Sometime around the middle of the 19th century, a woman spoke to Rev. Ichabod Spencer about the things of the Christian faith. After the discussion, the woman was interested in becoming a Christian. Spencer met with her many times over the next two years. Over and over Spencer told her about sin, repentance, faith in Christ, and what it means to be a disciple. Over and over he showed her the verses about these truths.
For reasons only God knows, she was very slow to believe. She just couldn’t quite commit. Spencer had talked to her so many times he became weary of talking to her; he even was tempted to tell her, “I’ve said everything that needs to be said. Don’t see me anymore.” It got to the point where he was annoyed when he saw her coming to talk, which made him feel guilty about it. He never did turn her away simply because he knew the agony she was in. Spencer noted that he had never spent so much time talking to an unbeliever about the faith. To make a long two-year story short, by God’s grace the woman finally did come to faith, as did her husband, her sister, and some of her friends. After telling this story, Spencer wrote this:
“Ministers ought never to despair of the salvation of any sinner. To despair of any one is just the way to make him despair of himself. Many have been ruined in this way, probably. We ought to expect sinners to repent – and treat them accordingly. Who shall limit the Holy One of Israel? It took me long to learn the lesson, but I have learned never to give up a sinner. We must urge the duty of an immediate faith and repentance, as the Bible does so continually; but we must be careful to enjoin this duty in such a manner that, if it is not immediately done, the individual shall not be led or left to cease seeking God. Many a sinner turns back, when just at the door of heaven.”
Hammond, WI, 54015