Elkhorn Baptist Association
Circular Letter, 1844>
By F. C. McCalla
The Ministers and Messengers composing the Elkhorn Baptist Association, to the Churches they represent:
If this letter should seem to you to be out of the common order of our annual communications, we trust you will not the less attentively peruse it, and hope it may have some effect upon your future deliberations, as Churches.
It has often occured to us that the doings of Baptist Associations presented a very monotonous record, and one from which posterity could learn but little - that there was not as much useful information and instruction in them, as a looker on, acquainted with the talents, piety and learning of our Delegates would expect, and that such an observer would be astonished to find so little in the pages of your Minutes to edify. Scarcely ever, if at all, do we recommend, or propose to our Churches, any subject for their action or deliberation. This was not the case in the early period of our history as an Association.
We come here from Churches, many of them remote from each other, read the letters you send, and read letters from Corresponding Associations - address you a letter on some select subject - select the place of convening next year - appoint a Minister to preach the next Introductory, and adjourn. This routine of business is usually done hurriedly and frequently very many of your Delegates leave long before it is done. Now, Brethren, this is not as it should be. A Baptist Association might be made one of the most useful and important conventions in the world. A Church of Jesus Christ is, in our opinion, the most eminently useful associations of individuals on earth, and your Association might be made to equal, if not exceed that in usefulness and importance, by extending the field wider, and concentrating upon it a stronger influence - by uniting a larger number of individuals in the same cause, and making a vast family of brethren out of a number of smaller ones, all working together, of the same mind - striving to excel each in love and good works - with minds enlarged by the vastness of the field committed to their supervision, and stimulated to renewed energy by the importance of the work to be done.
To have your Association such, you need only, as churches, to mark out the work - put down the bounds and designate the measures, and it is done. And ought you not to be up and doing, when you survey the vast field before you, already ripe for the harvest, and the very short period that we are permitted to remain upon earth to act for our Heavenly Father? The world is yet unconverted, and the Bible has not found its way to every man. What, permit us to ask, are you doing? Shall we not say, what are we doing, as an Association, to extend the Redeemer's Kingdom? But little, if our records are to be consulted for our facts. Can we not do much as a much as a body to aid our Bible Societies in giving the Word of Life to those who now have it not? to enlighten the minds of those who are enveloped in darkness by giving to them the Word of Truth, which is able to make them wise unto salvation? It is our province to advisor, but when on all pages of our Minutes have we ever advised our Brethren to be active in desseminating the Word of God among the destitute? Such recommendation is but seldom found, if found at all. There are hundreds of children who never enter a Sabbath school, and who are there fore debarred from all the useful and interesting information and instruction there imparted, who, if this Association had kept constantly before your minds by frequent advice and judicious exhortations, might now be the partakers of the benefits of that invaluable institution. There are sections of our State, and not very remote, where Baptist preaching is a thing almost unheard of, where, if we, as an Association, had been actively engaged in Missionary operations and you as Churches had called our attention
thereto with importunacy, might now be occupied by a Baptist community, and flourishing Baptist Churches. There are on record very many instances of bright conversions, dating their convictions from the reading of some interesting tract. What might we not have done, if we had been actively engaged in aiding the Tract Society in distributing that class of religious informaiton? - the amount of happiness that might have been imparted to many hearts through that channel, had you called the matter up in your annual communications, cannot be computed. Temperance, with all its hallowed associations - the influence it has exerted upon the morals of the community - the blessings it has conferred upon the thousands of miserable human beings - the joy it has imparted to many a heart - the calm serenity it has given to many a mind; has never once been the subject of our deliberations. Now, one object we have in view in thus acknowledging our delinquencies and our efforts in practice, as well as glancing at your want of action in the benevolent efforts of the day, is to entreat you to aid in correcting ands remedying them. Embody in your annual communications, after you have given the matter your prayerful consideration for months, such important subjects, bearing directly upon the peace, prosperity and success of the Redeemer's Kingdom, as will elicit from us our thoughts, feelings, desires and action. Let the great matter of the triumph of the Gospel over the hearts and consciences of men, and the means of extending and widening and strengthening the Messiah's Kingdom be the theme of our tongues, the burden of our prayers, and the subject of our associational deliberations.
We are all called upon to work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work. To become master-builders in our Lord's service, we must be diligent, assiduous and unceasing in our efforts after knowledge. If we would be thoroughly furnished unto every good work, we must be actively engaged in the use of every means of doing good which God has placed in our power. We must arouse from our lethargy, and awake from our slumberings, and put on the whole armor of God, and fight the fight of faith, looking to Jesus. This is now a time for watching and prayer. The standard of morality set up by the world is alarmingly low and unbecoming, and every day brings evidences of the professed followers of the Savior lowering their standard to that of the world, and of their partaking of all their vain and ambitious pursuits, until it is hard to distinguish who it is that wears the livery of the Redeemer. This Brethren ought to be corrected and corrected at once. The standard of morality as laid down in the Bible, ought to be constantly held up conspiciously and maintained by the friends of and believers in the Bible, until the world sees its beauties and excellencies, and strives with laudable zeal to attain to its perfections. We must all become "workers together with God," and when, in the discharge of our duty, whether it be in the proclaiming the Gospel from the pulpit, in sending the Bible to the destitute, in endeavoring to implant in the minds of the young the truths of the Bible, in promoting the cause of Temperance, or in whatever else we may be engaged; having the glory of God and salvation of souls for its object, we shall have the joys and comforts of religion in our souls, and the approbation of our Heavenly Father upon our exertions.
We entreat you then, Brethen, in view of all these things to be actively engaged in the service of our Master, pray much, pray in your families, pray in secret, pray without ceasing. Let the Word of God be your constant companion and guide. May the Spirit of God dwell with you, and comfort you, and lead you unto all truth. May the peace of God be with you always, for Jesus' sake. Amen. ==============
[Typed from an original document at Elkhorn Baptist Association, Lexington, KY; 1844, pp. 7-8. Formatted by Jim Duvall.
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