Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Samuel Trott & A.W. Pink

A. W. Pink, I am told, flirted with the idea of joining the Hardshells.  If he did, I am sure that he could fellowship with the old Hardshell view (as expressed below by Elder Trott) but not with today's Hardshells who have rejected the view of their founders.

I do not accept the view of either Pink or Trott, but it is far more scriptural and less dangerous than today's Hardshell paradigm.

Hardshell founding father, Elder Samuel Trott, wrote (emphasis mine - SG):

"Thus in the new birth there is a striking correspondence to the natural birth; to each there is a seed implanted, and then a quickening by which life is manifested. And when the natural child is brought to the birth, the sorrows of the woman in travail, the fetus being broke loose from that by which alone it had been hitherto nourished, strongly represents the agonies and the killing by the law belonging to the second birth.

"We might go on to notice the effect of the conception of this incorruptible seed, how it produces faith in God, quickens the man to a sense of his relations, and accountability to God, of the spirituality and broadness of the law, and of the sin in his acts, thoughts, and nature; of the distress occasioned thereby; of the darkness that covers the whole operation within, hiding all excepting certain external effects from the individual view, so that he is a mystery to himself, and can tell no more why he is thus, than he can tell of the wind whence it cometh or whither it goeth. We might show that whilst the soul is thus quickened to such a deep sense of the law or of sin as being against God, that it still evidently is not changed from a natural to a spiritual soul, and therefore it cannot receive the things of the Spirit, or the things freely given us of God, but entirely looks to the deeds of the law as the way of acceptance with God. But we forbear, and come to the BIRTH...The name Isaac therefore and Sarah’s being said to laugh, is strikingly expressive of that joy which is experienced when a person is first born again, or brought by faith to behold the light of the Sun of Righteousness into liberty. It is all joy and excitement at beholding the way of pardon and acceptance with God." 
("THE NEW BIRTH" From "SIGNS of the TIMES" - Vol.21 - 1853 - Writings of Elder Samuel Trott, pages 404 - 409)

He said:

"...I feel sorry to see the children of God so bewildered as to their deliverance (new birth - SG), and as having no clearer evidence to their minds, to refer to at times, of their having passed from death to life. I know how to pity them, having been in like situation; from not having been conversant with clear, experimental persons, and not having heard discriminating, experimental gospel preaching, when Christ was revealed in me to the apprehending of Him by faith as a Saviour suiting my case, I had no idea that the exercise I had at that time was a being born again, or a first believing in Christ with that faith which is the gift of God."

"A coming to Christ is admitted as necessary by all professors. I will, therefore, here show that Christ has said that none can come unto Him except they are taught of God. The words are, "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me, etc.," (John 6:44-45). Thus He evidently represents the drawing and teaching as the same thing."

"But God's teaching is not like man's, a mere enlightening of the head whilst the heart is untouched. It is a revelation of truth in the heart, so that the affections are arrested; there is a heart-feeling of the truth taught, and a heart-love for it. To come to Christ, or to be believers on Him, we must know Him in His true character as the Saviour of sinners; as said he that had been blind: "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on Him?" (John 9:36)."

"The Spirit had probably implanted in Brother Burroughs the principle of life, causing a desire after God before the exercises he speaks of; but it may not have been till some time after this that he was truly drawn to Christ. I think if he will review his past experience there will be brought to his recollection a time when the awful depravity of his heart was so laid open to his view as to make him feel the justice of his condemnation, and the utter impossibility of anything good or acceptable to God coming from him; so that all idea of seeking salvation on his part was excluded; "Lord, save or I perish", was his cry in substance. Again, that in reading the Scriptures, or in hearing preaching, or in some passage of Scripture being presented and opened to his mind, he had a view of Christ crucified as a foundation just suited for such a condemned and helpless sinner to lean upon and trust to for salvation..."

