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Circular Letter
Long Run Baptist Association (KY), 1865
The Duties of the Hour
By J. M. Weaver
[p. 9]
DEAR BRETHREN: - Peace once more spreads its benign influences over our country. After four years of tearfully sad conflict and strife, quiet once more prevails. During all these years of blood arid death the cause of our blessed Savior has sadly declined. Religious obligations have been forgotten, and Christian influence has decreased. Wickedness has increased at a fearful rate. Satan has had almost unlimited sway. Many of those, once kind and gentle in the social circle, and useful in the Church, who professed the religion of Jesus, have turned from the purity and gentleness of the Gospel of peace. The Churches have been desolate. Many of the ministers of our land have fallen - some into the arms of Jesus, others, alas! into disgrace, and are worse than lost to the church. Coldness and barrenness has characterized almost all of our great religious bodies. Gloom has shrouded all of our religious interests. We have wept, as amid the gathering darkness, we have asked, "Watchman! what of the night?" and heard only the maniac laughter of the world saying in bitter scorn, "Religion is but superstition, its teachings tend to blood and death!"

But the night recedes; the light again faintly dawns upon us. With it comes the duties of the day. We look around amid the desolation; the fallen altars, and smouldering fires of our Churches, and ask, "What are the duties of the hour?" What must we do now, that the tirnes of joy and tides of love may again be with us? How shall we recover our lost position?

1st. It is necessary that we should search our own hearts, and seek nearness to our Heavenly Father.
It is our duty to be personally holy - governed by the principles of the Gospel of peace - returning individually from our wanderings. All of us, more or less, have wandered from God - grown cold in religion, and lax in our religious duties. Let the good work begin at home, in our own hearts. We must each seek a nearer conformity to the image of our blessed Redeemer. We must return to our neglected closets - seek communion with Jesus - the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of the Father. Let there be a "hungering and thirsting after righteousness" - a humble confession of sin - a prostration of soul at the cross - submission, and a swearing allegiance afresh to the King.

Let each, thus, individually, return to the path of duty. The times demand it; the Church pleads for it; Jesus requires it.

2d. We should look to our long neglected Churches.
We are each connected with some Church. We remember when we entered it; how often we have prayed for it; how often wept amid our labors in its behalf. We have seen it torn and deserted. Now we must go to work, aided by the grace of God, to build it up.

The prayer meeting once connected with it, it may be, has died; we must reorganize it. We must labor with each member, that all may
[p. 10]
work together. The Sabbath-School connected with it once flourishing, is now weak and feeble; we must infuae new life into it by our presence and earnest, continued pleadings in its behalf. We must aid the minister in the preaching of the word; untie his hands; take him from the school-room; the plough, or the work-shop. Lift up his hands; second his efforts that the Church may be benefitted by his labors. Let prayer and praise ascend in the public congregations. Let the voice of supplication, amid tears and sobs, go up to the throne of grace, that the beauty of the Lord may once more be established in our midst. Let the Churches thus once more trim their lamps, that light may again chase away the gloom setting so oppresively upon us.

3d. We should look to our Misssionary opperations.
Even in the very envrions of our Churches is the destitution of heathendom. Vast fields are uncultivated. Destitute neighborhoods, which before the war, we were endeavoring to supply, are now from their gloom calling upon us to help them. We must carry them the bread of life. We cannot meet our responsibilities unless we go to work immediately in these fields. We cannot wait; the issues are too vast; the results too great; Souls are perishing. We can go to them and carry the word of God. We may not be able to preach, but we can tell the way to Christ, or we can pay some one else to go; support them while they preach to the poor the unsearchable riches of Christ. Let all those organizations, in the diiferent neighborhoods, which were broken up by the terror of the times, be reorganized. We must thus look right at home first, give true labor, money to the work. Let no one of us suppose for a moment that we may be excused. These operations may depend for life and vitality upon us, and we must meet the obligation. And while thus engaged, with a comprehension, like the boundless love of the Savior, we must see and aid other fields remote from us. Our Domestic Missions must be sustained in all their length and breadth. Broken and sad hearts appeal to us from the fields of the far South. Destitute of the bread of life; of Gospel privileges - they cry unto us. They have a claim upon us that we could not if we would, cast off. They are our brothers and sisters. In days of prosperity they labored with us. Misfortune has overtaken them; their houses of worship are burned down; their altars desolated, and in their trouble they appeal unto us as their brethren in Christ.

How strong the appeal! How pressing their need! How cold the heart not moved by their pleadings!

Our immediate duty is to aid them. From our abundance we must supply their necessities. We must strengthen our Boards by filling their Treasuries. We must give until we feel it. Self-denial must be practiced in order to carry forward our missionary operations. God requires it of us; his cause demands the sacrifice, and suffering souls piteously plead for it.

These are the immediate duties of the hour, brethren, devolving upon us. Shall we not meet them? Shall we not labor thus for God and souls? Let us but meet these responsibilities; do our duty before God, and we shall behold the Churches "looking forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun and magnificent as an army with banners."
[From Long Run Baptist Association Minutes, 1865, from the Southern Baptist Seminary Library, Archives and Special Collections, Louisville, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]

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