1849 Circular Warwick Baptist Association

CIRCULAR LETTER

The elders and brethren of the Warwick Association assembled with the church at Hardyston, Sussex county, N. J., on Wednesday and Thursday, 6th and 7th of May, 1849, to the Churches of whom we are messengers, send Christian salutation.

Dear Brethren: - The time of our annual meeting has arrived, and another year has been added to the number of the past, and with it many with whom we formerly associated have gone, as we trust to mingle in that Association where departing is unknown, and where sorrow, sin, and death can no more disturb then. Our God is accomplishing His own purpose for the best interest of His people and security of His own glory, and we are left to mourn, but not as those who have no hope; for we enjoy the sweet anticipation that through the riches of divine grace we shall join them in the glorious anthem of unceasing praise to our God who hath loved us in Christ, and predestinated, sanctified, and preserved us in Christ and declared that His Church is complete in Christ. It is written, “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, and Sanctification and Redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth let Him glory in the Lord,” - 1 Cor. i, 30,31. “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” - 2 Tim. i. 9.

CHRIST IS ALL

Brethren, the word assures us that “Christ is all, and in all.” – Col. iii.2. He is all, in reference to the Scriptures. Moses and the prophets wrote of Him; all the types and shadows, blood and sacrifices, holy days and Sabbaths under the old dispensation were but shadows of things to come, His body, or substance of them all was Christ.

He is all and in all, as the gracious Head of His Church. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” –John i.1. again in reference as Christ in His Headship of the Church, it is said, “Who is the image of the invisible God,” and it is expressly said of Him that He “dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen nor can see” Here we understand the apostle as speaking of Christ in His connection with His people; the Firstborn of every creature in His Church, and in the vast plan of grace. “By Him were all things created, which are in heaven, and which are on earth; visible and invisible; whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things were created by Him, and for Him, and He is before all things and by Him all things consist.” Nor has the apostle stopped here; he adds, “And is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the Beginning, the First born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence;” as the Head, Mediator, Surety, Life, Light and Husband of the Church; for it hath pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.

Christ is all, in the redemption of His people. The right of redemption was also in Him as the nearest of kin, He being the Head and Husband of His bride, the Church. As in the testimony of the prophet, “For thy Maker is thy Husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name, and thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called” – Isaiah live. 5. We are led to admire the suitableness of such a Redeemer; and what constitutes His work a redemption, is the entire accomplishment of it. To this end the apostle is witness: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

“He who suffered for our sake,
No half atonement came to make;
He took our sins; yea, took the whole
With all their curse upon His soul.

From hands, and feet, and heart He bled,
And suffered thorns to pierce His head,
To make atonement for each part,
The hands, and feet, and head and heart.”

Christ is all, as the Righteousness of His people. “And this is the name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUS-NESS” - Jeremiah 23:16. And as the wife is legally identified with her husband (the twain is one flesh,”) and by virtue of the marriage union she is called by his name, so the Church is properly and legally called by His name, by virtue of her living union to, and identity with Him; hence it is also written, “And this is the name whereby she shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” - Jeremiah 33:16. As His members are brought into the actual experimental enjoyment of this union, their language is, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of Righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” – Isaiah lxi. 10.

Christ is all, in the forgiveness of sins. “Him hath God exalted with His right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” - Acts v. 31.

Christ is all, in the preservation of His people. “Sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Christ Jesus, and called” - Jude i. Preserved in Christ before they were ever called by His grace, preserved in Christ, when called by His grace, and preserved in Christ throughout all their pilgrimage; amidst all their temptations, unbelief, hardness of heart and darkness of soul; preserved in Him from all the persecution of men and rage of devils. Who can calculate or write the history of one child of grace? How much less the history of all the heirs of immortality, which have been, now are, and hereafter shall be preserved in Christ from eternity, until the whole election of grace shall be brought home to glory?

Christ is all in the justification of His people. God, by the prophet, has declared, “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied; by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities” - Isaiah liii. 11. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” – Romans v. 8 & 9. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again.” – “Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification” – Romans viii. 33, 34, and iv. 25. And it is also declared, that “whom He justifieth, them He also glorified.”

Christ is all in the resurrection of His people. He has announced Himself to them as “The Resurrection and the Life,” as though He had said to them, I am the surety, and the representative of My body the Church; and whosoever believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. He is the first fruits of them that slept; their bodies He has redeemed, and He has pledge Himself that He will raise them up at the last day. Hence the apostle affirms, “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” - Romans viii.11.

Christ is all in the salvation of His people. “Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Simeon believed that Christ was all in salvation; for he took Him in his arms, and exclaimed, “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation.”

Christ is all in the glorification of His people. For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change, (not who has changed) our vile body that it many be fashioned like His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” - Phil. iii. 20,21. “When Christ, who is our Life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” - Col. iii. 4. The prophet in designating Christ to the Church, calls Him “Thy God, thy glory” - Isaiah lx. 18. The great object of redemption is, as we are informed, that Christ might present to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing“ “That we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” - Eph. v. 27; and 1.4.

Brethren this text not only presents for our contemplation what Christ is for us; but also what He is in us. He is all, and He is in all. This subject enters deeply into the experience of God’s children; on it we hear nothing in commendation from will-worshippers and Arminians; Hagar’s children only mock at it; for say they, If Christ be all for you, and in you, then the creature is nothing – has no hand in the work of salvation. Not one of the sons of Hagar can deduce the thought that he is nothing, and that Christ is all and in all, in the salvation of His people. In this they make it manifest that they have never yet learned the lesson that Jesus teaches His disciples, “Without Me, ye can do nothing;” for all who have learned it of Him who is meek and lowly, will rejoice that Christ is all and in all. They feel deeply sensible that they were by nature children of wrath even as others - dead in trespasses and sins - being without hope and without God in the world, and as the dead cannot quicken and make themselves alive, so we must have remained in death forever if Christ had not been our Life. “I am,” said Christ, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and as we regard Him as the Life, we must regard every other way as death. No man can come to the Father but by Him. He knows His sheep and they follow Him, and He giveth to them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand. This Life is that Light which illuminates our minds. In Him was Life, and the Life was the light of men, - John 1.4.

