The Roxbury Old School or Predestinarian Baptist Association, in session with our sister church, First Roxbury, Sept., 5th and 6th, 1888, to the churches in our fellowship, whose messengers we are, sends love in the Lord.
Dear Beloved Brethren: - Through the abounding goodness of our covenant-keeping God we are privileged to send you this our first epistle of love and fellowship; and well may we say with Israel of old, “Had it not been that the Lord was on our side when men rose up against us, they would have quickly swallowed us up.” But the Lord has ordained peace for us, so we are called to render thanksgiving to His holy name.
It is not necessary that we should confine ourselves to one particular portion of the word of God in this short epistle to you, the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty; but we desire to speak of the common or general salvation of Israel’s God to His chosen seed, even to spiritual Jacob, whom He loved of old, who was also the lot of His inheritance. - Deut. 32:9. Also, to speak of the everlasting love wherewith He loved His people, and of the necessity of their showing evidence of having tasted this love and bearing it as a fruit of the Spirit, one with and toward each other.
The term salvation, in relation to the people of God, sets forth His delivering power, in connection with, or from the effect of His everlasting love, as with loving-kindness He draws His people, by sending forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, crying Abba Father. For the Son proceeded forth and came out from the Father. Bowing His heavens, He came down. The Word was made flesh, and in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sins committed in the flesh; not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. In this He was obedient unto death. Made under the law, He was subject to its curse in His people’s stead. The law demands a sacrifice more fitting than the blood of beasts, and an altar more perfect than Jewish altars. So Christ comes once in the end of the world (the final closing up of all the rites under the law) to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; having been made sin for His people, that they might be made the righteousness of God in Him. As the law of carnal commandments (by which was a knowledge of sin) was given to the nation of Israel only, to whom pertained the adoption and covenant, the law entering that the offense might abound (or show sin exceeding sinful) in the type or figure; so only (as the law of the Lord is perfect) by the writing of this law in the hearts of His people have any or will any of the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty know Him; and as they bear testimony, this is the import thereof, “Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.” As all of the Lord’s people shall be taught of Him, and great shall their peace be, these are the antitype of national Israel, or the promised seed, who are blessed of God in Him. So, the one that is Christ’s is Abraham’s spiritual seed, and an heir according to the promise. Also, if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. For the promise to Abraham, that he should be the heir of the world, was not by the law (which was but a shadow of good things to come), but by the righteousness of faith. So all those who are born again (not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man), born of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God, that liveth and abideth forever, receive the assurance by the work and power of God in their hearts that it is by grace they are and must be saved, through the faith of Christ; and that not of themselves, but is the gift of God. Not of works, lest those who receive it in an experience of grace should boast. For it is given His people to know this here in the flesh, in this tabernacle, in this world of sin and woe, as men and women, children and adults, the offspring of an apostate Adam, who all bear his image, and who are all condemned in him, by the same power of life and grace in Jesus Christ; for as God walks and dwells in His people, they shall feel His grace and sing to His praise. They all have the one faith, which is the faith of Christ and gift of God to His chosen people, and have one Lord, and know no other in their deliverance. They all have that one baptism or burial in the cleansing blood of Christ, and in their knowledge of His holy character. When they take His word as the man of their counsel, and are prompted by His love in their hearts to take His yoke on them, the desire for water baptism, in following Jesus, is to show forth their heart’s affection to the heavenly Bridegroom; for unto them that believe, His is precious. Also, in showing their fidelity to the heavenly King, they assay to not let sin reign in their mortal bodies, that they should obey it in the lusts thereof; for having been called to liberty, they have no right to use this liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but are daily called upon to crucify the old man (who is corrupt, with his deeds), and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness; also, to let their bodies be fit temples for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All this is but manifesting what the Spirit of God has wrought in the one heart, in the heart of the members of the body of Christ; for the Husbandman, the true Vine, and the branches, are but the fullness of power of Him whose word is spirit and life, in connection with His salvation unto His people made manifest.
Then how evident it is that the grace of God which brings salvation teaches men and women, as sinners on this earth, while subject to vanities and death, that this world is not their home, but is a wilderness of woe to them, as the subjects of grace? Here, as the chosen, blood-bought heirs of glory, they have no continuing city, though they are one in Christ Jesus. It is true in regard to them, that there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male or female. Yet while they dwell in the wilderness of their flesh and sense, they will be subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of the power that subjects them, as the saved of the Lord, in hope. It is evident that the gift of eternal life to the sheep, or God’s chosen ones, but fulfills the Scriptures, and that joy comes to them; and one in that life and enjoyment was a chosen vessel of God, afore prepared to glory. So it is in hope of eternal life, promised before the world began, that in Christ Jesus all the seed of spiritual Abraham wait, and must also continue to wait, and look for the promise of His coming, as the grace of God bringing salvation or deliverance teaches them. It also teaches them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and righteously in this present world; as old men and women, young men and women, children, servants and masters; also, Elders and deacons, of a meek and quiet spirit, will but manifest this teaching, obeying those that have the rule over them. Each member will walk as becomes the followers of God, serving the Church with a ready mind, and preaching not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and themselves the servants of the Church for Jesus’ sake. Those that are called to minister in holy things will show themselves ensamples to the flock, ever taking heed to themselves and all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers. All will show forth a desire, by their walk and conversation, to make their calling and election sure, or work out their own salvation with fear and trembling; as the Lord has given them all ability, even as they are all taught of Him, and each for him or herself feels that great is their peace.
How great is the contrast. While the religious world (so-called) are endeavoring to work out the salvation of God by co-operating (as they vainly say) with His Spirit, and manifesting their “free moral agency” (as they term it), the Lord’s afflicted and poor people know right well that salvation is of the Lord, complete, and of Him alone; and also, that their calling is a holy calling, and that the choice of them in Him was that they should be holy and without blame before Him in love. As they are brought to believe in Him and suffer for His sake, they can glory only in His name. Well then could Paul say, “He that hath begun a good work in you, will perform it (or continue it) until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). He was also sure that nothing could separate the Lord’s people from His love in Christ Jesus. All of them being complete in Him, as the members of His body, when feeling the sweet fellowship and bond of love each one must follow Him alone, and hate even their own lives, to be His disciples. As they walk in His commandments and obey His precepts, no place is like the Mount Zion, which He loves. They love the Church and brotherhood for His sake alone, according as that love is felt in their hearts. And in His dear banqueting house, one with another lifting up holy hands, without doubting the other’s interest, all is comeliness; and as the loving presence of the Master is felt, and fear and love pervades every heart, as the blessed Jesus communes with them, what a heavenly place in Christ! Well could the psalmist say; “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” In these heavenly places there will be no unlawful coveting, nor withholding one from the other those things that make for the peace of Zion. Such, we may with propriety say, has been our situation the past year; and the Lord has been pleased to bring in some of the harvest, and make His people feel His care and protection over them, and to know that God alone gives the increase, though an Apollos waters and a Paul plants.
May the dear Lord keep us and lead us in that way that becomes our profession, that we may adorn the same by well-ordered lives and a godly conversation as the followers of Jesus Christ.
J. D. Hubbell, Moderator.
Ezra Mead, Clerk.
Transcribed by Stanley Phillips, Dec. 24, 2008.