The Miami Regular Baptist Association, To the several Churches of which she is composed, sendeth this Epistle of Love.
Dearly Beloved Brethren in the Kingdom and Patience of Christ:
Our former custom authorizing you to expect an anniversary Address from us at this Session and we feel a pleasure in performing this labor of love.
We regret the narrowness of the limits assigned us, which forbids us to enlarge on any subject, you must, therefore, expect us to do but little more than present the subject matter of this letter, for your future deliberation, and we hope the churches and members will give it a dispassionate investigation, & act promptly on the results.
The establishment and extension of the visible Kingdom of Christ will be the basis of this letter, and we would exhort all the churches to feel a deep interest in it. The visible establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom was the subject of many promises and prophecies; it was pointed to by the ceremonies under the law; it was implied in the first threat upon the serpent. It was intimated in the first dawning hope that shone upon our fallen race. It fired the hearts of the ancient patriarchs and saints, with holy emotions and heavenly anticipations. In a word, prophets and saints, through the long vista of many ages, desired to see the days of Messiah’s reign and feel its radiating glories, when it should fill the Temple of God, and gather into its embraces the Gentiles from all the habitations of cruelty, until all nations should submit to His government, and all the Islands of the sea be converted to His law, and all people call Him blessed. This all eventful epoch at length approached, Moses’ prophecy – David’s Son, Abraham’s seed, Daniel’s King, Isaiah’s Prince, and the Virgin’s Child; met in one focus and was all realized in the babe of Bethlehem. He was the hope of Israel, the stem of Jesse, the root of David, and the King who should reign in righteousness.
While the King concealed His divine power and Godhead in an infant form wrapped in swaddling bands and lying in a manger; the angels in anthems of sweetest melody around the birth of a Savior, in the person of Christ the Lord, and predicted it to be good news to all people. Simeon and Anna, soon felt the influence of His divine power and mission, and uttered their gratitude in prophetic devotion. Compelled by our limits to pass over the many illustrations of His character in His childhood and youth, we only notice the Eastern Magi directed by the Star of a king, until they came to the place of His nativity, and presented their gifts to the babe of Mary. John lifted up his voice in the wilderness of Judea, according to ancient prophecy, and along the banks of Jordan proclaimed the near approach of the heavenly Kingdom, and while the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem surrounded Him on the banks, he baptized the King of Glory in the river, the opening heavens, and the Voice of His Father approved the deed, and the Spirit like the oil of gladness, descended in the form of a dove and rested upon His head. The King was thus visibly anointed to His visible reign – hence John said, “That He might be made manifested to Israel, am I come baptizing with water.” Thus in baptism the King was acknowledged by the Voice of His Father from the opening heavens, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and manifested to Israel; and He showed in an emblem His coming death, burial and resurrection, by which the victory of His Kingdom was to be obtained.
Being thus set as a King on the holy hill of Zion, He began the combat with the Devil on the mount where He fasted for forty days, conquered the tempter, came off victorious, and received the ministry of angels. Returning from the mount, He proclaimed the approach of His reign, and called on the inhabitants of Judea to repent. After the He gave full proof of His Divine power and work, by controlling the winds, seas, pestilence, death and the Devil. He declared His power to forgive sins on earth, and give Eternal Life to as many as His Father gave to Him. He called His chosen Apostles as witnesses of His works, and made every proper arrangement for the establishment of His visible Kingdom and finally finished the work assigned to Him by the Father, by giving His life a ransom for many of the race of man; a ransom for all His Father gave to Him. By death He destroyed him who had the power of death, and having purchased the Church – His subjects – by His resurrection, He brought life and immortality to light, through the Gospel. He, not the Gospel, brought the life and immortality, the Gospel brought it to light, or made it manifest. On the memorable day of Pentecost, the inauguration of the King was solemnized with glorious displays of Divine majesty and heavenly gifts. Jesus was now ascended to the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, and the gifts which He had received for men was sent down to qualify His subjects for the several offices which they were to fill, either as apostles or evangelists, pastors and teachers, helps and government &c.
The Kingdom was now visibly established, the apostle Peter took hold on the keys of the Kingdom, and opened its rich treasures to the convicted sons of Abraham, and proclaimed its soothing promises to them, and as many as were ordained to life, the Lord our God shall call. The Kingdom being now established, its glorious treasures unlocked, the Spirit gave energy to the apostles’ testimonies and crowds of Jews and proselytes from many places were at once converted to the love of the King, His laws, His Gospel, His people, His ordinances and His worship. The Kingdom was now firmly built upon the foundation which God had laid in Zion, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. The subjects were joined together in unity by the Spirit, of faith, interest and design. They all were taught by one Spirit. They all had one King or Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who was over all, and to all, and in them all. They were not divided into sects and factious parties, but they all continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and in fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers, and newly converted subjects “were added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
This Kingdom thus permanently established, and put into glorious operation, was destined to pervade the whole earth, and gather together the ransomed subjects from every nation, until the Heathen shall be an inheritance for our King, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. As the universal extension of this heavenly Kingdom was irrevocably settled in the Eternal Mind, so the ways and means for its accomplishment was ordained and appointed, and these are as sure of success under the Divine Agency, as the end is certain for which they were ordained.
