By Gilbert Beebe.
The Warwick Baptist Association, to the several Churches which she represents sendeth Greeting: -
The revolving wheels of time have rolled on the period in which it is your right to expect our annual Epistle. In consequence of the failure of the Brother appointed to write our Circular for this year, we have but little time to prepare one.
Permit us, dear Brethren, to present for your prayerful consideration the absolute necessity of adhering strictly to the word of God, as the all sufficient and only infallible rule of both our faith and practice. We are persuaded better things of you Brethren, than to suppose that this subject will be viewed, as either unimportant or uninteresting, since you have as saints, and as Churches, solemnly covenanted in the fear of the Lord, to adopt this as a fundamental point in your faith. Let us briefly consider:
First, The Sufficiency, and
Second, The Infallibility of this divine rule;
Third, The Necessity of Strictly adhering to it, as our only rule of both faith and practice.
First, the sufficiency; and on this point, in general terms, we are aware Brethren that you will all agree that there is no deficiency in that Holy Book (the Bible). But we deem it of vital importance to the welfare of Zion, the peace of Jerusalem, and to the advancement of the interests of the Churches of the Saints, that we not only in general terms, but with the most scrupulous exactness, listen to its dictates, laws, ordinance, examples, admonitions, &c., in all matters of faith and practice, in a religious point of view. - The great Apostle has informed us that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,: 2d Tim. iii.16 and 17th. Viewing this rule then, as emanating from the high authority of God, it would amount to a base reflection upon His divine wisdom and goodness, for us who profess to be His disciples, either to add to, or depart from the rule which our God has given us in His word; but we are not only to learn from the declaration of this text, that the Scriptures are divinely inspired and consequently infallible; but also that they are profitable for all the purposes contemplated by their divine Author. Now the grand object is, that the man of God may be perfect throughly furnished unto all good works, - while then from this divine repository of instruction, and fullness of preparation, the man of God is throughly furnished unto all good works, we conclude (as matter of course) first, That none who are men of God, will furnish themselves from any other quarter; and second, That no works can be good, in the estimation of God, unless warranted by that blessed Book.
Again, the Apostle tells us that, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men; teaching us (the saints) that denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.” The sufficiency of this holy rule, shines forth conspicuously, in the ample provision made for the whole walk and conversation of the saints.
Are they required to deny themselves of ungodliness? They need not explore the regions of science and literature in order to learn what is detestable in the estimation of the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity. The Saints of God, are taught by the word to deny themselves of ungodliness and worldly lusts.
Are they required to live soberly? They need not form a connection with the world to effect this blessed object, they find it written, “Israel shall dwell safely alone,” they are taught by grace to live soberly, and be temperate in all things. Are they required to live righteously and godly? The word of the Lord is the only complete rule of righteousness and godliness. This rule applies to every department of Zion. In matters of faith, this precious word requires of them “to hold fast the form of sound words and sound doctrine; and to hold the traditions of the Apostles,” 2 Thess. 2:13. And in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, it commands them to withdraw themselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the traditions he has received from us, Chapter iii. And, “if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, (the rule says) receive him not into your house, neither bid them Godspeed.” All the ordinances of the house of God are plainly expressed in this sacred rule.
The discipline also is fully contained in the Holy Scriptures – “A heretic, after the first and second admonition” is to be rejected, as unruly, the drunkard, the liar, with all other disorderly characters are to be put away according to the rules in these cases provided by Zion’s King. The manner of bringing into service the gifts which God has bestowed upon individual members, for the edification of the Body, together with all relative duties the Minister to the churches, and of the churches to the Ministers, including every necessary arrangement, for ministerial support, is clearly recorded in the word of God, insomuch that all humanly devised plans are unnecessary and uncalled for.
But second. The Infallibility of this divine rule, of our faith and practice is abundantly demonstrated by the fact before noticed, that it is of God, and is never to be superseded by any other rule.
Again, this may be considered the “Infallible rule” when compared with various rules laid down by those who “teach for doctrine the commandments of men.” Infallible, first: because it cannot but please God, it being the result of His counsel and based upon His Sovereign will.
Secondly, it cannot fail to secure the peace and happiness of the Saints. “Great peace have they that love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them.”
“In keeping His commandments there is an exceeding great reward.” “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” While on the other hand, “rebellion is as the sin of witch-craft, and stubbornness, is as iniquity and idolatry.” Again, “If Thy children forget My law, (saith the Lord) and walk not in My judgments, if they break My statutes and keep not My commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes, &c.” But lastly this rule is infallible because that in adhering to it, we cannot fail to be right.
