Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fighting Friday: I Can't Repent by Ichabod Spencer

Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 9, Number 19, May 6 to May 12, 2007

I Can’t Repent

This article is taken from Spencer's incredible two-volume book,

A Pastor's Sketches. [1853] By Ichabod S. Spencer

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.

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.

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 judgment 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.

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