The CIRCULAR LETTER from the
MINISTERS and MESSENGERS,
assembled at Kettering, May 22d and 23d, 1770.
Maintaining the important Doctrines of Three equal Persons in the Godhead; eternal and personal Election; the original Guilt and Depravity of Mankind; particular Redemption; free Justification by the imputed Righteousness of Christ; efficacious Grace in Regeneration; the Perseverance of the Saints in Grace unto Glory; and professing the primitive Order and Discipline of Churches.
To the several Baptized Churches of Christ whom they represent, meeting at Nottingham, Sheepshead, Leicester, Armsby, Foxton, Kettering, Walgrave, Northampton, Road, Oulney, Calton, and St. Albans.
Mercy unto you, and Peace, and Love be multiplied; through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
Dear and honour'd Brethren,
THE greater part of you to whom we write, were apprized of our annual meeting. With thankfulness to the Lord, we now with pleasure inform you, that we met together at the time appointed, and had in view, as we ever wish to have in all our meetings, the glory of Christ, and the mutual edification of your souls, and our own. We have heard with attention the letters read from the several churches we stand related to, and we hope we were in some measure suitably affected with their contents. We have endeavoured, brethren, to be thankful to the Lord for his continued mercies to us all, and in particular, for the new occasions of praise he is furnishing us with. You will observe, by looking at the head of our letter, that the number of churches in this association do not diminish, but increase; and by looking at the close of it, you will find that upon the whole the members of our churches do increase in numbers too; and we hope they wil1 grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On the other hand, brethren, we must own, that with these, and other occasions of joy and praise, we had in our meeting cause for sorrow, and a call for fervent prayer to God. The circumstances of some of our churches, and the affairs of our nation, made it our duty; in which we were not altogether wanting, and trust we shall not be entirely [sic] unsuccessful. But that we may in a more solemn manner humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and seek his face and favour, we have agreed to set apart (if the Lord spares us) Wednesday the 3d of October, as a day of fasting and prayer; which we hope you will remember, and endeavor in a becoming manner to observe. The particular situation of the churches in this association, and the remarkable manner in which the Lord has appeared for some of them, your respective ministers and messengers will inform you of, and for which we hope you will be properly concerned. Respecting our present assembling together, we think it our duty to inform you, that the public worship was carried on with decency and delight and not only so, but we believe pleasure and profit were united; so that we had reason to say to the great object of our worship, We love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts, when we meet with thy sin-subduing, heart-reviving presence! when we are thus owned of thee, and blessed by thee. Bless us, O bless us, with an increase of these pleasures, in all our future meetings of a like nature! And now command thy blessing on what we write to establish thy people, and to build them up in the faith once delivered to the saints.
Having informed you brethren, of our assembling together, the ends we had in view, and what steps we have taken to promote the Redeemers glory, and our mutual edification: We now close the meeting by drawing up and sending among you our annual letter, which is, and will be accompanied with our united prayers, that what is seasonable in it, the Lord would a1so make successful.
In our last letter we observed, nothing could be of greater importance to you, than to make a practical improvement of the glorious doctrines of the gospel. What we then thought we think still; and do as much as ever desire to assist you, in carrying this to the utmost length, by the help of the Spirit of God; whose work and offices of love to the churches of Christ were then considered and practically improved.
The doctrine you may now expect we shall attempt to improve among you, is the doctrine of eternal and personal Election. This stands next to the doctrine of the Trinity at the head of our letters, and is agreed to do so in our practical remarks. This doctrine, with the others that stand in connection with it, we call important; and believe to be a doctrine according to godliness. In this letter we shall endeavour to shew we are not mistaken; and we doubt not but that which appears to you important and leading to holiness, you will continue to hold and defend, tho' multitudes should oppose it as useless or dangerous.
