The Philadelphia Baptist Association to the Churches of which it is composed:
DEAR BROTHER: - We ask to address you this year concerning the several Societies which your Delegates, during this Session, have recommended to your liberal support. This is not the proper place to enter into a detailed account of the importance of these Societies; but, taken in the aggregate, never were Christian men pledged to a system of means more imposing in moral grandeur, or fraught with deeper interest, to all that is dear and affecting to man. By these Societies, you are exerting the most benign influences upon the social, civil, and religious destinies of the entire heathen world; supplying the moral destitution of your own country and commonwealth, and leading the minds of youth in the paths of learning and virtue. We have, then, nothing new to present you in this Circular, but to ask you to give to these Societies your ardent, unremitting, and liberal co-operation. Indeed, what more novel than the intelligence that one section of the Churches of Christ have met and fully discharged its obligation to the age in which it lived; that it had properly improved the talents entrusted to its care; that it deserves the noble appellation of burning and shining light. Not that we would say you have not been liberal. Your Delegates, with devout gratitude to God, call to mind the noble liberality which the churches in this Association exhibited during the last winter to one branch of Christian effort; and all they can hope is, that a like liberality will always meet a similar want. But what they wish to impress upon the mind of every Baptist is, the generous, steady, and warm support of all the Societies under the direction of this body - all which it has at this Session recommended. Our object is to bring before your minds, brethren, the whole array of benevolent operations to which you are pledged as men and Christians; and, to effect this, we ask each and every individual, to whom this Circular may be read, to take the Minutes of this Session, and, in the light of the Judgment, in the fear of God, and in the love of souls, to say how much he will do for each or any of those interests. We are aware that such a course may call for retrenchment in the life of some - for denial and sacrifice on the part of others - perhaps a fearful struggle with the full spirit of covetousness in a few. But to all this we answer, let it be done. There are many in this Association who have come to this already. Rather than see these Societies inefficient; rather than see them paralyzed for want of means - they have taxed themselves to the last cent, and paid into the treasury of the Lord their last dollar they could spare
from the actual support of their families; and, doing this, they have felt that they did no more than duty demanded - no more than the occasion asked - but that which the sufferings and blood of Christ required of them. They seemed to have studied the life of Christ with a desire to make it their own, and to have realized the force of His declaration, that a man's life consisteth not in the abundance which he possesseth; and have acted upon the principle, freely ye have received, freely give. Your Delegates are fully convinced that, without some such sacrificing devotion among the churches of this Association, that it will be impossible to prosecute, with anything like proper Success, all the interests recommended in the Minutes of this Session. They therefore, feel it their duty to appeal to every Baptist within its limits. 'Not only to those to whom God has given the wealth of this world, but to every one who carries in his heart the witness that he is born of God, to assist in this great and good work - no matter how small may be the sum which he may be able to contribute. It should be remembered, too, that a large portion of the benevolent operation here recommended, is to take effect upon our State, for which God holds us responsible, and, for the spiritual good of which, we are bound to labor by every tie civil, social, and divine. As your Delegates contemplate the moral condition of the commonwealth, they cannot disguise the fact, that they feel depressed as they see the small sums appropriated to meet the great destitution - a destitution truly appalling when it is remembered that it exists in a highly civilized country, and amid the lights and reformations of the nineteenth century. We are fully impressed with the belief, dear brethren, that, could you see the destitution prevalent in portions of the State - could you hear the statements we sometimes hear from the servants of your Master, laboring in these portions of the Commonwealth, you would at once come up to the help of the Lord - to the help of the Lord against the mighty. We are satisfied that men must know before they can feel, and must feel before they will act; and just in proportion to their knowledge and feeling will be their action in relation to any given object. In view, then, of this unalterable law of our mental constitution, allow us to recommend you to improve every source of information respecting these fields, white for the harvest - eloquent from a thousand points, and pleading by all that is dear, sacred, and affecting to humanity. Let us rather make sacrifices than that this work should not be done, timely, well done. and done to the glory of God; and, to impress our souls more deeply - to banish from us all trifling - to fill our hearts with the majesty of solemn and invincible purpose - let us call to mind the heavenly admonition, that “Time is short.” A few more suns, and we will have made our last contribution - breathed our last prayer - for the perishing millions of earth. Let us. then, so act that, when the final summons shall call us to the “reversion[?] in the skies,” we shall bear from the field of conflict some trophy to the glory of Him who loved us, and hath given himself for us.
[There were no paragraph breaks in this Letter.]
[From The Philadelphia Baptist Association Minutes, 1846, pp. 34-35. University of Chicago digital edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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