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By Thomas P. Dudley, 1861

CIRCULAR LETTER of the Licking Association of Particular Baptists of Kentucky, now in session with the Church at Bryant’s, Fayette County, Kentucky, to the Churches of which she is composed, sendeth Christian salutations.

Very Dear Brethren and Sisters in the Lord:

In accordance with our former custom, you will, as we suppose, expect a circular from us; and feeling a willingness on our part not to disappoint you, we have concluded to send you the following epistle; resting assured, that you have heretofore been well and ably instructed, and much edified in your former circulars from us to you, written from time to time by brethren well qualified to teach and to write, explain and bring to view the great principles of salvation by grace, so that it seems to us we cannot present you with any other Scriptural light, than that you have already had offered, and recommend you the example of the noble Bereans. - (Acts 17:10-11). And finding you have a “Thus saith the Lord” to sustain your position, “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.”- (Jude 3). “And this I say lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”- (Col. 2:4). For there are some who hold men’s persons in admiration and are led off into error; from such turn away, even if he were above the capacity of men, “or an angel from heaven.”- (Galatians 1:8).

And now, dear brethren and sisters, if there has been anything doctrinally heretofore presented to you in any circular from us, and not sustained by the Word of God, we erred in writing and sending it to you; and if you were aware, on examination, that we had done so, then you have erred too, in receiving it, and have, done wrong in not pointing out to us that error.

But upon a Scriptural review, of the subject matter of our former circulars, we have found no “Thus saith the Lord” to condemn us, and we have had no Scriptural exceptions from you; hence, we are led to the conclusion, that you have received it as Bible Truth, in the love of it, not because we wrote and sent it to you, but because our Lord authorized us so to write. It has at all times been our aim “to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and so now we write that man in the fall, was and is dead in trespasses and. in sins; and in his best estate was only a good natural being, and so says the Bible.- (Genesis 1:31; 1 Cor. 15:46-47).

Now, notwithstanding the many exceptions that are taken and have been taken by those who are called the worshipers of God and profess to be conformed to His divine image, they read His revealed will, and say they take it as their guide, yet by their practice, they stand opposed to it, which certainly does say if language means anything, that they are not “reconciled to God.”- (2 Cor. 51:20). And this being their true condition, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they (spiritual things) are spiritually discerned.”- (1 Cor. 2:14). And. when they thus express their unreconciliation, we do them the justice to say, we believe them to be honest, but at the same time, we think them honestly mistaken. How can it be consistently otherwise, we ask? Because they are carnal, and “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be.” – (Romans 8:6-7). And again, they are of the world, and the world loves its own; and as such, they are taught the wisdom of the world and hence, they are often heard to boast of their position; often quoting the traditions and words of the wise of this world; in order to sustain them in their position. But this does not help them any, as long as it is written, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe”- (1 Cor. 1:21). And hence, we see it written “Cursed is the ground for thy sake;” “For out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” - (Genesis 3:17-19). So we see the ground is cursed in consequence of sinful and unreconciled rebellious man.

And so the Scriptures inform us that this is the corrupted source from which corrupted man has sprung and continues to spring. “Shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” - (Psalm 51:5). “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the feet even to the head there is no soundness in it.” - (Isaiah 1:5-6). Thus we see is brought to view, man’s outward pollution.

Now let us turn and see his inward pollution. “Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes” - (Romans 3:13-18). If this is not pollution outwardly and inwardly, then we confess we know not what language can express it. And now the question is asked, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one” - (Job 14:4). And again it is asked, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.” Here we think is a lifetime work proposed for poor sinful and depraved man, which he never performed and never will. We might introduce many other witnesses from the Word of God if we deemed it necessary, to prove the sinner’s entire depravity and inability, to restore himself in whole, or in part; but are admonished that “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” - (I Cor. 13: 1) And again, “they have Moses and the prophets; and if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced though one rise from the dead.” And here we leave the sinner “dead in trespasses and sins,” - (Ephesians 2:1), to be quickened by the God of all grace, and say, if it is the will of God,

“Prepare them, gracious God,
To stand before Thy face;
Thy Spirit must the work perform,
For it is all of grace.”

And hasten briefly to bring to view “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” - (Ephesians 3:14-15). “Who hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” “In whom their life is hid with Christ in God; and when He, Christ our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” In union with Him as children to a father; hence He teaches them to say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” etc. - (Matthew 6:9). In union with Him as the branch with the Vine; “I am the vine: ye are the branches.”- (John 15:5). He hath a title to them, “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” - (Deuteronomy. 32:9). Again, “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before the works of old.”- (Proverb 8:22). They are His children, beloved sons; hence it is said, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” - (1 John 3:2). As such, they are “Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” - (Romans 8:17). Heirs to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled; heirs kept for the inheritance by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, seeing that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, all testifying for you, with such a glorious Captain, the Captain of your salvation, you have nothing to fear; victory is yours as certain as your Savior lives and reigns. You shall and will be brought off as conquerors, and more than conquerors, through Him that loves you and has given Himself for you, and although in the last conflict:

“This flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
You shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.”

And although the Old Man is a son of the bond woman, and is not born to this inheritance as the New Man, yet your King, the King of Zion, who reigns in righteousness, has passed the decree that the Old Man of His children shall be adopted into the heavenly family, but shall appear there in the likeness of God the Savior, and through reigning triumphant grace gain the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the children of the kingdom will hear the welcome plaudit: “Enter ye, ye blessed of My Father, into the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. . .

And now, dear brethren and sisters, although iniquity abounds, and the love of many is waxing cold and the world appears to be ripening for its destruction, and although in the midst of the crush of worlds and the work of wreck of matter and universal destruction, yet the Church of God is secure in Christ, the Ark of their eternal safety, and shall live and reign with Him over death and final destruction. And now, in conclusion, we bid you farewell.

Done by order of the Licking Association.

Thomas P. Dudley, Moderator
Attest. A. F. Dudley, Clerk