Election, we say, is eternal and personal: so we express ourselves on this important subject, to shew our difference between those that say we are chosen in time, and then (they say) not as persons in the abstract, but as disposed to, and qualified for eternal life. We express ourselves in this manner also to distinguish between an election of a nation to the enjoyment of external privileges (as Israel was of old, and we as a nation are now:) or an election to offices; as the sons of the house of Aaron were chosen to be priests, &c. and that election which is of God in Christ, respecting the vessels of mercy, who are chosen from before the foundation of the world, and in consequence of that choice effectually called in due time to partake of grace here, and glory hereafter. Something of the importance and purity of this doctrine we now attempt to lay before you.
We are sensible, brethren, that the importance of this doctrine is frequently questioned, and 'tis with sorrow we observe how disrespectfully, nay reproachfully, some professors speak about it. They say, "Supposing Election be a in revealed truth, yet it is a truth of no great consequence to us; it is but a speculative point in divinity, the knowledge of which may do us much hurt, but can be of little or no service for any to believe, &c."
Were these reflections just, brethren, we are sadly mistaken indeed. But who are they that speak in this unguarded manner? Are they not such who neither understand what they say, nor whereof they affirm? Is it any breach of charity to suppose they are such? Would they not appear in a more awful light, should we conclude they do not know what they say, and are not well aware what they assert? Let us put their words in plain English, and leave them to judge.
"God's choice of persons to salvation in Christ from before the foundation of the world, and his determined will to save such, in a way of grace and free favour, is, we own, a revealed truth; but it is a doctrine of little or no importance for us to know or believe: our ignorance of it can do us no hurt, but the belief of it will do us much harm." - Bold expressions indeed! Who would ever imagine that persons, who are advocates for humility, should think such expressions are consistent with it? If the choice, purpose, and will of God are not of importance in our salvation, what is? why, in the apprehension of these people, our choice, will and purpose is. So they are, as evidences of our interest in the great salvation, but not as the procuring cause of it, either in whole or in part. But we will hope that the greater part of them, who use such unbecoming liberty in their speeches, and who make no scruple in words to declare, their choice and will is all in all, and God's nothing at all; we hope that such are not aware, that, in opposing the doctrine of election, they are opposing the choice, purpose, will and good pleasure of God. However, in order to confirm you in your faith of the importance of this doctrine, suffer us briefly to observe to you, how closely other important doctrines are connected with it, and indeed founded upon it. — Observe then; from the word of God observe, how inseparably adoption, redemption, justification, effectual calling, perseverance, and glorification, are connected with election.
1. Adoption. Should we ever have had occasion with admiration to have said, Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! had it not been for election? Are we not predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ? We are; and that according to the good pleasure of his will. When you therefore, brethren, think of the high honour, and precious privileges of the sons of God, remember all this is a fruit of predestinating mercy, and electing love.
2. Redemption. Who are redeemed from the torments of hell, from the curse of the law, from the dominion and filth of sin, unto God, but the elect? They sing that new song, which others cannot learn, and say to Christ, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed US to God, by thy blood, OUT of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. It is the children Christ came to redeem and deliver, who are elect or chosen to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, in whom, in the proper sense of the word, they, and they only, obtain redemption. Thus redeeming love, brethren, and electing grace, you see are closely united.
3. Justification. This is a fruit of election, whether we consider it as consisting in the non-imputation of sin, or imputation of righteousness.(1) Whom does God pardon, but them whom he reserves? Whose transgressions are passed by, but the remnant of his heritage? And who are they, but the remnant according to the election of grace? Whom God predestinates, them he justifies. The elect only obtain it: and they only, who have scriptural evidence of their election, can, with propriety, say, Who shall lay any thing to our charge?
4. Effectual calling. This also depends on the same foundation; for whom God predestinates, them he also calls, out of darkness into his marvellous light, who are said to be the called according to his purpose. It is true, many are called that are not chosen; but then this is said of an external ministerial call, and not spoke of an internal effectual call, which is peculiar to the elect, who are made willing in the day of God's power. When you reflect, brethren, on your high and holy calling, when with joy and praise you think of what you were called from, and are called to, remember all this was according to God's purpose, which purpose was in Christ before the world began. Meditations upon this will awe and humble you under the mighty hand of God; yea, and comfort you too; for God's performance will be consistent with his purpose. He will do all his pleasure; he will work, and none shall let [hinder] it.
