Editor's Note: This CL as well as the one following in the History is listed as presented in 1804. This is probably the 1803 Circular. -- jrd
The Georgia Association of Baptist Churches
By James Matthews Sr., 1804
"The Georgia Association, to the several churches they represent, send Christian salutation.
Beloved in the Lord, -- We have again, in divine providence, had a pleasant interview, and trust, the gracious Redeemer has been in the midst, and aided us in the discharge of those duties, to which we have been called. The most of the accounts we have re from you, have been very pleasing; and those from abroad, truly glorious. Blessed be God! Our King is pushing his conquest into various parts of the world gloriously. THESE, we view only as preludes to the latter day glory; when all the galling chains of tyranny and despotism shall fall, forever fall! -- And the Redeemer's Kingdom no more be harrassed by the sectarianism of party spirits. Various have been the subjects on which we have heretofore addressed you, and to which we hope you have paid due attention. But none we think possess more importance than that of BROTHERLY LOVE; to which we now call your practical observance. There are many reasons for which Christians should love each other. Suffice it now to say, they are all children of the same father. This should endear them to each other, as being all essential members of, and but one indissolvable family.
They have all one interest. However divided into different sectaries, their leading objects, their inheritance is the same; they should, united by indissoluble bonds of love, exert themselves against every species of partyism, and loves brethren, all who bear the image and breathe the spirit of the Lord Christ.
It is enjoined by special command. Great respect should be had to divine commands. Too many professors, being weighed in the balance, are wanting in this respect; but let it not be once said of you brethren; you profess to be Bible Christians, therefore, love as you are commanded, avoid disputes, and contentions which gender strife, and make not for edification, but tend to harden the hearts of your adherents against the Religion of Jesus.
It is the bond which secures enjoyment to society. Without this, there could be no blessedness in any connexion; but love not only disposes to bear a part in the general burden, but to sympathize in all the particular trials and temptations, to which Christians are liable in this life; and so at once renders society both indispensable and glorious.
They have one Eternal Home. This consideration should dispose them now to drive enmity, spleen, and hatred to the shades of long night, their proper abodes; no more to reproach the realm, nor devour the unity and peace of the Militant Church. Blessed be God! These shall never have admittance into Heaven, where all the sons of God shall dwell eternally in sweetest harmony and true holiness.
BROTHERLY-LOVE SHOULD BE MANIFESTED
By uniting for Religious purposes. Neither love to God, nor Christians, can be had in the best manner without this. There are many, 'tis true, who, though they call themselves Christians, do not unite with the Church of God, these certainly discover but little love to God, or the Brethren. By a mutual watch care for each others good. Too many view this, as a token of hatred, and treat such as enemies who engage in the faithful discharge of this duty: But rather let it be thought the highest mark of love, and let such be highly esteemed for their work's sake.
By forgiving one another. Forgiveness is abundantly taught in Scripture, but too little practised among Christians: But if you would shew your love to the Brethren, you must forgive them their faults, from your hearts, as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
By contributing to the necessities of the NEEDY.
This should be done, as far as in you lies to the sons of need in general, but to your brethren in particular, who, by adverse Providence, have been brought into poverty and want.
IN SHORT, by praying with, and for; stiring up to love and good works; visiting in a affliction, and on those, who in the hour of temptation and sore trial, are ready to faint.
Do you thus love the Brethren? For what do you love them? Is it for their personal beauty and politeness? Their wealth and high life? Their congenial sentiments with you? Or, is it that they breathe the spirit and bear the image of the blessed Jesus? If the latter, then we exhort you (with Paul) to let Brotherly love continue. And may it so continue and abound, that a gazing world may be constrained to say: "see how these Christians love one another." Now to him, who is able to make you perfect in love, and to present you without fault before his throne, be honor and glory now and forever. -- Amen.
ABRAHAM MARSHALL, Moderator.
JESSE MERCER, Clerk.
===================[From Jesse Mercer, A History of the Georgia Baptist Association, Washington, GA., 1838, pp. 101-103. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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