Written by Elder Joseph L. Purington
Circular Letter of the Ancient Predestinarian Baptist Association, convened with the Church in Bowdoinham, September 15th and 16th, 1843.
Dearly Beloved Brethren, in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: It is with joy we hail the return of the anniversary of our Association, with a humble prayer to God for wisdom in our deliberations, and that in unity of spirit we may perform our obligations to God and to each other, with a calm reliance upon the operations of the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, and that our faith and love may be increased into a fellowship of the Truth as it is in Jesus, being strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, into a firm establishment in, and an earnest contending for the faith once delivered to the saints; unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness, in a good hope through grace of a glorious immortality beyond this vale of tears.
Dear brethren – as is common at our annual meetings, some subject is expected in the form of a circular to the several Churches whom we represent in an associate capacity. And first, our attention is called to a remembrance of the infinite goodness and mercy of Almighty God in bestowing upon us an assurance of our election in Jesus Christ, in delivering us from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, not according to works of righteousness which we have done, but agreeable to the sovereign will of God, that He should have a people to serve Him, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which is shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins. In like manner has the Holy Spirit produced in our minds a wonderful discovery of the mystery which was hid from ages, and from generations, but was disclosed in the primitive saints, in the opening of the New Testament dispensation, which hath come down to us in these last days for a full confirmation of the Truth of this Scripture, as revealed to Jacob in a vision by night, “in thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Let us rejoice, therefore, in that the purpose of God cannot be disannulled, and the promise of the new and everlasting Covenant “are ordered in all things and sure” to the seed of spiritual Jacob, in whom we have an inheritance in this day of trial and reproach, when the hearts of the righteous are made sad through the abounding abominations of the Man of Sin, teaching us, that we must be brought through a fiery ordeal for the trial of our faith, to consummate the fulfillment of Scripture, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction;” and as God hath declared, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”
Let us with holy confidence in the faithfulness of God, with meekness and humility of mind, bear the reproach of the cross of Christ, esteeming it greater riches than all the honor, pleasures, and wealth of this world; “ and lo, (saith Christ) I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Secondly; let us, brethren, under a sense of our duty as loyal subjects of our Immanuel, be of one heart and of one soul in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God our Savior – being begotten of one Father – born of one Mother, (Jerusalem which is above); taught by the Holy Spirit into the same precious truths, may we endeavor to walk as children of the light, forbearing one another in love, and that the graces of the Spirit may spring up, and grow in us, being manifest by well ordered lives and godly conversation, teaching us the importance of crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts, for we wrestle against the powers of darkness, with all the combined assemblage of numerous invisible foes, - the world, the flesh, and the devil; therefore, we are exhorted to gird on the whole armor of God, to be able to withstand in the day of temptation and trial, having our loins girt about with truth, having on the breast-plate of Christ’s righteousness, and our feel “shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace,” taking the shield of faith wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and take the “helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” praying always with all prayer and supplication “with the Spirit and with the understanding also,” “and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints,” and for the ministers of Christ, that they may be able to open their mouths in a declaration of the Truth, with Apostolic plainness, in its primitive purity. We might go on in writing upon the necessity of union of heart and soul, and of our duty to God and each other, until we had filled pages, and then not have told the tale.
Finally, brethren, we pray God to give us grace to duly consider our responsibilities in these things, and examine ourselves whether our hearts are prepared by grace thus to act; and may sanctifying renovating grace prepare us for the enjoyment of His presence in Heaven forever. Amen.
Transcribed by Stanley Phillips - May 2009