Sermon On Love

Jordan Ashley was my third great grandfather through his daughter Mary Ashley Smith. He was born in Wilkes Co, North Carolina about 1801, was an early member of The New Hope Church of Wilkes County, constituted in 1830, and became its minister in 1835. In about 1841 he brought his family to Kentucky where they lived the first summer in a tent on Elkhorn Creek where Jenkins is now located.

In History of Kentucky, Vol 3, page 492, he is named as “one of the noted Baptist preachers in this section” and in Vol 5, page 30. that he “was a native pioneer preacher of the United Baptist Church and carried his religious messages all over eastern Kentucky. He was very gifted in both intellect and in eloquence, and ranked with the best preachers of his day.”

Those were the days of the circuit-riding preachers. They “rode the circuits” on horseback throughout the mountains, fording streams and urging their horses over steep ridges into the hollows of Kentucky to deliver their message. Preaching every day but Monday in cabin homes, the open air, taverns and public buildings at county seats. There were few church houses in the area in the mid-1800s.

Farewell Letter to the Church at Joppa
Being a Sermon on the Subject of Love

1854
by Jordan Ashley
(1801-1864)

Dear brethren, in compliance with the request of the association, I shall endeavor to address you on the subject of Love. I must speak of it in a two-fold sense. The first we discover to be one of the most powerful passions of the human soul. And when experienced in the plentitude of its powers it embraces with despotic energy and uncontrolled dominion all the complicated and powerful faculties of the man.

It was implanted in the human breast for the noblest and most beneficial purpose, and when restricted to its legitimate object and restrained within due bounds by moral sentiments, may be called the Great Fountain of Human Happiness. It commences in the cradle with tender emotions and attachments, and veneration for our parents.

It animates and accomanies us through all the checkered vicissitudes of life; attaching itself to every object which can afford us enjoyment and happiness. And finally it accompanies us to the last resort of the living. It concentrates all its pure and sublime energies at the great fountain of existence– The Throne of the Living God.

Secondly, we shall proceed to speak something of divine love and the promise added: the God of Love and Peace shall be with you- a rich promise. And may it, with all its blessings be yours. There is ever a communion between Holy Practice and Holy Joy.

The way of Godliness is the way of Peace. The fulfillment of the Practical Directions will bring richer enjoyment of the Divine Presence, with all those inestimable blessings that Providence ever brings. This is according to that gracious promise: “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given. And he shall have more abundantly.” –Matthew 13:12. We have nothing without God. And where He gives one degree it is a pledge to encourage us to hope for more.

Attend to the Practical Directions, be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind. Live in peace and thou shall follow the blessing. The God of Love and of Peace shall be with you. The due exercise of grace, which itself is traced to sovereign and free love of God, brings more grace. The Holy Spirit loves to dwell in peaceful, tranquil bosoms. He is grieved and driven away when we permit angry, contentious and unholy feelings to rankle in our hearts.

Take heed how you quench the Spirit, that holy and loving guest that makes the body of the Christian, the temple of God, from which the living waters perpetually flow. To whom are we to look for the blessing? The God of Love and Peace. What comfort it is, my brethren, to direct you to thither. A mother, when parting from her children to take a distant journey, feels it is an unspeakable relief to be able to leave them with a kind and tender nurse or friend.

And, my brethren, it is my greatest relief of mind in writing to you to feel assured that when I shall leave you to see you no more, the God of Love and Peace shall be with you. The God of Love and Peace! What a title! God is Love in its essence, soul, and fullness. All other love is but derived from Him. There is no love that is sweet and delightful and excellent in the creation but what is a ray from His beauty and glory.

The love of parents to children and children to parents is very tender and enduring. The love of husbands to wives and of wives to husbands is very intimate and comforting. The love of Ministers to people is a bond of which I now, more than ever, feel the power and strength. But all these are but little drops of streamlets. There is a full river of love proceeding from God, the Fountainhead of all Love. Love is God Himself.

The wonders of His Love! It has heights beyond the starry sky. It has depths beyond the great deep! It has length and breadth farther than east to west or north to south. It passes knowledge. No tongue can fully declare it! Nor can any human being who knows that God spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, can for one moment reasonably doubt His Love. Peace flows from Love. He is the God of Peace. Also the Author of Peace and Love of Concord.

Oh! How wonderfully has He displayed His character in the Gospel of Peace! To wit: that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, but imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the world of reconciliation.

Never, then, be tempted to look upon God as one who wills your destruction, as a hard master, or a bitter enemy. This may be the will of God that the Great Enemy and your fallen nature would leave you to take. But the Gospel shows Him to you not as your enemy, but as your reconciled Father; who hath reconciled Him to Himself by Jesus Christ. He will quiet every troubled heart. He will quiet every aggregated thought. He maketh the storm a calm.

