Thursday, December 31, 2015

Let All Crown Him Lord!

One of the songs I sang while a Hardshell is one most Christians sing also. It is called "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" with exhortations to all to "Crown Him Lord Of All." It says to all "bring forth the royal diadem and crown him Lord of all." Primitive Baptists still sing this song. In fact, it is Hymn #1 in the Old School hymnal that I have. But, do they believe what they are singing?  In the fourth stanza we have these words:

Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To him all majesty ascribe,
And crown him Lord of all.

Notice that all men are to accept Christ as king and to submit willingly and joyfully to his rule. But, today's Hardshells do not believe it the responsibility of all to do this.

In Daily's hymnal, #320 reads like this, and expresses a similar message:

ALL yesterday is gone,
To-morrow's not our own;
What day is better than to-day,
To bow before the throne?

Why should we yet delay,
And not to God return?
How sad to have our oil to buy,
When we should have it burn.

O hear his voice to-day,
And harden not your heart
To-morrow, with a frown, he may
Pronounce the sound, Depart.

Now, who is Old Baptist?  Those who still sing these songs or those like today's Hardshells who have cut these songs, that their own forefathers sang, from their hymn books?


What Think Ye?

In this posting I want to show how an old song changed over the years and is significant. What think ye?

Original Words: George At­kins - 1819

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there here a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

Daily's Hymn Book (1879)

BRETHREN, we have met to worship, And adore the Lord our God:
Will you pray with all your power, While we try to preach the word?
All is vain, unless the Spirit Of the Holy One comes down;
Let us pray that holy manna May be scattered all around.

Look, and see poor sinners round you Trembling (slumbering) on the brink of woe;
Death is coming; how alarming! (hell is moving) Can you bear to let them go?
Let us tell them of the Saviour: Tell them that he may be found;
(See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down)
Let us pray that holy manna May be scattered all around.

Is there here a trembling jailer, Seeking grace, and filled with fears,
Is there here a weeping Mary, Pouring forth a flood of tears?
Let us join our prayers (cries) to help them; Let our faith and love abound;
Let us pray that holy manna May be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely; Let us love each other too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, Till our God their souls renew (till our God makes all things new);
Then we'll love them still the better Take them to our kind embrace,
Journey with them on to glory, There to sing redeeming grace
(Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.)

Old School Hymnal (1983)

No changes in the first paragraph

Second Paragraph

1. "Sinners" from the original and from Daily's hymnal but "mourners" in the OS hymnal.

2. Also minor changes such as leaving out the words "brethren" and "sisters"

3. "Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go? See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down"

becomes

"Fearing, trembling as they go, Longing for a consolation; Will you comfort them or no?  Let us tell them of the Savior; Tell them that he will be found"

Third Paragraph

Minor changes as mentioned

Fourth Paragraph

1. "Till our God their souls renew" or "till our God makes all things new"

becomes

"Till their Savior they can view"

Cannot anyone see the change in doctrine reflected by these changes in this old song?





Old PB Hymnal & Theology

The Primitive Baptist hymnal (1879)

INVITATION HYMNS (#186) (SEE HERE)

To-day, if you will hear his voice,
Now is the time to make your choice;
Say, will you to mount Zion go?
Say, will you have this Christ, or no?

Say, will you be for ever blest,
And with this glorious Jesus rest?
Will you be saved from guilt and pain?
Will you with Christ forever reign?

Make now your choice, and halt no more;
He now is waiting for the poor;
Say now, poor souls, what will you do?
Say, will you have this Christ, or no?

Ye dear young men, for ruin bound,
Amidst the Gospel's joyful sound,
Come, go with us, and seek to prove
The joys of Christ's redeeming love

Your sports, and all your glittering toys,
Compared with our celestial joys,
Like momentary dreams appear:
Come, go with us, your souls are dear

Young women, now we look to you,
Are you resolved to perish too?
To rush in carnal pleasures on,
And sink in flaming ruin down?

Then, dear young friends, a long farewell;
We're bound to heav'n, but you to hell;
Still God may hear us, while we pray,
And change you ere that burning day.

Once more I ask you in his name,
(I know his love remains the same)
Say, will you to Mount Zion go?
Say, will you have this Christ or no?

Come, you that love th' incarnate God,
And feel redemption in his blood,
Let's watch and pray, and onward move,
Till we shall meet in realms above.

This is what the Old Baptists sang in 1879 and before.  But, I dare say, such songs as these from the old hymnals have either been omitted altogether or altered in their texts. More on this to come, the Lord willing.




Kiss the Son of God?

"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." (Psalm 2: 2 KJV)

This is a very important passage of Scripture.  It is clearly a Messianic psalm, a prophecy of the career of the Messiah, who had been promised in the beginning in the protoevangelium (Gen. 3: 15).  There the character and mission of the Son of God, the eternal Logos, was first revealed to fallen man.  In that first prophecy, Christ is revealed as the Savior, and Destroyer of the Serpent, the glorious Victor, one who would also be man's Redeemer and Restorer.

This psalm is a proof of the inspiration of old testament prophets, who foretold of Messiah, receiving more and more revelation about this Messiah, who would mysteriously be both divine and human, as the time for the Messiah's appearance drew near.

This Psalm, though given to Israel, and for Israel's benefit, was nevertheless also for the whole world, for they are addressed particularly in this psalm. 

This psalm is crucial in discussions about the inspiration of Scripture, the character and career of Christ, and the destinies of the nations of men.  It involves not only discussions in Christology, and in discussions regarding Unitarianism and Trinitarianism, or in the nature of God, and in eschatology, but in the matter of salvation and damnation, or in soteriology.

Salvation is promised to those who "kiss" and "put their trust" in "the Son." Faith is placing trust. It is believing and receiving Christ and truth.

People traditionally kiss at weddings because kisses were used in ancient times to seal contracts, as people say "sealed with a kiss." In ancient Rome, for instance, people kissed to legally seal contracts. The rings of the kings were kissed to signify allegiance.

I cannot see how the Hardshells are in agreement with these verses of scripture.  They do not believe that the whole world is duty bound to give their entire allegiance to Christ. Nor do they believe that escape from perishing (as they who do not kiss Christ shall experience) is the result of trusting in God's Christ and Zion's king.  They do not believe it is the duty of all to do as they are commanded to do in this Psalm.  What say ye?



Father Bradley Wrote

THE BAPTIST WITNESS (March 1997 Volume XLVI Number 3)
"Preachers' Meetings" by Lasserre Bradley, Jr.

"Mysticism has had its influence among our people."

Boy, is that not the truth!

Now let us cite from Elder Lemuel Potter's book against the doctrine of the eternal seed.

A DENIAL OF THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL CHILDREN, OR TWO SEEDS IN THE FLESH, by Elder Lemuel Potter, 1880, 67 pp.  (SEE HERE)

THE NEW BIRTH

"About half a century ago metaphysics was introduced among the Old School Baptists..."

I intend, the Lord willing, to put together some examples of what Bradley and Potter had in mind when they made these statements about their denomination's theological meanderings over the years. Mysticism and metaphysics in theology are a Hardshell landmark.

The Hardshells are the biggest "hair splitters" in theology that I have ever known.   They are like those medieval scholastics who debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin!

Before closing this short post I must also include these words of Bradley from the same source.  He wrote:

"A man who will only fellowship those who see eye to eye with him on every subject will soon find he is all by himself."

I hope every Hardshell hears what he is saying!

