Giant of the Bible


F.W. Grant Memorial

It is generally agreed that J.N. Darby, William Kelly and F.W. Grant are looked upon as the three prominent teachers among the early brethren. By 1880, F.W. Grant had become the leading figure among exclusive brethren in America. His platform gifts were not of a high order, but as a teacher he was unexcelled. Though he could go into the deeper truths of Scripture in his teaching, he never lost his enthusiasm and joy in the gospel. Many consider him to be superior to J.N. Darby in accuracy and spiritual insight, though he held himself as a disciple greatly indebted to J.N. Darby, and the two were close friends.

We recognize the tendency to make much of man, and thus unknowingly fall into idolatry by giving glory to some instrument whom in His grace God has seen fit to use, rather than to Himself. We lean unduly upon the hand that would point us to Christ, and too often make priests of those who are reminding us that we are all priests. We close our lips in the presence of the ministry of those who are telling us, "Ye may all prophesy." Thus we abuse the very gifts given by our glorified Head. One lesson which we may learn from the removal of beloved and honoured servants of Christ is not to make too much of these--to "cease from man"--to cling more simply to Christ alone. Thus will we honour the servant by turning to the Master, and be kept from the shame of idolatry.

Yet the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews speaks of our "guides" or "leaders" in verses 7-9,17,24. We are told to remember those who had passed away, and imitate their faith. We are to obey those who remain, realizing that they are charged with weighty responsibilities, and are to salute them in all honour and affection. Scripture, then, not only warrants but commands the remembrance of those whom God has given as leaders of His people. To forget them means, too often, to forget the truth they brought, and paves the way for that "building the sepulchres of the prophets" by a godless posterity who are indifferent to every warning spoken by those prophets. There is a sober, discriminating way of dwelling upon the ministry of faithful servants which encourages our own faith, quickens the conscience, and stirs us afresh to follow them as they followed Christ. To remember such is to remember the Word which they taught. There can be no higher honour to a servant of Christ than to merge him, as it were, in the truth he ministered. Believers recall the memory of those who have left their greatness in our hands--the Word of God.

It being now a whole century since brother F.W. Grant's death, we felt it profitable to publish another of his many writings, accompanied with some facts as to his life and ministry of which the present generation may not know. Frederick William Grant was born in London on July 25, 1834, and passed into the presence of the Lord on his sixty-eighth birthday in 1902, survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. His conversion was occasioned by the reading of the Scriptures himself, and not through the instrumentality of others, as was reportedly also the case with J.N. Darby. Brother Grant was educated at King's College School with the expectation of securing a position in the war office. When this did not materialize, he went to Toronto, Ontario at the age of twenty-one.

At that time the Church of England was opening parishes in the new parts of Canada, and F.W. Grant was examined and ordained to the ministry without having taken the regular college course. According to his son, Frank Grant, his father was also practicing medicine in Canada at that time, and thus got to know the owner of a local drug store who was in the assemblies, and kept pamphlets written by J. N. Darby and other brethren on display in his store. It was from reading these pamphlets and studying the Scriptures that F.W. Grant received further light on the Scriptures and left the "systems," by resigning his parish and taking his place among the so-called brethren who gave no recognition to clerical titles. He than came to the United States, where he lived in the city of Brooklyn, NY, and then in Plainfield, NJ, until his death. He is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Plainfield, NJ.

Brother F.W. Grant's claim for a permanent place in the hearts of the saints rests--as it does with any, but with him more ostensibly than with most--in his identification with the Word of God. He is lost sight of in the precious truth which it was his joy to unfold. His passion, the desire that consumed him, was to make Christ more precious, to make His Word more loved, more read, more studied. What views of the Word and its truths he gave us! What thoughts of Christ! These abide.

His one aim was to build only the pure Word in all his ministry, and of him it can be said, "Not I, but Christ." Brother Grant did not believe in passing over truth with a few vague and glittering generalities. By habit and by faith he was a painstaking inquirer into minute points which would escape the attention of the casual observer. He longed for a revival of gospel work among the assemblies. His heart well-nigh broke at the indifference, the unbelief, the lethargy that hung like a pall upon many of the beloved people of God. How he yearned over them! He ministered Christ to the soul! He fed the lambs and sheep with the tender grass of divine grace, truth and love.

