Book Review
A Pastor's Sketches

A Pastor's Sketches - Conversations with Anxious Souls Concerning the Way of Salvation

by Ichabod Spencer
285 pages (Vol.1) + 276 pages (Vol.2)

Why have we just celebrated Christmas? Of course, it is because Christ came. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (I Timothy 1:15)   How amazing is God's grace, and his grace to us individually, as he has brought us to Himself.

Ichabod Spencer (1798-1854) was the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York, for the 22 years of his ministry until his death. While there he made evangelism a high priority. It is said that he averaged over 800 visits with souls every year, and the main purpose of these visits was to lead those souls to Christ, if they were not already there.

Spencer was fully committed to the Reformed position and constantly preached on the main themes of our theology. As effective as his sermons were to awaken sinners, it was his personal ministry that was most mightily blessed by God.

Over the years he kept records of those visits. He recorded each visit in careful fashion and had a dozen volumes containing detailed information on each. Near the end of his ministry he had accounts of over 20,000 visits. His friends constantly prodded Spencer to publish some of this, and four years before his death in 1850 he published the first volume of this book, two years later the second. Together they contained 77 stories, or "sketches", of his encounters.

This is that book, newly published with both volumes in a single cover. The author's intention was that it be used for troubled and anxious souls, as well as for ministers of the gospel. But also, what Christian among us is not interested in people's conversion stories? How it warms our hearts to hear them. From them we can learn something of how the Spirit deals with people, and something that can help us as we talk to others.

What better subject to meditate over as we begin this new year, than that faithful saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners? Here are stories of that happening to real people; 77 easy to read, mostly short, stories that can be read in any order. I hate to say one "sketch" is better than another, and I haven't read them all yet, but I found "XV, Total Depravity", Vol. 1 pp. 116-122, to be quite thought provoking. Read and be thankful.