"The position I have taken relative to this subject will, I think, be admitted by every reflecting Christian as the Scriptural one when he considers that the promises of salvation run alone through faith in Christ, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36 and Mark 16:16). And that faith implies a knowledge of Christ, and this knowledge evidently is only from being taught of God. "No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal him" (Luke 10:22). I hope this brother, on a re-examination, will be able to tell us something of what he has learned of Jesus and of His saving power."

(Elder Samuel Trott, 1845, Centreville, Fairfax County, VA)

See here

See also here

Pink wrote:

"We shall now confine ourselves to the initial operation of the Spirit within the elect of God. Different writers have employed the term "regeneration" with varying latitude: some restricting it unto a single act, others including the whole process by which one becomes a conscious child of God. This has hindered close accuracy of thought, and has introduced considerable confusion through the confounding of things which, though intimately related, are quite distinct. Not only has confusion of thought resulted from a loose use of terms, but serious divisions among professing saints have issued therefrom. We believe that much, if not all, of this would have been avoided had theologians discriminated more sharply and clearly between the principle of grace (spiritual life) which the Spirit first imparts unto the soul, and His consequent stirrings of that principle into exercise.

Quickening Is the Initial Operation of the Spirit

In earlier years we did not ourselves perceive the distinction which is pointed by John 6:63 and 1 Peter 1:23: the former referring unto the initial act of the Spirit in "quickening" the spiritually-dead soul, the latter having in view the consequent "birth" of the same. While it is freely allowed that the origin of the "new creature" is shrouded in impenetrable mystery, yet of this we may be certain, that life precedes birth. There is a strict analogy between the natural birth and the spiritual: necessarily so, for God is the Author of them both, and He ordained that the former should adumbrate the latter. Birth is neither the cause nor the beginning of life itself: rather is it the manifestation of a life already existent: there had been a Divine "quickening" before the child could issue from the womb. In like manner, the Holy Spirit "quickens" the soul, or imparts spiritual life to it, before its possessor is "brought forth" (as James 1:18 is rightly rendered in the R.V.) and "born again" by the Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23).

James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23, and parallel passages, refer not to the original communication of spiritual life to the soul, but rather to our being enabled to act from that life and induced to love and obey God by means of the Word of Truth—which presupposes a principle of grace already planted in the heart. In His work of illumination, conviction, conversion, and sanctification, the Spirit uses the Word as the means thereto, but in His initial work of "quickening" He employs no means, operating immediately or directly upon the soul. First there is a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10), and then the "new creature" is stirred into exercise. Faith and all other graces are wrought in us by the Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word, but not so with the principle of life and grace from which these graces proceed.

Quickening Imparts Life

In His work of "quickening," by which we mean the impartation of spiritual life to the soul, the Spirit acts immediately from within, and not by applying something from without. Quickening is a direct operation of the Spirit without the use of any instrument: the Word is used by Him afterwards to call into exercise the life then communicated. "Regeneration is a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human spirit. It is the action of Spirit upon spirit, of a Divine Person upon a human person, whereby spiritual life is imparted. Nothing, therefore, of the nature of means or instruments can come between the Holy Spirit and the soul that is made alive. God did not employ an instrument or means when He infused physical life into the body of Adam. There were only two factors: the dust of the ground and the creative power of God which vivified that dust. The Divine omnipotence and dead matter were brought into direct contact, with nothing interposing. The dust was not a means or instrument by which God originated life. So in regeneration there are only two factors: the human soul destitute of spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit who quickens it.

