Long Run Baptist Association
Circular Letter, 1826
By John Holland of Plum Creek Baptist Church
The Messengers composing the Long Run Associalion, to the churches whom they represent; Grace and mercy be unto you; Love and peace be multiplied. Dear Brethren, the Lord is yet making us, the objects of his distinguishing care, and tender mercies; for which, let lasting expressions of praise arise to his Holy Name. Many of our brethren, since our last annual address to you, are gone, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest. They have served their generation, and finished their work on earth. While their bodies are sheltered in some hospitable grave, their souls (as we hope,) are joining the uninterrupted and harmonious adoration of Heaven. Our moments yet run, and we have another opportunity, of endeavouring to promote Zion[']s holy Kingdom on earth.
Brethren, helieve us, we feel a particular interest in your peace and prosperity; as fellow travellers to the same eternal home: Receive therefore, this friendly designed address, not of formality, but as containing
the feelings and desires of those, who sympathize with you in your sorrows, and anxiously desire your prosperity. The suhject of this address, is Christian affection; the want of which, betrays a hypocritical and sinful heart, in those who espouse the cause of Jesus. The Bible abundantly shows, that true religion consists in assimilation to the Divine being, who is love. The heart being circumcised to love God, influences the tongue to speak of the glories of his kingdom, and talk of his power. But it is a painful fact, that some among those who profess the same truths, take the unwarrantable liberty, of speaking evil of their brethren; others appear active in sowing the seed of discord and contention in churches; others seem most delighted, in conversing on temporal things, even in the presence of their brethren; while others manifest an unwillingness, to cross the imaginary line, that opulence or erudition has drawn to familiarty with their brethren.
These things, together with that daily declension in practical godliness, that is almost universally seen among us, call aloud for serious examination, and actual reformation. It is not everyone that says; Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom. - The Scripture assures us, that many who have had great expectations for glory, will meet with an awful disappointment in the great day of God Almighty, When foolish Virgins will seek for mercy but in vain. What will it profit, if you have made great pretentions to godliness, have faith to perform the most extraordinary operations, devote all your goods to charitable purposes, and your body to be burned, and have not charity? It will all be in vain!
From these things it evidently appears, that love has a pre-eminence, it being the product of divine operation, and consisting in a proper direction of the powers of the soul towards spiritual and religious objects, is every where in Scripture spoken of, as an essential pre-requisite to all religious employment, that will be acceptable to God, and also, to the enjoyment of the blessings revealed in the Gospel. That faith that is of the operation of God, and purifies the heart, is said to work by love, - Love disposes its possessor, to a holy and obedient life. The Apostle has given a beautiful summary of the tendency of this grace, in the 13th Chap[ter] of 1st Cor[inthians]. He affirms that charity renders the subject of it, patient under sufferings and trials; Kind to all in the circle which they move; Disposes them not to envy others, because of their attainments or possessions; To be humble, and not to be elated with the eulogies of mortals, or the abundance of their possessons; Disposes them to a proper course of behaviour, both in civil and religious affairs. Not to seek their own temporal interest, at the expense of the things of God, and the souls of men; Not to be easily provoked, by the provocations of the wicked; Not to meditate revenge; to mourn over the sins, and imperfections of others; To believe all God has revealed, and hope for all he has promised. - He declares this grace shall ever continue, and when in exercise, will ever produce these salutary effects. Charity casts its mantle over the imperfections of those that love Jesus, and enables us to bear their infirmities. It is the bond of perfectness, of peace, union and fellowship. When Christians put on this, dwell and walk together in love,
as Christ has loved them, and show to the world by their life and conversation, that their love for each other is cordial and sincere, they exhibit a striking evidence of the reality of religion; reflect honor on the gospel; put to silence the wicked; recommend Christ; encourage the feeble and reprove the careless. It is also an evidence of our gracious state, for by it our decipleship [sic] is made known. It also is productive of peace, and creates a desire for glory and the society above. - It is a sweet incentive to others, to join in a cause so auspicious - In a word, it is this that makes them as beautiful as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. It makes society sweet, her ways are peace and pleasantness, and her path as the shining of a light, that shines more and more, till the pertect day.
Brethren, if you love God, it follows of consequence, that your aftection is not circumscribed to your own favourite body alone, but to all that are begotten of him. If a Christian, you are bound by that relation, to love all, that love and serve the Lord Jesus, in sincerity and truth. - Which love is not in word and tongue only, but indeed and in truth.
Every Evangelical grace when realized by the heart, manifests itself in the life. So the various duties that Christians are reciprocally bound to perform, are called by the Apostle, the works and labors of love, because influenced by love to their performance. Where love reigns in the heart, the sou1 is not only willing to give a cup of cold water, but also a piece of bread to those, who are the favourites of heaven. - And if necessary as [5-6 words blurred] their life for their sake.
Brethren, you should also give to the world, a practical demonstration of your love, to the cause of Christ: First, by an indefatigable and unreserved observance of all his commands and ordinances: Secondly, by subserveing its interest here below, in enabling the servants of Christ, to devote their whole time, to the important work. Does not that love which is from ahove, teach us, that those men who bear credentials from the same Eternal King, who first loved us, and influenced us to love him, should share a small part of our temporal enjoyments, as the just reward of their labor. If they receive not this aid from you, Oh, do not deny them the aid of your devout prayers! See these devoted servants, in obedience to their high command, going forth, through all the sufferings and fatigues, attendant on their high vocation, to preach the Everlasting gospel, to them that dwell on the earth; and then judge, whether the law of nature does not say, as well as the law of God, that these servants, should participate with you of your carnal things. From the above remarks, the following is clearly deduc[t]ible. Be cautious of speaking evil of your brethren, it is the ready way to alienate the affections; it is contrary to the Christian nature, and to the express commands of God speak evil of no man, therefore lay it aside. The evils attendant on this malevolent practice, are incalculable. Avoid saying or doing any thing, to mar or destroy the peace of Zion, that you may claim that endearing relation, children of God. Be cautious in betraying a parsimonious spirit, it speaks your love to the world; if so, the love of the Father is not in you; where your treasure is, there will your
heart be also. Avoid partiality among brethren who love Christ, as well as profess him. This is a great evil, which we have seen under the sun. Though they do not occupy so elevated a station in this life, they will in that which is to come; their circumstances are humble here, but they are heirs of that inheritance, kept in reserve for the objects of love. Do not willingly neglect attendance on divine service; it shows a want of affection to God, his service and his people; it breaks the covenant you made with your brethren; it is very discouraging to others, dishonorable to God, and destructive to society. Be careful to keep up gospel discipline, it is this that will guard your peace, maintain your union, secure your happiness, and promote your usefulness, and will also shield and defend you, against anti-christian error.
Dear brethren, stand fast in the liberty where-with Christ has made you free; being clothed with the armour of righteousness, that you may be able to stand in the evil day; observe his commandments, and follow his footsteps, then shall your peace flow like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea. Contend earnestly, calmly and patiently, for the faith delivered to the saints; be not carried about with new and strange doctrines; never deviate from the simplicity and faith of the gospel, in word or deed. The language of the several letters has been that of complaint; let us therefore go by the footsteps of the flock, and imitate the ancient saints, who wep't, fasted, walked and prayed, for the manifestation of the glories of the Redeemer, and the enlargement of Zion[']s jurisdiction. Let the prayers of us, and you, ascend to the throne, being perfumed with the incense, offered on the golden altar. Let us plead, that the great Head of the church, would cause the North winds to awake, and the South winds to blow on his garden, that the spices may flow out; and that the slain may live; and an exceeding great army be raised up, to praise the Lord. According to his promise, we anticipate the day, when the triumphs of the cross shall be seen in every land. It is then the holy waters shall be an impassable river, and the small stone fill the whole earth, and all nations call him blessed. It is then we hope to rest with you, where our joys will be full and eternal. Farewell.
GEORGE WALLER, Moderator.
Z. CARPENTER, Clerk.
[From Long Run Baptist Association Minutes, 1826, pp. 5-8. via SBTS Archives, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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