Prepared by Elder C. B. Sorrell
The Yellow River Baptist Association of the Primitive faith and order, in session with the church at Sardis, Walton county, Ga., Sept. the 21, 22, and 23, 1878, to the churches of which she is composed, sendeth Christian salutation.
Dear Brethren and Sisters: - Once more we are blessed with the sweet privilege of meeting together in an associate capacity, by the Great Creator of all things, and the Preserver of all our lives, and of communicating with you as our custom has been heretofore, by a Circular Letter, which we promise to be short on this occasion. As a subject we will call your attention to the admonition of the Apostle, which is recorded in Ephesians iv., 32. “And be ye kind one to another; tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.” This admonition was given by the Apostle Paul, as moved by the Holy Ghost, and it is applicable to you, dear brethren and sisters, who are of the same faith of the primitive saints; and it is written as much for your admonition and instruction as theirs, for ye are all one in Christ, and that which was written afore time was written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope. One great reason why we should be kind one to another, is because we are all brethren; all born of God; all one in Christ. “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones,” - Ephesians v.30. How pleasant to parents in the flesh, to see their children kind to one another. Much more it is the case with the great Head of the Church for His children to treat each other with kindness. Therefore, the Psalmist David, a man after God’s own heart, was made to say, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Unity is oneness in experience, oneness in doctrine and oneness in practice; and unless this oneness exists among us, we cannot dwell together in unity. And now, dear brethren and sisters, the Church of Christ is but one. She is the only one of her mother, and the choice one of her that bore her. “As the lily among the thorns, so is My love among the daughters, and as the apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is My love among the sons.” Such being the case ought not the children to be kind one to another; forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake forgave them? Dear brethren, those words, “Even as God, for Christ’s sake, forgave you,” contain a great deal. What was our condition as sinners? Were we better by nature than others of mankind? Nay, but children of wrath, even as others, and while enemies to God, we (the people of God) were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, and much more being reconciled we shall be saved by His Life.
Now, dear children of God, since you have realized the goodness and love of God to you, how often have you had your trespasses forgiven you, and how often has the goodness of God led you to repentance? Therefore, if it should be necessary for us to forgive one another seven times in a day, the debt would be small compared to the great debt we owed to the law by sin and wicked works, and which debt was so freely forgiven us by the Savior of poor sinners. Oh! To think what we were by nature, was it not a miracle indeed that we were ever forgiven, and that, too, while we were still in rebellion against God according to the language already quoted? “while enemies we were reconciled to God, etc.” How far beyond anything in nature is all this? Human wisdom teaches, as the deed, so should be the reward; but God’s way are above man’s ways as the heavens are higher than the earth, for we read, that yet while sinners, Christ died for us. It is also written that for a righteous man scarcely will one die, yet peradventure for a good man, some would even dare to die; but that is all nature would possibly do, but says the word of inspiration: “God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners; Christ died for us, and not only so, but was raised again for our justification.” He has not only paid the debt we owed to the law, but has given us an inexhaustible inheritance which we cannot spend, and an inheritance “incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away – reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” That is all fixed and complete. We mean that eternal life is sure to all that Jesus Christ redeemed from the curse of the law, and now there remains no more sacrifice for sin, for Christ hath put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, “and is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” So the children of God are no more under the law of sin and death, but under law to Christ, and are commanded by that law, to be followers of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ hath also loved us, and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. This can only be done, dear children of God, by walking in humble obedience to the commands of our heavenly Master, being kind to one another, tender hearted, etc.; let each one esteem others better than themselves. “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” And this is always the case when we walk in the Spirit, and are commanded to “not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” None but those who are born of the Spirit have the Spirit. Therefore, the children of God only can grieve the Spirit, which they often do, by not working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, and instead of being kind are very rough, sometimes stout-hearted, not easily entreated, self-willed, etc. Such things are contrary to the teachings of the Spirit, and if we allow ourselves to be deceived and led astray by Satan, or the flesh, God’s word for it, He “will visit our iniquities with stripes, and our transgressions with the rod.” Then in order that peace, union and love may abound let us adopt the admonition in deed and in truth; “be kind to one another; tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake, forgave us.” Let us resist the devil who is as a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour, for this is the peace and satisfaction of God’s dear children. Satan is ever sitting traps to deceive and catch the unsuspecting child of God. He is ever disguised when he makes his appearance among brethren, and often persuades us that he is our friend, and seeking to advance the cause of Christ, and is so successful sometimes in gaining our confidence, that we suffer him to lead us, when suddenly we find ourselves in an ambush, surrounded by almost a legion of his emissaries, all armed and equipped for battle, and before we can make well our escape, perhaps some one is killed, and it may be, several little ones wounded. Therefore, beware of him and be not deceived by his cunning craftiness. Believe nothing, receive nothing that you cannot find a “thus saith the Lord” for. “ Touch not, taste not, handle not, the unclean, and I will receive you saith the Lord.”
If unfortunately, dear brethren, one of the little ones should get wounded, or get out of the way, let us remember that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; let us apply the right remedy. If a member of our natural body gets wounded or diseased, we treat it with peculiar care and kindness, until the member is healed. Much more should it be the case with the members of Christ’s body.
Dear brethren and sisters, in conclusion, let us adorn our profession with a well-ordered life, and let us be kind one to another, tender-hearted, etc. “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will He withhold from them that walketh uprightly” - Psalm lxxxiv. 11v.
Now, may the God of peace be with you, to direct you and comfort you while here in the world, and when done with the world, carry you home above, a home prepared for you by your dear Savior, where all is kindness, where all is love joy goodness – where sighing and sorrowing is known no more; where all tears are wiped from your eyes.
Finally dear brethren, farewell; be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Amen.
Charles B. Sorrell.
J. T. Jordan, Clerk