To the churches composing this North Bend Association of Baptists.
Dear Brethren, through the blessing of God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we are again favored with the privilege of meeting together in our associated capacity, and to address you on the subject of religion; the letters from the churches generally testify of peace, harmony and brotherly love prevailing, no false system has been suffered to be set up amongst us in the place of divine truth, as revealed in the everlasting gospel, the gospel of the grace of God.
Brethren with heart-felt gratitude we learn that some precious souls, as we have reason to hope and believe by this grace of God, has been added to the churches since our last meeting, by experience and baptism, whose faith stands not in the wisdom of man, but in the favor of God. When we enjoy such unmerited favors so fully bestowed on the people of his choice, as their deliverance from slavery and sin, for their redemption comprehends certain deliverance from all bondage, which is accomplished by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures teach us that men are converted and brought to Zion in consequence of their having been redeemed, and as Christ has redeemed them he claims them for his own. They are therefore, called the ransomed of the Lord, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and shall come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, he is only made acquainted with this truth by the quickening energy of the Holy Spirit, Christ is called a quickening Spirit now, when God shines into the heart of the sinner by his grace, and shows him his lost and ruined condition, as such before a holy God, and that except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The soul thus enlightened immediately feels himself a wretch undone, but cannot see how mercy can be extended to him, he stands self condemned before his judge. Expecting to hear the sentence, depart, he tries to pray, but God requires the heart which he cannot give, his cry is God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord save or I perish; his sins are many, he knows not where to flee; he believes Christ is able to save sinners, but nothing short of personal interest in his atoning blood can satisfy his mind; he views his case as differing from all others, he cannot think one good thing nor do one good deed in his own estimation; the soul that sinneth shall die, his sins are bearing him down, hope has almost fled, he has become a complete beggar; he plainly sees that he can do nothing to merit salvation, the poor sinner is not left here, he dies to live again. Jesus reveals himself as having died for just such sinners as he sees himself to be, and by his love applies it to his case, he sees his sins are forgiven, he is made to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Faith now begins to work by love, he knows that they who put their trut in the Lord shall never be confounded; of such materials the church of God is composed. Built by his own power alone, we know of no other name, we want no other foundation for salvation, but with an everlasting love, therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn the happy, happy believer in the Lord Jesus; you are complete in him not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, the love of sin is taken away and love to God and his holy religion implanted in the soul. Now we have this rule laid down in holy writ, he that loveth God loves his brotheralso, it is one of the evidences of our being in Christ; we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. While we profess and believe that salvation is of the Lord, may we never fail to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit; peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, let us not be desirous of vain glory and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also; let others pursue whatever course they may, be it ours to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in our lives and conversation.
Finally, brethren farewell, live in peace and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Amen.
[From Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1841; now known as the Northern Kentucky Baptist Association. The grammar and spelling are unchanged. — Jim Duvall]
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