Elder P. D. Gold wrote (1887) (emphasis mine):
"...I will try to explain more explicitly in a brief way what I know by experience of the travail from nature to grace."
"Firstly there is a begetting or quickening, then the sinner has a knowledge he is a sinner before God because his blinded eyes have been opened, and his deaf ears are unstopped, and then he is cognizant of his true condition. — Secondly, there is a travail of soul, and as I have said he probably mourns for weeks, months or years. Thirdly, then at an unexpected and appointed time he is delivered of his load of sin and guilt, and is freed from the law of sin and death, "old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." I possibly might say more on these points, but this I consider enough for the present. My dear brethren, If we are worthy to be called christians, Hardshells, Iron Jackets, or anything else for the sake of Jesus let us glory in such stigmas." (pg. 338) (see here)
Here is a synopsis of what present day Hardshell leader and apologist, Elder Sonny Pyles, said in his sermon on "Regeneration." (see here ) in regard to this three stage model of spiritual birth (which was the leading view of Hardshells in the nineteenth century).
In this sermon Sonny wanted to deal with "three major questions" regarding "regeneration." First, is this work "direct" or "indirect"? Second, is it a "process" that is "long drawn out over time" (a "progressive regeneration"), or is it rather "instantaneous"? Thirdly, is this work of being born again certain for all the elect?
In combating the "progressive regeneration" view Sonny first describes this view by describing just what Elder Gold (and all the first Hardshells) believed, i.e., that the regeneration or birth process involves three stages, first the conception, then the time of development in the womb, and then the birth.
Pyles says that this view is "unsound doctrine" and "heresy" and says that "our people have always maintained" their denial of this view and that "our forefathers" did not believe in progressive regeneration but in "instantaneous regeneration." Sonny defines "our forefathers" and "our people" as being those, like his uncle, who put out the Fulton Confession in 1900, implying that they all rejected the idea that regeneration preceded the new birth. But, he can find no Hardshell in the 1830-1860 period who objected to this view. I have already shown in my writings that the view put forth by Elder Gold as late as 1887 was the view of the first Hardshells, such as Gilbert Beebe, Samuel Trott, William Conrad, Wilson Thompson, etc.
Sonny's "people," it seems, all believed what he calls "heresy" and "unsound doctrine." Does Sonny not know the influence of Gold? Gold was a popular preacher and writer and a frequent visitor to the Bear Creek Association, just as is Sonny today.
In this sermon Sonny mentions an event in his early ministerial life (1958) in which he was present when an elder presented Gold's view (the original view) to about 20-21 ministers and was shocked that not one of those ministers objected to the elder's view. Sonny says that he was youthful enough, "with no courage and no sense," and so began to attack the view of the elder. He also says that all this was "to my sorrow." And he is disturbed by the fact that this doctrine is being advocated today by Hardshell preachers "down south" and from "various quarters." (Is that not interesting?)
You, see, my Hardshell brothers, your "forefathers" did not believe that conversion to Christ was optional but that it was that very new birth that was necessary for entering into eternal life. This is why many of the oldest Hardshell churches say, in their individual articles of faith, that they believe that all the elect will not only be "regenerated" but also "converted," that is both conceived by the seed and delivered.
Further, if the view of Gold is the view of the first Hardshells, who were the forefathers of those ministers who assembled in Fulton, then Sonny must admit that his denomination descended from heretics.