The Elders and Messengers of the Conn’s Creek Association to the several churches composing the same, sendeth Christian salutation:
Dear Brethren in the Lord: - Another year with its many incidents, changes, and vicissitudes has been numbered with the past, and, according to a time-honored custom, you expect to hear from us through the medium of a CIRCULAR LETTER, concerning the Kingdom of Christ and His righteousness. The following words seem to be attractive.
“Ho! Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye and buy, and eat; yea come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1).
In every age since the creation of the world the notion has been widely entertained by men that the salvation of the soul depended in some way, upon human contingencies- that by works of righteousness the creature might rise to the enjoyment of spiritual blessings where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Numerous texts of Scripture are, from time to time, cited as evidence of such a state of things. The above words are not infrequently applied in this assertion. The question now arises, is the application a correct one? We answer, It is not. Men dead in trespasses and in sins are told that the words are directed to them – that they have the power to come and drink from the fountain of life, and by, or in consideration of the exercise of their so-called free will, they become subjects of grace, and at once become allied to Christ and His people. The words contain no such a thing as an offer of grace to the dead sinner. Neither do they contain an invitation or call to such as are dead in trespasses and in sins, for such have no hunger or thirst for spiritual food or water. They are already lavishly supplied with the wine of Sodom, and the waters of human benevolence and charity. With these they sit at perfect ease in the high places of the earth. Their carnal natures are fed and their human understanding watered and kept constantly invigorated by these streams, polluted as they are. In the precious language of the text, they have no interest whatever. Their deaf ears hear not its sweet reassuring command. Their eyes, blinded by creature applause, cannot look upon the beauties of heaven and divine things. Their hearts filled with self-righteousness and unbelief, cannot understand or comprehend the riches of God’s free grace. Hence the language cannot be addressed to such persons. It is spoken to such as are thirsty.
“Ho! Every one that thirsteth.” That soul that has been quickened into life by the spirit and power of God; that has seen the end of all human help, and the inflexible justice of God; that has learned by sad experience that it “is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profited nothing,” and “that by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Such an one, only, can be regarded as in a spiritual sense, thirsting after pardon justifying righteousness and the salvation of Christ, which supposes them to the spiritually alive, for such as are dead in sin, as already remarked, thirst not after the grace of God, but to the contrary they do mind the things of the flesh, and run greedily after the things of the world. Only new born babes, or such as are born again desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby. Besides, the persons spoken to in the text have no money. Unconverted persons, while indeed that have nothing to pay off their sin-debts, or purchase heaven, yet they fancy themselves rich, increased in goods, and stand in need of nothing. They have an abundant stock of zeal, but it is not according to knowledge. Of worldly wisdom they possess ample supplies. So in this respect they are rich, while the subjects addressed in the text are such, who not only have no money, but are fully alive to the fact of their poverty and destitution. They are poor in spirit.
This applies to all of the Lord’s people. None else share its benefits. They have experienced the truth of the language: “No man can come unto Me except the Father which sent Me draw him.” They have been drawn to the Father, heard His words and learned of Him, and having learned of Him they come to Christ in obedience to the lovely command in the text. In and of themselves they are helpless and destitute, and once they were not even willing. But now they are willing. The Lord’s power triumphs gloriously. They have nowhere else to go. Their own deeds fall far short of the mark. Their best works bear the impress of sin. The best offering they can bring is contaminated beyond measure. Destitute, hungry and thirsty, what a triumph to be led to Christ the source of every spiritual want – the Rock from whence flows the crystal waters of salvation! They are “led besides the still waters,” and there, in wonder and amazement, they are made to stand still and see the salvation of God. For here the waters of salvation flow in redundant store. No self-sufficiency required of creatures here. Without money they come, and are never turned away empty. The things to be bought, such as wine and milk signify the Truths of the Gospel and the blessings of free grace, all of which are freely given the poor and needy.
In conclusion, let it be observed that the buying, in the text, must not be understood in a proper sense, for no valuable consideration can be rendered to God for His grace; but in an improper sense, the manner in which these things were to be bought, being without money and without price; besides the persons called upon to buy, are said to have no money. Brethren “By grace ye are saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,” and all the blessed provisions of Zion are for your benefit. Look to the Lord, the Giver of every perfect gift, walk in love, bear one another’s burdens, and “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free.” To this end may the God of all grace be with you, and abundantly support you in the hour of trial. Farewell.
Elder Joseph Witham, Moderator.
P. K. Parr, Clerk.