To the churches of whom we are members, and whom we represent, may grace, mercy and peace be multiplied:
Beloved Brethren, -- We have met again according to appointment, and have had considerable happiness in the company and conversation of our brethren; but have great reason to be concerned at the long continued declension of religion among almost all, the churches in our union. An earnest solicitude to know the causes of this declension, should exercise every Christian heart. Perhaps among many, that of the neglect of family worship and secret prayer may not be the least. Brethren, by prayer you manifest your obligation to, and dependence on your heavenly Father for every common and special favor. By pray keep up communion with God, and live in his immediate presence. But when you neglect prayer, does it not argue the greatest indifference, as though you Were careless whether God blessed you or your families; and that every thing he had to bestow, was not worth asking for. Is it any wonder that, when you restrain prayer, you should be afflicted with leanness and barrenness of soul: for the Lord hath declared that he will be sought unto. You also give up one of the evidences of the sincerity of your profession, and make yourselves the subjects of divine wrath. Remember that awful address of the Prophet to God. Pour out thy fury on the Heathen, and the families that call not upon thy name. And that the Lord doth, and will, continue to resent such contempt, you have the greatest reason to fear. Dear brethren quit yourselves like men of God; be steady, constant, spiritual and zealous in every duty and ordinance which the good and gracious Lord has enjoined on you; manifest that the service of the Lord is perfect freedom, yea, that it is your meat and drink to do the will of your heavenly Father. Such a conduct will be an evidence of your love to him and regard for his honor. Remember the dying Saviour hath said, that if you love him you will keep his commandments; and is not this one, that men should always pray and not faint. Suffer the word of exhortation; let your houses be the houses of prayer; say with, and resolve to do like good old Joshua, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Repent and do your first works, that you may obtain your, first love; lest the light of the blessed gospel be removed from you. Do not only pray in your families, but in your souls. But dear brethren, in vain will be all your prayers, if you regard iniquity in your hearts. You must cease to do evil and learn to do well, and then come boldly to a throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need. We conclude with two verses of the Rev. John Newton. That is to say,
Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.
Restraining prayer, we cease to fight,
Pray makes the Christian's armor bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
SANDERS WALKER, Moderator.
JESSE MERCER, Clerk.
[From Jesse Mercer, A History of the Georgia Baptist Association, Washington, GA., 1838, pp. 98-99. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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