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Written by F.A. Chick   

 

The Gospel Messenger--July 1884 

It was about sixteen years ago, just after I was ordained, in my native State of Maine, and at my father’s old home there, that the incident that I am about to narrate took place. One very rainy day, about the first of October, while I was sitting in doors reading, I saw a young man drive up to the door. Upon meeting him I found he was a stranger to me. He inquired if I was Mr. Chick, and then introduced himself as Mr. M, living about six miles distant. He at once informed me that his brother was lying very ill at his home, and that his desire was to see me, and that I would come that very day to see him. He told me his brother’s disease was consumption, and it was feared he had not long to live. I at once told him that I would go that afternoon, and he departed.

 

I knew the family by reputation, and once had known one of the sons slightly, who was, however, then dead; but I did not know enough about them to even go to their home without inquiring the way. I knew the young men to be considered very passionate in temper, and very profane and harsh in disposition. I had heard this of them, but still did not know them even by sight. I started on my way with many questions and reflections on my mind. What kind of a frame of mind should I find this young man in? What should I say to him? Would I find him terrified at the thought of death, and witness a scene harrowing to my feelings and in which I could do no good? How should I open the conversation with him? At last, as I drew near to the house, the thought came with all this I have nothing to do now. The Lord is in it, and he will make the way plain as I go on, step by step. Thus calmed and composed, I went on.


I reached the place where the mother met me at the door and after a kindly, but evidently sorrowful and anxious greeting, at once ushered me into the sick room. I found Mr. M lying on a lounge in the room. He was dressed as for the day and yet was too weak to rise when I took his hand and spoke to him. He looked at me intently, and with evident anxiety, but I was glad to see no traces of the excitement which I had feared. I asked him how he did, and he said, “Very poorly and added, “I have no hope of recovery, except that it may be that while there is life there is hope; and I am sinking fast, and do not think I shall last many days. And,” he said, “I have sent for you to talk to me.” I said, "My friend, all that I say to you is what one sinner can say to another. We are both sinners—both alike sinners. I trust that I have a hope through grace of salvation. And all that I can do is to talk to you of how I am saved.”


I then went on for an hour perhaps, preaching as best I could the gospel of grace for poor helpless sinners, and reading from the Scriptures such portions as occurred to me as being suited to his condition. I shall never forget the earnest gaze which he fastened upon my face as I talked to him. He said nothing for a long time, but seemed eager not to lose a word.


At length, as I ceased speaking, he said, “You are the first man that ever talked to me in that way. Other ministers have talked to me, but they have told me that I was a great sinner, and they were better than I, but you tell me that you are a sinner just like me. I have been a great sinner all my life. I know and feel that. Others have told me that I must get better, but you say that I may be saved by grace. One thing I know, that if my salvation depends upon any work that I must do there is no hope for me. Here I am upon a sick bed and I have but few days at best to live. I have no time nor strength left to do any good thing, and if salvation be in that way I must perish. But if it be as you have said, by grace alone, then I may have hope. I must trust in God alone.” All this he said slowly and clearly, and with the utmost solemnity and earnestness of manner. After trying to commend him to God in prayer I arose to leave him. He pressed me to come again the next day. I told him that my father was very ill, and that all the work on the farm at home was upon me, and that I feared I could not come the next day, which was Friday, but would come again on Sunday. For this I have been sorry many a time, for on Saturday a messenger came to tell me that he was dead. He had passed away on Friday night, less than thirty-six hours after I left him. I was told that at the last, great peace came to him. He talked of the grace and love of Jesus to a vile sinner like him, and requested that his mother and sister should sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,” etc. And in this he fully tried to join. His last request was that I should attend and preach at his funeral, which I did on the following Monday.

 

There have been some things connected with this, to me touching the incident that I never have understood upon natural grounds, but must attribute to the direct agency of the spirit of God. Among them were:


    *   I did not know the family, except the one who as I at the first stated, had died;

    *   I had never preached in that neighborhood;

    *   I knew no one in the neighborhood.

 

I am sure none of the family had ever heard me anywhere. And I believe they knew nothing of old school Baptists, for there was no church within twenty miles of them. I have been compelled to believe that his impression to send for me was as much of the Lord as was that of Cornelius to send for Peter. I have never known to this day how he came to even know anything about me, or to send for me. I left that section for Maryland a few weeks later, a have never seen nor heard from the family since. I believe their mother was a Methodist. I have narrated this incident because it seems to me that this young man’s confession upon his dying bed was a most striking witness to the truth of salvation by grace, and that every event connected with it displayed the wisdom and providence of God. The Lord called him in his dying hour, and made him a witness to his truth. If that witness did no other good, it confirmed and strengthened my heart. And, as I have many times told it, I know that it has strengthened others, and I hope it may yet be of use to many. This dear brother, though it was his to only die when the Lord delivered him, yet by his faith still speaks to me and in this feeble record perhaps to others also, though he is dead.

 

Affectionately, your brother,

F. A. CHICK

 

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.