Thursday, May 5, 2016

From "The Gospel Messenger" (1887)

In 1887 "The Gospel Messenger" had J. R. RESPESS, Wm. M. MITCHELL, and J. E. W. HENDERSON,  as Editors. Sylvester Hassell was a writer to this paper and would later become its owner and editor. In the two citations below we see the doctrinal views of the "Primitive Baptists" at that time. (emphasis mine)


"Why should such things as these be alleged against the doctrine of reigning grace? Does the fact that God's grace and gift of the Spirit being the origin of the obedience of the saints lessen the importance of that obedience? Contrariwise, it seems clear to my mind that God's gift of his Spirit fully insures the obedience of the saints and all that follows upon it. After all of their cavil, the quarrel between Predestinarians and Arminians is not as to whether obedience to God is necessary and indispensable in order to salvation, for we as fully affirm the importance of that obedience as they. But the difference lies here: We look to God's predestination and election, together with the gift of his Spirit, as the things in principle which has produced all the obedience we can boast of, and that because we read as follows: "Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son." Now I do not fail to insist, even in the presence of Arminians, that we need not depend upon God's predestination, except as that principle has transformed and conformed us to the image of Jesus. I mean, and the Scriptures mean, we must be practically conformed to the image of Jesus, and such practical obedience which is outward, must be from pure inward motives, and as the Bible ascribes these to God's predestination, I cannot accept their teaching that that predestination is dependant for its existence upon the will of depraved mortals."


"To poor, short-sighted, weak-minded and finite mortals, such as we are, many things come upon us unawares, by accident, or by chance as we call it; and it really is so to us, because it is something we could not possibly foresee or foreknow — something befalling us in a way, a time or manner not thought of or expected, and we thereby learn the truth of God's word that the "Race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all" — Eccl., ix., 11. But dear Christians, nothing can ever befall you by chance or unawares to our God. In his government, whether of the wicked world or of the godly in Christ Jesus, nothing comes by chance or accident. Nothing has ever come in the past, nor will ever come in the future, but what has been foreseen, foreknown and fully provided for in the eternal counsel and purposes of "Him in whose hand is our life, our breath and all our ways." — Dan., v., 23. "In Him we live and move and have our being." — Acts xvii., 28. He hath set the bounds of our habitation here in the world, and our days are determined by his wise counsel and unalterable purpose, with such exact certainty as to be written in the Scriptures that "The number of his months is with thee," and as an "hireling man shall accomplish his day." — Job xiv., 5."

What do these statements of doctrine say about the position of "The Gospel Messenger" in 1887 respecting perseverance of the saints and of the absolute predestination of all things? Is this what today's Hardshells believe?

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