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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Experience of Grace

Elder Lewis Frazee        


     I  have promised to give an article  for  the Messenger  of  Peace, and I  thought,  perhaps,  I  could  not do better than give a short history  of  my  life  and labors among the churches  of  Salem  Association  and  elsewhere.   In  doing  this   I  realize  my inability to give it as I  would  like  to, but ask the forbearance of those who may  read  this article.

     In the year 1883, in the state of Iowa, I was  made  to see myself lost, ruined, and undone,  and  separated  from  God by wicked works.   I  learned  that  my best efforts and the efforts and  prayers  of friends could not bring me into favor with  God  or  the  forgiveness  of my sins,  but  Jesus  the  blessed  Son of God was brought to my view as  the  one  that could save to the uttermost, and  I  was  given a good hope in his name, which hope has been  to  me  an anchor through the trials of  the  past  thirty years, and which hope I have to this day.      I  united with the Missionary Baptist  church  that same spring and was baptized with a number of  others.   Going to Missouri shortly afterwards,  I  united  with  a  church  of  the  same  faith   at  Greensburg,  by letter.  During this time my  mind  was  much  exercised and I spent most of  my  time  reading  the Scriptures and talking to  others  of  the  wonderful plan of salvation.  Many  were  the  sweet and happy hours I spent with my dear mother,  who was rejoicing over the return of her  prodigal boy.  I will say here that although I belonged  to  a people who believed in a conditional  salvation,  yet  in my case, I knew it was by grace alone.   I  felt  to say with the great apostle, "Unto me  who  am  less  than the least of all  saints  was  this  grace  given."  I found in reading the  scriptures  it  was also the Bible plan.  I began  to  realize  there  was some discord in my views and the views of  my brethren.  However, the church licensed  me  to preach, I think, in June or July of that  year.   I went back to Iowa where I first united with  the  church.   My coming and the fact that I had  begun  preaching   caused  a  great  deal  of   commotion  throughout   that   part  of  the   country,   and   arrangements  were  made  for me to  preach  at  a  private  house on Sunday afternoon.  A very  large  crowd  assembled at the time and place of  meeting  to hear the "boy preacher."  I felt I could  never  face  that  crowd or lift my voice  in  trying  to  preach.   I would have given anything if  I  could  have  been  somewhere else.  But  the  old  deacon  encouraged me.

     After  they  had  engaged in  singing  and  a  brother had offered prayer, I arose to my feet and  read from the second chapter of Ephesians, "For by  grace are ye saved through faith, and that not  of  yourselves."  I remember some of the things I said  in  the opening of this subject.  I said I saw  in  this text God's wonderful plan of salvation, and I  could bear witness to it through my experience.  I  also could see by this text the total depravity of  man   and  his  inability  to  save  himself.    I  continued in this line of talk for perhaps  three- quarters  of an hour, but I never heard  a  single  amen from any of the brethren.  If I ever preached the doctrine of grace, I did that day, and I  felt  I  had  been given sweet liberty  of  speech;  but  there  was  none  who  came  to  me  and  bade  me  Godspeed.

     A  few  days  after  this  meeting  a   local preacher  and  one of the deacons came  to  me  to  instruct me in the way of the Lord more perfectly,  as they thought.  They said they wanted to talk to  me  in  regard  to the things I  had  preached  on  Sunday,  to tell me I was entering upon  dangerous  ground.   They  admonished me not to  preach  that  doctrine any more.  I was dumbfounded at this, and  asked  them  to kindly show me where I  failed  to  preach the Bible.  They said those things were too  deep  for  a young preacher.  I began to  see  the  difference  widening between me and the  people  I  was   with.    I   prayed  God   would   give   me  understanding  and teach me the ways of life.   In  September,  I went to Kansas and while there  went  with Brother J. M. Slusher to Cherryvale to attend a  meeting of the Primitive Baptists at  a  church  called Big Hill.  Elder Showalter was the  pastor. 

