Chpt. 42 -- Addresses To The Lost I
I dealt much with this issue in chapters 19 & 21, but will deal with it more at length in the next few chapters. It deserves that much attention. The question of whether the gospel and word of God are means in creating faith and repentance, in regenerating and converting the soul, directly bears on how the Lord, and the apostles and prophets, addressed those who were declared to be unregenerate. What can we learn by looking at the addresses that Christ and the prophets and apostles made to those who were spiritually dead in their sins?
That there has been a great change in the "Primitive Baptist" denomination on this issue is clearly evident to anyone with a smattering of knowledge of their history. As I have said in previous chapters, this denomination, contrary to its boastful claims about "not changing," throughout their approximately 200 hundred year history, have changed much in doctrine and actual practice. Analysis of these changes will be enlarged upon in upcoming chapters. Some of those changes will become apparent in the present chapter as we look at how the first Old Baptists (1600's) addressed the dead in sin, how the first Hardshells also did, and how you cannot now find anyone, in the "Primitive Baptist Church," who calls upon dead sinners to come to Christ for salvation and the new birth, as did founding fathers, Elders Grigg Thompson and John Watson.
I want to first cite from two of what we might call second and third generation Hardshells, from Elder Sylvester Hassell and from Elder Silas Durand, and then from Elder Gilbert Beebe, a first generation Hardshell. Then I will again cite from two other leading men among the first generation of "Old Baptists" (in America, Watson and G. Thompson) and see if they shared the view of Hassell, Durand & Beebe. I will also compare the "invitations" given by these first "anti-mission" Baptists, as John Watson and Grigg Thompson, wherein they "addressed" those whom they designated as unregenerate, and compare their "addresses" to today's Hardshell ministry in that regard.
"Throughout the scriptures living souls (people already supposedly already "regenerated" - SMG) are designated as the subjects of gospel address. "He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." (Luke 4:18) "The poor have the gospel preached to them." (Matt. 11:5) "Children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth the Lord, unto you is the word of this salvation sent." (Acts 13:26) "Ho, every one that thirsteth." (Isaiah 55:1) "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." (Rom.1:16) All these, the poor, those who fear God, the thirsty and the believer, are living characters."
("To Whom Is The Gospel Preached?" - By Elder Silas Durand -January 8, 1881)
"The gospel addresses of the Scriptures are addressed, we believe, to gospel characters—to those persons who have spiritual life, hearing, needs and appetites. These limitations are either directly expressed or implied by the circumstances. Even the letter of the word, where there is any fullness of narration, and the dictates of common sense teach this important fact. Inspired men could, far better than we, read the hearts of those whom they addressed; and they addressed hearers of different characters, and therefore used sometimes the imperative and sometimes the indicative mood. God’s under-shepherds are directed, not to create, but to tend the flock. I cannot conceive what benefit can be supposed by a believer in sovereign and efficacious grace to be derived from universally and untruthfully extending the comforting spiritual addresses of the gospel to those declared in the Scriptures to be dead in trespasses and sins—Christ expressly forbids that pearls should be cast before swine (Matt. 7:6).
Unless the Spirit of God first come and impart Divine life and light to the hearer, such addresses will be forever and totally vain. The imperative mood has no more power than the indicative mood, in the mouth of a preacher, to awaken the dead to life. No language or labor of man, and no fact in creation or providence, independently of the Divine Spirit, has the slightest efficacy to take away the sinner’s heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh. I do not deny that the minister may at times have a Divine persuasion that some of his hearers are spiritually alive, and that he may not then properly address them in the imperative mood." (Hassell's History, chapter Ten, page 339)
And again, he writes:
"Though in one article admitting that the evidence of our interest in the blessings of eternal life must be internal, yet he (Andrew Fuller -- SMG), in another article, says that “the terms hunger, thirst, labor, heavy laden, etc., do not denote spiritual desires, and do not mark out the persons who are entitled to come to Christ.” In accordance with this Fullerite principle, I myself heard the most learned Fullerite in North Carolina declare, in preaching upon Isaiah 55:1, that the address of the prophet applied to every human being, for that all men thirst after something." (pages 338,339)
And finally, he writes:
"The eminently pious and learned Baptist ministers, John Skepp (who died 1721), John Brine (who died 1765), and John Gill (who died 1771)——the latter the most learned man that has ever borne the name of Baptist——entertained precisely the same views of the sovereignty and efficacy of Divine grace as are held by the Bible Baptists of today. Though they proclaimed to sinners that they were in danger and on the high road to perdition, they did not call upon all men, whether spiritually concerned or not, to repent and believe the gospel. They dwelt much on the Divine purposes, and on the Bible fact that salvation is of the Loral." (Chapter X THE DOCTRINE OF GRACE, AND MISSIONS)
And now let us cite from Hardshell founding father, Elder Gilbert Beebe.
"The passage, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” etc. is sufficiently clear and explicit. It is addressed to all who labor and are heavy laden, and to no others; and whenever and wherever these words are applied by the Holy Spirit to any poor, laboring, heavy laden sinner, that sinner will as surely come to Jesus as it is sure that the dead will rise when the voice of God calls them forth. The dead neither labor nor are they heavy laden, they slumber unconsciously in their graves; and all men are dead in sin, and as destitute of spiritual vitality until they are quickened by the Spirit, as the body of Lazurus was of natural life before Jesus raised him from the grave. But as soon as a sinner is quickened by the Holy Ghost he becomes a laborer, and is burdened with a heavy weight of guilt, and such are called to Jesus and find rest to their souls in bearing His yoke, which is easy, and His burden, which is light." ("Invitations of the Gospel")
Beebe also wrote, in the same article:
"The declaration of Christ to the self-righteous Jews that He had not come to call or save righteous people, but to call sinners to repentance, does not admit of the construction that He had come to call all the sinners of Adam’s race to repentance..." It is not my intent, in this chapter, to deal in detail with whether all these terms, like thirsty, burdened, etc., are descriptive of saved or unsaved people. I will show, however, that John Gill, who many think did not call upon the unregenerate to come to Christ for regeneration, and who you would think, therefore, shared the view of Hassell and Durand, on the passage in Matthew 11:28-31, nevertheless disagreed with them and the Hyper-Calvinist interpretation, and was in agreement with his supposed nemesis, Andrew Fuller!
