YOU are authorized, from custom, to expect an address from us. The minutes will inform you somewhat of the sate of the Churches composing our body, as well as of the business that has come before us. From what has and still is, a very frequent subject of conversation, as well as of the pulpit, you might expect something on the subject of heresy and unsound doctrine. We are of the opinion, that to contend for the truth of Christianity, doctrinally and practically, is the most successful way to oppose heresy. Thee are a few truths spread over the sacred pages, which we apprehend Christians are taught of the Lord to understand, and cannot reject, viz. the circumstances in which sin has placed the human family – “conceived in sin,” “by nature children of wrath,” under condemnation, not only for what they do, or do not, but for what they are; the necessity for, and the suitableness of the character of Christ (“being God manifest in the flesh”) as Mediator; that the Holy Ghost only, does quicken the sinner, apply the merit of Jesus, for his comfort, and assure him that in the Lord Redeemer only, he hath righteousness; that persons this taught of the Lord, have a relish for the ordinance of the Gospel, and to them the commands of Christ are not grievous, but agreeable. An Apostle said, examine yourselves.” Brethren, you have professed the religion of Jesus; What are you feeling? How much are you benefited by that religion? Does it afford you strength in weakness, joy and comfort amidst sorrow, and agreeable company in the hours of your solitude? Examine your ways; do your conversation and deportment go to convince those with whom you associate, that you are a Christian indeed? The religion of Jesus furnishes motives from which the Christian should act. Undissembled love to God, the Holy Scriptures, the rule by which his actions should be regulated; the glory of God should be the object of such actions.
There has been much said upon the subject of Christian union. Did we enjoy more active union with Jesus, it would influence our conduct, tempers, and tongues, and consequently make us the worthy objects and subjects of the union and affection of all real Christians that are acquainted with us. Thus maintaining the dignity of the character of Christians indeed, would be the best way to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. Those who do
not enjoy union with Christ, care little for union with Christians; they are zealous for sectarian union. But those who enjoy union with the Head, feel a relation to the members. Those who enjoy fellowship with Jesus, partake of his spirit, and feel sympathy for a poor ruined world of fellow-beings. Brethren, we invite you to imitate the good Prophet of the Lord, who said, “I am pained.” It was for the interest of others. An Apostle said, I have continual sorrow and heaviness of heart.” It was for the interest of others. Moses said, “O that they were wise,” Yea, the Lord Jesus wept, bled and died. It was for the interest of others.
O that the Lord would pour into our dull souls a spirit of prayer and devotion. Chen Christian union would be felt; we should be united in a proper concern for the interest of God’s good cause, and the voice and heavenly cry of Wisdom would then be echoed and re-echoed from our pulpits saying, “Unto you, O men! I call.” John’s feelings would be entered into, which prompted him to say, “I am not worthy;” and his practice adopted, when he, with a warm soul, said, “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
We conclude this address by pressing on your minds Joseph’s advice to his brethren: “See that ye fall not out by the way.” Christians are not apt to fall out or disagree about the matters of Christ; their disagreement is commonly about matters of their own. You are members of one family; family discord is unseemly. You are a small band, few in number, your foes are many and mighty, the world, the flesh and the devil; they are united and formidable; you have need for your united strength, close order and well timed marching under the banner of Jesus, in order to the defeating of the enemies of the cross of Christ.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” Amen.
[From minutes of the Franklin Baptist Association, 1825, pp. 3-4; via SBTS digital documents. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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