Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hardshell Antinomianism II

Chapter 176

In an article titled "ARE WE ANTINOMIANS?" (see here) Hardshell J.F. Poole, wrote the following in "The Remnant" (May - June 1988)

"Antinomianism! Yes; if by that expression we are condemned for opposing the witchcraft of conditionalism, duty faith, and assorted other heresies crept in unawares about us, then we are indeed Antinomians: we are against all such laws."

From these words it is obvious that a denial that evangelical faith is a condition of salvation is a form of antinomianism, and in this respects, by their own admission, Hardshells are antinomian. Also, these words affirm that a denial of "duty faith" is a form of antinomianism, and again the Hardshells plead guilty to being antinomian. "We are indeed Antinomians" says Poole in regard to these things.

Samuel Trott, one of the first leaders in the anti-mission movement, and a founding father of the "Primitive Baptist" denomination, gave the general belief of the first Hardshells on the subject of "duty faith," In an article in the "Signs of the Times" periodical for 1839, titled "Duty Faith & Repentance. An enquiry concerning the duty of the unregenerate to believe, repent or pray," (see here) Trott wrote:  (emphasis mine)

"On the other hand, I understand the Old School doctrine to be, that it is the duty of all rational beings to believe all God has spoken in the scriptures as they have access to them directly or indirectly, and to believe the testimony of the works of creation and providence, where the scriptures have not come. To disbelieve the record, which God hath given of His Son, is to make God a liar (I John 5:10;) and surely no person can do this and be guiltless. The obligation man is under thus to believe God, arises, not from any demand which the gospel as such peculiarly makes upon him, but from the nature and fitness of things, and from what God is. It is a law of our creation."

Thus, it is evident that once again we have today's Hardshells removed from the truth, from what is historically "Old Baptist" teaching on this point. Trott is very clear in stating that the unregenerate are under duty to believe the Scriptures and the Gospel. It is true that Trott, in this article, seems to back peddle from this statement, and to contradict himself, but still the statement is clearly made that all men are duty bound to believe.

Trott also wrote:

"The "duty of the unregenerate to repent," comes next under consideration."

"My own mind I confess has been much difficulted to draw a clear line of distinction between the different relations and senses in which the idea of repentance, is presented to our view in the scriptures, and between the idea of its being a duty incumbent on men at large, and that of its being a free gospel blessing bestowed by the exalted Saviour on the spiritual Israel of God."

Trott struggled with the same issue that Hyper Calvinists have traditionally. How can faith and repentance be both commanded and a gift. Today's Hardshells, sadly, think that they cannot be both, that for something to be commanded excludes it from being God's gift, and vise versa. They do not understand, for instance, the words of Augustine:

"O Lord, command what you will and give what you command."

I have on previous occasions written against the Hardshell notion that men are not commanded to become regenerate.  See "Make You A New Heart".  It seems the Hardshells would have sided with Pelagius rather than Augustine. 

It is good that Trott and the first Hardshells did not reject in toto the truth of duty faith and repentance, as do today's Hardshells.

Trott continued:

"On the other hand I have never been able to receive in all points as correct, the explanations which Doctor Gill and other sound brethren have given of it. There will be found some difference between the explanation of this subject which I have to give, and that given by Brother Beebe in No.14, more particularly in relation to John's preaching repentance; this difference I trust is not such as to break any bones."

Regarding these words, notice how Trott, unlike later Hardshells, thought John Gill to be sound. Of course, I have already shown how Trott believed that conversion, by the Gospel, was the same as being born again, which is the view of Dr. Gill.

Notice also how Trott differs somewhat from editor Beebe on the subject. I have already shown in previous writings how Beebe imbibed the Pelagian premise that "a command implies ability to obey the command." He stated that to call upon sinners to believe and repent implied in them an ability to do so. Trott does not seem to agree with Beebe on this. As I have also shown elsewhere, most Hardshells have not understood that the natural man lacks moral ability, not physical ability.

Trott wrote:

"If on the other hand we suppose that the unregenerate are under no obligations to repent, we must consider them as justifiable in continuing on in their sins of whatever grade they may be. This I think none will admit; for there certainly are instances in the scriptures of unregenerated persons being exhorted or admonished to repent. The query then arises, Whence does this obligation to repent arise?"

Here, Trott demolishes the anti duty faith brethren's argumentation. He states what ought to be obvious to anyone with a reasonable unbiased mind. If it is not the duty of men to believe, repent, convert, or to have circumcised hearts, or to be saved, then their not doing these things cannot be "sin." They cannot be condemned for not doing these things. Trott confesses that this is untenable and a deduction that his brethren should be willing to acknowledge and which should keep them from denying duty faith, etc.

A.W. Pink wrote (1936) the following under the title of "Duty-Faith":

"It is the bounden duty of all who hear the Gospel to savingly trust in Christ, otherwise their rejection of Him would be no sin. Many of our readers will be surprised to hear that this self-evident truth is denied by some who are, otherwise, sound in the Faith. They reason that it is "inconsistent" to call upon the spiritually dead to perform spiritual duties."

Any Hardshell today who denies duty faith ought to come forward and answer the charge that their denial forces them to excuse men for their rejection of the truth and of Christ.

"Whence does this obligation to repent arise?" Trott will answer by showing how he understands that commands do not imply ability, and by showing how he sees that man's inability is not physical, but moral.

Trott wrote:

"This law of Ten Commands, in its spirituality and as addressed to all, both Jews and Gentiles, I understand was given expressly to teach repentance. I do not say, to show that repentance was a part of the original requisition of the law, and a part of the righteousness it required; but that it is addressed to man as depraved and condemned, to call him off from self-confidence, and to repentance. I feel myself fully supported in this by the declarations of scripture, that the law was added by reason of transgression; entered that the offence might abound, &c.; and especially by this text, "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law" - for what? - "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." What is this but self-condemnation before God, that is designed to be accomplished by the declaration of the law? And what is such self-condemnation, but repentance toward God? It is then I think clear, that it is the law of Ten Commandments in its spirituality that calls for repentance."

Notice how Trott recognizes how the law is spiritual, a fact not generally understood by today's Hardshells. Notice also how Trott correctly states that the law was not only a duty, but intended to produce repentance, or as Paul says, to be a schoolmaster to bring one to faith in Christ.

Trott was closer to the truth on this important issue than later Hardshells have been.  Let us hope that today's Hardshells will repent of their error on this important point of doctrine.

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