Fearing God - The Duty of Man

When I was having my long discussion on this blog with Hardshell apologist Jason Brown, we got into the issue of whether the "fear of God" was a proof of regeneration.  In other words, are all those in Scripture who are said to have feared God and trembled before him those with renewed souls?  Brown contended that Cornelius (Acts 10) was regenerated or born again before he came to Christ, before he believed and obeyed the Gospel, because he is said to fear God.  My contention was that he was not saved till he heard the Gospel by the mouth of Peter and was saved.  (Acts 11; 14)  I also contended that the extreme position of Brown and the Hardshells on this issue forces them to say that the demons are regenerate, for they fear God and tremble before him.  (James 2: 19)

In this posting I do not wish to focus on the issue of whether all who fear God are saved, but to focus on whether fearing God be not both a duty and a blessing accompanying new life in Christ.  One of the leading Hardshell premises that they have given as an oracle to the world, which they think inspired and a rule or key for interpreting Scripture, is one that says "whatever is a duty cannot be necessary for eternal salvation."  And this similar one - "whatever is given in regeneration cannot be a duty."

Of course I have already in this blog posted numerous proofs from Scripture that show the falsity of their proposition.  In this posting I will add to those proofs this text.

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."  (Ecc. 12: 12-14)

What is the "whole duty of man"?  Does it not include fearing God?  Keeping all his commandments?

Wrote Dr. Gill in his commentary on verse 12:

"Fear God" and especially Jesus Christ, the "Alpha" and "Omega", the sum and substance of the whole Bible..."

On verse 13 he said:

"the fear of God" includes the whole of internal religion, or powerful godliness; all the graces of the Spirit, and the exercise of them; reverence of God, love to him, faith in him, and in his Son Jesus Christ; hope of eternal life from him; humility of soul, patience and submission to his will, with every other grace...and "keeping of the commandments", or obedience to the whole will of God, is the fruit, effect, and evidence of the former; and takes in all the commands of God, moral and positive, whether under the former or present dispensation; and an observance of them in faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God..."

I don't know why some men claim that Dr. Gill was opposed to duty faith and repentance in light of the above words.  Gill says that the command to "fear God" includes loving and believing God and his Son Jesus Christ.  He also says that it "takes in all the commands of God," which must include the command to believe and repent and acknowledge Christ.

On verse 14 he wrote:

"Not in this life, but in the day of the great judgment, as the Targum explains it; that is, whatever has been done by men, from the beginning of the world, or will be to the end; all being observed and taken notice of by the omniscient God, who has registered them in the book of his remembrance, and, being Judge, will be able to bring them all into account at that awful day: which is here given as a reason why men should fear God, and keep his commandments..."

Was the view of Gill here the "old Baptist" view in the time of Gill and before?  Is it NOT the view of today's Hardshells who nevertheless call themselves "primitive" Baptists?

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Subjective Experience Guaranteed

In his treatise Temporal Salvation: A Bogus or Biblical Concept? Elder Michael Gowens states the underlying premise that he and his fellow Primitive Baptist Conditionalists follow when interpreting the Bible:

"Does the objective fact of redemption by Christ depend on man's perception or understanding of that fact?"

A denial that the subjective experience of a sinner plays any role whatsoever in salvation is the chief assertion of the heretical doctrine that is conditional time salvation, as manifested by its claim that personal faith, repentance, and holiness are not required for salvation.

This is largely due to ignorance. My former acquaintances continue to show that they do not understand what eternal salvation itself is! If they did, they would see the error in attempting to divorce from it what God decreed to produce in those whom He chose to salvation!

Let my mistaken friends search the following scriptures, and in them see manifested the intent of God at each step of the order of salvation to produce the subjective experience in the objects of salvation.

The subjective experience is guaranteed:

a) by election (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9; Rom. 11:7)

b) by promise (Ezekiel 36:27)

c) by redemption (Matt. 1:21; Titus 2:14)

d) by regeneration (Eph. 2:10)

e) by sanctification (John 17:17; John 10:28)

f) by being necessary for final salvation (John. 5:29; Rom. 2:7; Rev. 7:14)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

"Primitive Baptist Seminary"

Since Hardshells do not generally believe in any kind of organized and structured ministerial education, nor the systematic teaching of the various branches of Christian science, the typical Hardshell pastor and elder must get this education from some other source or in some other manner.

All agree that the Hardshell elder must learn on his own by private study of Scripture and theological works, especially those of his own forefathers.  He must be self trained and NOT formally trained by a school of elders and pastors, for this would be taboo.  He must  not get any education through any organized or structured classes or courses of instruction, or from a theological school, for this is the wrong way to learn the Scriptures or to become an apologist (which every pastor is called to be).  Thus the individual pastor is limited in his manner of becoming "skilled in the word."

It seems that it is allowable that a Hardshell elder study the books used by seminarians and to be benefited by them.  I would dare say that the ablest of their ministry are men who have done this very thing.  They have read and studied the books used by Baptist seminaries, or read other books by the teachers in those seminaries, and got some education without formally sitting in a class or taking exams. I think anyone can see the inconsistency in such practice.

There are those extreme Hardshells who might even decry reading and studying systematic theology via the works of men outside the Hardshell denomination.  These ultraist brethren insist that one can be the best of theologians and Bible interpreters by using basic Bible tools and reading the works of sound "Primitive Baptists."  Yet, to my knowledge the only Hardshell to write a "systematic theology" under the "Primitive Baptist" banner was Elder R. V. Sarrels.  (note: a book not worthy to be called such, and one from which I cite in my book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult")  Such books are the only legitimate source of instruction for Hardshell pastors, according to these extremists.  But, if he limits himself to these, he will know very little.

Because of the fact that the Hardshells don't believe in giving too much financial support the average Hardshell pastor must work full time in secular work and this leaves him very little time for intense education in Christian doctrine.

The general lack of systematic understanding of Scripture, of church history, of the original languages of Scripture, etc., are all looked upon by Hardshells with favor and seen as being against the traditional Hardshell idea of preachers receiving heavenly inspiration during attempts to preach (God gives the message to the preacher at the time of preaching). Preparing for sermons by study of a particular subject or text, for the purpose of preaching on it in advance of a coming meeting, is frowned upon and viewed as hindering the Spirit.

My answer to this problem is to visit the Old Baptist Test blog and study and you will become learned in areas of church doctrine and history and it won't cost you anything but your time.

Get a degree from us!

"Primitive Baptist Seminary"

Professors:

Stephen Garrett
Kevin Fralick

Friday, December 18, 2015

Another Text on Duty Faith

Like Romans 3 (recently dealt with regarding duty faith), this passage in Romans chapter two also gives the Hardshells a hard time as regards their teaching that evangelical unbelief and impenitence are no sins for the non elect and therefore there will be no condemnation in the day of judgment for such.

"And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile..."  (Rom. 2: 3-10)

Here Are The Facts

1. These people are lost Gentiles, people who have hard and impenitent hearts, evidences of a state of degeneration.  They are immoral, evil doers, being contrasted with the well doers and seekers of eternal life, and by other descriptive terms that class them as unregenerate.

2. Their destiny is to receive wrath and vengeance in the day of judgment.

3. Two of the sins of these lost souls and for which they will be held accountable in the day of judgment are mentioned in the text and are non faith and non repentance.

Problem for Hardshells

They will be condemned for their "impenitent heart," yet if repentance be not a moral and religious duty and obligation then there cannot be any condemnation.

Secondly, they will be condemned for their unbelief for the text describes them as they who "do not obey (believe) the truth."

