The Warwick Old School Baptist Association to the churches composing the same, wishing Grace, Peace and Mercy from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Beloved Brethren: – God who is rich in mercy has preserved us amid the changes and vicissitudes of another year, and while discord and contention have prevailed among the nations of the earth, and the professedly religious world has been agitated and excited to an unusual degree, the peace-beaming rays of the Sun of Righteousness have shined upon the children of God, enabling them to view, without apprehension, the toil, and turmoil and strife which have prevailed around them, having the assurance that their God reigns in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, works all things according to the counsel of His own will; and so orders and controls all events that all are made to work together for good to them who love God – to them who are called according to His purpose. It is not our design in addressing you at this time, according to our custom, to refer to any particular portion of Scripture, but rather to call your attention to some of the great principles of Divine Truth as they are recorded in the sacred Scriptures – as they have been revealed to us by the Spirit of Truth, and confirmed through the ministry of that Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes. Herein is our relationship to our earthly father Adam clearly established; and as he was of the earth earthy, we are partakers of the same nature, and the sad consequence of his transgression are perceptible in all his posterity, and are manifested in the works of the flesh, emanating from a nature fallen and depraved, and filling the earth with violence and strife – with cruelty and blood. “For by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.”
Much has been said, and much written about the dignity of human nature, and the exalted position to which we can attain, by the proper exercise and judicious direction of our natural powers; and a popular idea now extensively prevails that man naturally possesses all the powers which are necessary to promote his temporal and secure his eternal felicity. That this sentiment is congenial with our nature and flattering to our self-love, is a truth which is well known to every child of grace. Hence we see such multitudes eagerly embracing this sentiment, and to proclaim it is almost sure to lead to emolument and popularity.
But let us bring this sentiment to the test of the Scriptures. God has said that the“imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” – Genesis viii. 21. This testimony is corroborated by the Psalmist, who wrote, “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand – that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no not one.” – Psalm xiv. 2,3.
It is unnecessary to multiply testimonies upon this point, as out Lord and His disciples have all fully inculcated the same sentiment relative to man’s total depravity and alienation from God, and the substance of their declarations is fully embraced in the confession of the great Apostle to the Gentiles, “For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing.” – Romans vii. 18. The denial of this principle of divine truth has led the children of men into many grave and even fatal errors, and has fostered that spirit of voluntary humility and will-worship which is characteristic of all worldly and fleshly religion. For it is declared there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. – Proverb xiv. 12.
In admitting the truth of this doctrine, the children of God have borne their testimony that God is true; and Him they acknowledge as the Author and Finisher of their faith; and the glory of their salvation they cheerfully ascribe to Him.
“They trust their whole salvation there,
Nor shall they suffer shame.”
If man had been left to devise a “plan of salvation” to rescue himself from the deplorable consequences resulting from his transgression, his situation would have been hopeless indeed. Driven from Eden a wanderer upon the face of the earth, the Tree of Life guarded by cherubim and a flaming sword, his case appeared without relief. Infinite wisdom only could devise a plan by which God would be just and yet justify the ungodly. As man has made such grave errors in relation to the nature and effects of the fall, equally great have been the errors into which he has been led relative to the redemption.
Vainly puffed up in his fleshly mind, he has arrogated to himself the powers which alone belong to God; and in all the systems of salvation devised by him, he has carefully excluded our Redeemer, thus verifying the Apostle’s declaration that “there are many anti-Christ's, and that he is anti-Christ that denieth the Father and the Son.” When the heavenly messenger announced that the virgin, Mary, should become the mother of the Messiah, he said, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” – Matt. i. 21. They deny that He did.
From the record which God has given us of His Son, this object – the redemption and salvation of His elect people – is kept constantly in view. “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He did not say, that He was come to send someone else to save them that are lost.
It was this great and glorious plan which the angels desired to look into. Was this which the holy prophets predicted, and which filled their souls with joy. As wrapt in prophetic vision, they saw His day and were glad. Redemption and salvation were the themes of the apostles of the Lamb, and they constitute the theme of the true Gospel ministry, and are the subject of the conversation of the saints, of whom it was declared, “they shall speak of the glory of Thy Kingdom, and shall talk of Ty power.” And surely no subjects can be more interesting to the saints or worthy of their consideration, and attended with more profit, than those alluded to be the royal Psalmist.
The glory of the kingdom of God who shall describe? Prophets and apostles under divine inspiration have attempted its description, and holy men who of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, have spoken and written respecting the dignity, grandeur and glory of this kingdom, and have exhibited the characteristics of its subjects, but so far from exhausting the theme have been constrained to say, “O the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.”
Dear brethren, are we subjects of the Redeemer’s kingdom? Are we united to Him by an eternal vital union and by a living faith union? Have we been made “partakers of the heavenly calling,” and “tasted the good word of God” experimentally? Have we entered into the Holy City, and have we right to the Tree of Life? If so, then our God has given us directions and rules, which, if observed and obeyed, will enhance our spiritual comforts, and enable us to live to the honor and praise of His holy name. What has He not done for us?
We have already alluded to the sad condition to which our first father’s transgression reduced us. That condition is one of death in trespasses and in sins.
“By nature and by trespass dead,
His own sad ruin none can read,
For death seals up his eyes.”
Truly, our state by nature is sad indeed. As Gentiles, we were not even the possessors of those advantages which the Jews enjoyed. The apostle declares that those advantages were great in every way. “To them were committed the oracles of God. To them also pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises. Whose also were the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came who is over all, God blessed forevermore.” – Roman ix. 4,5. But it becomes us to remember, “that we, being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision, by that which is called circumcision in the flesh made by hands, that at that time we were without Christ, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” – Ephesians ii. 11,12. Had God left us in that deplorable condition to perish forever, His Justice would have remained untarnished, and His throne have been pure, while we would only have received the reward of our own demerits. “But praise, everlasting praise, to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” – Ephesians i. 3,4.
The gracious effect of this choice is that now in Christ Jesus, we who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. “For He is our peace who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, so that through Christ we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us, and suffered in our stead the penalty due our transgressions. “For all we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah liii.6.
If the sacrifice made by our Divine Redeemer, and the atonement effect by Him had only restored man to his original state, or if only provided an opportunity for the man to agree with it, he would have been in no better situation than before the fall. It is a mistaken idea maintained by many and perhaps even by some of the children of God, that man was created a spiritual being, or endowed with spiritual life. The apostle declares the first man was of the earth earthy, and also that was not first which was spiritual but natural, and afterwards that which was spiritual. – 1 Cor. xv. 46,47. The transgression of one man therefore, brought death upon all his posterity. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” – Romans v. 12. “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace which is by one Man Jesus Christ hath abounded unto many,” – Romans v. 15. It is this God-man Mediator in whom is all our trust, and who is worthy of all our confidence, whom we most earnestly recommend to you as all you can desire and all you can possess in time or eternity.
Gilbert Beebe, Moderator. 1859