5. Perseverance. This is secured by election. They who are effectually called, were chosen in Christ as their elect head; therefore, as sure as Christ lives, they shall live also. They are chosen to holiness, and to be without blame before the Father in love, but this cannot be without they perservere in grace to glory. They were preserved in Christ before they were effectually called, how much more after then? Though Israel according to the flesh obtain not that which they seek after, the elect have and will. They shall enjoy the work of their hands, and their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. Many strive to wrong and injure them, but God will avenge his own elect. Satan tries, by various means, finally to deceive them; but Christ says it is impossible. For, being chosen in him, they cannot be separated from his love, by tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword: neither can they by death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come; nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature. When you look back then, brethren, upon the dangers you hive escaped, and the difficulties you have been brought through; when reflecting how you have been supported in temptations and trials, and that hitherto the Lord has seasonably helped you, remember, all this, and all future appearances in your favour, are fruits of electing love; and that because the Lord hath chosen you to salvation, he has rebuked the adversary, and nor cast you away; tho' you are as brands plucked out of the fire, on whom the smoke of corruption yet remains.
6. Glorification is also connected with election, and that so firmly, that whom God predestinates, them he also glorifies. Here you see the first and last link in the golden chain of salvation. And 'tis easy to observe a peculiar emphasis lies on the pronouns He and Them, throughout the two verses: for whom he did foreknow, them he did predestinate - them he called - them he justified - and them (and if words have any meaning), ONLY them he glorified. Now glorification being thus dependent on election, or predestination, it plainly shews us, that election, or God's choice or eternal purpose, is the ground of all our holiness, and all our happiness. Of all our holiness: for if the elect are glorified, they must be made meet for it, and preserved to it. Of all our happiness for how can our happiness as Christians, be separated from our holiness? Which electing love is the cause of; and not only so, but preserves us in it, and brings it at last to its full perfection: now in Christ keeping our feet from falling, and at last presenting us before the throne of his glory with exceeding joy, are you not ready to say on this subject, brethren, what the Apostle said to the believing Romans? Yes, we think, you cannot at times, when taking a solemn view of these things, forbear saying with him, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counseller? or who hath first given him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and thro' him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.
We now proceed, brethren, to say a little respecting the purity of this doctrine; but we perceive, that in speaking of its importance, we have almost made this proposal needless, for its importance is so interwoven with its purity, that we could not speak of the one without saying something of the other. And indeed we are at a loss to conceive, how the scripture account of the doctrine of election can be viewed in any other light, than as important and holy. If we view it as God's choice, it is his choice of persons in Christ to obtain salvation by him; it is, that the objects of his choice may be holy, and without blame before him in love; it is, that they might be a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should shew forth his praises who hath called them (in consequence of his choice) out of darkness into his marvellous light. -- If we view it as God's determining will: The will of God on election is the sanctification of his people, thro' which, and not for which, they are chosen unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. If so, it should be remembered, the blood of Christ (to the sprinkling or applying of which they are chose) not only atones for guilt, but cleanses from all sin. If we view it as predestination, founded on God's foreknowledge, it is that we might be conformed to the image of his Son, - that as we have been born the image of the earthy, we might also bear the image of the heavenly; into which image they are changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. If we view it as God's eternal purpose (for we are now speaking as has been observed of eternal and personal election) it is his purpose to save us, and call us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
