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Church there, of which he was appointed an elder. It seems that in the year 1831, some corrupt teachers went out from New York, at the head of whom was one Sidney Rigdon, probably an elder, or public teacher in one of the Churches of the “ Reformation.” This man renounced the “ Ancient Gospel,” declaring that he had not been serious in his professions of it: a plain proof, if any were needed, that Immersion and Regeneration are not convertible terms! It would further appear that those heretics got access among the disciples of Christ at a place called Kirtland, which induced the Church at Wellsburg to address the following letter to them. I present it to my readers as exhibiting a beautiful specimen of Christian simplicity, a model of excellence in this kind of composition, and as forming a striking contrast to the lordly and domineering conduct which sometimes appears in the correspondence of certain Churches in our own country.
LETTER FROM THE BAPTIST CHURCH IN WELLSBURG, VIRGINIA, TO A SISTER CHURCH WHICH WAS TROUBLED WITH HERETICAL TEACHERS.
(From the Millennial Harbinger, Vol. II.)
The Church of God which is at Wellsburg to the Saints and
faithful brethren in Christ who are at Kirtland : may favour, mercy, and peace, be multiplied to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We would not have you ignorant, brethren, of the sorrow and sympathy which we have for you, since we heard of the trials and afflictions which have befallen you, and which you are still enduring. For this cause, therefore, and that we might be enabled to stir up your minds, by putting you in remembrance of the favour in which we stand, it seemed good to us, being assembled together in one place, to write to you this letter; and we, also, bow our knees to our Heavenly Father on your behalf, that he may strengthen you with all might in the inner man, that he may preserve you from all evil, and cause you to remain steadfast in the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
You know, dear brethren, that we all were once aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise ; that we were alive unto sin, but free men as to righteousness; that we could not call God our Father, and were not his people: that we were foolish and disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures; that we were filled with doubts and apprehensions, and were without the blessings and privileges of the Gospel. But when our attention was directed to the testimony of God concerning his Son, we did not refuse to set to our seal that God is true. For the glad news of salvation came not to us depending upon human testimony; but began to be spoken by the Lord himself, and was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God himself bearing joint witness, both by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and distribution of the Holy Spirit, according to his own pleasure.
Finding ourselves, therefore, lost, miserable, and ruined, we gladly fled away to lay hold on the hope set before us in the Gospel; and, believing upon the testimony of his holy Apostles and Prophets, that Jesus is the Messiah, and that God hath raised him from the dead, we were induced, through the goodness of our Heavenly Father, to humble ourselves before his Glorious Majesty ; and having made the good confession before men to submit to be buried with Christ in immersion, confessing our sins that we might be raised again to walk in newness of life.
Dearly beloved; we would at all times give most unfeigned thanks to our holy and beloved Father, that he has redeemed us from our vain behaviour delivered to us by our fathers, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot; that he hath quickened us who were dead in trespasses and sins, and hath set us down in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, having freely forgiven us all trespasses. We would ever adore his goodness, that having begotten us by the Gospel, the word of truth, through the bath of regeneration, we have been born of Water and of Spirit-have become his children, and have been introduced into the kingdom of Heaven.
And we would continually praise him, that we have been assured of the possession of these blessings, not by men, nor by the word of man, but by the testimony which he himself has furnished us with, that our faith and hope might rest in the word of God, the incorruptible seed, of which we were born, and which lives and abides for ever.
How, then, do those that trouble you say, that you should be immersed again? Is there another faith than that depending upon the testimony of those who saw and heard the Lord ? Is there another Gospel which we have not received, or another Saviour whom we have not acknowledged ? Know you not that so many of us as have been immersed into Christ have put him on? And is there, then, another Christ into whom we have not been immersed -another forgiveness which we have not received, oranother God whom we have not for a Father? Or has the incorruptible seed of the word of which we have been born, become corruptible and ready to perish? Then, indeed, have we believed in vain, and are yet in our sins. Then, indeed, have we suffered contumely and reproach for the cause of Christ in vain, and in vain have laboured to overcome the world and to walk worthy of our heavenly calling. And if we have been heretofore deceived, to whom shall we go? If the testimony of God is not to be believed, shall we believe man? Shall we relinquish the salvation which the word of God assures us we already possess, for any salvation which men may promise ? And if the Leader into whom we have been already immersed is unable to guide us to the mansions of the blessed, shall we be led thither by another master ?
Dearly beloved; let us be assured that there is not another name given under Heaven whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus Christ; that no other foundation can any man lay than is already laid ; and that if a man or an angel from Heaven should preach any other Gospel than that which we have already received, and in which we stand, and by which also we are saved if we keep it in remembrance, he will be accursed when the Lord comes.
Seeing, then, that we have purified our souls by obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, let us continue in the truth, rooted and grounded
in love, and abounding in the work of the Lord at all times. For it is our most reasonable service to present our bodies a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice unto God; of whom we are in Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, righteousness also, and sanctification, and redemption. Though we were some time ago darkness, yet now are we light in the Lord_let us, therefore, walk as the children of light. God our Heavenly Father is light, and in him is no darkness at all. With the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ was the fellowship of the Apostles, who have testified to us what they have seen and heard, that we also might have fellowship with them. Now, if we say that we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. Let us, therefore, purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. Let us walk worthy of the calling by which we are called; with all humbleness of mind and meekness, and with longsuffering, supporting one another in love. And let us endeavour to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit as also we have been called to one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one immersion, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and with all, and in us all. For in one Spirit we have all been immersed in one body, and all have been made to drink of one Spirit. By the Holy Spirit we have been enabled to call Jesus Lord. We know his name, and his name is all our trust. Our Father giveth his Holy Spirit to them that ask him; and we have received the Spirit, whose fruits are love, joy, peace, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance; and we know that we have passed away from death into life, because we love the brethren.
What is, therefore, to hinder, brethren, but that we should rejoice in the Lord, and with patience wait his coming ? For having received the salvation of our souls, we are waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our bodies. Let us, therefore, in this blessed hope, press forward in the race set before us, ever looking off to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith, and who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of God. For all the trials of this present time are not to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. He who has called us is faithful, and his promises shall never fail of their accomplishment.
We beseech you, therefore, dear brethren, by the mercies of God, that you be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which we have received; that you do not forget that you have been purged away from your old sins; that you have been born of Water and Spirit, and have already been made partakers of salvation. Be stable and unmoved, and be not tossed and whirled about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and by craftiness formed into a subtle method of deceit: but be patient, and hope to the end for the glory which is to be revealed. And let us ever continue in prayer and supplication, and abound in thanksgiving to God even our Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth : who has loved us and washed us from our sins in his own precious blood, and has made us kings and priests to his God and Father-to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen. Behold! he comes in the clouds and every eye shall see him, even they who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of him; yes, so let it be. Let us, therefore, watch, brethren, seeing we have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Behold! says he, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments, that he may not walk naked, so that men should see his shame.
Brethren, pray for us that we may be accounted worthy to stand before him in that day. And may the Lord strengthen you and bless you. May he lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. We wish you to have this letter read in all the churches who suffer with you. And now to him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or conceive, to him be glory by the congregation for Christ Jesus throughout all the endless succession of ages. Amen.