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CIRCULAR LETTER

Fayette County, Ky., March 15th, 1833.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: – The subjoined circular, was prepared for, and presented to the Licking Association at her Session 1829. The timidity (as I believed) of some few Brethren induced them to oppose its adoption, in consequence (as it is said) of what is said in it, relative to the word ‘particular’ at the same time they declared “that they believed the doctrine it contained, as cordially as the writer did.” The rule of our Association requiring unanimity and opposition manifesting itself, the letter was withdrawn. I have been much pressed by many Brethren to have it published; but have hitherto resisted their requests. If you shall think it worth preserving, you are at liberty to use it at your discretion. Yours in hope of eternal life.

THOS. P. DUDLEY.


BELOVED IN THE LORD. – The revolving wheels of time, directed by, in unerring Providence, has brought us together again, in our associate capacity, according to our appointment, and we are especially indebted to the Head of the Church, for the harmony, simplicity, and godly sincerity, which have characterized our counsels throughout our intercourse with each other.

The character of the Letters from the Churches, generally composing our body, is highly gratifying to those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and the peace of Zion, although they do not bear the pleasing intelligence of an extensive display of the Divine Power, as developed in delivering multitudes of poor rebellious mortals “from the power of darkness; and translating them into the Kingdom of his Dear Son.” Col. i, 13. Yet they give evidence of union in the “One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.” Eph. iv. 5. Which is an essential to the realization of those blessing, had in mind by the Psalmist. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is, for Brethren to dwell together in unity,” Ps. cxxxiii, 1; and is well calculated to elicit (from such) greatful emotions to the author of our Holy Religion.

It is matter of pleasing astonishment, that whilst strife, and animosity prevail so extensively in the ranks of the Baptist Denominations, the kind dispensation of Zion’s King, has been manifested toward us. In that, we have enjoyed uninterupted harmony, in regard to the principles upon which we are united as an association; would you ask whence this unaminity? We answer, “he fashioneth their hearts alike,” Ps. xxxiii, 15. And ask in the fact of its existence; have we not strong presumptive evidence, that the principles maintained by our Association, meet the Divine approbation? That the especial Providence of God has overshadowed us, whilst his spirit has guided us into the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is a mistaken idea, entertained by many professors of christianity, that Creeds or Confessions of Faith, engender strife amongst the folowers of the Lamb. If that opinion be correct, why do we hear an Apostle exhorting a Minister to “Hold fast the form of sound words?” 2d Tim. i, 31. Why does he caution him against “Truce-breakers?” 2d Tim. iii, 3; or why does the same Apostle, enumerate among other offences, that of Covenant-breaking? Rom. i, 13.

The truth is Brethren, those irregularities which exist, are the result of a want of fixed Bible principles, and a strict adherence to them. We apprehend, that many Churches in our Country, have by this time felt the need of a Confession of Faith; whilst others have had cause to lament their non-attention to their confession, which had been permitted to sleep quietly for years, – but at length awoke and found many (ignorantly) reclining thereon, who upon its development, raised their flag, and proclaimed a war of extermination against the “Golden Calf,” as they were pleased to term it. For ourselves, we desire, that it shall be universally known, that we have fixed principles, which we solemnly believe accord with the word of eternal truth; a departure from which, we are resolved not to tolerate – believing that every innovation upon those principles, will lead on, to that painful state of things, which causes Zion to mourn in this day of declension. Much has been said with regard to our assuming the name “Particular,” and many of our Brethren have supposed, that the assumption of the name, has opened the flood gates of opposition, and thereby been the procuring cause of that odium which has been heaped upon us so lavishly for many years. But Brethren bear with us, whilst we point you to that soul refreshing system of special grace, which has been propagated by our Ministry, and cordially embraced by the wity, as the secret though true cause of opposition. But it is said, O, if you had not taken that name, we would have loved you better? How childish such language must appear to persons of discernment; shall we fall out with others, because they assumed the name of “United Baptists?” We trust, not although they will frankly admit, that there exists more union amongst us than themselves. Suppose we had, in lieu of “Particular,” adopted the name “Peculiar,” which is also a Bible term? Can you suppose we should have steered clear of censure? Such a supposition we conceive would be delusive. We recollect that (many years since) the Baptist Society, maintained the distinctive names Regular and Separate; who then found fault? And we ask, do not those who were formerly called “Regular Baptists,” yet refuse to commune with those who now maintain the doctrine and practice of the separates.

