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Church Letter, 1787
The Doctrine of Election
Georgia Baptist Association
By Silas Mercer
     "We, the Church of Christ on Little River, at Phillips' Mill, to the Ministers and Messengers of several Churches, who are to meet in an Association, to be holden at Greenwood meeting house, the Saturday before the 3rd Sunday in October, 1787, send greeting:

      Dear Brethren, - We are fully convinced that Salvation is all, of grace, or all of works; for they cannot be mixed in this business; and if it be by grace, then the doctrine of Election, or God's love to his people, is the very foundation of our salvation; and is that foundation of God which standeth shure; and we think it will keep all them safe who stand upon it; but should this foundation be removed, what would the righteous do? for with it go their vocation and perseverance, together with their justification. For we think, the doctrine of imputed righteousness stands or falls with the doctrine of election, and if Christ's rightness be not imputed to us, we have none but our own, which is no more than filthy rags, and therefore, altogether insufficient to justify us in the sight of God. And if so, we are all undone; for we are all under the law and under the curse, and not a single soul can be saved. There is no medium between these extremes. Therefore, we believe it to be the duty of every Gospel minister, to insist upon this soul comforting, God honoring doctrine of Predestination, as the very foundation of our faith.

      We cannot see how the plan of salvation can be supported without it. And we believe it to be a doctrine which God generally owns and blesses to the conviction and conversion of sinners, and comforting of his saints. For blessed be the Lord, we can say, that we know by a blessed experience, that it hath had this effect amongst us. For since it has been so clearly preached in our parts, and insisted upon, the work of the Lord seems to flourish in a more powerful manner than before. God's people appear to be going forward like a flock of sheep, coming up from the washing, even shorn, every one bearing twins, and not one barren among them. And sinners are made to tremble under a sense of their lost and undone estate, as they stand relative to Adam, and seeing themselves altogether unable to alter their case, they can find no rest for the sole of their foot to rest upon. The Lord by his Spirit giveth them a living witness in their souls, that they were included in this blessed Covenant of grace, and then they come and tell what wonderful things the Lord hath done for their souls. And blessed be the Lord who hath quickened us together with Christ, they generally seem to be, born alive.


      Dear Brethren - The Lord hath been pouring out of his Spirit upon our sons and daughters, and they are beginning to prophecy. Therefore, we think it to be the most safe to hold fast the good old unfashionable doctrine which we professed to hold in our former letters to you, for the Lord seems to bless them to our souls, and hath done great things for us, where if we are glad. And his work continues amongst us, out [but?] not so perceivably as it was before the alarm of war.

      We have received thirty-eight since our last Association, 28 of whom have been baptized; and we have dismissed 3; so that Our whole number in communion is, one hundred and forty-two. We have chosen to sit with you in conference, our beloved brethren, Silas Mercer, Mesheck Turner, Robert Mcginty and Robert Herper, whom we esteem faithful in the Lord. And may His special blessing crown your consultations, so that they may be for God's glory, and the good of his people. So pray your unworthy brethren in the Lord.

Signed in behalf of the whole,

[From Jesse Mercer, History of the Georgia Baptist Association, 1838. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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