The Elders and Messengers composing the Licking Association of Particular Baptists of Kentucky, in session with the Church at Sardis, Boone, County, Ky.; to the Churches whose servants we are, and to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, sendeth greetings:
Dear Brethren - Time’s rapid flight with its measure of joy and sorrow, trial and tribulation to the people of God, bringing in quick succession the periods for our annual assembling, are to us a continual reminder that we are but brief sojourners here amid the scenes of time, and that soon we shall be called to try the realities of another world. But in this world we realizing our poverty and our constant need of sustaining grace, we desire to bow in humble, fervent thankfulness to God that, notwithstanding our weakness and shortcoming, not with-standing all the opposition and persecution which we, together with our companions in tribulation have endured for the kingdom of God’s sake, that we are still preserved distinct in our faith, and separate from all other peoples religiously. We say separate from all other people religiously, because that has ever been the order with the Church of Christ; God has ever kept His Church, the pillar and ground of the Truth, distinct in her faith and separate from the surrounding so-called religious nations. Truth in religion has ever been confronted with error; hence in this Gospel day, it is true of the Church, the Spiritual Israel, in a higher sense than it was true of literal Israel, that the Church shall dwell in safety alone. (Numbers 23:9)
Under the old dispensation, the ceremonial worship, then enjoined alone upon typical Israel, symbolized the true worship, which should pertain alone to the church of Christ in this Gospel day, while the heathen nations, which were round about Israel with their idolatrous worship and their deadly enmity to Israel were a fit type of all professed worshipers of God in this Gospel day who reject and contradict the Truth as it is in Jesus. The frequent forsaking of that ceremonial service by some part, or all of National Israel, and their going into idolatry like the heathen nations, foreshadowed the truth that in this Gospel day there should be departures from the faith; of which prophecy has told saying: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,” &c., and in Romans 11:3 the apostle draws the parallel between the shadow and the substance, showing that as in Elijah’s day, the disobedient idolatrous children of literal Israel forsook God’s covenant, threw down His altars and slew His prophets, so in the Gospel day in the church militant, there should often arise those who should forsake God’s holy covenant by violating their sacred obligation to “contend earnestly for the faith,” dig down God’s holy altar by rejecting and opposing His Truth, and anti-typically should slay God’s prophets by turning away their ears from the Truth testified by the true ministering servants of Jesus, and in their own borders, to undo, and silence their testimony. Having recently witnessed just such a case, can we not with Truth say with the apostle, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Romans 11:5).
A people even though professing to be followers of Christ, but who in their teaching and practice reject and oppose the doctrine of God – hence the development of anti-Christ, the growth of the “man of sin,” in drawing away disciples after them. Those thus drawn away from the church at different periods, being organized under leaders in the advocacy and practice of unsound doctrine have been nuclei, around which have gathered great multitudes of mere carnal professors of religion, each of which organization falsely claiming to be a part of the Church of Christ, invariably have adhered tenaciously to the particular heresy which at the first caused their exclusion from the Church of Christ. Witness every apostasy from the Truth and departure from the faith from Roman Catholicism down to the present time.
Now in all this vast multitude, there are really but two classes. One class being the despised few, who insist upon teaching for doctrine and practice, just what God has taught and commanded, “whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear,” regardless of the fear or favor of men. The other class is that great multitude of mockers of the simple Truth of God, who though differing somewhat among themselves in their false interpretations and practice, compose that great city mystery Babylon,
Tried by the divine Standard, all doctrine or teaching which contradicts the Truth as it is in Jesus, is equally under the divine anathema. Hence all advocacy of untruth in religion is anti-Christ. “He that is not for Me is against Me,” is as true today as it was when spoken by the blessed Master. The figure of the wonton woman in Proverbs 7 well illustrates the false relation to Christ of these various nations of mystery Babylon, which, while recklessly disregarding the only true evidence which is the doctrine and order divinely enjoined, yet with brazen effrontery, claim to be the church, the bride of Christ, while the true church is identified by her doctrine and order being in accord with the word of God. Thus have the two ever stood in antagonism, and as the wanton woman in the figure adorns herself outwardly to endeavor to conceal her lack of purity, so do all advocates of unsound doctrine make great use of imposing forms of Godliness, much outward appearances of zeal towards God, with good words and fair speeches to conceal their abomination of nonconformity to God’s word.