The testimony of the apostles is the means, and the Spirit is the Agent to give it effect. The Spirit must quicken the subject from a state of death, and the Word presents Christ as the way, the Truth and the life. The Spirit opens the eyes of the understanding and the Word presents Christ as the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely. The Spirit inclines the heart to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and the Word says they shall be filled. The Spirit works faith within, and the Word testifies of Christ, and presents Him as the object of that faith. Thus the Spirit and the Word are the means ordained for the conversion (not, regeneration) of the saints, and the extension of Immanuel’s militant Kingdom. Now, as these means are so connected with this great end, that both are equally certain of their accomplishment, so a well arranged plan of operation for the spread of the Gospel, or dissemination of the Word in all nations, was ordained by our King, and put into operation, which shall carry the Gospel to all nations as certainly, as the means or end was certain. In this plan of operation for the spread of the Gospel, men are chosen directly by the King Himself, and by Him called and qualified by His blessed Spirit, and moved, motivated, and sent by Him in His power, and supplied by His fullness, to carry the apostolic testimonies to all nations, and preach the Gospel to every creature. In most cases, He used persecution to drive them from one place to another; merchants called to preach scattered the Word throughout the nations along commercial routes; and multitudes as in our present time travel across the wilderness trails carrying the glorious message of free salvation through Jesus Christ.
These men are of like passion, feeling and infirmities with others, and many needs a sustenance or they must fail. Our King has most amply and certainly provided for all this, and for their security He has prefaced their commission with a sure guarantee of support and sustenance, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth,” said He, adding, “Go ye therefore, into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, and Lo! I am with you always even to the end of the world.” “I am,” this is always in the present tense, “I” who have all power in heaven and earth. I am at all times and in all places with you, the hearts of all men are under My control, the earth and its fullness are Mine; be not dismayed the Isles shall wait for My law, and the forces of the Gentiles shall be converted to my Kingdom, “seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or where with all ye shall be clothed, for all these things do the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. Consider the ravens, which have neither store house nor barn, (to sustain them) yet your heavenly Father supplies them: are ye not of more value than the fowls? Consider the littlies, they neither sew nor spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Are ye not of more value than the grass. Be not of doubtful mind. Fear not little flock for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Thus they are fortified and encouraged to go nothing doubting. The success is insured, for, says the King, “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness to all people. Thus the King has ordained the end, the means for its accomplishment, and a plan of operation upon which the means shall be carried into effect in all nations. The Gospel is the glad tidings of a finished and accomplished Salvation through the successful sacrifice of the Lamb of God on Calvary’s tree. And a good message it is to feeling sinners born of God through His Spirit’s quickening power.
For the support of the minister whom Christ has sent, the people among whom he labors are by Divine ordination bound to supply him in his temporal wants, as much, and on the same principle, that they are bound in common justice to compensate the laborer who reaps down their fields and for the neglect of this, they are equally guilty in the one case as in the other. If James, Peter and John, labor among the churches in Judea, the churches in Judea are bound by the law of their King to supply them; & if Paul labors among the Gentiles, the Gentile believers among whom he labors are equally bound to supply him. On this Divine plan of operation, the first messengers went forth, with neither two coats, script or purse, but like the grass and raven they too depend upon their Lord’s power (and promise to adorn and feed them; for they had neither store-house (funds) nor barn (provision in readiness) but they had that which was more certain, the promise of their King who had all power in heaven and earth; on this they felt safe, for the Heathen would be as certain to bring their silver and gold and provisions to the offering of the Lord, as the purpose of the Lord should require it, for all power and all hearts are in His hands. This was the Divine plan of operation our King adopted and ordained in all the churches. This plan the first messengers operated upon, both among Jews and Heathens to them both “domestic” and “foreign.” No other was necessary, no other was adopted during the first century. No other has ever been adopted which has had half the success. No other has maintained the purity of Gospel doctrine, the simplicity of the Gospel, a separation from the ungodly world and world’s policy. No other method can be so efficient or successful. No other can be devised which will offer so little inducement to imposters and pious charlatans, or inspire the true messengers with equal confidence in His Lord. This method, or plan, did not disappoint the expectation of the messenger to the Heathen, however dark the prospects might have at first appeared, for after he had operated on it for a long time, he could say to the honor of His King that “Having received help of the Lord, I continued to this day testifying both to small and to great.” His King was still with him, and although the Gospel was never preached to any people who were more hostile to it than those among whom Paul labored, yet their hearts and hands, their money and their purse strings were all under the control of Him who had all power, and we may easily see how ready they were to give to him whom God had sent to preach to them.
