The Lord, in his providence, has enabled us to fulfill our appointment, and conduct our interview with peace and harmony; while the glad tidings of redeeming grace, flowing in copious streams to our churches, has filled our hearts with joy and thanksgiving.
The church of Christ has abundant reason to rejoice in the wonderful progress of divine truth, and the numerous additions which are daily made to the Redeemer's kingdom; but she should remember that the days of her mourning are not yet ended. Although in many places, the voice of the turtle is extensively heard, and the gates of Zion are crowded with the ingathering of a glorious harvest; yet we should not forget that a time may arrive, when we shall have to say, the harvest is over, the summer is ended, and many souls are not yet saved; we should, therefore, be at all times prepared for whatever change of season may be our portion - and for this preparation, the scriptures are an infallible guide. In joy or grief - in prosperity or adversity, or whatever may be our condition, they clearly delineate the whole duty of man. While we thus urge a continual perusal of the pages of divine revelation, we would observe that there is no feature in the dispensation of grace, which more requires the Christian attention, or affords a brighter field for meditation, than the unity of the brethren, and their union with the great Head of the church.
We are by nature, haters of God, hateful, and hating one another; and our enmity continues until it is slain by the sword of the Spirit. The gospel holds forth the terms of reconciliation. It not only displays the means whereby we become reconciled to God, and to one another, but dwells in strains of rapture on the consequences which flow from this two-fold union -- "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. -- Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."
We are not only required to contemplate, with joyful wonder, that amazing love which has effected this union; but are abundantly exhorted to use all the means of grace in our power, for its promotion and continuance - to "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor and evil-speaking, be put away from among us, and to follow after charity, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit, in the bonds of peace."
Inasmuch as the sincere followers of the Lord are one body, united by a living faith, to a living Head, we should endeavor to abound in love, and proceed with unity in all our movements. We should be united in our exertions to glorify God -- to discipline the churches -- to maintain the worship of God in its purity -- to spread the knowledge of the word of life, and promulgate the gospel of peace wherever there is an ear to hear, or a heart to understand.
This union flows from love -- the love of God and love to the brethren, which are so inseparably connected, that "he that loveth God, loveth his brother also." And "whosoever hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" The love of God inspires the fervent prayer, that the whole earth may be filled with his glory. Love to man excites the anxious desire that the human family may be made partakers of that perfect love which casteth out fear. Let us examine ourselves, whether we have this abiding consciousness of having passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren -- whether we have the witness within ourselves, of dwelling in God, and he in us, from a firm assurance that we dwell in love. If so, let us be watchful, that no root of bitterness spring up among us -- let us turn a deaf ear to the accuser of the brethren, and endeavor to maintain this sacred oneness, until we all come, in the unity of the faith, to be made perfect in one.
If jars and contentions arise, let us consider how far they are below our calling - how far below the proper employment of a soul in the exercise of its first love. Let us leave them behind, and join the harmonious thousands, who in various parts of the world, are chanting the angelic song, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men." Let us forget them, and look forward, in blissful expectation, to the consummation of this glorious union, when the church, adorned as a bride, shall hear the solemn warning, "Behold the bridegroom cometh!" May we all be ready -- rooted and grounded in love -- our lamps trimmed -- our lights burning -- that when we hear the voice of the approaching bridegroom, we may joyfully reply, Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus.
CHRISTOPHER WILSON, Moderator Attest, ABSALOM GRAVES, Clerk
[From the Minutes of the Northbend Baptist Association, 1818. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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