Brethren, the Baptist Society is divided upon the principles developed in the Bible, and it is useless to attempt to disguise the fact; & we are willing (the Lord being our helper) to hear all the odium heaped upon is in consequence of the assumption of the name; & would earnestly pray to God Almighty, that we may not be permitted to dishonor the name; but that we may be, individually identified, as “Particular Baptists,” by an undeviatingly correct department. But what are the offensive principles propagated by the Particular Baptist ministry and received by the laiety? We answer, they are to be found embraced in the following abstract. That God created all things for himself, “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created,” Psalms cxlviii, 5. That he created man in his own Image, and after his own Likeness, Gen. i, 26,27. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out man inventions,” Ecl. vii, 9. That he gave to man a law as a test of his obedience. (By man, we are to be understood, the posterity of Adam the first, who concentrated then natural existence in him.) by which law, man (the creature) is holden under obligation, to render unqualified obedience to its precepts; and that in giving the Law, the penalty annexed to its violation was made known by the Law-giver, in the prohibition. “The day, thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,” Gen. ii, 17. That man, freely and voluntarily, transgressed the Law, and thereby brought death and all our woes upon us; the fountain being corrupted, the streams flowing from it, will necessarily partake of the nature of the fountain. Hence the wicked practices of men are only developments of the corruption of human nature. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. Li, 5. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies,” Ps. Lviii, 3. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it,” xvii, 9. “The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be, so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” Rm. viii, 7,8; and it is referable to the original transgression of man with its consequences, that the Apostle has said of him, that his “wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, Devlish,” James iii, 15. Notwithstanding the awful dilemma, in which sin has engulphed the posterity of Adam the first, “Who are of the earth earthy.” yet they are called upon to render their perfect adhesion to the preceptive requisitions of the Law, and are culpable for every infraction to its precepts. Hence we discover the deplorable condition of the human family, and that irrespective of the mediatorial interference of the Lord Jesus Christ (the second Adam) the sinner must have lingered in eternal pain; he must have “Gone down into the pitt where he could not hope for the truth of God.” Taking this view of the subject, and contrasting the character of the creature with that of the Creator, we are led to see the propriety and feel the force of that saying, “Can two walk together except they be agreed.” Amos iii, 3. All must admit that it would have been just, had Jehovah poured out the vials of his wrath upon man’s devoted head, immediately upon the first transgression, irrespective of the Covenant made with the Lord Jesus, how can such a proceeding on the part of the Divine Government be legalized? The answer is plain; the Law has been violated, “Sin is the transgression of the Law,” 1st Epistle of John, iii, 4. “The wages of sin is death,” Rom. vi. 28. We would invite your attention particularly to the fact that sin is the procuring cause of condemnation, and that in the absence of the law, sin which is the cause, or condemnation, the effect cannot exist “Where, no law is there is no transgression,” Rom. iv, 15. We are at some loss to know where modern Divines found the idea inculcated, that the disbelief of the Gospel is the procuring cause of condemnation. We are very certain however, they did not find in the Bible, the Standard of Faith and practice. By what means the Gospel has been metamorphosed into a system of condemnation, we leave to be explained by those who have embraced that error.

