Circular Letter, 1821
The members comprising the Franklin Baptist Association,
To the Churches they represent
Lukewarmness Among Us
AN indulgent Providence has permitted us to Convene in an associate capacity; our hearts should be solemnly impressed with gratitude to the giver of' every good and perfect gift, for the harmony and brotherly love that has appeared to prevail among us. We trust, we have not been altogether denied the influence of the presence of the Lord during our present meeting. Our minutes will advise you of our proceedings, and the state of the churches that constitute our body. Peace and unanimity appear to be enjoyed by the most of them; but with deep regret, we observe that their increase is generally small - many of them complain of coldness and barrenness, This state of lukewarm supineness that seems to be but too general among us, should awaken in our souls deep humiliation and fervent supplication for seasons of refreshing from the presence or the Lord.
Our Heavenly Father, is more ready to give than we are to ask; but have we not reason to lament, that our iniquities have separated between us and our God, and to fear that our sins have hid from us the light of his reconciled countenance? The exhortation of the Apostle, “as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him" appears at this time to be peculiarly seasonable - Let this form the subject of our present address.
Christians cannot too frequently recur to the time of
their first espousals to Christ - receiving Christ Jesus, embraces regeneration with all the doctrines of the new birth, a quickening from death unto eternal life - the crucifying the old man and becoming a new creature, by which is wrought a change of desires and affections, a hatred to sin and love of holiness, a delight in the whole will of God as revealed in the holy scriptures, and impressed on the hearts and consciences of his people. Let your minds dwell upon the manner or your receiving the Lord – You, a wretched, helpless, hell-deserving sinner, received him as an atoning free and full saviour; by grace are ye saved not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. This recollection will guard against the sin of legality, and enable the christian to rejoice in the rights and Iiberties of the children of God, but let not this liberty be abused to licentiousness. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; these were born, not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man; Christ Jesus is made unto them wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. As he then is made unto you wisdom, let none spoil you through philosophy, after the tradition of men and the rudiments of the world - Beware of the Io! here or lo! there; vigilantly scrutinize any new doctrines of the present day; observe the will of Christ. his example was meek and lowly - he says, whosoever shall do the will of my father, the same is my brother and sister, and mother; this equality among his followers induced him to say, whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the begining [sic] of our confidence stedfast unto the end. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and Son. We are exhorted to walk in Christ as we have received him, and having received him should be a most persuasive argument to so walk in him. Many are the commands and exhortations to this pulpit. Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. O house of Jacob, come ye and Iet us walk in the light of the Lord - he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths. Jesus saith, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by me - Paul beseeches his brethren to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called - We are commanded to be followers
of God, as dear children, and to walk in love as Christ aIso hath loved us. That we may please God, we should abound more and more in the discharge of all those christian duties that have been taught by the holy spirit. Among these, the great duty of prayer so frequently urged by divine inspiration, its weighty importance; so constantly felt by the dependent followers of the Lamb, it cannot be neglected without grievous loss or much of the believers comfort; its neglect furnishes a sad doubt of the love of God having been shed abroad in the heart.
The narrow confines of a circular, preclude the enumeration of the general range of christian duties - We do not, dear brethren, consider it more necessary for you than ourselves - Let us diligently read the scriptures - Let us seek from Him whose instructions cannot err - Let us be sober, be vigilant, keep our garments clean - Let us give ourselves to each other in brotherly love, and by an upright life and Godly conversation testify to the worId, that there is a reality in religion and sincerity in our professions. To this we are urged by the enlightening spirit of God, drawn by the captivating powers of redeeming love. The agonies of a bleeding saviour should have us to walk in path that Christ has pointed out for us - his infinite compassion invites us to do the things that are well pleasing in his sight.
May the teachings of divine grace regulate our lives - May the nations of the earth become fit subjects of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[From the Franklin Baptist Association Minutes, 1821, pp. 4-6; via SBTS Archives digital documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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