With a desire “to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance” of the extreme repulsiveness to God of every false way in religion, we invite your attention to some portions of the Book of Revelation in connection with the whole divine testimony relative to the subject. This revelation which was “signified” to the Apostle John is evidently designed as a final instruction and warning to the people of God, “he that hath an ear to hear;” a kind of capstone to the grand gift of revealed Truth to the church. (Revelation 13).
The rise and spread of error in religion is foretold under the figure of a beast, and an image or likeness of the beast; the first beast being the beginning of the development of anti-Christ, the man of sin is called “the mother of Harlots and Abominations of the earth.” Hence the beast, Roman Catholicism and his image or likeness includes every development of untruth in religion which will find advocates throughout time. The frequent repetition of the phrase “He that overcometh,” in chapters 2d and 3d, with a blessing promised, indicates the good fight of faith which is enjoined upon every child of God. Now relative to the conflict between the powers of light and the powers of darkness we read in Revelation 12: 7-9: “And there was war in heaven; Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels; and prevailed not neither was their place found any more in heaven.” Michael and His angels mentioned here, are Christ and His true followers; the dragon and his angels are Satan and the pharisaical religious Jewish nation who had then a place and privileges in that Jewish heaven. Animated by the dragon with a false religious zeal, they sought to destroy Christ and His true followers, blindly ignoring the evidence that Jesus was the very Christ, the Son of God, and that His few humble followers were His divinely appointed witnesses. But they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven, the spiritual church, for the time had come when that old Jewish heaven, (ceremonial law) that mere shadow of the true Gospel heaven, having served its purpose was to come to an end and give place to the antitype, the substance, the spiritual kingdom of heaven, the Church under the new or Gospel dispensation. That kingdom of which it was prophesied saying: “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who shall abide the day of His coming”? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Matt. 3:1-3).
Into this antitypical holy place, pharisaical religion could no more come; for this new heaven, (Isaiah 65:17) the Gospel kingdom of heaven, which was to succeed the old legal heaven, was to be composed of spiritual subjects, a holy nation (I Peter 2:9), the seed, the family, the posterity of Christ, the spiritual Isaac, the generation of Jesus Christ. (Psalm 22:30). It was to be the holy city manifested which John saw coming down from God out of heaven.- (Revelation 21:2). Hence the place of the dragon and his angels is found no more in the new heaven; but he was cast out into the earth, the great dragon, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world. That Jewish world having come to an end, its wickedness having through Satan’s deception been made far greater by the fanatical zeal of a false religion, that old deceiver was for a time confined in his operations to the “bottomless pit” (20:1-3) of human depravity where he stirred up the pagan world, thus casting out of his mouth water (persecution, and a flood of heresies) as a flood after the woman. This evidently was the effort of the pagan world to exterminate the Church during the “Ten Persecutions.” (12-17). But the time was to come when Satan was to be loosed (20:3) and as the dragon had deceived the Jewish nation, or world, into believing that mere outward carnal service was the true worship of God, and thereby transformed human beings into demons by infusing into them his Satanic spirit (as witness both Jewish, pagan, and “Christian” persecutions) so now at the beginning of the development of anti-Christ, the man of sin, Satan was to be permitted to enter the church, a seducing spirit, deceiving some into believing that the successive heresies sought to be established in the church is the doctrine of God, and that their advocacy and practice of the same is verily doing God service.
How strikingly similar the spirit which has ever actuated the advocates of unsound doctrine of untruth in religion. Like Saul of Tarsus both before and since the setting up of the Gospel kingdom of heaven, blindly zealous carnal religionists have perpetuated the most extreme cruelties upon the true followers of Christ, in the name of God and religion and under the fatal delusion, like Saul of Tarsus would at this day eradicate from the earth the Truth of God, the doctrine of God exerted through human law and public opinion, which is “the earth helping the woman.”- (Revelation 22:16).
