Dec 24, 2007

Chapter 65 - Hardshells & Gill VIII

I will begin this final chapter on this series ("Hardshells & Gill") by summing up what has been presented thus far. I have decided to add chapters, in between this series and the next, in which I devote one or two chapters to demonstrating where Dr. Gill showed Hyper Calvinistic leanings and how his hyperism was evident in certain types of comments he made relative to particular passages of scripture.

I will also add a couple chapters on "Gospel Invitations." I do not intend to repeat what I wrote on this subject in my series on "Addresses to the Lost," but deal more with the question of offers of salvation, historically (and biblically) among the Baptists, particularly among the Hardshells. These smaller chapters will serve as a good transition from this series on "Gill and the Hardshells," to upcoming series on "The Great Commission," and "Paradigm Problems," and "Hardshell Proof Texts."

From the preceding chapters it is clear that the "Hyper Calvinists," who boast and claim such a high affection and regard for Dr. Gill, singing his praises, are the ones who seem to have read him the least, and who have read him with such seeming little care and close attention!

It is ironic too that they who claim to be his offspring, spiritually, are they who grossly misrepresent him! If he were alive today, he would be no friend to the Arminian Baptists, surely; but, he would be equally no friend to the hyper "Hyper Calvinists" of the Hardshell variety!

Dr. Gill would certainly not feel favored by the kind of hypocritical praise heaped on him by the Hardshell "ultraists," who can be seen, at times, to sing his praises, out of one side of their mouths, and then degrade him, at other times, and out of the other side of their mouths.

Dr. Gill did not change his mind on means in regeneration. He taught this in his Commentaries and in his later works, in his "Body of Divinity" and in his "Cause of God and Truth." Dr. Gill also taught that all men had a duty to believe the gospel and would be condemned eternally for their rejection of it.

Dr. Gill did believe in eternal justification, but he also believed that this eternal immanent act also included and necessitated, yea, guaranteed, the future death of Christ on the cross and the justifying experience of the elect in regeneration and conversion, which is executed and enjoyed and experienced "through faith."

Yes, the Hardshells may have a liking for Dr. Gill on the question of the extent of the atonement, and for this reason claim to be "Gillites" rather than "Fullerites," but they err in thinking that the view of Dr. Fuller and the view of Dr. Gill were at odds on the question of means in regeneration.

Both these great Calvinistic Baptists believed in gospel means. Both unwaveringly believed that all the heathen were lost without the gospel revelation. The only difference concerned the best scriptural manner to present the gospel to the lost, and to some extent, the nature of the disability that characterizes the dead in sin.

I have also shown clearly that the Hardshells have either been dishonest or grossly ignorant of Dr. Gill. I have shown too some of their hypocrisy regarding how they deal with the writings of such revered men who are no longer here to defend themselves.

This hypocrisy is seen in Elder Crouse, for instance, who warned Missionary Baptists about speaking irreverently about the dead and of mishandling their writings!

I have also interspersed, in the past few chapters in this series, some rebuttals to what the Hardshells have specifically said about Dr. Gill and his views on regeneration, and of some things some leading Hardshells have said about faith, an integral element in this whole discussion of regeneration.

In this chapter I will cite additional statements made by the Hardshells relative to Dr. Gill and his status as being "representative of Baptists views of things," in the the 18th century, all with the view of seeing who is truly the "Old" or "Primitive" Baptists.

Elder C. H. Cayce wrote:

"Gill and Brine were eminent men, they were representative men, of the Baptist Church in their day, and they did not call upon the unregenerate to repent and believe the gospel." (Editorials, Vol. 1, page 154)

But where did Elder Cayce give any support for this view from his writings? Have not numerous statements already been cited from Dr. Gill to show that this view is false, a great stretch? It is not true that Dr. Gill did not believe in or practice calling upon all to repent and to believe the gospel. This is simply a gross falsehood.

Eld. Mark Green wrote:

"It is an easily documented fact that among uninspired writings, the London Confession of Faith and the works of John Gill have been held by Primitive Baptists in high regard and with great respect."

Have they continued, since the Philadelphia Association's recommendation of Dr. Gill's Commentaries, to think this highly of him? Has their esteem for him not lessoned the further they have gone in time? Will their esteem for him be not lessoned even more now that I have "set the record straight" regarding Dr. Gill and his relationship to Hardshellism and their "Spirit Alone" hybrid theory of "regeneration" ?

If they truly had as great a "respect" for Dr. Gill and for his upholding of Calvinism, and his destroying of Arminianism, then they will quit saying that it is "Arminianism" to believe that God regenerates and begets through faith and by the gospel!

Also, they will repent of their false interpretations on all those passages which Dr. Gill believed clearly taught the use of means in regeneration.

Elder Green also mentions how the London Confession of Faith is also a "friend" of the Hardshells in the same way Dr. Gill is supposed to be a "friend" of Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism. But, as I will show in upcoming chapters on "Hardshells & The Confessions," the old London Confession of 1689 is no "friend" to Hardshellism.

Elder Green continues:

"We have claimed them as our own (London Confession and Dr. Gill) and have referred to them time and time again in our defense of the faith against Arminianism and Fullerism. They provided a very visible link for us with the “old country” and those brethren who were not only of our faith, but also of our own language and a similar culture."