To suppose that the Gospel condemns an unbeliever, is a palpable perversion of the very term Gospel, which in its evangelical sense is declared to be “Good tiding of great joy,” Luke ii, 10. It cannot be joyful news to any to hear of a system whereby he, or they are destined to “feel the vengeance of Eternal fire,” and we cannot believe that the Father of our Spirits, designed to make the condition of any portion of the human family worse, by the advent of his son or promulgation of the Gospel, which is the irresistable conclusion or result, if the rejection of the Son, or disbelief of the Gospel is the procuring cause of condemnation. “But ye believe not; because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you,” John x, 26. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee O father Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto Babes, even so Father, for it seemed good in thy sight,” Mat. xi, 25,26. “And he said unto them, unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables;” Mark iv, 11. “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day,” John xii, 47,48. “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust,” John v, 45. Hence it is clear, that the disbelief of the Gospel and rejection of the Son of God are the effects of sin, and go to develop the fact that such persons are in the language of the master “condemned already,” John iii, 18. “Dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. Ii, 1. “That they are blinded by the God of this world,” 2d Cor. iv, 4. We have been led to wonder, how christians, blessed as they are, with the Spirit of God in their hearts, and word of God in their hands, can differ in regard to the object to be attained by the advent of the Redeemer; in other words, the extent of his mediatorial interference: believing as we do, that the Scriptures fix this matter as definitely as they do the character of those who shall ultimately hear the welcome, “Enter into the joys of thy Lord,” Mat. xxv, 21. It is conceived that the manifestation of the Son of God, (“to destroy the words of the Devil”) was the result of previous arrangement; in other words that God had a Divine purpose therein. “The Lord of Hosts hath sworn, saying surely as I have thot’, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed so shall it stand,” Isa. Xiv, 24. “for the Lord of Hosts hath purposed and who shall disannul it? And his hand has been stretched out, and shall turn it back,” Isa. xiv, 27. “According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Eph. iii, 11. To deny eternal purpose, is to reduce Jehovah below the level of corrupt creatures; we do nothing without previous purpose, if left to the volition of our will. Let us then, as honest inquirers after truth, examine those portions of the sacred text, referable to Messiah’s advents passing by a variety in the Old Testament, we come directly to those of the New, and leave you to judge of their relavancy. “Then said I, lo, I come (in the volume of the Book, it is written of me) to do thy will O God,” Heb. x, 7. A momentous question presents itself at once to the mind, viz: what is that will? Let the Evangelist answer this question, supported by inspired Apostles. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins,” Mat. i, 21. “For I came down from Heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me, and this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should loose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day,” John vi, 38,39. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh that he should give Eternal Life to as many as thou hast given him, and this is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” John xvii, 2,3. “Who was delivered from our offences and was raised again for our justification,” Rom. iv, 25. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2d Cor. v, 21. We now ask, if Jesus does not save his people, from their sins? If he does not raise those given him of the Father at the last day; if he does not give Eternal Life to as many, and the identical persons given him of the Father? If those for whose offences he was delivered are not justified? If those for whom he was made sin, are not made the righteousness of God in him, is not the purpose of God frustrated? Is not his will broken? These questions we conclude will be answered affirmatively by all acquainted with the subject. How inadequate, must be the ideas of those who conclude that any contingency, can frustrate the purpose of him, who has said “My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure,” and “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” But let us examine for the objects to be secured by the Son of God, in his mediation on behalf of the guilty. “And I lay down my life for the sheep,” John x, 15. