Written by Elder Silas H. Durand
The messengers composing the Delaware River Old School Baptist Association, when gathered together with our sister church, at Hopewell, N.J., on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the first Sunday in June, 1916, to the churches whose messengers we are, send christian greeting.
BELOVED BRETHREN: - In this letter, which we send you according to our annual custom, we call your particular attention to the words of the apostle Paul, recorded in 2 Cor. xiii. 11: “Be of one mind.” The apostle addressed these words, not only to the churches of Christ at Corinth, but also to “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ.” They are, therefore, not merely a tender and loving exhortation, but are words of divine authority. They are an apostolic command. In obedience to them is felt the most vital experience of grace and love. As members of the body of Christ we are living spiritual life in him, while we still have our natural life in Adam. These two lives, we are told, are contrary the one to the other, causing us great trouble because we cannot do the things that we would. From the time of our new birth we have been living this new spiritual life, insofar as we have been given grace and the exercise of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Concerning this mystery the apostle tells us, “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” - Rom. viii. 10. He also tells us that Christ is our life, saying, “When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” He also tells us a most wonderful experience, common to all the saints: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” - Gal. ii. 20. This apostle dwells much upon this sweet and delightful mystery of the unity of life in the church, which is Christ's body. “the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” He carefully enjoins upon the church, and all the saints, that they earnestly endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The psalmist had it in his heart to say, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” and the dear Savior prayed for all the chosen people of God, in this regard, that they might all be one in him, as he and the Father are one. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” There are times when this spiritual life lights up our souls with holy, unselfish desires. How wonderful it is to find in our hearts thoughts of kindness and love exercising us in our inmost being, drawing out our thoughts toward the poor and needy of every kind, with earnest desires to help them in any way that we may be able to do so. Sometimes our souls rise up in praise and thanksgiving to the dear Savior for these gracious exercises, and we are glad to have the pleasant assurance that the Lord is pleased to work in us thus the good pleasure of his goodness, and that which is wellpleasing in his sight, with strong desires to work out this precious salvation in our lives and conversation with holy fear and trembling. At such a season we would be with the dear saints wherever they may be meeting together. We feel like the two disciples did when Jesus was made know to them in the breaking of bread. They remembered that their hearts had burned within them while he talked with them as they walked by the way, and opened to them the Scriptures, but they did not know him. Now they wanted to meet the rest of the disciples and tell the good news, and they did not linger by the way. It was then with them as it is now with us. Those who have had such a sweet glimpse of his presence want to be at meeting as often as they can, and there, as they are gathered together, they feel his presence and receive his greeting: “Peace be unto you.” The peace of God is in their hearts, and it is easy to live in peace when peace thus rules in us. This peace of God passeth all understanding, and it will surely keep their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. It seems now an easy thing to “be of one mind;” no effort is needed. The unity of the Spirit is already there. There is one life, and the apostle's injunction is already fulfilled: Think not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. When we find ourselves differing from each other, than our first care must be to find out where the right is, and where the wrong. We must remember that there is but one right; only one life. There are diversities of gifts, but only one Spirit; differences of operations, but one Lord. Love, humility, every grace of the Spirit, are in our hearts. Now is the time for them to appear in our lives and in our conversation. One may say with confidence, I know I am right, but when he hears from his brethren, and looks over the ground again, he may be the first to decide against his own position. The natural mind says, Let the majority rule. But we are now considering a spiritual, not a natural, organization. Here all the members are one body. Here all are moved by one Life, one Spirit, and we cannot be sure we are right until that unity of life appears. If a majority is insisted upon, against an earnest and sincere minority of only one, discord, discomfort and sadness are likely to follow. It if appears to us to be impossible to agree, what shall we do? “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” The apostle did not say, Be of one mind if you can, but, “Be of one mind.” The one Spirit is meek and lowly and causes the one who is exercised by it to feel and say, “My brother is better and wiser than I, and he may be right. I cannot see now that he is right, but am liable to be led by a wrong spirit, and it will be more safe for me to wait, and stand still, and ask the Lord more earnestly to show me if I am in error, or to enable me to show my brother his error.” If we undertake to walk when some members of the body are out of joint, or some missing, there is so much limping, so much staggering, that we make shameful work. We must be careful not to let anything “be done through strife or vainglory,” also that we esteem others better than ourself. This we cannot help when we are spiritual-minded. It looks to us at such a time as though any one could see that our brother is really better than ourselves, though we fear we may feign humility. We are settled in the judgment that every important act of the church of God should be done by the unanimous voice of the church as one body. We have known churches and pastors, who believed in the many waiting for the few, even for one. It is wonderful how great differences and difficulties are quieted, reconciled and healed by some little time of waiting and standing still, and how clearly an essentially wrong spirit is manifested. If we are truly looking to the Lord, to be led by him, how soon we find ourselves “of one mind.” Those who believe in salvation by grace, and those who are trusting in the works of the flesh for salvation, soon separate themselves from each other. To the church of God this apostle says, “We have the mind of Christ,” and also, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” May our churches in all their walk and conversation realize obedience to these loving commands.
C.W. Vaughn, Moderator
D.M. Voorhees, Clerk
Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 13
July 1, 1916