     That  was the first Primitive Baptist I had  heard  since  I received a hope.  How my soul feasted  on  the good sermon!  I saw and believed those  people  were my people, and their God was my God.  I  told  Brethren  Slusher and Anderson that evening how  I  felt and that I would like to have membership with  them,  if  they thought I was worthy.   They  said  they  would  like for me to offer  myself  to  the  church the next day, which I did, and was received  into  their  fellowship  and  baptized  the   next  meeting.  I had found a home at last.  

     I returned to Missouri that winter and, after  spending a time with the folks at home, I came  to  Illinois.   Once  again  amid  the  scenes  of  my  childhood  and  among  my  former  associates,   I  realized old things had passed away and new things  had taken their place.  The things I once hated  I  now loved.  I went to the old church at Providence  where  Elder  Castlebury was still  their  pastor.   When  I met the old brother he wept.  He had  seen  me  grow  from  boyhood to manhood,  was  a  close  friend  to  my  father and  the  family,  and  had  preached   father's  funeral.   He  was   mother's  counselor through the dark days following father's  death.   I  sat there in the old church  that  day where I went when a child with my parents, when my  heart would swell with pride when father got up to  preach.   I could not then understand and see  the  beauty and grandeur of the gospel he preached,  as  I  could at this time.  On the following  Saturday  and  Sunday  I  attended the  regular  meeting  at  Middle Creek Church.  Here I met the brethren  and  sisters  who  later received me  in  sweet  church  fellowship,  which  has  given  me  strength   and  courage,  and they have ever held up my  hands  in  hours  of discouragement and doubt.  Elder  B.  R.  Warren  was then pastor of the church, and a  very  able preacher and good, safe counselor.      On  the  next Sunday I attended  the  regular  meeting of Smyrna Church in Bentley. Elder Thomas  Jones  was pastor.  He certainly was a  father  in  Israel  to  a  boy like me.  I  was  very  closely  associated with this good man in the short time he  lived,  living  with him in his home  through  the  summer.   During  the early spring and  summer  of  this year Elder Phillips, who had returned from an  extended trip through Virginia, did some very able  preaching  among the churches of the  association.  The churches were much revived and many were added to them.  Among the number was the little girl who  afterwards chose to share with me life's joys  and  sorrows.

     In August, 1885, I received a letter from Big  Hill  Church,  in Kansas, and united  with  Middle  Creek Church.  The church officially recognized in  me  a gift of the ministry and gave me liberty  to  speak wherever God in His providence cast my  lot.   I  have often had grave doubts about the  judgment  of the church in this matter.  In the year 1888  I  was  ordained  to the full work of  the  ministry.   This was at their regular meeting in May.  In June  I  was  called to Knox County, Missouri,  where  I  administered, for the first time, the ordinance of  baptism  to a brother Bennet Koontz, Sister  Ollie  Hardy, and Sister Ollie Grove.  This was a time of  rejoicing with the little church of Hopewell.

     I   now   began  to  realize  some   of   the  responsibility,  not  only  of  the  ministry   in  feeding  the  church of God, but also of  a  home,  having been married in the fall of 1885 to  Amanda  B.  Alley.  In 1886 a little girl came to  gladden  our hearts and our humble home, and many times  we  were  made to forget our poverty when we  got  our  hymn books and lifted our voices together in song.

     Perhaps  it  would be well to give  a  little history  of  Middle  Creek Church, as  it  is  the  oldest  church  in  Salem  Association.   It   was  constituted  in 1832, by Elders Bradley, Ray,  and  Thomas H. Owens, and they erected the first  house  of  worship  in  Hancock  County.   From  her  was  organized   most   all  the  churches   in   Salem  Association.  The church house was constructed  of  brick, with two very large fireplaces in the  end.   The  pulpit  was placed  between  the  fireplaces.   They worshipped in this house for ten years before  the  floor was laid.  She was blessed with a  very  able  ministry,  Elders Bradley, Ray,  and  Owens.   Elder  Owens was the author of the  Owen's  Church  History  which  is  so  familiar  to  the  Baptist  people.   Elder  Owens was pastor  of  the  church until  May 1847, and was released by his  request.   Elder  Castlebury was then called to the  care  of  the  church  and served them faithfully  for  many  years.   In  the meantime  Providence  Church  was  constituted and many went to Providence by letter.