So, this text says that lost unregenerate sinners will be found guilty in the day of judgment for their unbelief and impenitence.

God says to all men - "repent ye and believe the Gospel" and those who do not do so will be condemned for it in the last day.  It is disobedience as the text says.  Not to believe and repent is disobedience.  What say ye my brother Hardshells?

Elder Bradley's Interview

Yesterday, interestingly, I watched two recent videos by Elders Sonny Pyles and Lasserre Bradley Jr., both who are up and age (as is my father also).  In this posting I want to say a few things about Bradley's interview with a radio station dj in celebration of forty five years on that station.  (SEE HERE)

Elder Bradley gave this interview sometime after his open heart surgery. He looked elderly but in good health (I have not seen a pic of him in many years).  His mind seemed to be sharp.  He appeared more fatherly and warm in his communication.  Perhaps, like the old Baptists of former days, we should call Lasserre "father Bradley" rather than simply "brother Bradley"?

Elder Bradley was talking about how he loved the Psalms and valued them for their help for the Christian in his struggles and he spoke of how the Psalmist prayed that God would not forsake him and then said with a gleam in his eye, "even though God had promised that he would never forsake the Psalmist, nevertheless he prayed for God not to forsake him."

I thought that was profound and revealing about where Bradley might be in his mind relative to common errors of the Hardshells with whom is yet remains identified.  Bradley's insight overthrows a leading Hardshell proposition (one they take to the Bible)  which affirms that whatever is predestined or absolutely certain, in regard to the salvation of the elect, cannot in any case be an object of either prayer or duty.  Bradley obviously sees the error in that and it is to be hoped that other Hardshells will agree with Bradley's insight from Scripture.

I think he also in this interview said that it is for the same reason why we may pray for the eternal salvation of others even though the salvation of others does not ultimately depend upon our praying.  We pray God to save and keep us  knowing in advance that he has unconditionally promised to do so.  These things are not contradictory except in the the minds of today's extreme and false Calvinists.





Lawrence on Spiritual Conception & Birth

In this same writing as the previous posting, in talking about the sonship of Christ, Lawrence wrote (emphasis mine):

"Was Jesus Christ a born child of God, when he was conceived by his mother Mary. I answer no, because conception is not born, nor born again, in no sense of that word. Born is a very different word from conception; conception means a child in embryo, but born, or born again, means a child brought forth in full perfection. Then conception is not a born child...Or, to make it plainer, a predestinated child, a promised child, a conceived child, is not an actual child, is not a born child; what say you to this? Then a predestinated child, a promised child, nor a conceived child, is not a born child in no sense of that word, born; for the word born is the finishing stroke, but predestination, promising, and conception of a child, are preparatory causes to produce the effect, born child, or born again — what say you to this? A born child is not a born child until he is born."  (SEE HERE)

Lawrence believed, like most of his brethren, that one may be "conceived" and therefore "alive" before spiritual birth ("regenerated"), yet he was not yet a born child of God until evangelical faith was produced, when there was "deliverance."  Also, Lawrence put the emphasis on "the finishing stroke," on conversion, which is the new birth necessary for eternal salvation.  However, today's Hardshells put all the emphasis on the conception, and think the birth is totally unnecessary, mistaking what is "preparatory" to birth for the birth.

Though I do not believe the scriptures break down the spiritual birth and generation process into precise stages as in physical birth, yet such a paradigm still correctly makes gospel conversion and the new birth to be the same.  The error is to call that which is preparatory to new birth "regeneration" or a spiritual "conception" of some kind that precedes the birth.

One of the oft cited verses in the early issues of "The Primitive Baptist" is this one "for we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26) and it is clear that they understood this to mean that one was "born" of the Spirit by faith.  That is what I believe and it is not Arminianism but historic Calvinism and traditional Old Baptist belief.

Joshua Lawrence on Christ's Sonship

Joshua Lawrence wrote the following in "The Primitive Baptist" periodical for 1839 (vol. 4):

"We now will take up the conception of Jesus Christ. Was he the actual son of God before he was born of his mother? I say, no; for although he was a foreordained son and a long promised son, yet he was not a born son until Mary brought him forth. And thus the text saith: That holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the son of God. Again, the text saith; Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son. Luke, 1st chapter. Again: This day have I begotten thee. Again: When he bringeth the first begotten into the world. These texts show to me, Jesus Chrsist was not actually entitled to be called the Son of God, until he was born of this mother Mary. In his divine nature he is not son, but God; and no other God but he, a three-one God--the Christian's God in all ages. For if in his divine nature he be son, then he is not God; for one God cannot beget another God, for he who is begotten cannot be God, for to be a God he must be self-existent." (pg. 58-59 - SEE HERE)

"So then Jesus Christ is son of God in his human nature, and not in his divine; nor was he actually son of God until born of Mary. Was he son of God before he was conceived? I answer, no; except in the purpose, ordination, and determination of God, who spcaketh of things by the mouth of prophetsthat should be as tho they were." 

In regard to Elder Lawrence, it is obvious that he believed in means in the new birth, as did nearly all the first generation Hardshells.  But, like many of them, he was in error regarding the doctrine of the Trinity.  Many of the first Hardshells entertained Arian, Sabellian, and anti Trinitarian views.

Some Hardshells today would agree with Lawrence in his denial of the eternal Sonship of Christ, and how his sonship is expressive of his divinity.  But, this denial is against what is the historic teaching of the Old Baptists.

In reading the old issues of the first Hardshell periodicals, it is interesting to me how they picked what they could tolerate and what they could not.  For instance, they could not tolerate support for missionaries or for religious education but could tolerate various heresies on the Trinity, and other such errors as Two Seedism, Eternal Vital Unionism, No-Hellism, etc.  Is that not interesting?  What does it say about their priorities?


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What the first Hardshells Believed XI

In the last posting in this series we were in Vols. 1 & 2 of "The Primitive Baptist" for the years 1836-1837.  In this posting we will jump nine years to 1845 (Vol. 10) and see if there has been any changes in views regarding means in that time period.  It was in this decade that changes in doctrine regarding means and the nature of regeneration and conversion began to take place.  But more on that later, the Lord willing.

Vol. 10 (1845)

"Because the Old School Baptists hold that there is an elect people according to the foreknowledge of God (i Pet. i, 2.) whom God hath, from the beginning, chosen to salvation through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth (II Thess. 2:13) and who will be effectually called; tbat is, who will be (1) convinced of their sin and misery, (2) enlightened in the knowledge of Christ and (3) persuaded and enabled by the divine spirit to embrace Jesus Christ, revealed as the free gift of God to them, in  the gospel..."   (I added the numbers for the above items in the process of "effectual calling")  

These words show that "The Primitive Baptist" periodical and the Kehukee Association as late as 1845 were still holding to the doctine of means.  Further, though the birth analogy is not used in these words, yet the three stages of the regeneration to birth experience is seen.  A man was not saved or sanctified until the convicted sinner came to "embrace Jesus Christ." 

"...we say, because we hold this doctrine, natural and unrenewed men will say, Then we may all sit down and give ourselves no uneasiness or concern about our future state, nor attend, to any of the means or duties of religion, as the end will come out just the same whether we do, or not. Nay, they will accuse us of holding, and pretend themselves for a time to hold, this very principle, viz: that wicked men may just as well give themselves no concern about religion."  (Circular Letter of the South Carolina Primitive Baptist Association, 1844, see here)

Here the first Hardshells in South Carolina did not accept the consequences of Hyper Calvinism and anti duty faith teachings.  They thought that unsaved men should concern themselves about religion.