Here is what Gill wrote in commentary upon Matthew 11:28-30.
"Ver. 28. Come unto me,.... Christ having signified, that the knowledge of God, and the mysteries of grace, are only to be come at through him; and that he has all things relating to the peace, comfort, happiness, and salvation of men in his hands, kindly invites and encourages souls to come unto him for the same...but it is to be understood of believing in Christ, the going of the soul to him, in the exercise of grace on him, of desire after him, love to him, faith and hope in him: believing in Christ, and coming to him, are terms synonymous, Joh 6:35. Those who come to Christ aright, come as sinners, to a full, suitable, able, and willing Saviour; venture their souls upon him, and trust in him for righteousness, life, and salvation, which they are encouraged to do, by this kind invitation; which shows his willingness to save, and his readiness to give relief to distressed minds.
The persons invited, are not "all" the individuals of mankind, but with a restriction, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden; meaning, not these who are labouring in the service of sin and Satan, are laden with iniquity, and insensible of it: these are not weary of sin, nor burdened with it; not do they want or desire any rest for their souls; but such who groan, being burdened with the guilt of sin upon their consciences, and are pressed down with the unsupportable yoke of the law, and the load of human traditions; and have been labouring till they are weary, in order to obtain peace of conscience, and rest for their souls, by the observance of these things, but in vain. These are encouraged to come to him, lay down their burdens at his feet, look to, and lay hold by faith on his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; when they should enjoy that true spiritual consolation, which could never be attained to by the works of the law.
And I will give you rest; spiritual rest here, peace of conscience, ease of mind, tranquillity of soul, through an application of pardoning grace, a view of free justification by the righteousness of Christ, and full atonement of sin by his sacrifice; and eternal rest hereafter, in Abraham's bosom, in the arms of Jesus, in perfect and uninterrupted communion with Father, Son, and Spirit."
So, it is clear that Gill believed that the Lord was inviting lost "sensible sinners" to come to him for "salvation" and for "eternal rest."
Well has one writer said about Gill, in regard to this matter:
“The conventional interpretation of Gill is that he was a hyper-Calvinist, meaning that he not only taught double predestination but that he also drew from that doctrine the conclusion that the evangelistic offering of Christ to the unconverted was inappropriate. Leon McBeth adopted this interpretation of Gill when he wrote that Gill "was so jealous to maintain the sovereignty of God that he refused ‘‘to offer Christ’’ to unregenerate sinners and taught others to make the same refusal."
"On the other hand, Timothy George, among others, has called for a reassessment of Gill’s work. He points out that Gill’s objection to a preacher’s "offering Christ" to the unconverted arose from Gill’s belief that only the Holy Spirit can offer Christ, and he quotes Gill as encouraging young ministers to "preach the gospel of salvation to all men, and declare, that whosoever believes shall be saved: for this they are commissioned to do." Still, George concedes that Gill may have been so preoccupied with defending the gospel from dangers on the left that he did little to stay the erosion on the right, that is, hyper-Calvinism. George summarizes his evaluation of Gill as follows:
We may justly conclude that while Gill believed in harmony with the wider Augustinian tradition, that God, to the praise of His glory, had chosen from eternity to save a certain number of persons from the lost race of humanity, he disparaged neither the means God had ordained to effect the conversion of the elect nor the evangelical mandate to proclaim the good news of God’s gracious provision to all the lost.
Because of Gill’s immense learning and influence, it is important to identify his position, and it is likely that experts in his work will continue to debate that position. However that issue is resolved, or whether it is resolved, it is clear that some eighteenth-century Baptists accepted the view that a genuine commitment to Calvinism entailed a refusal to evangelize and that the refutation, or perhaps better, the transcending, of that view was indispensable to the health of Baptists.
The struggle between these two points of view was conducted by followers of Gill and followers of Andrew Fuller, the pastor in Kettering whose views were summarized in his book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation."
I will have a great deal more to say about John Gill in chapters dedicated to him and to what the Hardshells have had to say about him and his views.
But, before I go further, let me list the things, in the above citations, that need to be addressed at this time. As I said, I will deal with the issue of whether the passages cited by Hassell and Durand and which speak of those "invited" to "come to Christ" as being "poor," "burdened," "thirsty," etc., are to be interpreted as describing born again saved people, or rather as describing those who are "without Christ," and "dead in trespasses and sins." I agree with Gill's interpretation and I think he has shown well that what these souls come to Christ to obtain is salvation, new birth, renewal and regeneration.
It was not the common interpretation of such passages, as Matthew 11:28-30, given out by Hassell and Durand, second and third generation Hardshell "apologists" as they are, that the first Hardshells embraced.
It is evident that Elder and medical doctror, John Watson, who labored forty years among the "anti-mission Baptists," from 1826-1866, accepted the view of Hassell and Durand on Matthew 11:28-30, but, as we shall see, he did not share their views that the elect are born again and come to know Christ apart from the means of the gospel. He also too, like most of the first generation of Hardshell forefathers, addressed the unregenerate and called upon them to flee to Christ for the miracle of regeneration.
As one goes further away from the genesis of the Hardshell denomination, one sees less and less such exhortations to the lost to be saved. This was a thing deeply lamented by Elder Watson. He referred to his "anti-mission" brothers who were not doing this, and who were rather "scandolizing" their brethren who did call upon the lost to repent and come to Christ, as "Ultraists" and "Antinomians."