Thirdly, we are to speak of the necessity of adhering strictly to the word of God in all things, as the man of our counsel, standard of our faith, and rule of our practice, as the children of God. This necessity is predicated upon: First, obligation; if we contemplate Jesus Christ in His relative characters, as Prophet, Priest and King, to each and every of these offices, our obligation will appear – as our Prophet, we are bound to listen to His divine instruction – as our Priest, we are bound to rely alone in His atonement and intercession, and as our King, we are bound to own, and honor Him in His legislative department of His kingdom, by refusing to acknowledge any other laws, or ordinances, plans or devices, schemes or contrivances, (in matters of religion) than such as bear the broad seal of His Divine Majesty, the King of Zion, and by our obedience to all His commandments.
2d, This necessity appears from the frequent and solemn admonitions given us in the New Testament, like the following: Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed the son of perdition, 2 Thess.ii.3. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of Devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron,” 1 Tim. iv.2. And again, “This know that in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” 2 Tim. iii.
Even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And trough covetousness shall they with feign words, make merchandise of you; whose judgment now a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” 2d Peter ii. 1, 3.
3d. The necessity of adhering strictly to this divine rule, appears from the present manifest fulfillment of these fearful predictions – The time has evidently come, in which men will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts, they are heaping to themselves teachers, having itching ears.
The present divided state of our denomination, and the general ferment and commotion of what is called the religious world, should teach us the necessity of flying to the word and to the testimony, knowing that it is there and only there we shall find safety.
The visibility of the pure church of Christ requires that all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and in truth, should “Give the more earnest heed to the things spoken (in this holy book,) lest at any time we should let them slip.” The visibility of Zion depends on this, “Then are ye My disciples indeed if ye do whatsoever I command you.” “Except a man deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me, he cannot be My disciple.” Brethren, if we are not governed by this holy, perfect, and infallible rule, we have no better claim to the character of “churches of Christ,” than the nations around us, Jews or Pagans. Would you shine forth as “A city set on a hill” (owned and blessed of God) – whose light cannot be hid, this can only be, when you are enabled through grace to shine forth in Bible doctrine, discipline, ordinances, &c., rejecting all things that will not measure with that rule. Let us then have on the whole armour of righteousness, our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Christ, our loins girt about with Truth, and in our hands the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, that we may fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith, receive the crown and eventually receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.
We are aware dear Brethren, that a closer walk with God, will bring down on you the indignation of such as have never received the love of the Truth, as it is written, “Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” But be not dismayed at this, your place of defence shall be the munition of God. The Eternal God, thy refuge, and underneath you His everlasting arm. Let us then stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Let us remember; as for God, His way is perfect, the word of the Lord is tried; He is a buckler to all them that trust in Him – “who is God, save the Lord? And who is a Rock save our God? Samuel xxii, 31,32, also Psalm xviii, 30,31. His sayings are faithful and true, and since Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day and forever, is the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, as He is the way, the truth and the life, and as God has established His Throne, and said unto Him, “Thy throne O, God is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy Kingdom.” Let us dear Brethren, as churches, and as individuals esteem it, our greatest privilege, and most reasonable service, to “Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, communion and fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you for ever more. Amen.
Written by Gabriel Conklin, 1833.
The Warwick Baptist Association, convened at the Meeting-House of the Orange Church, Orange County, New York, June 12th, and 13th, 1833. To corresponding Associations, send Christian Salutation.
Having obtained help of God, we are continued upon His footstool, the creatures of His power, the objects of His care, and we hope the subjects of His grace. We have been permitted again to meet together in association, and truly we have reason to say that it was good for us that we assembled; for we are not to “forsake the assembling ourselves together as the manner of some is,” and again, “How good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity.” The same tie that binds Christ with His people together, binds His children one to another, - how strange then that alienation of affection, should ever exist among them for a moment - Nevertheless ‘tis a lamentable fact, that among those who profess to love God and keep His commandments, this alienation is to be found. But why this coldness of affection towards, and want of fellowship for, and with one another? Because there is not an agreement; for, “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” Why not agreed? There is utterly a fault among us Brethren, either we have never been brought to the “Fountain of living waters,” or have forsaken it, and hewed to ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water. If so, let us search our ways and turn to our Lord. Are there “Achans” in the camp; is the “Golden wedge and Babylonish Garment” concealed among His people; have they “taken of the accursed thing?” Remember Br’en, that He whose eyes are as a flame of fire,” will search Jerusalem and will scourge of small cords, will drive out the buyers and sellers in His Temple. “Yea, His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into His garner, and the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” For information to us as an association, or as churches you are referred to our Minutes. We have no greater joy than to hear by letter and messengers, of your churches walking in the Truth, by such we are refresh’d, and with such, solicit a continuation of your correspondence. And now we commend you to God, and to the word of His grace; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Our next association will be held, d.v. with the church at ? Sussex Co., N. J., on the second Wednesday in June, 1834 at 10 o’clock A.M.
James Burt, Moderator
Gabriel Conklin, Clerk.
Transcribed by Stanley Phillips – April 2009