Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hardshells & The London Confession IX

Chapter 134

In the previous chapters it was observed how the Hardshells have historically endorsed the London Confession of 1689, and by extension the Philadelphia Confession, and have claimed that it was through the English Particular Baptists who wrote the old Confession that they claimed to have a "succession" back to the days of the Apostles.  It was further observed that the Hardshells have claimed to be "primitive" or "original" Baptists based upon their identification with those churches who wrote and endorsed the old Confession.  However, as was shown, the Hardshells, for the most part, have departed from what the Confession teaches regarding the absolute predestination of all things and the perseverence of believers.  They have all but totally rejected the Confession's teachings regarding God's use of the word in the effectual calling of the elect.  Though the Confession states clearly that all heathen, all who are not Christian in faith, are lost, Hardshellism denies this.  It was also shown that the work of the Fulton Hardshells was a work of perversion as respects the true teaching of the Confession on these doctrines.  It was shown how many Hardshells candidly acknowledge this and so divorce themselves from the old Confession and attempt to find a "succession" for their churches through some other avenue, as has Elders Michael Ivey and Harold Hunt. 

In the preceding chapters it was shown how the Fulton "footnotes" were but distortions of the old Confession made under the pretense of "clarifying" language that was now archaic.  However, it is interesting that the only places in the Confession where the language was judged to have changed and so needed "explanation" was the sections that the Hardshells reject.  Yet, the same English was used in those sections that did not get any "explanation." 

In my disputations on my Old Baptist blog, Hardshell apologist Jason Brown affirmed that the reason why the Fulton brethren did not offer footnotes to the section dealing with perseverence was because they agreed with that section.  What does this say but that the sections they offered "footnotes" were the sections that they did not agree with and therefore sought to pervert? 

It is clear that the purpose of the Fulton gathering was not for the purpose of convincing any outside of the Hardshell cult of the fact that they were in agreement with the old Confession but simply to deceive the existing Hardshell cult following. 

Elder Crouse, it must be remembered, stated that it was the "right" of every Hardshell to interpret the old Confession as they see fit.  But, as I responded, the Hardshells have no right to affirm that the authors of the Confession agreed with them without proof to the contrary.  Our examination of the Confession showed that the Hardshell interpretation was baseless and nothing but a "torturing" of the language as Elder Sarrels confessed, and an attempt to "explain away" the clear meaning of the Confession as Elder Hunt confessed.  Further, the additional evidence that was presented from the leading authors of the Confession proved conclusively what was meant by the authors of the Confession.

In this final chapter in this series I want to cite from some of the first generation leaders of the Particular Baptists, men who were dead in 1689 but who nevertheless reflected what was the belief of those ancient Baptists.  In the June, 1971 issue of the Christian Baptist, cited in the first chapter of this series, Elder Tolley was cited.  In the following issue of August, Elder G. E. Griffin, a leading Hardshell, wrote to Tolley and said:

"There are some statements in the 'London Confession' that most Primitive Baptist ministers consider contradictive - this seems so to me - but if we could have talked to the ministers who published the Confession, we may have understood them more clearly." 

But, Elder Griffin should have had no need to talk to them!  His making such a statement shows that he had not read any of the numerous writings of the authors of the Confession!  For, had he, he would have realized that they believed exactly what they clearly expressed in their Confession!  In Tolley's article he says ""We believe that there will be millions of the 'elect' saved in heaven who have never, nor will they ever, hear the gospel of the Son of God."  (pg. 13)  This of course was not what the Confession taught, as we have already seen.

John Spilsbury was one of the first leaders of the Baptists who wrote the first and second London Confessions.  Therefore, to ascertain his views on the question of how God saves his elect is further evidence of what was the belief of the Baptists who wrote those old Confessions. 

Wrote John Spilsbury: (see here)

"To which union with Christ, these three things must be minded, as essential to the same:

First, God's revealing and tending of Christ, as the all sufficient and only way to life.
Secondly, a heart fitly disposed by faith to apprehend and receive Christ so tendered.
And lastly, The Spirit of grace uniting and knitting of the heart and Christ together, as aforesaid.

And this I understand to be that effectual and substantial union with Christ, to justification of life, which the Word of God approves of; that must decide all differences in matters of Religion. For justification to life ever presupposes apprehension of Christ, as the subject of life, and a true application of the same by faith, as aforesaid. The Gospel holds forth no other justification to salvation, but what is of faith; and faith ever presupposes the party's knowledge of the thing believe, Rom. 10:14, Heb. 11:6."

This clearly shows that the old Baptists of the Confession did not believe Hardshell views regarding faith and salvation.  It clearly shows what was the doctrine of the Confession, how the word of God was the means employed by the Holy Spirit in effectual calling. 

He also wrote:

"And for any to appoint God a way how to save Infants, or to draw out to themselves a way how the Holy Spirit of Grace must sanctify them to salvation, above what is written, I think it is somewhat too much boldness. God will have His creature to keep only to His Word, as the Rule by which man must judge all things; and the Word of God shows that he has elected persons to the means as well as to the end, being the way unto the same. And that was the Adoption of Sons, to be called and justified by believing in Jesus Christ, as Eph. 1:4,5; Rom. 8:29, 30; I Pet. 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13, 14. And therefore the ground of God's calling us, and our believing is attributed unto our Election, Acts 2:47; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28; Rom. 11:7. And to the glory of God, as the cause of all, by the dispensation of His grace upon His chosen in Christ, and their free obedience unto Him again, Rom. 9:23, 24; Eph. 1:6, 12.

