The Indian Creek Regular Old School Baptist Association in session with Mercer’s Run Church in Greene County, Ohio, on Friday before the first Sunday in September 1889, and two days following, to the several Associations with whom we correspond, sendeth Christian salutation:
Very Dear Brethren in the Lord: - Forasmuch as it has been a time honored custom for Associations to address the several churches composing the same by the way of a Circular letter at the time of their annual meeting, we claim it a privilege to still continue the practice until it is proven to be only a “tradition of the father.” In this our annual Address, we desire to study the Christian character. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch, and we have good authority to say it was given them by their enemies by way of derision. Notwithstanding the name has become very popular among all classes of professors, and is used as a covering or cloak to hide or cover up all manner of evil.
The name Christian was given, because the man or woman was a follower of Christ, who believed in Him and walked in His commandments. No other can be honestly called, in deed and in truth, “Christians,” and those professing to believe in Christ and found not walking in His commandments are not Christians. The Christian is set forth in the figure of the “Shulamite” as a “company of two armies.” He believes and yet he does not believe. “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” He walks and yet he does not walk, standing unmoved in the principles of his belief. Hence a complex character, fighting and yet not fighting, for the battles are all fought for him; he coming off victorious in every struggle that comes in his way. His Captain is King Jesus, who has fought all his battles for him. Even in death itself coming off victorious, “and this is the victory that overcometh the world even our Faith,” which is the gift from God Himself. The victory there is a given victory, - not an earned one, saying that “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth up in judgment Thou shalt condemn.” The warfare is only a time affair, and ends with time, but he that believeth in Jesus, though he were death, shall never die. Christian, doest thou believe this? One said, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, for I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” This man, Job, was a Christian, though his conflicts were apparently unbearable by mortal man; nevertheless he lived and yet not he, but “Christ lived IN him, and the life he then lived, he lived by “the faith of the Son of God, who loved him and gave Himself for him. The Spirit is life because of righteousness; the body is dead because of sin, nevertheless, the motions of sin are still in the flesh, bringing the Christian into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members, warring against the law of his mind so that he cannot do the things that he would. He finds then a law, that when he would do good, evil is present with him, for his delight is in the law of God after the inward man, so then with the mind, he serves the law of God, but with the flesh, the law of sin. Consequently, the Christian, the saint, the heir of heaven has two minds, two natures and inclined in two directions – one mind is in the flesh, and is of the earth, earthy and is carnal, selfish and seeking after earthly things – the other is heavenly and seeking after heavenly things and is the mind of Christ. This is the experience of every Christian. He knows and realizes from day to day that he cannot do the things he would and the things he would not do that he is doing. Nevertheless, there is no condemnation resting against him whose strivings are after heavenly things and who is walking after the spirit and not after the flesh. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” to the enjoyments of heavenly things in this time state; “But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” to the enjoyment of heavenly things. Hence the exhortation is for the Christian not to walk after his flesh; “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace;” because the carnal mind “is enmity against God. For it is not subject to the law, neither indeed can be, so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His, and if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Therefore brethren, we are debtors not to live after the flesh but to mortify the deeds of the body and as the man of sin was put under subjection by the great Head of the church, the command is to keep him under. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” The Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, therefore brethren there is a cross in keeping the commandments of God and if no cross, no crown, showing that we are bastards and not sons. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Hence the Christian is a suffering character. He is a waiting character, waiting for the adoption, to wit: the redemption of the body, which shall take place in the morning of the resurrection, for this “mortal must put on immortality and this corruption must put on incorruption.” Then shall these vile bodies be changed and fashioned like unto the glorified body of the Son of God. For it is in the predestination of God that as we have born the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
What a paradise is the life of the Christian, with a history unwritten and yet written to the experience of every believer. He has experienced death and been made alive; he has experienced sorrow and made joyful in tribulation. He has learned that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience, and experience, hope and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us and unto them who have been made alive from the dead, and have experienced the forgiveness of their sins, in and through their Redeemer’s blood, which evidence shines forth in the love they have for the brethren. For how can we know that one loves God only by the manifestation of that love which he has for the begotten of God? Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification. We love God, because He first loved us, having received the evidence from God in our experience, we should not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, but keep them under subjection, and let love reign without dissimulation, and we pray God that He may so keep and preserve us from every false way that we may glorify His great and holy name in our bodies and spirits which are His. And now we say to the brethren composing the several churches, that while we acknowledge our power and authority comes from the several churches, we desire to admonish and exhort you, forasmuch as ye know that there are divisions and contentions all among those professing to be Old School Baptists, that ye discard and disown all coming to you, especially in the ministry, who are found walking with our adversaries, and not contending for the principles of the doctrine of God our Savior. And furthermore, as there is no periodical at this time contending for the principles of the doctrine as understood by us, therefore we recommend that ye discard all as unsound and having turned their ears from the Truth, and are turned into fables, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men and not of God. Of such, we find from the least to the greatest of them, advocating principles to their own interests and not having the welfare of Zion at heart, making merchandise of you, and endeavoring to turn you from the simplicity of the Truth by their speeches, crying for help to build themselves up in error and not in the doctrine of God our Savior.
Brethren, we say Beware, Search the Scriptures. There you will find the foot-prints of the early Christians. Those who suffered death for the cause of God; who turned not aside to error, but denounced it, and cautioned their brethren to stand aloof from every appearance of evil, so that they might honor God in their bodies and in their spirits which are His. And we pray God that He may remember you in His mercy and keep you from falling, and add unto you daily, such as He will own and bless in His heavenly kingdom, is our prayer for Jesus sake, Amen.
L. Davis, Moderator
B. Martin, Clerk.