Elder John M. Watson
“I was received into an Old Baptist Church, at this place, known by the name of Wilson’s Creek Church.” (1826? – page 31 of his book "The Old Baptist Test")
“While on the subject of my ministry I will state, that my health is at this time, June, 1866, very bad; my physicians are very doubtful of my recovery; in fact, I am afraid I shall not live long enough to supervise the printing of this work...” (Page 40)
From these two statements, from his book, "The Old Baptist Test," we can say that he was writing from the perspective of forty years among the Hardshells. He also lived in the most critical period in the formation of the "Primitive Baptist" denomination.
The Hardshells are fond of arguing many false and erroneous things relative to the history of their separation from the main body of Baptists and one of their favorite sources for "proof" of their claims comes from a book from a Baptist historian who was fully missionary minded, and who abhored the views of the Hardshell Hyper Calvinists, David Benedict, who wrote several histories, one being called "Fifty Years Among The Baptists." I will hopefully deal with some of this argumentation and "proof," and with what Benedict actually wrote, in later chapters.
So, we might, with propriety, call Watson's book, in addition to "The Old Baptist Test," "Forty Years Among The Hardshells." What does Watson tell us about these important forty years? What does he say about preaching the gospel to the unregenerate? What does he say about means in regeneration? Let us hear him a bit.
"Upon this principle, the Gospel is preached to all, repentance and an interest in a Saviour's blood is offered to all. The charitable invitation "whosoever will" goes out to all inviting them to "take the water of life freely."
While all Gospel Ministers feel the weight of duty in extending this invitation, yet they know at the same time, that a depraved will is under a wicked influence, and that such a will never leads a soul to Christ. But that God is able to subdue the stubborn will, to change the evil disposition, and to prepare the sinner for salvation, in opposition to the devil and all his unholy influences. Then, brethren in the ministry, we should take courage...Let us rear the blood stained BANNER OF THE CROSS, with the blessed and heavenly watchword "whosoever will," inscribed in living letters all over its ample folds." (Old Baptist Test, page 15)
"Reader...I must address you in one of three characters. Are you a believer? if so, suffer a few words of exhortation...But alas! you may be altogether an unbeliever, but hardly so, for if that be your character, you would, I fear, have laid aside this book before reaching the conclusion. But you may providentially have opened it just here. What shall I say to you? I must in meekness and in love instruct you, if peradventure, the Lord may give you repentance to an acknowledgment of the truth, as it is in Him. I know no other way but to declare unto you, Jesus Christ our Lord. He is exalted to give repentance, and this you must have or perish. He is the great object of faith, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Do none of the things of Christ move your heart? Have you no relish for His name? No concern about His salvation? If not I must leave you under the law; I am unwilling, knowing the terrors of the law, to leave you there. II Cor. 5:11...Then call upon HIm while He is near, submit to His gracious plan of saving sinners. We regard it as a privilege, and know and feel it to be a duty to tell you these things, though it be in word only, praying that they may reach your heart in the power and assurance of the holy spirit." (pages 53,54)
He must go away, that the Comforter might come, to give efficacy, unfailing efficacy to all the means which He ordained for the ingathering of these “other sheep.” Means which, when instituted and employed by the Divine Spirit, will take the way of God’s predestination, in all their efficacy; hence, they derive both WAY and POWER from God.” (Page 80)
“This then brings me to the subject of their calling. This was of God, and gave efficacy and certainty to all other callings – by the preacher – by the written word, or by any means whatever.” (Page 81)
“Thus, the Gospel as the power of God could not fail to reach them with its blessings bad as their natural state was. Any inferior power would have failed. The Gospel as the Power of God must accord, in its practical course, with the foreknowledge and predestination of God. It is absurd to entertain a thought to the contrary.” (Page 81)
“We may therefore learn that the preaching of Paul, and of others was included in the calling of God. Hence, the Apostle asks the questions, how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach except they be sent? And may I not ask most significantly here by whom are they sent? Will our missionary Baptists allow Christ to answer?” (Page 82)
“Although the holy scriptures are thus explicit on the subject of preaching as ordained in subordinate agreement with the inward calling of God, they are no less plain in regard to the general call of the gospel as proclaimed under the last commission which embraces every creature. As it is very necessary for us to entertain correct views of this part of our subject also, I will offer a few remarks just here for the consideration of some of our ultra brethren, who, I fear, have imbibed erroneous views on this important subject. And I further fear that all such will object to my exposition of it; but see, brethren, that you do not, by so doing, refuse the testimony of the Bible!
There is, strange to say, an error entertained by some brethren, that the minister of the Lord should not call on “all men every where to repent;” of sinners to look to Christ and be saved; nor on unbelievers to believe. They are constantly saying, to preach in this way betrays Arminianism on the part of the ministry which thus exhorts its hearers, and also on the part of the Church which tolerates such preaching! Observe, shall we become Arminians by faithfully preaching according to the commission given by the Savior? Some, indeed seem to think so! For when the minister discharges his duty zealously, faithfully and in a gospel manner, there are certain ones who cry out, he is an Arminian! The great error, that this is one of the varieties of Arminianism, is affecting both our pulpits and Churches; for instead of requiring this kind of preaching, and sustaining it as a Church, we fear some are opposed to it, and use their influence to suppress it? I ask now, in the name of this world-wide commission, including as it does every creature capable of hearing, and which authorizes and commands the ministerial servants of the Lord to preach the gospel to every creature, who does so? with that love, zeal and regard for the sinner, I subjoin to the question, which the Lord enjoins. Further, is it not to be feared that we have in this way grieved and silenced to some extent the spirit of exhortation in our pulpits? The spirit of exhortation which spoke out plainly and fully, through primitive ministers in the great affair of bringing in these “other sheep” we fear is now with us only in a grieved and vexed state! Primitive preachers did not suppress it, nor attempt to confine its word of exhortation to believers only, as some affect to do among us!” (Pages 84,85)
“It is high time that our Churches were looking after their preachers in this respect, and calling on them for those pointed warm gospel exhortations which accompanied Christ’s primitive ministry. Brethren, have we not deviated somewhat in this particular from the Apostolic mode of preaching? If so, let us correct our errors by the word of God. Who is willing to attempt it? Who is ready to lead off in this great but neglected work as “examples” to more timid and fearful ones? Let those undertake it who are able to convince the gainsayers from the word of God, that such preaching was commanded by the Lord; and that the preaching of his servants as long as we have a Scriptural history of it furnishes a practical example of this mode of preaching the gospel.
