By Sydnor D. Hanks
Owen County, Kentucky
To the Members of the Churches composing this Association -
BELOVED IN THE LORD - Under the protecting care of our divine benefactor, we have been again permitted to assemble in an associated capacity, at the time and place appointed, and have had the pleasure of seeing many of our brethren from sister Associations, as well as from our churches - with whom we have enjoyed ourselves in that way which we trust will not lessen the bonds of christian fellowship.
For information upon the business done by us at this time, we refer you to your messengers and minutes. Our deliberations seemed to have been conducted with that degree of temperance which should, at all times, characterize the true followers of our blessed Emmanuel.
The churches composing our body seem to be at peace within themselves, and some have received small additions by e)qierience and baptism. May this be the beginning of better days with us; and may the time speedily come, when the LORD will visit and comfort Zion universally.
To this happy end we admonish our ministering brethren to be ardently and constantly engaged in the great work assigned them. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Then let the heralds of the cross awake; let the soldiers of Jesus gird on their heavenly armor; let them unfurl the banners of the Gospel, and go forth in the name of Jesus, proclaiming glad tidings of salvation to the ends of the earth, or as far as God, in his providence, may open an effectual door. Nor does this work devolve exclusively upon the ministers. We are persuaded that not a son or daughter of Zion should stand idle in the market. Christ says, occupy till I come; and the great Apostle to the Gentiles, admonishes his brethren at Corinth, and says, Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the LORD.
Brethren, permit us to bring to your minds some other duties, incumbent on us; as exhibited in God's most holy word.
We should pay strict attention to the moral law, as a rule of life. Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it; neither is the law made void through faith, but established. David, in meditating upon this law, exclaimed in the piety of his heart, How I love thy law of God.
Saint Paul, under a dispensation more luminous, declared, that he delighted in the law of God after the inward man. We fear that many professors often violate that clause which says, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Brethren, there are too many of us who make this a day (if not a day of labor and trafic [sic],)of visiting, feasting, and of vain worldly conversation, to the shameful neglect of private devotion and public worship. These things ought not to be. We should also be strict in the discipline of our families; as stewards under God, and over, those committed to our charge. Have we not great reason to believe that much of the dissipation, moral disorder, inattention to, and even contempt for divine things, (which too obviously appear in many of our rising generation,) grow out of this fatal neglect of parents. We awfully fear that few parents in the present age will have it said of them as God said of Abraham, For I know him that he will command his children after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment. The wise man says, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. And Paul says, Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD.
Prayer is another duty much neglected by us. Our blessed LORD has directed, To watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation. We should pray in our closets, families, and public meetings, for the success of the Gospel, prosperity of Zion, and for the conversion of souls - and should be performed in Christ's name with faith.
The assembling ourselves together, on days of church meetings, as well as other times of public worship, is another duty much neglected by many of our brethren. A declension in religion generally proceeds from a neglect of some known duty. Causes of small magnitude, at first, prevent us from attending our meetings. By this neglect we are apt, in a great degree, to lose the feelings of a christian and the enjoyment of our brethren, until we fall to the groveling level of the world; and if we do not go with them to the same extent in wickedness, there is such a conformity in our common deportment as to almost destroy every mark of distinction. Brethren, this should not be. We should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as tlte manner of some is, We should, in our churches as well as at all other suitable times, aim to edify each other, always striving togetlier for the faith of the Gospel; living, walking and abounding in love, and so acting, in all things, that unbelievers beholding our conduct and the order of our church, would be constrained to say, That God is in us of a truth. Our speech should shew that we are citizens of Zion, our conversation declare that our hearts and treasures are in heaven, and our walk manifest that we are
travelling to a city, which hath foundations whose maker and builder is God. But, brethren, while we are travelling to this celestial city, let us not forget that we are in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, and may expect to meet with spiritual wickedness in high places.
Should the old tempter, with his subtle devices, assail us, let us not forget to cast our care on Him who hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. Let us not be dismayed with the fiery trials through which we may have to pass; but let us hold fast the profession of our faith, without wavering,for HE is faithful that promised. Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works, bearing in mind the admonition of Joseph to his brethren, see that ye fall not out by the way. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor prefering one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the LORD; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which peesecute you; bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompence to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren not unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[From Minutes of the Twelfth Annual Sessison of the Concord (KY) Association, 1832, pp. 6-8; via SBTS Archives and Special Collection, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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