Known as “The Bunyan of Brooklyn”, Ichabod Spencer was the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NY in the early 1800′s. He faithfully taught and preached the Doctrines of Grace and cared tenderly for the flock that God entrusted to him. Despite his constant bouts with sickness and pain, he made approximately 700 home visits per year and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully. Although it is said that Dr. Spencer cried many tears for what he considered the “barrenness of his ministry” his life and his sermons live on today.
This is a brief excerpt of one of his sermons called “Reasons for Afflictions”:
“The afflictions experienced by the people of God furnish opportunity and means for the cultivation of the highest and most difficult virtues. There are excellences of character unattainable without trials and distresses. If there were no instances of distress, we should have nothing to excite our pity. If there were no instances of want, there would be nothing to call forth our charity. If nobody injured or offended us, we should have nobody to forgive. We cold pray for no enemy if we had none. Aside from something to distress or annoy us, the virtue of patience would not be called into action and cultivated. Our fortitude, if not much of our faith, could never be exercised at all, if there were no burdens to bear, no distresses to endure, no furnaces of trial to burn upon us. This piety, this charity and forgiveness, this fortitude, patience, meekness and depending faith, are among our most difficult virtues, and they constitute our highest excellencies of character. The idea is not mine. It is the Apostle’s. If he has not plainly expressed it, it lurks in that remarkable passage wherein he makes an exhortation to one of these graces: Let PATIENCE have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Just as if patience were the crowning grace of all- just as if this gave the last touching and finishings on a perfect character-that ye may be perfect, wanting nothing. He says patience. He does not say courage-he does not say peace. He does not say gentleness, brotherly kindness, charity, or even faith. He says simply patience. And he certainly can not mean less than to select one as an example, from a class of excellencies which lie far on in the work of a believer’s sanctification. When graces like patience have their perfect work, there is not much more to gain. Even the great Captain of our salvation was made perfect by sufferings.” (The Bunyan of Brooklyn: The Life and Practical Sermons Ichabod Spencer, Rev J. M. Sherwood, pages 177-178)