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Ichabod Smith Spencer.

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LIBRARY

OF THE

University of California.

GIFT OF

Mrs. SARAH P. WALSWORTH.

Received October, i8g4.
^Accessions No.^T/JXS'S' Class No.





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PASTOR'S SKETCHES



PASTOR'S SKETCHES



€>vnm&iins mitlj aiiiiiins Sitptms



RESFECTINO



THE WAY OF SALVATION.



BT

ICHABOD S. SPENCER, D.D.

PASTOR OF SECOND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, BROOKLYN, N. Y.



'O \6xf«? airtis rd dpviov.



FIFTH EDITION.

NEW YORK:
PUBLISHED BY M. W. DODD,

BRICK CHURCH CHAPEL, CITY HALL SQUARE,
(opposite the city hall.)



1351.



ftWVBRSIl






mrs-if



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850,

BY ICHABOD S. SPENCER,

In tue Clerk's Office for the Southern District of New York.



STEREOTYPED BY THOMAS B. SMITH,
216 WILLIAM STREET, N. Y.



CONTENTS.



THE YOUNG IRISHMAN, .

FAITH EVERYTHING, .

SIMPLICITY OF FAITH, .

WAITING FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT,

BUSINESS HINDRANCE, .

WAITING FOR CONVICTION, .

NOT DISCOURAGED,

RELIANCE ON MAN,

BAD ADVICE, ....

THE WHOLE HEART, .

THE WELSH WOMAN AND HER TENANT,

THE HOLY SPIRIT RESISTED,

THE HEART PROMISED, .

FIXED DESPAIR,

TOTAL DEPRAVITY,

IGNORANCE OF SELF, .

SUPERFICIAL CONVICTION,

EXCITEMENT,

ASHAMED OF CHRIST,

THE LAST STEP,

THE PERSECUTED WIFE,

THE ARROW DRIVEN DEEPER,

DIVIDED MIND,

HUMAN RESOLVES,



PAGE

1

65
72
77
88
91
105
109
113
118
120
142
14S
151
161
171
174
178
183
195
202
216
220
222



VI



CONTENTS.



I CAN T REPENT,

A STRANGE SNARE,

FANATICISM,

A mother's PRAYER, ....

EASY TO BE A CHRISTIAN,

PROSELYTING,

•THE OBSTINATE GIRL,

CONVICTION RESISTED,

DETERMINATION,

THE MISERABLE HEART (DELUSION AND INFIDELITY),

UNCONDITIONAL SUBMISSION,

THE UNPARDONABLE SIN,

ELECTION,

THE BROWN JUG,

THE HARVEST PAST (THE DYING UNIVERSALIST), .
DOCTRINES AND DEATH,



PAOR

324

237

247
250
25(3
259
2G2
274
288
293
315
323
330
370
382
403



^ipoai



PREFACE.



This is a book of truth. These Sketches are taken
from real life. They are facts, not fancies. They are
the experiences of some whom the Author has known in
the course of his ministry. He has not given to them an
item of coloring. The only thing about them, from
which any erroneous ' impression can possibly arise, is tc
be found in the fact, that they are only sketches, not con-
taining all that could be given, in respect to the indi-
viduals here mentioned. But they are believed to con-
tain a fair and sufficiently full representation of each case.

The Author has made this selection from the mate-
rials in his possession, on the principle of avoiding useless
repetitions as much as possible, and on the principle of
meeting some of the strange difficulties, which sometimes
trouble inquirers after salvation.

If this humble volume shall fall into the hands of any,
who recognize their own portrait among the sketches
here drawn ; the Author would affectionately suggest to
them the propriety of permitting that fact to remain un-



Vlll * PREFACE.

known. He solicits this as a special favor to himself;
while he assures them, he would deem it an injustice and
a breach of confidence, to disclose to other people the
particular feelings of individuals, made known to him in
the sacredness of religious intimacy. He has been care-
ful not to write anything here, which can injure the feel-
ings of any living person. It must be by the person's
own act, not the Author's, if any one of the portraits
here sketched is ever known to the public, as that of any
particular individual.

