imparted. I was relieved of hoarseness, and spoke without difficulty for nearly an hour. My illness seemed to disappear, and my mind was clear. As soon as I finished speaking, the hoarseness came upon me again, and I began coughing and sneezing as before. VSS 394.1

To me, this experience was a marked evidence of divine help.—The Review and Herald, July 19, 1906. VSS 394.2

Long Sermons by Ellen White—[This entry as well as the next form part of an impromptu discussion during a talk Ellen White gave to the General Conference at Lake Goguac, Michigan, July 14, 1890.] Elder Underwood: “Do we preach too long?” VSS 394.3

Ellen White: “Yes, indeed; and I, too; I take that right to myself. I preach too long.” VSS 394.4

W. C. White: “Let me ask a question. Are we to take your example as an exponent of your views?” VSS 394.5

Ellen White: “Well, didn't I just make my confession? And haven't I given you an example? I consider myself an exception, but I think I have ventured too far even in the exception. But I will tell you why I consider myself an exception. I have been taken by my husband and carried on the cars and laid on the seat, and I have gone to a place of meeting and have stood under paralysis that had been upon me for weeks, so that I have not been able to command my language to speak a sentence correctly. And yet I would stand on my feet before the public and make my testimony as straight as a string. The Spirit of the Lord was upon me. Everyone is not an exception. Now, how can I tell when I am going too far? I have been brought up to that point again and again.... VSS 394.6

“Now, how far shall I go? I have taken the position that if the Lord gives me a burden for the Battle Creek church, I will tell it to them; but unless I have a burden, I have nothing more to say. I spoke 21 times in as many days there at Battle Creek. I did not speak every day, but some days spoke twice. This was before I left; and I never got rested until it resulted in this terrible sickness. I knew, and told them at Fresno, that I was fighting my last round. And then in those private meetings the labor was worse than speaking in public, and having to tell them such straight things as I had to tell them. VSS 395.1

“Now I do not know whether your question is answered or not; perhaps it is like a long sermon: it is so long that you have lost the main point.” VSS 395.2

Elder White: “Now I have questioned somewhat whether one person had the right to shape his action on another's experience. I have questioned if it was not our duty to shape our action on our own experience.” VSS 395.3

Ellen White: “Well, now, it has been like this. I have been sick and in pain; and I want to tell you that there is never a time when I make an appointment but that before that appointment comes I have wrestled with the most terrible difficulty of the heart, or some infirmity, that makes it seem like an impossibility for me to go before the public. And yet just as soon as I stand on my feet before the people I feel just as sure that the angels of God are right by my side as if I opened my eyes and looked upon them as I did at Christ at the time He restored me. I am taken right out of and above myself. I feel just as though, as it were, the judgment is right before me; just as though the universe of heaven is looking upon me, and as though I have these things to do and I must say them if I drop dead in the desk. Now, I do not believe it is the duty of others to do that. And every day I feel that way. It is because the terrible realities of eternity are opened before me, and as soon as I get up on my feet the terrible realities seem to enshroud me like a garment.”—Manuscript 19b, 1890. VSS 395.4

Voice, Volume, and Speed—Elder Farnsworth: “Don't you think, sister White, a great many of our ministers have received great injury from their manner of speaking?” VSS 396.1

Ellen White: “Oh, yes, indeed; I have seen it over and over. My husband got in the way of sometimes raising his voice very loud, and it seemed as though he could not get out of that way. And there is a brother in Texas, Brother A, that is dying just as sure as if he put a knife to his throat. Now since I have come here I have thought of that and I must write to him.” VSS 396.2

Elder Kilgore: “He has been told about that.” VSS 397.1

Elder Farnsworth: “They are all around in every conference.” VSS 397.2

Ellen White: “In my younger days I used to talk too loud. The Lord has shown me that I could not make the proper impression upon the people by getting the voice to an unnatural pitch. Then Christ was presented before me, and His manner of talking. There was a sweet melody in His voice. His voice, in a slow, calm manner, reached those who listened; His words penetrated their hearts, and they were able to catch on to what He said before the next sentence was spoken. Some seem to think they must race right straight along or else they will lose the inspiration and the people will lose the inspiration. If that is inspiration, let them lose it, and the sooner the better. VSS 397.3