"The Word and Truth of God, the most important of all the means of grace, is not a means of regeneration, as distinct from conviction, conversion and sanctification. This is evident when we remember that it is the office of a means or instrument to excite or stimulate an already existing principle of life. Physical food is a means of physical growth, but it supposes physical vitality. If the body is dead, bread cannot be a means or instrument. Intellectual truth is a means of intellectual growth, but it supposes intellectual vitality. If the mind be idiotic, secular knowledge cannot be a means or instrument. Spiritual truth is a means of spiritual growth, in case there be spiritual vitality. But if the mind be dead to righteousness, spiritual truth cannot be a means or instrument."The unenlightened understanding is unable to apprehend, and the unregenerate will is unable to believe. Vital force is lacking in these two principal factors. What is needed at this point is life and force itself. Consequently, the Author of spiritual life Himself must operate directly, without the use of means or instruments; and outright give spiritual life and power from the dead: that is, ex nihilo. The new life is not imparted because man perceives the truth, but he perceives the truth because the new life is imparted. A man is not regenerated because he has first believed in Christ, but he believes in Christ because he has been regenerated" (W. T. Shedd, Presbyterian, 1889).

First the Work of the Spirit, Then the Word

Under the guise of honoring the written word, many have (no doubt unwittingly) dishonored the Holy Spirit. The idea which seems to prevail in "orthodox" circles today is that all which is needed for the salvation of souls is to give out the Word in its purity, God being pledged to bless the same. How often we have heard it said, "The Word will do its own work." Many suppose that the Scriptures are quite sufficient of themselves to communicate light to those in darkness and life to those who are dead in sins. But the record which we have of Christ’s life ought at once to correct such a view. Who preached the Word as faithfully as He, yet how very few were saved during His three and a half years’ ministry?!

The parable of the Sower exposes the fallacy of the theory now so widely prevailing. The "seed" sown is the Word. It was scattered upon various kinds of ground, yet notwithstanding the purity and vitality of the seed, where the soil was unfavorable, no increase issued therefrom. Until the ground was made good, the seed yielded no increase. That seed might be watered by copious showers and warmed by a genial sum, but while the soil was bad there could be no harvest. The ground must be changed before it could be fertile. Nor is it the seed which changes the soil: what farmer would ever think of saying, The seed will change the soil! Make no mistake upon this point: the Holy Spirit must first quicken the dead soul into newness of life before the Word obtains any entrance.

To say that life is communicated to the soul by the Spirit’s application of the Word, and then to affirm that it is the principle of life which gives efficacy to the Word, is but to reason in a circle. The Word cannot profit any soul spiritually until it be "mixed with faith" (Heb. 4:2), and faith cannot be put forth unless it proceeds from a principle of life and grace; and therefore that principle of life is not produced by it.

...the deadly enmity of the sinner must be removed by the immediate operation of the Spirit, communicating life, before the Word enters and affects him.

"It is said the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended unto the things that were spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14). It would be a contradiction, and very absurd, to say that God’s Word spoken by Paul was that by which her heart was opened; for she knew not what he did speak, until her heart was opened to attend to his words and understand them. Her heart was first opened in order for his words to have any effect or give any light to her. And this must be done by an immediate operation of the Spirit of God on her heart. This was the regeneration now under consideration, by which her heart was renewed, and formed unto true discerning like the single eye" (Samuel Hopkins, 1792).

The soul, then, is quickened into newness of life by the direct and supernatural operation of the Spirit, without any medium or means whatever. It is not accomplished by the light of the Word, for it is His very imparting of life which fits the heart to receive the light. This initial work of the Spirit is absolutely indispensable in order to have spiritual illumination. It is depravity or corruption of heart which holds the mind in darkness, and it is in this that unregeneracy consists. It is just as absurd to speak of illumination being conveyed by the Word in order to have a change of heart, or the giving of a relish for spiritual things, as it would be to speak of giving the capacity to a man to taste the sweetness of honey while he was devoid of a palate.

No, men are not "quickened" by the Word, they must be quickened in order to receive and understand the Word. "And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God" (Jer. 24:7): that statement would be quite meaningless if a saving knowledge of or experimental acquaintance with God were obtained through the Word previous to the "new heart" or spiritual life being given, and was the means of our being quickened. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7); the "fear of the Lord" or Divine grace communicated to the heart (spiritual life imparted) alone lays the foundation for spiritual knowledge and activities." ("THE HOLY SPIRIT," Chapter 11 - "The Spirit Quickening")


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