Having Addressed the objections that the Hardshells made against tract publishing and distribution, Bible publishing and distribution, protracted and revival meetings, Sunday schools, theological schools, and mission organizations, in the infamous "Black Rock Address" of 1832, we will now look at what other Hardshell apologists have added in the way of argumentation against missions. However, opposition to all the things mentioned above were in essence opposition against missions and to the Great Commission and this is why I have put my responses to their objections to each of these things under the chapter heading of "mission opposition."
We will begin with Elder John Clark. He was a Hardshell elder at the time of the Black Rock Address and supported it. I have cited from the works of Clark in my blogs and have demonstrated that he, like other anti mission Baptists at the time of the Black Rock Address, believed that God used the preaching of the Gospel as a means in the eternal salvation of sinners. I intend to add a chapter at the end of this book with citations from the leading men in the 1830-1870 period to show that this was the commonly accepted view in that time. It was not till later in the 19th century that the Hardshells gave up this view and began to teach that God employed no such means in the eternal salvation of sinners, and also began to teach that knowledge of, and faith in, Christ was not essential to being regenerated or eternally saved. This was also the time when they invented the "time salvation" paradigm to deal with their paradigm shift regarding means and the necessity of evangelical faith for being regenerated or eternally saved. Clark began a major Hardshell periodical in 1852 titled "Zion's Advocate" and published out of Luray, Virginia. He was a bridge builder in Virginia and in his ordination to the ministry he had Daniel Fristoe, a father in the Ketockton Association.
In an article titled "Missonaries," Clark wrote (1870) the following (see here):
"We deeply deplore the division which has existed among the people of God, so far as they have been identified with either party in the controversy about missions, but whenever the division is manifestly between Christ and Belial, or the Church of Christ and Antichrist, we have labored to promote it, as there can be no concord between those two interests, or communion between light and darkness..."
In these words Elder Clark puts himself into agreement with what his Hardshell brethren had been saying about those Baptists, be they five point Calvinists or not, who supported Baptist missionary organizations. Clark agrees that such Baptists, like Jesse Mercer, were to be identified with Belial, and not with Christ, with AntiChrist and not with Christ, with darkness and not with light. How uncharitable is this of Elder Clark and his brethren! As I have shown in my blog writings, it was common for the first generation of Hardshells to view supporters of the things denounced in the Black Rock Address as not being true Christians. This was an extreme and today's Hardshells will probably generally acknowledge it to be so. This is no doubt due to the fact that they have gone to another extreme and have moved close to universalism. Today's Hardshells would acknowledge that such Baptists were saved, but that they were in ignorance. They would admit that they were saved but say that they were no part of the visible body of Christ.
"The division that ensued in the Baptist denomination between thirty and forty years ago was based, apparently upon the missionary question; but we have ever believed that the true cause was doctrine and not missions, simply. According to the etymology of the word, missionary is one sent to propagate religion, to perform any work embraced in his mission, and, in a gospel sense, every minister of Christ is a missionary, because they are sent of God."
The idea that the division was over doctrine needs some discussion. It certainly was not over whether God employed the Gospel as a means in the eternal salvation of sinners. For instance, Elder James Osbourn was a leader of the anti mission Baptists in 1832 and here is what he wrote in the 1830s in the Hardshell periodical "The Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor":
"But if so be that the specific object which the Deity had in-view, and designed to accomplish by means of, or in a way compatible with the gospel which he ordained and promulgated, was the eternal salvation of the bride, the Lamb's wife, Rev. 21; 9; we then of course may safely conclude, that that specific object must and will be accomplished, just in that way and manner as infinite wisdom may have dictated. And lo, this is what we do believe and rejoice in; and in the gospel we also believe, every necessary arrangement and provision is made and permanently settled for the effecting the salvation of that church which was the object of God's everlasting love and delight, and which he gave to his Son before time began. That God ordained the GOSPEL, and promulgated the same, with a settled purpose to save sinners thereby..." (pg. 14, year 1838, - see here)
Further, Clark agreed with Osbourn in saying that the salvation that comes to those who believe the Gospel is "eternal salvation." So, when Clark says that doctrinal disagreement was at the heart of the division between Baptists who supported mission organizations and those who did not, it was not because of a disagreement on the means question. This does not mean that there were no Hardshells who began to deny the use of means in the eternal salvation of the elect in the 1830s, for in my studies of their history I have found that such a view began among the followers of Daniel Parker. Both Elder John Watson and Elder Hosea Preslar, both believers in means, testified to this fact in their books, Watson in "The Old Baptist Test" and Preslar in "Thoughts On Divine Providence."
