Very dearly beloved brethren and sisters--
Various have been the vicissitudes through which we have passed, and various and astonishing the changes which have saluted our ears, since we last addressed you. Nevertheless, we are preserved by the power and providence of our God, and permitted peaceably to assemble agreeably to our appointment made a year since. We have gone through the business that came before us, in our usual order and harmony, for which we desire to bless God. Our minutes contain the substance of what we have done, and altho the numbers therein stated evince but few additions, yet the letters received from the churches, generally express the enjoyment of peace amongst themselves. It has been usual, dear brethren, on such occasions, to address you on the important duty of charity; which, spiritually considered, is the love of God shed abroad in the soul; and is doubtless the moving principle to, and groundwork of, every other christian duty. And while we exhort you, with ourselves, to keep our eye stedfastly on this grace, permit us for the present to turn your attention to some of the consequent attendants -- humility, prayer, and watchfulness. And this we do, not only because they are enjoined upon us as christians, but also from a view of the calamitous situation of our beloved country. We are exhorted in sacred writ, to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God; not to be high minded, but fear; and altho the hand of God is always almighty, yet at present it appears high and lifted up and that for chastisement. When we take a view of the ravages of war, which have for years past almost desolated the greater part of Europe, particularly France, and compare the seas of bloodshed, with the advantages gained by the change of government, we are lost in amazement, and are ready to ask ourselves, why is it thus? Indeed, upon the principles of human reason alone, to reconcile the permission of such events to our ideas of infinite power and goodness, is a matter of great difficulty. Yet it is a natural attempt in the human mind, and has exercised the ingenuity of philosophers in all ages; while in the eye of christians and theologists, those seeming perplexities afford an additional proof, that there will be a future state, in which, not only the ways of God to man will be fully justified, but where each shall receive according to his works. The christian, then, will view the calamities which have that unhappy country, as the just judgment of almighty God, as tho he had determined that they should expiate their crimes by protracted years of misery. The cup of British iniquity does not yet appear to be full; but probably a like punishment awaits her, except she repent. What an instructive lesson to us, who have long enjoyed peace and prosperity under one of the best of governments. But now, alas! behold! the sword of our enemies is red with the blood of our brethren, and it may not only be the sword of Great Britain or Spain, but the sword of the Lord. Should it be asked, for what cause? an appropriate answer, perhaps,may be found in Jeremiah xiii,22-- "For the greatness of thine iniquity, are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare." Dear brethren, have we not sinned; have we not abused our privileges; or have we ascribed the glory of our former days to human wisdom, and forgotten to give the praise to Him who governs the universe. Let us, then, from the examples before us, and from the precepts of the gospel, as members of Christ and of one another, and as members of a great and once happy nation, humble ourselves before God, in supplication and prayer, and devoutly confess to him our sins and the sins of the people, and implore His pardon for the Redeemer's sake -- that the people may not be hardened in sin, but be disposed to yield obedience to him who sways the sceptre of universal nature -- that our rulers may be endowed with wisdom from on high -- that in the end, under their superintendence, and the blessing of God, we may, as a nation, be enabled to avert the mighty storm which apparently hangs over our guilty heads. We, dear brethren, are called the salt of the earth, and if salt have lost its saltness, wherewith shall it (i.e. the earth) be seasoned. If it be for the Bride, the Lamb's wife, that the earth standeth, no doubt but for her the disorders of the earth will be rectified; but the Bridegroom must be sought unto. Let Zion, in America, then, ply the throne of her Redeemer, who is her beloved and friend, and who can secure to her that freedom of worship which she has so long enjoyed, together with every thing necessary to constitute her happy in time and eternity. Watchfulness and prayer, are gospel precepts nearly allied; and where the one is practised, the other should not be omitted; to the christian both should be habitual, and particularly when war, rapine and strife pervade our land; when national prejudices are apt to mislead our better judgment, and angry passions rise within us, and too often break out in words and actions contrary to the precepts of the gospel; when the love of the world, or thirst for popularity, causes us to neglect the duties of christianity. These things, dear brethren, afford matter for serious reflection and enquiry; after which, should we find ourselves guilty of impropriety, let us repent and watch against relapses, and endeavor in future, as much as in us lieth, whether in things civil or religious, to conform to the government of our Lord and master, the rules for which are laid down in that blessed system, emphatically called the word of God. To the perusal and observance of which we exhort you, as to a sure system, a standard of infallibility, which hath duration, whilst the mutability of all human institutions evince their end. Dear brethren and sisters, farewell: May the God of all grace keep and preserve you from all your temporal as well as spiritual enemies, and bring you at last into his kingdom and glory, is the prayer of your brethren in the Lord.
THOMAS GRIFFIN Moderator
Attest, ABSALOM GRAVES, Clerk.
[Taken from the Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1814. The grammar and spelling are unchanged. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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