A gospel without exhortation; without a call on the sinner to repent and believe; a gospel which does not in word address itself to all; is not the gospel which Christ ordained subordinately for the bringing in of his “other sheep.” (Pages 84-86)
“Let us take a practical example. We have it on record in the 13th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. When Paul and Barnabas preached at Antioch of Pisidia, had any of our ultra brethren been there and heard their zealous appeal to all those present, they would have called them Arminians.” (Page 86)
“While we combat this ministerial deviation of ours on the part of some, which affects to find Arminianism where there is none, let us carefully guard against those tenets which do really involve it. For instance, when we in our doctrine maintain that by means of our devising, we can extend the spiritual blessings of the gospel beyond the ordination or election of God, and employ such means for such a purpose, we then deviate both from the principles and practical course of the gospel, and thereby plainly indicate that we are Arminians in the proper sense of that term, so justly opprobious to the Old Order of Baptists. But as long as we call on men to repent every where, believing that God only can give repentance, and that he will give it to as many as are ordained unto eternal life, even if He does not to as many as we may address, we may escape all Arminianism, and more especially if our practical course in preaching does not involve any unscriptural methods."
"Let us see: The zealous preacher calls on all to repent, earnestly, faithfully and I may add, gospelly, but alas! the old brother whose head has got wrong, whose heart has grown cold, says all cannot repent, some have not the power to do so. How does he know? Peradventure the Lord has given the power to repent to the very ones whom he has in his feelings excluded. The secret power, and merciful grace of repentance may have pervaded their souls hidden and unseen by him, and be moving their hearts in the sure way of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgetting that He who gives repentance and faith, also gave the word; and that he who is exalted a Prince and Saviour to give repentance unto the elect, also commanded that his gospel should be preached in the letter to all–to every creature. But the objector here repeats that all men will not receive its blessings, and why call on all to receive them! But how dare any to say when the faithful preacher is calling on a congregation to receive these blessings, that some of them may not be at that time receiving them. The gospel may be going forth to them not in word only as they suppose, but “in power, in much assurance and in the Holy Ghost.” (Pages 86,87)
"“How mortifying to the feelings of a faithful preacher to be called an Arminian on account of preaching according to the very commission which Christ gave for the rule and government of his ministry. Brethren preachers, it is high time that we strive to please God in this affair rather than men. It is high time indeed that some of us were waking up on this subject; let us rather exhort our opposing brethren to pray the Lord that he would open the hearts of our hearers to attend to the truths which we may preach, knowing that none will heed to profit without this blessing, to the great end that the “other sheep” of our day may be brought in. Here again the objector says, why pray for that which is sure?” (Page 88)
“There are yet a few who contend for the general outward call of the Gospel, but we doctrinise it to (sic) much, lest some ultra brother should conclude that we are Arminians.” (Page 89)
“Now let us consider the practical manner in which these “other sheep” were brought in. Paul was assured by the Lord, that he had “much people” in Corinth, and was commanded to preach and not to fear–“Them I also must bring.” How? Paul is the preacher, and though an Apostle, God will direct his ministry. This is entirely subordinate to God and not to man, or any association of men. No not even of it were composed of Apostles!”
“Did these Corinthians hear through the preaching of Paul, by his words, or through the “demonstration of the spirit?” By both. The one was of the preacher, and the other of God. Who dare separate them? Who can unite them? God and God only. How do they become united?”
“This vital union of the word and the spirit is of grace; is not of the power of this world.”
“But they could not hear without a preacher, hence the divine plan included preaching, and inasmuch as it was embraced in the divine arrangement, it must be directed and maintained by t he Lord, as it has always been and ever will be. “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,” shined into their hearts, not only in the light of Paul’s preaching, but also in the light of the demonstration of the Holy Ghost. Otherwise Paul’s preaching would not have been heeded.” (Pages 94,95)
“The blessings of Abraham–of the Gospel–came upon these Gentiles, by Jesus Christ, and not by works of righteousness, which they did...their state, being under sin before conversion, is the state which we know we were in. To be under sin, is to be under the curse of sin, and to be under the curse of sin, is to be under the death of sin. Nothing, then, but the Gospel, as the power of God, can deliver from this actual state of things. The soul must have life, it must repent, it must believe, it must persevere. Gospel blessings only, through Jesus Christ, not works of merit on our part–can produce these spiritual–not fleshy–results.” (Page 112)
“...let them have all the benefits of evangelical preaching, believing, as we do, that the great design of this providence about which I have been treating, is to bring in God’s elect among them, as I have before stated.” (Page 142)
“My text further says, “They shall hear my voice.” – “the still small voice of truth pervading the whole soul in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Page 154)
“The Galatians began in the Spirit, by hearing the voice of Christ.”
“Thus did these “other sheep” hear the voice of Christ according to the different modes of expression, as just cited, meaning in every example the same thing–the hearing of the voice of the Son of God inwardly, mystically, effectually. Christ never brought one of them without this.”
