J. W. Alexander (1804-1859) gives the following powerful observation in Thoughts on Preaching. If we would learn how to preach, we must not start with Homiletics. We must return ever and again “to the one thing needful.” He writes,
The great reason why we have so little good preaching is that we have so little piety. To be eloquent one must be in earnest; he must not only act as if he were in earnest, or try to be in earnest, but be in earnest, or he cannot be effective.
We have loud and vehement, we have smooth and graceful, we have splendid and elaborate preaching, but very little that is earnest. One man who so feels for the souls of his hearers as to be ready to weep over them—will assuredly make himself
felt. . . We must aim therefore at high degrees of warmth in our religious exercises, if we would produce an impression upon the public mind. . .
Without any increase of our numbers, the very men we now have, if actuated with burning zeal for God, might work a mighty reformation in our country.