Aug 28, 2007
He did write an account of the event and posted it on his blog (http://cincinnatipbc.blogspot.com/) I left him a comment but it has not been allowed as yet by him. I really don't expect him to answer, however. The question posed is one I think he and the Hardshells will want to avoid answering. So, here are a couple excerpts from his blog and my comment that I left him. You may see the agenda and list of speakers by visiting this web site: http://www.baptisthistorycelebration.org/
Elder Bradley wrote:
"The Baptist History Celebration was held at the First Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina, August 1-3. The meeting was planned to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the Philadelphia Association, the oldest Baptist Association in America. I had the privilege of serving on the Steering Committee which planned this meeting. We met annually for the past five years and it really was a great experience to see people from various groups of Baptists working together on this project. The places we visited, the speakers we heard and the fellowship enjoyed were a blessing. I want to express special appreciation for Gary Long for his untiring efforts to make the meeting a success."
One wonders - if the fellowship was so wonderful and beneficial, why have the Hardshells, historically, done everything they could to avoid fellowship with other Baptists? Now, Elder Bradley already is not recognized by a large segment of today's Hardshells due to his support of Hardshell missions, preacher education, and other such "New School Baptist" practices, and I am sure his participation here will not increase his standing with the "conservative" brethren (who label Bradley a "liberal"). Primitive Baptist history is anything but "cooperation" with other Baptists! They cooperate with no one! The whole mission movement, and the movement to improve ministerial education, was all due to "cooperation"! Yet, history shows, that the Hardshells did not "lift a finger" (over the past two hundred years) in cooperation to help take bibles to those who did not have them, or preach to sinners who had never heard the gospel, etc. All they have done, since their genesis in the early 1800's, is to oppose all cooperation with other Baptists! Perhaps Bradley and the Hardshells ought to celebrate the fact that there is still a few of them around! He says it was a "great experience" to be in such a meeting! Well, the Hardshells have missed out on many "great experiences" by their history of non-cooperation and "do-nothingism"!
Bradley writes further:
"Speakers included Bill Brackney, Edwin Gaustad, and Tom Nettles. There were Breakout sessions covering such subjects as: Baptists and The Civil Rights Movement, Baptist Theological Controversies, Spurgeon and American Baptist Spirituality, History of The Primitive Baptists, and Baptist Preachers and Their Sermons. A wide variety of views were presented which made it an interesting look at Baptist history and provided some insight as to where they are today.As the 300th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Association is recognized, it should not be forgotten that this Association adopted the London Confession which then became known as the Philadelphia Confession. Over the past 300 years many Baptists have moved far away from the doctrines contained in the Old Confession but it is encouraging to know there are those today who still respect it and love the truth of the sovereignty of God expressed in it and are continuing to preach the message of His sovereign grace." (http://cincinnatipbc.blogspot.com/)
Here is my comment I left on his blog. If it shows up, I will be surprised.
Dear Elder Bradley:
Do the "Primitive Baptists" of today still believe the Old London Confession on means in regeneration? Why do most PB's today reject the Confession? Were the Fulton Convention brethren right in their "interpretation" or did they twist and distort it?
Your views on this would be very interesting to know.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Stephen M. Garrett
Aug 23, 2007
Yes, all this is true. But, why did the writer (S. Hassell?) not tell us that Leland, in addition to the things mentioned above, also was against means in regeneration? Why did he not also say that Leland believed in the kind of new birth experience that the Hardshells advocate? Is it because he could cite no statements from Leland to prove he did not believe in means? In the last chapter I showed that he did believe in means. I am sure if I could locate more of the writings of Leland that I could produce even more proofs to substantiate this fact. Hardshells do this a lot. If they can find a Baptist preacher, in the early 1800's, who opposed Sunday Schools, then well, that would make him "Primitive" or "Old School" or "Hardshell"! If we can find a Baptist preacher at that time decrying some new mission methods, then that, according to the habit of the Hardshells, makes that preacher agree with them on everything else! That "dog just won't hunt."
The writer says further about Elder Leland:
"I cannot in my brief space, mention but a few incidents in this great man's life, and call attention to but a little of his writing, but hope enough is given for the reader to clearly see where he stood in the division in 1832. The New School Baptists claim him, but their claims are entirely without foundation. The reader is referred to Hassell's History pages 622-628, and to the history of his life by Miss L. P. Green, if he should wish to further pursue the study of Elder Leland's history." (ibid)
Which is the most important issue? Is it Sunday Schools, mission methods, ministerial support and education, or the question of means in regeneration? All candid Hardshells will admit that the question of means is paramount. Why did the writer, seeing he had limited space, and could only cite but a few remarks from Leland, not give us the "jugular"? Why could he not cite one statement from Leland where Leland says he does not believe that the preaching of the gospel is a means in the new birth? If it was available, would he not quote it? Surely he would! But, he did not, demonstrating that he did not believe Hardshellism on the new birth.
Referring back now to what Elder C. C. Morris said about the slave who was converted under Elder Leland's preaching, Elder Morris said that the slave was regenerated before he came to America and heard the gospel for the first time. Elder Morris said that he and the Hardshells believe that the slave was "regenerated" while an idolator, while bowing down to the stump, and praying to the "god who sends the lightning." Elder Morris believes that the slave was "born again" at that time. Why? Because the slave was under conviction while in Africa! He was "regenerated" because he realized he was an evil and corrupt creature who loved sin and wrongdoing! He is welcome to that view, unscriptural as it is, but he is committing a slander when he affirms that this was the view of Elder Leland! He did not cite Elder Leland to that affect, but only insinuates that Leland agreed with him! Dishonest writing it is!
From Law to Grace
"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched (Mt. Sinai-where the law was given to Israel by Moses), and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Hebrews 12: 18-24)
These verses speak of the salvation experience as one in which the sinner goes from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion, goes "from law to grace." In the many experiences of salvation that I have read through the years, of Hardshells and other Baptists, in this day and in days of yore, I have noticed how, in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, those who told their experiences of regeneration spoke of them in terms of gospel conversion, of how they went "from law to grace," or from the guilt and burden of sin through the law to freedom therefrom through the gospel. So, in these next chapters I will be citing from the Hardshells and other Baptist forefathers in which their experiences of grace are told. I will begin with Elder Wilson Thompson, probably the leading Hardshell "founding father."
Elder Wilson Thompson
"I BELIEVE my mind was more or less impressed with the importance of religion from my first recollection. I had a dread of death and fears of future misery, that betimes would harrass me very much; but, I am now convinced that these early exercises were the effect of education. My father’s house was a home for the preachers, and was called a “Baptist Tavern”. Meeting was often held there, and then the Baptists from a large boundary would come, Father being a deacon and regarded as having a special gift in discipline, prayer, and exhortation, and, withal, one of the best of singers and what was called a fireside preacher. He was able in the Scriptures, sound in faith, social in his manners, and interesting but not assuming in conversation. He attended all the associations and other large meetings and visited many of the churches. Consequently, his acquaintance became general, and his doors were always open to receive all that came. So I heard much about religious subjects, and, perhaps, this will account for the early impressions of my mind. I am very sure, from a retrospect of those early impressions, that they were just of that character which a carnal heart and a defiled conscience might be expected to have, under such circumstances as I have related."
Notice how the word of God was not absent as a "means" in Thompson's initial religious experiences. He heard lots of the word! He also says that these conversations about scripture "account for the early impressions" he had in his mind in regard to God and divine things. He also says that he was not saved or converted then! He testifies that he had, at that time, a "carnal heart" and a "defiled conscience"!
Notice also that he does not say "the effect of regeneration" but "the effect of education." He does not see his conviction of sin as being an evidence of his "new birth."
He says further:
"The abundance of religious conversation which I heard early impressed my young mind with the awful realities of a future state, the miseries of the wicked, and kindred subjects..."
Elder Thompson then believed that "means" were used in his "conviction." It was directly due to the "abundance of religious conversation" that "impressed" his mind with the awful realities of hell, and of being the means of bringing him under conviction and condemnation. He also considers this work of convicting him was a preparatory work in his heart for regeneration, not regeneration itself. He seems not to have any difficulty admitting that the work of conviction was the work of the Lord through the use of means. But, as we will see, he later began to have difficulty with believing the Lord used those same means to bring him to Christ, to faith and repentance! Why does he have no problem with the use of means in conviction but not in regeneration and conversion?
Now some Hardshells will want to argue that the Baptists, in Thompson's day, believed that regeneration and conversion were distinct and separate, so that when he speaks of "conversion," he is not speaking of "regeneration." This however is not the case and I will demonstrate this in these series of chapters on the "evidences of regeneration."
He says further:
"Although all the religious conversation I had ever had (and that was not a little) was on salvation by grace alone, yet I had no just conceptions of that plan. While I felt very partial to the Baptists, I had never learned one idea of their system of grace, but was building all my hope upon the good works which I intended to perform."
His "hope" was not in Jesus at this time! His "hope" is in his own efforts and yet, according to Hardshell soteriology, he is "born again"!
He writes further about his experience:
"I was now, as already stated, about eleven years old. The thoughts of death, of judgment, and future punishment, with an increased force and terror, oppressed my mind; and now my resolve to do better after awhile gave me no relief. I therefore solemnly resolved within myself to set about the work in good earnest and never give it up until I knew I had obtained the pardon of all my sins, and then live clear of sin the remainder of my days and be a good, exemplary, straight-walking Christian."
Elder Thompson did not believe he was born again at this time. This is very important to note. Thompson recognizes that he has not yet received pardon for his sins. He realizes that he is "going about to establish his own righteousness," not yet having "submitted to the righteousness of God" in Christ. He had "no relief" because he has not yet come to Christ, not yet forsaken his own efforts to save himself. Will today's Hardshells come forward and say that Elder Thompson was wrong in seeing that his conviction of sin was not an evidence of regeneration? He says at this time, when under deep conviction, that "...the fears of death and hell would come on me with such terrific shocks..."
