Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hard Nuts for Hardshells

Elder Fralick wrote a very good article on the belief of Elder Fristoe and included some difficult questions for Hardshells. Two chapters in my ongoing book on the Hardshell cult are called "Hardshell Busters," and I thought it would be good to post those questions here since Elder Fralick asked many similar questions in his writing. He challenged the Hardshells to answer his questions on means in regeneration.

Chapter 14 - Hardshell Busters

1. Are all men commanded to repent of their sins and turn to God in the Bible?
2. Does this imply ability in them to do so?
3. Does God create Repentance?
4. Does God create Repentance through the preaching of the gospel and word of God?
5. Are Repentance and Faith gifts of God?
6. If Repentance and Faith come through the preaching of the gospel, then do they cease to be God’s creation or “of God”?
7. Does it cease to be a “gift” if God communicates it through the preaching of the gospel?
8. Is the gospel worthy of all acceptation?
9. Can one have Repentance and Faith without knowledge and understanding?
10. Can one Believe and Repent on the sub-conscious level?
11. Is there such a creature, in the Bible, as an “Impenitent Believer”?
12. Is there such a creature, in the Bible, as an “Penitent Unbeliever”?
13. Is there such a creature, in the Bible, as a “Regenerated Unbeliever”?
14. Is there such a creature, in the Bible, as a “Regenerated Impenitent”?
15. Will all the elect “come to repentance”? (II Peter 3:9)
16. Will this “coming to repentance” occur at the same time when one “comes to life”?
17. Do all God’s commands, in the Bible, imply ability to obey them?
18. If they do not imply ability, then why is it argued that the commands to “believe,” “repent,” “turn to God,” “be converted,” etc., imply such an ability?
19. Are there any “internal sensations” produced by the new birth?
20. How can a man be a “new creation” if his mind is not changed? Or his will, affections, & understanding?
21. Since “all things become new” in the new birth, would this not include new thinking, new affections, new desires and dispositions, new activities?
22. If Repentance and Faith are “effects” and “fruits” of regeneration, are they automatic and necessary effects and fruits?
23. Does Regeneration change a man’s course and conduct? Necessarily?
24. Is a “hard heart” penitent or impenitent?
25. Is a “soft heart” penitent or impenitent?
26. What is meant by the Lord “writing his word upon the heart” in regeneration?
27. If God use human means as an instrument in this writing, does it cease to be God’s writing?
28. Is the Bible God’s writing? God’s revelation?
29. Did God use human means to “create” the Bible?
30. Does it cease to be his “gift” and “creation” since he use human agents?
31. Does the use of human means in giving the Bible mean the Bible is the creation of man?
32. Is a penitent and contrite heart, and the turning of the heart to God, characteristic of that “new heart” given in regeneration?
33. What kind of Repentance does the “regenerated infant” experience?
34. What kind of Repentance does the “regenerated heathen” experience?
35. The Faith that God creates in regeneration, what does it Believe?
36. Does God write his words upon the heart through the gospel?
37. Is “gospel faith” begotten by God or the preacher?
38. Were the Corinthians, in being “begotten” by Paul (I Cor. 4:15), not begotten by God?
39. Since “begetting” is a “creation,” did Paul then not “create” the gospel faith of the Corinthians?
40. Is it possible for the “begetting” of I Cor. 4:15 to be both “of God” and “of (by) Paul”? If not, why not?
41. Is Paul excluding God in the above “begetting”? If so, how?
42. Is Paul saying that he is the “efficient” or “lone cause” in the above “begetting”?
43. Is it possible that Paul could call himself their “begetter” because he was God’s instrument? If not, why not?
44. Is it true, as Elder Potter said, that “enlightening the understanding” is part and parcel of regeneration?
45. The sinners that Paul said that he “saved” by the gospel, did this mean God did not save them?
46. When Jesus told the Apostles to “make disciples” does this mean they were not made by God?
47. Is it a true proposition that God “creates” nothing by human means?
48. Is a “resurrection” a “creation” of life?
49. Is “birth” a “creation” of life?
50. Was Ezekiel not a means used by God to “create life,” to “raise the dead,” to “beget” a nation? (Chpt. 37)
51. Did Ezekiel or God raise the dead?
52. Must it be an “either or” answer?
53. Is it possible for it to be said that God raised the dead as the “efficient cause” and Ezekiel as the “instrumental cause”?
54. Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, a human means in bringing Christ into the world?
55. Were human means (agents) used to bring Christ to the sacrifice of the cross?
56. Can a man go from being an unbeliever to a believer without being “converted”?
57. Can a man be regenerated without being converted?
58. Does the possession of eternal life not consist in knowing the true God and Jesus Christ according to Jesus’ words in John 17:3?
59. Since heathen peoples have no knowledge of the true God and of Jesus Christ, how can it be said they “have eternal life”?
60. Will those who “obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” suffer eternal torment?
61. Name one person in the Bible who had Faith, and was a Believer, and yet who clearly never heard of the word of God?
62. Name one clear example of a “regenerated infant,” in the Bible, who did not hear the word of God?
63. What Hardshell church has ever sent out missionaries to the heathen?
64. What Hardshell church has ever supported or helped to translate the Bible into non-English languages for the benefit of the elect among the heathen?
65. Where is there any proof of any church who existed prior to the 1800's that believed Hardshell views on regeneration, faith, repentance, and salvation?
66. Does the London Confession of Faith support Hardshell views on the gospel, regeneration, faith, repentance, and salvation?
67. Can a man be an “Original” or “Old School” Baptist who denies the London Confession on those points?
68. Did the Fulton Convention endorse or not the London Confession?
69. Did they “interpret” the document honestly?
70. Did Peter raise the dead?
71. If Peter raised the dead, then why is it said that God does not use means in raising the dead?
72. Was money used to perfect the manhood of Christ?
73. If the “direct voice speaking” of Christ is what regenerates, why was every soul who personally heard Christ speak, heard his voice, not regenerated?
74. Does one “come to Christ” for life or does one have life in order to “come to Christ”?
75. Does the dead first hear and then live, or do they live first and then hear?
76. Is it possible to have a birth without a mother?
77. Who is the mother in the new birth?
78. Are infants regenerated only but not converted?
79. Is “circumcision of the heart” regeneration?
80. Does God ever command people to be regenerated?
81. Why did God say to some, “make you a new heart” and “circumcise your heart”?
82. Does God’s commanding the above imply ability to obey those commands?
83. Are all men commanded to believe in Jesus and the gospel?
84. If all men are not commanded to repent and believe, then how would it be sin not to repent and believe?
85. Do the Hardshells regularly call upon all to whom they preach to repent, come to Christ, be saved, believe, obey, etc.?
86. Is “love shed abroad in our hearts” that which takes place in regeneration?
87. If so, what does the new born soul love?
88. Can a man love an object of which he is unaware?
89. Is it part of the work of regeneration to bring one to “know God”?
90. Can one “know God” on the sub-conscious level?
91. Does “knowing God” not indicate that something is known about God?
92. If regeneration is a work of God “teaching” his people (John 6:45), what does he teach?
93. Can one be taught on the sub-conscious level?
94. How can it be reasonably argued that faith, when said to be God’s “gift,” means “God created,” (Eph.2:9) but when “gift” is used for post regeneration experiences, like for gospel faith and repentance, it no longer means that?
95. Are the elect few and the reprobate many?
96. Will the majority of the human race be saved?
97. Is God the author of your gospel faith?
98. Is God the author of your repentance?
99. Must Christ be revealed to a sinner to be regenerated?
100. Can a sinner have Christ revealed to him and he not know it?
101. Can a man have the inner witness of the Spirit and not know it?
102. Is your “time salvation” the work of God or man?
103. Is the gospel the power of God?
104. Since it is argued from John 3:8 that every child of God is born again in the exact same way, in every respect, then should not every child of God be saved miraculously as was Paul?
105. Since John the Baptist heard the “salutation” (of the good news of Christ’s birth) of Elizabeth and “leaped for joy,” how can it be said that the gospel was not involved in his supposed “regeneration”?
106. Can a man “hope” unconsciously or without the understanding?
107. What was it that David “hoped” for while “upon his mother’s breast”?
108. Is it truthful to say that God created a person through their parents?
109. Is there any spiritual grace that is not given from above?
110. Is it truthful to say that God has “worked all our works in us”?
111. Is it possible for God’s work to be our work, and vice versa?
112. Did it take glory away from God for him to use Ezekiel to raise the dead instead of doing it without Ezekiel?
113. Can something be conditional and unconditional at the same time, yet in different senses?
114. Would it be Scriptural to say that regeneration is conditioned upon the sinner responding to the voice of Christ?
115. Would it likewise be Scriptural to say that it is, at the same time, conditioned upon the Lord, one condition being dependent upon a prior condition?
116. Does stating conditions imply ability to meet them?
117. Are there not passages that put eternal salvation in a conditional form without implying human free will and ability?
118. When a man meets the conditions in the Bible for pardon of sin, can he say he met those conditions by his own power and will, or by God’s?
119. Is it possible that the Bible teaches that God unconditionally chose us to a salvation based upon conditions he has predestined we meet by his power and grace?
120. When David says, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,” was he referring to regeneration?
121. If to regeneration, then the will wills something in regeneration?
122. What does the soul will (choose to believe or do) in regeneration?
123. Why has the “hollow log” doctrine been a problem for Hardshells in their history?
124. Why has the doctrine of “absolute predestination” been a problem in such history?
125. Why has the doctrines of “No-Hellism” and “Universalism” been a problem in such history?
126. Is the Church of Christ not ordained to be a missionary institution?
127. Are ministers sent out by churches?
128. Do churches have any control over where their preachers go and preach, especially relative to foreign countries?
129. If a preacher feels a call to go to a foreign country to preach the gospel, should he seek support from his home church?
130. In such a case, would that church be obligated to support him?
131. If it would be right for that church to support him in his call, would it be right for that church to receive donations from other churches to help that work?
132. Can a church, apart from a preacher in its membership, have a burden to see the gospel preached in foreign lands?
133. Or, is a church limited in what it can do in mission work relative to the desires of its preacher members?
134. If a church does feel burdened to send the gospel to a foreign land, but has no preachers as members of their church, can it nevertheless pray God to send them a preacher to send on their behalf? If not, why not?
135. If a preacher is burdened to go to a foreign country and preach the gospel, is it wrong for the church to promise to send him stipulated amounts?
136. What Hardshell church has ever sent out a missionary to preach the gospel?
137. What Hardshell Elder has acted upon a burden to go to a foreign country and asked for support from his home church?
138. Is it a sin for an ordained Elder to go to religious schools? If so, why?
139. Are the only ones who are to teach in the New Testament only ordained men?
140. Are Associations in the Bible?
141. Have Associations existed throughout the history of the Baptists and Church of Christ?
142. Where were musical instruments condemned in the New Testament?
143. Where in the New Testament are the Old Testament’s use of musical instruments voided?
144. Did John Gill believe the “anti-means” position?
145. Did Elder John Watson believe the “anti-means” position?
146. Is everything “new” in the church a sin?
147. Which faction in the Primitive Baptist Church the “true church”?
144. Do any Hardshells today endorse Wilson Thompson’s views on the Trinity and the human nature of Christ?
145. Will each Hardshell faction tell us who is the oldest Baptist forefather they would recognize as “sound in the faith”?
146. Did John Leland believe the London and Philadelphia Confessions of Faith?
147. Did John Gano endorse the same?
148. Who, prior to Gilbert Beebe, or Wilson Thompson, endorsed the “Direct Voice” theory of regeneration?
149. Does a regenerated man “love” God?
150. Can an idolater “love” God?

