Spring, Gardner, Dd
Spring, Gardner, D.D.
a noted Presbyterian minister, son of Dr. Samuel Spring, Sen., was born at Newburyport, Mass., Feb. 24, 1785. At the age of twelve he entered the Berwick Academy, and commenced the study of Latin and Greek under the tutorship of Dr. Gillet, then a young man studying divinity with his father. After this he returned to Newburyport, his paternal home, where he remained prosecuting his studies until he was prepared to enter Yale College, which he did in 1799. He was a severe student, and withal, as he himself expressed it, "ambitious as Julius Caesar." Religiously as he was educated, he was worldly in his pursuits, until, on one occasion, he heard an earnest sermon preached by his father. About the same time he made a short excursion to Maine, and stopped in an out of the way sort of a place, where he and his friend walked eight miles one Sabbath to find a church.
After a short vacation he resumed his studies at Leicester Academy, under Dr. Nehemiah Adams; and, as he expressed it in his Autobiography, "in an ambitious, self-righteous spirit led the devotions in the academy," seeking more the praise of men than the approbation of God. He heard the recitations of the upper classes in Latin and Greek. Too severe application to study affected his health, and he was obliged to desist for a time. When his health was restored he reentered Yale College and continued the course, graduating in 1805. In the summer of 1803 a revival had occurred in the college, and many of the students were the subjects of renewing grace. He was not brought under its influence to any great extent, and was so far from entertaining thoughts of the ministry that he determined on entering the legal profession. He accordingly commenced a course of study at New Haven, reading Coke, Littleton, and Blackstone. Being reduced in finances to four dollars, he wrote to Mr. Moses Brown, a gentleman of great wealth in Newburyport, and one of the founders of Andover Seminary, who sent him a blank check to be filled at his discretion. Thus furnished, he went to Bermuda as teacher of the classics and mathematics. While there, in reply to a serious letter from his father, he wrote an analysis of his religious experience, stating that he was "vibrating between heaven and hell." Disgusted with the island, he returned home, and not long afterwards married, and returned to New Haven; but, finding no opening for his support, he again returned to Bermuda, and remained there more than a year at the head of a flourishing school. He was induced to leave from apprehensions of war between England and the United States. He had saved $1500, and was in somewhat easy circumstances. Continuing the study of the law, he passed a satisfactory examination, and was admitted to the bar at New Haven in December 1808, and on April 24 succeeding he united with the Church under the pastorate of the Rev. Moses Stuart. At the Yale commencement he took his degree of A.M., and delivered an oration on "The Christian Patriot." On that day the Rev. John M. Mason preached his great sermon from the text "To the poor the Gospel is preached," under which Mr. Spring was so deeply impressed that he formed the purpose of preaching that Gospel. Through the kindness of a lady who furnished the means, he was enabled to enter Andover Theological Seminary. Before leaving that institution, he received a call from the South Parish, and another from Park Street, Boston. On visiting New York, he preached for Dr. Romeyn in Cedar Street. He was then on his way to the General Assembly, which met in Philadelphia, and on his return he received a unanimous call from the Brick Church, New York, which he accepted, entering at once upon his duties as pastor. H e was ordained Aug. 8, 1810, and continued pastor of a united and powerful Church until old age and feebleness obliged him to retire from its active duties, but he was retained as pastor emeritus until the day of his death, Aug. 18, 1873. The sphere of Dr. Spring's labors covered a wide space both in the pulpit and the press, and few men in any profession have made a more enduring mark upon the age. His reading, especially in the department of theology, was extensive. He was a Calvinist of the strongest type. He was decidedly opposed to what he called "spurious revivals," and to all sensational devices of vagrant evangelists. He was early identified with the cause of missions, and was connected with the organization of the American Bible Society through his father. He entered heartily into the discussion of the managers with the Baptists, and also into the discussions in regard to opening the meetings of the board with prayer. He was identified with the Sabbath reform movement, and at the breaking out of the Rebellion showed his loyalty and patriotism in his prayers and sermons and public addresses. Dr. Spring was the author of several works, among which are, The Bible Not of Man: — Obligations of the World to the Bible; and others, for which see Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v. (W.P.S.)