From June through November last I wrote six postings titled "What the first Hardshells Believed." From those posts it is clear that today's "Primitive Baptists" are not in agreement with their own founding fathers of the 1830-1860 period. Those previous postings contained citations from "The Primitive Baptist" periodical of the 1830s and 1840s. This posting will give a citation from the same paper for the year 1860 and it will be seen that the public stated view of the Hardshells, even at that time, was that people had to be converted in order to be finally and eternally saved. They were still teaching that the Gospel was a means in the eternal salvation of the elect.
It also must be remembered how it was in 1866-67 that Elder John Watson and Elder R.W. Fain published "The Old Baptist Test" and in this book Watson mentions how the anti means faction among the followers of Elder Daniel Parker were increasing in strength and is why Watson called, at that time (and in his last days), for a debate among the "Old School" or "Primitive" Baptists on this issue. In fact, Watson had been a writer and supporter of "The Primitive Baptist" periodical since its inception and clearly both Watson and that periodical taught the Gospel means position, as the following citations will further show.
From "The Primitive Baptist" (see here)
"Awful meditation! distressing thought! but it is true, --that all the world--our nearest friends and our bitterest enemies, which have not obtained repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus, --will hear his voice, and come forth unto eternal condemnation.--"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Today's Hardshells do not believe that evangelical faith and repentance are essential to eternal salvation, but the above words are in direct contradiction to that view. Further, it is not some non-cognitive "faith" but "faith in the Lord Jesus."
Further, no Hardshell today interprets the perishing of the above cited verse to be eternal. They do not believe that Jesus was saying "repent or eternally perish." Yet, the first Hardshells did not believe such. And, in this light, who is the "primitive" Baptist?
I wonder if any of today's Hardshells would so warn the sinner? They love to boast of their popularity as funeral preachers, but I doubt that they would be found saying the things in the above citation. Spurgeon would have had no reluctance in using a funeral to warn the sinner. The Hardshells of today, because they do not warn the wicked, as did the first Hardshells, are doing harm to souls and displeasing God.
The article continued:
"Dear brethren and sisters, pray for sinners...that God would open their blinded eyes to see their awful condition, and that Jesus, who is "exalted a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel," may give them "godly sorrow, which worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of, but that leadeth to life eternal,"--that the awful judgment of "coming forth unto the resurrection of damnation," may be averted from their poor souls.
Pray for sinners to be eternally saved? No Hardshell today believes or practices this (to their shame). I have written about this in my book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult." Notice that being convicted of sin is not enough, but one must also repent, or actually turn, from sin to God, or be converted, in order to experience escaping final damnation.
The article continued:
O, sinner! this is your condition! You must obtain the favor of God,--"the Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God,"--or we must realize this dreadful "resurrection;" "He that believeth not is condemned already." "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will you die, O house of Israel." O, Sinner! pray for yourself; and if you feel that you are "living without God and without hope in the world," and see your great need of a Savior, we would say to you, Come boldly to a throne of grace; come just as you are; plead the name and righteous merits of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; put your whole trust in him, and cast your whole care upon him, for he careth for you."
Do Hardshells preach like this today? I do. Who is more "Primitive" then? Who is more in agreement with the first Hardshells?