“As they are all brought by the same spirit, the same gospel.” (Page 155)
“Further, I was much surprised as well as mortified that they evinced so little concern about the unbrought “other sheep” which the Saviour said he must bring. They lay great stress on these words of the Saviour, but do not regard other things which he connected with the bringing them in as they ought to do. I heard but few prayers for the sending forth of laborers into his field; nor did I see much concern in any way about them.” (Page 181)
“They preach well about the ‘effectual call,’ as they term it, but not so well about the outward one.” (Ibid)
“I felt inclined to ask these orthodox christians, if they believed that any of the “other sheep” are now among the heather nations? And if they were watching the providence of God in regard to them? Moreover, if they felt under any obligations to search them out; to pray unto the Lord to bring them in; and to encourage, aid and send out any who may feel called of the Lord to preach to them? I find that the great extravagance of many who have engaged in this work has had a very bad influence on these people, and probably prevented them in some instances from performing their duty toward the “other sheep” which may be in distant countries. And I really fear should any one profess a call of this kind, he would not receive the fellowship and assistance which he would be entitled to. Thus I fear they do not act as did those who heeded all the commandments of the Lord.” (Page 181,182)
“I will also close my fanciful sketch of realities, and entertain the fact that we are the Old Order of Baptists of the nineteenth century, justly chargeable with the deviations acknowledged, looking prayerfully and hopefully for their correction by the word of the Lord, and the light of grace in the hearts of our brethren.” (Page 182)
“The manner of these reforms is now open for discussion, and I suggest that it be carried on in the Herald of Truth.” (Page 183)
“It is erroneously believed by many that they have no concern about the unconverted, as they stand aloof to some of the modern means of converting sinners. This is also a misapprehension; for they employ all the Scriptural means for that purpose; at least their doctrine embraces them. They, however, make a Scriptural distinction between the duties of men and the work of God. They perform their duty by faith, trusting more in the Lord than in their own efforts. They do not expect, like many, to succeed by virtue of their great efforts. They do not predicate the conversion of sinners on human effort, but on the mercy of God; the way of which, however, involves certain Scriptural duties to the unregenerated, which they are willing to perform in faith.” (Page 230)
“We have often heard certain persons say, if they believed the things which we do, they would not exhort believers to perform their duties, or sinners to repent. They do not perceive how such exhortations and warnings may be transformed by the power of God into grace itself!
By our doctrine we are encouraged to exhort sinners, for we, by faith, look to the grace which sanctions it, and seals it often to the heart
If these be the means of grace, let us employ them, though we may often fail in the use of them, in our own strength.
There is a palpable difference between a literal declaration of Gospel truths by the minister and a demonstration of them by the Holy Spirit; the former is general and the latter special. Nor does the specialty of the one interfere with the generality of the other. A supposition that these conflict with each other has induced many to conclude that we violate our doctrine whenever we exhort; but such a conclusion is very erroneous. The Gospel must be preached, in its literal fullness, to all, though a ‘demonstration of the Spirit’ he confined to a chosen few. Matt. 20:15,20; 22:16; I Thess. 1:5.” (Page 233)
“And he said unto them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16: 15,16) The unscriptural sayings which have been predicated of this text, have done much heretical mischief among the Old Baptists. Some of our ultraists are occasionally heard to say, in our pulpits, that they have no authority to preach to sinners, and they seem to glory in their fancied exemption. Nothing appears to give them greater offence, or savors more of Arminianism with them, than for sinners to be exhorted to repent!
That the commission extends to such, is apparent from the fact that some believe, and some do not. Those who believe were unbelievers before, and the unbelieving of others can only be predicated of their hearing. What said the prophet? “O ye dry bones, hear ye the word of the Lord.” I would just state here, at once, that I have no idea that sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, will ever believe through the mere preaching of the Gospel, or through the exhortations of the Lord’s ministers, any more than that the dry bones would have lived through the prophecying of the prophet, apart from what the Lord did for them. But that fact does nut nullify the commission to preach to them, but on the contrary greatly strengthens it. The divine assuance that God’s word will prosper in the thing whereunto He hath sent it, affords great encouragement to preach to sinners. If it be said by the objector that they are deaf and cannot hear, faith replies God can open their ears; if said they are dead, faith again says God will give them life; and thus faith can meet all the objections which can be urged against preaching to the very chief of sinners, and at the same time exclude that Arminianism which some affect to see in a course of this kind. Where is the Arminianism, I would ask, in doing what the Lord has expressly commanded us to do? unless, however, it be by doing these things without faith. It seems to me that two very opposite errors may be indicated here:
1. The Arminian takes the means out of the hands of God, in toto, or in part, and uses them according to His own strength, and they then degenerate into Arminian powers.
2. The Antinomian will not regard any thing in the light of means, and in his doctrine will not allow even the Lord to employ them, says that the Lord is not dependent on means, and can do all His work without them. Now, the truth is, had it been the will or the way of the Lord, He would have breathed upon the dry bones as well without the prophecying of the prophet as with it, and could have given repentance to John’s converts, or to Paul’s, without their preaching; but their preaching to such, even to those dead in trespasses and sins, had been included in the divine plan, and it needs must be done, let it be termed means, the will or way of the Lord, as you please.” Pages 327,328)
“While Paul, for instance, is preaching and exhorting all his hearers to believe the Gospel tidings, a secret, unobserved, hidden power is operating on the few in the way of divine ordination.” (Pages 328, 329)
“Why did the Lord give a commission to preach to every creature, when it was not His design to save every creature? I will answer it as soon as the following one is correctly answered: “Why was it necessary that the word of the Lord should be first preached to the unbelieving Jews, who despised and wondered at it, and put it away from them, before it was preached to the Gentiles?” Let us learn our duty as ministers, examine our commission, and see how fully it authorizes us, in faith, to exhort the sinner to repent, believing that the Lord can give him repentance; so as to believe, believing that the Lord can give faith.” (Page 329)
Speaking of the “Antinomians” he says:
“In short, we have taught the word of doctrine to our hearers, without stopping to exhort them to be “doers of the word.” Such preaching has been a great injury to us as a denomination; it has quenched the spirit of exhortation among us, and the exhorter is afraid to call on sinners to repent, for fear of being called an Arminian. Parkerites and Antinomians call the things which have been so much neglected Arminianism, and they have thus, in a goodly degree, suppressed them. But, as there is some prospect of our getting clear of that heresy, we hope to see the spirit of exhortation revive among us again; to see our ministers take up the long-neglected things just indicated; and to see our Brethren going forth in all the obedience of faith. We had better thus incur the Parkerite’s reproachful term, Arminian, than the Bible penalties for a neglect of them.” (Page 330)
“We are great sticklers for the Holy Scriptures; we deduce our doctrinal creed from them with great care, but do not conform our lives to their practical precepts as we should.” (Page 234)
Elder R.W. Fain
From “Introductory Essay” by R.W. Fain
“Upon this principle, the Gospel is preached to all, repentance and an interest in a Savior’s blood is offered to all. The charitable invitation “whosoever will” goes out to all inviting them to “take the water of life freely.
