The Siloam Association of Regular Predestinariam Baptists, now (1874) in session with the New Hope Church, Washington County, State of Oregon, to the churches composing her body, sendeth Christian salutations.
Dear Brethren and Sisters, – As you will expect a Circular Address from us at this our annual meeting, we will endeavour to comply with our former custom, that you may not be disappointed. When we take a review of the subjects embraced in our former Circulars, we can hardly see any new ground to occupy; for almost every subject relating to the Christian religion has been treated on. Therefore, we hardly know how to interest you at this time, any better than by calling your attention for a short time to the amazing love of God to us poor sinners, and how we in return should honour and adore him for all his marvelous love toward us, by obeying him in all his commands. We read, in the Scriptures of truth, relative to this love of God: “For when were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Also: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 6:8). And, still to confirm the subject stronger, that salvation rests entirely upon the love of God, and not on any thing which we have done or could do, the apostle further adds, verse 1O: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Thus the apostle argues the question, and plainly establishes the ground upon which our salvation rests. And as we hope we have thus been reconciled by the death of Christ, we hear him saying: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love.” (John 15:9). And again, in verse 12: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another.” O, what a blessed injection this is! Dear brethren and sisters, do we heed this commandment of our dear Saviour, who loved us so that, while we were sinners, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked, he condescended so low as to take upon himself our nature, sin only excepted, became united to us even in our fleshly relation, being made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law? Dear brethren, this was our situation, under the law, under its curse, vast in debt, and nothing wherewith to pay. Yet Christ’s love for us was such that he cancelled our debt, by dying in our stead, shedding his own precious blood, and set us free, and said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And he also said, “Ye are my friend, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Then we should love one another. Our Saviour’s teachings abound with injunction of this kind, as well as the teachings of the apostles. O, if we could only live up to this rule, how much more cheering would be our pilgrimage here below! How it would strengthen that bond of union, could we live up to our Saviour’s command: “That love one another!” Our enemy is often placing obstacles in the way, raising up prejudices, getting up some little petty strife to catch our unwary feet; and before we are aware, we are caught in the snare of the fowler. These snares, delusions, and follies, like Eden ’s fruit, tempt our unguarded hearts. Therefore, we have need to watch and pray, and to search our hearts as with a candle to see by what spirit we are actuated. Is it of Love, love for Christ, love for his cause and people? Do we fear to pray for the peace and prosperity of Zion ? Or are there lurking some evil surmisings, jealousies, mistrust, and a want of confidence in our brother or sister, or any feeling of wanting to be greater in the kingdom of heaven? And if so, do we follow up the law of Christ in this matter, which is designed to heal the wound and to restore peace?
Dear brethren, it is now ten years that we have been living in the bonds of peace and union. Can we not all say, like the psalmist, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity?” This is necessary, not only for our comfort, our peace and happiness, but also for our protection from the enemy. The nearer we can live together, the more formidable will be our strength. For, while thus united in one solid, loving band, following our invincible Leader, all uniting under his banner of love, what a tower of strength! We can say then, as did the sweet singer of Israel : “For thou hast been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever; I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” (Ps. 61:3-4). Also the wise man saith: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Prov. 18:1O). Then while in this position we have a sure defence. A tower signifies strength, but it gives us an idea of height, for while in this tower we are placed so high above our enemies that their darts and weapons of war cannot reach us. All their efforts cannot do us any harm while we remain in this tower of love, the bosom of our Saviour, whereon that loving disciple loved to lean; and that feeling of rest and safety followed him all his days, for he loved to recline on the breast of his Saviour; and he left a living token of that love, when shortly before his death he could say unto the saints around him, “Little children, love one another.” Then, dear brethren and sisters, he often praying for the peace and prosperity of Zion . Those who love her gates, her walls and palaces, will desire often to be there bathing in that fountain of love. ‘Tis there our Saviour dwells; ‘tis there he loves to meet his saints, and to lead them through the gardens of spices, where those sweet perfumes of heavenly love flow on and up to the throne of God. ‘Tis there we love to meet and long together dwell. While there, no evil beast can come to mar our peace or cause interruption. ‘Tis while there we can have a foretaste of that blessed mansion of rest while Christ has prepared for all those that love him. But when we get cold and wander from this tower of strength, how like one whom Solomon represents, who said, “I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me; they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.” While in this situation, we lament our sad state; the archers shooting at us, and wagging their heads, crying, “Where is your Beloved now?” While in this state we are anxiously inquiring, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my Beloved, that ye tell him that I am sick of love.” But we are answered by those daughters, for they are many, “What is thy Beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy Beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?” We may go on to tell of the beauties and graces of our Beloved, but the enjoyment of his presence is gone until he puts his hand by the hole of the door, and our bowels are moved for him. ‘Tis then that he leads us again into his garden of spices; ‘tis then we can say, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.”
How sweet it is to be under the influence of divine love, to love Christ, to love his laws, his church and people! May this be our happy lot through life, that we may always feel to be at the feet of Jesus, and at the feet of our brethren, praying for the peace and prosperity of Zion . And when we have served out our time here on earth, as we are fully aware many of us have now nearly done, O that we may all be prepared to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! What gratitude we shall then feel to our heavenly Father, to know that he has enabled us while here to love our brethren, and to be humble at their feet, learning of him. May the Lord bless you all. Farewell.
JOHN STIPP, Moderator;
J.T. CROOKS, Clerk