See here

Chapter 17 - Hardshell Busters (Second Cracking)

151. Is it “casting pearls before swine” to preach to the gospel to all men?
152. Did Jesus or his apostles preach the gospel to any whom they knew were unregenerate?
153. Does the wrath of God abide on everyone who rejects Christ and his gospel?
154. Are all Biblical imperatives to be taken as indicatives?
155. Does the will of the regenerate man stay liberated?
156. Do all the elect persevere?
157. Must one persevere and endure to the end to be saved?
158. Does preservation include perseverance?
159. Do you agree with what the London Confession said on perseverance?
160. Where is the Bible verse that speaks of unconscious faith and repentance?
161. Where is the Bible verse that speaks of unconsciously knowing and believing in Christ?
162. Was Elder J. M. Thompson right when he said that the “bones” and “death” in Ezekiel (37) “represented living children of God”?
162. Is Conversion (Time Salvation) God’s “gift”?
163. Is Conversion God’s “work”?
164. Where is there a case of regeneration in the Bible without conversion?
165. Are all theists and monotheists saved?
166. What is the difference between the faith of devils and the faith of God’s elect?
167. Is “penitence” a part of the “new heart” God gives in regeneration?
168. Can one be loaded down with burden and care and not be regenerated?
169. Is all human burden and care a result of sin?
170. Can a wicked unregenerate man suffer famine and thirst of soul due to his sins?
171. Do gospel commands imply ability?
172. Do legal commands imply ability?
173. Do you encourage infants to come to Christ?
174. Is the “conversion” of “little children” of Matthew 18:3 “regeneration?”
175. Are these “little children” newborns or toddlers who are old enough to come to Christ?
176. Where in the context of Eph. 1 & 2 is there indication that the faith or salvation is unconnected with the gospel?
177. Does being “quickened” (Eph. 2:1) change a man’s “course”?
178. Does being “quickened” (Eph. 2:1) change a man’s behavior from ungodliness to godliness?
179. Does being “quickened” (Eph. 2:1) stop one from any longer walking “according to the prince of the power of the air”?
180. Does being “quickened” (Eph. 2:1) stop one from “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind”?
181. Does being “quickened” (Eph. 2:1) change the “walk” of a person?
182. How is one “regenerated through faith” (Eph. 2:8,9)?
183. What percentage of the term “saved”, in the New Testament, is talking about “eternal” salvation? What part about “time” salvation?
184. Which is the predominant usage?
185. From what is a child of God being “kept” from in his “preservation”?
186. Is it possible for one who is “dead to sin” to “live any longer therein”?
187. Are the good works of Christians their own works or the works of God in them?
188. If God has “worked all our works in us” (Isa. 26:28), then how we say that our works are our own and not the work of God?
189. How many New Testament passages are talking about the new birth or regeneration? More than 12?
190. How many New Testament passages talk about “eternal” destruction and perishing?
191. How many New Testament passages talk about only a “temporal” destruction and perishing, unrelated to eternity?
192. How many proof texts do you have to prove eternal punishment?
193. If every child of God is regenerated “the exact same way,” then why are not all regenerated in infancy?
194. Is the “salvation” of Isaiah 49:6, Acts 13:47 & Acts 26:17,18 eternal salvation?
195. Are the preachers of the gospel in the above verses not ordained means of bringing that salvation?
196. Did those who were washed in regeneration (Titus 3:5) continue to live as they did in verse 3?
197. Does the salvation and regeneration of this verse indicate that they were saved from the things mentioned in verse 3?
198. To be saved from the things mentioned in verse 3, would one not need to be converted?
199. What is it that is regenerated and renewed? Is the mind and understanding excluded?
200. What is the effect of having the Spirit of God “shed on us abundantly” in regeneration?
201. Can a man have the Holy Spirit shed on him in this manner and not know it?
202. What is the “whereunto” of II Thess. 2:14 referring to?
203. Is a “belief of the truth” part of the salvation we are elected to obtain?
204. Does the “whereunto” not refer to the salvation that is in or through the belief of the truth?
205. Does this gospel calling not pertain to eternal salvation?
206. What is there in the context of this passage that indicates a temporal salvation only?
207. Do all the elect hear the “words” and “voice” of Christ?
208. When the Spirit convicts a regenerated person and tells them they are condemned, is the Spirit telling them a falsehood?
209. Where are the passages in the Bible that show that “faith” is not cognitive and lacks belief of truth?
210. If a man worships a false deity, is this evidence of regeneration?
211. If a heathen feels like he is a worthless wretch, is that evidence of salvation?
212. Are all who confess that they are ungodly sinners, regenerated?
213. Seeing that conviction of sin is a post regenerative experience, is it experienced apart from knowledge of word of God?
214. What is the difference between the convicting experience of one who knows not the word of God and one who does?
215. Is there any “cognition” at all in regeneration?
216. Where are the examples in the Bible of regeneration without cognition?
217. What is learned in regeneration and conviction, without the word, that the natural man is not able also to accept and understand?
218. What is learned in regeneration and conviction, without the word, that the devils do not know and believe?
219. If a belief in God’s existence is known by natural men, then how can it be an evidence of regeneration?
220. Seeing that conversion is such a life transforming experience, why would God not devise a method whereby all the regenerated could experience it?
221. Is it just for God to damn the heathen for not believing the gospel even when they never heard it (as Cayce argued)?
222. Are all men obligated to “seek God”?
223. If all men are obligated to “seek God,” would this not also mean seeking the truth of the gospel? If not, why not?
224. Could part of “seeking God” include the obligation to act as the magi and go to where is the gospel, to seek out Christ in the world?
225. Can God then not condemn the heathen for not seeking out the true religion in the world?
226. Is all the obligation on the missionaries to take saving truth TO the heathen or is not also an obligation upon the heathen to SEEK OUT the missionaries of truth?
227. Would it not then be just for God to condemn the heathen for not knowing the truth?
228. Would that not make Cayce’s argumentation wrong?
229. Has God ever told the dead to rise?
230. Does he say this in and through the gospel and word of God?
231. Has any prophet or messenger of God told, on behalf of God, the spiritually dead to rise from spiritual death?
232. Is any post regenerative experience irresistible?
233. Can some post regenerative experiences be through means and yet be irresistible?
234. Does the use of means exclude irresistibility?
235. Can something be based upon an act of the creature and still be based upon grace?
236. What is the condemnation for the unbeliever of Mark 16:16?
237. What is the “end” of those who obey not the gospel?
238. Is becoming the “epistle of Christ” (II Cor. 3:3) the work of regeneration?
239. Are the ministers of Christ not the instruments of the ink used in II Cor. 3:3?
240. The heart table upon which Christ writes, is it a hard heart or a soft heart?
241. What laws or words does God write upon the heart in regeneration?
242. Does God’s use of Paul in regeneration prove the sufficiency is of Paul?
243. Does a minister not minister the Spirit in regeneration?
244. Since a minister ministers the Spirit to sinners and that Spirit gives life, then does the minister not function as a means?
245. Is the “ministration of condemnation” by the letter of the law, eternal?
246. Is the “ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness” to eternal justification?
247. Since where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberation (II Cor. 3:17), and since the Spirit is present in the word preached, is there not liberation through the word?
248. How are God’s words and laws written upon the heart in regeneration different from the laws written upon the nature of all men?
249. Where in Matthew, Mark & Luke is regeneration discussed?
250. Where is regeneration discussed in the epistles?
251. Is it possible for a “good tree” to not bear “good fruit”?
252. Can a tree be “good” without any good fruit?
253. When Jesus told the unregenerate hypocrites to “first clean the inside,” was this a reference to regeneration?
254. If not, to what then does it refer?
255. Does this command to clean the inside imply ability to do so?
256. Was the “inside” of these people clean by regeneration?
257. Was the Pharisee in Luke 18:11,12 a regenerated man?
258. Was he a “justified” or a “condemned” man?
259. Did the publican receive justification by his contrition, repentance, & confession?
260. If the condemnation of the Pharisee is eternal, why is not the justification of the publican not eternal?
261. What is it that the “believer” of Rom. 1:16 & I Cor. 1:18 believe?
262. Is there any part of the Bible addressed to every man?
263. Does the Devil damn more than God saves?
264. If yes, does this mean the Devil has more effective means of damnation that God has in salvation?
265. Does the Devil degenerate more than God regenerates?
266. Must God save more than the Devil damns for God to be successful?
267. If the Devil damns more than God saves, does that mean Satan is more powerful?
268. If more people believe error than truth, is error more powerful than truth?
269. What was the error of those who believed in the “hollow log” doctrine?
270. Where is “embryonic faith” taught in Scripture?
271. Was Paul regenerated before his conversion on Damascus Road?
272. If Paul was both regenerated and converted at the same time, and he is a “pattern,” and “all are regenerated exactly alike,” would not all experience regeneration and conversion at the same time as did Paul?
273. Are the phrases “forgiveness (remission) of sins” chiefly talking about time or eternal forgiveness?
274. Does the word “heart” exclude the man’s mind and thoughts?
275. What filth is on the soul of one in the womb that needs cleansing?
276. Is the cleansing of Eph. 5:26, which is “by the word,” an experience peculiar to all the members of the church?
277. What is the “word” in the above passage?
278. Is the “church” in the above passage the body of all the elect?
279. If the word of God is able to cleanse post regenerative sin in the believer, why can it not do the same in an unbeliever?
280. If “good seed” is sown into “good ground,” will it always produce fruit? If not, why not?
281. Can a man be wicked in his regular thoughts and have a “good heart”?
282. What does it mean to have the “mind of Christ”?
283. Do all the elect have this “mind” by regeneration?
284. Can the mind be anti Christ and still be the “mind of Christ”?
285. If those “in the flesh” “mind earthly things,” do not the spiritual minds “mind spiritual things”?
286. Does the spiritual man reject the gospel and spiritual things?
287. Does Romans 14:46 not say that perception creates reality?
288. Is the will active in coming to Christ?
289. Can regeneration be both passive and active?
290. What does a man have after regeneration that he did not have before?
291. What is the nature of the “ability” God “gives in regeneration”?
292. If “life and immortality” is only evidenced by the gospel (II Tim. 1:10), then can those who know not the gospel be said to show evidence of life and immortality?
293. If regeneration (life & immortality) is manifest in the heathen, how is it only “brought to light” only “BY the gospel”?
294. Can “life and immortality” be manifest in people apart from the gospel?
295. Does not Paul say that “life and immortality” is only manifested in and by the gospel?
296. Is it not obvious that it is the subjects of “life” and “immortality” that are revealed by the gospel rather than simply revealing who is the elect or “regenerated”?
297. Do those who “know not the gospel” know anything about “life and immortality”?
298. Who is the oldest Hardshell forefather to preach modern Hardshell views on II Tim. 1:10?
299. The “following” of Christ’s “voice” (John 10), to what does this refer? To regeneration only or to the entire life of the sheep?
300. Does a sheep continue to hear the “voice” of Christ after regeneration?
301. If so, is that “voice” any less effectual AFTER regeneration as it is IN regeneration?
302. If that voice is continuously heard by the sheep throughout their lives, what is that voice continually saying?
303. Can anyone who does not eat the “bread of life” be saved and have eternal life?
304. How does one “eat” the bread of life?
305. How does one “eat” the flesh of Christ and drink his blood?
306. Does “coming” precede reaching Christ for life?
307. Is the person “coming” dead till he comes fully (reaches) Christ?
308. What does it mean to “die in your sins”?
309. Will those who deny that Christ is the “I AM” (or in the Messiah) “die in sins”?
310. What Biblical evidence is there that “coming to Christ” is on the sub-conscious level?
311. Of what does the “nature” of a thing consist?
312. The presence of the “divine nature,” in what does it consist?
313. What are the constituent parts of the “soul”?
314. Is only part of the soul regenerated? If so, what part?
315. Must a “natural man” act in accordance with his nature?
316. Must a “spiritual man” act in accordance with his “divine nature”?
317. If a man with a depraved nature “cannot cease from sin” (II Peter 2:14), why is it not true that a man with a divine nature “cannot cease from righteousness”?
318. Was John Gill right on his views on John 5:25?
319. Who argued in favor of the view that many heathen were regenerated, prior to the rise of the Hardshells among the Baptists?
320. Does the London Confession allow for the salvation of those who have not the gospel?
321. Who, prior to the rise of the Hardshells, advocated “embryonic faith” and “non-cognitive faith” and “unconscious regeneration”?
322. Is anyone other than “Primitive Baptists” “converted” and “saved in time”?
323. The “conversions” of Hardshells under the “Missionaries” and “Arminians,” were they “of” God or “of” men?
324. Was the “gospel” preached to the antediluvian peoples who perished in the flood?
325. Did those antediluvian peoples who rejected the gospel and perished in the flood, go to hell?
326. If Noah could preach the gospel to the unregenerate in his day, why is wrong to do so today?
327. Do you “warn the wicked”?
328. If so, what is it of which you warn him?
329. If you warn the wicked, do you also point a way of escape for the danger?
330. Do you attempt to “persuade” all men “to become Christians”?
331. If it can be said that the Sodomites “would have repented” had they had the means of seeing Christ perform miracles, why is it wrong to say, “the Heathen would have been saved had they had the gospel preached to them”?
332. Is it Bible “faith” that does not have the true God as its object?
333. Can one have “faith” in the Father and reject faith in the Son?
334. Where is the Bible evidence for the “faith of God’s elect” to not have Christ as the object of the faith?
335. Where is the Biblical evidence to show that “coming to Christ” means something other than “believing on him”?
336. What does Christ say to the heart of a man in regeneration? What words? Are the words always the same to every person?
337. Was there ever a person to whom Christ “spoke” but who was unaware of Christ speaking to him?
338. When a “convicted sinner” ask you “what must I do to be saved,” what do you answer?
339. Why are repentance & remission of sins joined together by Christ? (Luke 24:47)
340. Why are repentance and conversion joined together? (Acts 3:19)
341. How are the sheep “gathered” and “brought”? (John 10) When does that happen in the lives of the elect?
342. Has anyone, in the New Testament, “brought” people to Christ?
343. Were any of these people regenerated by their being brought to Christ by others?
344. Is it impossible that this “gathering” and “bringing” be done by human means?
345. What is it that the “evil heart” does not believe? (Heb. 3:12)
346. What is it that a “good heart” believes? (Heb. 3:12)
347. Is there any other kind of “faith” in the Bible except that which is “TOWARD our Lord Jesus Christ”? (Acts 20:21)
348. In being “called” in regeneration, what is it that one is called from and to?
349. Is there any evidence in the New Testament of someone being “called” and not knowing it?
350. What does it mean when Peter spoke of God “taking out from among the Gentiles a people for his name”? (Acts 15:14)
351. Was this “taking out” by the means of the ministers of the gospel (per the context)?
352. Do you preach and say the same things to unregenerate men as did Christ and the ministers in the New Testament?
353. Is the gospel addressed to the elect only or to all men?
354. Is it right for every child of God to say, “Here am I Lord, send me?”
355. Does not John 17:18 show that all the elect are “sent out” by Christ?

