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The Christian a Laborer
By W. Pope Yeaman
      From the North Bend Association of Baptists, in Session with the First Baptist Church at Covington, (KY) Sendeth Greeting to the Churches whose Messengers compose the Body.

Dear Beloved Brethren in the Lord:
      The Messengers have convened in the 63d Annual Meeting of this Association. All of those who organized this body have been called to meet with the "General Assembly and Church of the First Born." We, through the direction of the Great Head of the Church, are made their successors in the work of Faith and labor of Love. We owe our Divine Master a great duty a duty that cannot be discharged without christian labor.

     In this our annual epistle we deem it meet and proper to urge upon you the duty and importance of diligence in the Master's Vineyard; and we know not how to stir up your minds to this subject better than by calling your attention to the fact, that in the divine economy, all who are saved in Christ, sustain to Him the relation of LABORERS for Him.

      We have not been saved by the infinite and sovereign power of God, simply that we might be saved from the terrible consequences of wicked transgressions. Christ did not die or us, simply that we might not die. We have not been effectually called unto him by the Holy Spirit merely that we should escape the pains of Hell, and enjoy the bliss of Heaven - but that we might be prepared to glorify God in our bodes and spirits.

      The primary design of the plan of salvation, is to restore man to that moral condition, which will incline and enable him to do his duty to his God; this preparation makes up his moral fitness for heaven. Heaven, therefore, is the glorious outcome or consumation of salvation. Paul

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informs us in plain language of the primary design of Christ's death, in the following language to the Corinthians: "For we thus judge * * * that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again." It was always man's duty to live for God - for this he was originally designed. After the fall he was disinclined and unable to perform this end of his creation. In Christ the believer is blest with an inclination or disposition, and a power or ability to do this his duty; that this might be the moral condition of redeemed man, Christ died for them. Now all who are saved have life in Christ; this life is spiritual, and to the end that those who are thus alive should live for Christ. In living for Christ, is implied, Christian effort. We are "workers together with Him." We have no just claim to an interest in Him, unless we are for Him. We have no well founded hope of salvation through Him, unless we find it in our hearts to work for Him. "Go ye into my vinyard and work," is the command given to all of us. How are we to work and what we are to do, are questions in which every true disciple feels an interest.

     We will give brief answers to these questions.
     1st The Christian is to work for christ in a life of Godliness and holiness. There is a moral power in holy living that accomplishes much for Christ. We are to walk circumspectly, redeeming the time, seeing the days are evil. We are to walk worthy of our vocation, as the called of God. There is in practical piety, a tower of strength to the church and the cause of Christ. The vindication of the truth of Christianity is dependent, in a large measure, upon the lives of those who profess it. By living then, consistently with our profession of faith, we work for Christ. Let our light so shine that, other men seeing our good works, may glorify our Father who is in heaven.

      2d. We are to labor in co-operation with our pastors. Itis a part of the divine plan, that all Christians shall be helpers together to the truth. Church members are not only privileged to hear the gospel, but to aid in preaching it. "Let him that heareth say come." The practice prevails amongst our people of being simply hearers of the word, taking it for granted, it seems, that when they have attended the ministry of the word, they have done all their duty in this matter, and devote the balance of their time to secular and selfish interests. We must be brought to feel that we have something else to do; we must be doers of the word as well as hearers. We must be doers under a sense of duty, and not of interest merely. It is the precious privilege, and the

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imperative duty, of every Christian, to work in conjunction with the pastor, in every good word and work. We should visit the sick, comfort the afflicted, warn the sinner, direct the mourner, strengthen the young of the fold, reclaim the wandering, restore the wayward, and strive by every means to preserve the harmony, and promote the prosperity of the church. We can easily account for the little progress of our churches, in the fact, that there is so little co-operation with the pastors upon the part of the church members. We complain of barrenness and coldness, and yet never use the means to prevent this unhappy state of things.

      3d. We work for and with Christ, in the way of ministerial support. God has appointed the ministry as the chief agency of the church, in building up and extending his Son's Kingdom on the earth. He has given the ministry to the churches; upon the churches he has devolved the duty and the labor, of sustaining the ministry. They must be sustained, or they cannot exist, or do efficint [sic] labor. The laborer is worthy of his hire; he labors for the churches - the churches are responsible for his hire. We are commanded not to muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. There is much ox muzzling done by our church members. Generally the thing least thought of is the temporal necessity of the pastor. Many Christians seem to think, that when an inspired writer said, "they that preach the gospel shall live of the gospel," he meant that the mere fact of preaching would allay the gnawings and cravings of a hungry stomache [sic], or clothe the unclothed body. Others say, "O! the preacher will have his reward hereafter." This is likely. So will those who hide behind this subterfuge to avoid the doing of a duty - but terrible will be their hereafter reward. He who does not help in the maintenance of the ministry, fails thus far to work for Christ.

      4th. We are to labor for Christ, in the Missionary work. Not that every Christian can be a missionary, in the sense in which we ordinarily use that term, but while they cannot be missionaries, all can help those who are, or help the fields that are open to missionary work. The field for doing good is imense. We have a great destitution in our own midst, and God has made it our blessed privilege, and even bounden duty, to give our means to supply this destitution. When we work upon our farms, in our shops, in our offices or stores, for the purpose of obtaining the means to aid in spreading the gospel, and in sustaining the ministry of the word, then are we working for Christ.

      Our Foreign Mission fields are groaning for our help. Our Missionaries have endured trials and afflictions not much unlike martyrdom, that they might enlighten the heathen, and bring them to a knowledge of

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the truth, the light of the gospel, and to salvation through Jesus Christ.

     Our Domestic Missions is a field where all can, and where all ought, to labor. We cannot all go to these fields, but we can send a representative, by way of a contribution.

     The whole South is now embraced in the sphere of the operations of the Domestic Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Sections of country and churches once sustaining the word among themselves, and contributing largely to spread it abroad, are now unable to do either. Individual Christians, who a few years ago gave immense sums of money for church and missionary purposes, are now without the means to sustain themselves and families. Church houses once comfortable and attractive, are now in ruins. Dwellings - a few years ago the houses of large-hearted and active Christians, are now heaps of ashes and mortar. Farms once luxuriant and groaning under their loads of wealth, are now wide spread fields of devastation. Yet God has a people there - they are hungering and thirsting for the word of life and comfort. Their souls are panting after God. They pray for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem. They long to sit again under the drippings of the Sanctuary, but their preachers who have long gone in and out amongst them, who have for years broken to them the bread of life, and taught them the ways of the Lord, are without the means of support, and those who have long held up their hands can do so no more for the present. What shall we do? The preachers are there; they need no importation of ministers. The people love the ministers who are among them, but have no substance to divide with them. Shall we not work to re-establish the heritage of the Lord in the Southern States? A voice from our brethren in the South cries "help us!" Shall we not help? God will bless those who help.

     Many are the parts of the vinyard of our Lord in which we can work. We can all work. We have the Sabbath Schools, the family circle, and among our domestics.

     Let us not be idlers - we must not be found wasting the time given us - the night cometh when no man can work - let us work while it is day. Our walks will follow us up to the church of the First Born.

     Christ is saying to us, "I know thy works." O! brethren, what does he know of us? Do you feel that he can commend us?

     We beseech you, in the name of the Great Moderator, the head of the church, that, in the beginning of this Associational year, all apply yourselves assiduosly and prayerfully to the work of the Lord, bringing all of your tythes into the storehouse, and prove Him that he will pour you out a blessing.

[From microfilm records at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Louisville, KY. Northbend is now known as the Northern Kentucky Baptist Association. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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