1884 Presbyterian Encyclopedia

William Buell Sprague, D. D., LL. D. (1795-1876)

William Buell Sprague was born in Andover, Tolland county, Conn., October 16th, 1795. He graduated at Yale College in 1815; in 1816 entered Princeton Theological Seminary, and after studying there over two years, was licensed to preach by the Association of Ministers in the county of Tolland, August 29th, 1818. As pastor of the Congregational Church of West Springfield, Mass., he labored with great assiduity and success from August 25th, 1819, until July 21st, 1829, when he accepted a call to the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany, N. Y. , over which he was installed August 26th, 1829. In 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, noble; an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile; one of the most child-like, unsophisticated and charitable of men." 

While Dr. Sprague never relaxed his pulpit and pastoral duties, his added literary labors were prodigious, and their fruits exceedingly great. He preached two hundred sermons on special public 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 years old, and finished in ten large octavo volumes.

On December 20th, 1869, Dr. Sprague was released, at his own request, from his pastoral charge in Albany, and retired to Flushing, Long Island, where he passed his later years, which were a serene and beautiful evening to his industrious, useful and eminent life. Here he enjoyed the sunshine of divine favor, and looked upon the approach of death with a strong and placid faith. He gently and peaceably passed away, May 7th, 1876, and his remains were taken to Albany for interment, the funeral services being held in the church of which he had been so long the beloved and honored pastor.