In these days of the soundbite and the autocue, public speaking is a declining art-form, though it is not extinct and still has its own weight and force. In New Testament times rhetoric was a highly regarded skill and works were written about it which are still read. Dabney quotes liberally from these, but does not always agree with them. He knew that the gospel that gospel preaching was to to be "with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of no effect." "Evangelical eloquence", for Dabney was unique. It consisted in "the soul's virtuous energy exerted through speech" which applied "the authority of God to the conscience" and formed "the image of Christ upon the souls of men."
While recognizing the importance of rhetoric as a skill to be acquired and practised, Dabney emphasizes that 'it is grace which makes the preacher, and that nothing is preaching which is not expository of the Scriptures.'
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