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out,” John vi, 37. “Feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” Acts xx. 28. “Christ hath Redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree,” Gal. Iii, 13. “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it, to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be Holy and without blemish,” Eph. v, 25,26,27. “Who gave himself for us, that he might Redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Titus ii, 14. We again ask the solemn question reflect upon the sufferings of the Son of God in Gethsemanas Garden, when “Being in an agony he sweat as it were great drops of blood, falling down to the ground,” when he cried out “O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me;” “when his soul was troubled, and exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death,” and at last when he is “led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.” O, Brethren follow him to the Cross on Calvary’s bloody Hill, and there hear the heart rendering exclamation burst from him “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” and connect these declarations with the Father’s promise, “when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied,” Isa. liii, 10,11. And then ask your hearts the question, were all those sorrows sustained? This scene of suffering passed through? And the blessed Jesus at last meet a disappointment? And too, when the Apostle tells us, “He ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Heb. vii, 25. Justice forbids it, reason forbids it, the Scripture forbids it, Christian experience forbids it, – yea, every thing that is good forbids it. If he fails to save all the redeemed as declared by the Prophet “and the ransomed of the Lord; shall return and come to Zion, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away,” Isa. xxx, v, x. Then we no longer understand the force of propriety of that declaration “He is the rock, his work is perfect.” Deut. xxxii, 4. But we have additional testimony, going to prove the security of the Elect; their intercesser is their Judge, and cannot condemn those whose names “he wears on his breast plate,” and “graven upon the palms of his hands.” Isa. xlix, 16. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that has risen again, who is at the right hand of God who also maketh intercession for us,” Rom. viii, 34. O, Brethren let us not wrong the adorable Redeemer so much, as to suspect him of insincerity; which is irrisistable, when we suppose he will condemn any for whom he makes intercession. Strange as it must appear to the well informed advocate of Bible truth; there are Baptists who hold with general atonement and special application. Let such remember that their scheme (if it deserve the name) presents a schism in the God-head, or Divine Essence, and must of necessity be Anti-christian; that it is an attack upon the justice of God; in that he withholds regenerating grace from a portion of the redeemed. It is inconsistent with the character of the Alpha and Omega of Salvation, to suppose that he would prosecute his plan thus far; and leave it, subject to be frustrated by the caprice of man. His language is “I will work and who shall let it,” “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord,” Isa. lxvi, 9. “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live,” John v, 25. “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not. I will lead them in paths that they have not know, I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight, these things will I do unto them, and will not forsake them.” Isa. xlii, 19. All will admit that in the absence of Love and Faith there can be rendered no acceptable service unto God. From whence to those indispensible principles come? Let the Apostle answer this question, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” Gal. v, 22. By what sort of reasoning, an individual whose body is not the “Temple of the Holy Ghost,” is made to bring forth the fruits of the spirit, we confess is beyond our comprehension. “The Saviour’s language is make the tree good and his fruit good,” Math. xii, 33. Because, the Lord Jesus informed his Disciples, if he went away, he would send the comforter, whom he afterwards declared to be “the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John xiv, 17. He further informed his Disciples that it was the promise of the Comforter to “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment.” John xvi, 8. And at a subsequent period the Apostle Paul said to the Church at Ephesus “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. ii, 1. Again the same Apostle said to the Church at Rom “But if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwelleth in you.” Rom. viii. 11. But why need we multiply proofs upon this point, when christians universally maintain (unless they are bewitched) the necessity of the agency of the Holy Spirit to impart life to those hitherto dead in trespasses and sins that it is through his quickening energies along, the sinner is made conscious of his lost and wretched circumstances as a transgressor of the Divine Law, when sin becomes exceeding sinful, “the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal sold under sin.” He learns the important lesson “In me, that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that, that is good I find not.” “I was alive without the Law once, but when the Commandment came, sin revived and I died.” In his awful extremity, the Holy Ghost enables him to discover the Lord Jesus in whom is plentious redemption, 1 Cor. xii, 3. “And that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” Wherefore in seeing ye believe, and in believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And now is he engaged to “glorify God in his body and spirit which are his.” And now Dear Brethren, if a strict adherence to the above principles, and a faithful maintenance of them renders us unpopular, be it so, we prefer the smiles of the Redeemer, tho’ the frowns of the world be upon us to any earthly consideration; and that God would enable us to identify ourselves as Particular Baptists by a life devoted to his service, and a walk corresponding with the Gospel text of christianity, that he would make us faithful unto death, and that we may after death receive a crown of life, is our fervent prayer, for Jesus sake. Amen.

Elder Thomas P. Dudley

Signs of the Times
Vol. 1, No. 11
April 24, 1833