It is a good thing for modern day researchers of the "Primitive" or "Old School" (Hardshell) Baptist church that the first several periodicals of the denomination are now available on the Internet. If one will read these first periodicals, he will learn what the first Hardshells believed. I hope that today's Hardshells will take the time to read these periodicals and discover how far they have removed from what their forefathers believed. These three periodicals were the leading voices for the newly formed Hardshell denomination:
Signs of the Times (began in 1832 - see here)
The Primitive Baptist (began in 1836 - see here)
Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor (began in 1838 and sometimes called "The Advocate and Monitor" - see here and here)
From Vol. 1 (1836) of "The Primitive Baptist"
(published out of Tarboro, N.C.)
Q. Why then is vengeance pronounced against them that obey not the gospel?
A. Because there is no way of escape from the vengeance due to breach of law, but by the gospel, or being born again, which embraces obedience to the gospel.
Q. And why is condemnation pronounced against him that believeth not? (St. John 3: 18--St. Mark 16: 16)
A. Because there is no way from under condemnation, but through faith. (Eph. 2: 8--Mark 16: 16) (pg. 292)
Q. How does Christ's righteousness become indeed our justification?
A. It is imputed to us through faith in him. (Rom. 5: 1--Acts 13: 39-=-Rom. 1:17--4: 11, 6: 8 11, 22, 23, 24-- Gal. 3: 16) (pg. 293)
Do today's Hardshells believe this? No! How can they then claim to be "old" or "primitive" Baptists? The first Hardshells affirmed that "being born again" "embraces obedience to the gospel"! They also denied that any were saved who did not obey the gospel!
I called my dad (a leading Hardshell elder) and read him this citation and he could not deny that these first Hardshells believed that sinners were born again by the Gospel.