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?