The North-Bend Association of Baptists, — now in session at Bullitsburgh meeting house, Boone county, Kentucky, the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday in August, 1834, — to the churches of whom we are composed: grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.
BELOVED KINDRED IN CHRIST:
Through the abundant mercy of our Heavenly Father, we have been spared through the toils and difficulties of another year, and permitted to meet and attend to the business that came before us, and are about closing our interview, which will terminate the thirty-second of this association; and this is also the thirty-second letter that is called a circular. In this, as in former letters, some address to the churches will be expected.
First — In relation to our connection as brethren. We often use the term; and wherefore? Because we have one Father, even God, and one Saviour, even Christ, who is head over all things to the church, and in Christ, his people were chosen before the the world was; and that all their spiritual blessings were given in him, and nothing out of him, as an Apostle said, "Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." Hence we discover that our standing is in Christ, and not in ourselves, in relation to our acceptance or justification before God; and as such, are brethren, being born of the same Spirit, children of one family, under one Lord and law giver. Then let us adhere to his government, and receive his word, which is the Scriptures as the only criterion to govern our faith and practice; and in them (the Scriptures) it is said that "the man of God is perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Hence, we discover, the church of God is not partly, but perfectly furnished unto all good works, without going into any of the plans or notions of men. Then let us all strictly attend to our duty to God and to one another, and in the end count ourselves unprofitable servants; and in so doing we are characterized as the followers of Christ. But if we act otherwise, and profess to have faith, the Apostle James' address would be applicable to such, where he says, "Shew me your faith without your works, and I will shew you my faith by my works." Hence we discover that good works are the evidence of faith, even the faith of the gospel.
We will now introduce some other things before we close our letter. First — concerning the two ordinances of the gospel, to wit, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The Baptists of our faith and order agree in them as one people, without the smallest variation: and also in their government or discipline, but little, if any, difference.
But in reference to our preaching. It is said of us, that our preachers differ in point of doctrine: this assertion has been made by other people, as well as among ourselves. And now, brethren, let us consider whether the charge is correct, or only imaginary. It seems to be one that involves the church, as well as the ministers. Let us, therefore, search into the cause. Our object in introducing the subject is, if possible, to remove every thing that might tend to discord, throughout our correspondence. Therefore, let us consider the great propriety of making the proper inquiry: and while you are engaged in that, we will lay before you to consider that the gospel is a fixed principle, like its Author, yesterday, to-day, and for ever the same. So if there is a difference in preaching, it is not in the gospel, but in them that attempt to use it. In relation to the gospel, it said by the Apostle Paul, in his letter to his brethren at Corinth, that he "determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Again he saith, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Again, the Apostle Peter, in speaking of Christ, saith, that "there is salvation in none other." Again, "The true gospel minister preaches Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, and the object of our faith;" in a word, the entire salvation of his people. But all to the reverse, preach terms and conditions on the part of men in point of salvation, according to their various notions.
And now, dear brethren, let us look to the great Counsellor of peace to direct us in the way of peace in all things. Farewell.
[Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1834. The grammar and spelling are unchanged. — jrd]
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