Lost River Association [IN] in 1832
By Rev. Royce McCoy.
DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS: We would be thankful to God that you continue your Christian regard for each other, and have sent letters and messengers to perpetuate union, etc. May an enemy in no form whatever make such inroads upon us as to cause schism and distress; to prevent which we exhort you to live near to Jesus and cultivate acquaintance and brotherly kindness with each other.
And now we call your attention to the use of some of those means for the promotion of true religion, which the Lord has directed in His holy and insipred Word. Maintaining as we do, and as we think all genuine Baptists, have ever done, from John, the Baptist, and forerunner of Christ, till the present time, that candidates for baptism, and members of churches should be regenerated by the Spirit of God, we conclude His rich and sovereign grace lays them under the strongest obligations to do all they can to magnify His good cause, always taking care to be governed by His unerring Word.
1st. Let each one examine his own heart and see that it be not haughty; that the love of God be richly shed abroad there by the Holy Ghost; that it may have a deep sense of God, the cause of religion, and the worth of souls - and "keep thy heart with all diligence."
2nd. All that are heads of families, especially, should recommend the blessed religion of Jesus to them, and begin and end each day with prayer and other devotional exercises. Tell your little children and others they are sinners against God, although they are continually dependent upon Him that He is exceedingly good, and has borne long with sinners, and has provided a great salvation for them. Teach them to respect His holy Word, His worship, His people, and the Sabbath day; teach them they are always in His presence, and soon will have to give account to Him for all they think, say, and do; and that there is a necessity for all to repent immediately of their sins,and believe in Jesus Christ.
3d. As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them of the household of faith. Give your brethren and sisters evidence, by your sympathy and Christian kindness, that you love them as members of Christ's body. Esteem it a privilege and duty to meet with them, talk with and encourage them in the good ways of the Lord. Let the cause of God be ever regarded as the best of all causes, and let not the affairs of this life crowd so on your minds as to make you neglect the great concerns of religion.
4th. Let your conduct towards your neighbors, and the world in general, be according to godliness, and be zealous in every good word and work. In your intercourse with your neighbors let no opportunity pass unimproved to advance the religion of your Lord. Tell them often of His love His rich gospel, and entreat them to be reconciled to Him. Tell with humility and and reverence what he has done for your own soul. This often produces a great effect, both on those who speak, and those who hear. Are any of your neighbors, or acquaintances, destitute of a Bible? Endeavor to have them supplied with one, and impart to them any religious information and instruction you can that accords with God's holy Word.
5th. Let the children and youth of our land be a matter of serious concern. No doubt they have been quite too much neglected, but they ought not to be neglected in any wise. They are born in sin, their souls are precious, and they might be of immense service in the church of Christ. Moreover, the Lord, by the prophets, alluding to gospel times, gives encouragement on this subject [see Isaiah, 44,3; Joel, 2,28; Psalm, 8,12.] And children in the temple once cried, "Hosanna to the Son of David." Jesus heard, and approved the deed [read Matthew, 21,15, 16.] Religious impressions may be made earlier on the minds of children than most people are aware of. Then let fathers, and especially mothers, be actively and affectionately engaged to instruct their children and youth in the happifying doctrines of the gospel. Here is also a profitable field for active and zealous labors of the ministry, and forms an important part of their duties. Children and youth will often regard and remember the affectionate counsel of a preacher, especially if it be given individually, accompanied with prayer and tokens of affection.
6th. Give all the encouragement you can to the preaching of the gospel among the churches and in destitute neighborhoods; when you pray, try always to pray for preachers, and that the Lord would increase their number, their zeal and faithfulness. Often when a preacher is invited to preach more frequently, and to extend his labors further abroad, he has to reply, "My temporal concerns, and the wants of my family forbid it." Yet surely, every preacher, called of the Lord, feels bound to preach, and to do all he can to make known the glorious gospel. O brethren, would it be wrong? Would not Heaven approve the deed? for his brethren and friends, to supply his needs, so that they should not, in anywise, be a hindrance to him? Surely,
Jesus, would regard such acts of kindness as done to Himself, and grant an ample reward in the rewarding day. Then, let your hearts and hands be open in this tender, yet important matter; and if the preacher neglects preaching in any case, let not the sin lie at your door - God sees it. Neither let any insinuate he is a hireling, or preaches for money, because he receives something to afford him opportunity to labor in the gospel; fear of this makes many preachers shrink from their glorious work, and almost sink down in distress and silence. But God sees them. Therefore, endeavor to encourage your preachers, and let them know by your affection, sympathy, and brotherly kindness, that you feel a deep interest in their prosperity and usefulness.
7th. Preachers, also, should especially consider that the state of religion, both in and ouf of the church, depends much on them and their labors, as instruments of usefulness or injury, of honor or disgrace. They should study the Scriptures, pray to understand them, be established in the faith, use sound speech, seasoned with grace, endeavor every way they can to win souls to the Lord, build up Christians in Christ, and take great care to give no occasion for enemies to speak reproachful1y of His good cause.
8th. Let all duly consider the obligations they are under to fulfill the Saviour's high Command, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," &e. Remember, there are millions of our race that have no Bible - have no knowledge of Jesus, and are worshipping idols, while their souls are perishing in sin; let each one ardently inquire, "Can I do something to make known the riches of that glorious grace that brought me, a stranger, outcast, and rebel as I was, to the feet of Jesus, my Lord, and made my poor soul rejoice in hope of His glory?" Let each one reflect, while using means to obtain temperal benefits for himself and others, it is his indispensable duty to use means to declare the glory of God, and, that sinners may be converted and saved. Remember that "he that soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly;" and "he that will not plow by reason of the cold, shall beg in harvest and have nothing."
9th. All - all should be done in accordance with the direction the Lord has given us, with humble dependence on Him, and with fervent, unceasing, and united prayer to Him for His direction, energy and increase. 'Tis He that makes it our duty to act - prescribes the means for us to use - and He alone can crown our labor with a glorious end.
O, then brethren; whatever we find to be our duty, let us do it without delay. God calls to labor, fight and run; time is precious; our children are dear; our fellow mortals have souls above value, and are hasting to eternity; and God's cause is often wounded by the neglect of its professors. O then, we beseech you, by the love of God by the sufferings of our dying Saviour, and by the invaluable worth of souls, to work while it is day - to pray while Jesus is on the mercy seat, and by lively faith rest on His unshaken promises
for the glorious reward. O! to see our children and youth become religious, and uniting their voices in sweet hosannas to Jesus - our neighbors and fellow mortals of every nation converted - surely would be most joyful to every Christian. Then let us awake to duty, and let us never be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. May the Lord bless us all, revive His work, and save us, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
[From R. H. McCoy (one of its members), History of the Oldest Baptist Church in Indiana, pp. 35-38; via On-line Archives of SBTS, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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