The elders and messengers of the several Baptist churches, pertaining to the Philadelphia Baptist Association, convened at the Great Valley, on Tuesday, October 1st, 1799.
To the several churches to whom they relate send Christian salutation.
Beloved Brethren, — While we lament the distress in which our metropolis is involved, which prevented our meeting there, yet we have the pleasure to observe that we have had a pretty general representation from the churches in our connection, and a comfortable opportunity, for which we desire to be thankful.
You will see by the returns from the churches, that although it be a dark and declining day, yet the Lord has not left us without the manifestation of his power and grace, but has granted some quickening and refreshing showers of divine influence in divers places, both in our bounds and those of our sister Associations.
Being disappointed in addressing you at this time, from the pen of that great man we last year appointed to that service, you can expect but a few general hints, imperfectly penned, in the midst of the hurry of business.
Dr. SKILLMAN is no more! He has been removed, we trust, from his labors in the church militant to that rest which remaineth for the people of God, and though we feel and lament the loss we sustain by this heavenly visitation, yet we desire to be resigned to the divine will, in a comfortable assurance that our loss is his gain.
When we take a view, brethren, of the number of churches destitute of those to go in and out before them, and break unto them the bread of life, and at the same time that there are so few likely to come forward in the ministry, while so many are removed from their posts on Zion's walls; we think it a time, when we should feel with solemn weight on our minds, the force of our blessed Lord's injunction when he said, "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth many laborers into his harvest," and we wish it to be more effectually impressed on each of our hearts. Yes, brethren, we beseech you all to attend seriously to this weighty consideration.
When we consider the unbounded mercies of God, the rich plays of his goodness and grace in the various dispensations of his hand, both in a spiritual and temporal way, we have the highest reason to praise and adore his holy name. May the streams of his bounty lead us to him who is the fountain of all good, may they lead us to unfeigned repentance, that shall be attended with reformation of life, and influence us to walk worthy of the high vocation wherewith we are called. How desirable to experience the shedding abroad of the constraining love of God in our hearts. Then shall we love as brethren, then shall we be moved to diligence in the use and improvement of the privileges, means and opportunities we enjoy, whereby we may grow in grace, and abound in holy zeal. How indispensable to cause our light to shine before men, that they seeing our good works may glorify our Father who is in heaven. Yes, brethren, let us, by our demeanor and deportment in life, recommend to others the holy religion we profess, as it were stamp it with the seal of reality and truth, and cause the beholders to observe, that we have been with Jesus and learned of him. Is it not of serious concern, that when the preacher explains the principles of pure and undefiled religion, in regard to their native tendency to holiness and purity of life; the very professors of that religion should by their unworthy conduct, caution the hearers not to believe the preacher, and as it were testify that there was not a word of truth in what he says?
Permit us, brethren, before we close, to beseech you to bear in mind those who labor among you in word and doctrine. We beseech and intreat you to pray for them; that a door of utterance may be given unto them abundantly, and that the power of God may rest on their labors; and withal make conscience of contributing to-wards their comfortable support as God has prospered you. Finally, Brethren, farewell.
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
BURGISS ALLISON, Moderator. WILLIAM STAUGHTON, Clerk. =============
NOTE. — Crosby's History will be comprised in 4 volumes octavo, neatly bound and lettered, at six dollars, unless it should be thought more eligible to abridge the work. The sister Associations are requested to send their advice and subscriptions to the meeting of this Association in October next, or to T. Ustick, previously.
[From Philadelphia Baptist Association Minutes, 1799. The title is supplied. — jrd]
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