By nature we are ignorant of God and of ourselves; but in Christ there is a fullness of wisdom and knowledge, and He is of God made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification and Redemption, and all His people are made wise unto Salvation, through faith that is in Him. Although we are taught to know, and feel and acknowledge our own weakness, yet with Paul we are enabled to say, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” “Behold God is my Salvation! I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is My strength, and my song, He also is become my Salvation.” When we were made to feel that we were poor, lost and helpless sinners, God was pleased to make known to us, what is the riches of the glory of this mystery, among the Gentiles; which is, Christ in us, the hope of glory. And as Christ is the only hope of the believer, Paul could well say, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Christ is all and in all of His saints, as the Author and Finisher of their faith; and Paul desired that Christ might dwell richly in their hearts, by faith, that they might be rooted and grounded in Him. It is called “the faith of God’s elect,” and they are said to “live by it,” and “to walk by it;” and this is the victory that overcometh the world; “even your faith” - 1 John v.4. It is not to be carried away by a worldly mind, after the vanities and follies of the world; nor are they on whom it is bestowed to grasp after the riches and honors, or emoluments of the world; for this faith giveth to the saints, victory over the traditions and idolatry of the world. Christ is all, as the peace of His children. It is written, “He is our peace.” Again, “He has made peace, by the blood of His cross.” He has said for our comfort, “My peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”

Dear brethren, may it be our happiness as churches to live together in peace, even as we profess to be the subjects of the Prince of Peace; and may God grant unto us the full enjoyment of that peace with God which is through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ is all and in all in the government, order, and discipline of His Church; for He is King in Zion. We might extend our remarks on the subject; but the limits of a Circular forbid that we should farther enlarge. No tongue can tell – no pen can write the ten thousand times ten thousand glories, which these words express, for He is truly all in all to His Church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.

“Christ is our meat, Christ is our drink,
Our physic, and our health,
Our peace, our strength, our joy, our crowns
Our glory and our wealth.

Christ is our Father and our friend,
Our brother and our love,
Our Head, our Hope, our Counsellor,
Our Advocate above.

Our Christ – He is our heaven of heavens!
Our Christ – What shall we call?
For Christ is First, and Christ is Last,
And Christ is All in All.”

Benjamin Pitcher, Moderator.
William L. Benedict, Clerk.


Corresponding Letter

The Warwick Association of Old School Baptists, assembled with the Church of Christ at Hardyston, N. J., to the several Associations, Corresponding Meetings, churches and brethren with whom we correspond, send love in the Lord.

Dearly Beloved Brethren: - Through the goodness of our Heavenly Father, we are again permitted to meet in association for the worship of God, and for general correspondence with the saints. It is not our privilege to inform you of large additions made to the visible body of Christ, in this part of His kingdom, as you will see by our Minutes, yet the Lord has been graciously pleased to give us, from time to time, some assurance that He ever lives to make intercession for His people, and that He still continues to open the prison to them that are bound, and to proclaim liberty to captives. We are united in heart, having one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all. But for our unity in these things, we are pointed at by the enemies of the cross of Christ, and reviled as narrow-minded, and unworthy to be reckoned among the nations. We regard these however as but light afflictions compared with what we are led, from the present aspect of things, to look for; for we have greatly mistaken the signs of the times, if they do not indicated that the time is near, even at our doors, in which many of the privileges which we now enjoy, as the followers of Jesus, and as citizens of the world, will be torn from us. The man of sin must be revealed in his time, both by drawing away disciples after him, and by persecuting the Church of God. The one he is of these developments has been made before our very eyes and the other must necessarily follow soon; and “Mystery, Babylon, the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the earth,” seated on the scarlet colored beast, shall cause all to be put to death, who will not worship the beast nor his image.

Dear brethren, while it is our privilege to correspond by letter and by messengers, may our correspondence serve to strength and encourage each other in view of the assurance which the King of Zion, who has risen in triumph over all His enemies, and who holds the keys of hell and death, has given us, that

“Death and hell can do no more
Than what our Father please.”

For “the wrath of man shall praise Him, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain.” “No enchantment can prevail against Jacob, nor divination against Israel; for his God has made him to suck honey out of the Rock, and oil out of the flinty Rock.” If it be for the praise of our glorious Leader that we should follow in the blood marked footsteps of His flock, for the trial of our faith – though the furnace may be hot, let us remember that He has made our shoes iron, and brass, and has promised that “as our days, so shall our strength be.”

Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  “Stand therefore, with your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace: above all take the shield of faith wherewith ye may quench 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 in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance.” For our encouragement we have this glorious promise, that when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

Our meeting has been harmonious, and refreshing, and our hearts have been comforted by your letters and the presence of your messengers, and above all, by the manifest presence of Him who walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, or lamp-stands.

Our next Associational Meeting we have appointed to be held with the church at New Vernon, Orange county, N. Y., on the Wednesday and Thursday preceding the second Sunday in June, 1850, when and where we desire to receive your letters of correspondence and greet your messengers.

Benjamin Pitcher, Moderator.
Wm. L. Benedict, Clerk.

Transcribed by Stanley Phillips – June 2009