He said further:
"About this time, when I was in full sail, and with high anticipations, I learned that on the next Saturday, being, as I think, the first Saturday in May, 1801 or 1802, some young people about my own age were expected to come before church, as candidates for admission and baptism. I felt a strong wish to be at that meeting, to see if they were true Christians; for I fully believed I could tell, seeing I fancied I knew all about it. I went, and heard them relate what was called their “experience”. I sat near and listened closely. At first they spoke of seeing themselves great sinners, and of feeling great alarm, and great sorrow and trouble, and of trying to pray. All this I believed to be right, but then they spoke of feeling worse and worse; their sins grew greater, and still greater, until I thought they seemed at a loss for words to express how bad they were. Their hope of pardon died away, and despair of success by all they could do, cut off every prospect. Their prayers became impure and vile in their eyes. Their very hearts were deceitful and wicked. Their thoughts were presumptuous—in a word, they spoke of themselves as being so desperately sinful in every way, that they could not ‘do anything but what was sinful, and God would be just in His judgment if He should them cut off, even for the sin that spoiled their best performances. In short, I fully understood them to convey the idea, that they got worse and worse, until every hope of ever becoming any better by any effort of their own was entirely gone, and that they lay guilty, helpless, forlorn, and justly condemned, and were exposed to death and hell, and to an eternal banishment from all holy beings, all happiness, and even earth itself. This they were looking for as their justly-merited doom from a just, righteous, and holy God. But here a joy, a hope, a comfort, suddenly sprang up! They were filled with love, joy, and praise, and they felt happy. Their trouble was gone; the world and all around them seemed changed and new, and everything around was showing forth the wisdom, power, and glory of God. The cause of this great change I understood not, for they talked of no progress, except from bad to worse, up to the moment of their “rejoicing in hope”. I remember of but one question being asked, and that was this: “You speak of being very great sinners; have you now become good, or are you the same great sinners still?” The answer was prompt: “We are still great sinners, and in ourselves we are no better.” This answer decided their case with me, and I had no thought that even one member of the church would lift a hand to receive such sinners into their church. I really pitied the great ignorance of these young people; they would, of course, be rejected, and they ought to have never so exposed themselves as to come publicly before the church to tell how bad they were, and that they were still getting worse instead of better. The moderator, Elder James Lee, put the vote, and, my dear reader, you can scarcely imagine my surprise, sorrow, astonishment, and abhorrence, when I saw every hand up at once to receive them. I knew that the whole order of Baptists held themselves to be a Christian church, that is, a church of Christians, and, to keep so, they would receive no member into their body but such as give evidence of being a Christian, and as such gain their fellowship. Yet, here, they all voted, with an uplifted hand, to receive members that had made no such pretensions, but, to the contrary, had positively told them that they were not only not good, but still continued to be very great sinners!"
When were these sinners born again? When they were under condemnation? When they were burdened down with guilt? No! Was it not till they believed in Christ and received joy, hope, comfort, etc.? Note too that the "great change" included coming to find hope and "joy in believing." Does regeneration make one sad or glad? (More on this in upcoming chapters)
Thompson writes further:
"I began to desire greatly to know what was meant by law and gospel, and what it was, in Christian experience, that was called passing from law to gospel. All these things oppressed me sorely. My mind was in a tumult, like a troubled sea, tossed with contending emotions, doubts, fears, hope, assurance, and despair."
Notice how Elder Thompson and the Baptists of his time believed that regeneration (or the Christian experience) was not an unconscious experience, but a going from "law to gospel."
"But still I could not understand their system. This something they called law and gospel was with them the great matter. The beautiful and satisfying evidence of Christian experience consisted, as they said, in a thorough and correct passing from law to gospel. This was all new matter to me. I could not understand what they meant by the phrase, “passing from law to gospel”." (Chapter Two - "Early Religious Impressions")
How can an infant "go from law to gospel"? How can an infant be convicted at all? I have asked dad about this. I asked - "Do Hardshells see conviction as a universal and immediate result of regeneration?" If so, how do "regenerated infants" experience this? Of what sins are they being convicted?
Thompson continues describing his "experience," saying:
"When meeting closed, a company started with Father, some on horseback and others on foot. As they walked, I was all attention and felt impatient to hear them speak of the reception of these wicked children. They had not walked far until an old man from north of the Ohio River, by the name of Davies, introduced the subject by saying: “How beautifully them young people passed from law to gospel.” The general response from all was, “Yes.” Some said: “God has surely ordained and brought praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings”; others said: “It looks like the latter days of time, to hear children of eleven or twelve years of age give such deep and clear relations of experience as to almost surpass, and certainly to astonish the old members.” The talk ran on in this way, and so I found, to my utter astonishment, they were all fully satisfied. Indeed there seemed to be no doubts in the mind of any one of them, for all spoke of these experiences in the highest terms of approbation, as being extraordinarily clear; and yet these converts were mere children. I was soon convinced that the church had not acted hypocritically in receiving them, but, on the contrary, they had received them in good faith, according to what they believed to be the best evidence of what they called the new birth."
What is this "best evidence"? Is it conviction only? If one does NOT "go" from the law to the gospel, are they not then still under the law and its guilt?
"There was a prayer meeting that evening in the vicinity, and it being time to go, my father and I walked directly on. Soon after we started, the inquiry rushed upon me: “What has gone with all your trouble?” My burden was gone; the stream of justice that had been pursuing my life was withdrawn, and yet I was the same sinner as before! But was all my burden of sin and guilt now removed? or, was it not rather that I was now given up to such insensibility, such heaviness of heart, that I could no longer be grieved on account of my situation? And here I began to retrospect the past three days. I soon found my burden had last oppressed me in the hackberry top aforementioned, where, on my knees, I had confessed God’s justice in my condemnation. At once I inferred that God had shown me my guilty and condemned condition, and had brought me solemnly on my knees, to confess that His judgment was just in my banishment, and that I had no just cause of complaint, nor any ground to reflect upon His righteous decision; hence the honor of His Throne was fully vindicated. This being done, and the glory of God’s attributes all shown to me in the works of His hands, I concluded that I was now left in a hardened, insensible condition, and that my state was now worse than ever before, but that I was too much hardened to feel it. I labored to feel as I had felt, and to see myself again under the load which had heretofore oppressed me; but I could not. Yet I never once thought of this being conversion, but my trouble now was that my former trouble was gone!
Does that not settle it? He does not see himself as yet "converted"! Oh yes, I know how the modern PB apologetic is to say he meant a conversion experience that is entirely subsequent to regeneration. Did Thompson and the Old Baptists believe regeneration and conversion to be distinct and separate? No! (But, more on this later also)
He does say that it was at this time that God "showed him his guilty and condemned condition." Again, this is crucial. I mentioned, in an earlier chapter, how the Hardshells are in a "tight spot" relative to this matter of "conviction." If a convicted soul is already saved and justified, and then the Holy Spirit comes along and convicts him, telling him he is unsaved and unjustified, then the Holy Spirit is telling the convicted sinner a lie! I cited Elder Sarrels on this point. He realized the difficulty. How did he deal with it? He said that the Lord does not reveal to the sinner his actual state, but a hypothetical case, showing the sinner, not what he is, but what he would be without the grace of God! Said he: "The quickened person in conviction sees himself not as he actually is, but as he would be without the grace of God." ("Systematic Theology," page 364) Bunk!
"For several days I continued in this way; sometimes all my mind seemed shrouded in impenetrable darkness, but frequently an inward dart of light in the mind would reveal the way in which God could be just as a Saviour, through the mediation of His Son."
What is this "inward light" that only "darted" in his mind? Is it not the gospel? Is the gospel not a means in enlightening the mind savingly to embrace Christ?
"Although I could not understand how, yet I became convinced that there was a way in which God could save a great sinner by His grace, and still remain a just God, “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” My view was so indistinct and so imperfect that I could neither explain it satisfactorily, nor appropriate it to myself. Here I received the first hope that I could claim as a hope. I know of no better way to express or define my hope than this—I hoped I should yet receive a hope. I was assured that there was a way, and a glorious way, too, in which God could be just and save a poor guilty sinner; and I hoped I should yet clearly see it."
Is he yet regenerated and converted? Has he repented of his sins? Has he turned away from sin and self and fully trusted Christ?
"I continued in about this way until the meeting at Four Mile Church, where I was to go and visit my cousins, in accordance with the promise of my father, as mentioned above. On my way to that meeting, as we walked alone, my father introduced the subject of my exercises and insisted that I should tell him of all my feelings. I was greatly embarrassed, but finally I began, and the more I talked the more free I felt to talk, and so in substance I related all my exercises. I remember well how the big, glistening tears coursed down my father’s cheeks, as he silently listened to my relation. After I had done, and had answered many questions he propounded, he gave me important advice. Indeed, I shall never forget his impressive exhortations and admonitions, and the warnings which he gave me. He set before me my youth, the many snares and temptations I should have to encounter, set to lure me off into the world, and so bring reproach upon myself and the church, and, above all, on the cause of God and His truth. And I was very young, he said, and had never mingled with the world, to learn its ten thousand snares, baits, and devices, and although he hoped I had been the subject of a gracious work, yet he would rather that I should not join the church at present, but wait until I became older and had time to test my faith, hope, and zeal. In conclusion, he said he would not forbid me, but urged me to examine well the solemn responsibility of making a public profession. This advice, coming from a father in whom I had the most implicit confidence, both as to his knowledge in all these things and his desires for my good, made deep impressions on my young mind. I had always considered the advice of my father as the safest rule of my life; so I pondered this with deep concern and self-examination."
This is important testimony to remember. First, it shows his father was not yet certain of his regeneration. Were his father a modern Hardshell, he would have had no doubt at all about his son!
Thompson says further:
"I had very little to say to any one, for my mind was laboring under many conflicting emotions, and yet it was on a strain to see the glorious plan of salvation, which at times still shot with such glory and beauty before my mental vision, but which I could not retain for a moment, for a darkness black as night would rapidly approach and conceal it all from my view."
"On Sunday the meeting was held in a grove, until we were warned by the lightning and thunder from an approaching dark cloud, of the necessity of seeking shelter from the approaching storm. There was a new two-story house near by, to which the congregation hastened; and there Elder Riggs resumed his sermon. He was a powerful man in exhortation, and at times he was a strong man in doctrine. While he was speaking, the cloud began pouring down torrents of rain; the wind blew furiously, dashing the water through the open cracks of the log house; the lightning in forked flame seemed to almost part the firmament while the roaring thunder, like heaven’s awful artillery, belched forth at rapid intervals with deafening roar. The power of the God of the whole earth seemed fully demonstrated. In the midst of this confusion and strife of the elements, the preacher, at the top of his voice, made this appeal: “We are told,” said he, “that Christ will come to judge the world in flaming fire, and with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. Now, if He should appear in this cloud, amid the streaming lightning and bellowing thunder, who is ready to meet Him?”"
