There are just five avenues through which impressions can be made upon the mind: sight, hearing, feeling, taste, and smell. Through any one, or all, of these impressions can be made upon the human mind. These are legitimate avenues through which to work in all our efforts to save men. And the more we use these avenues, the more readily will the impressions be made and the more lasting they will be. This is clearly taught in God's word: "O taste and see that the Lord is good." Ps. 34:8. In this instance, God appeals to the taste and the eyesight.
I think that if we study God's word, and Christ's example, we shall see the value of appealing to both mind and heart through as many of the senses as possible. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard. which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled [felt], of the word of life; . . . that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us." 1 John 1:1-3. Down through the ages, men have usually been profoundly impressed and convinced by what they have "seen," and "heard." Through these two avenues to the mind God has made most of His appeals to men in His endeavor to reach their hearts and win them to Him.
Throughout the Bible we find instances which indicate God's approval of this method of appeal as a means of winning souls. There are the examples: (1) of the burning bush which attracted the attention and interest of Moses, after which he was in the right frame of mind to receive the message God had for him; (2) of Ezekiel setting up the tile, representing Jerusalem, and laying siege against it; (3) of God's effort to secure the attention of the world to His truth, by making the Word flesh, so that men could see it, hear it speak. and feel its influence. And of Christ's methods, we read: "By connecting His teaching with the scenes of life, experience, or nature, He secured their attention and impressed their hearts."—"Christ's Object Lessons," p. 21.
Then we have this instruction for every worker who would be a successful soul winner: "He should leave his ideas before the people as distinct as mileposts."—"Testimonies," Vol. II, p. 544. In our endeavors to do this, there is an old Chinese proverb we would do well to keep in mind: "One picture is often worth a thousand words."
In all symbolic prophecy, the wisdom of this Chinese proverb is emphasized. What volumes of truth are expressed, and made clear to men by God's pictures of the great image, the four terrible beasts, the great red dragon, the two-horned beast, the woman sitting upon the scarlet-colored beast, and the woman clothed with the sun.
"By the use of charts, symbols, and representations of various kinds, the minister can make the truth stand out clearly and distinctly. This is a help, and in harmony with the word of God."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 12.
Thus it is made clear that there is a proper place for, and a proper use of, the stereopticon and other projectors in our soulsaving work. My observation also leads me to believe that there is a misuse and an abuse of these agencies, in some instances. I believe that a worker makes a serious mistake when he builds a sermon on some beautiful pictures he may chance to have, and thus makes his sermon explain his pictures, rather than using the pictures to make his sermon clearer. Such a practice can accomplish no more than to amuse or entertain the people.
Henry Ward Beecher once said, "The first merit of pictures is the effect they produce upon the mind." I have long since ceased to use pictures which did not have any particular value in making the points stand out like "mileposts," or in more indelibly impressing truths upon the mind of my listeners. I want every picture I use to talk, to really say something to help explain the thought I am presenting. Any picture that does not do this merely consumes precious time and diverts the attention. It is of no particular value in winning souls. Recently I have made a practice of throwing my Bible texts and all important quotations upon the screen, so that the people can read them with me, and I find this is a great help.
In emphasizing the danger in the use of the stereopticon, projectors of all kinds, and other legitimate helps in making the gospel of the kingdom clearer to men, I want to present a few statements from the Lord's mouthpiece to the remnant church, as principles which I believe should govern in all these things:
"The work . . . is to be done after Christ's order, not after the order of a theatrical performance. It is not a theatrical performance that glorifies God, but the presentation of the truth in the love of Christ. Do not divest the truth of its dignity and impressiveness by preliminaries that are more after the order of the world than after the order of heaven. Let your hearers understand that you hold meetings, not to charm their senses with music and other things, but to preach the truth in all its solemnity. . . . God's servants in this age have been given most solemn truths to proclaim, and their actions and methods and plans must correspond to the importance of their message. . . . In their efforts to reach the people, the Lord's messengers are not to follow the ways of the world. In the meetings that are held, they are not to depend on worldly singers and theatrical display to awaken an interest."
"Carry forward your work in humility. Never rise above the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Not in the art of display, but in lifting up Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer, will you find success in winning souls."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, pp. 142, 143.
* Presented at Atlantic -Union Institute.