See here

More From Elder Fristoe

Brother Bob Ross, who has written extensively against Hardshellism (see his "History and Heresies of Hardshellism" on the internet) and has given us further citations from Elder Fristoe regarding means in regeneration. (emphasis mine - SG)

"Now, lastly, the cause or means that effect this divine change. God is the only efficient cause -- his love the moving cause -- his Spirit and his Word the ministering cause. Thus we are said to be begotten by the word of his truth through the gospel, born again to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away; reserved in Heaven for you; who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.

"Oh, brethren! What a rich display of infinite wisdom, sovereign power and unmerited love, in devising and accomplishing such a glorious system of redemption and deliverance for the wretched self-ruined race, that they may partake of this divine blessing here in time, and receive precious faith, and precious promises, all flowing from the more precious Christ! O, beloved brethren! What infinite obligations are we under unto the adorable Jehovah, who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, from the dead. O let us prize that blessed gospel, that reveals such a glorious hope -- that accomplishes such divine purposes -- and turns from darkness to light, from the power of sin and Satan, to serve the living God. Let us manifest in our lives, that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, and that by the power of the Holy Ghost."

See here

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fristoe and "Means"

“Tho’ a Sovereign God, may work above, beyond, and without means, according to his own good pleasure; yet as he hath been pleased to ordain means, and accompanied them by the displays of his power for the conversion and salvation of multitudes of poor sinners…”

The above quotation is taken from A Concise History of the Ketocton Baptist Association by Elder William Fristoe. Along with Watson’s Old Baptist Test it is a very valuable witness to the purpose of the gospel as believed by the Baptists around the turn of the 19th century. This particular statement demonstrates what was believed at one point when the Old Baptists were in one accord on this matter, before the leaven of anti-means theology began to spread. All who know of Baptist history can see that this is simply an extension of the Philadelphia Baptists' confession that effectual calling transpired by way of God’s Word and Spirit. Lest any of our moderns, who would openly defy Fristoe’s statement, should claim that this was simply the persuasion of a lone individual and not the general company, we would remind them that this statement follows the chapter heading, “The doctrines inculcated by the ministers of this association, which have appeared most successful”. It was, therefore, not a rogue “Means” Baptist running loose amongst those of contrary opinion who penned these words. Rather, it was one who inscribed the recognized and accepted position by the preachers of the day!!

Question: Was Fristoe’s statement descriptive of OLD or NEW Baptist doctrine? If OLD, then would not a future departure of it be NEW? If NEW, then what happens to the supposed church lineage many contend for today who are opposed to gospel means? Can it be traced back through the Ketocton, or does it run into an impenetrable barrier?

Searching questions indeed!

It is quite clear from Fristoe’s statement that he admitted the possibility of God working without means:

‘Tho’ a Sovereign God MAY (emphasis mine) work above, beyond, and without means…”

And on this point he is most certainly correct. God, in His sovereignty, reserves the right to operate without means if He should choose to do so. Yet what Fristoe recognized as a possibility in God’s workings is deemed by certain extremists as a definite must with God. He must work without means! Otherwise, according to them God ceases to be the author, the employed means would claim some of the credit, and the outcome of the matter under consideration would be left uncertain. These preconceptions , however, are without ground from anyone who is honest with the scriptures. The author of something must not be confused with the instrument which the author employs. It is by confounding the two that some go astray. Nor is credit taken away from the author while the instrumental, or secondary, cause is employed. Who in their right mind, for instance, would give glory to the hammer and nails in the building of a house? No one. They were merely swayed by the hands of the wise master-builder who made use of them. And as far as the fulfillment of something being left contingent upon the instrument is concerned….

What if God ordained the instrument and so directs the course of history to ensure its success? Under the heading ‘A Summary of the Leading Principles holden by this Association’ Fristoe elsewhere records the fifth point:

FIFTHLY -That in eternity, God out of His own good pleasure chose a certain number of Adam's progeny to eternal life, and that He did not leave the accomplishment of His decrees to accident or chance, but decreed all the means to bring about the event; therefore they are chosen to salvation through sanctification of the spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Their calling was decreed in the purpose of election: It is said, when called, that they are called according to His purpose and grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began, and all in order to manifest the glory of His grace.

Therein lies the solution to what many of my acquaintances see is a great dilemna. The success of God's great salvation is not in any wise under danger of failure because means are employed. The Sovereign God is dictating the course of history, and has ordained to bring to pass everything which we, in our limited understanding, see as a contingency!

