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Long Run Baptist Association (KY)
Circular Letter, 1855

"Systematic Benevolence"
To the churches composing Long run Associaiton:
WHEN it is remembered that the Lord Jesus said, "that it is more blessed to give than to receive," we cannot fail to be surprised that those bought with the blood of Christ, should be so reluctant to give up their substance to promote the great benevolent objects which characterize the present age. The early disciples of Jesus were bountiful. Many of them parted with all their worldly goods for the sake of Christ -- selling their possessions, and laying the
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entire proceeds at the Apostles' feet. Paul, wishing to excite the Corinthians to distribute liberally, tells them what their brethren of Macedonia had done. They had the best of all excuses for not giving, for they were in "deep poverty." But having it in their hearts to give, by self-denial, they made their very poverty abound unto the riches of their liberality. If their deep poverty so abounded, what would they have done had they been as wealthy as some American Christians? They not only went to the full extent of their ability, but even beyond it; "for to their power -- yea, and beyond their power," they gave. They gave willingly. They had it in their hearts to give even more. No one said, as it is now often said, "Well, I suppose I must give you something." Nor was their willingness the effect of any appeal made to excite their feelings. "They were 'willing of themselves.'" The apostles were not compelled to entreat them to give, but the Macedonian Christians had to entreat the apostles to receive their gift -- "praying for us, with much entreaty, that we would receive the gift." The love of Christ constrained them; for Christ, "who was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty might be made rich."

There are many reasons why we should give liberally. Great facilities, never before enjoyed, now exist for the multiplication of Bibles, and for sending the gospel to the heathen. The objects to which we are called to give, are great and noble. Liberal donations are needed. The time for giving is short, for the night of death is hastening. Many blessings are promised to those who give liberally. "The liberal soul shall be made fat." "He that watereth, shall be watered also himself." "There is that scattereeth, and yet increaseth." "He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully."

Let it not be said, "the calls are so many." Are they really so numerous? Any thing which annoys us at intervals, is apt to be considered as coming oftener than it really does. When a man has rent to pay, how frequently the quarter-days seem to come! But it is not so with the receiver. But if the calls are so many, are they more than the wants? Would you have the calls fewer than the wants? Will you withhold from the cause of Sunday schools, the education of young men for the ministry, Home Missions, Indian Missions, of Foreign Missions?

There are few persons who cannot better afford to give than not to give. There is no loss in giving. There is great gain in it. Giving is sowing. What farmer says he cannot afford to sow? The money bestowed in charity, is seed money; and he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. It is poor policy to be stingy in the use of seed money.

It is of great importance that we should be systematic in our
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benevolence. We should not wait to have our feelings excited, and our tears made to flow by the appeals of some agent. We should give voluntarily and systematically. Nathaniel R. Cobb, a Baptist, whose life is published in a cheap form, by the American Baptist Publication Society, resolved when he commenced business, to give one-fourth of his net profits to the cause of Christ, and to increase the proportion, as he prospered in business. The result was, that this Christian contributed $50,000 to advance the cause of Christ, and yet left an equal amount to his widow and son. Cannot each member of the churches composing the Long Run Association, safely make the same resolution? The Bible rule is, that we shall give "not grudgingly, not of necessity," but cheerfully; "for the Lord loveth a cheeerful giver." Have we done so? Have we each contributed according as the Lord prospered us?

Not only is systematic benevolence important for individual Christians, but also for churches. We are gratified that some of the churches of this Association are adopting the plan of quarterly collection for benevolent objects, which, if adopted by all the churches, would yield a vast amount annually for the spread of the gospel.

We would recommend the adoption of this plan of systematic benevolence, by quarterly collections, to the churches composing the Long Run Associaiton.
[From Long Run Baptist Association Minutes, 1855. From the Southern Baptist Seminary Library, Archives and Special Collections, Louisville, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]

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