"But, I will, say, stop, O man, before you go too far;  for I would suppose that Paul might have said the same...when the Lord said to him, speak, Paul, for I have much people in this city.  But Paul was so well taught of God, as to know that the preaching of the gospel was the means in God's own hand by which he intended to save many;  and these many here spoken of, must have been God's chosen people, and that God was able to make and would make that gospel which he had committed a dispensation to him, the great power of God to the salvation of them very, people."  (pg.. 23, by Laban Massey, 1845)

There is no mention of "time salvation," for that doctrine had not yet been formulated.  These Hardshells are still holding to the position of the old London and Philadelphia confessions that the preaching of the Gospel is God's ordained means of saving his elect by bringing them to faith in Christ.

"In this day of effort, we are told much about the necessity of sending the gospel to the heathen, and Paul calls it the power of God unto salvation;  consequenctly I am led to believe, that the gospel in a scriptural sense, is that ever which mortals have no control.  Though doubtless the preaching of the gospel, is the ordinary means the Lord makes use of, in bringing his children from nature's night and darkness, into the glorious light and liberty of the gospel;  yet I am led to believe from experience as well as divine revelation, that God is as able, by his power, to arrest the impenitent in his career, as also in due time to speak peace to his troubled soul, without any external means, as he was to call the world into existence, by the word of his power."  (pg. 188-89)

Here may be the first hint of a departure from the means view and the view that evangelical faith is intricately linked with regeneration life.  God is able to do the work of regeneration and conversion without preachers.  Though saying this however, they still affirm that the "preaching of the gospel is the ordinary means."

"Then we should never think we are doing the works of God only, by believing on him whom he hath sent;  for this, says the scripture, is the work of God, and so soon as we get faith in the only begotten of the Father, our chains all fall off."

"Hence it is, if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed,  Then faith, says Paul, is the gift of God;  yet faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Thus, we hear the scriptures and we acknowledge our condemnation to be just;  this is belief, we believe there is a God and that he is just.  Thus faith comes by hearing;  then after the legitimacy of his claims admitted, the Lord works in us to believe in his Son and thus we work the works of God by believing on him whom he hath sentThus we get the righteousness of Christ, that came by faith, called the faith of God's elect."  (pg. 253)

Well, that is pretty clear.  In teaching this the first Hardshells were in agreement with their Baptist forefathers.  Brother Kevin Fralick and I believe what is written in the above.  We are therefore the real Old Baptists.

"Brethren, when we were in our polluted state of sin, we possessed the same spirit of iniquity, that now works in the children of disobedience.  But when it pleased God, who works all things after the counsel of his own will, to shine into our hearts by his own spirit, as unto a light in a dark place--this then, we were brought to see what we were by nauture, and what we must be by grace, if ever saved.  Now in this condition, we could not see how God could be just and save such sinners as we were. Now, we could not see, 'till it pleased God to remove that load of sin and guilt, and shed his love through ever faculty of our souls;  then we could see that Jesus had died for us, had rose for us and had hunted us out, like he did Jacob.  And now being born again, old things have passed away and behold all things have become new."  (pg. 237)

Notice how being born again was identified as taking place when a convicted sinner comes to faith in Jesus and the good news.

"But those that are born after the spirit are called by the spirit at the time and place that the Lord designed to call them; for he has loved them with an everlasting love, therefore he has brought them into the kingdom of his dear Son; and they have the witness in themselves they have come in a way that they knew not, they have come with mourning and supplication, they have felt themselves the chief of sinners, they have been stript of all doing power, saying in bitterness of soul, Lord save, I perish. Thus they are brought unto Christ Jesus, where the promises of God are; yea, an amen to the glory of God. All boasting is excluded by the law of faith, and they are must come by that law, for ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (pg. 229)

Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus!  That is the same thing that Elder John Clark (editor of "Zion's Advocate") would later affirm in his battle with Beebe and the Two Seeders.  Today's Hardshells do not believe that they are children of God by faith.

Monday, December 14, 2015

J. M. Peck on Hyperism

John Mason Peck was one of the great first "Hardshell Slayers." He was the first to debate Daniel Parker, one of the fathers of the anti-mission movement. Here is what he had to say about Hyper Calvinism and the "born again before faith" error.

"But there are some things which Regular Baptists have been accused of propagating, and some speculations preached by good men, which cannot be found, or legitimately inferred, by implication from this Confession of Faith (Philadelphia). These things are not there, and can not be implied from the doctrines taught..."

In a recent posting Philadelphia Confession = Hardshellism? I showed where the Philadelphia Confession, the historic confession of the oldest Hardshell churches, did not teach the Hardshell anti means view, and thus showed that they are no longer primitive Baptists.   I have also shown in numerous postings over the years how the writings of the signers of the London and Philadelphia confessions fully showed even further how they all believed in means.

Elder Peck, like Elder R.B.C. Howell, was one of the first champion apologists against the birth of hardshellism.  The following are some of Peck's further statements on this subject.

"Some may yet imagine and teach that the Spirit regenerates the elect without means, or the subordinate agency of his gospel. But in this they teach directly contrary to the unequivocal declarations of the Confession of Faith, no less than against the scriptures. The doctrine of means, or the instrumentality of the gospel in regeneration, as well as in all its adjuncts, is taught very plainly and directly in chapters 1st, 7th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 14th, and 20th; and is taught by implication in several other chapters. The only exception made is in chapter X, under "Effectual Calling," sec. 3: --

"Elect Infants, dying in Infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh, when and where, and how he pleaseth. So also all other persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word."

The construction put on the first clause of this section by brethren in the Philadelphia Association was this: That the phrase "Elect Infants" includes all who died in a state of unconscious infancy -- that the second clause referred to adult idiots, and others, who were rendered incapable of being "outwardly called by the ministry of the word," by some providential acts.

The authors and revisors [sic] of this "Confession" would have repudiated with the expressions of horror, the mischievous speculation that God has an elect people, scattered among the nations of the earth -- that he knows his own -- and that he quickens or regenerates these without the gospel or any of the instrumentalities he has provided. REGULAR BAPTISTS were missionary Baptists, and knew the meaning of the great commission to preach the gospel to every creature, specially in view of their conversion and salvation.

The Confession of Faith teaches the doctrine of "particular election," without regard to human merit; but it also teaches the necessity of preaching the gospel to all men, without which sinners capable of hearing the gospel cannot be saved. The anti-christian dogma that the gospel need not be preached to sinners of every class and grade, for the specific purpose of being the instrument of their conversion and salvation through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit, has no place in the Confession of Faith of Regular Baptists." (THE BAPTISTS - Regular, Separate and United" By John M. Peck, 1855)

http://www.geocities.com/baptist_documents/peck.bapt.reg.sep.unit.html


Sunday, December 13, 2015

What the first Hardshells Believed X

I have written many "series" that could each be small books.  Many of these series on particular subjects are part of my ongoing book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult."  Some are not part of it but may be found either in this Old Baptist blog or in the Baptist Gadfly blog.  One such series has been entitled "What The First Hardshells Believed."  In the continuation of that series I post this addition.  For previous entries in this series and this subject see these:

From the "Primitive Baptist" (1837) and
What the first Hardshells Believed IX and
What the first Hardshells Believed VIII and
What the first Hardshells Believed VII and
What the first Hardshells Believed VII (second under that title) and
What the first Hardshells Believed VI and
What the first Hardshells Believed V and
What the first Hardshells Believed IV and
First Hardshells on Rom. 8: 28 and
What the first Hardshells Believed III and
What the first Hardshells Believed II and
What the first Hardshells Believed

In this posting we will look at some citations from Vol. 2 (1837) and Vol. 3 of "The Primitive Baptist" periodical.