Where then, brethren, where is there any just occasion for any to say the doctrine of election is a licentious doctrine? There is no just foundation for such a censure. Yet we freely own, that the loose practice of some, that have held this truth in unrighteousness, has given occasion for some to blaspheme. But then how unjustly? For what truth must we receive, if we must only receive that which was never abused? However, brethren, be it your care, as we desire it maybe our care, to receive every truth in love: and by our conduct to shew, we have not received this, or any other doctrine of the grace of God in vain. When professors inconsiderately say, If we knew we were elected, we might live as we list; they do not, they will not consider how their election is to be known. When they know, or remember, this cannot be done without giving all diligence to prove they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, we apprehend they will have other and better thoughts about it. We acknowledge indeed, and we would have you, brethren, to do the same, that if, by holiness, or good works, which the doctrine we contend for is thought to oppose, are meant and understood of works which are supposed to merit the divine favour, and are looked upon as meritorious causes of our salvation, we acknowledge, that whether these works are considered as internal or external, or conceived of either as before or after believing, the doctrine of election does oppose them: nay more, it is the only doctrine that effectually throws them down to the ground. Such works, fals[e]ly called good, can no more stand before it, than Dagon could stand before the Ark. It is of grace, of free favour, that it might not be built, or founded, on works of any sort, for two important reasons, viz. to prevent our boasting, and eternal ruin; for except the Lord had left a remnant, whose transgressions he resolved to pass by, we had been all as Sodom and Gomorrah; we had been like them here, given up to the vilest abominations, and like them hereafter, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. But if by holiness and good works, the fruits of the Spirit, or a conversation becoming the gospel is intended, we then assert that the doctrine of election does not oppose, but secures and promotes them. That it secures a conversation becoming the gospel, appears by what we have already said on this subject; that it promotes it we now attempt to prove: - And if humility, submission to the will of God, love, compassion, self-denia1, and contempt of the world, may be admitted to be becoming the gospel, we are persuaded the doctrine of election has a powerful tendency to promote them.
1. It promotes humility. This is a temper of mind that always takes place in them that have tasted the Lord is gracious. This is a grace that should be at the bottom of all we say or do, especially in the things of God. We are exhorted to be clothed with it; and without it, what can be acceptable to God or good men? But what doctrinal truths are likeliest to promote it? those that favour the common idea of man's free-will, and suppose that all men who hear the truth have ability to regenerate themselves, believe in Christ and repent at their pleasure; or the doctrine of election, and those in connection with it, which assert not only that Christ is our righteousness, but that he is also our life and strength? The former doctrines, brethren, are fuel to our pride; the latter humbling in the sight of God: As for instance: you believe, brethren, you are elected, or chosen to obtain salvation in Christ, with eternal glory; but what were you when God manifested his choice of you to salvation; and called you by his by his grace? poor, guilty, polluted, perishing sinners; see your picture in Ezekiel xvi. 3-12. and remember, that if the Lord had not prevented you with his mercy, nor manifested his regard for you, till you had made yourselves spiritually to differ from others, you must, you inevitably must at last have been as miserable, as you were sinful. But tho' you were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, yet what did the Lord foresee you would be? Why, certainly brethren, what you prove to be. And what is that? You are ready with sorrow and shame to own, ungrateful and God-provoking creatures in yourselves; in whom, that is, in your flesh, to this hour, there dwells no good thing. How humbling are these thoughts! How naturally does the doctrine of election lead to them? How well calculated are they to mortify the pride of our hearts, which the doctrine of free-will cherishes, and which breaks out in an odious manner in many that espouse it; but, dear brethren, remember God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
2. It promotes submission to the will of God. This we are exhorted to, and taught to pray for; but who from the heart can so chearfully say, THY WILL BE DONE, as they who believe in election, and have made their own calling and election sure? May not, ought not, brethren, such to reason thus? "The first act of divine sovereign pleasure concerning us, was the choosing of us from all eternity unto holiness and happiness. This was done when we were not, when we had no contrivances of our own: and shall we not now put all our temporary concerns into the same hand? Can the same fountain send forth sweet water and bitter? Can the same sovereign pleasure of God be the free and only cause of all our blessedness, and can it do that which is really evil unto us? Our souls, our persons were secure, and blessedly provided for, as to grace and glory, in the sovereign will of God; and what a prodigious impiety is it not to trust all other things in the same hand, to be disposed of freely and absolutely! If we will not forego our interest in mere absolute free sovereign grace for ten thousand worlds, as no believer will, how ready should we be to resign up thereunto that little portion which we have in this world among perishing things." -- See Dr. Owen on the Spirit.
