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1904 – CIRCULAR LETTER

THE OLD SCHOOL BAPTIST CONFERENCE OF MAINE, TO THE ASSOCIATIONS WITH WHOM WE CORRESPOND.

BELOVED OF GOD:

Once again we send you our annual epistle of love and fellowship in Christ Jesus. The year that is past, like the years that preceded it, has abounded in vicissitudes to those who fear the Lord, but amidst them all our consolation is this: all the times that pass over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries (I Chron. 29:30), are only such as the Lord has ordained, and as we contemplate the character of our God, that he is just and holy, gracious and almighty, we may well bow in acquiescence to his ways, and sing, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6). Happy are we when in such a state of mind. The saints in times past looked unto God and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed, and shall we in our day look in vain unto the Lord our God? It cannot be, for with the seal of our mercy there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” and he loves his own with an everlasting love, His mercy endureth forever. God is the eternal fountain of all our mercies, he is the confidence of the church, and to him in these our times we would turn, saying with the congregation of old, “Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever” (Psalm 28:9). The Lord is the rock of our salvation. If this be so in truth it may well be said of us, “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.” Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to save his people from their sins. He gave himself a sacrifice for our transgressions, and unaided, by himself, he purged our sins; Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. He has ransomed his people by his precious blood, ransomed them from the power of the grave, redeemed them from death, redeemed them unto God. He has gone into heaven itself, having obtained eternal redemption for us. This now is the hope of believers, and in his salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time, they greatly rejoice, “though now for a season, if need be, they are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” This is our rejoicing, beloved brethren, that Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end.

During our earthly pilgrimage salvations without number (Psalm 71:15), are needed, and no other Savior have we than he who hath loved ns and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood. To him therefore our song shall be ascribing “salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Rev. 7:10). As then we view the children of God encompassed with temptations and adversities our hearts are moved in their behalf, and our prayer is, “Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance.” The Lord has a people, as he says, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” They are his, for he hath chosen them in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love. They are his, for he hath redeemed them, and very blessedly speaks to them, saying, “Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” They are his, for he hath put his Spirit within them, and they are born again, born of his Spirit; his fear he puts in their hearts, that they shalt not depart from him. He will say, “It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:9). The people of God need, while here below, continual salvation from the power of their enemies. The world, the flesh and the devil are all combined against them, and the saints endure much damage and affliction from their foes. So subtle are our adversaries that we are often ensnared and wounded, and cannot discern that it is an enemy that hath done it. Our foes put on a friendly aspect, we are allured and become their prey; Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Our natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. We read of the deceitfulness of riches, and of some coveting after money who have erred from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Tim. 6:10). We need salvation from men of corrupt minds, who wrest the Scriptures, and by their perverse disputings would pervert the gospel of Christ. They privily bring in damnable heresies, and their words are as a canker eating away the health and happiness of the household of God. The churches, dear brethren, today are being tried. O Lord save thy people. Every day, also, we need salvation from the indwelling lusts of our flesh, that we may walk holily and unblamably, glorifying our Father which is in heaven, in our body and spirit which are his. Whatsoever distresses may befall the people of God, so dear are they to us that our cry shall be, O Lord, save thy people, cause they face to shine upon them, and they shall be saved.

The psalmist continues his prayer, saying, “Bless thine inheritance.” The world is God’s, and the fullness thereof; all the beasts of the forest are his, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, the gold and the silver are the Lord’s. But, “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deut. 32:9). “The Lord hath chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure” (Psalm 135:4). This is a very gracious revelation, for did not the Savior say, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”? (Matt. 6:21). Then if Israel be the peculiar treasure of the Lord, there is his heart also. O wonderful! Has he not said of Zion, “This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it”? (Psalm 132:24). Yes, unto Solomon God said, “I have hallowed this house which thou hast built, to put my name there forever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9:3).

“Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance.” Bless thine inheritance with sweet peace and fellowship in the gospel. Send down, O Lord, a bountiful rain of thy loving-kindness to confirm thine inheritance when it is weary. Though all the powers of darkness curse them, “Let them curse, but bless thou” (Psalm 109:28). How light shall be their curse when the blessing of the Lord is our portion. Look, gracious Lord, upon they dry, parched places, and pour forth showers of blessing (Ezek. 34:26), then shall thine inheritance flourish as the garden of Eden, and thy land shall be called Beulah (Isaiah 62:4).

“Feed them also, and lift them up forever.” This also is our prayer to God for the church of God. We need our God himself to be our Shepherd, then we shall not want, for we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. The church of God needs continual nourishment, and only the Lord can afford us that food upon which we can thrive. The flock of God which he hath purchased with his own blood craves the green pastures, and the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of water. The Lamb of God is our Shepherd, and our Shepherd is our Husband, the Head of the church, our Mediator, our Sacrifice, truly he is our all. O, it is through him that there is revealed unto us all the glorious and comforting things of God; they shine forth in his face. He declares to us all the exellencies of the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

“On His fullness in believing,
Daily we receive supply;
He, our glorious Head, is living,
Sure His members cannot die,
Precious Jesus, O how sweet to live on Thee.”

Thus saith the Lord, “I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land” (Ezek. 34:29). Truly this is our Lord Jesus Christ, he is our food, the green pastures, the bread of life, his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. The saints delight to feed upon the mercy and love of God, yea, all the attributes of God are to them most precious and nourishing to their souls in their meditations when the Holy Spirit feeds them. And where shall we find the green pastures of God’s attributes? Creation affords us glimpses of God our Creator. His provinces over all his works excite the admiration of those who fear his great name, but O it is in the glorious doctrine of the gospel of Christ that all the fullness of God is made known. Here Jehovah in all his infinite and eternal excellencies is revealed, and here he feeds the people of his pasture, the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

“And lift them up forever.” Viewed in themselves the people of God are sinful and poor, and are often in consequence of their felt disabilities found abased in the dust. Sometimes so minished and brought low are they through oppression, affliction and sorrow, that they are as those trodden down beneath the feet of the enemy, as the mire of the streets. Poor, sinful and unworthy, shall they be despised, neglected, forgotten? O no, for this is the word of the Lord: “O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.” “I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea.” And the Holy Ghost shall inspire their hearts in faith to say, “Thou which hath shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.” Our God is ever mindful of his inheritance. “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.” O Lord, lift them up forever, lift them up above the condemnation of the law, exalt them in thy righteousness, O Savior, lift them up above the cunning craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive, lift them up to the highway, above every false way, above all the heresies of men and devils, exalt them in thy truth, lift them up above their fears and unbelief, lift them up above the powers of Satan, above the cares and vanities of the world, that they may live unto Thee and set their affection on things above, and not on things on the earth. When faint and weary and ready to perish in their warfare with sin and Satan, shew them Thy victories, O Christ, our Redeemer, over our sins, over death and the grave, inspire their souls to believe in Thee, then shall they be lifted up, and by faith shall sit with Thee in heavenly places. Blessed earnest, blessed foretaste of the eternal exaltation of the church in everlasting glory. Then indeed shall the ransomed be lifted up above sin and sufferings, death and the grave, above corruption and mortality, and we shall be like our ascended and glorified Savior, for we shall see him as he is. “Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever.”

Dear brethren, it has been with pleasure that we have received your messengers and correspondence, and desire the continuance of your fellowship.

We have appointed our next annual conference to assemble with the church at North Berwick, Maine, on Friday before the first Monday in September, 1905, when we hope again to receive your messengers and correspondence.

FREDERICK W. KEENE, Moderator
JOSEPH HALL, Clerk