"The predestinarian believes in the foreknowledge of God, and that all men by nature deserve condemnation.  The predestinarian believes in the atonement of the Lord Jesus, and that his righteousness is made over and imputed to all his spiritual children by and through the means or instrumentality of faith, as the law of righteousness that it might be of grace.  The predestinarian believes that the means and the end are inseparably connected, and that works and faith are as much united as soul and body;  and that God knoweth them that are his...And this is eternal life, that they believe on the only true God, and in Jesus Christ whom he has sent."  (pg. 126)

Notice how the first Hardshells believed in "means" and that "the means and the end are inseparably connected."  Today's Hardshells almost universally reject this view.  So, if they don't even agree with their founding fathers on this issue, how can they legitimately call themselves "primitive" or "old school"?

"Bro. Bennett:  Being well pleased with the doctrine contained in the Primitive Baptist, edited by yourself, and believe the doctrine to be in accordance with the word of God, and that it is therefore calculated to disseminate life, light, and immortality to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;  comforting, confirming, and establishing them in the faith.."  (pg. 142)

Again, this is not what is advocated by today's Hardshells.  Today's "Primitive Baptists" will say that the means doctrine is "Arminianism," or as some are now doing, calling such a belief in means "Calvinism."

From Vol. 3

Elder John Watson wrote:

"We are informed by the apostle, in 2 Thess. 2: 13, that a sanctification of the spirit is necessarily connected with a belief of the truth; and those who cannot bear sound doctrine, would not at all be benefited, by our softening down gospel truths. We are directed in 2 Tim. 2: 23, to instruct those who oppose the truth, in meekness, hoping that the Lord may grant them "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."  (Pg. 83)

"So we understand that sanctification and faith are the means of that salvation to which God had chosen these Thessalonians. In short, we should take no man's opinion in such cases, nor have an opinion of our own, without a thus saith the Lord for it; for opinion must always be founded upon evidence."  (pg. 95)

We know what Elder Watson believed about means in the new birth.  His "Old Baptist Test" is full of statements in line with what he writes here.  Further, Elder John Clark was a frequent writer and supporter of this periodical and he obviously shared the beliefs of Watson, Lawrence, Hassell, Bennett (the first editor), and others who supported this Kehukee Association supported paper.  So too did Wilson Thomspon and his son Grigg Thompson read this periodical, the latter especially.

"So then, he hath chosen us that we might be holy, etc. consequently will give us the means of salvation, which are faith and holiness. And God is onmiscient (sic), or every where present, and therefore none of his elect shall miss the end designed; that is, eternal life: For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God, etc. Chosen in him before the foundation of the world, etc. So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. And even in the same way that the Lord sent his gospel to all the world once, even so now will he send it where he pleaseth; for he is of one mind and one way, and hath not said to the church, send ye my gospel any where." (pg. 109-10)

"I find the will of God is to believe the record that God has given us of his Son for salvation, which would include all the fundamental principles of the gospel, and a good deal more; and the doctrine of election and predestination, and final perseverance of the saints, all of which I believe in." (pg. 115)

"...as I do believe God has chosen his people in Christ before the world was, and that according to his own purpose. And as he has made the choice of the characters that shall inherit his kingdom above, he has also ordained the means by which they shall be prepared and qualified for that eternal world. He has not chosen his people in Christ and left the means to be used necessary to bring them there in the hands of men. No, sir, he has ordained the preaching of the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, as his own method of saving his elect."  (pg. 145)

Today's Hardshells have apostatized from what their forefathers believed.  Is this not why they have wanted to hide such old periodicals and information over the past one hundred years or so?  But, thanks to the Internet, such works are being taken out of the closets of libraries and discovered.  And oh what a discovery it is for those Hardshells today who know nothing of their real history.

"But perhaps the effort party may conclude there is still something for them to do, preachers must be prepared and sent to preach; but I want you also to remember, that God has not left this work in the hands of men, to say who shall preach his gospel, or who shall be instrumental in his hands in bringing his elect to a saving knowledge of his truth and glorious inheritance above. No, sir, he has reserved this work also to himself, he calls and qualifies his ministers to preach Jesus."  (pg. 145)

"Therefore we need no other means now than were needed eighteen hundred years ago; it then required the power of God to quicken a dead sinner and make him alive, it requires the same now and nothing short of that will effect the salvation of the soul. God saved his chosen people before missionary societies were introduced, by the ministers he chose, by the means he ordained, and not by plans devised by mortals; consequently they were indebted to him alone for that salvation, he was entitled to all praise and glory: Not unto us, but unto thy name give glory." (pg. 146)

Notice how it is said "we need no other means."   You see, these Hardshells rejected "human means," such as seminaries, Sunday schools, revival meetings, etc., but they did not "throw the baby out with the bath water" as their later descendents would do, for though they rejected these "human means" they did not see this as excluding the preaching of the Gospel as a divinely appointed means.

This is what brother Fralick and I believe and we are therefore the real Old or Primitive Baptists.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Robert Hall vs. Hardshell Hyperists

Robert Hall Sr. was a leader among 18th century English Particular Baptists.  He is known for his fight against "false Calvinism" or "Hyper Calvinism."  Especially in "Help To Zion's Travellers" does Hall refute the errors of the Hyper Calvinist concerning duty faith and Gospel offers and invitations.

In 1836 "The Christian Index" published from Hall his apology against the false Calvinists.  The Hardshells took notice of it and in the first volume of "The Primitive Baptist" periodical (1836) a response is made to the Index and to Hall's writing.  In this posting I will give that response and add some comments.

Vol. 1 of "The Primitive Baptist" (1836)

"False Calvinism" by Robert Hall

Robert Hall wrote a Preface to his father's popular little work, called "A Help to Zion's Travellers."  It has some valuable observations on hyper-Calvinism, which we do not think are reprinted in the regular editions of that distinguished author's works.

"Another principle," he says, "assumed as a basis by the high Calvinist is, that the same things cannot be the duty of man and the gift of God, or in other words, that what is matter of promise, can on no occasion be the matter of obligation.  The scriptures frequently affirm faith and repentance to be the gift of God;  hence it is concluded that they cannot be obligatory on the unregenerate, a conclusion diametrically opposed to innumerable passages of the Old and New Testaments, which insist in the most peremptory style on the true conversion and a lively faith as the most essential duties;  which other passages are equally expressive in exhibiting as matter of promise."  (pg. 373)

"Robert Hall maintains, as it is seen above, that faith and repentance are both, the duty of men, and the gift of GodThe Christian Index tells us that Hall quoted several passages of scripture from the Old and New Testaments, in proof of his doctrine, we should have been gratified if the Index had given us the references only to those passages of scripture, that we might examine his evidence.  The truth is, Robert Hall can offer no scripture to support his doctrine.  He, or any other person, may quote scripture, and that too with the view to sustain some proposed point of doctrine;  but after it is admitted that "the scriptures frequently affirm faith and repentance to be the gifts of God," no quotations from scripture, nor any mode of reasoning, to prove them duties and "obligatory on the unregenerate, can save Robert Hall or any of his advocates from the charge of absurdity."

