William Kelly, 1821-1906

15,000 volumes! What a library! It did not consist of novels or plays but were the tools used by a man of God, William Kelly. He used them to great effect in his long life of devoted service to his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Intellectually, William Kelly was a brilliant scholar as a young man when he was converted to Christ. The verse that was used to convince him of sin was Rev. 20:12, "I saw the dead small and great stand before God". Through a Christian lady on the Isle of Sark, he was helped into Christian liberty by reading 1 John 5:9-10. Because of the means used in his blessing, we can understand his intense love of Holy Scripture. Mr. Kelly devoted his talents to the Lord and His interests instead of pursuing an academic course for personal gain and fame. When he was told that he could make a name for himself in the world, he replied "Which world?" A generous benefactor offered to "do something" for him. He replied "What can you do for me more than has already been done by the Lord Jesus". Mr. Kelly was not a self-seeker or a place-seeker.

A few days before Mr. Kelly died he uttered these words: "I have done my work for Christ. I want to go. Others will be strengthened to do their work but mine is done". His work was for Christ and for those who trusted in Him. Far and wide he ministered the Holy Scriptures, preached the Gospel and involved himself in pastoral work. He loved the assemblies of God's people and willingly travelled to visit small gatherings to minister God's word to them. He served rich and poor alike because he loved the saints without partiality. His literary output was tremendous. For 50 years he edited the monthly magazine, "The Bible Treasury". "The Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby" was also his work. Numerous books, pamphlets and letters flowed from his busy pen. In 1894, he revised the 1856 edition of the Little Flock Hymn book. His accurate understanding of the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, enabled him to confute many who attacked the Holy Scriptures. Judged by any known standards Mr. Kelly's life work was prodigious and was of immense profit to the Church of God.

Mr. Kelly loved to attend the breaking of bread to remember the Lord and Saviour. His words relating to it are well worth remembering in our day, "In the Supper, if rightly celebrated, the abased Lord alone is rightly exalted. There might be occasions where the evident guidance of the Spirit brings it early before us, or postpones it late in the meeting, and thus any technical rule binding it to the beginning, or middle or end, would be human encroachment on Him who alone is competent on each occasion always to decide".

According to a friend of many years, Mr. Kelly's formula for Christian living was — Faith in God's Word — true obedience to it — devotedness to the Person of Christ.

Mr. Kelly grieved over the evident failures in the Christian profession. He deplored the flimsiness of faith compared with the robust character of Christian living expressed formerly. Worldliness, lack of devotion and materialism weighed heavily on his spirit. He loved the saints too much to turn a blind eye to their failures.

About a week before he died, Mr. Kelly spoke about three things which he said were real, "The Cross of Christ is real — the hatred of the world is real — the love of God is real.

These few notes about Mr. Kelly will give some impressions of the author of no. 422 in 'Spiritual Songs'. His hymn, beginning with "God and Father we adore Thee, For the Christ, Thine Image bright" is an excellent hymn full of scriptural truths concerning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the Christian's blessings through Them. It is a worthy inclusion in 'Spiritual Songs'.

For any who are interested to read more about Mr. Kelly, the following books are recommended: "The Memories of the Life and Last Days of William Kelly" by Heyman Wreford, and the notes about him in "Chief Men amongst the Brethren" by Hy. Pickering.

P.S. The library of Mr. Kelly consisting of 15,000 volumes was gifted to a library in Middlesbrough. Advance request will enable a visitor to see this valuable library.

Hymns by William Kelly