3. It promotes love. This is a grace that on some accounts has the preference of all others; and the same apostle that calls it greatest, elsewhere does in effect say, that if we are not possessed of it, we arc possessed of nothing that will profit us. This precious fruit of the Spirit as it refers to God and man, comprehends all our duty, it being the fulfilling of the law. Now a steady belief of the doctrine of election greatly promotes it in both these views. It promotes love to God; for God so viewed, is viewed as loving us with an everlasting, distinguishing and unchangeable love; and this is one grand motive of our love to him, for we love him because he first loved us. It promotes love to man, for the elect are chosen to be blameless before God in love: but how, brethren, can our election be self-evident if we are strangers to this grace? Election not only promotes love to man, but sets proper bounds to it, for we are to love them as elected, and as appearing to be such, being called by grace, whether of this or that denomination, whether rich or poor, bond or free. But some will say, we are exhorted to love our enemies; we are so, with a love of good will to them, but not of delight in them. And this the doctrine of election lays a foundation for; hence Paul, speaking of the Jews who opposed his ministry, says, As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.
4. It promotes tenderness and compassion. Where love is, this cannot be wanting. This is what the elect are called to: Put on (says the apostle) as the elect of God holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, and long-suffering, &c. And who so likely to do this, as they who have an affecting sense of God's bowels of mercies, and distinguishing compassion to their own souls? Who so likely to be patient and forbearing, as they who have been bore with, and to whom Gad has waited to be gracious? Paul says, he endured all things for the elects sake; and exhorts ministers to be gentle to all men, apt is teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. Now this amiable conduct which ministers are exhorted to observe, is founded upon election, for real repentance, and a practical acknowledgment of the truth, depends upon it; therefore, tho' there be but a peradventure with respect to those whom we teach, or you converse with, respecting their election, that peradventure should make us gentle and patient, and willing to use the most likely means, in hopes of a divine blessing; not knowing how soon they may receive the gift of repentance, and be brought to the acknowledging the truth, and so be enabled to recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are now taken captive by him at his will.
Lastly, The doctrine of election promotes self-denial and contempt of the world. Some of you, brethren, are the poor of this world, but hath not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and made many of them the visible heirs of the kingdom? "If God set his heart upon you from all eternity, he will not let you want to your real hurt in time." Be content then with such things as ye have, for he hath said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Look not with inordinate affection upon the goodly mountains, or flowing vallies of the earth; remember Amana, Shenir, and Herman, are often lions dens, and mountains of leopards: But look at Christ your elect head, who is more excellent than mountains of prey. Some of you, brethren, are weak and foolish in your own eyes, as to the things of time and sense, and base and despised in the eyes of others: What then? Hath not God chosen the weak things, of the world to confound the things which are mighty? And base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen: yea, and things which are not; to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. Remember then your calling, brethren, and envy not the rich or honorable, yet on that account do nor despise them, for though not many mighty and noble are called, yet some are, for which may we be thankful; and being called ourselves, tho' of a different outward character, rejoice in hopes of our calling, seeing the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places, and that, in the best sense of the word, we have a goodly heritage. Thus we have finished our proposals, in shewing you something of the importance and purity of the doctrine of election, and shall now finally conclude our letter with adding a few words by way of caution. With this view we desire you would remember the three following remarks.
1. Remember, though the doctrine of election is an important and holy doctrine, yet it is not the only one that is so, or which you should be concerned practically to improve. Every divine truth is precious; have a care, therefore, of a partial spirit in religion, either respecting doctrines or practice; and never attempt to magnify one truth, so as to depreciate and undervalue another. Indeed, every divine truth is not alike important to us, yet they who truly love the doctrine of election, will love those truths we have mentioned as connected with it, and will desire practically to improve it, in some such manner as we have shown it might and ought to be improved. - (See a sweet improvement of the doctrine of election, in Witsius's Economy of the Covenants, book 3, page 456.)