This Hardshell says the same thing that James Wells would also say some thirty years after this (see the previous posting on Wells).  The Hyper Calvinist cannot see how faith and repentance can be duties and yet be necessary for salvation.  He cannot see how they can be BOTH duties and gifts or works of God.  Hall, and the true Calvinists, cannot understand why the Hyper or False Calvinist cannot see how they can both (logically speaking) be true, without contradiction, and how it is in fact the teaching of holy scripture.

Our Hardshell critic of Hall Sr. and Jr. says that no scripture was given to support the fact that faith and repentance were both duties and sovereign efficacious gifts of God.  This is what Wells also said of the duty faith position.  And yet, Hall, Fuller, and others have constantly quoted scripture to prove their thesis.  In fact, in my recent posting James Wells on Duty Faith, I cited several verses that prove the point.  Did this Hardshell not know of them?  Like Wells seemed not to know of them?

This Hardshell says that it is "absurd" to think that a gift cannot be a duty.  But, ironically, it is this Hardshell's reasoning that is absurd.  Further, calling the duty faith position "absurd" is no argument against the view but simply an opinion.  This Hardshell brother is certainly not doing as Wells would later advise and handle this subject with care!  Further, he is not willing to acknowledge, as did Wells, that the anti duty faith view was not the general view of the Baptists of former centuries, especially of those of the 17th century.  And, he does not seem to see how there are "problems on both sides of this question" as Wells acknowledged.  To this conceited Hardshell apologist, the great Calvinists and Particular Baptists of former times believed in what is "absurd"!  What arrogance!

Our Hardshell apologist responds further, saying -

"There is no law which says, Thou shalt believe in the Lord Jesus Christ:  nor is there any law which says, Thou shalt repent of thy sins.  Hence it is not duty which enjoins these...How can men owe that to God, which is a gift FROM HIM?"

This Hardshell offers two reasons why he cannot accept the duty faith position (if you recall, Wells gave three objections to the view).  First, he says there is no law commanding men to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Second, he simply affirms (by use of a rhetorical) that what is a gift from God cannot also be a duty.

It is easy to reply to the first by simply citing the numerous passages that command all men to repent and believe (which I have done many times, and in recent postings on this subject).  But, let me just cite one.

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." (Acts 17: 30)

Did our Hardshell brother forget such verses?

One interesting note here is to observe how these first Hardshells (1830s) did not think faith and repentance were unnecessary for being finally saved in heaven, as do our modern day Hardshells.

The Hardshell rebuttal to Hall continued:

"We admit that man is bound to obey the divine commands of the law of God;  but it does not follow that faith and repentance are commanded."

Again, how can he not see that the scriptures show that faith and repentance are indeed commanded?

He continues:

"But waiting till they enquired,--what they should do, that is (not as duty to God, but,) to be saved, he directed them to repent, etc., adding the promise is unto you, etc.  The jailer also enquired how he could be saved.  The answer was, believe, etc.  This  was direction, instruction, etc., and not a command."

It was not a command?  Does this brother not know that such words (repent, believe, etc. are in the imperative mood and denotes a command?).  It was instruction, direction, but not command?  Now, who is really guilty of the "absurd"?

He continued:

"Once more.  If faith, repentance, etc., be duties obligatory upon the unregenerate, then condemnation came by the gospel as well as by the law." 

But, condemnation does come through the Gospel!  That does not mean that men who have not heard the Gospel are not condemned!  It only means that those who hear the Gospel and reject it INCREASE their sins and condemnation.  Isn't this brother affirming that rejection of the Gospel is no sin to the unregenerate?  Is he not saying that God is pleased that the unregenerate disbelieve his word and reject his offers of mercy and pardon, and reject his given Son?

He continued with his Hardshell reasoning, saying -

"For faith and repentance belong to gospel, and not to law."  

Is he saying that what is commanded by Jesus in the new testament is not law, not obligatory?  What did James refer to when he spoke of "the law of liberty" (James 1: 25)?  Was it not the Gospel?  If God "commands" all men to repent, is this not Gospel law?

He continued:

"And if the unregenerate owe it as duty to the gospel to repent, but fail, then the gospel must arraign them before its bar and pass sentence of condemnation against them.  Whereas there is no condemnation in the gospel, neither to those who have obeyed it, nor to those who have not."

He clearly affirms that rejection of the Gospel by the unregenerate is no sin!  No unregenerate person will be condemned for not obeying God's command to repent!  Now, who is being not only absurd but opposed to clear scripture teaching?

He continued:

"Indeed, sin is the transgression of the law: (I John 3: 14) but Robert Hall teaches that sin is the transgression of the gospel."  (pg. 375)

Do we have to prove to Hardshells that unbelief and rejection of Christ are sins?  Unbelievable!  Do we have to prove to them that sinners will be judged, in the day of final judgment, for their rejection of Christ and the Gospel?  Again, I have cited numerous passages through the years to prove these things (as others have before me).

Notice these verses, that this Hardshell seems to not know anything about.

"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me."  (jon 16: 8-9)

"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment."  (I John 3: 23)

"...he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son."  (I John 5: 10)

Friday, December 11, 2015

17th century Baptists on Gospel Offers

From the 1644 London Particular Baptist Confession of Faith  (SEE HERE)
(emphasis mine)
VI.

(1) This therefore is life eternal, to know the only true God, and whom He has sent Jesus Christ.(2) And on the contrary, the Lord will render vengeance in flaming fire to them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1) John 17:3; Heb. 5:9; Jer. 23:5, 6
2) 2 Thes. 1:8; John 3:36

XXIV.

That faith is ordinarily(1) begot by the preaching of the Gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to(2) any power or capacity in the creature, but it is wholly(3)passive, being dead in sins and trespasses, does believe, and is converted by no less power,(4) then that which raised Christ from the dead.

1) Rom. 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21
2) Rom. 9:16
3) Rom. 2:1, 2; Ezek. 16:6; Rom 3:12
4) Rom. 1:16; Eph. 1:19; Col 2:12

XXV.

That the tenders of the Gospel to the conversion of sinners,(1) is absolutely free, no way requiring, as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, terrors of the Law, or preceding ministry of the Law, but only and alone the naked soul, as a(2) sinner and ungodly to receive Christ, as Christ, as crucified, dead, and buried, and risen again, being made(3) a Prince and a Savior for such sinners.

1) John 3:14, 15; 1:12; Isa. 55:1; John 7:37
2) 1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 4:5; 5:8
3) Acts 5:30-31; 2:36; 1 Cor. 1:22-24

From the 1689 London Particular Baptist Confession of Faith  (SEE HERE)

10. Effectual Calling

Those whom God has predestinated to life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time to effectually call by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death which they are in by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ...Man is dead in sins and trespasses until quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. By this he is enabled to answer the call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it. This enabling power is no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.

20. The Gospel and Its Influence

The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable for life, God was pleased to promise Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect and bringing to life within them faith and repentance. In this promise the substance of the Gospel was revealed and shown to be the effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.

This promise of Christ and the salvation which comes by Him, is revealed only by the Word of God. The works of creation and providence with the light of nature do not reveal Christ or His grace even in a general or obscure way. How much less, therefore, can those who are devoid of the revelation of Christ by the promise (or the Gospel) be enabled by the light of nature to arrive at saving faith or repentance.

