Grant , F.W. Bio

Frederick William Grant (1834-1902) was born into a God-fearing
Anglican home in the Putney district of London, England. Presumably in
his teenage years he became a believer while privately reading the
Bible. He went on to King's College School, in order to be groomed for
a position in the British defense department. But getting those
positions often required inside connections to pull the necessary
strings. Disappointed, at the age of twenty-one, Frederick went to

In the 1850s the Church of England was aggressively opening parishes
in the Canadian frontier. Frederick was examined and ordained as an
Anglican priest, though he never attended their standard seminary
training. About the same time he also delved into medicine. Whether
this was his first profession, or a sideline, we do not know. But he
patronized a pharmacy owned by a believer who had a literature rack.
The pharmacist fellowshipped with an assembly, which Frederick had
assumed was a place to be warned against. But reading the literature,
he became convinced that the authors were not in a dangerous sect, but
rather, were faithfully presenting the Word. He and his brother,
Robert, who had also come over to Canada, and had become an Anglican
priest, left the "systems of men" as they referred to them, around 1860
after embracing the truths they had discovered. F. W. lived in Toronto
before moving to the United States, where he lived in Brooklyn, New
York and then in Plainfield, New Jersey.

Amid all his labors for the saints of God, he did not shirk that
lofty responsibility to be a godly husband and father. The Grants were
the happy parents of four children, Frederick, Robert, Frank, and

Samuel Ridout states, "His place in the hearts of the saints his identification with the Word of God. Unknown to many in
the flesh, who have profited by his ministry, with little of what may
be called popularity, or the magnetism supposed to be so essential in a
leader, he is lost sight of in the precious truth which it was his joy
to unfold."

Grant's emphasis on numerics has received mixed reviews, and it is
probably safe to say that most Bible students do not read his The
Numerical Bible, issued in seven volumes, for his notes on numerics,
but rather for his devotional comments. When C. I. Scofield worked on
his notes for the Scofield reference Bible, he had Darby's Synopsis and
Grant's Numerical Bible on his desk. Grant's large book, Facts and
Theories as to a Future State, was recommended by C. H. Spurgeon, who
said it was "the last word on the right side of every question
discussed" about the state of the soul after death. It is not as
readable as Sir Robert Anderson's book, Human Destiny which was written
on the same topic, but it is far more complete. Anyone who is seriously
studying this topic should get Grant's book. It is perhaps his most
important work. As with William Kelly and J. N. Darby, Grant was
engaged in issues confronting the whole Church. These men were not
playing church in a pinched circle of devotees, trying to be the big
fish in a little pond. Their work shows their burden with the issues
that all saints faced, regardless of affiliation. They wrote about big
issues for a wide audience.

Grant hated denominationalism. When he saw saints dividing and
circles of assemblies forming, each circle unreconciled to the next, he
mourned, "Our shame is public. It requires no spirituality to see that
exactly in that which we have professedly sought we have failed most
signally. 'The unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace' is just most
surely what we have not kept.'"(Ephesians 4:3) Ironically he was perceived as the
guiding spirit behind the "Grant party" in North America.

The telling of how this happened is also the telling of Grant's
darkest hour. H. A. Ironside devotes a chapter in his book, A
Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement to this painful ordeal. Of
course H. A. I. was quite biased in favor of brother Grant. There he
says that "In America F. W. Grant had become by 1880 the leading figure
among the exclusive Brethren. His platform gifts were not of a high
order but as a teacher he was unexcelled. Many consider him, to this
day, the superior of Darby himself in accuracy and spiritual insight,
but he always held himself as but a disciple greatly indebted to J. N.
Darby. Up to the last, the two were fast friends, though for a number
of years there had been slight doctrinal differences between them."

To look in the best light at why these "slight differences" fueled
such debates, we need to lift ourselves out of our present era. Today
it is easy to become comfortable with sloppy, haphazard, and careless
Bible teaching. We are surrounded by many who assume that doctrine
doesn't matter. But Grant lived in the golden era of biblical
exposition. Scholarship in general, especially in England, had reached
a high water mark in the 1880s. To those who do not bother their heads
about accuracy and truth, the discussions and controversies of that day
seem painfully trivial, as they divided over the north and south side
of a hair. But these brethren engaged in debates brought on by a zeal
for biblical accuracy.

In 1881, John Nelson Darby spoke for the last time at the Bible
conference in Croyden, England. He spoke from Romans 7, and referred
to the new birth and the sealing of the Spirit. F. W. Grant listened to
the entire message, but was "perceptibly upset" by some of the
doctrines promulgated that he stood up before the meeting was adjourned
and walked out. This was noticeable enough that brothers J. B. Dunlop
and Major McCarthy spoke with brother Grant at length to arrive at some
resolution of the issue.

