1847 – CIRCULAR LETTER WARWICK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION

The Elders and brethren, messengers of the churches composing the Warwick Old School Baptist Association, to the churches under whose instructions they have convened, send love in the Lord.

Beloved Brethren: – In addressing you at this time, we propose for your consideration the repeated exhortations and admonitions of the Apostles addressed by them to the Church of God. Paul addressed the churches of Galatia, or the different branches of that church, in the following words: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” He declared that the Gospel which he had preached to them was not after man; for, said he, “I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ;” and that they, having received the Gospel as he delivered it, had “run well;” but, he adds, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel, which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.”But, says he, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accused.” “This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you.” I would, say he, they were even cut off which trouble you. The characters that troubled them, were teachers of the Law, or of a system of flesh and blood religion; such as are in modern times denominated Arminians. They exceedingly trouble the churches in the Apostle’s days, and, to prevent the infection from spreading, and to reclaim those who were already bewitched, he exhorts the church to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made her free, and not again be entangled with the yoke of bondage,”a yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. Brethren, he says, “Ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.” Are ye so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? The same apostle, in his second letter to the church at Corinth, chapter xi, gives a very definite description of these Arminian preachers. Such, says he, are “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness. This description of character was not peculiar to the apostolic age; for Peter says, “As there were false prophets among the people, Israel, even so there shall be false teachers among you,” the churches of Christ; and Paul informs us that they shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. “Take heed therefore, brethren, that no man deceive you; for many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.” The apostle also informs us of what they shall teach: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrine of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Brethren, have we not fallen on the very times of which the Apostles thus predicted? Are not these very doctrines against which they warned the churches, now propagated? Is there not a strong propensity in many even of those who are called “Baptists” at this present time, to drink in the doctrines of devils, and to turn away their ears from the truth, and are they not heaping to themselves teachers, who in every respect answer the description which the apostle has given? Do not these itch for popularity and for all the honors and profits of this world? As another trait given by the Apostles, we find them great sticklers for learning, and for the wisdom of this natural world, which is foolishness with God. He says, they are ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They all have a form of godliness; but they deny the power thereof; from all such the apostle commands us to turn away, that we be no more tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lay in wait to deceive. “I write not these things,” Paul says, “to shame you; but as my beloved sons, I warn you, for I fear, lest by any Means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Mark the comparison – “as the serpent beguiled Eve!” Here is a parallel case; so in like manner do the ministers of Satan, by the same guile, the same cunning and craft, seek to decoy and lead away the children of God from the simplicity that is in Christ. But this is not all: they are represented by the Apostle as “laying in wait,” and watching an opportunity to seize upon their prey in an unguarded moment. Under such temptations how suitable is this admonition, “Stan fast; take to yourselves the whole armor of God.”

But there is another movement of the enemy in our present day, described by the Apostle, their creeping slyly and secretly into houses, or churches, in order to gain advantage over the weak minded, and if possible to lead them away from the simplicity that is in Christ. After the serpent had beguiled Eve, the Lord God pronounced a curse upon him, saying, “Upon thy belly shall thou go,” we infer that he was doomed thereafter to creep,which being the case, his agents in their manner of moving are clearly identified with their father the devil. John, the beloved disciple, says, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

In conclusion we will use the words of the apostle Peter: “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them: yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance.”

Now, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good work. Amen.