The "language" of Spilsbury is not the "language" of Hardshellism! Nor is the "language" of Hardshellism anything akin to the "language" of Kiffin, Richardson, Knollys, and of Dr. Gill. The "language" of today's Hardshells is not even much like the "language" of the first Hardshells who supported the "Black Rockers"!

"Similar culture"? The spiritual environment of those first Old Baptist churches were filled with preaching that called upon the lost sinner to seek salvation! They had a passion in their preaching and church activities that gave the sanctuary an air of missionary zeal! Such is not the same kind of spiritual "culture" you find in a typical Hardshell church of today!

A "visible link with the old country"? You had better find another link! (Which some are trying to do! it is laughable!) Will you accept as a "link" in your "chain" a church that believes as Dr. Gill and the Confessions on the question of the nature and causes of regeneration and the new birth? On conversion and predestination? On perseverence? I will deal more with this problem on "links" in chapters on "Hardshell Landmarkism."

Elder Green continues:

"We Primitive Baptists have been very vocal in our claims that the true churches of God in this generation are found under our name. We have been unflinching (stubborn, hard-headed, hardshell? SMG) in our assertion that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and that God has not let that truth fall to the ground but has preserved it by a direct succession of churches found under different names through the ages. “Their faith was our faith,” has been our cry. Probably no other works have been so frequently alluded to by our ministers in their writings concerning the agreement of Primitive Baptist faith and that of our forefathers as those we will examine in this article."

Was the "faith" of Dr. Gill on regeneration and means the "faith" of the Hardshells? Was the "faith" of Dr. Gill regarding the heathen the same as the Hardshells? Why do you claim him and the men who wrote and signed the London Confession as your "forefathers" when they are not in agreement with you on such a fundamental issue?

Elder Green continues:

"As the years flow by and one generation passes into another, the environment in which “the old paths” exist sometimes varies drastically. In the midst of these changing scenes, it is a matter of great comfort to the child of God to be able to read about his spiritual forefathers and their beliefs and practices, and rejoice that the gates of hell did not prevail against Truth and her pillar."

Is it part of the "old paths" to believe in gospel means? Did Dr. Gill walk in those "old paths"? Did Spilsbury, Kiffin, Richardson, Knollys, or Keach? Is it part of the "old paths" to believe that the church is still under the great commission and to yet be heavily involved in evangelism?

Elder Green continues:

"Included in the contents of this article are numerous quotes from a number of leading Primitive Baptist ministers over the years concerning their affection for the London Confession and the writings of that fierce opponent of Arminianism, Dr. Gill. May their bold statements reconfirm our faith in God’s providential care for His eternal truths—those same principles to which we as Primitive Baptists hold."

Did someone not know any better, he would think, after reading such lines as the above, that the old Confessions and Dr. Gill taught Hardshellism! Such is the way, however, that the Hardshells beguile unsuspecting and uninformed souls about their recent origins. These "two friends" of Hardshellism, did not teach the "same principles" that are held to by today's evolved Hardshell denomination.

Elder Green says further:

"It should be noted that Elders C. B. Hassell, Sylvester Hassell, J. S. Newman, and W. S. Craig in particular were well-known as experts in the history of our denomination. Others, including Elders J. Harvey Daily, S. N. Redford, R. H. Pittman, Jesse Cox, and Lee Hanks, published works in this field, and were serious students of the subject. Elder Lemuel Potter’s references to church history in his debates and lectures were so extensive that his knowledge in that field is unquestionable. When these men recommended these “two old friends” to their people, they knew whereof they spoke."

As far as the above named men being "experts in history," of being first rate Hardshell "historians," or of the Baptists generally, I will have a lot to say about that, in addition to what I have already said in previous chapters on "Hardshell History," showing how the leading Hardshell "historians" have not been very honest or thorough in their research and published "histories."

Hardshells are infamous for their "revisionist histories." Did these "historians" really "know whereof they spoke"? Are they really worth "recommending" as legitimate Baptist historians? I will hopefully deal with these questions in upcoming chapters. "Serious students" of history? Were they honest with their own history? Have they at all been guilty of "sweeping under the rug" any "ugly facts" about their history? Stay tuned to future chapters!

Elder Green writes further:

"To Primitive Baptists, one of Gill’s greatest contributions was his unflinching adherence to the pure doctrine of Particular Redemption."

Yes, and this is the only thing you, my Hardshell brothers, seemingly focus on, regarding Dr. Gill! Why do you avoid realizing that Dr. Gill and Dr. Fuller did in fact agree on means in regeneration, so that you are a disciple of neither? Besides, Dr. Fuller believed in unconditional election, and that only the elect would receive the fruits of the atonement.

Elder Green says:

"One writer noted that is would test the constitution of most of the literary men in England just to read all that Gill wrote (If that is so, how many Hardshells do you think have done so? SMG). With such a volume of words flowing from his pen, it is inevitable that anyone would find points here and there in which he differed with Gill. Still, all in all, as Charles Spurgeon said, in the matter of sound, massive, sober Scriptural comment, Gill cannot be excelled. Primitive Baptists have been in hearty agreement. Their opinions of the good Doctor follow."

