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.

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