Broadus explains that nothing can supersede or substitute for physical preaching before living human beings by a present man. At his time, the potential substitute for preaching would be a book, something printed. We likely would put recordings or internet in its place — I imagine an extremely large church may create the same sort of distance between speaker and hearer. Broadus points out the persona pleading necessary for true Christian work:
But printing can never take the place of the living word. When a man who is apt in teaching, whose soul is on fire with the truth which he trusts has saved him and hopes will save others, speaks to his fellow-men, face to face, eye to eye, and electric sympathies flash to and fro between him and his hearers, till they lift each other up, higher and higher, into the intensest thought, and the most impassioned emotion—higher and yet higher, till they are borne as on chariots of fire above the world,—there is a power to move men, to influence character, life, destiny, such as no printed page can ever possess.
The Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, 2.
He compares and contrasts this work with “pastoral work”, personal ministry between pastor and congregant and notes that while such is important, it cannot substitute for preaching. And, that when preaching and pastoral are combined in one man, the work is most profitable. Thus, he counsels:
If a minister feels himself specially drawn towards either of these departments of effort, let him also constrain himself to diligence in the other.
These two elements must be held in concert. First, a preacher who does not know the congregation, who has no pastoral relationship can do little more than preach at the people as opposed to preach to, to care for and shepherd the congregation from the pulpit. Second, as Broadus notes the preacher who counsels has a special place:
When he who preaches is the sympathizing pastor, the trusted counsellor, the kindly and honored friend of young and old, of rich and poor, then “truths divine come mended from his lips,” and the door to men’s hearts, by the magical power of sympathy, will fly open at his word. But on the other hand, when he who visits is the preacher, whose thorough knowledge of Scripture and elevated views of life, whose able and impassioned discourses have carried conviction and commanded admiration, and melted into one the hearts of the multitude, who is accustomed to stand before them as the ambassador of God, and is associated in their minds with the authority and the sacredness of God’s Word,—when he comes to speak with the suffering, the sorrowing, the tempted, his visit has a meaning and a power of which otherwise it must be destitute