The most of the instances here mentioned occurred in
revivals of religion ; but the Author would be sorry to
have it thought, that he has any preference for the piety
commencing at such a time, before that which com-
mences at other seasons. He would also be sorry to be at
all instrumental in leading any soul to think, that salva-
tion is not as certainly and as easily attainable at any
other time, as during a revival, if the soul will as dili-
gently seek it. It would still more grieve him, to do
anything towards fostering those spurious excitements, so
often called revivals, which have done so much to dis-
tract the churches and corrupt the religion of this coun-
try. He has no fear of any excitements, which divine
truth will produce ; and he believes, that, if the truth
has produced them, they will be ready and willing to be
controlled by the truth, come from what lips it may ;
and will not, therefore, induce the people to rely upon
some particular men, " Hevival Preachers," as they are



PREFACE. IX

sometimes called. He would not undervalue revivals of
religion, because abuses have sometimes crept into the
churches under that name ; nor would he dare to think
of choosing the mode, in which the Holy Spirit shall do
his own blessed work.

The particular religious experiences of individuals are
not guides for other people. They are only illustrations
of divine truth, by its application. The Sacred Scrip-
tures are the only just guide. Still, religious history and
religious biography, though often abused, by an over-
trusting, and by a misguided taste, have some signal ad-
vantages, and, fitly used, may be of peculiar benefit. It
should be carefully remembered, that such biographies
are written for the very reason, that they are supposed to
contain something uncommon ; and therefore cannot be
applicable, as examples, to believers, or inquirers in every
case. Nobody would ever think of publishing the re-
ligious experience of every believer in a. church or city.

But the Author has hoped, that these Sketches might
be useful, not on the ground of their marvelousness, so
much as on the ground of their applicability, as they refer
to common experiences and common difficulties, which
have occurred under the ordinary ministration of a very
humble individual ; and are, therefore, likely to occur
again. He has hoped, that they might be instructive, by
showing the application of divine truth to human hearts
— by leading some anxious inquirers after salvation to see
what it is that hinders them from peace with God — and



X PREFACE.

by leading private Christians and young Ministers of the
gospel to study more carefully what they shall say to those,
who inquire what they shall do to he saved. Twenty
years ago, he would have valued a hook like this, above
all price. And if this, by the divine blessing, shall be of
any assistance to young Ministers, on a very delicate and
important part of their duty, or of any assistance to in-
quirers after salvation, its purpose will be accomplished.

Brooklyn, K T., August, 1850.




THE YOUNG IRISHMAN



On a very hot day in July, a boy called at my
house with a gentleman's card, saying that a lady
had sent him to request me to visit a young man,
who was sick. Both the lady and the young man
were strangers to me. I had never heard of
either of them. They resided more than three
miles from me, in another city ; and as I under-
stood, the lady was an attendant upon the min-
istry of another clergyman who was absent from
home. I could not learn from the boy, why she
should have sent for me. I was very much occu-
pied, the day was intensely hot, the place was
distant, many other clergymen were more conve-
nient to it.; and I felt disposed, for these reasons,
to excuse myself from going: As I was consid-
ering the matter, the boy, as if reading my
thoughts, spoke out earnestly, " She said you
must come."

I went, though I felt it to be a hardship.



4, THE YOUNG IRISHMAN.

Finding the street and the number of the house,
by the card which was sent to me ; I rang the
bell, and inquired for the young man, whose name
was on the card. I was shown to his room. He
was seated in an easy chair, with a book in his
hand, and appeared somewhat pale and feeble, but
not very sick. He rose to receive me. I told
him who I was, and that the boy who brought
me his card, said he was sick, and would be glad
to see me. He made no reply, except to offer me
his hand and ask me to be seated. We had some
general conversation, in which he took the lead.
But he said nothing about his sending for me.
Aside from his paleness and an occasional cough,
I saw nothing in him to indicate the presence of
any disease. He told me something of his history.
He was a young Irishman about twenty-six years
of age, was educated in one of the European
Colleges, had studied law in Ireland, and design-
ing to enter the legal profession in this country,
had been engaged in its studies here about two
years. He was a man of dignified appearance,
of very handsome address, fluent in conversation,
perfectly easy in his manners, and evidently of
a vivid mind. He had seen much of the world,
and told me he was fond of society. But for the
last six months, since his health began to decline,
he had been very much secluded, according to
the advice of his physician. Said he, "I have



THE YOUNG IRISHMAN. 3

been obliged to exchange the society of living
men for the society of dead men, and was just
amusing myself with reading Tacitus' De Moribus
Grermanomm, when you came in." He mani-
fested no disposition to advert to the subject of
my visit. On the contrary, he seemed to avoid
it. He so often changed the subject of conversa-
tion, when I attempted to introduce it, that I was
compelled to ask him plainly, if he desired to
see me for any particular reason. He was silent
for a moment, apparently lost in thought, and then
replied : —