Paul testified of the Churches in Galatia, that if it had been required, the Galatians believers would have plucked out their own eyes and gave to him; of others he said he had received an abundance supply, of others he refused to receive any money, being already well provided for. There were no middlemen, or brokers, between those sent with the glorious message from on high and those blessed to receive the grace of God given them. Their willingness to communicate to him who labored as a Messenger among them, is not only clear from the above examples, but when their servant in the Gospel made known to them, the suffering condition of the poor saints at Jerusalem, and requested a token of their liberality for the relief of these, they were ready and willing to comply promptly. This plan of operation has been employed by the King’s servants throughout the frontier forests of this land; indeed, it is often said, “Kentucky and Tennessee are the graveyards of Virginia and North Carolina preachers.” No humanly devised “mission society” brought these servants of the King into this vineyard.
The success of this plan also, goes to recommend it far above all others yet tried. One Itinerate preacher (missionary) was sent to the Gentile world on this Divine plan, and in the short span of his remaining life, he preached the Gospel at Damascus, Syria, then among the Gentile cities to the ends of the earth. In Jerusalem, in Asia Minor, in Corinth, in Rome, to France and Spain; this herald of the cross was going, no society, no board, no agents were hired to compass sea and land to raise funds for his support. No! he trusted on the promises and faithfulness of his Lord, and found that his King who had all power, was with him by land and by sea. From the Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s epistles, we may learn something of the success of this “Missionary” to the heathens, and we are very sure that any one who will examine it, will see, that all other plans which men’s wisdom has ever devised with all their united exertions have failed so far behind this in point of success, both in the conversion of the heathen, &., and maintaining of the purity of the doctrine & ordinances of the Gospel, as to stand the pride of man, defend the honor of our King, and recommend the superlative excellencies of this plan of operation for the advancement of His Kingdom. No other humanly devised plan has been able to hire men sound in the doctrine of the cross, who would not abandon it to flatter the freewill of corrupt heathen. Only this one plan of our King promotes the Gospel of Jesus Christ and maintain His honor and glory in the successful redemption of His purchase people.
Let the “Missionary” go as Paul went, if no door is opened in one place, let him go to another: if his King has sent him, He will be with him, and make a way for him at the proper time and placed ordained for him; but if an imposter goes, our King will not supply him, and he must starve, or men must adopt some other plan to support him.
We would not be understood to censure or condemn any of our Dear Brethren as such, or any church in our body as such, because they feel a pious zeal for the promotion of the Redeemer’s Kingdom; no, this we would ever wish to promote and encourage. Nor would we even indulge the cruel edict which some of our denomination have (as we conceive) rashly, in their zeal or prejudice introduced. No, nothing of an arbitrary, or censorious nature is intended, but we would be glad to excite in the churches in our body a close and dispassionate examination of the original plan of Missionary exertions, so that a greater unanimity of feeling, a proper plan of operation, and less clamor, hard speeches and disgraceful divisions may appear in the ranks of that Kingdom which is exhorted to be of one heart, of one mind, of one voice and of one judgment. We would therefore exhort all the churches in our body & elsewhere, to exercise much of that Christian forbearance which is so indispensable for all the subjects of Christ’s militant Kingdom, and let him that giveth to support the present (Missionary Society) plan now in operation, believing it to be his duty, give it heartily as to the Lord and not condemn him that giveth not, and let him who giveth not because he cannot believe his King has adopted a new plan, give not, and not condemn him that giveth. Let each one examine for himself and so let him act for himself, and not reproach his brother of the other part. We are all in an imperfect state here on earth, and we should bear with one another in love, and not bite and devour one another, lest we be consumed one of another.
We have endeavored to lay before you the plan which our adorable King has adopted for the spread of the Gospel among all nations, and we think that it opens a door for the most effectual exertions for all the churches to set upon. Which of the churches have supported the man who labors for them? Is not the laborer worthy of his hire? If this is not done, let no one say, “I have no way to bestow my charity.” Brethren be zealous and when all the churches shall have well discharged their accountability in this, and see that they are not going without the preaching of the Gospel most part of the time, they shall have done well, & then their Gospel-example will enforce the precept of their King on all churches among the Gentiles or brethren. Then the Messenger as in former times, may not desire a gift, but the contribution for his support, will only be regarded as a gift of love, and means of aid in carrying the Gospel to “regions beyond;” and for what it true is, a grace worked in the heart of the giver by the Author of all gifts in His Kingdom.
Wilson Thompson, 1832.