2. Remember, gospel holiness is founded on gospel truths. It is truth that sanctifies; Sanctify them through thy truth, says our Lord, and adds, Thy word is truth. Beware therefore of a prevailing error, which is of dangerous consequences to all that embrace it, viz. That it is no matter what we believe if we are moral and sincere. Whatever some persons intend by those phrases, we know we are exhorted to buy the truth, and hold it fast. It is a belief of that which brings us to gospel liberty, consolation and purity; only remember, some may hold the truth itself in unrighteousness, and that if we hope to be sanctified through the truth, it must be by receiving it in love; and that the sanctified of others depends upon our speaking the truth in love; and which is a fruit of the Spirit, and whose influences shou1d be desired to that end.
3. Remember, brethren, that as election is connected with other truths, so it must be a1ways spoke of as consistent with them. Take care, therefore, of separating the end from the means, or representing election as inconsistent with faith, repentance, &c. or of representing them as not consistent with election. Every soul that comes to Christ, to be saved from hell and sin by him; is to he encouraged; and it is our duty to shew them that election is no bar in their way, nor does at all oppose (if scripturally considered) the declarations, invitations, or promises of God that encourage them to flee to him for refuge as the only hope set before them. Studiously to set these things in opposition to each other, is the work of satan: let us not imitate him, but shew that whoever will may come, and him that cometh unto God through Christ, he will in no wise cast out. The coming soul need not fear he is not elected, for none but such will be willing to come and submit to Christ: he not fear being cast out, for his coming is in consequence of God's drawing love, though at present he may not observe it. If, then, they that are coming to Christ, are drawn with the bands of love, let us also endeavour to draw them with the cords of a man. And now, brethren, we pray that your love (to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to us, and to each other) may abound yet more and more, in all knowledge, and in all judgment: That ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offence till the way of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Signed on behalf of the brethren, by JOHN MARTIN. __________
1. That justification includes the imputation of righteousness, and is something more than the non-imputation of sin, or a mere pardon, is evident from the true meaning of the term, and several passages in the word of God. The term is forensic, that it to say, the word is a law phrase, and with them stands opposed to condemnation. But pardon is opposed to guilt, and supposes that the persons pardoned either were condemned or worthy of it. Justification implies a trial, but at the same time supposes, that the persons are acquitted, and that with propriety nothing can he laid to their charge. This is triumph and challenge of the elect, which is founded upon the imputed righteousness of Christ. Thus they reason upon the important point: As by the offence of one (or, by one offence) judgment came upon all men to condemnation: even so by the righteousness of one (or, by one righteousness) the free gift came upon all men (that receive it by faith) unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners: so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous, Romans v. 18, 19. Note, what we apprehend the sense of this passage is given, as is the case with several other texts of scripture cited in this letter; which we thought more our duty, than to confine ourselves always to the letter of the word; as we judged it would be more for your edification.
In the evening, May 22, we met about six o'clock for prayer, and reading the letters from the churches. The next morning we met, at six o'clock, for prayer and other business. The same day the public meeting began about ten o'c1ock: Brother Hopper preached from Revelation iii. 11. Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. And Brother Medly preached from Psalm lxxxv. 6. Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people rejoice in thee? At six o'clock Brother Craner preached from Revelation ii. 7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. -- May the 24th, we met at six o'clock in the morning, for prayer, and communicating, as Ministers; our experiences to each other in the past year, which we still find to be of considerable use and service to our souls --
Note, In these opportunities eleven Brethren were engaged in prayer.
+ On hearing the general Letter, it was agreed, that, when printed, it should be publicly read to all the Churches of this Association: And this practice to be continued from year to year.
Added to the Churches of this Association - - - - 91
Note, Two of these were restored.
Diminished - - - - 25
Note, Seventeen of these are dead, seven excluded and one dismissed.
_____ Increase this Year 66
The next Association to be at Oulney, June 5, 1771: Brother Woodman and Brother Martin to preach; and in case of failure, Brother Evans.
* The author for this Circular Letter is identified by A. C. Underwood in A History of the English Baptists, p. 164.
[From a photocopy of the original at Regents Park College, Angus Library, Oxford, England. - Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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