After acknowledging the possibility of God working above and beyond means, Fristoe confesses that it has pleased God to nevertheless ordain means “for the conversion and salvation of multitudes of poor sinners”. “But God”, says one, “does not need to use means to accomplish His purposes! He is Sovereign and has all power!” Correct! No one says otherwise. This is not an issue regarding whether God is sovereign or not. It is a question of whether God has or has not chosen to channel that Sovereignty! God does not NEED to use the laws of nature to regulate his creation, but He does! He did not NEED to use the prophets to deliver messages to Israel, but He did! Christ did not NEED to use the clay to heal the blind man, but HE CHOSE TO DO SO! It is for the very reason that God IS Sovereign, that we as His people, ought to acknowledge that He reserves the right to operate as He deems fit!

Fristoe’s statement would land him in hot water amongst some today, yet it is a historical fact that this was the position of Fristoe and his contemporaries at the time. And facts, as Spurgeon once said, are stubborn things!

We leave off with a few questions meant to stir the mind:

1) Was it God or the ravens who fed Elijah by the brook?
2) Was it God or Moses who delivered Israel from Egypt?
3) Was it God or Paul who ‘turned many from darkness to light’ (Acts 26:18)?
4) Was it BY God or BY Paul and Apollos that the Corinthian believers received
faith (1 Cor. 3:5)?
5) The Bible was written by men. Is it therefore the word of men?
6) Is God or Cyrus to be credited with the remnant’s return to the land (Ezra. 1)?
7) Do the prepositions BY, WITH, and THROUGH signify the means by which something
transpires (Eph. 5:26; James 1:18; John 17:17-20)?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Who are the Old Baptists?

In 1912 Elder John R. Daily of the "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptists debated Elder W. P. Throgmorton of the Missionary Baptists in Ewing, Illinois on the question of "Who are the Primitive Baptists." Elder Throgmorton had a debate on the same question in 1887 with Elder Lemuel Potter. In the debate with Daily the participants debated two propositions, one on whether the atonement was general or specific, and whether God employed gospel truth as a means in regeneration.

In the debate over the question of gospel means in the work of regeneration, Throgmorton offered these words in his first affirmative speech (pg. 213-219):

"Another preliminary remark I desire to give you. This remark is that in denying my proposition Brother Daily is out of harmony with the "Old Baptist Faith." Do you get that? In denying my proposition Brother Daily is out of harmony with the Old Baptist Faith! He sets himself squarely against the Old Baptist Confession of Faith. If he shows that I am wrong in this discussion, he will show that the Old Confession of Seven Churches in London, of 1644, was wrong. He will show that the "Somerset Confession" (of churches in West England), 1656, was wrong, He will show that the "Old London Confession" of 1689, of which his people have boasted so much, is wrong. He will show that the Philadelphia Confession is wrong. If he shows that my proposition is wrong, good bye to the doctrine of the old Baptists. I am here to defend the Old Baptist Faith, as to what is involved in this proposition. Brother Daily is here to oppose it, and to overthrow it, if he can! Will you "Old School" Baptists follow him in this?

Now for the facts: I will quote first, from the Confession of 1644, issued by Seven Churches in London. Speaking concerning faith it says : "That faith is ordinarily begot by the preaching of the Gospel, or Word of Christ," etc. Art. 24. See McClothlin's "Baptist Confessions of Faith," page 181. Proof text given, Romans 10: 17, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God;" also I Cor. 1; 21.

The Somerset Confession in West England, 1656: "We believe that the Spirit is administered (that means 'given,' in that old way of expressing it) by or through the word of faith preached." (Gal. 3: 2) "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith; that the Spirit is administered by or through the word of faith preached, which word was first declared by the Lord himself and was confirmed by them that heard him." Baptist Confessions of Faith, page 201.

"That this Spirit of Christ, being administered by the word of faith, worketh in us faith in Christ," etc. Same work, page 207. These works show us plainly what those Baptists believed. What is in my proposition? The same idea; that faith comes by hearing. Inasmuch as regeneration comes by faith, then regeneration comes by the preaching of the Gospel.

I come to the "Old London Confession," 1677. "Those whom God has predestined unto life, he is pleased in his appointed and accepted time effectually to call (How?) By his word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ." How? By the Spirit alone? No, sir. By his Word and Spirit. That is the Old Baptist Faith. Chapter 10 of the Old London Confession. Section 1 I believe it is.

"The grace of faith (this is from the old London Confession) whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word." That is by the preaching of the Gospel, don't you see? This is the Old London Confession, chapter 14, paragraph 1. This same point is found in the Old Philadelphia Confession.

In denying my proposition, I want to say further, that Brother Daily not only sets himself against the "Old Baptist Confession," but also against noted worthies whom he and his people honored as leaders.

All who were in the assembly of 1689, who approved and sent out the London Confession; those in the old Philadelphia Association when it adopted its confession, the one known by its name; Dr. John Gill, Dr. R. W. Fain, Dr. John M. Watson, Morgan Edwards, John Gano. I just want to call your attention to this list of names. These all endorsed these words which I have read from the Confessions and which Brother Daily denies in denying my proposition."

"Now I will quote from R. W. Fain, page 15 of the Old Baptist Test. This is in the preface to Dr. Watson's great book: "Upon this principle the Gospel is preached to all, repentance and an interest in a Saviour's blood is offered to all." What was that we heard about offering salvation yesterday? That is neither here nor there of course! Brother Fain continues: "The charitable invitation, whosoever will, goes out to all, inviting them to take the water of life freely."

Dr. John M. Watson: "To show that the will of God is in his word, 'of his own free will,' says James, "begat he us with the word of truth." "Old Baptist Test," page 421.

David Jones' Circular Letter in the Old Philadelphia Association minutes, 1788, endorsed by that association: "The precious gift of faith is a free and sovereign gift of God, conveyed through the power of the Holy Ghost, and the instrumentality of the Word." This is what I want you to hear: "And is co-existent with regeneration if not an essential part of it." Isn't that my proposition?"

"So, Brother Daily, in denying my proposition, is off the old Baptist track and you are going to follow him, are you? He is out of line with the Old Baptist Confession! and will you follow him? He is out of line with the American Baptist Fathers before the great division of 1832, and is at cross purposes with some of the best of the "Old School" Baptists since the division. For instance, Watson and Fain."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elder John Clark on Means

Did Elder John Clark believe in regeneration by the means of the gospel and word of God, or not? Personally, I believe statements either made or condoned by Elder Clark, prove that he did believe in means in regeneration. I also believe that Elders Pence, Burnam, Huff, and McIrntoff, who testified that Elder Clark believed as they did, in gospel means, were not lying but telling the truth. They knew Elder Clark and his writings well.

First, I want to cite some writings of Elder Clark, with some comments of my own, and then cite Elder Lemuel Potter on this issue, and then make concluding remarks.

Elder John Clark wrote:

"Under the quickening power and influence of the Holy Ghost, the Word preached comes to God's people in power, by which they live, hear, and believe with the heart unto righteousness. Now, when the Gospel is preached they know it. It is the voice of their Shepherd, the great Shepherd...For with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [Rom. x., 6, 8, 10]"

("Does the Gospel Ever Produce Division Among the Saints of God" - Written by John Clark - ZION'S ADVOCATE - January, 1880)

Now, is this not clear? Does Elder Clark not explicitly affirm regeneration by means of the gospel?

From the Mt. Carmel Old School Baptist Church Trial, an Old School Baptist with the "means" faction testified:

"I was going to show you that old Brother Clarke who was the founder of Zion’s Advocate taught the same (regeneration by means of the word)..."

"In the first volume of Zion’s Advocate, I have copied an article from it."

“Commenting upon Romans 1:16, he says that the gospel ‘is a means made use of by God in quickening dead sinners, enlightening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, softening hard hearts, and making of enemies friends’ (Vol. VIII. p. 437) Same volume; page 339, upon Acts XXVI, 18, he says ‘Now, though this is all the work of the spirit, by whom only the eyes of the understanding are enlightened; yet this is ascribed to the apostle, not as the efficient cause, but as the instrument and means, through preaching of the gospel, which the spirit of God would, and did, make use of.’”

Again, does Elder Clark not here clearly affirm means in regeneration? Hear him further as he answers the objections of the "Hypers" and "Hardshells" in these words.

"But some object and say, Why preach repentance to dead sinners? They can neither hear, see nor understand. That is true; that they hear not, see not, understand not, so far as the preacher is concerned or is able to effect them; but why did the prophet call upon the dry bones to hear the word of the Lord? He answered, “And I prophesied as I was commanded.” That was authority then for all who feared God, and it is still the authority for all such. This objection, however, will lie against all the exhortations and admonitions to the saints as it does against addresses to the ungodly, for the Christian has no more power than the unbeliever. The difference between them is not in the power, but in the will; as it written: "To will is present with me, but to perform that which is good I find not.”"

The theory that we must preach to men according to the power they possess to obey is sublimated Arminianism, and yet; the advocates of it are very fraid of being called Arminians. Christians know, however, by the word of his grace, and by the revelation of that word in their hearts, when it comes in power and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, that Christ’s word is true which says, “Without me you can do nothing.” The Spirit takes the word of Christ and shows it to his people, and thus it is verified in the experience.

To preach to men upon the ground that they have power to do what is commanded, or to refuse to preach to them because they have not the power, shows that the confidence is in the flesh and not in God; that they depend upon the will of the flesh and not upon the power God, and that is the very essence, double refined, of Arminianism.

The minister of Christ does not preach to any class of men upon the consideration of their ability or inability. He has the sentence of death in himself, and therefore cannot trust in himself; and he has no confidence in the flesh of any other, but his confidence, his faith and hope, is in God, from whence alone are his expectations."

("What To Preach and How To Preach" Written by John Clark in Zion's Advocate--August 1875)

See here

These remarks by Elder Clark seem to be in harmony with words of similar import from Elder Watson, a contemporary of the same important period, from the 1830's - 1870's. They condemned the Hyperism of their brethren, their "ultra brethren."

Wrote Elder Potter:

"He undertook to show that Elder Clark was agreed with him on the subject of means. In this he gloriously failed, for I showed him from Zion's Advocate, that on the occasion of Elder Booten's ordination, Elder Clark was the moderator of the Presbytery, and that Elder Booten was interrogated on this very point, as to whether he believed in the Spirit's work in the regeneration of sinners, without, and independent of, all means and instrumentalities whatever. A correspondence between Elder J. B. Stephens, of Nashville, Tenn., and Elder Clark, concerning this matter, which was published in Zion's Advocate, shows that Elder Clark emphatically denied the use of any means or agencies outside of the divine Spirit in the regeneration of sinners. I am not prepared to give the date of the Advocate in which this correspondence occurred."

