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Franklin Association of Baptist
Circular Letter, 1820

[Christian Warfare and our Duties]

To the Churches of whom we are members, grace and peace be multiplied.

      THROUGH the tender mercies of our God, we are favored with the privilege of meeting together. The Gospel has been preached amongst us to our comfort. The letters from the churches do in general give an account of their being
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in peace. We have enjoyed a comfortable degree of harmony in our consultations, for which we desire to be thankful. And in conformity to our custom of communicating to you such information and advice as may be thought expedient, we shall now address you partly on the subject of the christian warfare, and partly on a few of the duties connected therewith; and as a prelude thereto, we will observe, that man having turned aside from that primeval state of innocence in which he was created, and by transgression transformed into the image of Satan, the enemy of all righteousness - led captive by him at his will, and not only became estranged from God his creator; but raised his impious hands in rebellion against him, and thereby merited everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. But God, who is rich in mercy, in the fallness [fulness] of time sent forth his son, by the sacrifice of himself to be a propitiation for sin, and by his holy spirit, to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, enlightening their understandings, cleansing their vile affections, and setting them on things above.

      And thus, dear brethren, the spiritual war commences between those regenerated souls and the powers of darkness. Permit us, therefore, to exhort you to put on the whole armor of God, keep those heavenly weapons bright by using them; fight the good fight of faith; be vigilant centinels [sic] on your post; remember you have potent and inveterate enemies to withstand; the sensual dictates of the flesh, the allurements of the world, the guileful insinuations of Satan, all combined to impede your march to the Heavenly Canaan. It is altogether essential in this holy war, that you follow the captain of your salvation closely whithersoever he goeth; that you deny yourself, and take up your cross daily; and also watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit may be, and indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. You must not be weary in well doing, but persevere; for none but those who endure to the end, shall be victorious in this war: And therefore, you must endure hardness as good soldiers of the cross; with a holy boldness meet every conflict, trial and tribulation, relying on the grace of God, which alone is sufficient to sustain you through the arduous struggle, he having proclaimed aloud in his word to the christian warrior, "be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life." Beloved, what are the momentary conflicts and trials of the present life, when compared to an eternity of blessedness? They are nothing - thy are lost in the comparison.

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      The christian warfare being a Subject of greater magnitude than can be comprised in a short letter, we will only add on this part of our subject, that it is a contest in which vigilance must not relax; in which no truce can be admitted, no proposals for capitulation can be accepted; nothing short of perpetual resistance can ensure tranquility. Pray, therefore, that you may neither faint or be weary, but prevail unto victory; for though the conflict may be sharp and long, yet the joy of the triumph will abundantly recompence the toils of the war.

      And secondly. We would stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. As you desire to prosper as churches of Jesus Christ, you should in the first place be united in the strongest ties of love, and unity of the spirit. Remember also, that God hath created you in Christ Jesus unto good works. Yea, he hath before ordained that you should walk in them. By this, you will give evidence to all men that you are his disciples. Let it be your great object to glorify God, by promoting vital piety in the world, your own examples leading thereunto. Neglect not the assembling of yourselves together at church meetings as the manner of too many is. Brethren, this is a serious evil; may the Lord grant it may be reformed; and when met, sit down in the valley of humility, esteeming each other better than yourselves. Support pure discipline in your churches, adhering closely to the sacred scriptures for your guide therein. Encourage a pure Gospel ministry by your support and attendance thereon, lest the faithful laborers be made weak. And as a measure of imperfection cleaveth to all men, foster not their vanity by imprudent commendation or applause, by which many have been injured. Ye Elders, we would also remind you in the words of an apostle; “Feed the flock of God which is among you;" taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. And finally, brethren, be subject to one another, be of one mind, and to that end may we all be inclined to search the scriptures which are given by the inspiration of God. For as beholding an object in the open light of day, or through the same medium, will enable many to discern that object and judge of it in the same point of view, so similar attention to, and acquaintance with the sacred scriptures, will produce unity of sentiment in the great truths of religion. And all

the various divisions and brigades of an army are directed by an attention to the grand standard in uniform and reguIar movements to the same object, or as a number of vessels on the vast expanse of waters, regarding the position of the popular star, are brought through waves and tempests into the same port; so a regard to the glory of God, as our grand object, will bring us safe, through the mediator, into the haven of truth, of peace. and of love. And now, dear brethren, may the God of all grace, bless, preserve and keep you thro’ faith unto salvation, is the prayer of your brethren in gospel bonds.