No earnest soul can pass through this world without being called upon to contend earnestly for the faith. All who would be loyal to our Lord must expect to endure hardness for Him. Though brother Grant did not seek controversy, when he felt the truth of God was involved, he did not shrink from declaring what he believed to be the Scripture doctrine, and holding to it at all cost.

Any notice of brother F.W. Grant's ministry would be incomplete without reference to his ecclesiastical views and position. Of these he made no secret, steadily maintaining them. He believed in the sufficiency of the name of Christ and the person of the Lord as the centre of gathering for His saints. He believed in the presence and competence of the Holy Spirit to order and control the assembly of God's people without the intervention of human officialism or unscriptural ordination. Above all, he believed that a right attitude of heart toward the Lord was indispensable, without which all else was as "sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." He was not indifferent to the dangers of a place of separation, "outside the camp" from the sects and divisions of Christendom, over which he mourned. Not shrinking from the path, he warned against either an unscriptural narrowness or an equally unscriptural indifference to what he believed concerned the Lord's honour. He was persuaded that a true basis of fellowship could only be had in accepting and acting upon all the doctrines of the Word of God. He did not believe true fellowship could be secured by ignoring questions of doctrine or discipline upon which saints had formed different judgments. With largeness of heart to go out, as he did, in love to saints of God of whatever name, he felt and expressed the need of greatest care in maintaining scriptural order, according to the truths of the unity of the Spirit. One matter weighed heavily upon brother Grant. He felt and deplored the tendency to leave ministry in the hands of the few. He maintained from Scripture that "ye all may prophesy" is not a dead letter; that every brother, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, was responsible to use that gift. It was not that he held any different view upon this than what is common to the saints, but he felt most deeply about it. He feared the danger of things crystallizing into form, and warned again and again as to it. May every one of us hearken to his admonition.

A large number of excellent expositions were truly Grant's life-work. He had for years been impressed with the absolute perfection of the Scriptures to its least "jot and tittle"--a truth we all accept. But with him it became the absorbing thought of his life, and he put it to the test to the full extent of his powers, often amid weakness and illness. F.W. Grant left a great legacy to the Church in his many published writings, the greatest of which is perhaps the Numerical Bible, consisting of seven volumes of his own Bible translation and accompanying notes, which are based upon the finding by his study that in every part of Scripture, a significant numerical structure exists. Sadly, Grant did not live to complete the whole Bible, though he was restored from a serious illness to complete the New Testament, along with parts of the Old Testament. When near death he uttered in prayer, "We fail and are set aside, all human strength passes, but Thou abidest, Thy Spirit abides, Thy Word abides."

Shortly before his death, F.W. Grant made a significant statement to his beloved brother in Christ, Samuel Ridout. Sitting propped in his chair, with the Word of God open before him, as was his custom through his last weary days, he glanced at his Bible and said with a deep pathos, "Oh, the Book, the Book, the BOOK!" He had spent every particle of strength, and all his reserve vitality was gone. He felt this, and his most acute suffering was the sense of his inability to go on further in the things of God. It seemed as though he said, "What a fullness there; how little I have grasped it; how feebly expressed its thoughts." May these words from this dying servant of Christ lay hold of many a heart. Is it "the Book" with us? The one Book, always that? Oh, beloved, he speaks to us all still, and says, "Make everything of the Book!"

Some other titles by F.W. Grant are - Leaves From the Book, The Atonement, The Crowned Christ, Lessons of the Ages, The Prophetic History of the Church, Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, A Divine Movement, Facts and Theories as to a Future State, Spiritual Law in the Natural World, The Numerical Structure of Scripture, Genesis in the Light of the New Testament, Lessons from Exodus, God's Evangel, Deliverance, Peter's Conversion, The Two Natures, The Sovereignty of God in Salvation, and more. In addition, in 1880 the monthly magazine, Help and Food, was started with F.W. Grant as the editor, which position he retained until his death in 1902.

The preceding memorial has been compiled from "Remember Your Guides" by Samuel Ridout; "At Home With the Lord" by Samuel Ridout; "F.W. Grant: His Life, Ministry and Legacy" by John Reid.

Home | Links | Literature