“Well, I wrote an article on that point when I was at St. Helena because I felt as though our ministers were going down, and there was some cause for it.”—Manuscript 19b, 1890. VSS 397.4

Messages From God's Spirit—When I am speaking to the people I say much that I have not premeditated. The Spirit of the Lord frequently comes upon me. I seem to be carried out of, and away from, myself; the life and character of different persons are clearly presented before my mind. I see their errors and dangers, and feel compelled to speak of what is thus brought before me.—Testimonies for the Church 5:678. VSS 397.5

Revelation Through Visions—Before I stand on my feet, I have no thought of speaking as plainly as I do. But the Spirit of God rests upon me with power, and I cannot but speak the words given me. I dare not withhold one word of the testimony.... I speak the words given me by a Power higher than human power, and I cannot, if I would, recall one sentence. VSS 398.1

In the night season the Lord gives me instruction in symbols, and then explains their meaning. He gives me the word, and I dare not refuse to give it to the people. The love of Christ, and, I venture to add, the love of souls, constrains me, and I cannot hold my peace.—Manuscript 22, 1890. VSS 398.2

Husband and Wife a Speaking Team—At first I moved out timidly in the work of public speaking. If I had confidence, it was given me by the Holy Spirit. If I spoke with freedom and power, it was given me of God. Our meetings were usually conducted in such a manner that both of us took part. My husband would give a doctrinal discourse, then I would follow with an exhortation of considerable length, melting my way into the feelings of the congregation. Thus my husband sowed and I watered the seed of truth, and God did give the increase.—Testimonies for the Church 1:75. VSS 398.3

Life of Christ and the Health Question—Evening after the Sabbath, I spoke again to a large number. Sunday the Methodist church was opened. Father spoke in the forenoon and I spoke in the afternoon upon the life, sufferings, and resurrection of Christ. An appointment was given out for the evening for me to speak at the hall upon the health question. Long before the hour, the hall was full to overflowing and a number stood in the street unable to get into the hall. We crowded our passage through. But fears were expressed that the floor might give way. Men who knew assured them there was not the least danger. VSS 398.4

Persons proposed going to the Methodist house which was open for their reception and more convenient and better ventilated. They stated that quite a number were already there. One cried out, “Divide the preachers.” Your father made answer [that] he would not venture to try the experiment, fearing he would not get his share of hearers. Finally a general move was made to the meetinghouse which was crowded and extra seats prepared. I had a very respectful, attentive congregation. I spoke one hour and a half, with freedom. The meeting closed well. We have another appointment out tonight. May the Lord go with us and aid us in our labor, is our prayer. [Letter to Ellen White's son, W. C. White]—Letter 17, 1870. VSS 399.1

Sermon on Colossians 1:24-29—Brother D. T. Bourdeau spoke in the early morning meeting. In the afternoon I spoke to the people from Colossians 1:24-29. I felt great weakness before going into the desk. I pleaded most earnestly with God in prayer to help me and to bless the people in a special manner. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me and upon the people. I was followed by three interpreters—German, French, and Danish—but this did not embarrass me in the least. The heavenly angels were in our midst. I was blessed in speaking, the people blessed in hearing. I cannot see but that my message is having a better impression than on the minds of my American brethren and sisters. VSS 399.2

After the discourse we had a most precious meeting. Our brethren of all nationalities spoke of being greatly blessed, and of being very grateful to God for the word spoken.—Letter 23, 1885. VSS 400.1

Message on Matthew 9:28-30—My text was Matthew 9:28-30. The congregation were, many of them, intelligent men and women. I presented the truth in its simplicity, that old and young could understand. This was the manner of Jesus’ preaching. He taught the people in simplicity. He used no large words that the unlearned could not understand. The unlearned, the veriest child, could understand His words. VSS 400.2