This shows that the Old Baptist fathers in the days of Thompson's youth were not of the "hyperist" and "ultraist" variety; it shows they were evangelistic and had no qualms about calling upon sinners to consider their eternal situation and do something about it. You will never hear a Hardshell today ask a congregation such a question! All honest Hardshells know this to be the case. What will they do with this historical record? What does this say about the type of preaching that was being done in the days when Thompson was a youth? Does it not show that those Old Baptists, in Thompson's day, believed that the gospel was a means in conviction, regeneration and conversion?
"At that instant the light that had so often flashed and darted before my inward eyes, now suddenly shone in me, and continued to shine in its splendor, revealing the fullness of the glory of the Person of Christ, and the mediatorial work He had performed for His people, through the redemption that was in Him, and obtained by Him for His people. God was revealed glorious in all His perfections, His law honored, and His truth and justice fully vindicated, while His grace was richly exercised in the free and full justification of poor, ungodly sinners who believed in His Son. This, to me, was the most transporting joy I had ever beheld. I knew it was the same blessed plan that, during several of the preceding days had been flashing across my mind. Christ was now All! He was truly the way, the truth, and the life, the end of the law, the fullness of the gospel. All I needed, or ever could enjoy, was to be found in Him. All that prevented me from the full enjoyment of His glory, was my being present in the body and absent from the Lord. I was caged in a poor corrupt body, away down here on the earth, while He was above, seated at God’s right hand. But I thought, surely He will come again, and then I shall meet Him in the air, having been changed from natural to spiritual, from mortal to immortal. Then I shall be with Him, be like Him, and see Him as He is. This all appeared plain to me, in half the time it takes to write it. I felt fully prepared to respond to the preacher’s appeal, and say, “I am ready to meet Him.” The awful solemnities of the judgment day had been the most terrifying thoughts that haunted my guilty conscience; and often, at night would I awake from my sleep trembling with alarm and terror, from a dream of the judgment day and of my final separation from God and all holy beings. But now the entire scene was changed. I now felt that in “that day” I should be inducted into the presence of God and all holy beings, to dwell forever in that place where sin, sorrow, pain, and death shall never come. The second coming of Christ seemed to be fraught with the greatest interest to me of anything I could think of in the future. During the remainder of the afternoon and evening my mind was calm, tranquil, and happy; and with an ecstatic feeling of delight, I contemplated the glories of Christ as a mediator, and of the redemption through His blood, of the fullness and freeness of His grace, and of pardon, justification, and eternal life in Him. The glories of the whole plan of salvation through Him occupied my enraptured thoughts, for let me strike whatever cord I may, it led to Jesus. “He was all and in all.”"
Notice that Thompson speaks of salvation as belonging only to those "who believe in His Son." Again, that reflects what Thomspson was taught, although it does not reflect what he later would believe when he became a "hyperist." He speaks of being "ready to respond to the minister's appeal." An appeal? Yes, the Old Baptists in Thompson's day were not reluctant to appeal to sinners to consider their lost condition and to come to Christ for remedy. He says that the "plan of salvation" was what "led him to Jesus"! That is upholding means in regeneration and conversion! He also speaks of his regeneration and conversion as making him have hope, relieving him of his guilt, and as being the means of giving him pardon.
He writes further:
"Some of the young converts were there, and we gathered together, and I talked and sang. I gave them my views of the fullness of Christ and His mediation, and of the relation in which He stood to His people. I told them that I believed, when He should “come again without sin unto salvation”, the sight of Him would verily lift them up “to meet Him in the air”, and being like Him, they should see Him as He is and dwell with Him forever. Thus we enjoyed a pleasant season.
The next morning my views seemed dim. I began to call to mind the question: “Am I really interested in Christ as my Savior?” and then many doubts began to annoy me, and with darkness, as it were, to compass me about. I never have doubted since but that the views I then had of the plan of salvation were correct, and that this was the only way any sinner was or can be saved. But my doubts began then, and have often harassed me since, as to whether I was savingly interested in that plan. In this way I lived, sometimes so obscured in darkness that I could hardly dare to hope, and at other times my views were so bright that I could not doubt."
"When I was raised from the water the first thought that I recollect was, “O! that sinners could but see and feel the beauties of a Savior’s love!” Such a weighty and painful sense of their blind and dead condition came over me that I felt a strong desire to speak of the glorious plan of salvation."
It is a shame (as we shall see further in later chapters on Thompson) that Thompson did not keep this same earnest desire for the salvation of sinners as he expressed here! His desire to see sinners saved and to experience what he had experienced would leave him. He had, at the beginning, a similar desire to that of Elder Leland. He is not merely praying for and desiring the salvation of those who are already saved, but for those sinners who are "blind" and in a "dead condition"! Oh what a tragedy that he would lose this condition of heart!
(Autobiography of Wilson Thompson, Chapter three "From Law to Grace--and Baptism")
Other Hardshell Experiences Examined
Now I would like to look at some other recorded "experiences" of some early Hardshell fathers. The purpose of this will be to see how they viewed the regeneration experience and see how that fits with modern day Hardshell soteriology on the question.
Elder J. E. Adam's ExperienceElder J. E. Adams was born, according to the "Biographical Sketch of Primitive or Old School Baptist Ministers," in Cumberland County, N.C., in 1834. His experience of salvation is told in these words:
"At an early age he had serious thoughts of life and death, hell and heaven, and began a system of reformation in which he was, at the age of twenty-five, trusting for Salvation, when he was deeply convicted of his lost condition by the application on his mind of the words of Jesus, "Ye must be born again". After this he entered the army, went through three years of service and returned home full of thanksgiving for God’s protecting care, though still burdened with the laws condemning sentence. He was in much soul sorrow until June 11, 1871, when God at the midnight hour spoke peace to his soul." (Page 17)
Today's Hardshells will affirm that this man was "born again" and "regenerated" when he was under conviction, while he was under guilt, while he was, as he said, "under the laws condemning sentence." Yet, it seems clear that this man did not come to the Lord and trust his gospel until God "spake peace to his soul"! His sorrow was then removed and he was freed and purged in his conscience. This is regeneration my Hardshell friends.
Elder David Bartley's Experience
"For an long period of his eventful life Elder Bartley was a citizen of Crawfordsville, Ind. He was the ninth child and sixth son of Elder John P. and Charity Bartley and was born in Ohio April 26, 1827. In his seventeenth year of age, he was deeply convicted of sin, but was not able to claim a personal hope in the Saviour until about ten years later. During this period of time many were his trials, temptations and deliverances; much his sorrow, sadness and darkness, but out of it all the Lord delivered him, gave him a sweet hope in Jesus and made him willing to be anything in the house of God; and in June, 1854, he united with Conn’s Creek Church and in January, 1857, was ordained to the gospel ministry." (Page 26)
This is a common experience among Hardshells. The first PB's viewed this as one experience. The Christian experience of grace not culminating till he had come to Christ and received hope and pardon in the conscience.
Elder Thomas Barton's Experience
Was of New Jersey and "was born September 10, 1787, near Washington city. His conviction as a sinner in the sight of God was sudden almost as lightning, and also as effectual. He was in the ball-room, engaged in the festivities of the dance, when he was shocked and astounded by a sense of the divine presence and his own guilty condition, and all further interest in the amusements of the hour was at once ended. This was in early youth. And to a man of his uncommonly lively social disposition and flow of animal spirits, the change must have been indeed wonderful. But the current of his whole after life was changed. His own experience afforded him an answer always to arguments as to preaching being the means of the conviction and conversion of sinners. It was not the means in his case; he had not been hearing any preaching. He said he never had become acquainted with an instance of such pungent exercises and deep distress as his own."
Was this proof? Was his conviction of sin without the application of truth to his mind? As far as his having not heard any preaching, I kind of doubt that. It is not the position of those who believe in means that regeneration must occur during the preaching of the word. It may occur later, but it will be made by the application of the words previously heard. Besides, it has never been the view of those who believed in gospel means to affirm that the work of conviction is strictly a "work of the gospel," or a "work of grace," but rather a "work of the law," and the law, as we will see in upcoming chapters, is written on the nature of all men and so there is enough law written in the nature of man to convince men that they are sinful. Even Hardshells admit this, so there is really no argument here. Hardshells could be cited at length to prove this point. And, it will be seen, in upcoming chapters, that the Hardshells confuse the "work of the law" and the "work of grace," something that the first Hardshells did not seem to have such a difficulty. The work of the law was to convict, while the work of grace and of the gospel was to give pardon.
The writer says further about Elder Barton's experience in finding the Lord:
"Elder Barton does not appear to have ever been allured by the flattering pretensions of the various societies and institutions that were gotten up as auxiliaries to the church. He lived before them, saw their rise and progress, and was present at the Black-Rock convention in 1832 when they finally were scourged out of the temple."
Yes, but the Black Rock Convention only condemned "methodology" in regard to missions, ministerial education and support, and of teaching the bible, and said not one word about protesting against the doctrine of means in regeneration. But, more on this later also. Also, why does the writer not cite a quotation from Barton where he repudiates this doctrine? Why would he, seeing he endorsed the Old Confessions?
The writer continues:
"The New School division seemed disposed to claim in part, at least, to persuade themselves, that he was not as hard as the rest, and that they would be very willing to have him with them. On one occasion one of their young divinity students sent him a challenge to hold a public debate with him. He sent him answer to "Tarry at Jericho until his beard was grown." At another time they appointed him a Director in one of their pet institutions, and sent him a commission. He returned answer that if he had any directions to give it would be in the words of Jehu, 2 Kings ix. 34: "Go see now this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter." The apostolic practice was his model, and he was always consistent." (Pages 27, 28)
But why would the "New School Baptists," who believed in means, claim him if there was no ground to do so? He probably believed in gospel means, and the presumption is to that end, unless evidence can be presented to the contrary. Although he might decry certain "humanly devised means" of preaching Christ and winning the lost, this does not mean that he rejected the "divinely devised means"!
If Elder Barton followed "the apostolic model," as did Leland and Watson, and other of the first Hardshells, then he would preach as Christ, as John the Baptist, and as the apostles! And, I have shown that their style of preaching was not like today's Hardshell "hyperists."
