A certain platform manner or preaching style does not necessarily suggest that a pulpiteer has the power of God resting upon him. Nonetheless, this is a grave mistake that many often make. These imagine that the employment of rhetorical devices, bodily gesticulations, and loud speech is a sure sign of the presence of the Spirit of God. It is not. Nonsense is still nonsense though uttered loudly; truth is still truth though articulated in soft tones. Of Jonathan Edwards it has been written, "...Edwards preached his most famous sermon, 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God', in Enfield, Connecticut, in 1741. Though this sermon has been widely reprinted as an example of "fire and brimstone" preaching in the colonial revivals, this is not in keeping with Edward's actual preaching style. He did not shout or speak loudly, but talked in a quiet, emotive voice. He moved his audience slowly from point to point, towards an inexorable conclusion: They were lost without the grace of God." As Elijah learned by solemn experience, God may speak most powerfully not by earthquake, wind, or fire, but in a 'still, small voice'. The presence of God's Spirit in any man's pulpit ministry may be evidenced, furthermore, not by those mere immediate and outward manifestations, which may or may not prove to be genuine, but by lasting results that are the unmistakable fruit of His gracious work.
Rev. Stephen Hamilton
Rev. Stephen Hamilton is the minister of Lehigh Valley Free Presbyterian Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania.