The Campbell Association of Baptists, begun and held at Licking Meeting House, the second Friday in September, 1828, to the several Churches that compose this body, Wishes grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
VERY DEAR BRETHREN,
God in his providence has again permitted us to assemble ourselves together in another annual interview. Our interview has heen very harmonious and comfortable, in which we have had the happiness and pleasure of seeing many of our kindred in Christ, and joining with them in the work and worship of the Lord. For which, and every other manifestation of his love, mercy and goodness, towards us, we wish and desire to return our gratitude, praise and thanksgiving.
The information received, upon reading your letters, informs us that it is a very unfruitful season in religious matters among you, and but a very small number added since our information. The causes of the declension of religion in our Churches, may arise from many sources - the neglect "of giving heed to the word spoken," not only among ourselves, but that of unconverted sinners among us. "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." - Dear brethren, upon our constitution as an association, you were addressed with what is called a circular letter, in which you were called to consider the great responsibility that devolved upon you and us also. But of what use that address has been to any, or who has received benefit therefrom, is only known to God. This association in addressing you, does not assume or exercise any authoritative right over you; nor do they expect to advance any new tennet, idea, or doctrine. But as brethren in the common faith, they would attempt "to stir up your pure minds, by way of remembrance," of the duties which you and each of us owe the interest of Zion. As there can be nothing more necessary, for the peace and prosperity of the Churches composing this association, than the discipline which Christ has instituted for the spiritual health, peace and prosperity of his body, the Church. And every branch, or member of that Church, is as "a city, set on a hill which cannot be hid." It is "a spectacle to the world, to men and to angels." We may then suppose, that those without will judge the Christian religion by the conduct of its professors. It then should be of high importance to you, and each of us, as it respects the honor of God our Saviour, and the glory and advancement of his spiritual kingdom, that his religion should be exhibited in our examples, and so commended to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Buf should the discipline of Christ's church be utterly neglected, the enemies of Christ and his religion, will cry out against us; and will say in contempt, "is this the city that man calls the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth." Neither can any society of professing Christians appear "comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an army with banners," no farther than the members of that body preserve the purity of Christian practice and doctrine, and do maintain that wholesome discipline, for which Christ has given them authority, and to a prevalent neglect of that discipline, we have to acknowledge and ascribe the many difficulties
which are found in our churches; and those that mar the beauty of Zion, which bring odium on the Redeemer's kingdom, and thereby he is daily wounded in the house of his friends. Let every exertion in sincerity be tried, and every method used, (by the assistance of divine grace.) in order to remedy those evils, which are so hurtful to the growth, health, peace and prosperity of the churches. To prevent evils of this nature, which ajways result from a neglect of it, we exhort the members of the churches composing this body, to be circumspect, watchful and prayerful. We should often call to remembrance the solemn engagements, by which we have bound ourselves to depart from all iniquity, and feel our high relation to Christ, as the subjects of his visible kingdom, and our indispensible obligations to endeavor in the deportment of our lives, to exhibit the Christian light in the sight of all men, that Christ and his religion may be commended to the consciences of all, and thus to avoid bringing it into reproach in the eyes of the world. For depraved as the world is, it would be constrained to take knowledge of such professors, that display the purity of Christ's religion in their examples to have been with Jesus; that they had imbibed his spirit; and there should be no occasion of saying to them, "what do ye more than others." In this view, we would entreat you, brethren, to watch over one another, to pray for one another, and to exhort and admonish one another, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." For "this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." A watchful eye upon the state of the church, and upon particular members, with seasonable interposition, would be of more service towards the preservation of good order, than all other things put together. Discourage whispering, backbiting and jealousies. Frown on tale-bearers, and give no ear to their tales. Nip contention in the bud. For "we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." Then let us, and each of you, adjust all differences among ourselves: let no misconception rest in the church. But frankly give those tender admonitions, which are so strictly enjoined on the professors of Christ. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Each of us, and you also, should "be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine," and thereby become examples to the world; and to each believer, "in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." For in true and practical religion, we seldom open our mouths, but we find occasion for the exercise of religious principles. Should any confine religion to the church or closet, they would greatly err, there is indeed principles required. But the world is the theatre in which these principles are to be displayed; for by meditation and prayer the heart is cleansed. But it is in our ordinary intercourse with society that our Christian light is to shine before our fellow creatures, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven. And we should so regulate our conduct, and conversation, that it may "minister grace to the hearers." Let us guard our words, "putting away lying, speak every one truth with his neighbor." "Let all bitterness and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from us, with all malice." "Speak not evil one of another." "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying." "Finally, bretbren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God. even our Father, which hath loved us. and hath given us everlaating consolation, and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work. And to his name, be everlasting praises, throughout the churches.
JNO. STEPHENS, Moderator.
[From Campbell County Baptist Association Minutes, 1828, pp. 3-4. The document is from the Campbell County Historical Society Library, Alexandria, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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