Elder Gilbert Beebe's Experience
"At a very early age he was seriouly impressed with a solemn conviction of his sinful and lost condition as a sinner and the necessity of being born again to qualify him to see the Kingdom of God. When he was about seven years old he was made to hope and rejoice in God as his Saviour. At this tender age he was taught that salvation was of the Lord, and never afterwards had the least confidence in the power of men to effect or help in the salvation of sinners. He united with the Baptist Church in Norwich, Conn." (Page 30)
How could the Holy Spirit convict him of a need to be born again if he was already born again by his conviction experience by the law? Actually, as I have shown before, Beebe split up the Christian experience of the new birth into two separate stages, as in physical birth. The quickening was compared to the moment of conception, when the seed produced a living being in the womb, while the completed "delivery," or "birth" was later, when the soul emerged from the darkness of conviction. This too was the view of Elder Samuel Trott. But, more on this later also. Based upon these views, Beebe would say he had been spiritually "conceived" but not yet "born." He would say that the initial conception or quickening was without means, but he seems to allow means in the "birth."
Elder R. A. Biggs' Experience
"Born in Rush County, Texas, June 2, 1849...At the age of eighteen he was convicted of sin, and realized his lost condition and for two years was under the burden of guilt and condemnation. During this time he tried in many ways to keep the law and get relief, but in vain. But God, never brings one in this condition without also taking him from it, and so his feet were taken from the mire of sin, his goings established, a new song put in his mouth even praises to God. Jesus was revealed to him as his sin bearer and he united with Orchard Gap Church in Collins County..." (Page 36)
I select this experience because of what is said about conviction, regeneration, and conversion. I do not think but few, if any, Neo-Hardshells will affirm this today. It was a more scriptural position and one probably that was common in the early history of the PB's. Notice how the complete regeneration experience includes a gospel conversion and ends in joy, peace, and assurance of salvation, and in a knowledge and faith in Jesus! He had no "relief" till he came to Christ in fulfillment of Matthew 11: 28-30. Most PB's say God brings his elect people into the awful state of conviction and then leaves him there!
I agree with the statment that "God never brings one in this condition without also taking him from it," bringing him into that gospel experience described as "taking his feet from the mire of sin, establishing his goings, and putting a new song into his mouth." Where there is genuine evangelical sorrow over sin, where there is that first preparatory work, God will bring that person from thence to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Will PB's today endorse this view? But, more on this in upcoming chapters.
Elder Frederick W. Keene's Experience
He was, according to the records, "born in London, England, March 28, 1856, moved with his parents to Montreal, Canada, in his fourteenth year, united with the New School Baptists in 1873 and began preaching for them in 1875. But becoming dissastified with their doctrine and practice he publicly withdrew in 1880 and in February, 1881, united with the Old School Baptists, was baptized by Elder Wm. L. Beebe...He was a gifted preacher , a fluent writer..."
"In regard to his Christian experience he writes as follows, "During my boyhood days I lived and walked in the lusts of the flesh and shrank from nothing to gratify my carnal appetite. But God arrested my wild career. On the first Sunday in April, 1871, I sat in a New School Baptist Church in the city of Montreal and the preacher gave out his text, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Instantly my soul was stricken, and all my vile anticipations were blasted, and the terrors of the Almighty made me afraid. What the preacher said in his sermon I have not the slightest remembrance of. I was a vile condemned sinner before the Lord. My sins revived, they stared me in the face and I felt myself a fit subject for the danmation of hell. I feared that the awful curse of God would be poured forth upon me and perhaps before tomorrow. I shall die, and I shall go to hell. God will say to me "depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." My trouble over my sins continued and increased and I could see no ground for hope that there could be mercy for one so wicked as I. I began to loathe my sins, to sigh and mourn over my vileness, but no relief could I find. Again I attended preaching, and the minister announced his text. "God is love." I felt, "Can it be so?" A little ray of hope shone in, and I wished it might be so. But in a moment all was dashed away, for I felt, if it be true, it could not be God loved me, and I sank yet lower in despair. But the Holy Spirit's still small voice said to my sin stricken heart, 'God is love.' Then indeed my heart was broken, and melted in sorrow before the Lord, and with a contrite spirit, I prayed for mercy, prayed for salvation, but the way of salvation for a sinner like me I could not see. Indeed, I thought I was adding to my guilt to think there could be pardon for such a sinner. Night came and I retired to my room imploring mercy, every moment I felt the Lord must soon come, or I must perish. While thus crying to the Almighty God, there came before me a vision of Jesus on the cross, and a voice said in my soul, 'Salvation is in my dear Son.' This was a gracious revelation, and while I was wrapped up with this sight, my heart went forth with all desire to jesus that I might know He was mine, that He did for me. Then I thought He looked upon me, so pityingly and said, 'Look unto me.' O my heart with all entreaty looked to him, and he looked upon me, and said, 'I suffered for thee.' Immediately my burden was gone and sweet joy and peace flowed into my soul. I wept and cried aloud for joy. This was the beginning of my hope of salvation in Christ, the Lamb of God."
Elder Keene says that while he was under conviction that he was a "vile condemned sinner," not a clean and justified one! That is not modern Hardshell understanding! Notice too that he gets no relief, no justification or pardon until he hears preaching and embraces it! This man's experience is a clear proof of how God uses means in regeneration! He hears the "still small voice" AFTER conviction! And, in hearing it, he believes in Christ through the gospel.
Elder J. R. Daily's Experience (ZION'S ADVOCATE - August 1905)
"The following is chapter six of our new book, "The Pilgrimage of a stranger." This work is not a dry recital of the uninteresting incidents of our poor life. From many of the incidents and circumstances related moral and spiritual lessons are drawn.
My pharisaical religion became very troublesome to me. It was so hard to keep. Resolution after resolution was broken. I tried to think my good deeds would overbalance my bad ones in God’s account, but all the time had great fears that the bad ones would be far in excess. One day I saw clearly that my efforts to live right, up to that time, had been an utter failure, and I formed a renewed determination to turn from my sinful career and live a holy life. I was really happy with the thought that I could do so. But soon I found that "it was not in man that walketh to direct his steps." It began to dawn upon my benighted mind that I was a vile sinner. At times my guilt appeared as a thick cloud over my mind, and at other times I sought to banish such dreadful thoughts from me and to seek relief in the thought that I was not so bad as many others and that God would yet find me worthy of his favorable notice."
One wonders if the Holy Ghost was telling Elder Daily a lie when the Spirit told him he was a vile filthy sinner? If he had already come to Christ, why does he not have "relief," "pardon" and "justification"? If he had already come to Christ, why did he get "life" but not pardon and forgiveness? Why not cleansing in his conscience? How can one come to Christ for one thing and not another? This was not what Gill taught, as we shall see in chapters dealing with him. He taught that in regeneration all the graces and fruits of the Spirit are all given!
"In the night of the 27th day of February, 1870, I dreamed the day of judgment had come. Dark clouds seemed to cover the skies and thunders appeared to roar as a threatening omen. I expected to see the Saviour appear, and my heart was filled with terror at the thought of being banished forever into endless despair. I thought I started to run from the wood lot in which we lived to a field on the east, in which I saw a company bowed in prayer led by a pious old neighbor by the name of George Evans, who was a leading member of the United Brethren church. I started to join them but something seemed to say, "You are not fit for such company," and I turned away. Just then I awoke. To be sure I was glad it was only a dream, and that I was allowed a short respite, but I fully believed this would be my inevitable fate.
The following day I went to a public sale at my cousin, Thomas B. Lucas, one mile north of where we lived, who was selling out to move to Colorado. It was a sad, sad day to me. Toward evening Father told me to hurry on home and build a fire. He and Mother had gone to the sale on horse-back and I had walked. I did as he told me, and as I sat by the stove that was fast heating, I mused over my sinful state and the dreadful dream of the preceding night. A picture of the resurrection of Jesus hung upon the wall. In it Jesus was represented as standing near his sepulchre facing the beholder, while the Roman guard were lying as dead men upon the ground and the angel was seated upon the stone that had closed the tomb. I looked up at that picture and saw the wounds in the hands and feet of Jesus,and his sweet face, which seemed to beam with the radiance of meekness and love. I thought of my life of sinfulness, and concluded that those wounds had not been made for me and felt that the look of love only spoke my condemnation, I left the house intending to try to banish those dreadful feelings by cutting some wood. I took up the ax but paused with a sad heart and downcast face. I stood in this attitude for a few moments, then sat down upon a log, covered my face with my hands and cried, "Lord, have mercy if thou canst!" My burden of guilt and condemnation all left me, and in my mind, by real faith I trust, I saw Jesus hanging upon the cross, and I fully believed he had died for me. I arose and began singing..."
I know I was happy then. I am sure that I loved Jesus and his people, and John says, "He that loveth is born of God." What sweet comfort that text has afforded me along the strange pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of a stranger sure enough! Life here would be heaven were I always as happy as I was then."
All these experiences show that God not only convicted of sin but brought the awakened sinner to flee to Christ where peace and pardon was found. All through the scriptures, this is represented as what it means to be "born again," to be "converted" and is not divorced from faith and repentance, gospel graces. It is the complete "going from law to gospel," from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion.
Aug 18, 2007
One of the adverse consequences of this error has been to think that all sinners "under conviction" are evidencing, thereby, the fact of their "regeneration" and "spiritual birth." This is no minor error. It highlights the serious danger of Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism. If sinners "under conviction" are told that they are already "born again," when they are not, then such a message will work to keep such sinners from truly being saved. But, these things will be dealt with in the next series of chapters. First, however, let us note how Hardshells are frequent in their claims that the great preacher, Elder John Leland, was "one of them," a veritable Hyper Calvinist Hardshell. Then, I will demonstrate how this claim is false. It is a common error of the Hardshells to claim certain Baptist forefathers as being "one of them," when upon further examination, it is discovered not to be the case.
On page 622 of "Hassell's History" the writer says - "Some of our ministers who have passed away during this century are the following: John Leland..."
He writes about the 1784 session of the Kehukee Association, and says -
"That eminent servant of God, Elder John Leland, of New England, was present at this sitting of the Association, and he and Elders Lemuel Burkitt, David Brown and Jonathan Barnes were appointed to preach on Sunday. Elder Leland was at all times very much interested for the general welfare of the people, and a bold defender of their civil and religious rights." (page 703)
In the book - "Biographical Sketch of Primitive or Old School Baptist Ministers of the United States," Elder Leland is included. Did Elder Leland believe that the gospel was a means in regeneration? Did he believe it was wrong to preach the gospel to sinners? to call upon them to believe and repent and come to Christ for salvation? You would think he did, based upon historical statements by the Hardshells. But, though Elder Leland opposed an educated ministry, seminaries, and a salaried ministry, and although he likewise opposed much of the new "mission methodology" then coming into existence, and even Sunday Schools, things that would put him into a degree of fellowship with many Hardshells, yet he never would accept their teachings about the gospel and its use in the salvation of the elect. This will become evident from the citations to be given forthwith.
