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Shelby County, KY - 1837

The Messengers composing the Middle District Association of Baptists, to the Churches which they represent, sendeth greeting:

      As this is the epoch of our Associational existence, it becomes our duty particularly, in brotherly love, to address you on the great subject calling us together, on which we have been deliberating, viz: the glory of God and the good of Zion. With reference to these, our Associational Union was formed; not to legislate for, nor monopolize the power over, the Churches; but to promote Union and strengthen their bonds. As brethren, thus identified, it behooves us to keep in mind the great design of our Union. When the Lord converts sinners, and brings them into his fold, He designs them to live to his glory and promote the good of others. How, dear brethren, shall we best secure these objects, within our limited sphere? As a matter of the first importance, we should be united: Union will be our strength - Union our ornament. An house divided, has neither strength nor beauty. Though a little band, if united, we shall be as the deep rooted oak that wrestles with the wind and defies the tempest; but if disunited, we shall break before the breeze and be borne away on the tide of error. This is the fruitful era of the Apostle's warning - the prolific age of heresy and dIscord. Let us take the Bible, the lamp of Heaven, the sword of the spirit - may its sacred truths be inscribed on our hearts, and acted out in our lives. Thus shall we mingle as kindred drops of

the same fountain and be one according to the example, the doctrine and command of Christ. Let us unite dignity with meekness, patience with firmness, zeal with perseverance, and prayer with duty: then shall we grow as a well watered tree, richly ladened with precious fruit: then shall we be comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an army with banners: then shall we be as the dew of Zion and ointment of Aaron: then shall we be as the salt of the earth, and a city on a hill: then shall we not be discouraged, though few, feeble, and poor. Now, some may be fearful as to influence and usefulness. How often have we seen the happy pair commence their conjugal career amidst the wealthy sons of liberty, and by industry, economy, and perseverance, rise up to competency and respect. It is true that we are but a feeble band, surrounded by old, large, and respectable Associations, enriched with virtue and talent; with biblical and literary intelligence, which have obtained a commanding eminence; but this is, instead of discouragement, a matter of joy. The peculiarity of Christians is to help each other. Will our brethren frown us down? No. This would betray a want of the spirit of Christ, and develope a spirit of intolerance incompatible with our holy religion. Our brethren will aid us hy their labors and their prayers. The great matter is, are we built on the rock - do we look to Jesus - there mny we confidently look for success. Though talents and numbers are desirable, let us not depend on them, but on the dear Saviour - whose prerogative alone it is - to add to his people, and increase them in grace and number, wilh the increase of God.

      Then, dear brethren, let our aspirations unceasingly ascend to God, perfumed with the incense offered on the golden altar. Prayer brings us near the throne, and Heaven near to us. Prayer brings us low in the dust of humility, and elevates the soul to fellowship with God. Prayer gives us to feel our own weakness and nerves us with more than human strength. Prayer eclipses earthly glory, but casts an effulgence around religion. Prayer weans from earth, but allures to glory. Yes, prayer mukes us happy, strong and successful.

      Brethren, let us read the book God gave us; it is God's will and our treasure; it will direct us in our course, animate us in our trouble, and arm us for the conflict. May love, that celestial fire, warm our bosoms - may her soothing voice whisper peace, and may she cast over us her golden mantle. Without love, all is blighted; Zion will bleed, peace will expire, pilgrims will mourn, and enemies triumph. If brotherly love, with all her kindred train, be ours, then will the God of peace be with us; the Prince of peace rule in us, and the dove-like spirit take his abode with us - then will Jesus be glorified - we shall be

happy, and Zion the asylum of the weary. It is our duty brethren, from the word of God, to learn what is truth. We should make no compromise with error - it promises fair, but always deceives, misleads, and bewilders; but truth, like a diamond in the dark, will guide us all along the journey of life, till its radiance is lost in the beams of Heaven. Brethren, God's work is like himself: the plan of redemption, like a wisely constructed machine, it secures the great object of its divine author - all its parts harmoniously move to the same great end - God's glory in the holiness and happiness of his people. It is not enough for us to say we are religious, but must carry the practical testimonial that we are so. Theory alone will do but little good - it is like a castle built in the air that may please the vision, but not subserve the interest. The faith of the gospel leads to obedience, God's sovereignty leads to reverential submission, while the doctrine of grace leads to a holy life.

      Again, dear brethren let us stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. Many of the Baptists have long been reproached as delinquent to their ministry. How far this is just, let us, with the fear of God in our hearts and the balance of justice in our hands, determine. We are apprised of the fact that many have verged to extremes on this subject; but this should not deter uS from the sober medium of the Bible on the subject. Let us generously sustain the heralds of salvation, who break to us the bread of life, that they may he disencumbered with the affairs of this life, and consecrate all their energies to the great work. May the Lord give us faithful laborers. Let us foster the gifts that are among us. God will bless us in the discharge of our duty - in the use of those means of his own appointment. His shall be the glory, while ours is the benefit.

      Finally, while we give to God our hearts, and devote to him the best efforts of our lives, let us be all of one mind, having compassion one of another - love as brethren, be courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrarywise, knowing that we thereunto are called, that we should inherit a blessing. Time will soon go by - we retire to rest - meet in glory - be with Jesus, and be forever at home. In love, farewell!


[From Minutes of Middle District Association of Baptists, Shelby county, 1837; via SBTS Archives and Special Collections, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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