From "The Old Baptist Test" by Elder John M. Watson [1867]

"I will now show, most conclusively, that Parkerite ultraisms have changed some of the Old Order of Baptists into a new sect. Facts must speak here. I will contrast a tenet of the Particular Baptist Church of London, about 1720, with one of a Baptist Church lately constituted, on a tenet of Parkerism: “A declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at Horsleydown, under the Pastoral Care of Mr. John Gill, etc.”

I can understand Dr. Watson recommending Dr. Gill; for, as I have shown already from Elder Watson's book, "The Old Baptist Test," this great leader of the first generation of Hardshells without a doubt believed in gospel means in regeneration! He also did not stand alone but represented a large segment of the first "anti-mission" or "old school" Baptists, as I shall show further in upcoming chapters on Hardshell history.

I will also have a good bit more to say about Dr. Watson who I have recently discovered was the original editor of the "Old Baptist Banner" that began publication in the 1830's in Middle Tennessee. This paper seems to have been started as a reaction to the recently begun Missionary Baptist publication called "The Baptist Banner." All Dr. Watson did was add the word "old" to it. As the one periodical was to be a voice in favor of church sponsored missions, so Dr. Watson's periodical would speak against them, and on behalf of the Hardshells. But, more on all this in upcoming chapters.

Dr. Watson is truly a unique character and there seems to have been a conspiracy, of sorts, to bury his writings, together with other perceived harmful writings, harmful at least to the "ultraist" wing of the anti mission movement, the faction that "won out" or at least "weeded out" the other sects.

Why have no issues of this periodical survived as has bound volumes of the "Signs of the Times"? Could it not be because there is much information in those early issues, in the 1830's through the 1860's, that might be detrimental to present day Hardshell "claims," such as the "claim" that the split from the Missionary Baptists was strictly over the question of the use of means in regeneration?

I recall reading recently a comment that a Hardshell made, upon the death of Elder John Clark, the editor of the "Zion's Advocate" (began 1854), that Elder Clark had "left behind" him a "vast amount of historical information" relative to the Hardshells. Where is this "valuable information"? If it was so valuable, then why has it not been preserved?

I believe Elder Clark advocated gospel means in regeneration. I have cited from him already that substantiates this claim, I firmly believe. He also was a close associate of Elder Burnam who believed in gospel means, the split called "the Pence-Burnam division over Sunday Schools and Gospel Means," not occurring till just a couple years after the death of Elder Clark. His views were cited, however, by both sides, in the trial that resulted from that division.

I have, however, also seen some citations, wherein certain words are omitted, in typical Hardshell fashion, and wherein it seems that Elder Clark did not believe in means in regeneration or the new birth. But, more on this point in upcoming chapters. Besides, I plan on doing some research this coming January at a couple libraries that have old Hardshell materials, and I hope to discover some of this lost, yet "valuable information," from men such as Dr. Watson and Elder Clark.

It would not surprise me that Elder John Clark could possibly be cited on both sides of this issue. He was, after all, a bridge builder in Virginia, and a famous one at that. It seems not only ironic but appropriate that he would act as a "bridge" between the warring factions within the broader "anti mission movement."

I think he sought "reform" among the "Old School" Baptists, as did Elder Watson and others, seeing many in the movement had steadily gone to great extremes in doctrine and practice. I think he also tried to be a kind of "glue" to keep the various factions together, much the same way, no doubt, that some of the 2nd generation "Campbellites" or "Restorationists" also did in the midst of competing factions within the broader "restoration movement."

In fact, as I shall show more in future chapters, both the Hardshell and the Campbellite movements were "reform" or "restoration" movements, although the Hardshells would not want their movement to be styled as such.

Getting back, however, to Dr. Gill and the Hardshells, Elder Green cites other leading Hardshells who speak highly of Dr. Gill and the old London Confession of Faith. He next cites Elder Lemuel Potter, one who is universally recognized as one of the greatest apologists and historians of the Hardshell denomination, and who's writings did not get "buried" but have been faithfully preserved. I wonder why? Stay tuned!

From The Throgmorton-Potter Debate (Elder Lemuel Potter) [1887]

"But we wish to continue this same quotation: “This was the strict Calvinistic, or Gillite plan.” He is talking about the doctrine that had been uniformly believed among the Baptists, and this doctrine of particular atonement was called the strict Calvinistic or Gillite plan. Then, you see, we stand with Dr. Gill…"

Yes, Brother Lemuel, you may speak in agreement with Dr. Gill on his views on the atonement, but you cannot justly say that you and the Hardshells are in agreement with Dr. Gill on means in regeneration! This is the same great apologist who argued in debate, with the Arminian Baptists, that Gill must have been a Hardshell simply because he openly disavoved Arminianism!

If the term "Arminian" is defined as "anyone who believes in human means (or gospel preaching) in the work of regeneration," then Hardshells must make Dr. Gill an "Arminian"! Will the Hardshells come forth and answer this "Hardshell Buster" question - "Was Dr. Gill an Arminian or not? Will you try to have it both ways?"

Elder Potter continues, in that famous debate, saying:

"Dr. Gill was our man. And I know that it is not necessary to state here that Dr. Gill believed and taught what is now called Calvinism. He was one of the brightest lights that the Baptist churches have had since the days of the apostles, and there is no Baptist that is a Baptist that does not speak of Gill with pride."

