Monday, October 10, 2011

Elder Samuel Trott on Means

Elder Samuel Trott (1783-1866), an associate of Elder Gilbert Beebe, was one of the original leaders of the "Old School" or "Primitive" Baptist denomination. He believed, like Beebe and most of the first Hardshells, that regeneration preceded being born again, that the former occurred apart from the preaching of the gospel, while the latter occurred through it, and that being born again was the same as being converted. Like Beebe, James Osbourn, William Conrad, Wilson Thompson, and other first generation leaders of the Hardshell denomination, Trott did not believe that any of the elect would fail to be born again (converted) by the gospel. They all believed that the salvation accomplished by the preaching of the gospel was "eternal salvation," not a time salvation. Notice these citations from Trott, from his work "The Absolute Predestination of all things," written in 1833.

Trott wrote (all emphasis mine - SG):

"It is true that believing in the predestination of God, we have no idea of procuring or of being instrumental in producing the salvation of one individual not chosen of God unto salvation; nor that one of the “travail” (Isaiah 53:11) of Christ’s soul will die without experiencing the renewing of the Holy Ghost and thus being prepared for the society of Heaven, whether that individual die in infancy or in old age, whether he was born in New York, in Rome, in Mecca or in Peking. But we as firmly believe that God “has chosen” His people “to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth;” that: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” (II Thessalonians 2:13) and that while the “preaching of the cross is unto them that perish, foolishness; unto us who are saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18)."

Here Trott plainly confesses belief that God's preachers are "instruments" to produce salvation in all the elect. He clearly believes that eternal salvation involves being saved by the foolishness of preaching and coming to a belief of the truth.

Wrote Trott:

"But they do not consider the difference between the preaching of the cross, and Sunday School teaching or reading of tracts to consist so much in any natural superiority of the one over the others, but simply in the fact that the one is the appointment of God delivered to us through the volume of eternal truth and that the others are not."

This is a very clear affirmation of means in being born again.  Trott says that the "preaching of the cross" is "the appointment of God" for salvation.

Trott wrote:

"But again our belief in the predestination of all things gives us confidence to believe that not an instrument shall be wanting, or a circumstance fail, that God ever designed to employ, or ever would own for bringing an individual of the election of God into the liberty of the gospel, or for establishing him in the hope and consolations thereof. It also leads us to believe that Christ’s people will all “be willing in the day of His power” (Psalm 110:5), according as they are called to believe in Him, to confide in Him, to profess His name, to enter the ministry, and that with just such gifts as He has bestowed on them..." (pg. 335)

Again, this is a clear affirmation that the preaching of the gospel is a means in the eternal salvation of the elect, that all the elect will hear and believe the gospel. 

Trott wrote:

"In reference to the charge that our belief in the doctrine of predestination occasions our not preaching that men should repent and believe, I would remark in the first place that according to our understanding of the Scriptures, “repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ” are essential parts of that salvation to which the elect of God are predestinated. These things therefore we preach."  (pg. 335)

What Hardshell today will endorse these words of Trott?  Trott gave the predominant view of the first Hardshells.  Do today's Hardshells believe that gospel faith and repentance "are essential elements of that salvation to which the elect of God are predestinated"?  Do they not rather deny it? 

Trott wrote:

"It is true that if we could satisfy our consciences by preaching the word “repent” instead of preaching that repentance that is the result of the regenerating operation of the Holy Ghost, we should much better please the unregenerate and popular professors as we should then preach a repentance of which they have some conception."

Notice that Trott says that "repentance" is "the result of regeneration."  But, as observed, Trott did not believe that regeneration was the same as being "born" of God.  The latter he believed was a result of repentance and by the preaching of the gospel.

Trott wrote:

"Hence Christ, after His resurrection, made known to His disciples that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name” (Luke 24:47), among all nations beginning in Jerusalem. The law was given by Moses, “but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” If therefore there is any meaning in the expression, “In His name,” it must mean something very different from preaching repentance and remission of sin in a legal form. So we understand it as fixed by the predestination of God, and therefore we do not preach repentance as a condition upon which salvation is suspended. But while we preach the manifested obligation of all, both Jews and Gentiles, as the creatures of God to return unto Him by repentance, or as the apostle has it, “but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), and while we preach the absolute necessity of heart repentance as a predestinated part of the salvation of God, we preach that Jesus Christ is “exalted as a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel and the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31); and that no repentance short of that which He gives in making His Word as a “fire and a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29), either manifests the person as entitled to, capacitates him for receiving the consolations of the gospel. Hence, that no other is of any avail. Thus far our belief in the predestination of God affects our preaching repentance.

So faith we preach, not as a condition of salvation, but as the “gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)."  (pg. 336)

Though Trott and the old Baptists rejected the Arminian idea of evangelical faith and repentance being meritorious conditions, yet they believed that salvation necessarily involved such. By denying that they were "conditions," they were not denying their necessity, only that they were also unconditionally promised and given to all the elect. Thus, Trott and the first Hardshells would have no fellowship today with neo-Hardshells who deny that eternal salvation is accomplished by means of the gospel being preached and believed.  They would reject the present Hardshell view that makes faith and repentance unnecessary for being born again and eternally saved.

See here for Trott's article

Trott also wrote:

"Regeneration, as I hold it, is the implanting in an individual, or adding to his mind, that incorruptible seed which Peter speaks of, even the spiritual seed of Abraham, which is Christ, Christ in you, and which is that life that was in the Word, which is the light of men; for Christ is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world John 1:9. Hence this individual sees his relation and accountability to God and to the law, and sees his sinfulness as he never saw or felt it before, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."

"The new birth I understand to be the being born again of the incor­ruptible seed by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever. Whether by the word of God in this text is understood the essential Word, who is God, or, as is frequently intended by the word of God, that which God directly speaks or communicates to a person, is immaterial, for both ideas are true. For Christ said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" John 5:25. This person being, as we showed, dead, killed by the law, is now made to hear the voice of the Son of God, the proclamation of pardon and salvation through Christ's atonement."

"Thus in the new birth there is a striking correspondence to the natural birth; to each there is a seed implanted (1st stage or regeneration- SG), and then a quickening (final stage or rebirth/quickening - SG) by which life is manifested. And when the natural child is brought to the birth, the sorrows of the woman in travail, the fetus being broke loose from that by which alone it had been hitherto nourished, strongly represents the agonies and the killing by the law belonging to the second birth." ("THE NEW BIRTH," from the Signs of the Times, 1853)

See here for Trott's article

Trott also wrote elsewhere:

"The position I have taken relative to this subject will, I think, be admitted by every reflecting Christian as the Scriptural one when he considers that the promises of salvation run alone through faith in Christ, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36 and Mark 16:16). And that faith implies a knowledge of Christ, and this knowledge evidently is only from being taught of God. "No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal him" (Luke 10:22). I hope this brother, on a re-examination, will be able to tell us something of what he has learned of Jesus and of His saving power." ("CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE," 1845)

See here for Trott's article

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