The Gospel Messenger was a second generation Hardshell periodical and was started by Elder J. R. Respass and later joined by Elder Sylvester Hassell. Let us see what was the stated position on the question of means and of the nature of regeneration and on the necessity of faith, not merely for a time salvation, but for an eternal one.
Elder W. M. Mitchell, a well known writer in the Hardshell periodicals of the mid and late 19th century, wrote:
"If our Mississippi correspondent, has ever been truly converted to God, and born of an incorruptible seed by the word of God, he loves the truth in his heart, and there is some hope for his being instructed in the right way of the Lord, though he may have been much bewildered in mind and led astray by the doctrines and commandments of men." Questions From a Missionary Baptist. (by W.M. Mitchell for The Gospel Messenger--December 1883 (see here)
"Every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12. His faith in Christ is not the cause of his spiritual birth, but the result and fruit of it, as the Scriptures clearly teach. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.”—l John 5:1." (1 John 3:9) (Written by W.M. Mitchell for The Gospel Messenger-September 1882 (see here)
"In order to salvation, it is necessary that we be born again; that we have faith, repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; but as salvation is of the Lord, these things are as much of him as our redemption, calling or justification..." (Elder W. M. Mitchell in the Southern Baptist Messenger, 1860, pg. 15)
Elder J. R. Respass wrote:
"When a man is born again, he, the man, becomes a new creature...but as woman in pangs of travail is delivered by birth, so he is delivered by faith, and rejoices in the truth." (Elder J. R. Respass in The Gospel Messenger, 1883, pg. 57)
Elder John Rowe wrote:
"Not, however, without repentance and faith, though some have been so full of folly, as to affirm that if sinners are saved upon the principles we maintain, then repentance and faith are needless things....Whereas none ever have, or will repent and believe, evangelically, except under the influence of special grace applied to them." (Elder John Rowe, "My Grace is Sufficient for Thee," in the Gospel Messenger, 1881, pg. 9)
Elder J.B. Hendrickson wrote:
"But not so with living faith: it invariably springs from a living source, and has for its end and object, the final salvation of all those who are its happy recipients." (Elder J. B. Hendrickson in the Gospel Messenger, 1881, pg. 11)
For more citations like these, see our former posting "New Birth and Its Effects".
From the citation given by Elder Respass, he clearly believed as did many of the first generation of Hardshells, such as Beebe, Trott, Thompson, Conrad, etc., that the regeneration was distinct from the new birth, and that spiritual birth was completely like physical birth, having three stages, first the begetting (seed implantaion), then the growth in the womb, corresponding to being in darkness and not yet delivered, and then finally the birth, corresponding to the time of deliverance and the coming to light, which is what takes place when one believes the Gospel and is converted. Obviously, none of the first generation of Hardshells believed that any of the elect would fail to be converted, which is why many of their articles of faith said that "all the elect will be regenerated AND converted."