"OUR man"? No, he was not Throgmorton's "man" on the atonement; however, he was not Potter's "man" on the nature and causes of regeneration! I will tell you this - He is my man! I agree, like all the Old Baptists, both before and after the great Dr. Gill, that the atonement was intended only for the eternal benefit of the elect and that all the elect will be called to life and salvation by the gospel. I will therefore repeat - I AM MORE OLD BAPTIST THAN TODAY'S SO-CALLED PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS!

Elder Green continues his citation of Potter on Dr. Gill:

From "A Treatise on Regeneration, Christian Warfare, and the State of the Dead" by Elder Lemuel Potter [1895]

"We have others present, but can not quote them in this article, as Elder Jesse Cox, Dr. John Gill, and others who believed as we do. These have been our spiritual fathers; and they have all believed without controversy that at death the soul left the body. These men of God are our witnesses today, in favor of our claims to the name of old Primitive Baptists."

That is just a bunch of nonsense. It is again worth repeating the words of that first great Hardshell slayer, Elder J. M. Peck, of whom I will have more to say in upcoming chapters, - "they arrogate to themselves the name of primitive or original," for they have no "claims" to the historic Baptist faith on regeneration, perseverence, predestination. They absolutely cannot win any debate on the question - "Who are the Primitive Baptists?" or the question (or criterion) of gospel means and the nature of regeneration and the meaning of conversion and the experience of perseverence.

Elder Green "calls his next witness" for his "two friends," calling forth the disciple of Elder John R. Daily, the well known Elder R. H. Pittman.

From "Biographical History of Primitive or Old School Baptist Ministers in the United States" by Elder R. H. Pittman [1909]

" his `Body of Divinity,’ the grand old doctrines of grace, taken unadulterated from the Divine fountain, presented in the phraseology and with the illustrations of an intellectual giant, and commended by a wealth of sanctified Biblical learning only once in several ages permitted to mortals, sweeps all opposition before them, and leaves no place for the blighted harvests, the seed of which was planted by James Arminius in modern times.”

If the "grand old doctrines of grace" are found in their "unadulterated form," in John Gill's "Body of Divinity," and if he taught gospel means in that work, then the doctrine of gospel means does not "adulterate" the doctrines of grace as Hardshells wrongly avow. This "intellectual giant" denied what Hardshells believe and teach about regeneration, and conversion, and perseverence, and predestination, and on the state of the heathen who die without the gospel revelation, etc.!

Elder Pittman continues:

"How sad to think that the great body of New School Baptists of today have repudiated Gill’s works, turned a deaf ear to the plain teachings of the Holy Scriptures and become the devoted apostles of James Arminius!"

Is that so? Is it true with regard to all Baptists who support missions? Do all Missionary Baptists "repudiate Gill"? Is that not a misrepresentation without support or factual evidence? Is it not rather the "Primitives," and not the "Missionary" Baptists, who have "repudiated" the great Dr. Gill on means and on conversion? And, talk about the "plain teachings" of the Bible! Do they think so highly of Dr. Gill, as an "intellectual giant," and then make him blind on this subject?

Did he not believe in gospel means because it is so plainly taught in the Bible? Did he have nothing but his "logic," he probably would have written in the manner of the Hardshells, but being guided solely by the Bible alone, he taught what was clear and plain in scripture, and that is the gospel means position. I can say the same thing relative to myself. Did the Bible not teach gospel means, and if I were guided by human logic alone, I would still be a Hardshell in regard to their understanding of the matter. But, did not my earlier chapters, like the series "Hot Shots Returned," show clearly from the scriptures that the new birth took place through the gospel?

I have sought throughout this book, thus far, to prove that Hardshellism is first and foremost against the scriptures. It is only secondarily that I argue from history or from other sources. The whole debate, historically, stems because the Hardshells have said that they alone are the "Original" Baptists, and their being "Primitive" is due primarily to their stand on their "Spirit alone" theory of "regeneration," and thus the need to prove Hardshellism wrong using Baptist history as secondary criteria. Were they not Landmarkers, and believers in "strict church succession," this would not be seen as such an important matter. But more on all this in future chapters.

Elder Pittman continues:

"Yet how soon is this great teacher in Israel set aside for the carnal reasoning, flesh pleasing, pride fostering, God debasing and man-exalting doctrines of James Arminius? And how absurd and inconsistent for the New School denomination to claim John Gill and many other Bible Baptists when they deny through the press and in the pulpit the doctrine they contended for?"

Well, we shall see just how much the Hardshells have themselves "set aside" that "great teacher," the beloved Dr. Gill! At least the New Schoolers, who did not agree with Dr. Gill, did not try to distort his writings in order to make it appear that he agreed with them!

Elder Pittman continues:

"Only a short time after the bones of this wonderfully gifted servant of God had been laid in the grave, Andrew Fuller began to ponder upon the expediency of making a change in Baptist tactics, and after years of heated controversy with his brethren led the majority of those professing the Baptist name into the Arminian camp. I have given these few points in the life of Gill to show that he preached the same doctrine and contended for the same practice that the Primitive or Old School Baptists are the only exponents of today."