So, from Clark's perspective, what doctrinal difference did he have in mind when he said that there was doctrinal disagreement behind the objections to the mission movement? He will explain what he means in the subsequent citations from the article from which we are citing. But, before we look at his explanation, let me say that it was clearly ignorance that was the reason. Many of those first Hardshells were not well grounded in the Scriptures and in understanding what was taught in their acknowledged confessions and articles of faith. These went too far in their Calvinism and embraced what is called "Hyper Calvinism." It first showed its ugly head in the 18th century, mostly among the English Particular Baptists. I will also add that Hyper Calvinism during that time did not include a denial of God's use of means in the eternal salvation of sinners. This would later become a part of the Hardshell brand of Hyper Calvinism in the middle to late 19th century.
The Hyper Calvinism that became evident in the 18th century began with a denial of what is called "duty faith," a denial that it was the duty of all men to believe the Gospel, to believe in Christ, to confess their sins and to turn from them to Christ. It also involved a denial that lost sinners were to be directly appealed to in Gospel address, and a denial that they were to be strongly urged to accept Christ. It also involved a denial that the Gospel makes any "offers" of salvation to the lost. Again, it must be strongly stated that such men were not denying that the Gospel was a means in the eternal salvation of the elect. In 1707 Joseph Hussey wrote "God's Operations of Grace: But No Offers of His Grace." This book sets forth the Hyper Calvinist opposition to Christ being offered to sinners. Concerning Hussey James Leo Garrett, in his book "Baptist Theology: A Four-century Study," wrote:
"Joseph Hussey exhibited more of the defining teachings of Hyper-Cavlvinism after undergoing a theological shift. In 1693 in "The Gospel Feast Opened" he likened the gospel to a gigantic feast with "all kinds of spiritual provision," now available and to which sinners are invited. By 1706 in "The Glory of Christ Unveil'd, or The Excellency of Christ Vindicated," Hussey had adopted supralapsarianism, and in the next year in "God's Operations of Grace but No Offers of Grace" he had rejected "offers of grace" as "antievangelical." Sharply differentiating offering the gospel or salvation from preaching the gospel or preaching Christ and distinguishing external offers from the Spirit's enabling sinners "to close savingly with the offer," Hussey contended that "an offer of grace is no gift of grace" and sought to explain how to preach the gospel wihout offering grace. Only God's operations through the preaching of the gospel can bring the conversion of the elect." (pg. 91 - see here)
A large number of Particular Baptists began to accept the views of men like Hussey, such as John Gill and John Brine. The method of evangelism of these Hyper Calvinist leaning men became known, according to John Leland, as the "Gillite method." Further, as already stated, many of the Hyper Calvinists of the 18th century opposed "duty faith."
So, when Clark speaks of doctrine as being behind the debate over "methods" of evangelism and of fulfilling the Great Commission, he is somewhat correct.
Further, other Hardshells argued that it was the teachings of Andrew Fuller regarding duty faith, evangelistic methods, and on the extent of the atonement, that were behind the debate over methods. This may be true with some who supported missions, but it certainly was not true of them all. There were many like Jesse Mercer who believed in limited atonement but who nevertheless supported Baptist missionary efforts. The Hardshells have been denouncing Andrew Fuller for a long time, calling him an Arminian (when in fact he was not), and calling him the father of the Baptists who supported missions. But, this is also false. We shall see, in upcoming chapters, on Andrew Fuller and on the history of missions and theological education among the Baptists, that these charges are false.
"Concerning the priesthood it is written that, “No man taketh this honor to himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron,” and the gifts conferred upon the Church are by Christ, who ascended upon high, led captivity captive—(Ephes. iv. 8), and the word of Christ, who is head over all things to the Church, is imperative in the commission: “Go ye” not to send any one, "Go teach. all nations," (Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature); The order or commission is delivered by Christ to the ministers of the gospel (not to the Churches), and they have to watch the developments in Providence which indicate the mind of Christ and the will of God as to where and when they shall go; and He has never failed in any instance to make provision for them when they move at His bidding for that is pledged in the commission under which they act: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”-- Matt. xxviii. 20. He that sends them also calls and qualifies them for the work. Not all the colleges and academies of learning that were ever established upon the earth ever gave to one of God’s ministers a single spiritual idea, and it is a usurpation of power for any man, or combination of men, to undertake to qualify men to preach the gospel and then to appoint the field of labor for them. The former is a gift bestowed by Christ, the head of the Church, who led captivity captive and received gifts for men; and the latter solely under the supervision of His divine Providence."
