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Circular Letter
Ebenezer Baptist Association (GA), 1836
[The Missions/Antimissions Controversy]
     A copious extract from the Circular Letter of the Ebenezer Association for the year 1836 is here given:

     "Great divisions have an existence in our denomination, and, so far as we are able to discover, without substantial cause. Those divisions have for their ostensible cause the friendship for, and support of, missionary and temperance societies by some of our brethren. Though to many it seems that this affords no sufficient cause for division, to others it appears to be abundant ground for the declaration of non-fellowship for churches and members favoring these societies, and the rending asunder of associations of long standing, composed of brethren who have for a long time seen eye to eye and face to face, and have communed at the same table in commemoration of the death and sufferings of our Lord.

     "These being the known consequences of the difference of opinion on the subject of these societies, let us inquire what are the opinions of each party. First, if we are not mistaken, it is the opinion of those who oppose missionary and temperance societies, that God will cause the gospel to be preached to all the nations of the earth; that He will accomplish this in the fulness of His own time and by the use of His own means; that, to do this, human plans are not necessary; and that the present operations have not the sanction of the Word of eternal truth.

     "Those favoring these societies believe that God will send the gospel to all nations of the earth, and this in the fullness of His own time and by the use of His own means; and, further, that now is the time, and that the redeemed of the Lord, and all that they can do and that they have, being the immediate gift of God, are His means; and they trust that the Spirit of the Lord has made them willing to be used for this purpose. They have no doubt that the Scriptures of eternal truth sanction the plans now in operation for the spread of the gospel of Christ. They call upon the opposers of these human plans, as they are called, to say what other course can be pursued for the accomplishment of this purpose. They speak of the blessing of God in favoring brother Judson with life, health, and ability to translate the whole of the Scriptures into the Burman language; and they consider the blessings of God on the labors of the missionaries sent to various stations as proof that God's own time is now and that His own means are employed in doing His own work - the spread of the gospel of Christ. And these things are spoken of by our missionary brethren as encouraging them to go on in discharge of what they believe to be their duty. To our anti-missionary brethren we repeat the words of our Redeemer, 'forbid them not;' they are not against our Lord; for they cause the Scriptures to be translated and published in languages inwhich they have not heretofore been known. They cause the gospel to be preached to the heathen and God blesses the sermons to the conviction and conversion of heathen sinners. These missionary brethren are not 'against' Jesus, and, therefore, by the authority of His own word we say, 'forbid them not.' Can this be the cause of non-fellowship for these brethren? O, Spirit of the Lord forbid it!"

* * * * *
     "Without taking part in these divisions, or expressing an opinion in favor of either party, we conclude this epistle by using the exhortation of the apostle to the Corinthian church: 'Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.'

"C. A. THARP, Moderator.



[Samuel Boykin, History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia, 1881, pp. 211-212. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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