Several things come to my mind from reading the above. First, is this the way a true historian, a genuine reporter of facts, writes? Second, is it not rather an "interpretation" of history, and generally one with little or no real factual basis? Third, how fervent are the Hardshells in their intent to let the whole world know that they, and they alone, are the "rightful heirs" to the doctrine preached by Gill, and yet, they reject him on the chief doctrine of the so-called Arminians, on the Spirit's use of truth in the new birth! Finally, they so "put on airs" in their pretended "respect for the dead," and then torture the great doctor's writings and views on such important doctrines of the Christian faith! They do the same with the writings of Richardson and of the London Confession itself.

Elder Green then "calls his next witness" on Dr. Gill.

From "A Theological Discussion on the Plan of Salvation" (Elder John R. Daily in the Daily-Throgmorton Debate) [1912]

"So much for John Gill. How about this work from which I am quoting? Was it written when he was a boy and didn’t know? By no means. In the Memoirs of John Gill, found in his “Body of Divinity,” it is said: “This was his last work, and contains the substance of what he delivered to his people through the space of five or six years.” So much for Dr. John Gill. Yes, I stand where Dr. John Gill did in his mature age, when he had thought the matter over studiously. So, as I follow Brother John Gill, my brethren can follow me along. Rather, you follow me as I follow Christ. That is the proper rule."

Here is a man who, in one breath, says that Dr. Gill is a "witness" who has lost credibility to speak on this topic, one who has "contradicted himself," and thus all must "set him aside" on this point, and then, in another breath, this same man says that Dr. Gill "stands with" the Hardshells!

But, have I not shown how wrong and dishonest the great Hardshell apologist was on Dr. Gill? I hope no one today (as did Elder Crouse many years ago) attempts to promote the "Daily Theory on Dr. Gill." My dad has promoted this theory of Daily's, but will he continue to do so once he reads these chapters on Gill (I just sent them to him)?

Next, Elder Green summons forth the testimony of Elder J. S. Newman.

From "The Baptists In All Ages" by Elder J. S. Newman [1912]

"The views of John Gill were the prevailing doctrine held to or believed by the Baptists prior to the introduction of modern missions among them."

Well, who is "Primitive" then? those who believe in gospel means, or those who do not? Where were the Hardshells in the 18th century? Where is their "link" with the "old country"?

The next witness is Elder J. D. Holder.

From "Principles and Practices of the Church" by Elder J. D. Holder [1961]

"Mr. Fuller, and those who worked with him, quietly waited until this great man Dr. John Gill’s remains rested in death, and his voice was stilled, and his fruitful pen rested on his desk, before they advanced their new ideas of taking the world for Christ."

That is nothing but slander and insinuation and made by someone who has absolutely no evidence to prove the conspiracy of heart of which Holder charges upon the dead! Oh yes, pretend to respect the dead John Gill, but it is okay to "pour it on" Andrew Fuller! But, as I said, both Fuller and Gill believed in gospel means, and both believed that the eternal benefits of the atonement were intended only for the elect. Both believed that the faith that comes by hearing the gospel was the only faith the elect know anything about.

"New ideas"? That is funny! The only real "new idea" on the "Baptist block," of the Christian religious community, is Hardshellism, and not the "gospel means" position! And, Fuller's view on the atonement was really not new among Particular Baptists.

Elder Holder continued:

"Dr. Gill’s scholarly writings, his Body of Divinity, and his complete commentary on every verse of the Old and New Testaments are more sound, and show a deeper, richer mind than any scholar of his day and some say than any man since New Testament times. While very few of Mr. Fuller’s distinguished followers care to pull from the shelf his writing and ponder their meaning as well as their failure to stand the test of Bible theology."

But, I wonder how many Hardshells have really read Fuller himself, rather than reading what their "historians" and "interpreters" and "apologists" have told them?

The next witness is the highly respected Hardshell, Elder Oliphant.

From "The Holy Scripture on Women Preachers" by Elder P. T. Oliphant

"Dr. John Gill: This author was the standard of orthodoxy among the PRIMITIVE BAPTIST of England for over two hundred years."

And then we hear from one of the Hardshell historians, the one, as Brother Ross has shown, "chopped up" the old London Confession, in his "history" called "The Church of God," a copy of which is on my desk as I type these lines.

From "The Church of God" by Elder Lee Hanks

"John Gill, perhaps the most learned, able, sound, upright and humble Baptist minister since the days of Paul—author of a Commentary on the Whole Bible, a Body of Divinity, etc." (Foreword - "Two Old and Honored Friends")

Elder J. S. Newman wrote:

"Hyper-Calvinism is only another name for the doctrine John Gill of England preached and the Baptists believed before Carey, Fuller and others began to remodel the system and doctrine of the ancient Baptists." (Baptists In All Ages: Chapter X)


Again, all complete falsehoods!