" It would certainly seem very impolite in me,
to say I did not wish to see you, since you have
taken pains to come so far through the dust and
heat ; but I think it would be really impolite in
me, not to tell you exactly the truth. I have an
old aunt, who is a very religious woman ; and
she has been urging me to send for you, almost
ever since I have been secluded here. She thinks
I am not to live long, and has talked to me often
on the subject of religion. But as she and I could
not think alike, she insisted that I ought to con-
verse with some minister of the gospel, and finally
became so urgent, that I reluctantly consented.
But you will allow me to say, that I should have
had no reluctance at all, at all, if I had supposed
she was going to lead me to form so agreeable
an acquaintance."



4 THE YOUNG IRISHMAN.

" I am happy to know you," said I, " and
am glad it was in my power to obey your
call."

" It was she that called" said he. " When
I consented to see a clergyman, I left the se-
lection and all the preliminaries entirely to her,
and she selected yourself. I told her the se-
lection lay in her line, as she was religious
and I was not ; and that I should judge of
religion, very much by the specimen of a min-
ister she sent to me."

I answered, " I must take care, then, how
I demean myself, if you are going to rest
your opinion of religion on that ground. And
I suppose, in equity, you will allow me to
judge of the science of Law in the same man-
ner."

" Ah !" said he, "I shall be obliged to fling
in a demurrer on that point. I should be sor-
ry to have you form your opinion of the law,
by such a specimen of the legal profession as
myself."

" Your demurrer certainly cannot avail anything
in your favor," said I. "If it can come in at all,
it will be easy to turn it against you. For, since
religion is a much higher matter than law, it is
not to be demanded, that a man should be as good
a representative of it, as a man should be of law ;
and if you demur at my forming an opinion of



THE YOUNG IRISHMAN. O

law by the impression I have about one of its dis-
ciples, much more, may I demur at your forming
an opinion of religion on that ground."

" Well, indeed," said he, " I cannot respond
to that. You have floored me, the first onset.
But are you not a lawyer ? Your pleading
indicates as much."

" Not at all. I am only a very ordinary
minister. — But since your aunt has done me
the honor to send for me, I should be happy to
form her acquaintance. Does she reside here ?"

" No. She lives a little distance off. I must
tell you, she is very retiring, and lives very
much secluded, though she spends much of her
time with me ; and I doubt whether she will
allow you to see her at all. She is not so
young as she used to be. She has been a
beautiful woman — an elegant woman ; and I
tell her, that her pride keeps her away from
society now, because she is not so handsome as
she was once. But she seems to think that idea
a reflection upon her religion ; and wonders that
I can think of such a thing, and cannot have
sense and sobriety enough to rise above such tri-
fling thoughts."

" Wherein do she and you differ on the sub-
ject of religion ?"

11 Really, sir, I can scarcely answer that ques-
tion. We never differ, only in a friendly way.
l*



O THE YOUNG IRISHMAN.

But, though she is a woman of very fine mind,
in my opinion, yet her notions are too rigid for
me."

" Perhaps she has examined the subject of
religion more than you have."

"I have no doubt," said he, "that she has
spent more time over it. But my mind is not
so formed as to take things upon trust. I want
knowledge. I am not prepared to yield to as-
sumption and dogmatism."

" I am very glad to hear you say that,"
said I ; " but perhaps you and I should not
agree, in respect to your aunt's yielding to as-
sumption and dogmatism. We are not accus-
tomed to do that in religion. I venture to af-
firm, that your aunt is not guilty of it. And I
do this, because I know, that we who espouse the
cause of religion are not credulous, assuming, or
dogmatic : and on the contrary, the rejecters of
religion are themselves the most credulous, assum-
ing, and dogmatic people amongst us."

" "Well, indeed," said he, " you have fairly flung
down the gauntlet to me."

" Not at all. You flung it down at the name
of your aunt ; and I, as her champion, take it
up. I am prepared for the contest, the very
moment you will name any definite matter of
disagreement betwixt yourself and her."

" I must give you the credit for no small



THE YOUNG IRISHMAN. 7

gallantry," said he. " Your chivalry is of high
bearing indeed, if you will so readily espouse the
part of a lady entirely a stranger to you, and are
prepared to defend her opinions, when you do not
even know them."

" I risk nothing, however," said I. " And I am
prepared to contest the point you named, or any
other point. You mentioned her taking things
upon trust — her yielding to dogmatism and as-
sumption."

