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Northbend Association of Baptists
Circular Letter

Written by Lewis Webb, 1833
Sand Run Baptist Church
      More than thirty years have elapsed since our constitution as an association. Of all the members who first composed this body, none are now with us. The last remaining brother has been gathered home to his fathers since our last meeting. The other surviving members have moved to distant countries, and we presume are but few in number. - What a happy reflection to us, who fill their places, that during this long period no jar, no schism has taken place in the association. Harmony and brotherly love have distinguished the progress of all our interviews. Our efforts have been united in promoting the glory of God and the welfare of Zion, and we indulge the hope that those efforts have been approved and blessed by the Great Head of the church. With emotions of gratitude let us adore the riches of that grace that has preserved us in harmony through the various toils of so many years, and notwithstanding sufficient matter for praise and adoration cannot be wanting to those who are redeemed of the Lord, such distinguished favors should awaken the most ardent thankfulness of our hearts. Our souls should expand with heavenly aspirations to the great source of all our comforts, of all our joys, of all our blessings, for a continuation of his mercies to us undeserving as we are. Oh! that our Heavenly Father would keep from among us "the feet of the divider of brethren," and grant unto us the influences of his spirit of grace, to shield us from the wiles of the enemy of all righteousness; that as a band of brethren united in effort, united in love, united in heart, we may adorn the doctrine of the cross.

      And now dear brethren, in as much as we have been so highly favored of the Lord, "let brotherly love continue" and abound, because love is the bond of union, that makes our Zion the joy and delight of the saints on earth, and this is not all. - The imposing aspect of the church united in love, would exert a moral influence over the children of men. Infidelity would be greatly awed into silence & scarcely dare assail the chruch of the living God; for she is "terrible as an army with banners." But on the contrary, if we "bite and devour one another," it follows as a natural consequence, that we "shall be consumed one of another;" and the enemies of the cross are emboldened in their opposition to the religion of Jesus Christ. The divine Jesus, who knows the frailties of our natures much beter than we do ourselves, in order to impress on the minds of his disciples, in the most forcible manner, the great importance of abiding in love, and that it should not be forgotten, imposed a new injunction, by saying to them, "a new commandment I give unto you that ye love one another, as I have loved you;" and wherefore: because, "by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples." - Again, this divine prinicple is urged as a criterion by which we may determine our own situation in regard to our eternal interest, hence says John, the beloved apostle, "we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." And further we are assured, that "he that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Another strong inducement to strengthen this bond of union, is the relation which we sustain to each other and to our God. As children of the same heavenly parent, and heirs to the same inheritance, looking forward to the fruition, of the transcendent glories and ineffable joys of a blessed immorality, it behooves us to love one another, "as Christ has loved us, and given himself for us." "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in uity."

      Brethren, shall we ungratefully dash from us the cup of happiness, the sweet union and fellowship of our brethren, and embark on the tempestuous ocean of trumoil and strife? - Still we disregard the fatal examples with which we are surrounded, both in regard to the unhappy divisions of the church and the awful visitations of Almighty God, and enter the field of contentment? Who can look on the scenes of death and pestilence abroad in the land, and doubt that God has a controversy with the children of men? Who can doubt that sin is the cause of this affliction? Who can solemnly say that I have not sinned, and am, therefore, exempt? "He that is without sin among us, let him cast a stone."

      And now dear brethren, in the close of our letter, let us remind you of the importance of adhering steadfastly to "the faith which was once delivered to the saints," and not to be carried away with every wind of doctrine;" bearing in mind that salvation is alone of grace, from first to last, and that good works are the fruits and not the cause of our faith; after we have done all that we can, we are unprofitable servants, and, "Oh to grace how great a debtor" that we are not dependent on our own performances to obtain life and salvation. Were this the case, we feel confident that the object would never be accomplished, and that our course would eventlually terminate in the chambers of endless woe. With hearts of gratitude, we should adore the riches of that grace, "that sought us when strangers, wandering from the fold of God." Oh! brethren how much ought we to love our Heavenly Father, "who has done such great things for us," and as he has given us a hope in Christ, "let us glorify him in our body and spirit, which are the Lords." Endeavoring to honor the cause of Christ by departing from every appearance of evil - "by living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world," "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." - Walking together in love, as dear children. - Endeavoring "to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." - Evincing to the world that we have been with Jesus -- that we have tasted - that he is pecious - that his goodness constrains us to love, adore, and serve him, and unites us in the strongest ties of Christian fellowship - Brethren, we are persuaded that if these things be in us and abound,

"Our cheerful songs would oftener be,
Hear what the Lord has done for me."

      May our Heavenly Father continue unto us the blessings of peace, "that we may be rooted and grounded in love;" "that we may know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fulness of God," that we may be guided by his unerring spirit through life, and die in the triumphs of faith, is the prayer of your brethren in the hope of eternal life.
     Brethren, farewell.

[From Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1833. The grammar and spelling are unchanged. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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