I got a copy of the "Writings of John Leland" just shortly after I joined the Primitive Baptists. I remember it was a rather thick book and I have still recollections from having read it. I have since lost it (probably loaned it out and can't remember who has it). But, I remember, while reading his writings (years ago when thinking he was a Hardshell forefather), thinking how unlike he was to the Hardshells. He seemed too "Arminian" for me, no doubt due to the sort of evangelistic appeals he made to the unconverted. Was he an "Arminian"? No, he was not. He accepted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, even using it as the basis of a union between the Separates and the Regulars, although he thought that creeds and confessions of faith had been and still could be a hindrance instead of a help, if care were not taken.
However, I have found enough citations on the internet from Leland to substantiate what is here contained and asserted in this chapter.
Elder John Leland writes:
"I now come to a period, which was very interesting to me, and, possibly, on account of the incidents of this period, may be profitable to others. In the month of October, my mind was graciously impressed with eternal realities. Souls appeared very precious to me, and my heart was drawn out in prayer for their salvation. Now, for the first time, I knew what it was to travail in birth for the conversion of sinners. The words of Rachel to Jacob were the words of my heart to God: "Give me children or else I die." One night, as I lay on my bed weeping and praying, I thought if it was spring instead of autumn, I would spend all my time at the feet of Jesus in prayer, and at the feet of sinners, praying them to be reconciled to God; but winter was coming on, the summer was ended, and the opportunity past. On which reflection, the following welds burst into my mind with surprising effect: "The shepherds rejoiced on a winter's day." These words awakened all the latent energies of my soul. I resolved to double my vigor, and had faith to believe that I should see souls return to the Lord, and that I should rejoice at it that winter. For eight months after this, I had the spirit of prayer to a degree beyond what I ever had it in my life; and, if I mistake not, my preaching savored a little of the same spirit. My field of preaching was from Orange down to York, about one hundred and twenty miles. From November, 1779, to July, 1780, I baptized one hundred and thirty, the chiefest of whom professed to he the seals of my ministry. As this was the first time that ever such a work attended my ministry, it was refreshing indeed; nor can I think of it now, without soft emotions of heart. The chiefest of my success was in York, where Lord Cornwallis and the British army were made prisoners, in October, 1781. Matthew Wood, Robert Stacy and Thomas Cheesman, (all preachers afterwards,) were the children of this revival."
("Some Events In The Life of..." Part III, Written By Himself)
How any Hardshell can read this about Elder Leland and still claim him as "one of their own," is truly amazing. Perhaps it is just like Dr. McMahon said about the habit of the Hyper Calvinist writers to cite old writers and leave out pertinent information, citing in a piece-meal fashion. They handle the writings of our forefathers in the same manner they do the Scriptures. They twist and distort the record of the scriptures and also the Old Confessions and writings of our Baptist forefathers.
Elder Leland prayed for the salvation of sinners. This is something that modern Hardshells admit that they cannot do. They will never pray for an unregenerate sinner to be regenerated. Leland did! Leland longed to be a spiritual midwife and be used of God to bring to birth many of the elect through his preaching.
He wrote again:
"In August, 1799, my soul was again visited with the same peace and holy longings after God and the salvation of men as at former times. My preaching then, through grace, was not coasting around the shallow shores of doubt and uncertainty, but launching out into the deep for a draught. Attention and solemnity followed."
"Before the work made a visible appearance, and for three months afterwards, there was not a day but what I had the spirit of prayer, and a travail for souls; and often felt as if I should sink under the weight of my burden if souls were not delivered. Sometimes, individuals would lay in my heart; at other times, the longings desire would be more general. After three months I felt that spirit of prayer abate, but the spirit of preaching continued for three months afterwards, until the ingathering was over, and then the peculiar impression which I had, subsided." (Elder John Leland "Some Events In The Life of..." Part V)
This is not the spirit of Hardshellism. This man was desirous of being used to win souls to Christ. It was a passion for him, like it was for other great soul winning evangelists, men like Charles Spurgeon. Did Elder Leland not know that he was being "Arminian" by preaching as he did? Was he unaware of the fact that there are "operations of grace" but "no offers of grace"? Let us hear him on the matter.
"In 1806, I removed back to Cheshire. The day before the total eclipse, brother Birch was ordained. It was my lot to preach the sermon, which seemed to be blessed among the people. The substance of that sermon was offered to the public, in a pamphlet, afterwards entitled "The Flying Seraphim." The following winter, I sunk into great distress of mind. It has always been a question with me of great importance, to know how to address a congregation of sinners, as such, in gospel style. And this winter it attacked my mind with great force. Neither Gill, Hopkins, Fuller nor Wesley, could remove my difficulties. My fears were, that I did not preach right, which was the cause why I was so barren in myself and useless to others. This burden lay heavy upon me a long time. At length, at an evenings meeting at a school house in Cheshire, my heart waxed a little warm with holy zeal, and I gave my spirit vent to the youth and school children, regardless of all authors and systems, which had a good effect. Four of the school children and a young man besides, came forward for baptism in a few weeks, who dated the beginning of their religious impressions at that meeting. This little success, obtained at that trying time, gave me both relief and courage."
"At the close of the year 1806, I got amazingly distressed on account of my preaching, fearing that my barrenness in the ministry was owing to improper addresses. The Methodists were amazing successful and zealous, and the addresses of their ministers were general and undaunted. I visited them--I conversed with them; they were all for heaven, and assured they were in the way; but their zeal and confidence appeared to me like the mighty wind and fire in Elija's vision, and I could not discover that any with whom I conversed had any knowledge of themselves, of the law of God, or of the way of pardon.
The Gillite mode of addressing sinners, seemed a little different from the New Testament mode. The Hopkinsian method appeared as if it took all the wisdom of God to devise a way for an honorable pretence to damn men. Dr. Fuller only cast snother bundle of straw on the fire. So that the great query which has agitated my mind for more than thirty years, 'How is a congregation of sinners to be addressed?' at the time I am speaking of, fell with such distress upon my mind, that I could hardly contain myself. But in the midst of my difficulties, I had a meeting at a school house; in the time of service my soul got into the trade winds, and without consulting Gill, Hopkins, Fuller, or Wesley, without comparing our translation with the Septuagint, Chaldee, or the King of Spain's Bible, I addressed the scholars and young people in a way I never can without God helps me. The spirit of the Lord fell upon them. Very soon after this, five of them came forward and confessed Christ." (Continuation of MS. 1807)
"The wonderful effects that the reading and explaining of the Scriptures have had on the hearts and consciences of men, form an incontestable proof of the authenticity of the Bible. The Sybils, by the Romans, and the Koran, by the Turks, have been considered as coming from God: but their admirers have only received them as directions of life, (as we do codes of laws,) and have never pretended that those books affect the heart. Here, then, appears the pre-eminence of the Bible above all other books, for thousands of thousands can witness that the truth of the Bible has so affected their hearts as to make them love the divine character, and cordially submit to the government of heaven. And this same word of truth has borne up the minds of those who believed it under all their misfortunes, and made them triumph in the hour of death, so that if the faith of the gospel were a delusion, it would be the best delusion in the world." (Circular Letter of the Shaftsbury Association, VT By Elder John Leland, 1793)
(From The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland, Miss L. F. Greene, editor, 1845; rept. 1986, pp. 196-199. - jrd)
This is quite interesting historical information indeed. Elder Leland took his preaching seriously. Souls were at stake. He wanted to be right in how he addressed the unconverted masses. Which method is the right one? He no doubt studied the matter in great depth, realizing that there were some differences in how various preachers and denominations addressed the lost. What did he do? He followed nothing but the scriptures and the leading of the Spirit of God! I am convinced that such a course will work the same miracle today and keep many from the errors and dangers of Hyper Calvinism and its refusal to preach Christ to sinners and refusal to call upon them to repent, believe, and be saved in coming to Christ.
Here is what Elder Leland wrote in a letter to Elder John Taylor:
"It brings fresh to my mind the winter of 1779 and '80, which, was the coldest winter that America pas ever known; and yet, to me, it was the warmest that ever I knew. At several other periods of my life, I have had more success than I had at that time, but never had the spirit of prayer and travail for souls, to an equal degree."
"Your travels have been great, your success encouraging. "They that turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars forever and ever." When the ministers of Jesus shall be called to give an account of their stewardship, if, like their masters, they can each say, "behold I, and the children which God hath given me -- here, Lord, are the proofs of my ministry -- the seals of my faithfulness -- the souls thou hast given me." I t will be a crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord. But, notwithstanding success is very desirable, yet the promise is made to the faithful. Noah, a preacher of righteousness, was very unsuccessful; all his hearers but seven were destroyed; but, as he was faithful, he obtained the promise, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
Will the Hardshells take their forefather on what he says here? Or will they "throw him overboard" too, like they have others? Will they claim Taylor as being "one of their own"? Leland is writing to one of the leading ministers in Kentucky; and one that initially wrote against the modern mission movement (more on this in later chapters). Oh yes, Hardshells will applaud what Taylor wrote against Carey and others, but will they accept Taylor's view, shared with Leland, that the Lord employed the gospel in the regeneration of sinners and that such sinners are called upon in the gospel to come to Christ for salvation?Leland writes further, in his letter, saying:
"Whenever I had evidence that God had blessed my imperfect labors for the salvation of sinners, it has given me much more joy than the favors of the rich, or the applauses of the great."
Leland was not talking about some "time salvation" here either! That novel idea did not come about till "the rise of the Hardshells." He is talking about eternal salvation and how God used his ministerial labors to accomplish it. This is not Hardshellism!
He says again:
"A new order of things has taken place in the religious department, since I began to preach. Then, when I went to meeting, I expected to hear the preacher set forth the ruin and recovery of man, and labor with heavenly zeal to turn many unto righteousness. His eyes, his voice, and all his prayers, and deportment, gave evidence that his soul travailed in birth for the salvation of his hearers. But now, when I go to meeting, I hear high encomiums on Sunday-schools, tract societies, Bible societies, missionary societies, anti-mason societies, etc., with a strong appeal to the people to aid with their money those institutions which are to introduce the millennium; assuring the people that "every cent may save a soul." I do not wish to be the bigoted old man, who always finds fault with new customs, though ever so great improvements; but, when I see the same measures pursued that were in the third century, I am afraid the same effects will follow."