Wilson Thompson Originally Espoused Gospel Means

Thompson wrote the following in the 1820s many years before he changed his views and became a Hardshell anti means adherent.  What he says here is the old Baptist position.  (emphasis mine)

"Wherein Sarah and her son were a figures of the gospel and those under it, first she was a figure of the gospel in her name Sarah, which signifies lady, princess, princess of the multitude; and this name was given to her because the blessing of God was upon her, and nations of people should of her, to denote that the gospel was to go amongst all nations, with the blessing of God attending it, and bring forth children in different nations, who are to be born again of an incorruptable seed by the word of God, which by the gospel is preached unto you."– 

Again, Sarah was Abraham’s companion and ruler in his house, to shew that the gospel was a companion of God, and a rule in his house, whose house ye are. – 

Again, Sarah lived in Abraham’s affections, long before she brought forth any childrenso thegospel is the good will of God towards his people; which lived in his affections long before it was manifest in bringing forth children to him. – 

Again there was a set time for Sarah to bring forth Isaac, so there was a set time for the gospel dispensation to take place. Sarah brought forth a promised seed, to denote that the gospel brings forth a seed of promise, or the heirs according to promise. - 

Again, Sarah's son was born after Agar's to denote that the gospel dispensation should be after the law, and as Sarah was a figure of the gospel, or its dispensation, so her son was a figure of those under it; or the spiritual seed of Abraham, first in his name Isaac, which signifies laughter, and may denote the joy and gladness experienced by all those born under the ministration of the gospel. Isaac was not born after the flesh, but after the spiritto denote that those born under the gospel, are born not of the flesh but of the spirit. Isaac was Abraham’s heir to denote that those born under the influence of the gospel, are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Isaac was born by promise, to denote that those born under the gospel, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise. And as Isaac was persecuted by Ishmael, so it is now: but as then Agar and her son were cast out, and Ishmael could not be hear with Isaac; so the glory of the law disappears, and those under it are cast out, when the superior glory of the gospel breaks forth amongst the Gentiles, and brings forth its heaven born children; and so we see that these things are an allegory, for these are the two covenants." (See Chapter 56 - On Conviction III)

Children are begotten by the Gospel.  That was the position of Thompson before the rise of the Hardshells.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

James Wells on Duty Faith

James Wells was a severe antagonist of the great Charles Spurgeon, even doubting that Spurgeon had ever been born again. The Hyper Calvinists, such as among the old Strict Baptists and among today's Hardshell Baptists, look at Wells with admiration and think that he represents their doctrinal tradition of anti duty faith and anti means regeneration.

In this posting I will be citing from Wells, from his work "The Faith of God’s Elect; and a Word upon Duty Faith," being A SERMON – Preached on Sunday Morning, August 30th, 1868, by MR. JAMES WELLS AT THE NEW SURREY TABERNACLE, WANSEY STREET (SEE HERE).  From these citations we will see that Wells, though denying duty faith, did not go to such extremes in doing so as do today's Hardshells, and see that Well's attempt to answer the affirmative arguments of those who believed in duty faith (as Spurgeon) were not sound, cogent, or scriptural.

Wrote Wells (all emphasis mine):

"...some hold that it is the duty of all men savingly to believe in Christ; and there is a piece of logic which is the stronghold of that system, and before I make a few remarks carefully upon it I am free to confess that there are difficulties on both sides of the question." 

It is good that Wells at least gives the appearance of wanting to be fair in the debate over the question of duty faith.  He is at least more honest than most of our neo Hyper Calvinist Hardshells for he acknowledges that "there are difficulties on both sides of the question."  Today's Hardshells have become so cock sure about their anti duty faith and anti means regeneration positions that they will not make the same acknowledgment as did Wells.

Wrote Wells:

"We cannot suppose that when such men as Bunyan, and many of the great Puritans of that day-the majority of them-held the doctrine of duty-faith, we cannot suppose but there must be something bearing in that way in the Scriptures in their estimation."

Notice the admission!  One of the leaders of the anti duty faith side admitting that his view is not the orthodox view of his forefathers, of the great Particular Baptists leaders of the 17th century.  Further, when he says "the majority of them" he should have said "nearly all of them."

Wrote Wells:

"They were men of mighty minds, and yet they held that doctrine."

Again, another revealing admission by a leading 19th century Hyper Calvinist, and one which I am sure agitates the consciences and minds of men like Wells.  He has admitted that the majority of the great Puritans (like Owen) and Baptists (like Bunyan, the 1689 Confession signers, etc.) believed in duty faith and now he admits that these men (with whom he disagrees) were great men.  I would like for our modern Hardshells to at least agree with Wells that the denial of duty faith is not the traditional view of Particular Baptists.

Wells continued:

"So that when we see men the reality of whose religion we cannot dispute hold a doctrine of that kind, let us handle it carefully."

Yes, indeed, let us handle it carefully (just as we should every teaching of scripture).  But, it is difficult to even get today's simple minded Hardshells to "handle" it at all, and certainly not with care. How did John Gill handle it?  Did not men like Brine and Wells go much further astray on this subject than their admired Gill?

Wrote Wells:

"Let us see whether there may not be some difficulties on our side as well as on theirs. It is very easy to ridicule the sentiment of an opponent; it is very easy to be sarcastic, but it is not so easy to refute."

Will you at least confess this much my Hardshell brothers?  Or, will you remain so arrogant in affirming your heterodox view while denouncing the other side as being unlearned and in error on this issue?

Wrote Wells:

"Infidels may ridicule the Bible, but they never have been and never will be able to refute it. Now their argument, then, is this-that if faith be not a duty, unbelief is no sin. That is a very powerful declaration, and that is the stronghold of that doctrine; and I must hold with it, because it is a piece of logic as correct as possible; no man can deny it."

I wish that we could get at least our modern Hardshells to make even this admission!  But, many of them will not be so honest as Wells appears or desires to be.  Did you get what he said my Hardshell brothers?  "No man can deny it."  Yet, this is what you all do!  You will not say that "unbelief is sin."

Wrote Wells:

"Therefore it comes to this, that unbelief is sin, and that there must be a sense in which it is the duty of the creature to believe; for if not, then unbelief is no sin. Well, I have always held that it is the duty of the creature to believe the word of God, that it is the duty of the creature to act according to the light that God gives; that it was the duty of the old world to listen to Noah, by which they might have escaped the flood; that it was the duty of the Ninevites to listen to Jonah, which they did, and believed, and saved their city; that it was the duty of Capernaum, the cities of Judah and Jerusalem, to believe that the Saviour was the Messiah, and to bow to him, and the cities might have remained to this day, as witness the Saviour:- If these things had been done, he said, in Sodom, they would have repented long ago, and their city would have remained to this day." 

Notice that Wells, though he is going to DENY "duty faith," yet here admits that "unbelief is sin," and this being so, "it is the duty of the creature to believe."  If I only had this citation by itself, I would think that Wells and Spurgeon were in agreement.  I would that our modern Hardshell and Strict Baptist brothers would at least come back to the less extreme view of Wells and affirm what he wrote in the above citation.

Wrote Wells:

"But then this natural belief is one thing, and the faith that God gives to his people is quite another thing. I therefore hold unbelief be sin; that is, I hold it to be sinful for a man to be an infidel; I hold it to be sinful for a man to disbelieve the Bible." 

Again, in reading these words you would not think that Wells was against duty faith,  It is also interesting to note how our present day Hardshells go even further than Wells and would deny what Wells wrote in the above words.

Wells continued:

"But I do not hold it to be sinful for a man not to have saving faith. When I come to saving faith, I come into another region altogether. In the first case, man’s duty, there I am in the region of human responsibility. Man is a voluntary agent, and is responsible for his acts. I do not hold the atheistical doctrine of irresponsibility. All men are responsible, and there will be at the last great day a greater condemnation for the persecutors and enemies of the Lord than for others."

