BROTHERLY LOVE AND UNITY.

Circular Letter & Corresponding Letter: The Baltimore Old School Baptist Association, in session with the Church at Black Rock, Baltimore County, Md., May 14th, 15th & 16th, 1856, to the several Churches of which she is composed, sends love in the Lord.

Beloved Brethren: - As an expression of fellowship, we again address you this our annual Circular, and on this occasion we have selected as our theme, the subject of Brotherly Love and Unity. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” - Psa.133:1.

First. The character and relationship of brethren; and secondly, the manner of their living together in unity. In the Scriptures, the words brother or brethren are used in a variety of senses. Some are so called in a proper sense, as by immediate descent, the children of the same parent or parents, according to the flesh, and some by affinity, kindred or nation, and also by common participation of our human nature, in which all men are brethren. But the saints of God are all brethren in a spiritual sense, by the grace of God, they all having God as their Father, and Christ as their Elder Brother. In this sense we were brethren in eternity, as the members of Christ’s body. “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect, and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned as when as yet there was none of them.” Psa.139:16. Christ’s incarnation is another proof of this brotherhood. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” Psa.22:22. Again, “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto thee.” Heb.2:12. “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Heb.2:17. “For whom He {God} did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He {Christ} might be the first born among many brethren.” Rom.8:29. “But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and unto your Father; and to my God, and your God.” John20:17. His death is a strong proof of His love to His brethren. He was delivered for their offenses, and raised again for their justification. And He received gifts for men, to quicken whom He will. {See John 5:21.} And He said, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory,” &c. John 17:24. “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Eph.2:1. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.” Gal.4:6. In this way they are brought to view as brethren. Not like national Israel, under a covenant of works; but as the spiritual Israel, in the covenant of grace. National Israel was a separate people, and not reckoned among the nations, and in that sense they dwell alone. For Moses said, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence; for wherein shall it be known here, that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us, so shall we be separated from the nations around about us.” The brethren are separated from the world, for they are not of the world, as Christ was not of the world. Not that they chose Christ. No. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you out of the world;” therefore the world knoweth you not, because it knew Him {Christ} not. “For they neither know me nor my Father.” So in dwelling together they are one body. “My dove, my undefiled is but one.” Christ is the head, and they, the brethren, are His body, and members in particular; members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. Christ is the living Stone, as the Foundation, and the brethren are lively stones, to compose the spiritual house, the holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ. They, the brethren, dwell together in love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us we ought also to love one another. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in the world. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” I John 4:7,8,19,20. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

Another evidence of thus dwelling together in unity, is that we endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. “There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Eph.4:3-6. So the life which the brethren live is a life by the faith of the Son of God, who has loved them and given Himself for them. As they are living members of Christ’s living body, the church, so they have bowels of sympathy; if a brother is in bonds, as being bound with him, and with such as suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Make not a man an offender for a word, nor lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gates; nor turn aside the just for a thing of nought. Isa.29:21.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye, which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem the other better than himself.

As evidence of the unity of the brethren, they all have the same prospect in view, and are heirs alike to an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that cannot fade away; which is reserved in heaven for them, and they are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. I Pet.1:4,5. When we all shall have come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Eph.4:13. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.” Mt.13:43. And then shall they enjoy the presence of their God, and sing praises to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, who is the light of the city forever. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there. And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lambs book of life. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” May grace, mercy and peace be with you all.


Corresponding Letter.

Dear Brethren: - By the indulgence of our Heavenly Father, we have been favored with another opportunity of meeting together, and have been favored by the visits of brethren from Maine to North Carolina, and from the Atlantic coast to the prairies of the West, all speaking the same things, and exhibiting a united and common interest in the things of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why this interest, and why this unanimity of sentiment among those who were born in different climes, raised up under different circumstances, and subject to different influences? The answer can only be, that they have one common Teacher, who teacheth as never man taught; whose school is subject to no locality other than the hearts of His pupils. When thus assembled and thus united, may we not confidently call both upon the interested and the curious to come and behold our order? Or say to them, in the language of David: “Walk about Zion, go round about her; mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation following.” O, how delightful to contemplate that, exposed as we are continually to the envenomed shafts of the world, and the fiery darts of the wicked, that God has enclosed us in the invincible walls and bulwarks of salvation!

As it was only Him that dwelt in the bush, that preserved the bush from burning; only Him that walked in the midst of the heated furnace that kept the smell of fire from the garments of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego: so it is only by His appearing as a wall of fire round about Jerusalem, and the Glory in the midst, that Zion has ever been and still is preserved as a monument of the praise and glory of God’s grace.

Our next Association will be held {the Lord willing} with the church at Harford, commencing on Wednesday before the 3rd Sunday in May, 1857, when and where we hope to meet a goodly number of your messengers.

S.TROTT. Moderator.1856.