This is again a denial of Hardshellism! How these people can claim him when he says and writes such things is quite astounding! He was denouncing the kind of preaching, then showing itself, that was Hyper Calvinism, where the salvation of souls was not the interest of the gospel minister, and where preaching to lost sinners was avoided. Such a thing Leland could not stomach! I am certain that, were he alive today, he would be infuriated with the Hardshells who today claim him as being one of them, of being one who did not think his labors and preaching were useless in the salvation of sinners! Yes, he condemned many of the modern methods in evangelism, things Hardshells likewise disclaim, but he did not "throw out the baby with the bath water"! He opposed certain methods, but not the aim. The aim is to win the lost, to witness to them of their need of Christ and salvation, and this aim
I love how Elder Leland closed out his letter to Elder Taylor.
"Rev. John Taylor, who lives, or ought to live, in the town of Regeneration, Grace-street, Penitent alley, at the sign of the cross, and next to glory."
(EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER TO REV. JOHN TAYLOR OF KENTUCKY, DATED DEC. 10, 1830. By John Leland)
More evidence of the beliefs and practices of Elder Leland come from the funeral discourse of a fellow minister.
"An appropriate discourse was delivered on the occasion, from Acts xiii. 36, 37, by the Rev. John Leland."
"ELDER WERDEN was born June 6th, 1728, and ordained to the work of the ministry, at Warwick, Rhode Island, May, 1751, in the 24th year of his age."
"A criminal, by the name of Carter, was executed at Tower Hill. This occasion collected abundance of people from all parts of the state. While the criminal stood under the gallows, young Werden felt such a concern for his soul, that he urged his way through the crowd; and being assisted by the sheriff, he gained access to Carter, and addressed him as follows: -- "Sir, is your soul prepared for that awful eternity, into which you will launch in a few minutes?" The criminal replied, "I don't know that it is, but I wish you would pray for me." In this prayer, Mr. Werden was so wonderfully assisted in spreading the poor man's case before the throne of God, that the whole assembly were awfully solemnized, and most of them wet their cheeks with their tears. This opened a great door for his ministrations, both on the Main and on the Island." (A Biographical Sketchof the Life and Character of the Rev. Peter Werden By John Leland)
This is quite interesting. Leland believes it is good for ministers to ask sinners if they are prepared to meet God. Hardshells do not condone this. They do not believe that God uses ministers to "turn many to righteousness."
Now that it is obvious what Elder Leland believed, how he did not separate regeneration and conversion, how can Hardshells write the following in good conscience? That is what all must ask themselves after reading what Elder C. C. Morris, neo-Hardshell, writes about an indicent in the life of Leland.
Elder Morris writes:
"An account from the experience of Elder John Leland would also bear this out. An African man, years before his being captured and sold into slavery, belonged to a certain tribe that worshiped a charred stump of a tree that had been hit by lightning and burned. Convicted in his heart of the futility of such worship, he secretly vowed not to pray to the stump, but rather he would pray to the unseen God who controlled the lightning that had burned the tree to the ground. Wrestling with a sense of his sinfulness and helplessness before such an almighty God, he would secretly go into the forest, kneel by the stump, and beg the invisible God in the heavens for forgiveness and mercy. Then, the slave boats came, and he was taken to the United States where he was sold.
One day, Elder Leland was preaching on a town square. This particular slave was there that day with his master, who gave him leave to listen to the preacher. As Elder Leland spoke powerfully on the subject of conviction for sin, conflict of soul, conversion, and salvation in Christ Jesus, suddenly the slave cried out, "Lord, that's me by the old black stump! Soon after this, Elder Leland baptized him.
The question might be asked, just when did this man receive spiritual life--when he heard Elder Leland preach, or while he was yet in Africa, when he was first given the desire to pray to the God of heaven? The evidence is for the latter. One does not hear in order to be born again; he is born again so that he can hear. Yet it was many years after his experience in the African jungle before he heard the gospel which explained his experience to him."
(A QUESTION ABOUT REGENERATION AND BELIEF by C.C. Morris)
Did Elder Leland believe such things? Is Elder Morris right in his statements? Did the slave's "regeneration" take place in front of the "stump," while in Africa, when he was an idolator? Is that what Elder Leland believed? Elder Morris leaves the "impression" that Elder Leland believed as he does. But, this is again a case where Hardshells twist and distort facts. Elder Leland did not believe that conviction of sin was a sure sign of "regeneration"! He did not believe that any were "born again" who did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as reported in the gospel! But, this is where the whole subject now of "evidences" of the new birth will be dealt with and the question about whether "conviction of sin" is a preparatory work to regeneration or an evidence of it.
Aug 12, 2007
Here is what I wrote in chapter 14 relative to John 5 and the "voice of Christ":
"I will begin an analysis of the above sermon of Christ as it relates to Hardshell views thereon and upon the subject of the spiritual resurrection of which Jesus speaks. I thought it good to begin this examination by taking note of the various "voices" alluded to by Christ in this sermon. The word "voice" itself is used specifically in relation to both the Father and the Son. However, the often repeated use of the terms "witness" and "testify," imply a "spoken voice." Hence, my list above delineating those "voices."
One thing I also want to point out, in preparation for an upcoming chapter, to be titled "Addresses To The Lost," that this sermon was addressed to a specific audience, to a group who were clearly not regenerated, clearly not among that group who had already "come to Christ for life." And what do we then see? Simply this--CHRIST PREACHED THE GOSPEL EVEN TO THE LOST, TO THOSE WHO WERE NOT REGENERATED AND POINTED TO THEM THE WAY TO BE SAVED, YEA, EVEN EXHORTING THEM TO BELIEVE AND BE SAVED!
YOU WILL NEVER HEAR A HARDSHELL PREACH SUCH A SERMON TO THOSE THEY KNOW ARE NOT REGENERATED!
Take this then as a prelude to a more indepth discussion (which I have done in the past six chapters on "Addresses to the Lost") of this whole issue of whether the gospel is to be preached to all men, for the purpose of exhorting them to come to Christ for salvation."
Addressing the Lost in John 5 (an enlargement)
How they are Described? They are: 1) His persecutors (vs. 10), 2) His would be Murderers (vs. 16, 18), 3) Those who had not heard the Father's voice (vs. 37), 4) Those who have not God's word abiding in them (vs. 38), 5) Unbelievers (vs. 38), 6) Those who refuse to come to him for life (vs. 40), 7) Those who have not God's love in their hearts (vs. 42), 8) Those who received not Christ (vs. 43), 9) Those who trusted in Moses (vs. 45), 10) Those who don't believe Moses (vs. 46, 47), 11) Those who don't believe the words of Christ (vs. 47).
Now notice these words, addressed to these people, who are obviously not "regenerated" already, nor already "born again"!
"These things I say unto you that you might be saved." (vs. 34) "I say unto you - he who hears my word and believes..." (vs. 24) "Honor the Son." (vs. 23) "Search the scriptures." (vs. 39) "Come to me for life." (vs. 40)
Whom did Christ address and What did Christ Preach, in John 5? Clearly he was addressing dead sinners.
"...and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel."
"That all men should honour the Son."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth..."
"...but these things I say, that ye might be saved."
"...ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light."
"Search the scriptures..."
"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
"How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?"
"But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?"
How can a man read the above words of Christ and deny:
1. That the gospel is to be preached to all men, even to those who are known to be unregenerate?
2. That in preaching to the lost, they are to be exhorted to believe in Christ for salvation, to come to him for life?
3. That hearing the "voice" of Christ is the same as hearing the "word" or "words" of Christ?
4. That it is the will of God the Father that every man "honour" Christ, "marvel" at his person and work, "believe" in him and his words, if for no other reason than for the sake of his works?
5. That Christ was preaching to these unregenerate souls in order "that you might be saved?" The "you" here is clearly unregenerate people.
It is clear that it was the intention of the preaching of Christ to point these lost souls to the way of salvation, to faith in him. These to whom Jesus preached were "dead in tresspasses and sins," and yet Christ is talking to them, preaching to them about what it takes to be saved and regenerated, how to come out of that state of death, and live in Christ!
Addressing the Lost in John 6
Who is Christ Addressing in John 6? And, what does he say to them?
They are described thusly by Christ: 1) They don't "seek Christ" (vs. 26), 2) They "seek" the "loaves and fishes" (vs. 26), 3) They are not laboring for spiritual food (vs. 34), 4) They are laboring to satisfy carnal appetites (vs. 34), 5) They do not believe in Jesus (vs. 28, 30), 6) They murmur against Jesus (vs. 41, 43), 7) They have no life in them (vs. 53), 8) They went back from following Christ (vs. 66-69), 9) They had no assurance of salvation (vs. 66-69).
Why is Jesus even preaching to them? Is he talking to their carnal minds or to their spiritual minds? Is he "casting pearls before swine" and "giving holy bread to the dogs"? Is he preaching the gospel or the law to these unregenerate souls? When he corrects them, to what end is it? Is he condemning them for these things? Are they under duty then? Is there not a call to faith here? When Jesus says, "My Father gives you the true bread," who is designated by the pronoun "you"? Is it not these who are presently unregenerate and dead? And, does the word "give" not mean all the same as "offer"? When he says that he gives his life "for the life of the world" (vs. 34, 35), is he not saying this bread is available to them? Is it not by their "coming to Christ," the very thing they "will not" do? And, even though Jesus knows already that they "will not come to him," yet he preaches to them anyway! Is this the modern Hardshell practice?
These lost souls in John 6 had "sent unto John" (vs. 33), as a kind of enquirer, and were "willing to rejoice in his light" (vs. 35). Many Hardshells will want to make these people born again souls because of this latter statement. But, even depraved sinners may find reason to rejoice when they hear the gospel but who are not yet born again.
And the clincher is this; Christ says "these things I say unto you that you might be saved." The Hardshells cannot make this "time salvation" as these have not even been regenerated yet. The "salvation" can't be regeneration either, in the Hardshell scheme, since Christ does not use preaching to accomplish that work, and preaching is what he is doing here! "These things I say," meaning this whole sermon I am preaching to you, are spoken that you might thereby believe and be saved. Besides, Christ is clearly attempting to persuade and he uses words and arguments, something that many Hardshells decry! Do the Hardshells preach to the unregenerate as did Christ? Do they teach them as did Christ? Do they exhort them as did Christ? Clearly Christ did not accept their "logic" that preaching to dead sinners was a waste of time and served no purpose!