     Elder  Castlebury was also moderator  of  the  Salem Association, and by his wise counsel she was  safely guided through some dark and trying  times.    He served as moderator until his death.  The  last  sermon he preached was at Providence, in the  fall  of 1885.  His text was "They that say such  things  declare   plainly  that  they  seek  a   country."   Hebrews 11: 14.  He preached with wonderful  power  and demonstration of the spirit.  In a few days he  took  his bed and soon succumbed to the ravage  of  age and disease, and was gathered to his  fathers.   He  was succeeded as moderator of the  association  by  Elder  B.  R. Warren.  Until  this  time,  the  association  was blessed with such able  ministers  as  Elders Owens, Castlebury, Newton  Frazee  (the  writer's father), Jones, Warren, Harris and Riley,  who  were  members  of  the  association.   Elders  Vanmeter,  Dark,  Cottrell,  D. W.  Owens,  and  a  number  of  able  preachers  from  Missouri   made  frequent visits among the churches.  These men all came preaching peace by Jesus Christ.

     In  August 1886, my wife and I  attended  the Two River Association for the first time.  It  was held  with   ear  Creek  Church,  near   Hannibal,  Missouri.   Here I first met the late Elder  Jonas  Sutton.  They put me up to preach one night.  When  I  got through Elder Sutton came to me  and  said,  "Tonight  I  have heard the fourth  generation  of  your  family  preach.  I heard your  father,  your  grandfather,  and also your  great-grandfather  in  the state of Ohio."  I met a number of brethren at  this meeting that I was permitted to labor with in the ministry in after years.

     In 1890 or 1891 I was pastor of a church near  Jacksonville,  Illinois, for one year.  In 1892  I  was  called  to the care of Middle  Creek  Church,  where  I  held my membership.   Elder  Warren  had  resigned  on account of age.  I was  also  serving  Rock  Creek Church at this time, where  I  labored  for several years with much discouragement.   Here  I  learned  this great truth, one  may  plant  and  another  may  water, but God gives  the  increase.   When he was pleased to smile on this little church  they were much revived, and there were five  added  to  the church.  One of them was the late  Senator  Harris,  who afterwards became an  able  preacher.   About  the  year  1894  I  accepted  a  call  from  Providence Church, the old church where my  father  preached, it being near my old home.  During these  times Elders Dobbs and Querry were making frequent  visits among our churches.  Their labors were much  appreciated by the brethren and there was a number  added  to  the  churches.   In  January  1896,   I  accepted  a  call from Smyrna Church  at  Bentley,  having previously resigned at Rock Creek.  I  also  at  this  time was serving Union Church  in  Spoon  River  Association, which made me  four  churches,  and  at the time was laboring hard to maintain  my  little family and keep the wolf from the door.      I  never traveled extensively outside of  our  corresponding   associations.   However,  at   the  earnest solicitation of Elder Daily, I made a trip  through  the state of Indiana for five  weeks.   I  have  never  forgotten the  sweet  fellowship  and  generous  hospitality  of the  many  brethren  and  sisters I met on this trip.

     About the year 1900 I received an  invitation  from   the  Church  of  Canada  to  attend   their  quarterly meeting held at Duart, Ontario.  It  was  with the deepest concern I consented to go, as  it  was  a  long way from home and among people  of  a  different  nation.   I did not so  much  care  for  that, if I knew the Lord was in the matter.  I met  with  a warm reception, but I don't think  I  ever  was  in so great darkness as I was when we met  at  the  church  on Friday morning.  The  meeting  was  opened  by  the  pastor,  and  he  also  did   the  preaching  that  day.  The next day  Elder  H.  M.  Curry preached, and still I was in great darkness.   On Saturday night we met at Sister Bellue's  home, in the little village.  We did not have  preaching  that  night.   Quite a number had come  in.   They  asked  me  to tell my experience and call  to  the  ministry,  which  I did.  Then I  think  each  one  present related his or her experience.  I think  I  never  attended  such  a meeting as  we  had  that  night.  The darkness and gloom lifted and I felt I  was  among  my  brethren.   The  next  day  I  was  expected  to  preach.   When  the  hour  came  for meeting  I  thought I never saw  such  an  orderly gathering of people.  They filled the large  house  to  overflowing.  There were many Indians  in  the  congregation,  there being an  Indian  reservation  near.   I read the 139th Psalm, using for a  text,  Deut.  32:  2, 3, "My doctrine shall drop  as  the  rain,  my speech shall distill as the dew; as  the  small rain upon the tender herb and as the showers   upon the grass."  I was blessed with sweet liberty  that  day, and I was enabled to see the  wonderful beauty  in  this text.  I would like  to  give  in detail the form of worship of those dear brethren,  but  it would take too much space.  I  made  three  trips  into  that  country,  and  met  many   good  brethren and sisters.  On my second trip I met the  late Elder Chick, at that time editor of the  Signs  of the Times .