Hence the war goes on, Satan, though a defeated foe, again and again renews the assault against the church; after each repulse, changing his base and assailing a somewhat different portion of sacred Truth, enlisting for the purpose a new set of recruits drawn from the “wood, hay and stubble,” (I Cor. 3:12) in the church, each newly enlisted army of his angels, being alike deceived into the belief that they are doing God service, while rejecting and opposing the doctrine of God and persecuting its humble and despised advocates. Hence anti-Christ, the man of sin, has been developed from the casting off from the church the dragon and his new set of angels in each battle for Truth in which the church under the leadership of her Captain, King and Redeemer has been compelled to engage.
Some of the heresies which is still the rallying cry of the vanquished armies of the prince of darkness are known under the names of general atonement, free agency of man, image and saint worship, transubstantiation, infant baptism, man-made means of grace, missionism, soul regenerationism, sinner born over again and sinner chosen in Christism, and it should be an alarming fact to every child of God that every organized and persistent opposition to the Truth of God is marshaled under its king, which is Apollyon (9:11) and that the prince of deception infuses his spirit into his angels, while he makes them appear as ministers of righteousness. (2 Cor. 11:14-15.) That spirit of denial and contradiction of God’s word, which the Serpent first introduced into the Garden, is yet man’s delusion, and is conspicuously manifested in the great multitude of professed worshipers of God. “But in vain they do worship Me, saith the Lord, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9). The great multitudes of adherents to these various heresies without material distinction as to their offensiveness to God, and His Church, all go to swell the legions of that great city, mystery Babylon, the Abomination of the earth.
The decisive battle of the long war was fought when Michael, the great Captain, King and Redeemer of His Church conquered death and the grave by His death and resurrection to that glory which He had with the Father before the world was. Satan then cast out of heaven a defeated foe, henceforth has only been able to vainly beat against the secure battlements of Zion. Each new army of his angels, his deceived dupes, though believing that have a rightful place in heaven, the Church, so surely are they foiled; for the Eternal I Am is the strength and defense of His Church; the awful Shekinah, the Sacred Light of divine Truth, ever dwells in the holy city of God; her strength is not measured by numbers. Animated by a holy courage, her true soldiers, held in the right hand of King Immanuel, clothed in the armor of God, vigilant sentinels against the dragon and his angels, are as the “three score valiant men” about the bed of King Solomon, they are “of valiant of Israel”. “They all hold swords, (the truth of God) being expert in war; every man hath his sword up on his thigh, because of fear in the night.” (Songs 3:8) For into that holy sanctuary of God, the Gospel kingdom of heaven, the Lord hath said: “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie” (Revelation 21:27).
The footsteps of the flock, (Songs 1:8) that people who compose the Church of the living God, are known by her walking in the way of suffering, contradiction and persecution; in which Jesus her incarnate Husband walked; being “hated of all men for Jesus name sake.” Thus does the Church have “fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Phil. 3:10): Christ the Head, the Church His body. (I Cor. 12:12). And as the Jewish nation filled up the measure of its wickedness in rejecting Christ and His testimony, so will the world fill up the measure of its wickedness in rejecting the Church and her testimony.
Since the great defeat on Calvary’s awful mount, and the casting out of the dragon and his angels, the war has been no more in heaven, the Church, but against the Church. The Church in the Gospel sense never divides or splits; for whenever one or more persons show a settled purpose to reject and oppose the doctrine of God, they thereby, whether children of God or not, lose their identity as part of the whole Church. For the Scriptures plainly say: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20). This must be true, for, as we have quoted, but it is important enough to repeat, into that antitypical holy place, the new heaven, saith the Lord, there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither (whatsoever) worketh abomination, or (maketh) a lie. Hence unsound doctrine, untruth is excluded, and the testimony of the Church as to what is sound doctrine, and her verdict as to who compose the true Church of Christ, judged by their doctrine and order is not a mere matter of carnal prejudice, jealousy or ill will, but to faithfully discriminate is a high and sacred duty, a holy obligation enjoined upon His Church by her King and Lawgiver. For we read: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? (preachers, or messengers)” (I Cor. 6:3).