Addresses to the Lost in John 7
First of all, in this chapter, Jesus addresses all who are in the Temple (vs. 24 16). And he addresses a particular group within the Temple, a group who "accuses" Christ, saying "he has a demon." (vs. 20) They are further identified as being they who "know not God" (vs. 28). They are they are want to kill Jesus (vs. 30, 32). They are such who will not "find" Christ (vs. 34). Yet, the record is that Christ speaks to them - "I say unto you..." (vs. 47) And, in speaking to lost souls, he says - "If anyone..." (vs. 37-39) And, among this general audience, "many believe on him," who were not previously believers, for his preaching made them believers. Yet, not all to whom he preached believed on him. He preached to elect and non-elect. He said to all - "come to me and drink."
Addresses to the Lost in John 8
Here is the description of those to whom Jesus was speaking: 1. They know not the Father (vcs. 19), 2. They know not Christ (vs. 19), 3. They are unbelievers and will die in their sins (vs. 21), 4. They are "from below" (vs. 23), 5. They are "of the world" (vs. 23), 6. They want to kill the Lord (vs. 37, 40, 59), 7. They are not "Abraham's children" (vs. 39), 8. God is not their "Father" (vs. 42), 9. Satan is their "father" (vs. 44), 10. Unbelievers (vs. 45,46), 11. They are "not of God" (vs. 47), 12. They are "accusers" of Jesus - "he has a demon" (vs. 48), 13. They do not know the Father (vs. 55).
Notice verse 24 - "I say unto you..." "You" who? Is it not these same people? What does he say to them? "You shall die in your sins if you believe not..." Is that the type preaching of the Hardshells? Do they preach this way to dead sinners? Notice verse 51 - "I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
This address, like the ones in John 5, John 6, and John 7, are all to the spiritually dead, to those who are degenenerate, not "regenerate." This is where we get our authority and example to preach to the unsaved. This is where we get insight into how to witness to them, what to say to them, etc. But the Hyper Calvinist ignores all this! Every would be Hardshell "debater" and "apologist" must meet these objections and cannot avoid them without embarrassment.
Addresses to the Lost in John 10
There is a division in the audience that Jesus addresses in this chapter. Sometimes he will speak to the entire audience, without distinction, and then, at other times, will speak to one of the two classes within the audience. There are believers and unbelievers, as it says - "there was a division among them" (vs. 19) "Them" refers to the audience generally. To some, he speaks to them as being his "sheep," while to others he addresses, saying - "you are not of my sheep." Now, if Jesus were a Hyper Calvinist, a Hardshell Baptist, he would not even be preaching at all to these people! He certainly could not be condemning them for not coming to him savingly, nor for not believing on him, because they do not believe unregenerate men are under any duty or obligation to do this! But, Christ did condemn them, thus proving he thought it to be their duty to do so! He also spoke of spiritual truth, not just moral truth. He spoke of the plan and way of salvation, which is surely spiritual truth, and that to people who had no ears to hear, nor any spiritual life! Again, it is more proof that Christ was not an Antinomian Hyperist! His practice proves his doctrine.
Those to whom Christ preached the gospel, in John 10, included those "doubting Jews" (vs. 24), unbelievers (vs. 25,26,38), those who do not "know" Jesus (vs. 27,38), and those whom Jesus does not "know" (vs. 27), those who want to kill Jesus (vs. 31,39), and who accuse him, saying - "he has a demon" (vs. 33,36)
How can these characters be "born again" children of God? Only a biased Hardshell heretic will attempt to make them so. Why? Because he is unwilling to see the truth here - the gospel is to be preached to the dead sinner that he might live thereby.
The Preaching of the Baptist
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand...But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3: 1,2,7-12)The Preaching of Repentance by John
This was not mere legal or moral repentance! It was spiritual! It was the kind necessary for entrance into the spiritual kingdom. This spiritual repentance was commanded of all men who heard the Baptist preach. His preaching was indiscriminate. Repentance was a requirement of entrance into Messiah's kingdom and this kingdom is not the Hardshell church, as they teach.
Most Hardshells acknowledge repentance to be necessary to salvation, but not to regeneration. Most will acknowledge that God "gives repentance unto life." All neo-Hardshells affirm that such repentance is given independently of gospel preaching and exhortation. John is calling to repentance, however, and attends it with threats and warnings.
There is no question that these to whom John is preaching and calling to repentance and faith, are unregenerated lost souls, men who are spiritually dead in tresspasses and sins. How do we know this? The context clearly describes the ones who are being called and warned.
First, he calls them a "generation (or 'brood') of vipers." There is no way that one can make such people to be "born again children of God"! No way! John speaks to them as in need of repentance, in need of bringing forth good fruit, and in danger too of being destroyed in eternal judgment.
The Hypers think there is no warrant for preaching to the dead, even decrying such preaching as being silly and insane. Who can preach to the spiritually dead, to those who have no ears? This is what we hear from them frequently. Yet, what do we see John doing, but this very thing the Hardshells decry doing! He preached the gospel to those who had no good fruit, had no repentance, who had false assurance of salvation, and who are a "brood of snakes." Again, this clearly identifies them as not regenerated. He is speaking to them, not about moral or legal truth, but of spiritual truth, about the gospel of Jesus Christ and his salvation. I would ask the Hardshell to tell us - was John preaching to the carnal or spiritual minds of these vipers? Was he being silly and foolish in preaching to these dead souls?
He reasons with them, saying to them - "think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our Father." Why is he telling them to not trust in these things for salvation? Is it not in order that they might come to trust in the proper thing for salvation? And, what is also very striking in the text, is the fact that the Baptist says to these very vipers - "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Does he not mean, "He shall baptize you" (save you) if you repent, come to Messiah, bring forth good fruit? He certainly is not saying that he will do these things to them as long as they remain unrepentant and a brood of vipers.
To these unregenerated dead sinners John preaches the gospel! He does not care if they are not able to do as he commands. He knows the Lord will empower the word he is preaching, to these vipers, so that these dead sinners may hear, obey, and repent and believe. He warns these wicked men to "flee the wrath to come," and calls their attention to the coming of judgment for sin. Do Hardshells preach then like the first Baptist?
The Counsel of the Baptist
"And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people." (Luke 3:10-18)
This audience did not consists of simply saints. When the gospel is first preached in a city, that city will contain either all saved people, all lost people, or a mixture of the two. I doubt any city, to which the Baptist preached the gospel, were made up of only elect regenerated people. The gospel was preached to all and the "exhortations" of John to obedience, to repentance, and to look to the Messiah for his baptism (cleansing) and salvation was made to every citizen of every city. The Hardshells do not teach this nor preach this as did the first Old Baptist.
"And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." (Luke 7: 29,30)This is another statement relative to the evangelistic preaching of the Baptist. The teaching and preaching of the Baptist was the equivalent of the "counsel of God." That is, the "counsel" of the Baptist was the "counsel of God." John counselled the people about their obedience, about what they must do to enter the Messiah's kingdom, about believing and repenting, about confessing their sins, about looking for and trusting in the person and work of the Messiah. Was this "counsel" only respecting what is moral and legal but not what is spiritual?
Fate of Gospel Rejecters
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand...And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." (Matt. 10: 5-7, 14,15)
Again, the Hardshells deny that ALL those who reject the gospel and who reject the Lord Jesus Christ will be condemned eternally, although the above verse, together with many others, utterly overthrow their unscriptural denial. In earlier chapters of this work I commented much on Paul's words - "In flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" and "who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." (II Thess. 1:7-9) Paul and the Baptist were in agreement. Those who reject the apostles and their message will find their fate worse than that of the Sodomites, who died in their sins and under the wrath of God.
Is This Gospel Preaching to the Lost?
"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." (Matt. 11:20-24)
Christ both announces and denounces in this preaching instance. He upbraids the cities where he had spent much time in preaching and teaching, in working miracles (as a "means" to also teach and impart knowledge of the truth), and for what purpose? Does his language above not say that it was intended to convict and to correct, to bring to faith in the truth, to genuine repentance, and to salvation? But, they had not repented but had shown a hard heart and inner prejudice against the gospel and the message of repentance. How could he condemn them for not believing, for not repenting and confessing, for not receiving him, if they were not under obligation to do so? His condemning them shows them to be under duty to do what he condemns. But, the Hypers cannot accept this as a truth.
Christ warns them too of the eternal awful consequences of rejecting the gospel message and the failure to repent and confess sin. In the "day of judgment" they will "be brought down to hell," will suffer the wrath of God in a degree greater than that which the Sodomites suffered.
So, again, Christ did not just preach to the already saved. He preached to the lost! and in a manner that you will not hear a "Strict Baptist," nor a Hardshell, ever preach!
More Preaching to Wicked Sinners
"Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation." (Matt. 12:22-45)
"O generation of vipers"! That really identifies them, does it not? Will Hardshells come forth and say this is a description of born again children of God? Through out this long sermon Christ further identifies these, to whom he is preaching, as being "evil," and "corrupt hearted," an "adulterous" kind of people, a "demon possessed" people, those who have not heard the word savingly, who have not repented, believed, nor confessed.
Why was Christ preaching to these who are dead and in such a condition? Does he not know that they are unable to hear? Why is he wasting his time even speaking to them? One cannot talk TO the dead, can they? At least, not according to Hardshell "logic." He is witnessing to those who are accusing him of being a disciple of Beelzebub! Does he only speak of moral and carnal things to them, of the law of Moses alone, or does he preach them the gospel and teach them about spiritual truth?
He also reasons with them. Will the Hardshells tell us if Christ was appealing to the spiritual or carnal minds? Was he reasoning with the dead? If so, how can he do that by your "logic"? He speaks to them about the kingdom of God, about his own personal work as the Messiah, about repentance and forgiveness, about salvation and eternal condemnation, and certainly gives out many threats and warnings. Are these not spiritual matters? Christ is doing here what the Hyper Calvinist will not do!