     In  1896 I was chosen moderator of the  Salem  Association and have served continuously from year  to  year until the present time.  During the  past  twenty-seven years, there has never been  anything  come  among  us  to  cause  division  or  give  us  trouble.   I  have  been  given  the  support  and  counsel  of my brethren.   Notwithstanding,  there  have  been times when it required great  care  and  united  counsel  to avoid some things  that  would  have  brought division and trouble among  us,  the  same  that  have divided  other  associations  and  churches.

     In  the  year  1903 I received  a  call  from  Friendship Church to take the care of the  church.   I  resigned the Union Church in McDonough  County,  and  accepted  the call.  This little  church  had  passed  through a very sore trouble by which  they  had lost some of their members.  They were weak in  numbers,  but good, faithful brethren.  I felt  it  my  duty to accept their call.  I tried  to  serve  them  faithfully.  Ere long I found some of  God's  little  ones that should be in the church, but  it  was  several  years before I  could  see  interest  manifested  by  others.  The attendance  began  to  increase  and  a deep concern  was  manifested  by  some.   I began to have courage.  Then  five  dear  ones came telling what the Lord had done for them,  were  received and baptized.  Two more  joined  by  letter,  and  it was not a great while  until  her  membership   was  almost  doubled.    These   four  churches  are  the only active churches  of  Salem  Association.    The   majority  of   the   present  membership  of the four churches I have  baptized,  and  you may know, dear reader, that I  love  them dearly.  This world would be a dreary place for me  if I could not have a home with these dear people.   How  many  times they have held up my  hands  with  their  loving and tender encouragement.   So  many   times  I  feel I have not given them  the  service  they should have.  And when I look back and see so  many things I have left undone I wonder that  they  have continued my service so long.

     Throughout  my thirty years of service  among  the   churches  of  Salem  Association,   I   have  endeavored  to declare the whole counsel  of  God,  teaching  them  to observe all things  that  Jesus  commanded;  and  they have been blessed  in  their  faithfulness.    Brotherly  love  and   fellowship  abounds  in their midst.  Oftentimes I am made  to  exclaim  with  David,  "Behold how  good  and  how  pleasant  it is for brethren to dwell together  in  unity.  It is like the precious ointment upon  the  head  that ran down upon the beard,  even  Aaron's  beard,  that  went  down  to  the  skirts  of  his  garments."  While death has removed from our midst  most  all who were members thirty years  ago,  yet  the  younger  ones have come in  and  taken  their  place  in the dear old church.   Associations  and  churches  with whom we formerly corresponded  have  ceased to exist and have passed into history.   Is  there  not a cause?  I feel sure if we  seek  only  the  glory of God and the honor of his cause,  and  walk  in the commands of Jesus he will not  remove  the candlestick from our midst, and we will  enjoy  sweet fellowship and blessings of his kingdom.

     I  sometimes feel my work is almost done.   I  have  always told my brethren when my work  ceases  to be profitable to the churches, to fill my place  with  another.  I desire above all things  to  see  the  cause  of  Christ prosper.   There  are  many  things I would like to have spoken about and  many  brethren and sisters I would like to give  special  mention  in  this  article, but  space  would  not  permit.   I  ask you to cast a mantle  of  charity  over  my imperfections.  Let us stand  united  for  the  peace of Zion, and for the cause  of  Christ.  May grace be with you.