See here

Well, was Elder Potter right? Can we find the article by Elder Clark where he denied means? And, if we did find it, would it only show how Elder Clark, like Elders Dalton and Purifoy, and many other "Old Schoolers," changed their minds on this and thus spoke both ways on it at some point in their lives?

Concluding Thoughts on Elder Watson

What can we learn from the life and writings of Elder (Dr.) John McClaren Watson?

First, that he was a leading first generation eye witness of and a participant in the "rise of the Hardshells" or the genesis of the American "anti-mission movement," written about by many Baptist historians, especially Dr. B. H. Carroll, who about the start of the twentieth century, gave lectures on the anti-mission movement, which were later published into a book, and had a chapter called "rise of the Hardshells." He was the one who identified three individuals who could probably be called the originators of the anti-mission movement and the rise of the Hardshells, of those who today call themselves "Primitive Baptists." These three, Alexander Campbell, John Taylor, and Daniel Parker, were like a three-headed Hydra. They were three who, through their influence, preaching and writing, attacked all efforts of cooperation among Christians for the purpose of bible distribution, support for missionary preachers, theological schools, etc.,

Carroll also spoke of Campbellism (the result of Campbell's reform movement), and spoke of Campbellism and Hardshellism as being "twins," like Jacob and Esau. Campellism representing Esau and Jacob Hardshellism, the former being born first, but the latter usurping it, as Jacob grapped the heel of Esau.

Elder Watson 's span of influence spanned the 1830's through the 1860's, and even continued after his death, for he was a leader of Tennessee Baptists of the anti-mission movement, living in the Nashville area, and was a contemporary and acquaintance of Dr. M. C. Howell, pastor of the largest and most influential Baptist church in Nashville at the time.

He was recognized far and wide among those who began to call themselves "Primitive" Baptists, but who were also known as Hardshells, Do-Nothings, Antinomians, Hardliners, New Test men, etc. Early on he wrote for the Hardshell's new periodicals, The Signs of the Times, The Primitive Baptist, The Old Baptist Banner, The Christian Doctrinal Advocate, not to mention later periodicals such as Zion's Advocate and The Herald of Truth.

He was friends and close associates with the leaders of the Hardshell group in the formative years from 1830-1860, men such as Gilbert Beebe, Samuel Trott, James Osbourne, Wilson and Grigg Thompson, John Clark, etc.

He was a medical doctor and was benevolent in helping the poor.

He is a good reflection of a large number of the first "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptists. He is unlike today's Hardshells, which shows not only are they unlike the Baptists who wrote the London and Philadelphia confessions of faith, but not even like their founders in the anti-mission movement.

Watson rejected the idea that the Great Commission was given to the church, or to every Christian, and advocated the idea that it was given solely to the ministry as a separate entity from the church. Dr. Howell opposed Watson on this in a series of letters to Watson, demonstrating the error of the Hardshells on this point and proving, from the scriptures, that the Great Commission was given to the church.

Watson opposed much of the mission methods being promulgated by Baptists and other Protestants in the early 19th century. He was not opposed to preaching the gospel to the heathen, but believed that a better method existed and that the local church should be in complete control of it. Watson said of his "ultraists" brethren, the ones who formed today's "Primitive Baptist Church," that they had "violated" their commission in not doing anything to spread the gospel among the heathen.

Watson opposed formal ministerial education and seminaries, believing that they were not according to the "pattern" of the new testament.

Watson opposed "salaried" or "hireling" ministers/pastors and yet, like many of his brethren who opposed these things, confessed that most Hardshells do not support their ministers to any meaningful degree. He believed in ministerial support but found it hard to get the Hardshells to obey the scriptures, an effect, no doubt, about preaching against the Mission Baptists giving large support to their preachers.

I don't know how he felt about Sunday Schools and other bible classes. I suspect that he would have agreed with Burnam and Clark, that they were not wrong in themselves, and that the abuse of such things among others did not prohibit them from having similar means for instructing all, especially the young, in the rudiments of the gospel.

He believed that regeneration was inseparable from faith in the Lord Jesus and repentance from sin and dead works and to the living God and his gospel. He believed that regeneration and conversion were dealing with the same experience. He believed dead sinners were begotten by the word of God, was a means or instrument God uses in regeneration, all in accord with Dr. Gill and his Baptist forefathers.

He accepted the London and Philadelphia confessions which he knew supported the truth that regeneration is by God's word and Spirit.

Watson called those brethren who denied the means of the gospel in regeneration these terms: "ultraists," "modern innovators." He would not say that today's Hardshell denomination was truly "primitive" at all.

Watson also believed not only in the preservation of saints, but of their perseverence, unnlike most of today's Hardshells, who reject the latter.

In future writings we will look at some other men who were leaders in the Hardshell denomination at its genesis, men like John Clark, Gilbert Beebe, Wilson and Grigg Thompson, etc.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Personal Reflections on Watson's Test

Many years ago a church member of the “Primitive” Baptist order gave me a book called ‘The Old Baptist Test’ by Elder John Watson. It was given to me at a time when the desire to read and study was an unquenchable fire which burned in my bones. I found myself purchasing so many books that they accumulated upon me faster than I could devour their content. So when I received Watson’s work I just placed it on the bookshelf along with the others and resigned, ‘Oh well, I’ll get to it when I can’. Big mistake! If I had known what a jewel it was I would have taken it up readily. If I had known that it was at direct odds with what I felt was the truth at the time, being contrary to the paradigm advocated by my contemporaries in this particular order, then I would have immediately ventured into its pages. Unfortunately, I did not. So for many years Watson’s grand work gathered dust as it sat there completely undisturbed upon the bookshelf. It wasn’t until approximately 3 years ago when I took it down for the first time and gave it a gander.

The occasion on which I chose to read it was not without significance. It was at this same time that the Lord was opening my eyes to a fuller understanding of His Word. I began to see certain texts in the Bible which were either being ignored or construed in such a way to support a particular paradigm prevalent among the “Primitive” Baptist order. Yet, when the texts were confronted honestly using sound hermeneutics, and not erroneous preconceptions, they taught no such thing. To be specific, it was those verses in the Bible which unite the gospel with salvation, sanctification, and justification (e.g. John 17:17-20; Acts 13:46-48; 26:15-18; Rom. 1:16; 6:17; 10:14-17; 11:14; Eph. 1:13; 5:25; 1 Cor. 4:15; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:10; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22-25).

Here it was that Watson’s work became such a thrill to read. I found another who was openly advocating what I myself was beginning to see taught in the Word of God, and who would not kindly ‘sweep under the rug’ those above verses mentioned. At the same time I found him rebuking others who were of the contrary opinion. Yet I was astounded most of all at the title of his work: The Old Baptist Test! Here was an Old Baptist elder who set forth truths totally incompatible with today’s ‘time salvation’ paradigm, and he was doing it all under the name ‘Old Baptist’! He boldly sets forth the gospel as the means of salvation and many other related issues, and rebuked those who were beginning to assert otherwise as ‘modern innovators’! On this point, Watson seemed to be onto something (I speak as I was feeling at the time) for the Philadelphia Confession did in fact state that God called His people by His ‘Word and Spirit’; and it was out of the Philadelphia Baptists that the Primitives came! So why could it not be argued that “means salvation” was OLD doctrine, when it had historical warrant for being so?!!

These are important observations to say the least. First, when the assertion is made that the gospel is the ordinary means of salvation-- this is, IN FACT, an implicit denial in the doctrine of ‘time salvation’. For this doctrine teaches that the only purpose for the preaching of the gospel is to rescue the elect from temporal dangers. But Watson does no such thing. He was, therefore, not a doctrinal ancestor of the modernists today, but rather “in line” with men like myself, those who contribute to this blog, and other friends of mine whose eyes have been opened to the truth.

There is a second reason why these observations are important. One of the bold assertions made by many of today’s “Primitive” Baptists is the Landmarker claim that they may trace their lineage ‘back to Jerusalem’. Yet upon making an attempt to justify this by historical research, they will run into a brick wall erected by Watson, and learn that they’re not teaching old doctrine, but something 'new under the sun'! His work is an utter repudiation of the mixed bag of anti-means, anti-evangelism, antinomianism, hollow-log regeneration, Pelagianism, Arminianism, free-willism, and hyper-calvinism which goes to make up the ‘time salvation’ superstructure. It is a wonderful work which sets forth that true “Old Baptist” teaching that God’s decrees and responsibility are not foes, but friends. The publishing of the gospel is compatible with election, and not contrary to it (2 Thes. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:10) as our moderns feel. God has chosen His people to salvation, yet it is through the gospel that they come unto that very thing (2 Thes. 2:13-14). Yes, faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8; John 6:29), but hearing is the manner by which this gift comes (Rom. 10:17; Eph. 1:13; Gal. 3:5)!

There is one great bit of sadness in relating all of this though. This sort of historical information, along with many other historical sources which we shall examine in the future, is being kept from the church members. They leisurely sit back and grovel at the claims that ‘time salvation’ and the way it compromises other important bible doctrines is Old Baptist teaching, when there is a serious begging of this question. Several have come forward in the last decade who KNOW there has been a departure among the Primitives from crucial Bible doctrines, and who, more or less, agree with what Watson asserts in his work. Sadly, this information is being suppressed by way of ostracizing those who are now bringing this truth to light. This is only to be expected however. Today’s generation have become so ingrained in their paradigm that they could not possibly tolerate the idea that what they have been taught is not old doctrine, but new. After all, it’s hard to put new wine into old bottles.

We pray that the Berean spirit would once again come upon the church members! O that they would examine their history and analyze the scriptures mentioned in this article. Then, with the Lord’s increase, they could come to pass ‘The OLD Baptist Test’.

Elder Hosea Preslar & Watson

I bought a book over 40 years ago when I was visiting the Cincinnati Primitive Baptist church by Elder Hosea Preslar titled "Thoughts On Divine Providence." I have recently re-read this book and found some interesting remarks by this Elder as it relates to who are the real Old Baptists.

According to Elder Preslar, he was born in Anson county, North Carolina in 1814 (page 2). This is the county adjoining the county in which I now reside. He was a member of Lawyer's Spring Primitive Baptist church, near Peachland, a church still in existence and one which I have visited and preached in when I was a Hardshell and a member in the Bear Creek Association in the late 1970's. He mentions how Lawyer's Spring was a member church in that association.