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house,” &c. (2 John 10). To slay the two witnesses, that is deny the doctrine and change the order of the Gospel, has been the work of every successive division of anti-Christ. (Revelation 11:7-8). Now evidently the dead bodies of these two witnesses unburied in the streets, is teaching the letter and denying its true spirituality. Hence also we read: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1-2). Again Peter testifies: “But there were false prophets among the people, (literal Israel) even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them (the people) and bring upon themselves (the false teachers) swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of Truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feign words make merchandise of you,” (II Peter 2:1-3.)
The faithful and true witnesses of the Truth of God are often charged with harshness in their exposing unsound doctrine, and their defense of Truth , but have any of the servants of Jesus at this day used stronger language than this which we have quoted? The heinous character and God-condemned abomination of unsound doctrine having been set forth in this wonderful book of Revelation under the name of “mystery Babylon, the great,” as a closing exhortation, the God of heaven thus addresses His people in this awfully impressive language: “Come out of her My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
Dear brethren, to “stand fast” “against the wiles of the devil” “in the midst of this gainsaying and adulterous generation” is indeed to you a blessed privilege. It is “a trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7). But no doubt it was as great a trial of the faith of the saints to believe that Jesus was the very Christ, the Anointed Son of God in the days of His incarnation and humiliation, when that very religious and very self-righteous Jewish nation rejected Him; no doubt the faith of the dear saints was as sorely tried then as they are now, when in the conflict for the vitally essential to salvation, the fundamental Bible Truth of Eternal Vital Union, only a despised few are left to contend against the mighty (in numbers) hosts of anti-Christ. And so in every conflict for Truth the despised few, the Gideon-like little band have been called to stand against the grasshopper-like host. But with God to fight the battles of Zion, what is the chaff to the wheat? (Jeremiah 23:28). In Revelations 20th chapter, 7th – 9th verses, we have, as it were, a condensed account of mystery Babylon, or anti-Christ, and her end, while the Church is represented as having come down in numbers to a mere camp. Thus we see the natural man’s conception of God and His ways are always the opposite of the truth, for “the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:10). Yet with all the plain instruction with which the Scriptures abound, some of God’s dear children antitypically sell their birthright for a “morsel of meat” (Hebrew 12:16). “Giving heed to seducing spirits,” following “cunningly devised fables,” they “turn away their ears from the truth,” having become bewitched, thus losing their birth-right, which is the privilege of having a name and a place in their Father’s house, the Church here in time. They are thereby great losers, being cut off from much heavenly joy which our Heavenly Father has promised to His obedient children in this time world. But thanks to God, though many such characters are lost to the Church and their best and holiest joys here in time, not one of that holy seed, that heavenly family for whom Christ has shed His blood and has redeemed, but shall be finally brought home to glory, for God hath said, “He knoweth them that are His.” Those who hold the truth are forbidden to attempt to force back those who have departed from the faith after admonitions have failed, even though there may be some of God’s children among them; but are commanded saying: Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone. The simply duty of the Church is meekly, humbly and constantly to bear her testimony to the truth, illustrating it by her practice and leave the result with God. And now dear brethren in this day of dense darkness, and strong delusions which “as the smoke of a great furnance arises out of the bottomless pit,” and because of the seductions of Satan and his angels, many have been enticed away from their allegiance to Zion, let us heed the warning, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” And in view of the great and solemn responsibilities which rest upon us as professed followers of Christ, let us ever be careful to honor God by living “soberly, righteously and godly in this present world,” ever remembering that a life of strict moral rectitude is equally as imperatively demanded by the law of Christ side by side in every Christian, like the two parts to the foot of the cud-chewing animal; in the absence of either we are unclean (Leviticus 11: 3,4,7,26) to the Church, and the brethren are forbidden to fellowship us. To him who “abideth in the doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9) the encouraging assurance is written: “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the throne of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
J. H. Wallingford, Moderator.
J. W. Royster, Clerk.
J. W. Wallingford, Assistant Clerk.