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Written by Robert Kirtley
Bullittsburg Baptist Church

The Messengers of the North-Bend Association
now in session at Mudlick Meeting-House to the
Churches of Christ of which they are Members:

Beloved Brethren in the Lord, --

      It has been the uniform custom of this Association from its organization, to the present, to address the churches, annually by a circular; for their encouragement and edification, in the knowledge of God our Savior. It is also customary to call the attention of the brethren and sisters, to some definite subject, in which they all stand immediately connected, as belonging to one Heavenly Father. We know of no subject that has stronger claims on us then that of brotherly love. This is ever a new commandment; and as we are exhorted by the great apostle of the Gentiles; to let brotherly love continue, we therefore conclude that this theme is of as much vital interest to the believer in Jesus, as any taught in the New Testament. When we contemplate the great love of God, towards guilty sinners and the way in which that love has been manifested, in the gift of his Son, we are ready to say with an apostle: behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us; that we should be called the sons of God. And now brethren; we know that if we have been taught by the Spirit and grace of our Lord Jesus, that we have also been taught to love each other; as is said to the Thessalonians.

      Again, how do we know this, because we know him that is true, and we are in him that is true. Hence we observe, that when the Spirit of Jesus reigns within; and those two, high and heavenly virtues, humility and love, are cultivated and prevail, the church of Christ is preserved from confusion and faction, and gives constant evidence that she is as a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid. We know that the primitive Christians had great trials and difficulties to conflict with, and underwent great privations in publishing the true Gospel of the Redeemer. Christians need not expect to be exempt from temptations and trials in the present day, for such is the mixed condition of human life that it admits of these. But the greatest evils and confusion which disturb the people of the Lord, frequently occur when Christians suffer the passions, ambition, and pride of men to agitate their minds, and direct their conduct in the assembly of the saints. When this is the case Zion mourns or should mourn. But brethren we have abundant reason to thank our Heavenly Father for his preserving care; and that love and harmony hath abounded, and doth abound with us as a body. When we look abroad and behold the confused and convulsed condition of the professed Zion of God, we cannot believe that this is the Lord's doings; but we are bound to ascribe it to the ambition of man.

      Pride is the polluting fountain of faction. It is pride that makes men turbulent and contentious, that renders them imperious and overbearing, that drives them to this determination, that they must have their own way, regardless of the opinion and feelings of others.-- Humility and love have entirely the contrary effect. They not only keep us quiet but bring us to the footstool of sovereign mercy. There is a portion of Scripture which if sacredly observed, and strictly adhered to, would forever shut out the dividers of the brethren. "If there be, therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." The observance of this single injunction, would preserve our mutual harmony, and make our meetings pleasing, they would be scenes where all the air is love, and all the region peace. We must remember that Christianity, is, being like Christ, and unless we partake of that love, "which suffereth long and is kind, which envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, which doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." If this true charity be not found in us, we are only as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. The language of Scripture is, and now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity. This love or charity is of great importance; without it no gifts can be truly valuable, where it is not, there can be no true faith. Love flows from the Lord Redeemer into the heart of a poor sinner, it forever continues when once implanted, it renders us patient under trouble, show to anger, ready to forgive injuries, and prepares us to be willing to help our neighbor, makes us morn for his faults and afflictions, and kindly bear with his infirmities, and is the bond of perfectness. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13th:10. We see a great propriety in encouraging that sort of Christian temper, which qualifies us to fill our places in the house of the Lord, and among his people. The Scriptures abound with exhortations of that kind. And it would seem strange indeed, that men, who by their confession, own themselves as being apostate, ruined and undone sinners; and that they are only saved alone through the condescending mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, (which confession is true) and yet lack humility.

      O brethren let us consider, the apostle and high priest of our profession; how he has loved us and stooped to redeem us; then we will love each other, and walk together as dear children. We recommend to all the household of faith, to immitate the example of Christ and his apostles. Let the ministers of the Gospel take heed, and be cautious how they preach. Let them give a full exhibition of the doctrine of salvation by grace; and, at the same time, exhibit that doctrine in a scriptural manner, as the basis of holiness and moral excellence. They should inculcate the excellent temper of love and humility from the pulpit, and exhibit it in their conduct. Let both preachers and private members remember that humility and love are the necessary fruits of our doctrine, the highest beauty of our character, and strong guards of the churches. The apostle John treats largely upon love, he was a disciple whom Jesus loved, and on whom he bestowed particular marks of favor and friendship. Who can read his epistle, which every where, breathes the gentle spirit of its author; and not admire that spirit. Christians do admire it, yes that religion which is peace and love. Once this subject claimed the attention of our Godly fathers in the North-bend Association years ago; more perhaps than it does ours now. Where are they? gone to enjoy that peace and that love which they exhibited in their lives, and by a godly conversation recommended to others. Brethren let us endeavor to tread in their footsteps, imitating their examples; looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; and maintain that peace which has so long characterized the North-bend Association. Brethren the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits. Amen.

LEWIS CONNER, Moderator.
Lewis Webb, Clerk.

[The grammar and spelling are unchanged. From Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1837. - Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall, 1987.]

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