"Yes, I did. But I did not mean her in par-
ticular. I mean religionists in general."

" So I supposed. And I now ask you what it
is, that we take upon trust, or assume, or wherein
we dogmatize, any more than you lawyers dog-
matize."

" Well, to tell you the truth, I had reference to
what my aunt is constantly saying about Grod.
She seems to me to assume his existence, and
character, and government over us. I tell her,
that / want knowledge"

" Very well," said I ; " that is a definite point.
Let us get it fixed clearly in mind, and then
bring it before the bar of our reason. The ques-
tion is this : — Is the existence, is the character, is
the government of Grod known to us ? are these
things matters of knowledge ? I affirm, (in your
aunt's behalf,) they are. You deny it."

" Right," said he. " That is the question.



8 THE YOUNG IRISHMAN.

And as you are the plaintiff, you must open the
case. Yours is the affirmative. Bring on your
witnesses. I have only to deny, and to show that
your proofs are insufficient."

" Very well," said I. " We are agreed so far.
I commence the argument. — The matter before us
regards knowledge. — I have, therefore, a prelim-
inary question to settle first ; and I think it may
be settled amicably betwixt us, without any de-
bate. I now put the question to you — What is
knowledge ?"

" You have taken me by surprise," said he,
(a little confused, and hesitating.)

" Certainly," said I, " the question is a fair one ;
and it belongs to you to answer it. It is you who
complain of your aunt, that she has not knoivledge,
on a particular subject, to which she urges you to
attend. We are to examine the question ; and
therefore, we ought to know what we are talking
about, so as to understand one another. You say,
you ' want knowledge ;' and I ask, what do you
mean by knowledge ? • I only give you a fair op-
portunity to explain your own word."

M Why, sir," said he, (with a forced smile,) " I
venture to say, that you and I employ that very
common word, in the same sense."

" I beg pardon," said I. " In our profession we
do not allow any assumptions : we take nothing
upon trust : we never dogmatize."



THE YOUNG IRISHMAN. 9

He laughed quite heartily at this ; and replied,
" I believe I have been away from court too long.
My wit is not keen enough for this contest just
now. You have floored me again."

"Oh," said I, "your wit is not at fault, but
your assumption, your taking things upon trust,
your dogmatism" -

" Well," said he, " since I own up on this point,
you will do me the favor to answer the question
yourself. I will assent to the answer, if I can
without injuring my cause."

" Most willingly," said I. " But this is a se-
rious and momentous subject. It is the most mo-
mentous of anything on this side of death. Let us
then deal with it, in a careful and candid manner."

" I will," said he, " most certainly."

Said I, " Knowledge is founded on certainty.
Something must be certain, or it cannot be
known. Knowledge is the cognizance, which the
mind has of realities, of facts, of some certainty or
truth. It exists in the mind. The realities may
exist outside of the mind, or inside of it. But
they exist first; and when the mind makes an
ascertainment of them, it gains knowledge. That
ascertainment is made, by what we call proofs or
evidences. And these evidences will vary, as the
subjects of knowledge or the certainties vary.
There is one sort of proofs for mathematical
knowledge, and another sort for legal knowledge,



10 THE YOUNG IRISHMAN.

and another for historic knowledge ; but each is
good in its place, and sufficient. You would not
expect me to prove a truth in morals or history,
by mathematical demonstration; — or a truth about
the soul, by the evidences of eyes which cannot
see it ; — or a truth about the invisible Grod, by
the authority of a law-book, such as Blackstone, or
Starkie, or Vattel. But whatever evidences or
proofs do, fitly, justly, convince a reasonable un-
derstanding ; furnish that understanding with
knowledge ; because they enable it to ascertain a
reality, a certainty, so that the conviction of the
mind accords with the fact. — That is what I call
knowledge. Do you assent to the explanation ?"

He replied, " I have no fault to find with it.
And if the whole of religion was as clear and cer-
tain as that, I should not reject it."

" The whole of it is as clear and certain as
that, whatever you may think about it."

" But," said he, " how do you apply your ex-
planation to the existence of Grod ? "What are the
evidences of his existence?"