Wells attempts to harmonize his affirmation of some kind of duty faith on the one hand with his denial of another kind of non duty faith on the other hand.  He does what John Brine did, and so too Dr. Gill in some cases. What these biblical expositors did was to make the "two kinds of" argument that has characterized the Hardshell Hyper Calvinists in their writings and hermeneutics.  There are two kinds of faith, two kinds of repentance, two kinds of salvation, two kinds of conversion, etc.  Wells gives us two kinds of "unbelief" and two kinds of "belief" (or faith).

Wells says that the kind of belief or faith required of all men is "natural faith" (whatever that means) but not "saving faith."  But, he does not give any clear definition and distinction between the two.  Is it that the belief God requires of all men lacks something?  What is it?  The heart?  The object of belief?

Wrote Wells:

"Thus, then, it is the duty of man to receive his Creator; here is his responsibility; and he is responsible in proportion as he has not done so, and will be favored with a less condemnation in proportion as he has done so." 

Wells speaks of "the duty of man to receive his Creator."   Why would God require men to receive him in any other way than as he is revealed in Scripture?  Would not his duty to receive his Creator mean that he should do so with a full heart?  With joy and honesty of soul?  Would it not include believing in Christ the Son of God and receiving his teachings, heeding his warnings, and taking his advice?

If one only had the above words alone, outside of their context, one could cite Wells as a believer in duty faith, but if he reads the whole, he will see that Wells is writing against duty faith.  It would be good if our modern Hardshells who favor Wells over Spurgeon would at least come back to the less extreme view of Wells and at least confess what he said in the words just cited.

But, after saying the above things, Wells asks rhetorically - "But what has this to do with saving faith? Why, just nothing at all."

The faith or belief that God requires of his creatures is not such as will save them?  Where did he get that idea?  Let us hear him explain.

Wrote Wells:

"I will now just name three things that hinder me from receiving the doctrine that it is the duty of all men savingly to believe in Christ. First, it is a doctrine which whether those that believe it or not, rests the eternal salvation of man upon the creature, and takes it out of the hand of the Lord. Any principle that you hold that will not bear carrying out must be wrong. Now, then, let us try this question. It is my duty savingly to believe in Christ; consequently it is my duty to be regenerated; therefore it is my duty to be loved with an everlasting love; it is my duty to be chosen to salvation; it is my duty to be interested in Christ; it is my duty to have all my sin pardoned, and my soul eternally saved."

Wells falsely reasons that whatever is necessary for salvation cannot be a duty.  Further, he gives no Scripture that affirms his thesis or premise.  Of course, there are abundant scripture to show that his proposition is false, as I shall show (as many others have before me).  He then states that such a view would "rest the eternal salvation of man upon the creature" and would "take it out of the hand of the Lord." But, as he has already admitted, such was not the belief of Well's Baptist forefathers or of the great Puritan writers.  They did not believe that faith being a duty made it a non essential to salvation. They believed that saving faith could be, and actually is, both a duty and a sovereign gift of God's grace and that such a view did not entail the assumed consequences of Well's Hyper Calvinist reasoning.

Further, in these words, Wells charges his opponents with believing more than they do when he says that all fallen sinners are duty bound to believe that they are chosen to salvation, or that Christ died in their stead, etc.  He is wrong to think that the Scriptures do not command all fallen men to seek God and his favor and forgiveness, or to become holy through regeneration.  The following scriptures show that the objection of Wells is itself what is contrary to Scripture.

"Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God." (Lev. 20: 7)

"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."  (James 4: 8)

Gill's Commentary

"...yet such exhortations are not in vain, since they may be useful to convince men of their pollution, who are pure in their own eyes, as these hypocritical, nominal professors, might be; and to bring them to a sense of their inability to cleanse themselves ("awaken" them - SG), and of the necessity of being cleansed elsewhere; and to lead them to inquire after the proper means of cleansing, and so to the fountain of Christ's blood, which only cleanses from all sin."

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also."  (Matt. 23: 25-26)

"Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"  (Eze. 18: 31)

"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (Jer. 4:4)

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."  (Acts 3:19)

"And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation." (Acts 2:40)

"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (Eph. 5: 14)

The question is this - does God call or invite all men to look to him for salvation from their sins?  And, if he does, then is it not the duty of all men to accept that invitation?

Another question is this - if men are commanded to believe that Christ is the Savior of the world, and to believe all that he has revealed, does that not include believing the promises that Christ attached to his declarations of what is man's duty to believe?

Are there not teachings from Christ about the nature of the Gospel's invitations to men and of the promises attached to them, about the blessings and curses attached to either reception or rejection of those invitations?

Wrote Wells:

"The third and last, and not the least objection I have to that doctrine is this, that I can find it nowhere in the Scriptures."

Perhaps he missed seeing the above Scriptures?


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Seed faith, or faith God had in Christ?

It would be an understatement to say that I have gotten used to witnessing contradictions in the soteriology of the “Primitive” Baptists.  Some of these however are only noticeable to those who have put under the microscope the weightier doctrines of scripture.  Yet this latest one I stumbled upon (though I’ve known about it for many years) is so blatantly obvious that only one who is inseparably wedded to his beliefs would refuse to acknowledge it.

On the website www.pbgrace.org are many articles, two of which are called ‘Saved by Grace, but Whose Faith?’ and ‘The Christ of Arminianism’.

In the first the author writes regarding Ephesians 2:8-9:

Faith is not man’s contribution to salvation but the gift of Christ which He sovereignly imparts in regeneration. (John 3:3, John 6:44 & 65, John 15:16, Acts 11:18, Rom. 9:16, Eph. 2:1, Eph. 2:8-10, Phil. 1:29, Heb. 12:2)

In the second however faith is handled differently. From the exact same passage!!!

It reads:

“The faith under consideration then, cannot be yours.  It is not your faith that saves you, and the next verse tells us that – ‘and that not of yourselves.’ (Verse 9)

As we’ve shown it can’t be our faith, we conclude this is the faith God had in His son, Jesus, to fulfill the agreement made before the world was formed.  Christ was faithful to be that sacrifice and pay that price.”

So there you have it.  A contradiction of which I need not convince you, but one plainly set before the eyes.  On the exact same website the faith of Eph. 2:8 is claimed to be what Hardshells refer to as seed faith in one article, but in the other it is said to be the faith which God had in His Son

Well, which one is it sir?  Are we saved thru “seed faith”, or are we saved thru “the faith God had in His Son”?  Which one is necessary to be saved?

The idea that there is a subconscious faith imparted in regeneration is the traditional Hardshell interpretation of Ephesians 2:8 offered instead of evangelical faith…you know, the “kind” spoken about in chapter one. It's called context folks. Look into it.

The other idea, God having faith in His Son, is a persuasion believed by a minority, but may be growing in acceptance.  If it is, what does this mean for the future?  It is no secret that some of the PBs strongly object to the idea that God has faith.  Will those ministers who remain firm in their position that seed faith is the proper apologetic response to the notion that saving faith comes thru the gospel begin to ridicule those who defer rather to some faith emanating from God.  Or vice versa?

Will this matter be “carried to the association”, or will these diverse opinions among them continue to be tolerated?  If the latter, then it will prove only one thing.  Hardshells are not really concerned about being of one mind with regards to which exact “kind” of faith is necessary to be saved, whether it be some faith which we have or God has.  The only thing that really matters is that an anti-gospel, anti-means conclusion is reached, which both viewpoints, though opposing, provide.