Circular Letter

Elder B. M'Bride

    This letter was written by Elder B. M’Bride in Ash County, North Carolina, August 26, 1848 and reprinted in the Union Association Minutes in 1908.

    Our Circular address will be on the kingdom of Christ. First, that he has a kingdom, and as king, has an undisputed right to reign over it. Second, the setting up of that kingdom and giving laws for its government. Third, the qualification of the subjects who are to be governed. Fourth, the continuation of the kingdom with the final result. First that he has a universal kingdom is very evident from reading the scriptures as it is a term frequently used and variously applied to the providential moral and evangelical government of Jehovah. Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has prepared his throne in the heavens and his kingdom rules over all.”

II Kings 19:15 “Thou art the God of all the kingdoms of the earth.” II Chronicle 20:6 “Are not you God in heaven? And rules not you over all the kingdoms of the heathens?” Then we see that the Apostle Paul in speaking of his spiritual dominion says: “Set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places far above all principalities, and powers and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” Ephesians 1:20-21. “Yet have I sat my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord has said unto me, you are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Ask of me and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.” Psalms 2:6-8. God has a right, not only as Creator of the universe, but as King of Zion, for he called Abraham out from his Father’s house and family and distinguished him from other nations, and delivered him from his enemies and from his Egyptian bondage. Also from his pursuers at the Red Sea: and Moses and the children of Israel sang, “Your right hand, oh Lord, is become glorious in power, your right hand oh Lord, has dashed in pieces the enemy.” “The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” Again said the Lord Jesus. “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom was of this world, then would my subject’s fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from here.”

    Secondly. The setting up of the kingdom. and as the setting up of it was the subject of prophesy, we will show that through the prophets prophesied long prior to the time, yet it was set up in accordance with their prediction, as in Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” See it is fulfilled in Matthew 3:1-2 “In those days cane John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent you, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of heaven is preached, and every man presses into it.” Matthew 11:12-13, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent take it by force for all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, prepare you the way of the Lord.” Matthew 3:3, Luke 3:4, “For this is he that was spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Now in the days of these kings, in the days of the Caesars or emperors of Rome, the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom. Luke 3:1 “Now in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea.” Now it is very evident that he had a spiritual kingdom from the creation of the world, but that he at the preaching of John set up a visible kingdom or as it is variously called Zion, or a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, his bride or church, and sheepfold, or separated the wheat from the chaff, and gathered the wheat into the garner, and that the sheepfold must have a door for admittance, but of this we will speak under the next head. That it was set up is very evident, or it could not have suffered violence nor could men press into it: and if not set up until Pentecost, then our Lord never entered the visible kingdom, when it is said that John made ready a people prepared of the Lord. “You are a city set on a hill which cannot be hid.” or the “salt of the earth.” That it was not set up with full power until after the ascension is admitted, but that all the ordinances were instituted and practiced, and the keys of the kingdom committed to Peter, and with the promise that “whatsoever you (the apostles) bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven” or ratified. Isaiah 33:1, “Behold a king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment.” These princes were the apostles, and as all scriptures was given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, etc., they being divinely inspired wrote the Testament wherein are contained all the injunctions and ordinances which were obligatory or binding on the subjects of the kingdom. But as we cannot speak particularly of every subject, we would barely observe that every precept and example contained in the New Testament is to be obeyed and nothing left undone or need we look anywhere else.

    Third proposition--The qualifications. It is true subjects are only those who are of the truth and hear the voice of Christ. For none can enter in but such as are born from above; nor has the world of mankind with all their wisdom ever been able to see it. John 3:3, “Verily, I say unto you except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Matthew 3:3, “Verily, I say unto you except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” None, we presume, will contend that any person can be a subject of any temporal or earthly kingdom without being born such or adopted. For otherwise they would be mere aliens or strangers or foreigners. In like manner the subjects of the spiritual kingdom bust be born of the spirit and have a spiritual existence before they can enter a spiritual kingdom: nor can any be a visible subject of it, unless he appear to be regenerated, and by a credible profession of faith and obedience: as its privileges and immunities are not of this world, but such as are spiritual and heavenly, they are all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of he world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” The king being spiritual of course the subjects of the kingdom must be spiritual also. 1st Corinthian 2:14, “But the natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1st Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” “You also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifice according to God by Jesus Christ.” So then the subjects are such as have been born from above, born of the spirit of God or translated out of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and quickened into life: or by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, being baptized together into the same spirit. And such subjects are fit subjects upon a profession of faith, to enter in by the door of baptism, into the visible kingdom or church. And that no person has even been a member of the visible kingdom without submitting to the ordinance of baptism we affirm, but that there are hundreds that have been born of the spirit and of course belong to the spiritual kingdom, and have not only deprived themselves of the privilege of the church, and are saying by their conduct we will not have this man a spiritual king, Christ Jesus to reign over us, and are still living on the side of Jordan or in Babylon. That natural men and women have imposed themselves upon the church and entered by the door is not only evident from scripture, but also from their own sad experience, although such subjects may submit to baptism it does not change their nature any more than it would change the nature of a goat by entering the sheepfold. He would still retain his nature which is diverse from a sheep, and is calculated to keep up an interruption. John 10:2, “He that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” “To him the porter opens and the sheep hear his voice.” Here Jesus came to John, the porter, for admittance into the sheepfold, or church. Mark 1:9 “And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth to Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.” “And immediately coming up out of the water he saw the heavens open and the spirit like a dove descending upon him.” That Jesus was baptized in Jordan there can be no doubt. And the apostle says, “Being buried by baptism like as Christ was raised from the dead even so we should walk in the newness of life.” Again, “If the dead rise not why are you baptized for the dead.” That is, “buried by baptism” and “raise again” is a figure of Christ’s burial and resurrection. The scriptures are too plain upon the subject of baptism to be mistaken, and if we would be divested of prejudice or pre-possession it must be admitted by all that to constitute a legal member, he must have experienced all that is understood spiritually by the regeneration and being born again: and then submit to the ordinances of baptism by immersion in water which must be administered by a legal administrator who has been baptized and come under the imposition of hands.

    Fourth and last proposition--That it will continue in a visible state throughout time, is abundantly manifest from the scriptures. Daniel 2:44, “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed and shall stand forever.” Luke 1:33, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Hebrew 1:8, “But unto the son he said, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom.” His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and his dominion from generation to generation. Your kingdom shall be one everlasting kingdom and your dominion endures throughout all generations. As this kingdom is not of the world although it is in the world and persecution commenced against it immediately after it was set up, and has continued up to the present time, and it is persecuted in various ways, then it is not the name which identifies the person or subject or the kingdom that was set up but the doctrine and faith. We have proven abundantly from scriptures that this kingdom was set up and never will be destroyed. That in accordance to the scripture it has continued through all the dark ages, and that it shall continue in doctrine and practice and it will continue until it shall break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms. At the pouring out of the seventh vial of the wrath of almighty God Babylon or Anti-Christ shall be destroyed. Then the kingdom of Christ shall prevail, and Christ shall reign a thousand years. And now, dear brethren and sisters and saints, we are members of this kingdom, though in this world, yet not of the world, let our light so shine that others seeing our good works may glorify our Father which is in heaven. “Then if I go away I will come again,” etc. That his kingdom shall continue until he shall come put down all enemies under his feet and the last enemy is death and the last victory over the grave. Then tear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. May the grace and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and preserve you blameless until the coming of the great and notable day.

    B. M’Bride.