Elder Preslar lived during the time when the Hardshells separated themselves from the main body of Baptists during the 1830's and 1840's because of the promotion of mission, bible, and tract societies, and of seminaries. In this book Elder Preslar spoke against these things and those who promoted them, and like a typical Hardshell, decried their existence and usefulness, even declaring non-fellowship for all Baptist who supported such things.

However, he was not like today's Hardshells, for he taught that God used means in the regeneration of sinners, and believed in giving gospel invitations to those dead in sins, and in the perseverence of all the born again. This will be evident from the citations I will shortly give from his book.

It appears that Elder Preslar wrote his book during the Civil War, when he was living in the Nashville, Tennessee area, and had become a close friend with Elder John M. Watson. He mentions Elder Watson's book "The Old Baptist Test" and heartedly endorsed it. It has been shown, in previous postings on Elder Watson, how Watson believed that regeneration was accomplished by means of the application of gospel truth to the heart and mind, and how he believed that faith in Christ was an essential element of the new birth.

It would be interesting to observe the reaction of Elder Joe Helms, present pastor of Lawyer's Spring church, at the citations I will give from Elder Preslar. Elder Helms and the present day elders of the Bear Creek Association reject the idea that God uses gospel truth to effect the new birth, yet their forefathers believed it. Who then are the real Old Baptists?

Elder Preslar wrote:

"The gospel of the grace of God is food to the children of God, and they all hear it and recognize it, as it is (the truth)." (Page 60)

No modern "Primitive Baptist" would confess such to be the truth of the bible! They do not believe that "all" of God's elect will believe the gospel.

"...the other is the child of God, that was begotten by the word of truth; James 1: 14; I Cor. 4: 15; I John 5: 1." (Page 112)

"This is the new man begotten by the word of truth; yea, begotten of God; I John 5: 18." (page 185)

Obviously Elder Preslar, like Elder Watson, and a large number of Hardshells, in the 1830-1860 period, believed that God's elect were born again by the gospel being applied to their hearts, and thus represented the historic faith of the Baptists who endorsed the London and Philadelphia Confessions of Faith, while those today who call themselves "Primitive Baptists" reject the teaching of Watson and Preslar, and of the old confessions and are therefore not what they profess to be.

Elder Preslar, in combating the errors of Daniel Parker, a founder of the Hardshell denomination, and his "Two Seed" faction, writes:

"And as to their views of the use and design of the gospel being for nothing but for the edification of the Church, and believers being the only subjects of gospel address, I believe it not." (Page 186)

He says that the gospel "is moreover to be for a witness unto all nations; Matt. 24: 14; and for the awakening of sinners, who are dead in trespasses and in sin." (page 187)

He goes further (same page), saying:

"But some object (the "ultraist" Hardshells - SG) to these ideas and say all this is the work of the spirit of God; and the gospel has nothing to do with it. Ah, a gospel without a spirit! Well, God save me from a gospel that has not His spirit. God says His word is quick and powerful, and He says by Peter, This is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you; I Peter 1: 25. And as to the subjects of Gospel address, it is to every creature the disciples were commanded to preach the gospel; and Paul said, Whom we preach warning every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, etc.; Col. 1: 28. So we see that their idea on that point is false as the balance, and we will now give their last, but not least error a passing notice."

So, who are the real Old Baptists? Those who deny means or those who affirm them? Those who preach the gospel to the dead so that they might live, or those who decry it?

Dr. Howell on Hardshellism

In the following, Dr. Howell gives one of the greatest arguments against the view of the Hardshells that affirms that the Great Commission was not given to the church. I used this same argument against their view in my series "Hardshells and The Great Commission," in my book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult."


Nashville, March 12, 1837.

"When I closed my last letter I was presenting to you my third argument to prove that the apostolic commission was given to the Church. The scriptures declare, as plainly as if the statement had been made in so many words, that the duty of preaching the Gospel to every creature is a work which belongs to the church individually and collectively. "Go ye,"' said Christ to the Apostles, "and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." By this means they are brought in and form the Church of Christ. What further is to be done? "Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you." Observe, the Church is to do all things which Christ commanded his Apostle to do. And what is the principal thing he commanded them? It was to "go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." If the Church is to observe all things, she is surely to observe this, which I have just said is the principal thing. It is therefore proved, beyond all question, that the work of preaching the Gospel devolves upon the whole Church collectively and individually."

See here

"It is objected, inasmuch as the Church cannot go to preach the Gospel to every creature, that there is an evident unfitness in imposing such a command on her.

In reply, I would beg you, my brother, to remember, that although Christ has made the work hers, he has not left the Church without the proper arrangement by which it is to be done. He has given to the Church a certain class of servants, called by himself, and qualified to preach, which, also, he has placed under the direction of the Church for this especial purpose. Their very name—ministers—which signifies servants, is expressive of this relation. The Church obeys the commission of Christ by calling forth, ordaining, sending out, and sustaining in the field of labor, these servants, so called of God, and by him qualitied and sent forth "to be alight of the Gentiles, and for salvation to the ends of the earth." So far, therefore, from this being an arrangement unsuited to the end had in view, it is in fact the most efficient that can be conceived...indeed, the only one at all likely to succeed in accomplishing the benevolent designs of the Gospel of our salvation. "

If it be again objected, that because the ministry does the work of preaching, therefore, the Church is not responsible; I will ask whether to make a particular work mine, and to render me responsible for its accomplishment, it is essential that I do it with my own hands? ...and because it is done under my direction, by my servant who is qualified for the task, is it therefore not my work? A planter cultivates his crop, and reaps the rewards of his care and industry, but he docs not, perhaps, with his own hands, touch a plough, or hoe, or any other implement of husbandry, during the season; he does his work by his servants; is it, therefore, not his farm, and crop; and was he not responsible for every thing in relation to it ? Such are the relations, under Christ, of the Church, the ministry, and the field of labor, and such her obligations and responsibilities in relation to preaching the Gospel to every creature.

Paul confirms the correctness of these views of the subject under consideration, when he says to the Corinthian Church, speaking of the apostolic ministers (2 Cor. 4: 5,) "We preach, not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." Ministers the servants of the Church—to do what? The passage itself tells us what—to preach, as the servant of the Church, "Christ Jesus the Lord," and, of course to preach him as commanded, in all the world, to every creature. This, therefore, is the work of the Church, and, as the Church cannot go as a body, the ministers are her servants, under her direction and superintendance to do the work, and while so employed, look, (as do all other servants to their employers,) unto her, as the representative of Christ on earth, for countenance and support of a temporal character, and to Christ himself, the great Master, for spiritual sustenance and success. The ministry are responsible both to Christ and his Church for the faithful performance of the trust committed to their hands. So far as the Church is concerned, it is on this ground alone, that she has authority to silence a heterodox or disorderly minister, and deprive him of the sacred office. Were he not her servant, engaged in doing her work, and for the faithful execution of which she is responsible to Christ, the Church would have no right either to license a minister, try him for his heterodoxy, or depose him from his office."

(Letter Number 4 to Hardshell Dr. John M. Watson)

See here

"In relation to Foreign Missions"

"Why, asks an objector (Hardshell and Hyper Calvinist - SG), trouble yourself so much about the heathen? Is not God able to save his people without your interference? If he have a people among the heathen, he will save them in his own way, and time. I have no idea all the heathen will be lost. In language like this, not a few of your associates are accustomed to express themselves.

In reply, I observe, that we believe as firmly, perhaps, in the doctrine of divine sovereignty as any of our brethren who oppose the "preaching of the Gospel to every creature." We, I know, have been charged with holding the contrary; but I must believe, that those who do so are themselves aware that the imputation is a slander. The Apostles advocated the doctrine of divine sovereignty, and yet, as we have fully proved, they sent missionaries "to the heathen." (Gal. 2: 9.) Why should they have troubled themselves about this matter? Was not God equally able then, as now, to save his people without means, out of all nations? If he did not choose that religion should spread without instrumentality, nor to save men without the knowledge of Jesus Christ, in those days, will he do so now? Has God, in relation to his manner of saving sinners, changed?

But God is sovereign, and will save his own people in his own way—True, my brother; most true. But because God is sovereign, will save whom he pleases, and have all the glory of the salvation of the heathen and all others who ever reach the mansions on high, must we rebel, and refuse to preach, to them! May we cease to care for the souls of men, because without the blessing of God all our labor will be in vain? The Bible teaches no such doctrine. It is equally repugnant to the letter of the Gospel and the spirit of the religion of Christ.

The man who so bitterly opposes sending them the Gospel, has no idea that, for want of it, all the heathen will be lost.

The thought, it is true, is full of horror. The heathen make up more than half the teeming population of our globe. That they are all lost—lost forever, is an appalling reflection; and the sensitive heart, in its contemplation, shrinks back amazed! But why will not all the heathen be lost? I want this question answered.

The heathen will not all be lost, says the opposer of missions, because they are utterly ignorant on the whole subject of the Gospel. The name of Christ they never heard.

Not a ray of light from the throne of God has ever penetrated their mind. And shall they be condemned, it is asked, for not believing or obeying the Gospel, of the very existence of which they never had the slightest intimation! No, no; I will not believe it.

Very well—the argument is specious. Let us look at it, and reason upon it, for a moment. The argument of the opposcrs of Foreign Missions assumes that all those who are perfectly ignorant ol Christ, and the whole subject of religion, will, because of this perfect ignorance, be saved. Am I right? Certainly. But if, at any time, these perfectly ignorant persons should hear the Gospel, and then do not repent and believe before they die, they will certainly be lost. Is not this also true? It follows of course, that if the whole world had been left in the same perfect ignorance, the whole world, for the same reason, would certainly have been saved. All who are lost, therefore, are damned because, after hearing the Gospel, they do not repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If all this be true, and if the premises be admitted it cannot be questioned, the conclusion is irresistible that the Gospel has been the occasion, not to say the positive cause, of the damnation of hundreds of millions of souls who, could they only have been kept in perfect ignorance of it, would certainly have been saved. The Gospel, therefore, is the greatest curse (I speak it with reverence) with which the world ever was visited! It is a greater curse than even sin itself; for if this newly discovered anti-missionary doctrine be true, sin would not condemn the soul, if it could only be kept in perfect ignorance of the Gospel.-

I have a question in casuistry to propose to these good brethren, and I will do so through yon, if you please. True, Christ commands us to preach the Gospel to every creature in the whole world. However, if we fail to obey this command it will not (will it?) prevent our salvation; and every man we enlighten of the heathen world, if he does not then repent and believe, before he dies, will be damned; and if we let them remain in perfect ignorance they will all be saved; now had we not better disobey Christ, who seems not to have known any thing of this new and better plan, so lately discovered, and thus save ourselves, and not a part of the heathen world, but the whole of it, not by enlightening but by keeping them in perfect ignorance. Certainly the most benevolent plan. Let us not give them the Gospel. This curses the nations. The most benevolent thing we can do is to burn our Bibles immediately; stop all our ministers forthwith; extinguish the light of the Gospel; and banish, as soon as possible, every vestige of the knowledge of Christ from the face of the earth! This " reductio ad absurdum" is the legitimate conclusion from the premises; and you will forgive me if I express my full conviction that this is the result to which anti-missionary doctrine, were it heeded, would always inevitably conduct us.