" There are numerous evidences, sir, and fit
ones. Your own existence is one of them, and not
a minor one. You are an effect. There is a cause
somewhere, adequate to the production of such an
effect. That cause, whatever it be, is (rod. You
did not make yourself. Your parents, your an-
cestors, however far back you trace them, were



THE YOUNG IRISHMAN. 11

not self-created. Your own mind assigns a cause
somewhere, an original cause, and that cause is
God. And you are just as certain, that there is
such a God, as you are, that you are yourself an
effect. You know it just as well ; not in the same
way ; but yet, just as certainly. And you know
you are an effect of an intelligent cause. Your
common sense will not allow you to believe, that
you and all your ancestors sprang from accident,
from chance. You do not find chance operating
in such a way. You do not fling dust in the air,
and find it come down, a man or a monkey. If
you should find anywhere a machine, a living or
dead one, which had in it a tenth part as many
manifestations of intention, and power, and skill,
as your own mortal body ; you could not avoid
believing, that some mind had contrived it, and
some power beyond itself had brought it into exist-
ence. You would know it, as well as you know
anything. The perfect proof is before you. And
your own living body and thinking mind are per-
fect proofs of the existence, power and wisdom, of
God. — There is no assumption or dogmatism in
this. It is only cool and certain reasoning, which
conducts to an inevitable conclusion, and the con-
clusion is knowledge.

" On the same principle, the whole universe and
its living inhabitants, rational and irrational — its
suns and comets, its w T hales and butterflies, its



12 THE YOUNG IRISHMAN.

motes and mountains, are proofs of the existence
and power of Grod. And every change, every mo-
tion in the universe is an evidence which speaks for
him. Our reason tells us, they are not uncaused.
The cause is Grod."

To all this, the young man listened with the
most fixed attention. He seemed to drink in
every word. I thought his attention had fatigued
him ; but he said, not at all, he loved to think.
" But," said he, " you have led me into a new
world of thinking. Your positions are very bold ;
and before I come to any conclusion, I must re-
view the matter in my own mind."

" Shall I call on you to-morrow ?" said I.

He answered, " I can scarcely ask it or expect
it of you ; but if it is not too much trouble, I
should like to see you again. You need not be
afraid of wearying me. I can study or talk all
day."

The next day I called again. He appeared
glad to see me, and immediately began to speak
of our interview the day before. Said he, " Your
bold position yesterday startled me. I have been
thinking of your argument ever since. I cannot
overthrow it. That idea about a change or ft
motion being an effect, and the human mind as-
signing a cause to it, and our having knowledge
on that ground, was new to me. But I find much
that men call knowledge rests precisely on that



THE YOUNG IRISHMAN. 13

ground. And yet, I am not fully satisfied. I
have been accustomed to think, that the existence
of God was at least doubtful, that the proofs of it
were very obscure, and when you brought up my
own existence as a proof, it startled me. I have
often said to my aunt, that we know very little
about spirit, — that we can understand matter,
but spirit lies very much beyond our knowledge ;
it is all a mystery to us. And now, though I
dare not assail your position, or your arguments,
still it does seem to me, that I have a degree of
knowledge and certainty about bodies, that I can-
not have about spirit ; and I should like to hear
what you can say on that point."

" I say that it is a mere impression," said I ;
" a common one indeed, but an erroneous one.
There may be some faint apology for it. The
most, if not all, of our primary ideas reach our
mind through the inlet of the senses ; and there-
fore, when such an idea as that of spirit is pre-
sented to us, — spirit, a thing which we cannot
see, cannot hear, cannot touch, cannot bring with-
in the immediate cognizance of any of our bodily
senses ; the idea appears to lie beyond the grasp
of the mind, hung round with a deep, and misty,
and mysterious obscurity. If eyes could see it, or
hands could handle it, men would have none of
this seeming uncertainty, and doubt. But since
they cannot, and since the idea of spirit must



14 THE YOUNG IRISHMAN.

come to them through some other channel, for ex-
ample, by comparison, by reasoning, by tracing
effect to cause, or some such device ; the whole
doctrine of spirit assumes to them a kind of dim
and misty significance, too much like an airy
fancy, or unsubstantial dream. That is just the
state of your mind at the present moment. The
seeming uncertainty is not a real uncertainty, it
is only an impression ; and that is the reason why
you dare not assail my argument of yesterday.
Your reason perceives its truth, but your impres-
sion and your prejudice are against it.

" And since I am on this point now, I will pur-
sue it, if you please, a little farther. — From the
necessity of our nature, while here in the body,
the most of us are more conversant with sensible
objects, than spiritual ones. "We employ, from
morning till night, our sensitive organism in our
ordinary occupation. We gain most of our knowl-


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