Smiles of assent swept across the Upperville, Va., Baptist Church on an August morning in 1846. The visiting speaker was rapidly winning the full sympathy of his audience. No preacher had ever before so fully justified the toil and sacrifices by which these farmers were growing rich. It was right, he declared, for the Christian to gather property and provide well for his family.

Just as he had his audience in his hand, Dr. A. M. Poindexter suddenly and dramatically appealed for them to “consecrate their wealth to the highest ends of existence, to the good of mankind, and the glory of Christ.” It was a torrent, a tornado that swept everything before it. Then with no lesser power, he urged his hearers to dedicate their mental gifts and possible attainments to the work of the ministry.

One young man was so powerfully moved by the Spirit of God that immediately after the service he sought his pastor and choked out, “Brother Grimsley, the question is decided; I must try to be a preacher.”

Dr. Poindexter’s sermon, and a preceding one, had just changed the life course of John A. Broadus. In the providence of God, Broadus’ preaching, teaching, and writing were in turn destined to influence and change countless lives, far beyond his own lifetime. It has been said of his text Preparation and Delivery of Sermons that “No other work in the field of homiletics has had so wide and extended use in the history of theological education.”

None of this could have been foreseen that morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains. No one could have imagined that Broadus was destined to be chosen someday to deliver the Lyman Beecher lectures on preaching at Yale University. At Broadus’ death, Dr. William Rainey Harper, president of the University of Chicago, ...

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