Why does Christ say to these vipers - "he who is not with me is against me"? Is he not stating to them the difference in salvation and damnation? But, why take the time to say these things to "vipers"? Hardshell "logic" will not allow this! Why does he say to them - "every idle word that men speak they will have to give account for on the day of judgment"? Why does he say to these lost sinners, "by your words" you will either be "justified" or "condemned"? Is that all in accordance with Hardshell soteriology?
More Preaching to the Dead
"And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet." (Matt. 21:23-46)
Here is another long sermon of Jesus and it was not preached to a group of saints! He is not just talking about what it means to be a lost sinner, wicked and condemned, but he is talking to them! He does not simply speak about what they are able in themselves to understand, things natural and carnal, nor simply about moral duty and mere legal requirements that require no spirituality, as the Hyperists will argue, but he speaks to them of the highest spiritual truths and of things he knows they cannot understand nor accept without divine grace and power attending his words. I need not list again all the adjectives and ways Christ describes the audience to whom he preaches. It is clear to all but the spiritually blind that he is speaking to dead alien sinners.
He asks these wicked sinners questions about spiritual truth - "what do you think," he asks. He gives them parables and asks them to ponder their meaning for themselves. "Which did the will of his father?" Are they not able to answer? Why does Christ even ask them questions? Is he not violating Hardshell "logic" in saying that one cannot "speak to" those who are "dead"? He also asks them - "did you never read in the scriptures this verse..?" And, it was not a verse dealing with something non-spiritual, but something spiritual, something dealing with salvation.
More Preaching to Dead Sinners
"And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk." (Matt. 22:1-15)
Clearly when it says "he spoke unto them," the "them" are the wicked Pharisees who have rejected his invitations to the wedding, who have killed the king's messengers, and who are judged "not worthy" to enter into the marriage, though they had been "called" and "bidden" or ("invited"). For this they are destined to be "destroyed" and cast into that place reserved for all the damned, that place of "outer darkness" where there is nothing but "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Most of today's Hardshells will want to say that this has nothing to do with eternal salvation, but that the entering into the wedding feast is the equivalent of entering into the Old Hardshell church! They will say that they only "invite" those who are already born again elect, and that their not coming into the Old Hardshell church does not bring eternal destruction, but only the loss of some joys in this life only! What awful hermeneutics!
They are described as rejecting the gospel - "they made light of it." They are described as being ones who have been "called" (invited or bidden to the wedding) but who are not "chosen." How can these be made regenerated children of God? And yet, Christ preaches to them! Again, Hyper Calvinism is overthrown! The gospel is to be preached to every creature.
To what end is Christ even preaching to these people? Is it out of love or hate for the people he is addressing? And again, why is he condemning them for their spiritual death, their sins and rejection of the gospel message, if they have not duty or obligation to do so?
A Homily with the Wicked Dead
"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions." (Matt. 22:41-46)Clearly Christ initiates a conversation about scripture, about the Messiah. Could there be anything more spiritual than that? Clearly too it is with the wicked Pharisees who despise Christ and his message! And, what does he ask these dead sinners? "What do you think of the Christ?" What possible reason could the Hardshell apologist give to us to explain this preaching of Christ? Is Christ not preaching, just like good old Ezekiel, to these spiritually dead bones? Is he not saying to them, "hear ye the word of the Lord"? In all these sermons, thus far examined, in all the gospels accounts of them, we find the Baptist and Christ saying these words to poor lost sinners who have no more ability to do what they are asking and commanding than did the dead bones when Ezekiel preached to them! We who are truly Old Baptists will continue to inquire of lost dead sinners - "What do you think of Christ?"
Sermon to the Multitude
"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matt. 23:1-39)
This is another very long sermon! And, a large portion of it is specifically addressed to the most wicked of men! He threatens them. He warns them. He speaks to them about spiritual matters too and condemns them for their rejection of him and his message.
Let the Hardshells come forward today and tell us what was Christ doing preaching to these lost dead sinners! They do not preach after this manner! It is interesting how Christ refers to the inner wickedness and unregenerate state of these to whom he addresses as being "dead men's bones." Is that not an allusion to the preaching of Ezekiel? Christ acknowledges that the hearts of these are spiritually dead, and yet he still preaches to those dry dead bones of the hard heart!
Some Apostolic Preaching
"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, LEST that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." (Acts 13: 38-41)
"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 16-18)
I dealt with this verse in earlier chapters, but it is worth citing once more at this juncture. It just fits in with what I have been teaching about how the bible teachers addressed those who were lost and dead in sins.
Dr. McMahon's Good Testimony
"Initially, it is vital to remember that the Hyper-Calvinist mind is in a conundrum. They simply do not understand how to reconcile the Sovereignty of God and the human responsibility of man. That is why Hyper-Calvinism exists. (In essence, that is why Arminianism exists as well!) They desire to tread where theological license has not officiated them to travel. I suppose, then, we could say with the proverb, "Curiosity killed the cat." For Hyper-Calvinism, unwarranted curiosity in the decrees and counsel of God has caused them to enter a realm where God has not revealed Himself.
"Since the Noetic influences of sin are so complete in the mind of men, Hyper-Calvinism says that preaching must come after regeneration, not before. Thus, Hyper-Calvinism teaches that men do not come to Christ because he is lost, but because He is saved. This is not the Gospel at all. If this was the case the Hyper-Calvinist is left with the age old question, "which came first the chicken or the egg?" If preaching by the word is the instrumental cause of faith, how could a noetically dead man ever come to faith? God always uses means to accomplish His ends. He does not just "zap" people. This idea the Hyper-Calvinist seems to forget. Matthew 11:28-30ff, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Those who are weary and heavy laden are not saved, but know the burden of their sin. They will find rest with Christ, but they do not already have rest with Christ before they come to Christ. The Gospel is intended for sinners who are in need of the Gospel, not those who already have it."
Hyper-Calvinism says this is logically inconsistent. How can fallen men be called to exercise faith without regeneration? This would seem as though God desires they repent while at the same time He does not give them the ability to repent. The Hyper-Calvinist thinks this is a contradiction, but it is not. What does the Hyper-Calvinist do when the Biblical passages are quoted? They enter into a "so-called" logical debate at the expense of being fair to the Bible’s statements about duty-faith. In essence, they simply deny it.
The Gospel is universal in invitations. It is a gracious command, a tendering of the call, and an invitation to come to Christ. The Gospel ought to involve a universal plea to all men everywhere to repent and come to faith; since the Gospel is universal. Hyper-Calvinism denies this claim altogether. Hyper-Calvinism teaches that the Gospel call is never directed to the reprobate, but only those who are converted, or have been born again by the Spirit. Why? Only converted men can heed the Gospel call to come. They would even say that dead, unconverted sinners know the Gospel is not for them, and would be offended to hear that the directive to be saved is given to them. Preaching is then reserved for the saved and regenerate.
The Gospel is not free for the Hyper-Calvinist. Actually, there is a prerequisite which must be had before one can heed the Gospel call. Hyper-Calvinism is a closet "works plus grace" salvation. They would like us to believe they are cavaliers for sovereign grace. But this is not true. They do not only believe in sovereign regeneration, but a subjective knowledge of such regeneration. The subjective experience becomes a prerequisite for trusting in the promises of the Gospel. The untainted Sovereign Grace of God is mixed with a prerequisite work of "feeling" before salvation through Gospel preaching may be obtained or even allowed. This is a works plus grace salvation. That which the Hyper-Calvinist desired to guard against, he has been propagating all along! But believing in limiting the Gospel to those with certain subjective experiences is to confuse the Gospel. The inconsistency is readily apparent when we ask, "How does the unconverted man know how to do this? How does a lost man examine himself in this light?" Then comes the problem that the Hyper-Calvinist has in trying to explain this to a man. Possibly the discussion may go like this:
Hyper-Calvinist: Did the message affect you in any way this morning?
Man: I am not sure. Should it have?
HC: Only if you are a Christian.
Man: How do I know if I am a Christian?
HC: Do you believe you are converted?
Man: I do not know.
HC: Well, do you believe you are regenerate?
Man: What is regeneration?
HC: Regeneration is the working of the Spirit in your
heart. Do you think the Spirit has worked in your heart?
Man: Maybe. How can I tell?
HC: You really cannot tell unless He has, and, as a matter of fact, I cannot tell if he has in you unless you can tell me he has.
Man: I do not know if He has. I am unsure.
HC: Then I suppose our conversation is at an end.
"John Owen speaks to this well when he says, "1. Regeneration doth not in order of time precede the soul's interest in the forgiveness that is with God, or its being made partaker of the pardon of sin. I say no more but that it doth not precede it in order of time, not determining which hath precedence in order of nature. That, I confess, which the method of the gospel leads unto is, that absolution, acquitment, or the pardon of sin, is the foundation of the communication of all saving grace unto the soul, and so precedeth all grace in the sinner whatever. But because this absolution or pardon of sin is to be received by faith, whereby the soul is really made partaker of it and all the benefits belonging thereunto, and that faith is the radical grace which we receive in our regeneration, for it is by faith that our hearts are purified, as an instrument in the hand of the great purifier, the Spirit of God, I place these two together, and shall not dispute as to their priority in nature; but in time the one doth not precede the other.
The problem of preaching indiscriminately to all men and offering the Gospel to every creature stems from a theological fear. Hyper-Calvinism fears that men may taint the sovereignty of God theologically by offering the Gospel to men who must give an effort of faith. The free offer does not operate in the realm of the decree, but in the realm of precept. This is another aspect in which the Hyper-Calvinist has made his error.
The Hyper-Calvinist is acting in a disassociated manner from those he is preaching to. Even in the Old Testament the prophet Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Paul in the New Testament was known to weep over men. George Whitefield would never preach in the fields to the miners without weeping at one point or another. I am not saying that emotionalism should be the key to draw men, but the disposition of the preacher over the souls of men is of vital importance in preaching. Can the Hyper-Calvinist weep? Why would the Hyper-Calvinist weep? He would not need to if he believed his own theology. His theology would not allow Him to do so. He is simply a lecturer. That is why Jeremiah, Paul and George Whitefield could never have been a Hyper-Calvinists! Here, the Hyper-Calvinist is set apart from those who are heralds, or the karux, of the Word.
No doubt, Hyper-Calvinists believe that God only hates the reprobate, and only loves the elect, in any sense whatsoever. Hyper-Calvinism completely denies that God loves men generally in any way and completely denies that God hates the elect in any way."
These are excellent words by Dr. McMahon! I will have more to say on some of these points in upcoming chapters on "Conviction."
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." (I Tim. 1:15)