Jesus declared in Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Luke 4:18. How many of the professed ministers of Jesus Christ are copying this example of our divine Teacher?—Manuscript 55, 1886. VSS 400.3

Preaching on the Parable of the Talents—An appointment had been made for me to speak Sabbath afternoon, January 7th, but as I rode the five miles to the meeting, I was in such a state of exhaustion that I feared and trembled and was beset with temptations. Looking at appearance, it was impossible for me to speak. I prayed all the way. When I stood upon the platform, such an assurance was given me by the Lord that He had sent His angel to sustain me, that I could not doubt. These words seemed spoken to me: “Be strong in the Lord; yea, be strong.” I never spoke with greater ease and freedom from infirmity. The hearers said my voice was clear and musical, and the congregation could not but know that the Spirit and power of God was upon me. VSS 400.4

I spoke for an hour upon the parable of the talents, dwelling with considerable definiteness on the slothful servant who hid his one talent in the earth, and presented it to the Lord with a bitter complaint, accusing God of being a hard Master. The Lord spoke through clay, and hearts were touched. Some were deeply moved. A minister of the Church of England, who came from Tasmania in company with Brethren Baker and Rousseau, and who has just begun to keep the Sabbath, was present.—Letter 23a, 1893. VSS 401.1

Prudence and Solemnity—The Lord is soon to work in greater power among us, but there is danger of allowing our impulses to carry us where the Lord would not want us to go. We must not make one step that we will have to retract. We must move solemnly, prudently, and not make use of extravagant expressions, or allow our feelings to become overwrought. We must think calmly, and work without excitement; for there will be those who become easily wrought up who will catch up unguarded expressions, and make use of extreme utterances to create excitement, and thus counteract the very work that God would do. VSS 401.2

There are a class of people who are always ready to go off on some tangent, who want to catch up something strange and wonderful and new; but God would have all [of us] move calmly, considerately choosing our words in harmony with the solid truth for this time, which requires [that it] 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 be either in the fire or in the water.—Letter 37, 1894. VSS 402.1

Subject From Holy Spirit for Special Occasion—On Sunday, June 23, [1895], I spoke under the tent at Canterbury. A general meeting had been appointed, and many of our people were present from Ashfield, Sydney, and Petersham. Several souls were convinced of the truth who had not fully decided to obey. As I entered the desk I could not seem to fasten my mind upon any subject upon which to speak, but as soon as I rose to my feet, everything was clear, and the text given me was the question of the lawyer to Christ—“What shall I do that I may have eternal life?” VSS 402.2

The power of God came upon me, and the truth of God was presented by His human agent in a most clear and powerful way. Elder Corliss said that he had heard me speak under almost every circumstance for the last forty years but that this was the most powerful discourse he had ever heard me give. I seemed to be lifted up and away from myself. It was the Lord's Spirit that came upon me, and to His name be all the glory. In my next letter to you, I will give the substance of what was spoken. VSS 403.1

After the discourse we spent about one hour in social meeting. The testimonies borne were excellent, and our meeting closed, leaving a most favorable impression upon the minds of those who were hesitating at the cross, and wondering how they should make a living if they accepted the truth.—Letter 28, 1895. VSS 403.2

Message About the Fruitless Fig Tree—Afternoon. I have just returned from the services in the tent. I have spoken twice today, nearly one hour in the half-past-six morning meeting, and again this afternoon. I generally speak on Wednesday afternoons because it is a holiday, but this week I consented to speak on Tuesday because it is Cup Day.... The tent was full. Extra seats were furnished, and some had to stand. VSS 403.3

I spoke upon the fruitless fig tree, making application of the same to the churches that bear no fruit. The Lord gave me freedom before that large assembly. There were present before me noble-looking countenances, and many, both men and women, wept. None left their seats, but all listened with most profound attention. The Lord did give me a message for the people. I know that the Holy Spirit worked upon minds and hearts. I have never in any of our camp meetings seen such eagerness to hear the truth. VSS 403.4

I have already spoken twelve times above one hour, and several times short discourses. The Lord's presence is upon this encampment, and many hearts are stirred.—Letter 82, 1895. VSS 404.1