This, however, is a small absurdity, in comparison with some others involved in the doctrine I am now controverting. Take, if you please, another.

Some are saved by the knowledge of God. This we all believe. And some are saved by the ignorance of God.— This anti-missionaries pretend to believe. Well, then, ignorance and knowledge,in their results, are equally desirable and beneficial, because they both alike secure the salvation of the soul!! (Letter # 6 to Hardshell Dr. Watson)

Paul was quoted (Rom. 10: 18:) "Have they not heard? Yes, verily their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world." And (Col. 1: '23:) "The hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven." "This objection is common with you all, perhaps throughout the Slate.

In reply, I ask whether it is true that the extensive spread of the Gospel, in apostolic times, described in the passages quoted, did really fulfil the command contained in the apostolic commission, to preach the Gospel to every creature? If you sustain yourselves in this assumption, you will soon find that you have proved vastly too much. By our success in the proof of this, you will destroy fundamental doctrine held by us all, in common with all other evangelical denominations—the divine call to the ministry. I say nothing in reply to the inquiry whether the commission does not require that the Gospel be preached in all the world to every creature, in every successive period, and is not therefore, incapable of fullilment while consecutive ages of men continue to live. I briefly call your attention to the fact, that if the apostolic commission has been long since fulfilled, its claims are satisfied and like a cancelled bond, is of course no longer obligatory! There is not now, therefore any such thing as a call to the ministry, because there is no commission under which for ministers, if such a class of men could legitimately exist, to act! Still, however, all of you preach, and profess to be called of God to the work. How is this! Your doctrine on missions is in conflict with your doctrine in relation to the ministry. By taking the ground that the commission is fulfilled, you proved, as 1 said, vastly too much, and consequently nothing at all. Now I wish you to remember that when an intelligent congregation hears a man. preach, who, to avoid obedience to them, finds it necessary to represent the most prominent commands of the New Testament as old abrogated obligations, they set him down, and with good reason, either for an infidel or a heretic. Do you admit that ministers are called of God to the work, and act legitimately under the commission? If so you are obliged to reject the doctrine of your party..."

"...our doings are unauthorised in scripture? This has been repeated a thousand times, and denunciations sent forth in all their bitterness, from the pulpit and the press, in innumerable circulars and resolutions of Associations andChurches, acrimonious pamphlets, and little newspaper sheets, north and south. In all this, brother Watson, I am sorry to know you have been, and are personally active. Sometimes you write them, generally you circulate them, and always when called upon in Associations and Churches, you vote for them! And yet you profess to be liberal, and to Foreign Missions even friendly! These missiles have for the most part, recoiled upon the heads of those by whom they were sent forth, and produced that "distress among the Churches," which you have so often set down to our account, as a most grievious offence. Yes, my brother, your party have produced the whole of the "distress" yourselves. We can truly say:—" We have wronged no man, we have defrauded no man, we have corrupted no man." I am willing that the whole question shall be tried by the spirit which animates the two parties. Is not the spirit of your party wormwood? Is this the spirit of Christ? We read of a star which is called wormwood, but it shall fall.. No, brother Watson, the Churches never were disturbed by us. Who are going about continually, persuading the Churches to divide; urging them to exclude their members; advocating prescriptive resolutions; calling upon Associations, as you all did lately upon the Concord, to break up and form under new constitutions, such as you dictate to bind the souls of men, and which are not Baptist? Who are doing all this and much more? Are the friends of the Convention so engaged? No sir. We are conservatives. You are the men who are thus cutting up and dividing the body of Christ.— Every body knows this to be true. Who then are disturbing the Churches. Nathan said unto David - "Thou art the man." This I will not say of you in all its extent, because some others are even more active than you are, hut you assume a position by their side, "parnobilefratrum."

It is often objected to us that these missionary operations lead to Arminianism—indeed, some assert that all missionaries are Arminians. This, I am told, is your own favorite objection, and which you never fail to urge when opportunity permits.

Of this objection I can very readily dispose...the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, (I suppose you have it,)...On the contrary, many of your own party do not receive it, because they say it is hyper-Calvinistic. The Philadelphia Association, however, as I proved to you in a former letter, and you cannot dispute the fact, by whom that confession was adopted, is now, and has been from the beginning, a missionary body. How does this fact accord with your allegation? Does it not crush it at once?

The confession was first drawn up—it was, at all events, adopted during the seventeenth century, I do not remember the exact date- by the "Baptist Churches in and about London," I have before proved to you that those Churches were, at that time, actively engaged in missionary labors." Facts are stubborn things." We could recite many more to our purpose, but time and room forbid, and besides it is unnecessary. Will any one ever again presume to assert that missionary operations lead to Aminianism? The facts prove the contrary to be true. With the same propriety you might plead that missionary operations lead to Mohamedanism or Mormonism. The idea is absurd. Missionary operations are obedience to the commands of God. Can It be that the doctrines of the Bible stand opposed to obedience to its commandments! Is the word of revelation inconsistent with itself? It certainly is, if your doctrine of anti-missionism be true. But no, my brother, the error is in your construction of it, not in God's holy word.

I will, in my next letter, notice two or three more of your objections. For the present adieu."
(Letter 8)

See here

Dr. R. B. C. Howell on Watson and the Hardshells

Dr. R. B. C. Howell was a great "Old Baptist" who lived in Nashville in the early and mid 19th century and who was an avid foe of Hardshellism and the Anti-Mission movement. He knew Elder John Watson personally, who also lived in the Nashville area. The following citations from Howell are interesting and informative.

Howell writes:

"Since writing the above, we have received the following communication from father Whitsitt. It utterly annihilates the Stone's River circular. Its facts and arguments are perfectly conclusive. We are almost inclined to be sorry for Dr. Watson. The old soldier handles him as a lion would a kid. Our astonishment is, that, as the Doctor is a man of some judgment, he does not, as he must see it, confess and embrace the truth. We shall see what he will do."

Then follows a "review" of the Stone's River circular by a spokesman for Howell and the Missionary Baptists.

"I requested Bro. Howell not to review that Circular, for I thought it would be paying too much attention to it, and it would be keeping up the strife, which has continued too long already. I have long venerated the character of Dr. John M. Watson. True, I am not so fond of Elder John M. Watson; but could I consistently do it, I would let him alone. He sent some copies of the Stone's River Minutes to a Church which I attend, and must have known that I would receive one, but I suppose he has sent me one. True, I did not so particularly observe the backing, but I took out a package for Dr. Whitsitt at the same time, put up in the same way, and backed J. M. Watson. I am told that he wrote the Circular....No doubt, Elder Watson and his adherents think his letter a masterpiece, for I hear he has circulated it far and wide.

Supposing that Elder Watson sent me this copy, he may expect my reply, which if I withhold, he will use my silence as a triumph, I am therefore under the necessity to reply. I have no idea, however, that I can render any service to him, further than to stop him from boasting. I shall place this review under three heads. The first is PERVERSION."

Was the commission given to the church?

"It is believed by all Christians as far as I know, the Stone's River churches not excepted, that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a church ordinance; as such the Lord acknowledged the Apostles to be the church, for he gave the Supper to them in the absence of the 500. According to his own showing, the writer of this letter is a very singular character in the Baptist church, for he is a non-commissioned officer. The commission to teach and baptize having never been given to the church, she can never confer the commission on any of her members, for it is impossible for her to confer what she never had; hence his act in baptizing, and solemnizing the rites of matrimony, are both done without a commission. But it may be, the writer claims his office by succession to the Apostles. If he does, his claim is not good, for the Apostles are now on their thrones, and can have no successors while they sit there. Read Matt. 19: 27, 28. If he claims this succession he is not a Baptist, for they never did allow their ministers to sit on thrones. If the writer claims this succession he is a Catholic; they have thrones and dominions. St. Peter's chair has been filled (they say) by one of their fraternity, ever since his decrease.

We are now at the forks of the road, one leads to a clerical government, the other to a democratic. The one leads to thrones, the other to seats. In order to see which road this writer has taken, we will quote again. "We admit these things were given for the benefit of the church, but to particular individuals. Now if the commission had been given to the Apostles as a church, then the church should have appointed them their respective fields of labor afterwards, as the Convention folks do now, but this was not done by the church then, neither should it be now. The church is only called upon to fellowship and acknowledge what the Lord as the great Head of the church does in these respects." (Page 8) Here lies the foundation of Episcopacy. The Church prays for, prays to, and obeys those whom the Lord may appoint to office from time to time. Although I have already proved, that the commission to teach and baptize, was given to the Church, yet as I have men to deal with, strongly prejudiced against that idea, I will enlarge the proof." (page 20)


"First, "We are now just what we were when we joined the United Baptist Church; then there was no Convention." Page 3

Every word of this is true, and I am very sorry that it is true. This writer is the man who drew the "Bethesda resolutions," in which (if I recollect) he rebuked the churches for having neglected to sustain their ministers, and from the above avowal they still neglect it. 2nd. It was then agreed to furnish supplies not only for domestic, but for those who might wish to go into foreign lands. This they also disavow, as they "are just what they were." 3rd. "Then there was no Convention." And because we were wrong then, it seems we ought to have continued so. Then the whole church were under the same obligation to "preach the Gospel to every creature" that they are now, and in order to do it, the whole church were under obligation to support a whole ministry. And when the church felt this obligation, anciently, there was a combination of churches, and agents sent out to solicit and receive funds for benevolent purposes. But we have all slept over our commission, and if these brethren intend to sleep on, it is no reason we should. When a whole ministry give themselves wholly to the Lord's work, and a whole ministry live of the Gospel, then, and not till then, will the Lord's whole work be done." (page 21)

