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1827 KEHUKEE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION

CIRCULAR LETTER

This Association convened at the Kehukee meeting-house in Halifax County, on Saturday, 6th October last, and continued in session three days. The Association embraces at present 38 churches and 1,951 members. It appears by the following resolution, passed at this meeting, and Circular annexed to their Minutes, that the division of sentiment on the subjects mentioned, which recently threatened them with disunion, has at length been amicably adjusted:

“14.┬áResolved, hat whereas a paper purporting to be a declaration of the Reformed Baptist Churches in North Carolina, dated 26th August, 1826, which was handed into our last Association, and read, (containing several articles), and the said Association, referred the same, to the churches composing this body, which were requested to give their sentiments severally on said articles to this Association; which being done by most of the churches, at this time – after an interchange of opinions by the members of this body, it was agreed that as to Missionary Societies, Tract Societies, Bible Societies, and Theological Seminaries, that we discountenance them, and the practices heretofore resorted to for their support, in begging money from the public to back them; and that if any person should come, or be amongst us, as agents of any of the above societies, we discountenance them in the practice above said; and further, should they be under the character of ministers of the Gospel, that we will not invite them into our pulpits, knowing them to be such; believing these societies, and institutions, to be the inventions of men, and are not warranted from the word of God. As to the article in said paper, relative to Masonry, we unanimously agree, that should any of the members of our churches, join said fraternity, or be members thereof, and continue to visit their lodges, and Masonic parades, that it shall be a bar, to prevent them from fellowship with us in our several churches; and should any Baptist minister, join said fraternity, or belong thereto, and continue to associate therewith, in the lodges, or Masonic parades, that in such case, we will not invite them to preach in our pulpits; believing them to be guilty of such practices; and we hereby declare a non-fellowship with such practices altogether.”


CIRCULAR

The Kehukee Association now sitting at Kehukee Meeting-house, Halifax County, the 6th, 7th, and 8th October (1827) – to the several Churches they represent – send greetings:

Dearly beloved Brethren: Having under a kind and auspicious providence, been permitted to convene in our annual meeting, you will no doubt expect as heretofore, an epistle from us on some subject of importance, for your instruction and comfort while passing through this vale of tears here below; and we know of nothing that may give you the alike joy, as to hear from our meeting in terminating as it did; being so overruled by an almighty and merciful God, surpassing any thing we had conceived, or ever expected, from the general excitement and contention that had long raged producing discord and distress in our body of churches: we think it will be joy to you, as well as a duty we owe our God, of infinite goodness and love to record in memory; and shew to future generations, the great care of God over his people, in this hour of division, danger and distress: When ready to sink in the deep waters of disunion and strife, and be overwhelmed with party spirit, and bad feelings; that this almighty, kind, and merciful God, who has promised to be the guide of his people, even unto death, should have manifested, that his everlasting arms were underneath us, and shew to all around that the gates of hell should not prevail against his churches; which is to us a great astonishment, and as joyfully affording deliverance, as Israel experienced at the Red Sea, or as when the Jews brought back the fleeing, mourning king David to his house, and destroyed party spirit; that he should step in like the days of Esther, and save his falling, and ready to sink churches, when there was not scarce a hair’s breadth, between them and division; it is surprising grace, and it was the Lord’s doing, and is marvelous in our eyes. The tho’ts of which divine watch care, manifested in this hour of danger, produced feelings of joy and love, unspeakable and unutterable; every heart having at this time, more joy, union, love and peace, than it could express, for fullness, and wiping of tears; that we indeed from experiencing the quick and unexpected transition, from the feeling of party spirit, to a union of hearts, could exclaim with the Psalmist: “Behold how good, and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” in accents of joy to overflowing; and feeling unwilling that you should not rejoice with us, and be participants of that happiness, resulting from the gracious kindness of our God, manifested to this Association, when every heart trembled with fear and pain, for the state of the churches.

We shall therefore give you, beloved brethren, a brief sketch of the circumstances, attending our meeting. On Saturday the 6th, we met; but O God, who can describe the feelings of God’s dear people? both ministers and private members; the coldness of affection, the shyness, the fear of division, the painful party spirit, that raged in every bosom more or less; the grief, the contentions in little groups of brethren, arguing to prove, and disprove, who was right; and the general excitement by saint and sinner, to see and hear, what the end would be; yet we had remaining love, and good will enough, to proceed to preach, and hear the introductory sermon, which was ably delivered; and then prepared for business as usual, when it was proposed, that on reading the letters, no notice should be taken of the answer of the churches, to the articles which was referred to them last year, (purporting to be a declaration of the Reformed Baptist Churches in North Carolina), or that it should be referred to the churches another year, which was objected to, and then put to vote; and decided by a large majority to receive the answer of the churches, in their letters as they were read; and the subject to lay over for debate, until Monday next, with these remarks: Who can tell what God may do for us? or, if we must part, we would part in peace, and without reproaching one another. It was found in the answers of the letters, that there were twenty churches unanimous, in favor of the declaration; some other churches in favor or all but the word reform; and some divided: But all the churches, but one, were opposed to a Baptist joining the Masonic Society, and visiting the lodges, and parades.