Elder Joe Holder wrote:

"In the teachings of the Founders Movement, John MacArthur, John Piper, and many other popular teachings of our time we see the distinct marks of Fuller’s ideas prominently displayed under the guise of the doctrines of grace. While claiming that they are preaching the old gospel message, Fuller’s contemporary successors are in fact promoting Fuller’s ideas, not the beliefs of Particular Baptists and other faithful believers prior to Fuller. A number of contemporary titles are in circulation today that name Primitive Baptists and charge us Fuller-esque style as being “Hyper-Calvinists,” and as being “antinomian.” The theological issues involved in Fuller’s teachings are front page relevant to every person in our age who believes in the doctrines of grace. When these works charge us with being “antinomian” and “Hyper-Calvinist” in our beliefs, they promote their ideas of human instrumentality in regeneration and leave their readers with the false impression that human instrumentality is the old gospel. One need only read old and respected Reformed thinkers such as W. G. T. Shedd (or Fuller’s contemporary, the respected Particular Baptist John Gill) on regeneration to learn that immediate, direct Holy Spirit regeneration is the old gospel, not the new."

"The fruit of Fuller’s influence most often appears in two forms: 1) “duty-faith,” Fuller’s belief that it is the duty of all humans to exercise “saving faith” in Jesus, or 2) in various forms of gospel instrumentality (the idea that God uses the gospel to call the elect out of nature, sin, and spiritual death into spiritual life, that all elect shall hear and respond favorably to the gospel, or that any regenerate elect who hears the gospel shall believe it). Primitive Baptists—I believe correctly and Biblically—attribute the work of eternal salvation, including the exclusive instrumentality of the Holy Spirit in the new birth, to God, while strongly teaching that it is indeed the duty of all regenerate elect to exercise faith in Christ, to repent of their sins, and to live their lives “as newborn babes,” desiring and living according to the sincere milk of the word of God. Biblical faith is anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ, not in itself. It seems that the glaring inconsistency of much modern teaching that follows Fuller’s “duty-faith” to one degree or another is this; they have faith in their faith, they believe in their belief, but they rather clearly ignore the strong and consistent Biblical focus of faith that is anchored in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, not in itself."

(Joseph R. Holder - Riverside, CA, February 16, 2007)

I think I have successfully refuted all this, don't you think?

I will be next presenting, in two chapters, examples where I feel Dr. Gill did seem to go overboard in his speculating and extremism in fighting Arminianism, wherein he showed leanings towards Hyper Calvinism and what would later develop into Hardshellism. I will also have at least two chapters on "Gospel Invitations."

Dec 18, 2007

Chapter 64 - Hardshells on Gill VII

I think it is clear - the Hardshells who say "Gill is our man," and "Gill agreed with us," and "Gill changed his mind," have absolutely no factual basis for their assertions relative to Dr. Gill; And, their charges and accusations, relative to the good doctor and his views on regeneration, have all been shown to be absolutely false and without any support from his writings.

"An 18th century British Particular Baptist's (forefather of the Primitive Baptists) verse by verse commentary on the whole Bible"

The above is an epitat written underneath an advertisement for Dr. Gill's Commentaries on an "Old School Baptist" internet web page.

(See -

I do not see how any Hardshell can read these series of chapters on Dr. Gill and still say such things! He was not their "forefather" as it respects their heresies regarding the new birth and the means of grace (not to mention, as yet, issues concerning predestination and the perseverence of the saints! to be covered in future chapters). If Dr. Gill is a "forefather" of Hardshells, then the Hardshells are truly "wayward children" who need to come back to the position of Dr. Gill, the view of the truly "Old" Baptists.

Here are some of the things that Elder C. B. Hassell, and his son, Sylvestor, said about Dr. Gill, in their book "The History of the Church of God."

"John Gill (A.D. 1697-1771), perhaps the most learned, able, sound, upright and humble Baptist minister since the days of Paul..." (Hassell's History, page 258)

If that is so (and it is), then Hardshells must admit that this most learned of Baptists taught contrary to the fundamentals of their own denomination! Dr. Gill was a Sovereign Grace Missionary and Means Baptist! Not a Hardshell!

Hassell says further:

"John Gill (who died 1771)—the latter the most learned man that has ever borne the name of Baptist—entertained precisely the same views of the sovereignty and efficacy of Divine grace as are held by the Bible Baptists (Primitive Bapist - SMG) of today. Though they proclaimed to sinners that they were in danger and on the high road to perdition, they did not call upon all men, whether spiritually concerned or not, to repent and believe the gospel. They dwelt much on the Divine purposes, and on the Bible fact that salvation is of the Loral. This method of preaching and writing was, after their departure, stigmatized as “selfish, hardening, refrigerant, soporific, hyper-Calvinistic, Antinomian.”

"Precisely the same views as Bible Baptists today?" If we use Dr. Gill as a standard then, who are the "Bible Baptists" or the real "Old Baptists"?

I say to all my Hardshell friends - I AM MORE AN OLD BAPTIST TODAY THAN WHEN I WAS A HARDSHELL! If any of today's Hardshells want to come forth and show some evidence to the contrary, or to debate the question - "Who Are The Primitive Baptists?" - then let them "speak now or forever hold their peace."

As far as Dr. Gill and his offering of Christ to the lost, I have already dealt with that topic in my series on "Addresses to the Lost." Whatever "method" Dr. Gill might favor, he nevertheless believed that it was through the gospel that the Spirit called his elect to life and salvation. Besides, Dr. Gill did believe in preaching the gospel to every creature and commanding all men everywhere to repent.

