North Berwick, Maine.
DEAR BROTHER KER: – The following was written by my father about thirty years ago.
FREDERICK W. KEENE.
FROM my early childhood it was my happy privilege to hear the free grace gospel preached. I can scarcely remember the time when Christ was not dear to me, but I knew nothing of myself as a poor lost sinner until about the age of fourteen, then my soul began to be troubled. One day, being sent on an errand, I happened to hear a poor black Hindoo preaching upon the street corner. He was telling out from the fullness of his heart what God had done for his soul, having brought him out of heathen darkness, and that the love of Christ the Savior filled his soul to overflowing. I shall never forget how the tears rolled down his cheeks as he sang the words, “In the christian’s home in glory there remains a land of rest.” But O the anguish that my soul was in; I could only cry out, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. He went on speaking again a little while, and then sang:
“Lo, on a narrow neck of land,
Twixt two unbounded seas I stand,
Yet how insensible!
On moment’s time, or inch of space,
Might land me on yon heavenly place,
Or shut me up in hell.”
This, by the power of the Holy Spirit, went to my soul like a two-edged sword; I saw myself a poor lost sinner, and my cry was for God to show mercy on my poor soul. I continued in trouble, and often my heart would cry out:
“‘Tis a point I long to know,
(Oft it causes anxious thought,)
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his, or am I not?”
My mind became established in the belief that the Scriptures teach the doctrine of predestination, election, salvation by grace and the final perseverance of the saints unto eternal glory, but whether God had chosen me was my trouble night and day. I was apprenticed to a good God-fearing man, Mr. Green, a deacon of the Strict Baptist Church in Camden Town, London, England, and with this man I attended Zion Church, of which Mr. Nunn was the pastor. Mr. Green’s talks to me were often a great comfort to me in my soul’s distress.
“It was mercy for me that I saw my sad state;
By the light of his Spirit I saw it was great;
A refuge I wanted, and for it did cry,
O save me, dear Jesus, or else I must die.”
The mystery of the crucified One was much opened up and sealed home to my heart by the hymn:
“Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Savior die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!”
And under a sermon preached by Mr. Nunn from the words: “Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” The marks of God’s redeemed were beautifully opened up with comfort to my soul, and I was confirmed in my hope that Christ had redeemed me, I united with Zion Strict Baptist Church, and was baptized by Mr. Nunn.
Is there anything here more desirable than the enjoyment of Christ in the heart the hope of glory? Can we comprehend anything so glorious as the rest that remains for the people of God? And, bless the Lord, I feel I can now say that I know he is mine; I know that when this house of clay shall be dissolved that I shall have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. O the glory, that unspeakable glory. Be astonished, O ye heavens, and wonder, O ye angels, at the infinite grace, for is there any one under the heavens more beholden to God’s free grace than I? O bless the Lord with me; come let us shout for joy, and boast in the God of our salvation. O help me to praise the Lord, for his mercy endureth forever. How sweet is our blessed Jesus! How shall I speak a thousandth part of his praises? O for words to speak his excellencies, but it is inexpressible. How sweet and glorious is our precious Jesus; he is altogether lovely. He has ravished my soul with his beauty. O help me to praise him, to admire him who hath done such wondrous things for my soul. Come help me, all ye glorious ones on high, who are so well skilled in heavenly praises, that I may love and adore him that hath, I hope, given himself for me, and washed me in his precious blood and made me to sit with him upon his heavenly throne.
FREDERICK W. KEENE.
Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 10
May 15, 1914