These things God has revealed in His Word, and further, I dare not go, but leave the secret things to God, Who gives not account of all His ways.""

Here Spilsbury affirms that the word of God is "the means" whereby sinners are called and justified, and how it is "by believing in Jesus" that they are saved.  Spilsbury and the old Baptists did not know of such a thing as "non-cognitive faith," or a faith that was merely "embryonic" (as Sarrels taught) or a "faith" that was defined as "ability to believe" (Montgomery & Guess). 

He said:

"Not that I hold all that die in their infancy to be damned, but being a secret thing, I leave the same to God."

In previous chapters I have answered all the arguments that Hardshells make regarding the regeneration of infants and have shown how the Confession taught that the regeneration of those who die in infancy was not exactly like the regeneration of adults.  Spilsbury did not teach, as do Hardshells, that the regeneration of infants was exactly like the regeneration of adults.  Spilsbury's opponent, the Presbyterian Blakewell, was arguing that the regeneration of infants proves that the 1644 Confession could not be correct in its assertion that faith in Christ was necessary to salvation, but Spilsbury rejected Blakewell's assertion, which shows what the old Baptists believed. 

Spilsbury wrote:

"But I would not be understood to oppose Infants so, as to exclude them from salvation, no, I am so far from this, that I do not so much as impose any such work of grace upon them, as essential to life, in this or that way, as many do, but leave all in respect of them, as a secret thing to the wisdom and grace of God in Christ, by whom the sin of all the Elect are forever done away at once."

Spilsbury, unlike the Hardshells, refused to make the supposed regeneration of infants the paradigm for how all the elect are regenerated.  With Spilsbury the regeneration of infants was a "secret thing," but with our modern Hardshells it is no secret at all.

In his confession of faith, Spilsbury wrote:

"I believe that God of his grace, in his own time, effectually calls such as shall be saved to the knowledge of the truth, who is said, of his own will to beget us by the word of truth: in which work of grace, nature is as passive, as a child in the parents begetting of it; and so God by His Spirit works faith in the hearts of all such to believe in Christ, and his righteousness, only for justification. And thus they are made righteous before God in Christ, and so conformable to the will of God the Father through the Son; and also made holy through the work of regeneration, and the holy Spirit of grace dwelling in them; yet all such have still, as long as they live here in the flesh, remaining in them, an old man, that original corruption, the flesh that wars against the spirit, which hinders them in their obedience both to God and to man, and many times draws them to that which is evil, and contrary to their intentions; yet all of them shall through Christ overcome, and safely be brought to glory at last."  (Article 5)

Elder Griffin, had he read such writings, would have no doubt about what was in the mind of the writers of the London Confessions.  Not that the Confession itself is unclear. 

Elder J. M. Peck was one of the first to battle the Hardshells in their modern innovation in denying the use of means in effectual calling.  He debated Daniel Parker, one of the first leaders in the anti mission movement.  Peck wrote:

"But there are some things which Regular Baptists have been accused of propagating, and some speculations preached by good men, which cannot be found, or legitimately inferred, by implication from this Confession of Faith (Philadelphia). These things are not there, and can not be implied from the doctrines taught..."

"Some may yet imagine and teach that the Spirit regenerates the elect without means, or the subordinate agency of his gospel. But in this they teach directly contrary to the unequivocal declarations of the Confession of Faith, no less than against the scriptures. The doctrine of means, or the instrumentality of the gospel in regeneration, as well as in all its adjuncts, is taught very plainly and directly in chapters 1st, 7th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 14th, and 20th; and is taught by implication in several other chapters. The only exception made is in chapter X, under "Effectual Calling," sec. 3: --

"Elect Infants, dying in Infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh, when and where, and how he pleaseth. So also all other persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word."

The construction put on the first clause of this section by brethren in the Philadelphia Association was this: That the phrase "Elect Infants" includes all who died in a state of unconscious infancy -- that the second clause referred to adult idiots, and others, who were rendered incapable of being "outwardly called by the ministry of the word," by some providential acts.

The authors and revisors [sic] of this "Confession" would have repudiated with the expressions of horror, the mischievous speculation that God has an elect people, scattered among the nations of the earth -- that he knows his own -- and that he quickens or regenerates these without the gospel or any of the instrumentalities he has provided. REGULAR BAPTISTS were missionary Baptists, and knew the meaning of the great commission to preach the gospel to every creature, specially in view of their conversion and salvation.

The Confession of Faith teaches the doctrine of "particular election," without regard to human merit; but it also teaches the necessity of preaching the gospel to all men, without which sinners capable of hearing the gospel cannot be saved. The anti-christian dogma that the gospel need not be preached to sinners of every class and grade, for the specific purpose of being the instrument of their conversion and salvation through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit, has no place in the Confession of Faith of Regular Baptists." (THE BAPTISTS - Regular, Separate and United" By John M. Peck, 1855) (see here)

Hardshell elder Mark Green wrote:

"It is an easily documented fact that among uninspired writings, the London Confession of Faith and the works of John Gill have been held by Primitive Baptists in high regard and with great respect. We have claimed them as our own and have referred to them time and time again in our defense of the faith against Arminianism and Fullerism. They provided a very visible link for us with the “old country” and those brethren who were not only of our faith, but also of our own language and a similar culture."  ("Two Old and Honored Friends," in the foreward - see here

One thing is very clear to any unbiased and honest mind.  The chapters in this book on "Gill and the Hardshells" and "Hardshells and the London Confession" show conclusively that neither Dr. Gill nor the London Confession are "two old and honored friends" of the Hardshells.  No one but a blinded Hardshell cult member could believe otherwise. 

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