I shall also give shortly an example of some of the type of evangelistic appeals that Dr. Gill often made to sinners while preaching the gospel and we shall see if Hardshells will still want to claim him or to imitate his "method" of preaching to lost sinners. One thing is sure - at least Dr. Gill addressed lost sinners and pointed them to Christ, whereas today's Hardshells have not one word of exhortation to give to lost sinners!

Hassell continues:

“Under such instruction,” it is said, “the churches became indifferent to the means of grace, could not engage in efforts for the conversion of souls; they were satisfied with preservation, and did not seek extension, and so the cause declined."

This is true, very true. There is an avalanche of evidence to prove that this is in fact the result and consequence of preaching non-evangelically and of feeling no obligation to preach to the lost.

Did not Elder John Watson say, in his book "The Old Baptist Test," that this lack of evangelistic preaching and exhorting the lost was the cause why so many of their churches were either dead or almost gone out of existence? And yes, it is a true way to characterize the Hardshell denomination, as a people, to say they lack zeal for the lost. They are concerned with what they think is their duty to "preserve," but feel no duty to expand.

Did not I cite the words of Elder Mills in an earlier chapter where he gave out as a motto of the Hardshells - "give us our Bible and leave us alone"? They want to preserve the Bible, but they do not care too much about seeing that others have the Bible. They are like the man who "buried" his "talent" in the earth, with the idea simply to protect and preserve, but did not do anything to increase it.

Hassell continues:

"The last printed Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association are a history of the session of the year 1807. In that year the Association recommended to each church to subscribe for a copy of Gill’s “Exposition of the Old and New Testaments” for the use of their minister; and the Association urged the same course on all sister Associations." (Page 570)

According to Elder Potter, this is about the same year that the Philadelphia Association fully declared itself to be a Baptist Association that supported missions!

Ironic that a Missionary Baptist Association is recommending John Gill, especially his Commentaries! Why would they recommend his Commentaries if he taught in them what the Hardshells call "heresy"?

Hassell says further:

"John Gill, of London, the soundest, the most learned, and the most able Baptist theologian since the death of the Apostle John—the author of a complete critical Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, and of a Complete Body of Divinity—the only man that ever hunted and drove out Arminianism from the explanation of every verse in the Bible, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation..." (Page 651)

Yes, and he did a pretty good job of "hunting and driving out" the heresy of Hardshellism too, even before it reared its ugly head!

Dr. Gill was no Arminian, even the Hardshells themselves being witness. But, it is ironic again, that despite this acknowledgment, they will be heard to say - "anyone who believes the gospel is a means in regeneration and eternal salvation is an Arminian"! But, by that criterion, then Dr. Gill was an Arminian! How can they have it both ways?

Recall that Elder Watson refered to that minor sect within the Old School Movement, whom he identified as the "ultraist" and "Antinomian" faction, as those who were guilty of calling other Old Schoolers "Arminian" simply because they did what the Bible said and called upon all to believe and repent! These "ultraist" brethren were "attempting to find Arminianism where there is none."

But, it did lead many others to become afraid and very timid about calling upon the lost to believe and repent, and thus, it is no wonder that fear eventually created nothing but "ultraists" in today's modern and evolved Hardshell church.

Here is what Spurgeon said and believed about his predecessor, as given by another writer on this topic.

"Charles Haddon Spurgeon is glowing in his praise of Gill. Of his ordination, Spurgeon says, 'Little did the friends dream what sort of man they had thus chosen to be their teacher; but had they known it they would have rejoiced that a man of such vast erudition, such indefatigable industry, such sound judgement, and such sterling honesty, had come among them.'

Spurgeon loved reading Gill's sermons and wrote, for instance in his copy of Gill's preaching on the Song of Solomon, "This priceless work of my learned predecessor has always been helpful to me."

In his Commenting and Commentaries, he says of this work, "Those who despise it, have never read it, or are incapable of elevated spiritual feelings."

This sums up much of present day second-hand criticism of Gill which is rarely based on a first hand knowledge of his works. Gill's commentaries, which were merely his sermons in writing, were regularly and eagerly consulted by the Prince of Preachers who marked them all with three stars which was Spurgeon's way of saying, "The very best!"

In 1886 he jotted in his copy of Ezekiel to Malachi the words, "Many sneer at Gill, but he is not to be dispensed with. In some respects, he has no superior. He is always well worth consulting." In a letter dated February 1855, Spurgeon pays tribute to Gill's influence on him by stating "My position, as Pastor of one of the most influential churches, enables me to make myself heard and my daily labour is to revive the old doctrines of Gill, Owen, Calvin, Augustine and Christ." It would seem here that Spurgeon was so taken up by the testimony of Gill that he mixed up his priorities and put Gill first and Christ last. It is such utterances as Spurgeon's exuberant praise of Gill that have obviously coloured Mr Murray's views of the scholar-pastor. So great was Gill's influence throughout the 18th and 19th centuries that thousands of would-be preachers aped him. This was rightly deplored by Gill's successors in his pastorate." ("John Gill and his Successors" by George Ella)


Wrote Elder Crouse:

