By Elders Beebe, Thomas Buck and Richard Pitcher
The Warwick Association to the churches of which she is composed, sends love in the Lord.
Beloved Brethren: - Chosen, as we are, in a furnace of affliction, and called by our illustrious Leader, to endure hardness as good soldiers, we have need of all the encouragement that the word of God affords, to enable us to run with patience the race which is set before us. Among the numerous branches of the precious doctrine of God our Savior which cluster around the Tree of Life which stands in the midst of the paradise of God, that of THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD is full of interest to every heaven born soul: its fruits, its fragrance and its beauty fill our souls with admiration, joy and gratitude; and nerve our feeble arms and trembling knees with strength and courage by the way. As the subject of this epistle we invite you to the contemplation of the “Manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.” - 1 John iii. 1. There are many kinds of love spoken of in the Scriptures, and common among the creatures of God; but among them all, we find none bearing any just comparison with the love to which the Apostle calls the attention of the saints. In its nature, its origin, its fullness, its manner, its efficacy, and its objects, it surpasses the utmost conception of the most enlightened among the sons of God. We will not attempt in this letter to define the subject; which is so full of life, of comfort, and of God, that heaven is made to wonder, and the angels desire to understand the mystery. We will offer, however, a few considerations in regard to its manner, or inimitable qualities.
1st. It is eternal. It never actually began, nor can it ever cease to be. Jesus says, that the Father hath loved the church even as He hath loved Him, and that He loved Him before the foundation of the world. “The Lord hath appeared unto me of old, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” - Jer. 31:3.
2d, It is immutable. The love of creatures may ebb and flow like the ever restless, and wax and wane like the moon; but the love of God is an attribute of His nature, and must exist coeval and unchanging with His very being; it cannot change without affecting the perfection of its Author. It depends on nothing out of God, or in its objects; it is not affected by any contingencies. He loved us in Christ before the world began: He loved us when we were dead in sin, and under the just condemnation of His holy law, with the same love with which He loved us before all time, and with which He will love us when time shall be no more.
3d. It is sovereign. It can no more be controlled by our will, our works or condition, than God can be controlled in His government of the creatures of His power and providence. “The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said unto Rebecca, ‘Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated.’” - Romans ix, 11-13. “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel, by Malachi; I have loved you, saith the Lord, yet ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness,” &. No mortal power can influence, or in the least degree control that sacred flame which is invariably the same in time and it eternity.
4th. It is discriminating. Love without discrimination cannot exist: even with men love must have its special objects: but with God it is much more so, for men may mistake their objects, and consequently misplace their affections, while God is too wise to err. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His.” His omniscient eye holds them ever in view, and His love is immutably (unchanging) fixed upon them. “For the great love wherewith He loved us.” “Who loved us, and gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
5th. It is invincible. - defying the power of death and hell to dissolve or interrupt it. “Many waters cannot quench it, floods cannot drown it, and if a man would give all his substance for it, he cannot purchase it.” Its price is far above that of rubies, and the Apostle has given the challenge to earth and hell, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I an persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
6th. It is effectual. “That ye should be called the sons of God.” “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.”
7th. It is communicative. - because of the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts. We love Him because He first loved us, and by this love existing in our hearts, we know that we are born of God.
8th. It is transforming. It enstamps on the children of God the image of Jesus, and assimilates to Him, leads them to dwell together in unity, to bear each others burdens, and fulfill the law of Christ. It centres in Jesus, and embraces all that a lovely in His estimation. The word of God – the church of the Redeemer – the ordinances of Zion – the laws of King Jesus are embraced in that love which God by His Spirit communicates to His chosen.
On the peculiar manner of this love, time and circumstances will not allow us to speak particularly here. It is through Christ, as the Head, to all the members of the spiritual body, and can reach polluted guilty mortals through no other medium. It is demonstrated and illustrated in the gift of Jesus, His incarnation, holy life, painful death and triumphant resurrection.
It is ministered unto the heirs of salvation experimentally in their regeneration in all the dealings of the Lord with them. They are called, quickened and delivered from sin, condemnation and fear, as the result of this love; fed, nourished and comforted on and throughout their pilgrimage by the love of God, and all the chastisements of the children of God, losses, crosses and disappointments, are evidences of God’s peculiar regard and tender love. Whom He loves He chastens, and scourges every son that He receiveth; and if we be not chastised we are not sons.
Seeing then that God hath loved us and shed abroad His love in us, and given us power to become the sons of God, experimentally, as we were from everlasting in our vital relationship to Jesus virtually, what manner of persons ought we to be in all honesty and holiness?
Amos Harding, Moderator.
G. Beebe, Clerk.
By Gabriel Conklin
The Warwick Baptist Association to the several Associations with whom she corresponds, send Christian Salutation.
Beloved in the Lord: - We have cause of thankfulness to God for the multitude of His mercies: His amazing goodness has been manifested to us in all His dealings, although we have had to encounter the manifold difficulties that are common and left as a legacy to the children of the kingdom by the great Head of the church; while they are as pilgrims and sojourners in this world of sorrow and affliction. We have been indulged by His goodness to meet together in associate capacity, and we can truly say it has been a season of much interest, and refreshing to our souls; for we have sat together as in a heavenly place in Christ Jesus, and our interview has been cheering to our souls. We have felt the language of the Psalmist, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” in a peculiar manner applicable. Though the communications from the several churches that compose our body do not bring to us the intelligence of great accessions, we are much comforted to hear of their Gospel order and steadfast adherence to Truth.
Brethren, we are deeply impressed with the belief that some epoch is about to break forth, as appears from the great similarity there is in the movements of both the political and popular religionists of the day, each seeking for gain from their own quarter, and appear to be almost ready to unite their forces against the little flock of Christ; and were it not for the assurance God has given us in His word, we should tremble for Zion: but we know the foundation of God standeth sure, and that the King of Zion is King of kings and Lord of lords; and He wields a sceptre over all kingdoms, and will subjugate them ultimately to the manifestation of His glory, and for the prosperity and final consummation of the kingdom of His grace.
Now, dear brethren, while He who is Head over all things to His church is working all things after the counsel of His own will, let us humbly wait upon Him in confident reliance on Him and Him alone for all that is needful for His chosen; for He will give grace and glory, and no good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly. Let us therefore strive together for the faith of the Gospel, contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for God worketh in us both to will and to do.
Our hearts were made glad, dear brethren, at the coming of your messengers and ministers, and we most gladly reciprocate. We do hope to be favored with the same pleasing correspondence at our annual meeting, which will be held with the Warwick Church, Orange Co., N. Y., on Wednesday before the 2d Sunday in June, 1844.
And now, brethren, that the God of peace may be with you, is the prayer of your sister Association.
Amos Harding, Moderator.
G. Beebe, Clerk.
Transcribed by Stanley Phillips – May 2009