In the magazine, Helps By The Way, which Grant edited, he printed
his brother Robert's spirited article on the topic. Back in England it
was viewed as an attack on Darby's teaching, and they told Grant so. We
cannot go into a blow-by-blow account of what happened to F. W. Grant
at this time. The score cards seem fairly diverse, depending on if you
are listening to H. A. Ironside or Napoleon Noel. We do know that
shortly before Darby died in 1882, he wrote a booklet about the sealing
of the Spirit, answering Robert Grant. But F. W. was so cautious, that
by the time he finally published his own booklet, to answer his
accusers from across the waters, Darby was with the Lord.

The timing was not in Grant's favor. To publish just then appeared
to be an attack on a dead man who, of course, was not present to defend
his position. The English hymn writer, Lord Adelbert P. Cecil, told
Grant that his manuscript was inflammatory, and pled with him not to
publish it; if he did, division would follow. He answered, "If the
truth will divide us, the sooner we are broken to pieces the better."

Grant's statement was partially reported, leaving the first phrase
out, "If the truth will divide us..." The impression left was that
Grant was bent on causing division, truth or no truth. Grant's motives
were judged, and his words inaccurately reported.

In 1883, Grant published the booklet. Cecil's warning was not idle.
A breech followed in 1885 which affected hundreds of assemblies and
thousands of saints. To seal these proceedings, in 1889 Cecil was
returning from a visit to Native American believers when he lost his
balance and fell out of a small boat in the Bay of Quinte, off Lake
Ontario. Hearing the news, F. W. wrote his brother, "Dear Cecil is
drowned and with him goes all hope of healing the division." With
evangelist Alfred Mace, Cecil was seen as Grant's chief disputant.
After F. W. Grant's homegoing, brother Mace wrote a letter to Grant's
widow, apologizing for his part in this sad division. With sorrow Mace
confessed to others that "we came over to get Mr. Grant."

Grant's maturity in the grace of God shows through the dark times of
1881-1885. He had been blind-sided by the enemy. The painfulness of it
was that the instruments used had been some of his most cherished
friends. If those times seem like dense velvet, remember that Grant
continued to mine rare and beautiful jewels from the depths of God's
Word to lay against that background. These gemstones sparkle in his own
writings, and in the spoken and written ministries of the Lord's
servants that he influenced, such as John Bloore, Inglis Fleming,
Robert Grant, B. C. Greenman, J. B. Jackson, P. J. and Timothy
Loizeaux, R. J. Reid, and Samuel Ridout.

Ridout was privileged to care for brother Grant in his final days,
and he also wrote the sketch of his life in Hy. Pickering's Chief Men
Among the Brethren. Ridout says, "The passion of our brother's life,
the desire that consumed him, was to make Christ more precious, to make
His Word more loved, more read, more studied. He made a significant
utterance shortly before his departure. Propped in his chair, with the
Bible open in front of him, as was his custom through the days of
weary, helpless waiting, he turned to the writer of these lines, and
with a depth of pathos, glancing at his Bible, said: "Oh, the Book, the
Book, the BOOK!" It seemed as though he said: "What a fullness there;
how little I have grasped it; how feebly expressed its thoughts." Thus
he passed to be "with Christ" at Plainfield, New Jersey, on 25th July,
1902, on his sixty-eighth birthday."

Harry Ironside visited the venerable Donald Ross in Chicago just
after word came that brother Grant was with the Lord. Ross himself was
just two months short of his own homegoing. "Mr. Ross was a patriarchal
figure with long flowing beard. He sat in a big chair, and when his son
Chas. Ross mentioned that I was with exclusives, he asked sharply
'which branch?' I replied, 'With those who refused the judgment against
F. W. G.' 'Oh,' he said, 'I'm glad of that.' Then after a moment or two
of silence, he exclaimed, 'Frederick Grant is in heaven!' 'Yes,' I
replied, 'He is with the Lord.' 'Frederick Grant is in heaven!' he
declared a second time with peculiar energy. Again I answered as
before. Almost fiercely he exclaimed, 'I tell you Frederick Grant's in
heaven! Aye--and they were glad to get him there! A little clique of
them tried to cast him out of the church of God on earth. They let him
die, so far as they were concerned, in the place of the drunkard or the
blasphemer. But oh, what a welcome he received up there! And he's with
Cecil now and the two are reconciled. Soon I'll be there too--and we'll
all have fellowship together at last.'"