Clark repeats the errors of the Hardshells in affirming that the Great Commission was limited to the called ministry with the church excluded. In the series on "Hardshells & The Great Commission" it was shown that the Hardshell views are false. He also repeats the Hardshell apology that says that ministers have the sole power in deciding where to go preach and that they only go where they see "the developments in Providence" pointing out "the mind of Christ and the will of God." And, as we said, it must be the mind of Christ and the will of God that no Hardshell preacher, for the past 180 years, go anywhere outside of the United States! He also says "He that sends them also calls and qualifies them for the work," and the logical conclusion to this is to blame the Lord if some of his ministers remain uneducated like Daniel Parker! Is not being educated in the doctrine part of what it means to be qualified to teach? Clark thinks that theological schools are not able to qualify a man to preach. Now surely no such school can impart the gift to preach, or call men to the office, but they certainly can help to qualify him to successfully fulfill his mission and work. Theological schools may not be able to make preachers, but they can be helps in making them to be better preachers, to help them develop their gifts.
Further, it is no usurping of the prerogatives of the Lord to educate ministers. Why are schools such a usurpation but not such when an older minister personally helps a younger minister to understand more perfectly the doctrine of the Lord? Truly "the legs of the lame are not equal" here. Was Paul usurping the power of the Lord when Paul had an ongoing mission and work to train young ministers such as Titus and Timothy?
"When He wanted a minister to be on the way as the Ethiopian Eunuch passed along, to preach to him Jesus, he is sent there by the fire of persecution, and was found at the right time and in the right place, without any of the appliances or contrivances of Boards and Conventions, When it was necessary in the grand arrangement to build up Zion that the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel amid believe, the order is given: “Send men to Joppa and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter. He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”—Acts x. 6."
What Clark says here, from the Scriptures, is true, but the conclusions which he draws from those passages is false. Again, the logical conclusion to what Clark is affirming leads to giving the Lord the blame for no Hardshell preacher going outside of the United States to preach the Gospel. One has to conclude this or else conclude that God has no elect persons, or persons he wants to see converted, in countries outside of the United States. Which horn of this dilemma do the Hardshells want to grab? Are there no people like the Ethiopian Eunuch in lands outside of the United States? Have any foreigners sent word to the Hardshells saying come and preach to us? If not, why not?
Further, Clark assumes that the only children of God who can have a burden for lost sinners in places where there is no Gospel knowledge are ministers! Do they not think that Christians who are not ministers may have such burdens and concerns? Why do they exclude the Lord burdening an entire church about this matter? And, if the Lord should burden an entire church, or group of churches, about doing what they could to see that such heathen lands hear the Gospel, is there nothing they can do about it? Would it be wrong for them to call out to the ministry for volunteers to go into those areas with their help?
"The apostles, therefore, were missionaries, because called and qualified of God to preach the gospel, to preach the Word, to preach Christ and Him crucified—the unsearchable riches of Christ. They did not receive the gift or the authority from man but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. When therefore, we speak of missionaries, let us understand what is meant by the term. Do we mean those who are qualified and sent of men, or those whom God hath put into the ministry? “The man of God thoroughly furnished unto all good works;” furnished out of the “Scripture given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”—II Tim. iii. 16, 17."
Again, most of what is here said by Clark is misrepresentation of the facts. Men like Jesse Mercer did not believe that theological schools were qualifying or calling men to preach! What they believed was that they were helping those already called to become better qualified so as to be more successful in their work and a greater blessing to the people of God. Also, when Clark speaks of the Apostles being qualified "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" and says that the same is still true with regard to all God called ministers, he his stating a gross falsehood. When Paul refers to "the revelation of Christ" he is referring to the fact that Christ personally appeared to him, and not only once, but on several occasions. (See Acts 26: 16 and Gal. 1: 12) Therefore, for Clark to affirm that this is how the Lord has continued to call and make ministers is grossly wrong.
