of the Sihawassee Baptist Association, Michigan
Held with the Church on Maple River,
Circular Letter, 1850
To the Churches composing the Sihawassee Baptist Association:
Dear Brethren: - In this our Epistle, we present to yonr consideration The Influence of Faith. Faith is that devout mental exercise by which we lay hold on divine aid, and in view of which, God is pleased to supply, through Jesns Christ, all our need. "Whatsoever ye shall ask believing, ye shall receive." Faith does not depend upon any attitude, suffering or action of the body; otherwise the false Prophets in their contest with Elijah, would have consumed their sacrifices - the crusaders would have gained a universal triumph and Idolatry would never have yielded to the power of the cross. Nor does it depend upon any mental superiority or cultivation; otherwise the Scribes and Pharisees would never have yielded to the illiterate fisherman of Gallilee; and the wise and noble, instead of the weak and despised, would have been the firm and devout disciples of the meek and lowly Saviour.
The faith of Jesus Christ is holy and divine, and is possessed and exhibited by those whose birth-place and inheritance are heaven - whose hearts, affections and conversation are in Heaven - who are the living epistles of Jesus.Christ; and by them it has been and may still be exhibited in the most contrasting and astonishing
manner, for the Saviour has said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed. ye shall say to this mountain, remove to yonder place, and it shall remove."
Faith is the gift of God. The highest human agency cannot create or produce it. All attempts at this will be as fruitless as these of the seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, when the spirit said, Jesus I know and' Paul I know, but who are you? - Hence, says Peter, why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk, and plainly declared that this power was derived through Jesus Christ of Nazareth - hence with united heart and voice, we should with the primitive disciples cry; "Lord increase our faith," until the Holy Spirit's hallowed, rousing, purifying and sublime influence shall clothe us with an unearthly energy, and enable us to fight manfully the good fight of faith. The divine matter has said; "Be it unto thee according to thy faith:" Hence we behold the wonders wrought by patriarchs, prophets and apostles. Faith in God gave Moses an influence over Pharaoh and the Egyptians, when they quailed before him and sought his aid, while sorrow, dismay and death were in every habitation of that once mighty nation. By this also, he was enabled to be a deliverer and judge amongst the Israelites, and exhibited various tokens of divine interposition while passing from Egypt to the land of promise.
By faith Enoch, Abraham, Elijah and a catalogue of ancient worthies exhibited a character and a moral grandeur which has signalized their names and embalmed their memories in the hearts of the christian world. And it was faith which gave the primitive disciples such success in defeating the designs and in silencing the rage of their open and bloody persecuters - in assailing and demolishing the strong holds of Satan - in pouring a flood of living light upon the darkness of paganism, and in preaching the glorious Gospel of the blessed God with power from on high to all nations. It was no less the power of Faith which planted a christian church in Idolatrous Rome - than that which made tho walls of Jericho fall down-than that which oponed the iron gate for Peter, and delivered him from the expectation of the Jews - than that which opened a passage through the Red Sea for the salvation of the Hebrews and the destruction of the mighty host of the Egyptians. It was the power of faith which rendered the primitive christians energetic, cousistent, fearless and triumphant. - What gavo Peter such holy enthusiasm on the day of Pentacost [sic], when thousands were obedient unto the faith? Or Paul, when on Marshill, surrounded by idolaters, the open and violent enemies of the cross, he declared unto them the unknown God? Or when amidst the stripes and imprisonment, and death, oft he affirmed, "I am ready not to be bouud only, but to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus - I am ready to be offered - the time of my departure is at hand? And cannot this same moral power give new life, energy, consecration and success in this season of spiritual apathy, when Zion is languishing throughout all our borders?
What gave Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, Zuinglius and their associates, their zeal, firmness and ascendency when contending with the man of sin, entrenched as he was amidst the bulwarks of the nations? Or John Bunyan, when from his lone cell, he wielded a hallowed influence, which shall be felt till the close of time? The power of faith has been displayed in all the past history of the church of Christ in preserving it amidst every fiery ordeal and in presenting it as a standing miracle to every successive generation. The triumph[s] of the Kingdom of God have ever been graduated to the faith of his children - it is thus graduated, my brethren, at this moment - hence we can measure our faith and know our duty. It was when the primitive chriistians were full of faith and the holy spirit., that - many were obedient unto the faith, and the word of God grew mightily and prevailed - such is the plan of divine operation.
influence, for faith without works is dead being alone. If we indulge in a carping, complaining, fretful or slothful disposition, let us not imagine that we possess strong, lively, previous faith; for though we might fancy our faith so strong as to remove mountains or call fire down from Heaven, yet destitute of of charity exemplified in the spirit and life of Jesus, our faith, our influence and our usefulness would be no better than a tinkling cymbal. Brethren, tbe time is short, and the claims of our Master are impressive and imperative - come up to the help of the Lord. It is high time to awake out of sleep, for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
DIGEST OF LETTERS, 1850
Minutes of the Sihawassee Baptist Association,
BURNS, expresses great gratitude for the mercies conferred upon them durmg the past year. The great head of the church has poured his spirit upon them, converts have been multiplied, backsliders have boen reclaimed and the hearts of all have been made joyful in the salvation of God. They enjoy tho ministry of the word by Br. Pack, and have an interest in a union Sabbath School.
DEWITT, expresses gratitude that death has made no inroad upon their members during the year, but complain of coldness, and confess a want of coming to the help of the Lord. They have enjoyed the ministry of the word, and hope not altogether in vain. Have two Sabbath Schools in union with others of about 50 scholars. and 200 volumes in Library.
ESSEX & BINGHAM, complains of much coldness and apathy, are feeble and scattered over a large territory, but hope they have a few names that are longing and praying for the revival of God's work, They enjoy thc ministry of the word one half of the time.
LANGSBURGH, are sleeping with coldness and discouragements. They have not the ministry of the word, but are endeavoring to maintain meetings for prayer and conference. They desire to be remembered by their brethren at the throne of grace.
LANSING, mourns over the prevailing want of faith, and the apathy that abounds not only among them, but in all the Churche~. They cry O Lord restore unto us the joys of thy salvation. They are feebled and weakened in their influence by local interest - they have not the stated word but aro hoping to see the cause arise even among them.
MAPLE RIVER, We have had no revival to cheer our hearts during the past
year, yet we have reason to be thankful that the Lord is merciful and slow to anger. We crave the prayers of our brethren from abroad, that the Lord will come to this place by his spirit, that Zion may ariae and souls be saved from Death.
OWOSSO, We groan under the horrid curse of Slavery while we see no prospect of relief. We have adopted your resolution to bring into requisition the gifts of the church, and found the result most salutary.
[From The Sihawassee Baptist Association Minutes, Michigan. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More Michigan Baptist Histories
Baptist History Homepage