So that the waves thereof are still. But let us more particularly notice what it is to have the God of Peace and Love with us in all situations and circumstances; ever with us in the congregations wherever we assemble together. Oh, may you be filled with divine Love and Peace; and have the Doctrine of Love and Peace continually proclaimed from the pulpit, and felt in every heart! May the riches of Love and Peace be exhibited in your public baptisms and around the table of the Lord when commemorating his dying love!

In all of your religious meetings may the God of Love and Peace preside, and abundantly manifest the sweet Saviour of His Grace. In your families may the same glorious being condescend to dwell. Even if I said in each of your houses, “Peace be in this house” so from the heart would I say, “The God of Love and Peace be in all your dwellings.” Recieve with your heart also, the Great Inhabitant, and the God of Peace sanctify you holy.

And I pray your whole Spirit and Soul and body may be preserved unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. “We live…” says the apostle, “…if we stand fast in the Lord.” His words express my inward feeling. May the Lord hold up your goings in His path. Our past communion has been pleasant and profitable. Often our hearts have been touched and melted and comforted under the sense of God’s presence and Love.

The glow of devotion has warmed our bosom, together with the praises of our Redeemer; which, like one volume of holy joy and admiration, have ascended up together to the heavenly habitations. But all that we have hitherto enjoyed is but the foretaste of entire and more blessed communion. Soon shall we join the blessed company. Short indeed, is the intervening time. But in that time may the Lord of Prayers still unite us often at the Throne of Grace.

And at length forever sing together the praises of Him who has loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God the Father, to whom be the glory and dominion forever and ever.

Amen.

From the 1854 Minutes of the
New Salem Association of the Regular United Baptist Church
provided by Mr. Dale Ashley
courtesy of Mr. David R. Smith
Knott County Kentucky Historical Society

7 Responses

  1. Very beautiful and eloquent.

  2. And isn’t it great he wrote this 146 years ago? It was a different world then, when many preached on the fall of man and eternal damnation but Reverend Ashley focused on God’s love for us. How blessed we are by His love!

  3. JB Francis directed me to this website,he said we were kin. My grandparents were vina Belle Smith married Thomas smith. Thomas smith was the son of Jordan Ashley smith an Mary Combs. Jordans father was Alexander smith m. Mary Ashley. Mary Ashley was dau of jordan Ashley. Mary Ashley was a twin to Martha Ashley. I have been looking at family genealogy for 40 years. Met many cousins on many sides. I have had a lot of good times while working on lines. My husband, former state Representative, Jim Maggard knew your brother Andy Adams, I have heard him speak well of Andy many times. I was born an raised at vicco, in Perry Co.,Ky. Married an moved to Breathitt co, Ky, Jackson, in 1970. Been here ever since. I enjoy your site,glad JB gave it to me!!! Good to meet you!!! Yvonne Jent Maggard

    • Thanks, Yvonne! I’m glad you enjoy my site. It’s good to meet you too, and to hear that your husband spoke well of Andy. Did you see my post on him with the CD, Andy Adams, Kentucky Coal? He was a really exceptional person. If you noticed my Kentucky book on my site, the picture on the cover is of Andy when he was barely 16 years old, with the youngest brother Hale who was only 6 (I was 8 at the time) not long after our dad died and Andy went to work in the coal mines to keep our family together. When I thanked him for all he did for us younger children, helping to raise us to adulthood, he said “It never occurred to me not to”. Only sixteen years old, but he just took it for granted that was what he was supposed to do.

      BTW, I always loved Jackson because by the time I got there I was only forty miles from home!

      • Amanda, we have communicated before. But I wanted to correct something about the above Elder Jordan Ashley Letter. If I have mentioned this before simply disregard. The document is not a Sermon. Nor is it specifically for the Jopa Church. This doc is called a Circular Letter. Each year the Associations of Regular Baptist require such a letter be written and appoint a learned elder to write one. The letter becomes part of the minutes of the Association for that year. In this case Elder Jordan was chosen by the New Salem Association to write the Circular Letter. How Joppa got into the story is this: Each year a church in the Association agrees to host the anual Association Meeting. This year 1854 it was Joppa. Remember this The Preachers in the Old Regular Baptist churches would never write out a sermon, never. If he did, that would be the last sermon he would ever deliver in the Association, he probably would not get to finish this one. LOL

        JB Francis, GGG,Grandson of Jordan Ashley and member of Indian bottom Association of Old Regular Baptists

  4. Sorry about Winston. JB

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