"2nd item. "Wherever we may see preachers starting out, under a spiritual exercise of soul concerning the heathen, and going in the way of the Saviour commanded, without gold or silver, or with their own purse only, in the wisdom and power of the Lord, and in his providence connected with their work, we will hear of a spiritual work abroad." (Page 6)

Yes, we will so. But where did we ever see this? not in the New Testament..." (Page 22)

"3rd item. "We are bold to affirm that no portion of the primitive Church ever went out into a distinct society, and assumed to themselves the right of hiring and sending out ministers, on pay per sermon, per month or per year." (page 4)

Yes, and I am bold to affirm, that no portion of the primitive Church, ever went out into such a society as the one which wrote this letter. (page 23)

"The Baptists are mixed with the high and low Calvinists, and have sometimes split on it; the missionary Baptists are mixed in the same way, yet get along in that respect without difficulty." (page 24)

"The position of the authors of this charge is just this. They will not carry out the commission, because they say it was not given to the church. They cannot carry it out, because their system will not admit of it. Hence they will not, they cannot, and we shall not. To go out and obey Jesus Christ, is heresy, but to stay in and disobey him, is orthodoxy." (Page 25)

"There is something like argument in this letter, which at first view is imposing. It is said that the missionary system is not like the apostolic system. But it ought to be remembered that the apostolic community and the Baptist community, as regards missionary operations, are entirely different. We will take the Stone's River community as a sample. The whole of the apostolic community acted under a commission to preach the Gospel to every creature, and strove to carry it out. The Stone's River community it seems have no commission to preach the Gospel to any creature, and strive to hinder it. Hence, as the systems stand connected with people so different, some disparity may appear. But we will examine the alleged difference. It is said that apostolic men went forth without a pledge, but missionary men go forth under a pledge. This is a grand mistake, which I now prove." (Page 26)

"It is said that our missionaries depend on the Convention, and not on the Lord. Another mistake."


"Item 1. "He that knoweth God heareth us: he that is not of God heareth not us." I John 4: 6. This is their text, set at the head of their letter, in all the majesty of St. John himself."

Now reader, I want you to understand that these letter writers have got into the shoes of the Apostles--their successors: the truly orthodox. And we who are spending our money to spread the gospel are 'the carnal' and 'worldly minded;' and although they believe some of us to be regenerated, yet we "are weak professors;' hence those who love their money better than they love their duty are 'the orthodox Baptists,' and those who spend their money with a view to obey Jesus Christ, are 'the heretics.' As their proceedings accord with their letter, I will now quote from their minutes." (pages 26, 27)

"Item. 2nd. "This Association shall not exercise any control over the internal rights of the churches." Government, Art. 7.

This is just as it ought to be; each church is considered to be an independent body, with a full right to judge the conduct of her own members. This is the law of Jesus Christ; I will give an example."

"Legislative authority is alone the perogative of Jesus Christ. Executive authority is alone the perogative of the church of Christ. That body of men who may pass a law to bind the church, assumes the perogative of Jesus Christ; and takes from the church here executive power, and strips her of her internal rights. These positions will not be denied by any real Baptist. Having made these remarks, which I wish the reader to keep fully in mind, I pass on to quote from the proceedings.

Item 3rd. "The following resolutions were offered, and unanimously adopted by the Association."

1st. "This Association shall be wholly disconnected from the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and all others.

2nd. "This Association will not receive the delegates or letter of any church connected with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, or any other."

Now reader, take notice, here is positive law, made to govern the church of Jesus Christ. As positive as it would have been with a "Be it enacted." This law nullifies the 7th Article, for they cannot both be enforced." (Pages 27, 28)

"And now reader, you have seen in this review the kind of weapons with which we are opposed, or rather weapons with which the Lord is opposed, for they have not only shut out the obligation of the church, to preach the Gospel to every creature, but have stript her of the means in the divine arrangement, by which she might carry out his work. You see too the dilemma into which the party have brought themselves. It is a pity for the Stone's River churches, for there is a number of fine people among them, but they have lent themselves to a few headstrong men, who are determined to go ahead, regardless of consequences. These churches have now shut themselves in, or rather, have shut out, three fourths of the American Baptists. "Beware of the concision," saith Paul." (Pages 28, 29)

"In justice to the Stone's River Circular, I must say, that it is famous for its money saving policy, and no doubt many think it to be a great display.

I have now done with the Circular, and I will conclude by remarking that, perhaps the reader will think me severe, but I can assure him that I have studied a different course. To have been less severe, I must have lost the ideas which I have conveyed. The truth is, I have reviewed this review carefully, and have stricken out every thing which I thought severe, that I could strike out. I ask the reader seriously, if it is not a hard case to have our characters traduced and influence destroyed, merely for complying with a plain duty, when we are not pushing ourselves where we are not welcome. The whole matter is a voluntary thing, and always will be so, for every man to have control of his own purse. We only ask to be let alone, to pursue the path of duty in peace. But this can't be done, for we have been opposed from the word go; slandered and misrepresented. And to stand in our defence, is nothing more than what ought to be expected. In the days of Nehemiah "they which builded the walls, and they that bare burdens with those that leaded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon." It is even so now. Those who opposed the work then, were non commissioned people, and they are professedly noncommissioned who oppose the work now. Missionary operations bring covetousness, and pride to the test. Covetousness in withholding, and pride in seeing others doing, and they neglecting. On these two rotten legs stands the opposition of many."

James Whitsitt, Solitude, Dec. 13th, 1837 (page 29)

A person then writes to Bro. Howell:

"I am trying to give effect to your letters to Watson, by circulating them through the country. Having a friend for whom I feel the warmest affection, but who belongs to the new fashioned denomination called "Old School"--alias Hardsides, I sent him a copy. Last week he came to see me and thanked me very much for the opportunity of reading the letters, and told me "if it had not been for a passage in the seventh letter, he hadly knew what they would have done with him." Not having, myself, observed any thing objectionable in them, I asked him to direct me to the item. It is in the latter part of the seventh letter, in these words: -- "Some are saved by the knowledge of God, and some are saved by the ignorance of God etc." He does not understand you, and may it not be supposed that, as he is, others may also be at a loss. I place this matter before you that you may have an opportunity to explain. (page 79)

Yours truly, H. P. Carney

Dr. Howell responds:

"We will explain with very great pleasure, and thank brother Carney for the suggestion. In the place referred to we were exposing the absurdity of old school doctrines. They maintain that all the heathen will not be lost, because they are perfectly ignorant on the whole subject of religion. Then, we said, if they are not lost they are saved, and if our old school friends are right, they are saved by their ignorance. This they profess to believe, not we. But it is evident, with us, that those who are saved on the Bible plan, are saved by the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. This we know is true; and assuming the doctrine of "the hardsides" to be true also, then some are saved by the ignorance of God and some by the knowledge of God. We laid down these grounds and then, to show the absurdity, of antiism stated, if this is true, ignorance and knowledge are equally beneficial. We believe that no one will be saved but though the blood, and righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that all who have arrived to years of maturity, heathen or not, who do not repent and believe in Christ will be lost.

That God knows all things from the beginning we believe and maintain. That portion of knowledge which he thought proper to communicate to us, is contained in his word, by which we are governed in our conclusions. We are to be guided, not by what, perchance, may be the secret will of God, but by his revealed word.

We thank brother Carney for the circulation of these letters. They have been published for some time, and we hope those who subscribed for them, will take them, and give them an extensive dissemination." (page 80)

Dr. Howell, and Dr. Whitsiit, in reply to some incidents and questions, write:

"How can we, my brother, oppose the more extensive preaching of the truth? Our blessed Redeemer said (Mark 16: 15)-"Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." We have not yet done this. We certainly ought to do it. But some of our brethren-brethren, too, whom we love-say to us-You shall not do it; if you do, we will declare nonfellowship with you!" (page 136)

"Why should our brethren cast us off for this? Really, I think, that, instead of disowning us, they ought to join us in the good work; and I believe, if they would throw away prejudice, and take some pains to understand the matter, they would do it." (page 137)

"An impression has prevailed that the doctrine of predestination and the principles of the Convention are at variance, and that if one be embraced the other must be abandoned. There never was a greater mistake. I am myself a predestinarian Baptist. So are the friends, and members of the Convention of Tennessee, and of the General Association of Virginia, with which I was for many years connected. The ministers whose names you mention Kerr, Fife, Baptist, Tinsly, and a hundred others of similar character, and usefulness, are old acquaintances, and beloved brethren, with whom I have spend many a joyful day. I was eight years pastor of the Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia. The Churches, and brethren there, are all predestinarian, and all missionary. The doctrine of predestination is missionary doctrine. If God carries on his work by means--in other words, if he accomplishes his purposes by instrumentalities--and you believe he does--then the purposes are the doctrine, and the missionary labors are the means, or instrumentalities. The true doctrine of predestination is one thing; and the antinomian doctrine, preached by many, and called predestination, is another, and a very different thing. Antinomianism discars the use and efficacy of means, and leads men to oppose missions; but predestination teaches men the right us and value of means, and leads them to embrace missionary principles. (page 137)


"When Jesus Christ commanded, that the gospel should be preached to every creature, he meant every, new creature. The following reading is designed to elustrate this:

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every new creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but 'the new creature,' that believeth not shall be damned;" Mark, 16: 15, 16. "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, 'to new creatures,' beginning at Jerusalem;' Luke 24: 47. "Then Paul and Barnabas became bold, and said, it was necessary that the word of God should be first spoken to you: 'new creatures,' but seeing ye reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles;" Acts, 13: 46." (page 187)

"Admitting this doctrine true, and that the word of God has no agency in the regeneration of the soul, and that the elect of God will be saved any how; what does all that avail against positive laws, when it is admitted, that the commission was carried out by the first Church, to the full extent? If it was necessary that the elect, then, in every part of the world, should hear the gospel and believe, is it not equally as necessary now?"

These are indeed interesting historical citations. I will be posting some additional citations with comments in upcoming postings.

I was glad to find these copies of "The Baptist" on the internet. I am still hoping to find the first two or three years (1835-1838).

I will be having more historical information on the first major Hardshell periodicals also, and on the Letters that Dr. Howell wrote to Dr. Watson, a series of letters that answered the charges of the Hardshells, and which, to my knowledge, Dr. Watson and the Hardshells never rebutted. More to come.

For citations see here