While all Gospel Ministers feel the weight of duty in extending this invitation, yet they know at the same time, that a depraved will is under a wicked influence, and that such a will never leads a soul to Christ. But that God is able to subdue the stubborn will, to change the evil disposition, and to prepare the sinner for salvation, in opposition to the devil and all his unholy influences.
Then, Brethren in the ministry, we should take courage. Let us go forth “with the whole armor of God” and do battle for his cause. Let us preach Jesus Christ our Saviour “the way, the truth, and the life.” Let us preach Him a choosing, Electing, and loving Saviour. Let us rear the blood stained BANNER OF THE CROSS, with the blessed and heavenly watchword “whosoever will,” inscribed in living letters over its ample folds.” (pages 9-16 of "The Old Baptist Test")
Elder Grigg Thompson (Watson mentions Elder GM Thompson on page 48 of his "Old Baptist Test")
"To you, my unconverted friend, I want to say a word before I sit down. 0 that you could realize how miserable the state of all unrenewed souls are! They can lay no claim to Christ; not one of the precious promises of the gospel belong to them, and are therefore under an impossibility of salvation while in their sinful, unregenerated state. 0, sinner, if this is the state of thy soul today, and shall be forever, better had it been for thee never to have been God's natural workmanship as a man, except thou be his workmanship as a new creature in Christ. So speaks Christ of Judas, the son of perdition, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born;" Matt., xxvi, 24. Lost beings are without light or comfort; they wander in darkness, and stumble into the pit. They shall indeed see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God, but they themselves shall be shut out; Luke xiii, 28. 0, it is better to have no being at all, than to have a being that only capacitates us for misery, and to desire death while death flies from us; Rev., iv, 6. 0, sinner, this is thy state; think of it, lay it to thine heart; better thou hadst died from the womb, better the knees had prevented thee, and the breasts which thou hast sucked, than that thou shouldst live and die a stranger to the new birth. You today may regard this truth as a hard saying; you may hate it, and try to cast it from your mind, but he before whom you will have to stand in the great day of judgment, has spoken the truth with his own infallible lips, "Except ye be born again, you can not see the kingdom of God." Dear, dying sinner, don't be deceived; all who point out some other way for you to become a new creature in Christ Jesus are but lying spirits, and to follow their counsel will be eternal ruin. I love you, therefore I tell you the truth; I do not wish to daub you up with untempered mortar, or to beget within you a false, delusive hope. There is no salvation for you unless you be a new creature in Christ; your soul must be regenerated by the Spirit of God; you must be born of God, or be lost forever. 0, may God be merciful to you; may he, who by his grace, changed and made a new man out of a persecuting Saul' change you, and make you meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. May God prepare all our hearts to receive the truth in the love of it." (From "The Primitive Preacher" and the section "A New Creature")
"Dear sinner, how do you feel? Is your heart so hard that love can not move it? Are your eyes so blind that you can not see the slippery place upon which you stand, with fiery billows beneath you? Can you hear the groans, see the sweat-like drops of blood, and hear the prayer of the sinner's Friend, and feel no love for him in your heart? Can you sit and witness the tears and prayers of these dear saints, and feel no tender emotions? If this be the case, what can I say, what can I do, to melt your hearts, and fill them with love for the blessed Savior, and cause you to seek an interest in his atoning blood? Nothing! I realize it in my inmost heart. My arm is too short and feeble to reach you, and deliver you from the bondage of sin and death. All the powers of men or angels can not save you. None but Jesus can save you, for there is salvation in none other. 0, may the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead enter your hearts, that they may be melted down in love, and drawn to Christ, for there is salvation in none other for lost, helpless sinners." (From "The Primitive Preacher" and the section "Living Faith")
"This Jesus is the subject before us today. He is the "man" spoken of in our text, through whom forgiveness of sins is preached to ruined, perishing sinners. How welcome this gospel of Christ should be to a perishing world! It proclaims a Savior for the lost, a Deliverer for the captive, and that through him sin is pardoned, and the sinner justified. It is worthy of all acceptation." ("Forgiveness of Sins")
"Dear brethren and sisters, did you ever hear such a sermon before? Can you ever forget the comfort felt in your heart when Jesus took your load of guilt away, and spoke your sins forgiven? You then felt that the days of mourning with you were past, and that you would never sorrow again. "My sins are forgiven; Jesus is mine, and what more can I want?" (Ibid)
"Dear friends, I fear that many of you are today in the dark prison of just condemnation, and know it not, feel no concern, but love the chains that bind you down. Your heart is not broken; you feel no pain on account of sin, but drink it down as water. My heart feels for you; Christians feel for you; but our arms are too short to reach you, and my voice is too feeble to move your hearts to feel, or open your eyes to see. But 0, dear, dying sinner, may the great Preacher, whose word is spirit and life, speak to thee, and arouse thy guilty fears, and may cords of love divine draw thee to the dear Savior; for there is salvation in no other. "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." (Ibid)
