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Dear Brother Hutchens:

As you see this is an old letter. It was published in a paper called “Zion’s Witness”, November 1887. As I read it, O what memories were stirred up in me, how all the sore, bitter trials, the adversities I then endured were remembered to me.

I have copied it out of a bound volume and it will make, I trust, good reading to some of the tried family of God.

This “Zion’s Witness” was published by Arthur Wilcockson at Hull, England. It is not published now. He died about 1889.

I am yours in the Lord,
Frederick W. Keene.

Dear Brother in Christ Jesus:

This precious relationship, I hope, truly subsists between us. I feel that you have expressed in your letter that which I have realized in my own soul, and which I believe belongs only to the redeemed of the Lord. You speak of feeling often times as though you were as a partridge hunted in the mountains (1 Sam. 26:20), so that you are made to cry unto the Lord for salvation. This certainly is the predestined path that “the very elect” are appointed by their glorious and gracious God to walk in while in this world. “Ye shall have tribulation,” is what our beloved Jesus has declared to be the heritage of those who are truly His beloved and His own, and if we are called to walk in this way, to bear the marks of His blood-bought flock, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, happy are we, and highly favored indeed!

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” Often my soul has been hunted and chased in the mountains. Satan has been a cruel hunter; and with his fiery darts, has often distressed my soul. Doubts and fears have often (and do still) pursued and harrassed my life. I am frequently weary, faint, and cast down.

For the last few months, O the trials that have been in my life, so many, so varied, and O the anguish, the trouble, the sore distress I have been called to endure! Even last night I was in the deeps, in painful darkness, and there came an insinuation into my mind that I was like Saul whom the Lord had forsaken, and whom He answered not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. I thought this is very hard. But the enemy was not allowed to triumph altogether, for there was a still small voice which said, “Neither give place to the devil”. This delivered me from this snare, but O, the trouble that I was still in, I could not pray! I felt to be overwhelmed (but, blessed be God, when I knew not where I was, or what would become of me, “Thou knewest my path” (Psalm 113:3). I could not sleep, because of my trouble, and while feeling my utter weakness, and plunged down in great discouragement and darkness, the adversary the devil, came in like a flood, and as with a voice of a roaring lion, said: “Persecute and take him, for there is none to deliver him” (Psalm 71:11). So sudden, and sharp was this, that I cried out aloud. My dear wife enquired of me, “What is the matter? What is the matter? What made you cry out like that?” I was so filled with pain, so distressed, so cast down, that I could make her no reply. Today I have felt a little eased, and comforted in this blessed portion of the Scriptures of truth: “By this I know that Thou favorest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.” I cannot with pen and ink, dear brother, narrate the troubles of my soul. What trials I have passed through, especially in the last six years!

There is no creature to whom I can unbosom them – much is yet so dark, so very trying, but I have been wonderfully favored. The Lord has been very tender, and of abundant goodness to me, a poor sinner: and but a short time ago, the unchanging, glorious Lord said to my soul: “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hal. 2:3).

In how many ways I have been led to trace the hand of the Lord leading me through cutting and cruel trials, and I have been brought into sweet reconciliation to the good pleasure of the Lord concerning me, and have proved the word true with which the Holy Spirit has often comforted my soul: “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Your life, also, you tell me is much occupied in enquiring of the Lord. Like the Queen of Sheba you are constrained to come, being drawn by the Lord; and such is the pressing need you are made to feel that you find it in your heart to inquire of, and commune with a greater than Solomon, even Jesus, of all that is in your heart (1 Kings 10:2).

Many are your inquiries, and hard your questions, altogether above what you or any creature is able to settle and determine. But our beloved Emmanuel alone can answer all our inquiries, and fill our hearth with His own comfort and peace.

This inquiring of the Lord is a precious evidence that we are the seed of Jacob, and they shall not seek the face of the Lord their God in vain. When Rebekah was with child, “The children struggled together within her, and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord” (Gen 25:22). How often, on account of the warfare between the old and the new man, the flesh and the Spirit, so bitter are the conflicts, so many questionings arising, are we led by the Spirit to inquire, “If it be so (that I am a child of God, if the object of Jehovah’s love, special care, and infinite delight), Why am I thus?” Why thus plagued? and precious is the season with us when it is shown to us that it is in the Shulamite that there is to be seen, “As it were, the company of two armies” (Solomon’s Song 6:13).

David sings: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). This is what in a measure has been, and is, and will be the experience of the living family of God while here in this world of conflict and tribulation. All through the record in the Holy Scriptures this is declared to be a marked characteristic of the elect of God, to inquire of the Lord. Thousands of times has my poor soul been thus led, and O how very tender have been the dealings, the manifestations, of Jehovah’s love to thy soul, but I have often ungrateful proved, often rebelled, but I have been brought down many times with sore travail, and cruel trials, and even now while I am writing this I feel to say, “Let the Lord do with me as seemeth good in His sight.” Trials greater than I have yet known, await me, for the Lord has told me so. I sometimes shrink. I ask, “How shall I endure? Not so, my Father.” Just now this word is whispered, I hope by the Lord, in my heart: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” I would desire in my heart, O Lord, to say: “Thy will be done.”

I am not fitted to write just now to you, and it seems strange that I, who have been down in the deeps, in such darkness, temptations and bewilderment of soul, should have written as much as I have. If it be the Lord’s will, I should like to hear from you again, of your welfare in the things of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yours in tribulation,
February 18, 1887

Volume 7, No. 71,
March 1929