From the brethren’s being together on Saturday, and Sunday, and conversing, and preaching, and hearing preaching, we hope God, so tempered their hearts, as to have a heart of prayer, and a sincere wish for his direction; and to be so disposed, as to bring about peace, union and love, once more among them. For on Monday, when we came together, it seemed to be the prayer of all hearts, to put an end to strife and contention, that had so long destroyed the harmony of Ministers and Christians on these subjects; and after going through the balance of the business of the Association, we then on Monday took up the declaration: at first view it seemed impossible that ministers, and brethren, so opposite in their opinions, could ever have come together in oneness, of acknowledged sentiment; and we are forced to say from our view of the case, that had we all strove to the utmost of our power, and have had to our assistance all the ministers in the state, it could not have been effected, by human agency. But O, wonderful to relate, and everlasting thanks to God, our Father, and Jesus Christ, the head of his church, and the Holy Spirit, by whose powerful influence, we hope our peace was restored. After some debate, and explanations of our prepossessions, and imbibed opinions, concerning the articles of the aforesaid declaration, and other things; God broke in upon our souls with light, and oneness of sentiment, which followed with honest, and humble confession, with tears, of all our hard censures, and reproachful speeches, of one another, each heart was broken to tenderness, and a full and free forgiveness followed, in the broken accents of general weeping; on all hands confession and forgiveness flowed, as free as water down a descent, from bosom to bosom; the holy flame of brotherly love enkindled all around, with more than speakable peace, joy and union, manifesting itself by flowing tears, eager shaking hands, holy kisses, and anxious embracing in each other’s arms, with loud praises and thanks to Almighty God, with humble acknowledgments: this is of God, this is of God; and indeed we felt, and enjoyed, that spirit of forgiveness, joy, peace, union, and love, with and toward one another; and in such a high degree, that every doubt was removed, and each had a witness in his own heart, from what he felt that it was of God, to the mutual good of all; then our heart overflowed, and the demons discord and party spirit, fled from every bosom; we can attest that we have never witnessed the like, in any Christian council heretofore; the Lord has done, brethren, great things for us, wherefore we are truly glad to our hearts; and wish you to join with us, to be ever thankful to his name; we think no man, saint nor sinner, could have witnessed all this scene, but must have acknowledged that, God was with us of a truth. And whatever may be said of these things; the division and strife that they have caused in our churches, and among ministers, is to us an evidence, they were never of God; and the re-union, love, joy, peace, and harmony, that abounded on all hands by ministers, saints, and sinners, at taking a decided stand against them, still shews God’s interposition to save his sinking and distracted churches, plainer than ever, that they were not of God; for he is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints; and surely, whatever breaks the union, peace and fellowship, of God’s people, should be abstained from, by any, or very Christian; because his, as well as his brother’s happiness, is at stake; as well as the general good of the society, of which he is a member. After coming to mutual fellowship, and brotherly love, every countenance seemed to wear a new aspect; every heart seemed to be tenderness, every voice seemed to be accents of love and acquiescence, to union, friendship and peace; while silence reigned for a few minutes, to wipe away the flowing tears, interrupted here and there with hearts bursting forth the joys it was no longer able to contain, seemed to say to all around, the Lord is with his people today, indeed and in truth: Let the heavens rejoice, and the Kehukee Association be glad, that the Lord has to her restored peace once more, and peace be to all the churches. The article reform was agreed to be left out, the five next was put to vote, and carried, by scarce a dissenting voice, in their substance; the seventh article on Masonry, was carried by the voice of the churches, in their letters; and so praised God, for his kindness towards us; and parted with more brotherly love, than we have since the days of modern missions; and so let brotherly love continue, is our prayer for Christ, and our peace sake.

And now, dear brethren, we beseech you, by the mercies of God, the honor and progression of his cause, and the peace of all our churches, that with all meekness and lowliness of mind, you endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit, hereafter in the bonds of peace, by walking godly, and righteously in this present world, and forgiving and forgetting all the past, burying, (in the decision of the Association all former animosities), and take heed not to disturb the hatchet nor the helve; and at all times have single eye to the glory of God, and your brethren’s feelings; for the Saviour has said, take heed how you offend one of these little ones, for their angels do always behold the face of their father; and Paul saith, when you sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak consciences, you sin against Christ; then be at all times careful, not to hurt the feelings of the weakest saint, and rather than do it, even deny yourselves things, which otherwise might be lawful; for vengeance is mine saith God, and I will repay it; and let this be your motto, the glory of God, the good of your brother, and the peace of the society, of which you are a member; and dear brethren forgive, that you may be forgiven; cultivate love and friendship; be courteous, kind and hospitable; let your light shine in all good works, that you may glorify your Father, which is in heaven, and bring honor on that religion you profess, and be a bright shining example to your family and neighbors that sit in darkness, that they may take knowledge that you have been with Jesus; and enjoy peace in your own bosom, by walking uprightly before God.

Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and make you perfect in every good work; be thanks and praise given, through all our churches, and throughout the world, for the great favor bestowed on us. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you, AMEN.