"Careless, thoughtless sinner, to you I wish to speak a few words; and what shall I say? You have sat quietly and listened to my imperfect description of what the blessed Savior suffered for poor sinners; you have heard of his tender compassion for his murderers, when he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;" you have witnessed this day in his children the same loving, sympathizing spirit; you have heard their groans and prayers. Is all this to you as the chattering of a bird, or as music in the ears of the dumb adder? O how sad is thy condition! and how hard must be thy heart, when the dying groans, and the dying prayer of the Savior of sinners will not melt thee to tears! Can you sit unmoved, while you witness tears flowing from many eyes in this house? O that you could realize your true condition, and see the slippery place upon which you stand, and the fiery billows beneath you! Are your eyes so blinded by sin that you can not see, and your heart so hard that you can not feel? This, to me, and to these saints who are weeping and praying for you, is a sad thought. O that God may this day give you to see your condition, and feel the need of a Savior! Our arms are too short to reach you, we know; we feel it; and our words are too feeble to arouse your fears, or change the hard and stony heart." ("Abiding In Christ")
"Ungodly sinner, awful as the thought may be, and as much as you may try to put it out of your mind, or look at it as being far in the future, that day is coming when you will have to stand before your Judge; your condition will then be unalterable; you will remain eternally a wicked blasphemer, and the smoke of your torment will rise Up forever and ever. This awful truth is recorded in this book that is not to be sealed, but is to be read in all the churches, and proclaimed by all the faithful servants of our Lord, saying, "Woe to the wicked, it shall go ill with him; the reward of his hands shall be given him." There can be no mistake; for he says, "Behold, I come quickly: my reward is with me, to give every man as his works shall be." The thing is fixed; there will be no book of accounts to run over, and debts and credits to be canceled; the works of the wicked have been wicked works, and the reward shall be according to them. The justice of God will be fully vindicated in giving to the wicked according as his works shall be." ("SERMON ON REV, XXII, 17")
"There are many things spoken "by the Savior to his disciples, and written by the apostles in their epistles to the churches, that apply to Christians, and to Christians only. In explaining scriptures it is important that we should notice to whom the address is made, and apply the instructions and comforts to such characters or persons as the speaker or writer was addressing. To take the invitations, promises, and encouragements addressed to awakened sinners, mourning and seeking souls, and apply them indiscriminately to all men, is a perversion of the word, and giving the children's bread to dogs. But there are scriptures that have a universal application to all the sons and daughters of Adam, and we should labor to enforce their solemn truths upon the minds of all.
My text belongs to this class of Scripture, and teaches a great truth applicable to every man and woman belonging to the human family, be they great or small, rich or poor, learned or unlearned. If they are born of Christian parents, reared up under religious instruction, trained up in the Sabbath-school, and human skill exerted upon them to form the religious character, however good the character may be, and how ever much and closely the forms of religion may be observed, the truth of my text still stands in all its solemn force: "Ye must be born again." The man to whom the Savior addressed this language was a ruler among the Jews, and of the Pharisees, a religious sect among the Jews, who were very strict in their religion, and he, being a ruler among the Jews, was, doubtless, taught in all their religion. His religious training and character had not prepared him for the kingdom of God, hence Jesus said to him, "Ye must be born again." Who it is that must be born again. It looks like there could be no difference of opinion on this point, for Nicodemus was the man addressed, and evidently the man that must be born again." ("THE SECOND BIRTH")
Now let me look closer at some things these Elders have said.
Independent of the Spirit?
In the next two chapters I will continue to deal with this important subject.
It must be noted, in closing this chapter, that Elder Hassell endorsed Elder Watson, claiming him to be one of their own. (Page 622 in "Hassell's History of the Church of God") He also recommends Watson's book, "The Old Baptist Test," on page 636. And I need not quote from Hassell about the high standing rank of Elder Grigg Thompson! But, it seems that Hassell could not endorse the type preaching of Watson and Grigg Thompson!He speaks too of the "grieved and vexed state" of his "Old Baptists," and how they have "deviated somewhat in this particular from the Apostolic mode of preaching? If so, let us correct our errors by the word of God. Who is willing to attempt it?"
If Watson could come back today and see how, far from correcting these errors, the Hardshells have fully embraced them!
Watson also said that "...a Scriptural history of it (preaching to the dead in sins) furnishes a practical example of this mode of preaching the gospel."
Amen! That is what I will be showing too in the next two chapters as I seek to complete my analysis of this important subject.
Watson made this remarkable statement (see above):
"...a gospel which does not in word address itself to all; is not the gospel which Christ ordained."
He hereby indicts his own brethren, especially today's generation of Hardshells! They who do not preach in this manner do not preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! By Watson's own admission and criteria for judgment in this matter, modern Hardshells do not preach the gospel of Christ! By his judgment too the modern Hardshells FAIL THE TEST of who are the "Old" Baptists, who are the true "primitive" or "original" Baptists!
He spoke of these brothers, these "antinomian" and "ultraists" brethren, the Hardshells, in this manner (above):
"...the old brother whose head has got wrong, whose heart has grown cold..."
"Cold" how and in what way? Was it not in that they lost a passion for the souls of their fellow men, becoming callous in regard to them? Was it not that they were "cold" from not doing their duty and from not bearing their responsibility in this regard? If brother Fain and brother Watson were here today, I am sure they would be completely ashamed of those who proudly, yet falsely, claim to be the "Old" or "Primitive" Baptists! When he said, in 1866, "...they evinced so little concern about the unbrought “other sheep” which the Saviour said he must bring," he ought to see them now!
