Pastor's Sketches | Ichabod Spencer

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A Pastor’s Sketches: Conversations with Anxious Souls Concerning the Way of Salvation by Ichabod Spencer (1798-1854) is in our opinion one of the finest books ever written on the subject of evangelistic and pastoral ministry. It should rightly take its place on the desk of every pastor, but its usefulness is in no way limited to pastors. Any person wanting to know how to engage lost people better in evangelistic conversations or how to help souls carefully find rest in Christ will be tremendously helped.

The book consists entirely of private conversations had by the author with individuals concerned about their souls. Spencer made it a practice to carefully record his conversations of this nature in order to assist him in his pastoral work. These two volumes (now published together) were selected from those records in order to provide an example for others, and also to deal publicly with a very wide range of objections to the Christian message. The accounts are not dressed up in any way, and Spencer's simplicity and earnestness with others are evident throughout. There are so many things in the Christian life that are easier caught than taught, and being written in this way, you are able to catch some of what Pastor Spencer is doing as he counsels souls.

Some of these accounts are long, about 40 pages, and others are only about three pages. But each account stands on its own, so you can pick up and read only a chapter if you like, or you can skip forward to something that grabs your attention. But regardless of the length, each and every encounter demonstrates utter faithfulness, love, and patience with concerned souls. His methods are extremely faithful to Scripture and his zeal for the glory of Christ is as clear as his dependence on the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit.

If you are truly concerned to faithfully deal with souls, and if you will read this book making notes for yourself, and will revisit those notes, then this book is worth its weight in gold. As one reviewer has said, “Ichabod does not come to people with eloquent speech or powerful rhetoric. No, he comes boldly and humbly to people with the best that he has to offer: the Word of God. What you see when reading these conversations is the Word of God at work and bearing fruit and Ichabod as simply the vessel for it.”

Spencer does write from a Presbyterian perspective, so his views on infant baptism come into play in one or two chapters, as well as his views on Covenant Theology. We disagree with his views as stated, but have no hesitation heartily recommending such an masterful book.


New Hardback Edition:

First, the book has two new appendices. The first contains sketch summaries in which each chapter, or sketch, is given a brief summary along the following three points: (1) a recount of the reservations/hesitations/problems of the person; (2) Spencer's method of treating him/her; (3) the chief point to be learned from the sketch. The second appendix is a subject index of every sketch, based on the summary index. These two appendices makes it much easier to locate sketches which correspond to difficulties and subjects with which you may be dealing at any given time as you counsel with others.

Second, we felt that jointly publishing the book would allow us to feature a much more attractive and durable hardback edition while at the same time keeping the cost low for you. We don't want you to have to spend any more than necessary for good books that last.

This book ought to be used again and again, so we wanted you to have it in a format that would last a lifetime.


Sample Pages: Contents | Arrow Driven Deeper | Fasting and Prayer | New Summary Exerpt | New Subject Index Exerpt

“I hope you will study thoroughly this unrivaled book. Spencer was the Bunyan of Brooklyn; the secret of his success was that he always aimed to conspire with the Holy Spirit."—Dr. Theodore Cuyler "A Pastor's Sketches is a sobering and challenging reminder that the Holy Spirit is the true agent of conversion. This book is urgently needed today when so much of our evangelism is patterned after current marketing methods. It has deeply convicted me to always seek to be in tune with the Holy Spirit as I minister to others." - Jerry Bridges “These sketches show a doctrinal depth and an experiential savvy perfectly meshed in one who had the cure of souls as his passion. He dare not intrude on God's work and he dare not omit anything that was his to do. Knowing when to stop is almost as important as knowing what to say. Spencer takes us to school on this eternally important issue."—Tom Nettles “Spencer is a master at flushing sinners out of hiding and directing them to Jesus Christ for salvation through Spirit-worked, simple faith. Though I suppose few pastors would approve of every response Spencer makes to inquirers, in the main his spiritual counsel is biblical, doctrinal, practical, and experiential. His perceptive counsel certainly has produced much fruit. A Pastor's Sketches is a compelling read for pastors and Christian workers; its pages contain the nuts and bolts of biblical evangelism, taught via authentic dialogues."—Joel Beeke "Dr. Spencer's book should certainly take a well-deserved place among the tools of any physician of souls. Anyone with the cause of Christ at heart will bemoan the fact that we have too many miscarriages in our evangelistic labor-wards. These sketches found in Spencer's book, together with the concluding lessons, will go a long way to bring back the biblical balance that we so desperately need if the preachers of the new millennium are to prove themselves to be able and true spiritual midwives.”—Conrad Mbewe “Ichabod Spencer was gifted by God with a passion for the pastoral care of souls. This book is practical, pious, personal and precious.”–James White “Ichabod Spencer patiently and wisely helped bring many to find rest and maturity in Jesus Christ. He was a pastor's pastor and the fruit of a lifetime's care for God's people was given to the church in this invaluable book."—Geoff Thomas Ichabod Smith Spencer (1798-1854) was born in Rupert, Vermont. The Lord called him to preach, and he was called to serve as a colleague-pastor of the Congregational Church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1828—the church made famous by Jonathan Edwards. His ministry at Northampton from 1828-1832 was remarkably blessed with conversions. Later in 1832 he accepted the call to the Second Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York where he remained for 22 years. By the time of his death the church had grown to be one of the largest and most influential in all of New York 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. This can clearly be seen in this justly famous A Pastor’s Sketches which became one of the best selling titles in North America. Solid Ground is honored to have his three volumes of sermons also available under the title The Bunyan of Brooklyn.
Ichabod Spencer
Granted Ministries Press
9.0 x 6.0 x 2.2 inches