Ichabod Spencer Playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL450CBD55446A1CBB
Ichabod Spencer – The Neglected Bible: How it Spoke
Ichabod Smith Spencer was born in 1798 in Rupert, VT. He was unconverted until just after his 18th birthday. The previous year his father died and this left him utterly devastated. “It is highly probable that his father’s death so deeply felt, and so great a trial, was sanctified to his soul, and overruled to lead his mind and heart, so dark and trembling, to the only true ‘Rock of hope and support.’ It was more than a year, however, after this event occurred, before the grace of God changed his heart, and turned his feet into the way of life.”
He was converted in Granville, NY and was educated at schools in the upstate NY region. He became a school teacher, and his fame grew to the place that he was in great demand. In fact, in 1830 he was called to be President of the University of Alabama, and in 1832 the President of Hamilton College of NY. He refused these both as the Lord had by this time called him to preach. He was called to serve as colleague-pastor of the Congregational Church in Northampton, MA in 1828, the church made famous by Jonathan Edwards.
Spencer’s ministry at Northampton from 1828-1832 was remarkably blessed with conversions. More than 250 in those few years came to Christ, and he wore himself out in the work. For health reasons alone he left that demanding and large ministry in 1832. The people of the city and congregation wept and mourned the loss of this precious servant of God, and they never forgot him, nor he them. They always delighted to receive reports of the work of the Lord in Brooklyn, and he rejoiced to hear how the hand of God was extended to the brethren in his first parish.
He refused a call to Park Street Church, Boston, the largest in New England at this time because of his tender health. Later in 1832 he accepted the call to the Second Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, NY. This was a church planting effort with no building and about 40 people. He remained at this post the rest of his life, thus spending 22 years at this church. By the time of his death the church had grown to be one of the largest and most influential in all of NY State. His biographer states that he was one of the greatest preachers the American Pulpit produced during that era. At the same time, his greatest gift and legacy was in the pastoral ministry. He was a true shepherd.
Spencer placed upon himself the demand that he would have a home visit for every member of his church every year, which he did for all 22 years. These visits were not for social but spiritual purposes, and were rarely spent in vain. It is said that he averaged over 800 appointments with souls every year for the 25 years of pastoral labor. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that he recorded each of these in careful fashion and had a dozen huge volumes containing detailed information on each of these visits. His Pastor’s Sketches contain material drawn from these volumes. The two volumes of Sketches contain but 77 specimens taken from over 20,000 available to him. It is no wonder that he came to be referred to as The Bunyan of Brooklyn.
He was a man fully committed to the doctrines of grace, and he constantly preached upon the themes of total depravity, sovereign grace, free justification by faith in Christ alone, the certainty of the judgement to come, the greatness of the mercy and love of God. He preached these themes both publicly and from house to house. As great and gifted a preacher as he was, and as effective as his sermons were to awaken sinners, it was his personal ministry that was most mightily blessed by God as he dealt with anxious inquirers.
One of the results of the publication of these volumes was the spread of his fame as a healer of souls. Soon he was receiving letters from all over the country from sin sick souls seeking relief. He answered every one with care. Along with preaching four to five carefully prepared sermons each week, and ministering to his growing congregation, he now had to stretch himself even further. Sadly, within a year his health broke down and he never recovered. He suffered greatly his last months. One of his dearest friends, Gardiner Spring, was with him as he drew near to the grave, and the Lord gave Spencer wonderful peace to the end. He fell asleep in his Lord on Nov. 23, 1854.