Ebenezer Erskine once said, “The ministers of the gospel, when dispensing the truths of God, must preach home to their own souls as well as to others; and truly it can never be expected that we should apply the truth with any warmth or liveliness to others unless we make a warm application thereof to our own souls. And if we do not feed upon these doctrines, and practices the duties which we deliver to you, though we preach to others, we ourselves are but castaways.”
Our sermons will not be dry or insipid if they are infused with the freshness of our own growing relationship with God. Let us never forget that we preach most when we live best. “Our ministry is as our heart is,” wrote Thomas Wilson. “No man rises much above the level of his own habitual godliness.” John Owen put it negatively: “If a man teach uprightly and walk crookedly, more will fall down in the night of his life than be built in the day of his doctrine.”
Perhaps Robert Murray M’Cheyne said it best: “A minister’s life is the life of his ministry . . . . . In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument will be the success. It is not great talents that God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.
Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Spirituality (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2004), 254f.