He called his description of the Hardshells as a "sketch of realities." Truly they are, for he lived and preached among them at least forty years. I preached among them for ten years. My ex father in law is still a leading pastor with them, as is my own father, so like Elder Watson, I too ought to know whereof I speak. Elder Watson called for "reform" in these ways, trying to bring his "anti-mission" Baptists back from the brink, from going further and further into an extreme themselves, a ill effect from all the fighting against a supposed extreme (mission methodology issues).
He said, "The manner of these reforms is now open for discussion." Well, what happened? Did they reform, since 1866, or did they get worse and worse?
He said, "By our doctrine we are encouraged to exhort sinners..." But, today's Hardshell "doctrine" does not allow it at all! They charge those with doing so as Arminian! So, Elders Watson, Fain, and Grigg Thompson, by today's Hardshell standards, were all Arminians!
Yet he mentions the "means of grace," and exhorts his Hardshell brethren, saying, "let us employ them." But, they have not heeded what their forefather admonished them to do! Again, they failed his "test"!
Even God Can't Use Means If He Wants To!
I have mentioned, in previous chapters, how the Hardshells, in the manner in which they "reason" about the new birth and means, MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE EVEN FOR GOD TO USE GOSPEL MEANS IN GIVING LIFE TO THE DEAD!
This is a point that Elder Throgmorton brought up in his debate with Hardshell apologist, Elder John R. Daily, in the early 1900's. I think Elder Throgmorton got it from Watson (he cited Watson in his debates with the Hardshells), probably from statements like this from Watson.
"The Antinomian will not regard any thing in the light of means, and in his doctrine will not allow even the Lord to employ them, had it been the will or the way of the Lord, He would have breathed upon the dry bones as well without the prophecying of the prophet as with it."
I have heard and read it so many times myself, in sermons and writings, how the Hardshells will say -- "Jesus must first regenerate them with his secret voice in regeneration before they can hear his words in gospel preaching." They are the ones who limit God, saying that he cannot use gospel preaching to raise the spiritually dead, even if he wants to!
"Such preaching has been a great injury to us as a denomination; it has quenched the spirit of exhortation among us, and the exhorter is afraid to call on sinners to repent, for fear of being called an Arminian. Parkerites and Antinomians call the things which have been so much neglected Arminianism, and they have thus, in a goodly degree, suppressed them." (Watson)
What a serious indictment of his brethren! Not only do they not preach the gospel themselves, they actually are guilty of "suppressing" such gospel preaching! Again, today's Hardshells FAIL his "test" of who is, and who is not, an "Old Baptist"! What say you of Dr. Watson, my modern Hardshell?
Grigg Thompson said (in the above citations)
"To take the invitations, promises, and encouragements addressed to awakened sinners, mourning and seeking souls, and apply them indiscriminately to all men, is a perversion of the word, and giving the children's bread to dogs. But there are scriptures that have a universal application to all the sons and daughters of Adam, and we should labor to enforce their solemn truths upon the minds of all."
One can sense the "spirit of the times" in which Hardshell founding father, Elder Grigg Thompson, lived when he wrote the above words. Yes, he was one of the few Hardshells, in the early to mid 1800's, who believed in preaching the gospel to sinners, and of pointing them to Christ for salvation, but you can tell that he, like Watson, a dear friend of his, in saying what he said above, similar words to those of Beebe, Hassell, and Durand, he was combating a perceived error on the part of some of the "missionary" Baptists, who they thought, erroneously, were taking the promises made to believers and applying them to unbelievers, and thus of "casting pearl before swine" and "giving that which is holy unto the dogs."
Did Watson, Fain, and Grigg Thompson then do this when they preached the gospel to "every creature"? By the words of Beebe, Hassell, Durand, and every neo-Hardshell, they will have to indict men like Fain, Watson and Grigg Thompson! What a terrible "tight spot" all this puts on today's "apologists" for Hardshell beliefs and history! No wonder they do not want to come forth and debate today!
It is interesting too that Elder Thompson, in the above citations, takes the same position as Andrew Fuller in affirming that the "gospel is worthy of all acceptation!""...they did not call upon all men, whether spiritually concerned or not, to repent and believe the gospel."
But, that is not true, as the citations that will be given from the first Particular Baptists, as Keach and Bunyan, will show. But, even in Watson's "Old Baptist Test," he and Elder R.W. Fain (who wrote the preface) taught otherwise. They said: "...an interest in a Saviour's blood is offered to all."
In the above citations, Watson said:
"The great error...is affecting both our pulpits and Churches; for instead of requiring this kind of preaching, and sustaining it as a Church, we fear some are opposed to it, and use their influence to suppress it"
"No language or labor of man, and no fact in creation or providence, independently of the Divine Spirit, has the slightest efficacy to take away the sinner’s heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh."
This is a "red herring." It is a veritable "straw man" argument. What believer in gospel means, at least among the Baptists, believes in the efficacy of the word alone? Oh yes, we know of the Campbellite who does so. Alexander Campbell could not stay with the Baptists and believe and preach his "word alone" view of "regeneration." But, Hassell and the Hardshells have learned how to misrepresent their brethren who continued to believe in the Old Baptist Confessions on "means," saying that they believe that "regeneration" was therefore "independent of the Divine Spirit"!
That is not what the Old Baptist Watson affirmed as being the ancient faith of the Baptists, however. He rather affirmed that both the word and Spirit were necessary in the work of regeneration and he was thus in agreement with the Old Confessions. His "ultraist" and "Antinomian" brethren, however, were NOT Old Baptists in their denial of the use of the word in regeneration and in their refusal to call upon all men to believe the gospel and come to Christ for salvation. Watson speaks of "the vital union of the word and the Spirit." That is not Hardshellism!
Hassell, Durand, and Beebe's errors:
"...extending the comforting spiritual addresses of the gospel to those declared in the Scriptures to be dead in trespasses and sins——Christ expressly forbids that pearls should be cast before swine (Matt. 7:6)."Hassell said (above):