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1889 Circular Licking Association

Written by J. M. Demaree


The Licking Association of Particular Baptists, convened with the Church at Bryan’s Station, Fayette County, Ky., on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of September, 1889, sendeth fraternal greeting:

Dearly Beloved Brethren: – Assembled once again in associate capacity, as one church, as one people, united by ties of kindred faith and of brotherly love, we realize afresh the preciousness of the fellowship of the Saints. Our Association has been a delightful season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. From the Gospel heaven the doctrine of our Heavenly Father has dropped as the rain, His speech has distilled as the dew, cheering our care-worn and pained hearts, and reviving our hopes that in another and more glorious state, we shall yet be like our precious Jesus, and see Him as He is now in glory. – John 17:5. The letter which we send you, we devote mainly to a subject which we feel most really concerns us all – the salvation of sinners.

The Bible furnishes proof that all the posterity of the earthy Adam are sinners. Romans 3:22,23. Hence death reigns over all his generations. Romans 5:14. For the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23. Now death, in man’s case, means not only his subjection to the decree, “dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return,” but a condition the opposite of holiness. Holiness is life, immortality; unholiness is death, mortality. As to extricating himself from his condition, he is said to be without strength. Romans 5:6. His mind, enmity against God. Romans 8:7. He receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them. 1 Cor, 2:14. Jews are no better than Gentiles; there is no difference; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3. Hence it is a momentous question, How are sinners saved? The systems of men hold that the Lord Jesus Christ, touched with pity for man in his wretched condition, volunteered to substitute Himself to suffer and die in their room and stead; but in this they do not agree. Some say that He died for all mankind, and now offers salvation to all who may choose to accept it; while far the greater majority of mankind never hear of the supposed offer. Others say that man, dead in trespasses and sins, is too depraved of himself to accept salvation; so God, before the world began, elected in purpose some of the sinful posterity of the earthy Adam, and to secure obedience, makes part of the man holy, the son of God, here in time; the other part of the same man remains the son of man. Part of the man, they say, is resurrected here in time to spiritual, holy life; the other part of the same man is not resurrected till the last day. Tis they call “regeneration,” or the “new birth.” We fail to see anything in this supposed change which can be truly called a birth as taught in John 3:6.

Others say that before the foundation of the world, God in purpose, elected in Christ a number of sinners of the posterity of the earthy Adam, and at the appointed time so operates on them by eternal life as to cause them to be holy and to love God; to believe in Christ, and to obey His holy precepts (bear good fruit). And then these sinners become sons of God, a chosen generation, a holy nation; yet admitting these sinners are not changed either in soul or body, therefore fitly symbolized by a corrupt tree. We are reminded of the language of Ezekiel: “And one built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar.” This supposed operation, if true, could not truly be called a birth according to John 3:6. The popular belief that the innocent Savior was merely substituted to die for all, or as some say, an elect part of the posterity of the earthy Adam, has no foundation in Truth – it originated in man’s vain imagination. A substitute can never satisfy the demand of law and justice against one condemned to die. All hope in that direction is also vain. “He that justifieth the wicked and he that condemned the just, even they both are alike, abomination to the Lord.” – Prov. 17:15. These are solemn words, fatal to all the theories of men to which we have alluded. Evidently the possibility of the salvation of sinners rests upon some deep fundamental truth, which escapes the observation of a great majority of professed believers. A path which the natural powers cannot find, though penetrating as the eagle’s, though strong as the lion’s. Job 18:7. David evidently spiritually discerned 1 Cor. 2:14, that way when he exclaimed, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.” Psa. 85:10. And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the wayfaring men, though fools shall not ere therein. Isa. 3:8. That way is shown in the Bible doctrine of relationship. That doctrine which shows the subjects of redemption to be duplex in being. To have seminally existed in Christ previous to birth of the Spirit, as actually as in Adam previous to the birth of the flesh.

Hence the Scriptures recognize two men in the composition of each regenerated Christian – the one flesh, corrupt; the other spirit, holy. – Ephesians 4:22,23,24. A man “born of the flesh,” the earthy Adam man, who cannot see the kingdom of God at all, until changed in the resurrection at the last day; and the second man born in the development of each subject of redemption called the man “born again,” or (as the margin reads) “born from above. Perhaps the seed of Christ, His generation (always in the singular number), is more often mentioned in Scripture than the seed, generations (plural in number) of Adam. The seed of Christ is called “a holy seed.” Isa. 6:13. “A godly seed.” Mal. 2:15. “Seed of the righteous.” Prov. 11:21; “a seed that shall serve God.” Psa. 22:30. As “incorruptible seed.” 1 Peter 2:9. The “generation of Jesus Christ.” Matt. 1:1; is called “the generation of the righteous.” Psa. 14: 5. “A chosen generation, a holy nation.” 1 Peter 2:9. This shows the seminal existence, the origin of those who are called “sons of God,” in the Church here in time. Romans 8:19; Galatians 4:7; Rev. 21:7; and “children of God.” Matt. 5:9; Romans 9:8; Romans 9:26; Heb. 2:11, 12, 13, and 14. Shows the seminal existence, the origin of those who are referred to by the word, “us” in Eph. 1:4; the “ye” in 1 Peter 2:9, and the “ye” in John 15:5. The proof is overwhelming to such as have eyes, that a chosen seed, (an elect); generation of men, a holy nation, existing seminally in Christ, the spiritual Isaac, are manifested by a birth here in time.

The mystery is that two men should compose the dual existence of each one of the redeemed. One of these two men, having existed seminally in the earthy Adam, is manifested by birth of the flesh; the other having existed seminally in Christ, the heavenly or last Adam, is manifested by birth of the Spirit. – John 3:6. We are told, “They which are the children of the flesh, these are NOT the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the SEED. In Isaac shall Thy seed be called. Romans 9: 7,8. So, the chosen, the elect, the “free born” nation, which existed seminally in our spiritual Isaac, are a shadow of a chosen generation (singular number), the holy nation which existed seminally in Christ, the spiritual Isaac. It will be observed that the subjects of redemption are often represented, or symbolized, by a pair of figures, as – “I am black, but comely.” Song. 1:5; “thorn- fig tress; brier- myrtle tree. Isa. 55:13; evil tree – good tree. Matt. 7:17. a strong man – a stronger man, Luke 11:21; a field- the treasure in a field. So, in the “shadow,” the “we brethren” mentioned in Gal. 4:28, and in verse 31, who are sons of God through the spiritual Isaac, are symbolized by the elect nation, entire in Isaac; while sinners, vessels of mercy;” “that which is born of the flesh,” men and women of the posterity of the earthy Adam, are symbolized by the bond-men and bond-maids, which the free born seed of Abraham, Romans 9:7; were commanded to buy of the heathen round about them, and of the strangers which did sojourn among them. Lev.25:44,45; the buying, symbolized the blood of Christ, which bought the sinner from the death grasp of the law. Hence the sinner, the child of the flesh, the earthy Adam, the son of man, comes into the Church here in time, comes under the law of Christ, only as an unwilling bond-man, or bond-maid, in subjection to the free-born, holy son of the Spirit of God.

Brethren, let the flesh, the bond-man, bond-maid be kept in subjection to the son of the free woman, the Church. It is for him to serve, to obey, to be chastened, and kept under the dominion of the free-man, the child of God. May grace, mercy and peace rest with all the household of faith.

R. M. Thomas, Moderator.
W.C. Sam’s, Clerk
A.O. Chilton, Assistant Clerk.