Sprague, William Buel, Dd, Lld
Sprague, William Buel, D.D., Ll.D.
an eminent Presbyterian minister, was born in Andover, Tolland Co., Conn., Oct. 16, 1795. He went to Yale College in 1811 and graduated in 1815. The year following he entered Princeton Seminary, and, after studying theology for more than two years, was licensed to preach by an association of ministers in the county of Tolland, convened at Andover, Aug. 29, 1818, and the next year as sole pastor. He was ordained and installed assistant pastor of the Congregational Church, West Springfield, Mass., Aug. 25, 1819. Here he labored with great assiduity and success for ten years, but was released from his charge July 1, 1829, having accepted a call to the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany, N.Y., where he was installed Aug. 26, 1829. At Albany he had a pastorate of forty years'
duration, remarkable for the extraordinary steadfastness and warmth of attachment existing through all that protracted period between himself and his large and intelligent congregation; and even more remarkable for the vast and varied labors performed by him. He has been well and truly described as an "illustrious man; a cultivated, elegant, voluminous, useful, and popular preacher; an indefatigable and successful pastor; an unselfish and devoted friend; loving, genial, pure, and noble; an Israelite, indeed, in whom there was no guile; one of the most childlike, unsophisticated, and charitable of men." While he never relaxed his pulpit and pastoral duties, his added literary labors were prodigious, and their fruits exceedingly great. He preached nearly two hundred sermons on special occasions, the most of which were published. He also produced a large number of biographies and other volumes on practical religious subjects. But the great literary work of his life was his Annals of the American Pulpit, undertaken when he was fifty-seven, and finished in seventeen years. It was a herculean task, but it was nobly accomplished, and by it he has placed all denominations represented in it under great obligations for the faithful manner in which it is executed. (See below.) To this comprehensive work we have been largely indebted in the compilation of this Cyclopoedia. Dr. Sprague's extensive travels in Europe brought him into delightful association with many of the dignitaries of the Old World, and many eminent persons in religious and literary circles. He was on terms of intimacy and correspondence with a vast number of distinguished men, both in the Church and in the State, in our own land. At the age of seventy-four, on Dec. 20,1869, he was released by the Presbytery of Albany, at his own request, from the pastoral charge of the Second Church in Albany, and retired to Flushing, L.I.; where he passed his later years, which were a beautiful and serene evening to his industrious, laborious, and useful life. Here he enjoyed the sunshine of the divine favor, and looked on death's approaches with a strong and placid faith. No sore disease or fierce pains oppressed him, but gently and peacefully he passed away, May 7, 1876. Dr. Sprague's writings are as follows: Letters on Practical Subjects to a Daughter (1822, 12mo; 11th ed. 16mo; republished in Great Britain; late American: editions bear the title of the Daughter's Own Book): Letters from Europe (1828): — Lectures to Young People (1830, 12mo, several editions): — Lectures on Revivals (1832, 12mo, several editions; republished in London): — Hints Designed to Regulate the Intercourse of Christians (1834, 12mo): — Lectures Illustrating the Contrast between True Christianity and Various Other Systems (Lond. 1837, 12mo): — Life
of Rev. Edward Dorr Griffin (1838): — Letters to Young Men, Founded on the Life of Joseph (2d ed. 1845, 12mo; 8th ed. 1854; republished in London, 1846, 18mo; 1851, 2 vols. in one, 12mo): — Aids to Early Religion (1847, 32mo): — Words to a Young Man's Conscience (1848) - Visits to European Celebrities (1855, 12mo): — Annals of the American Pulpit, or Commemorate Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen of Various Denominations, from the Early Settlement of the Country to the Close of the Year 1855, with Historical Introduction (N.Y. 8vo: vols. 1 and 2, Trinitarian Congregationalist, 1856; 3 and 4, Presbyterian, 1858; 5, Episcopalian, 1859; 6, Baptist, 1860; 7, Methodist, 1861; 8, Unitarian, 1865; 9, Lutheran, Reformed Dutch, Associate, Associate Reformed, and Reformed Presbyterian, 1869). In addition to the volumes thus enumerated, Dr. Sprague published about 116 pamphlets, single sermons, addresses, discourses, and orations. He is also author of a Life of President Timothy Dwight in Sparks's American Biography (2d sermon, 1845, vol. 4); of an Essay prefixed to Richards's Sermons; of a Memoir prefixed to Rev. O. Bronson's. Sermons (1862, 8vo); of an Introduction to the Excellent Woman (1863, 12mo); and of Introductions to ten other works. He was also the editor of Women of the Old and New Testaments (1850, 8vo); The Smitten Household (1856-57, 12mo). Besides writing papers in various religious and literary periodicals sufficient to fill three or four octavo volumes, he published Memoirs of Rev., John McDowell, D.D. (1864, 12mo). He had been a gatherer as well as a dispenser of knowledge, and among the attractions of his library was a famous collection of autographs of eminent men of all ages and countries. See Samuel Irenaeus Prime, The Man of Business (1857, 24mo); Appletons' New Amer. Cyclop. s.v.; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v. (W.P.S.)