Whereas, It has pleased God, in “working all things after the counsel of His own will,” to remove from our midst our dearly beloved and much esteemed brethren, Elder J. F. Johnson and John Underhill, and, Whereas, This Association, in recognition of their faithful and devoted labors in the service of our dear Redeemer, would give some expression of our love and esteem for them; therefore,
Resolved, That in the death of these valiant soldiers of the cross, this association, and the churches of their charge, have sustained a severe affliction, and the cause of Christ the loss of two faithful defenders.
Resolved, That in testimony of our veneration of their memory, these tokens of our regard be spread upon our Minutes, and published in the Signs of the Times.
The Licking Association of Particular Baptists, convened with the church at Sardis, Boone Co., Ky., to the churches whose messengers we are, sends love in the Lord.
Dear Brethren: - Through the goodness of our ever-merciful and unchanging God, we are spared to linger another year upon the shores of time, and to meet together again as your messengers in an associate capacity. We gladly embrace the opportunity to commune with you by letter, having enjoyed the privilege of hearing from you through your letters and messengers. We have been favored on the present occasion with the presence of a goodly number of the ministering servants of Jesus from different parts of our country, and we have been caused to rejoice that the Lord is yet fulfilling His promise to set up shepherds over His people which shall feed them, watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day or night.
Of late our hearts have been saddened by the departure from our midst of a number of the faithful under-shepherds of Jesus, fathers in Israel, who have for so long a time gone in and out before us, and broken the bread of life to our hungering souls, who have been very zealous for the cause of truth and the welfare of Zion, whom we have long loved so well, and whose example and counsel have been of such priceless worth to us. But their godly example and precious word are yet fresh in our minds; and while we desire to bow in humble reconciliation to the afflicting dispensation, we feel our hearts swell with gratitude to the Giver of all good, that in their stead He is raising up others upon whom the ministerial mantle falls – Elishas, who are to succeed the Elijahs who have gone before them. No story which man has ever conceived in his most vivid imagination, not the highest reach of human desire, approximates to the simple and plain, yet heavenly and divine theme of Redemption, with which the faithful heralds of the cross feast our longing hearts. They conspicuously manifest the same love, the same tenderness, the same kind forbearance toward the afflicted and poor, that shine so transcendently in their divine Master. While they have no promise to hold out to those who are rich in righteousness, to the poor and needy, the sin-laden, sorrowing ones, they have a sweet message of comfort and cheer.
Brethren, we have all in our experience been brought to realize the truth of the words of Jesus, “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” which comes through the depravity of our carnal nature. Our agonizing conflicts with self and sin, have times without number well nigh sunk us into hopelessness and despair. But when we have been permitted to sit under the droppings of the sanctuary, and have heard the ministers of Jesus, with more than mortal powers, unfold the Scriptures, explain to our perplexed and troubled hearts God’s purpose of love and mercy toward us in all the difficulties and dangers, trials and tribulations which He permits to come upon us, it assures us that these are still the footsteps of the flock, the way our fathers trod, and are for the trial of our faith, which is more precious than gold that perisheth. When such comfort-laden messages as these, like beacon lights from heaven, have cheered our drooping spirits, through the God-sustained labors of these chosen vessels of mercy, we have felt with joy and gratitude to exclaim, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God Reigneth!”
Dear ministering servants of Jesus, we would fain speak a word of encouragement to you, who labor so incessantly and so arduously in the service of your Master, for the good of the afflicted and poor of the earth, the lowly children of sorrow; who count not your lives dear unto yourselves, so that you may finish your course with joy, and the ministry which you have received of the Lord Jesus. No words of ours can tell our sense of gratitude to you, who have by the grace of God contributed so largely to build us up in our holy faith. Weary not in well doing; for in due season ye shall reap, if you faint not. Your purpose and calling is the highest known to the children of men. Stars ye are in the right hand of Him who walketh in the midst of the seven golden lamp-stand. And now, dear brethren, is it not well for us to be often reminded of the debt of love we owe to Jesus, the obligation we are under to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service?
In the beginning of our experience, when we felt ourselves to be condemned sinners, without hope, and without God in the world, we thought no penance could be too great, no task too severe, if only we could obtain the mercy and pardon and holiness we so anxiously desired. But our good deeds, with which we hoped to purchase favor with our elder Brother, our spiritual Joseph, availed us nothing, but we received mercy and pardon and an earnest of riches beyond degree, all freely, graciously, without money and without price. Then with rapturous amazement and wonder we sang,
“What a mercy is this,
What a heaven of bliss,
How unspeakably favored am I!
Gathered into the fold,
With believers enrolled,
With believers to live and to die.
“Now my remnant of days
Would I spend in His praise,
Who hath died my poor soul to redeem.
Whether many or few,
All my years are His due;
May they all be devoted to Him.”
And now, since with most of us the morning dawn of our hope is past, the day is far spent, the burning sun of tribulations and trials, fearful conflicts with the world, the flesh and the devil, are telling on our fainting spirits, so that we often feel weary beyond expression, and long to leave the unhallowed ground, may we not very properly ask ourselves the important question, Are we living up to all our privileges as professed members of the visible church of Christ? Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Although professedly we have taken His yoke upon us, have we not great need, as much as lieth in us, to watch ourselves, lest we lay aside the easy yoke, and take upon us some of the hard yokes which the world wears?
For example, covetousness, the pride of this natural life, the desire to be called by the world rich, prosperous and noble, may overtax our powers, distract our minds, and turn them away from our high and holy duties, and become a hard and galling yoke. How excellent are the words of admonition, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things;” follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. And again, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Also, the holy example of Jesus, who said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” Ah! He could put the world under His feet, and with holy faith trust implicitly His heavenly Father, without whom not a sparrow falleth to the ground. Let us not fail, as far as is in our power, to honestly provide for those of our own house, but let all worldly things be of secondary importance. In view of that divine nature of which we trust we are partakers, we are exhorted to set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth. It is true, that owing to the depravity of our sin-defiled, carnal and fleshly nature, we cannot escape great tribulation here in the flesh; but a disregard of and disobedience to the divine precept, will, to a great degree, banish from our hearts that peace which passeth all understanding, which the world can neither give or take away. Let us allow no surmountable obstacles to hinder us from assembling ourselves together at our stated meetings, (and on all other suitable occasions,) and thus encourage one another, and hold up the hands of our preacher, who, prompted by love to us and to his heavenly Master, and not by sordid gain, undergoes so many and such great privations to be with and minister to us.
When there are suffering poor in our midst, especially in our churches, or when contributions are to be raised in the furtherance of our holy cause, or a just sum to our minister, in compliance with the law of Christ, let us not be backward or grudging to aid. The same God who makes His word in the hearts of His servants as a burning fire, &c., can canker our gold, be it little or much, and make it a curse to us and to our children. And in all matters appertaining to the order of the house of God, may we remember that there is but one right way; and may we all receive wisdom and strength and fortitude from on high at all times to walk therein, for it is only in so doing that we can hope to enjoy harmony and unity, and a flow of sweet fellowship and brotherly love.
Dear brethren, farewell. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and we pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
J. M. Theobald, Moderator
C. E. Stuart, Clerk.
J. W. Wallis, Assistant Clerk.