It is interesting that Clark cites II Timothy 3: 16-17 in the context of ministerial qualifications. He seems to agree that the learning of the Scriptures helps to qualify men to teach. And, in affirming this, he has given up his whole case against missions and theological education! When Paul speaks of the Scriptures as fully furnishing (or equipping) the "man of God," he clearly is saying that a man who is ignorant of the Scriptures is not equipped. Further, by Paul's use of the word "fully" he shows that not all ministers are equally qualified to fulfill their calling, for some are more knowledgeable of the Scriptures than are others. Therefore some are more "furnished" or "equipped" than are others. Simply being initially gifted or called does not mean that one is at that point fully equipped! Hardshells argue that the instant a man is called to preach he is at that time fully equipped! Further, the "man of God" in this passage is not to be limited to preachers.
"The Churches of Christ and ministers of God’s Word would have borne with, a great deal of false zeal and weakness about missions, if the pure doctrine of the gospel of Christ had been maintained by all the ministers and Churches of our denomination. But alas, alas! how has the fine gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed Institutions and schools of various kinds to teach religion; to drill and mould the tender mind in what are called “Nurseries of the Churches,” are accomplishing the same thing for Baptist Churches that infant membership, by rantism, has done for the Pedo-Baptist societies. The plants are all in due time transplanted into the Churches from the nurseries, and the consequence is that the carnal element in the bodies predominates, and Ichabod is written upon their walls."
The first thing to notice is how Clark attributes "false zeal" to the Baptists who supported mission work. How can he act as judge of the motives of his brethren? The Hardshells often speak of the supporters of missions usurping the prerogatives of the Lord in mission work, but here Clark usurps the authority of the Lord, who is the only one who can judge the hearts of men. Such judgments show a lack of charity, which is the chief grace. One could easily argue that it was "false zeal" that motivated the Hardshell opposition to the mission work of Baptists.
He then charges the Baptist supporters of missions as not preaching "the pure doctrine of the gospel of Christ." Again, this is a harsh judgment and one that is simply not the case. Many of the Baptists who supported missions were five point Calvinists, or 4 1/2 point Calvinists, such as Jesse Mercer and R.B.C. Howell. To accuse such men of preaching a corrupted Gospel because they supported mission work is truly horrendous.
He then condemns schools for teaching the Scriptures, whether they be Sunday schools or seminaries. But, as I have shown, such condemnation is nothing but a condemning of brethren who are obeying the Great Commission. He thinks that no one who is taught in a Bible class will become a true convert to Christ! What extremism! He judges that all churches who school people in the Scriptures will soon have "Ichabod" written over their churches! From reading some of the writings of Elder Clark towards the end of his life (about 1890) he seems to be more open to Hardshells having Bible schools. But, it was too late a date to change the dyed in the wool Hardshells.
"But we have, notwithstanding, true missionaries——those who go, as God in His providence opens the way, and “preach Jesus and the Resurrection.” We have nothing to boast of, but we know many of these devoted servants of God, who travel more, preach oftener, and in every way that God’s ministers work in His vineyard, labor more abundantly, endure more hardness, suffer more losses and privations than any of the so-called missionaries who are laboring under the direction and patronage of some Board. Now, if we are to be together, let us come upon the apostolic platform. The King commands: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” and whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden."
Clark, in speaking of Hardshell ministers who go preaching, and who he is willing to call "missionaries," says "we have nothing to boast of." But, the opposite is true. They have been boasting about themselves since their beginning. Even in this article, has he not boasted that he and his Hardshell brethren are the only ones who are preaching a pure Gospel? That Hardshell churches are the only ones who do not have "Ichabod" written over their churches? Further, he goes on to say - "we know many of these devoted servants of God, who travel more, preach oftener, and in every way that God’s ministers work in His vineyard, labor more abundantly, endure more hardness, suffer more losses and privations than any of the so-called missionaries." What a boast! Further, what he is referring to is the practice of Hardshell preachers going on preaching tours where they preach in existing Hardshell churches! This can hardly be called missionary work! It is interesting that he should cite the words of the Great Commission, seeing it condemns all that he has said in his diatribe against mission work! The instruction of Christ to the assembled group was to teach all the nations, making disciples, and teaching those disciples to observe the command to go and teach! He says that "whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden." Okay, but disciples are taught to observe every command that God gave to those who were first addressed, and there is the command to "go" and the command to "teach." All disciples are to observe these two commands. Further, the command to teach is the authority for teaching disciples in schools, be they Sunday schools or theological schools.