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Circular Letter
Long Run Baptist Association (KY), 1847
By Wm. P. Barnett

"The Mutual Duties of Ministers and Churches"

[p. 4]
The Elders and Messengers of the Long Run Association, to the Churches which they represent, sendeth Christian salutation.
By reference to the minutes, you will learn the business transacted, and the state of the churches generally; and will be prepared to join us in gratitude to God, for the harmony of our deliberations and the prosperity of Zion in our bounds. The subject of our address, is one of vital importance and thrilling interest, to all the people of God, viz: - The Mutual Duties of Ministers and Churches.
[p. 5]
The Duties of Ministers to their Churches.
A minister of the gospel, is called an OVERSEER of the flock, an AMBASSADOR for Christ, an UNDER SHEPHERD. Therefore, he is commanded to "feed the flock of God - taking the oversight thereof;" and to take heed unto all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made him overseer, "feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood." He is commanded also to give attendance to reading and meditation, and to study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, and giving to each his portion in due season. He is appointed to watch for souls, as one that must give an account unto God. Now, in order to do all this, a minister must employ his whole time, and energies. The physician who neglects his patients to attend to his farm, or the instructor who neglects his pupils to attend to his merchandize, is unworthy of the name he bears. So with the minister of the gospel. He must give himself WHOLLY to the work. Had David been absent when the lion and the bear approached his father's flock, the sheep would have suffered greatly, but, being present, he smote the monsters, and rescued the lambs. Hence, it is a minister's duty, not only to study and preach, but also to visit his members, to encourage and strengthen them, and to prompt them to acts of benevolence. Thus he may be instrumental in establishing the wavering, strengthening the weak, and in building up all on the most holy faith of the Gospel. Such are some of the duties of ministers to their churches.

The Duties of Churches to their Ministers.
As no man goeth to a warfare at his own charges, but is supported by the government under which he serves, "even so hath God ordained that they that preach the gospel, shall live of the gospel." That there is a great error on the part of many of our churches in this particular, none will deny; and Zion languishes and mourns on account of it. There are too many who seem to think, that, when they have paid their minister what is his due, it is so much given away, or that it is only almsgiving, as though he was a common pauper. Whereas, in truth, it is only discharging a debt that is justly due the minister of Jesus; and it should be done willingly, and not by constraint. Let the members of our churches, seriously consider this subject, and let each one decide for himself what he can give, and then act promptly, that the hands of our ministers may be loosed. We do not say, that it is the duty of a church to make her minister rich, but that it is her duty to sustain him in his labors of love, and to enable him to devote himself wholly to the work of preaching the gospel. Thus he will prove a blessing to the church, by supplying her with spiritual food; while, on the other hand, she will prove a blessing to him, by imparting to him carnal things. If they sow unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if they shall reap your carnal things? Such are some of the duties of churches to their ministers.

When ministers and churches thus discharge their duties towards each other, they may with confidence look to God for his blessing upon their efforts to promote his cause. Thus laboring, the gospel will spread its benign influence, and the truth will mightily prevail. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands, will soon fill the earth, while we unitedly pray - "O Lord, let thy kingdom come, and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of God, and of his Christ. Let the knowledge of the glory of God cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea." Then shall the desert flourish and blossom as the rose; then shall the heathen be given to Christ for bis inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for a possession; then brother shall not say to brother, know ye the Lord, but all shall know him from the least to the greatest. Finally, dear brethren, as the expectants of glory, let us dwell together in love, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Now, unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. - Amen.

[From Long Run Baptist Association Minutes, 1847. From the Southern Baptist Seminary Library, Archives and Special Collections, Louisville, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]

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