A pastor’s Sketches NEW !


Ichabod Spencer was a pastor in Northampton, MA, in the early to mid 1800s. He wrote A Pastor’s Sketches which he described as conversations with anxious inquirers respecting the way of salvation. One of his experiences was with a young woman dying with consumption and not expected to live but a few days. This young woman and her husband had rented a room in an aged widow’s house. The widow’s name was Mrs. Williams. The young lady and her husband were unnamed. The Pastor is called by the husband, at the request of Mrs. Williams, to come and talk with this young woman, who had never read the Bible or been to church. The Pastor goes to the widow’s home, sees how desperately ill the young lady is, how exhausted she becomes when trying to speak, and asks the question are you prepared to die? The young lady explains Mrs. Williams had been so kind to read to her from the Bible but she did not understand and she had never read it before. The Pastor learns from Mrs. Williams the young lady has been kind and dear to the widow, and tried to make her happy in the midst of her pitiful situation. The Pastor makes several visits to this young woman over the course of time and here is the main points of their conversation concerning salvation:

The Pastor: Here what GOD says, we are sinners. Sin is transgression of the law; the law is holy, just, and good. We have broken the law because we have not loved the LORD our GOD with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Sinners are worldly, proud, selfish, and our sin alienates us from GOD. The law does not justify,’ By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified’ (Romans 3:20) but ‘the carnal mind is enmity against GOD, for it is not subject to the law of GOD (Romans 8:7). Man is, in himself, a lost sinner. GOD is angry with him and he (man) has a wicked heart. Sinners may be saved because JESUS CHRIST came to seek and save the lost. ‘The blood of JESUS CHRIST cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). ‘HE was wounded for our transgressions, HE was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon HIM’ (Isaiah 53:5). ‘The LORD GOD hath laid upon HIM (JESUS CHRIST) the iniquity of us all’ (Isaiah 53:6). Lost sinners will be saved by CHRIST, if they repent of sin and believe in HIM. ‘GOD now commandeth all men everywhere to repent’ (Acts 17:30); except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish’ (Luke 13:3); ‘As many as received HIM, to them gave HE power to become the sons of GOD, even to them that believe in HIS NAME’ (John 1:12); ‘ CHRIST is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth’ (Romans 10:4); ‘though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though thay be red like crimson they shall be as wool’ (Isaiah 1:18). We need the aid of the HOLY SPIRIT to renew our hearts and bring us to faith and repentance. ‘Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of GOD’ (John 3:3); ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the SPIRIT is spirit’ (John 3:6); no man can come unto ME except the FATHER which sent ME draw him’ (John 6:44); ‘ in ME is thy help’ (Hosea 13:10); ‘let him take hold of MY strength that he may make peace with ME, and he shall make peace with ME’ (Isaiah 27:5). Man is helpless without the HOLY SPIRIT. Salvation is freely offered and it is our duty and interest to accept it on the spot, and just as we are, undone sinners. ‘Hear and your soul shall live’ (Isaiah 55:6); ‘ Seek ye the LORD while HE may be found, call ye upon HIM while HE is near’ ((Isaiah 55:6); ‘let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the LORD, and HE will have mercy upon him, and to our GOD, for HE will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7); ‘if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly FATHER give the HOLY SPIRIT to them that ask HIM’ (Luke 11:13); ‘behold now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians 6:2); ‘come unto ME, all ye that labour and are heavy laden (burdened with a consciousness of transgressions) and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28); The SPIRIT and the bride (the church) say Come and let him that is athirst come and let him that heareth come, and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely’ (Revelation 22:17).

The young lady: I have been thinking of what you read to me – those things must be true but I don’t know that I should believe them, if they were not in the WORD of GOD. I understood some of them. I know I am a sinner, I feel it. I never knew it before. I have not loved GOD. I have been wicked and foolilsh. I am undone. And now when I know it, my heart is so bad, that instead of loving GOD, it shrinks from HIM and I am afraid it is too late for me.

The Pastor: Your heart is worse than you think. You can make it no better. Give it to GOD. Trust CHRIST to pardon all. HE died for just such lost sinners.

The young lady: What is it to believe? I do not understand. You said I must repent of sin and must believe in JESUS CHRIST. To repent is to be sorry for my sin and to leave it. But what is it to believe in JESUS? I cannot understand.

The Pastor: It is trusting HIM to save you. It is receiving HIM as your own offered SAVIOUR and giving your self to HIM, as a helpless sinner to be saved by HIS mercy. HE died to atone for sinners. You must trust HIM. ‘As many as received HIM, to them gave HE power to become the sons of GOD, even to them that believe on HIS NAME’ (John 1:12). You see that believing and receiving express the same thing. You are to take CHRIST as GOD offers HIM to you and you are to rely on HIM to save you. That is faith. Take CHRIST for your own and give yourself to HIM to be HIS. It is union with CHRIST as if HE were your husband and you were HIS bride.

The young lady: I do want to come to CHRIST, but I am wicked and do not deserve it.

The Pastor: HE knows that and died to save you.

The young lady: My heart is afraid; what a distant heart I have. She seems to think out loud of the things the Pastor has said – lost sinner, anger, GOD, CHRIST, blood, love, pardon, heaven, help, Bible, now come. I do want to come to CHRIST and rest on HIM. If my GOD will accept such a vile sinner I give myself to HIM forever. Oh! HE will accept me by CHRIST WHO died. LORD, save me, I lie on THEE to save me. She sank back upon her bed with her eyes lifted to heaven and her hands raised in the attitude of prayer, while her counetnance indicated amazement.

The young lady continues: The LORD has made me happy. I was afraid my wicked heart never would love GOD. But HE has led me to it. CHRIST is very dear to me. I can lean on HIM now. I can die in peace. All you (the Pastor) told me is true, my heart finds it true. How good is JESUS to save sinners. I was afraid to fall upon HIM, but I know now that believing is all. My heart is different. I do love GOD. JESUS CHRIST is very dear to me. I wonder at GOD. Never was there such love. HE is all goodness. I want to praise HIM. My soul loves HIM. I delight to be HIS. HE has forgiven me, a poor sinner and now HIS love exhausts me. The HOLY SPIRIT helped me or my heart would have held to its own goodness in its unbelief. GOD has heard me. HE has come to me and now I live on prayer. Pardon me sir (to the Pastor), I forgot to thank you I was so carried off in thinking of my GOD. HE will reward you for coming to see me. I am going to HIM soon. Dying will be sweet to me for CHRIST is with me.

The Pastor: At my last farewell she, full of tenderness said to me “may I hope you will always go to see dying sinners?” It was impossible for me to answer audibly, she answered for me, “I know you will, farewell”.

The Pastor: In her last conversation with her widowed landlady, Mrs. Williams, the young lady said “my delight is that GOD is king over all and saves sinners by JESUS CHRIST”.

This is a lesson of reproof to Christians that this young woman, living for twenty years among her community, in the sight of five or six Christian churches, should ‘never have been inside of a church in her life’ and that ‘nobody asked her to go’. Year after year she knew Christian families and yet she never had a Bible, she never read the Bible, she never was exhorted to seek GOD. And probably she would have died as she had lived, had not divine Providence sent her, in her poverty, to be the tenant of an old woman who loved her, read the Bible to her, sent for a preacher, and prayed for her in faith and love.

The Pastor named this “And Her Tenant” in his book.


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