John Kent

—  A Hymn-writer of Grace  —

The grace of God is the only real and complete answer to the sin of man. And where sin has been deeply felt and a sense of its forgiveness received, it is unlikely that the forgiven man or woman will trace the forgiveness to any other source than God's free, unmerited grace. This process of things is, perhaps, nowhere better seen than in the hymns of an old saint such as John Kent; and nowhere better seen in all that old saint's writing than in the poem of God's dealings with him, reproduced in the next article.

John Kent - sorry such a poor picture

John Kent was born of very humble parents in the town of Bideford in Devon, in the year 1766. As a child, he never had the advantages of a formal education, but with the honest instruction he received from his Godly father endeavoured to improve his grasp on academic subjects, and, above all, laboured to stir up the gift that he knew, even in his young life, to be in him. From an early age he began to gather his thoughts together in verse; and as “grace well-refined his heart” in later years, there flowed from his pen such great hymns as “Sovereign Grace o'er sin abounding”, and “'Tis the Church triumphant singing”.

The first collection of Kent's hymns appeared in 1806, and from the very beginning of his hymn-writing career until the end, the subjects of his efforts never varied. “The sovereignty of God”, we are told, “in His dealings towards a fallen and depraved world, gave him a wide scope for the exercise of his talent”. And ever the self-effacing recipient of that sovereign grace, his son tells us that he never knew his father “to choose one of his own hymns for singing, not even in the retired society of his family”. His constant appeal against any praise was, “Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me; but to thy name be all the glory”. Although stricken with blindness in his early fifties, he continued to pour forth his hymns (his young grandson taking down his words as he spoke them) and for another twenty years afterwards the Church's praise was to benefit through his ministry as a sweet psalmist in Zion.

His dying conviction was the conviction of his redeemed life, and the theme of his song continually - “I rejoice in hope”, he was heard to whisper, “I am accepted – accepted! My frames and feelings are not the conditions of my acceptance”, he went on, “No; blessed be God, salvation is all of grace from first to last”.

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This Page Title – John Kent — a Hymn Writer of Grace
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