Letter to the Association 1772
FROM BOURTON-ON-THE-WATER AND STOW CHURCHES,
TO THE ASOCIATION, IN 1772
To the Elders and Messengers of the several Baptized Churches, maintaining the Doctrines of a Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the divine Essence-Original Sin-Eternal Personal Election-Particular Redemption-Effectual Calling-Free Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, and the Saints' final Perseverance in Grace to Glory; together with the absolute necessity of good works, as honourable to God and profitable to men; designed to meet in Association at Leominster, on the 29th instant.
The Church of Christ of the same Faith and Order, meeting at Bourton-on-the Water and Stow, sendeth christian salutations,
Grace, Mercy, and Peace, be with you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN,
We congratulate you on this your annual assembling together; may you be honoured with the Divine Presence in it. The glory of God be your aim and His blessing be your reward. No doubt but your minds have been affected with those extraordinary bankruptcies which have given a great shock to national credit and caused a considerable stagnation in trade. The difficulties also that attend the poor, on account of the extravagant price of almost all kinds of provisions, call for your earnest cries to, and deep humiliation before, the Lord. But, above all, as you cannot but be apprized of, may you be deeply concerned for the languishing state of religion throughout the land, some few churches excepted who, in this respect, are distinguishingly honoured by God. Remember that you are God's watchmen, set upon the walls of Jerusalem, who are to cry to Him day and night, giving Him no rest till He establish and make it a praise in the earth. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, spare thy people O Lord and give not thine heritage to reproach. As our invaluable liberties are still continued to us, may they be religiously and fruitfully improved by us. Thanks be to the God of all grace, we are at peace among ourselves, and are favoured with uninterrupted opportunities of hearing the blessed truths of the gospel, but with respect to their quickening, enlivening power upon our hearts, their purifying practical influence in our lives and conversations, this we are too much strangers to; we think it is not enough to hold fast the form of sound words, and express some zeal for the peculiar doctrines of christianity, but we want to drink into their spirit, be cast into them as a mould, and to have such an inward sense of their weight and importance as might, beyond all outward evidences, engage us to set our seal to them as a sure and faithful testimony. Our meetings are well attended, but few, alas very few, are enquiring the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, whilst some who, we doubt not have believed with the heart unto righteousness, neglect to make confession with the mouth unto salvation. This is our present melancholy state. O for a plentiful effusion of the Divine Spirit, that the desert might blossom as the rose, and the wilderness be turned into a fruitful field. Brethren, pray for us, as we do for you, that you may have a comfortable meeting, be directed and assisted in everything that lies before you, and return to your respective charges with hearts considerably quickened for the important service in which as ministers you are engaged.
And now we commend you to God and the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified, and think it an honour to subscribe ourselves,
Your very affectionate brethren in the endearing bonds of the gospel.
Sigu'd at our church meeting this 19th day of July, 1772.
Benjamin Beddome, Pastor.
Richard Boswell, John Collett, William Bailey, James Ashwin,
Thomas Kite, Robert Hanks, Richard Dalby, William Fox,
One baptized, not received in, Two dead. Numbers about 158.
(This is reproduced in Stokes book on the Midland Association)