The North Bend Association of Baptists, met at the Forks of Gunpowder third Friday in August, 1824.
To the Churches composing the same, sendeth Greeting:
VERY DEAR BRETHREN:
We have had a comfortable meeting, peace and love have as heretofore on similar occasions prevailed, for which, with humble gratitude we would thank and bless the name of the Lord.
Upon reading the letters from some of the churches, we have had our spirits much refreshed, on account of the pleasing intelligence they contained; many who were in natures darkness at the time of our last interview, have been brought into the marvellous light of the gospel, and we trust, into the glorious liberty of the children of God: thus, has an effectual blessing been poured out upon the means of grace in many places where his word has been faithfully preached in its simplicity, according to his promise, "for thus saith the Lord, I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses." But while we would rejoice with them that do rejoice, we should also weep with them that weep. Letters from other churches, tho' they state that they are generally in peace, are filled with lamentation, mourning and complaining on account of their leanness, coldness and unfruitfulness, clearly indicating the want of the blessing above quoted; now what we have to ask these churches is this, do they really lament and cry, mourn, weep, and pray on account of their situation, or are they not rather in almost a state of apathy, or total indifference in relation to their duty as Christians? If so, dear brethren, suffer a word of exhortation from those who have to endure more or less the same fight of affliction, under such circumstances it becomes the duty of all God's children, to strengthen the things that remain, least [lest] that which be lame, be turned out of the way; and in the use of means under God and by his appointment, we would recommend to the churches to aim at setting the house of God in order; and to cleanse, not the walls of Zion, but within her walls. In the first place then let her watchmen who stand upon her walls, be faithful in preaching the word of life, reproving the obstinate, warning the unruly, comforting the feeble minded, and as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, feed the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers; and to set forth the declarative glory of God they should shine with distinguished light even as stars in the firmament. Let the churches count such worthy of double honor, and be subject to them in the way of obedience to Christ, as those that watch for their souls.
In the next place we would recommend to the members individually, a more zealous watching over each other in love, lest there be among them any root of bitterness springing up, and thereby many be defiled. In the case of crime, heresy, or walking disorderly, let reproof be suited to their nature, and faithfully applied with all tenderness, clearly demonstrating your readiness to suppress all disobedience, by purging out the old leaven, and so be a new lump. This church of Jesus Christ has a right to do for the preservation of peace, order and brotherly love, nay, it is her duty so to do, blessed and many, high and holy are the powers and privileges granted to her by her glorious head, and in consequence of the nature of her foundation, she is dignified by the appelation of "ground and pillar of the truth," and though earth be the scene, and human life the limit of those great operations, by which any of the human family are interested in her destinies, yet her expectation is that she shall live forever; nor will her hope confound or make her ashamed, for God hath set her King upon his holy hill in Zion, and laid the government on the shoulder of his holy child Jesus, whose throne he has promised to build up to all generations, and to make it endure as the days of Heaven, hath he said it, and shall it not come to pass? — Yea brethren, whatever disappointments rebuke the visionary projects of men, or the more crafty schemes of Satan, the council of the Lord, that shall stand; let the church of the living God then trust in her king, tho' trouble may assail and danger affright; and the great adversary of our souls and the enemies of the cross may roar against thee, he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, he will have them all in derision.
Dear Brethren, in all your trials and temptations, remember, that a glorious character in the administration of Christ's kingdom is righteousness. The sceptre of his kingdom is a right sceptre. If clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitations of his throne. He loves his church and the members of it too tenderly, to lay upon them any burthens, [burdens] or expose them to any trials, which are not indispensibly to their good. It is right for them to go through fire and through water, that he may bring them out into a wealthy place; right to endure chastening, that they may be made partakers of his holiness; right to have the sentence of death in themselves, that they may trust in the living God, and that his strength may be made perfect in their weakness; right, that he should permit the dangers of this church to accumulate, until the interposition of his omnipotent arm be necessary and decisive. In the day of final retribution not one mouth shall be opened to complain of injustice. It will be seen, that the judge of all the earth has done right; that the work of his hands have been verity and judgment; and done every one of them in truth and uprightness. Let us, then, think reverently of his dispensations; repress the voice of murmur; rebuke the spirit of discontent; and wait in faith and patience, till he become his own interpreter, when the heavens shall declare his righteousness, and all the people shall see his glory. As often then as our king retires from our observation, either in the mysterious dispensations of his providence, or the stateliness of his person and glory, blending goodness with sovereignty, and majesty; let us lay our hands upon our mouths and worship and adore, for he is exalted far above all principalities and powers, fills heaven with his beauty, and receives from its blessed inhabitants, the purest and most reverential praise. Worthy, cry the mingled voices of his angels and his redeemed; worthy is the lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. Worthy again cry his redeemed, in a song which belong not to angels, but in which we with holy extacy may join, worthy art thou, for thou was slain, and has redeemed us to God by thy blood. AMEN.
ABSALOM GRAVES, Moderator.
ATTEST — MOSES SCOTT, Clerk.
[The grammar, punctuation and spelling are unchanged. — jrd]
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