I heard this quote from a Piper sermon on the life of George Whitefield. It is regarding the accusation that Whitefield was an “actor” in the pulpit. But more than that, it speaks much to how we should all handle the Word of God.
This is a quote from one of Whitefield’s sermons:
“I’ll tell you a story.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, in the last age, was acquainted with Betterton, the player. You all have heard of Betterton. One day the Archbishop of Canterbury said to Betterton the player, ‘Pray inform me, Mr. Betterton, what is the reason you actors on the stage can affect your congregation with things imaginary as if they were real, while we of the church speak of things real, which our congregations only receive as if they were imaginary?’ ‘Why, my Lord Archbishop (says Betterton the player), the reason is very plain. We actors on the stage speak of things imaginary as if they were real, and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.’
Therefore, I will bawl. I will bawl. I will not be a velvet-mouthed preacher.”