"After writing in such a way as to leave the impression that Elder Sylvester Hassell, our able historian, endorsed and agreed with Dr. John Gill in his interpretation of all scripture, continuing Elder Screws says:
Volume 3, Number 9, page 1: “if these extracts speak the truth, would our present day Primitive Baptists want a sounder preacher than was Dr. John Gill? We hardly think so. Dr. Gill lived at a time when the modern missionary enterprises were not thought of in the Baptist ranks, and when no one had ever thought to style himself a Missionary Baptist or a Primitive Baptist. They were just plain Baptists. This was many years before the division in 1832. There can be no doubt of the general reception and endorsement of Gill’s works among the Baptists. Nor have those works ceased to be admired by Baptists of this age. Only a few months ago the Banner-Herald endorsed Gill’s works and spoke of his soundness. Elder W. A. Lamb, of blessed memory, valued Gill’s commentaries next to the Bible. It is the boast of Primitive Baptists that we stand where the Baptists stood before the division of 1832. Dr. John Gill’s writings tell us where Baptists stood before the division of 1832. If we stand where Dr. Gill stood, we arc Primitive Baptists. Who will deny this? All right, here is a sample of Dr. Gill’s exposition of the Scriptures...”

Elder Screws and Elder Crouse were leaders in the Progressive Faction of Primitive Baptists in the early 20th century (primarily). Elder Crouse eventually denounced musical instrumental use in worship, and left the Progressives, before he died. But, while he was with the Progressives, there was a division among them over the "means question."

The 20th century split over means, within the Progressives, seems that it was an "after-shock" of the "Pence-Burnam" division over the same question (and referred to in the previous chapter in reference to the Mt. Carmel Church Trial) of the late 19th century. The question of who are the real Old Baptists was the subject matter, and the question of what was taught by the Baptist forefathers on the means of the gospel was therefore most important.

Elder Screws argued like many others before him, like I have in this book, that Dr. Gill was not a Hardshell on the new birth and on gospel means. Therefore, the real Old Baptists are not the "anti-means" faction of the Old Schoolers. His argument is valid and correct. Elder Crouse reponds by first saying that Gill "changed his mind," thus they are in agreement with him. He then responds by saying that "we do not have to agree with him (on this point) to be Old Baptists"! Is that not typical of Hardshells?

Elder Crouse continues:

"It certainly is unfair to thus leave the impression that the Banner-Herald, Elder Lamb and Elder Hassell endorsed Gill’s position on every text and on every line of gospel truth. Primitive Baptists HAVE very generally agreed that Gill’s Commentaries are the best that have ever been written; but they have NOT endorsed his position in his commentaries on the utility of the gospel. Elder Screws relies upon Gill to prove that he (Screws) is contending for Primitive Baptist faith."

It really becomes a question of who are the "Primitive Baptist?" So-called Primitives do not agree with Gill, but true Primitives do agee with Dr. Gill. Therefore, I repeat, I am more Old Baptist today than I was when I joined the Hardshells!

Actually, what Hardshell "proselyters" do, in their efforts to "win" over the Arminian Baptists to their brand of Calvinism, is to cite the writings of Dr. Gill and other Old Baptists to show that they believed in the five points of Calvinism and leave the impression that Dr. Gill and the Old Baptists of the Confessions not only taught what modern Hardshells do on the "five points" but also about regeneration and no means.

This tactic does not work so well with Calvinistic Baptists of the Spurgeon variety, however. Is that not why 90% or so of the debates that Hardshells have had, with other Baptist groups, have been with the extreme Arminian variety, and very few with five point Missionary Baptists? Actions speak louder than words.

Elder Crouse continues:

"Screws takes the position that for one to be a Primitive Baptist he MUST agree with Gill. To not do so, in his opinion, is evidence sufficient that one has ceased to be a Primitive Baptist. He then gives his “sample” of Gill’s interpretation, with which he agrees, and insists that all must agree or become “modern” Baptists."

But again, Elder Screws reasons correctly. One cannot boast of Dr. Gill so much and see him as a major part of the history of the Particular Baptists and then divorce him so quickly. If the Hardshells do not have Gill to speak for them, in the 18th century, then who do they have that they can justly claim? Absolutely no one! They can try vainly to make it appear that they are in agreement with men like Gill and Richardson, but they are just deceiving both themselves and others.

Elder Crouse continues:

"The purpose Elder Screws had in making this quotation from Gill’s commentary was to show that Gill believed and taught that God uses the ministry and the gospel as means and instrumentalities in the work of regeneration. That this was Dr. Gill’s teaching in the above quotation there can be no doubt. Indeed he says that Paul’s ministry was made “an effectual means OF their regeneration.” I call special attention to this for Elder Screws has time and again stated that he was in line with Gill and that one had to be in line with Gill or cease to be a Primitive Baptist."

Very reluctantly, Elder Crouse has to give up Dr. Gill and give him to Elder Screws. I am sure he hated to do it, but he had no choice, at least as respects his Commentaries. But, he took Daily's view "hook, line, and sinker," about Dr. Gill having "changed his mind" on the question of means in the new birth, and so wrote differently in his later writings. But, I hope I have forever put that false notion to rest. This is the same Elder Crouse that spoke highly, at the outset, of Dr. Gill, and warned others about being careful in writing about the dead!

Elder Crouse said:

"If Dr. Gill was right in his Commentary; if Dr. Watson was right in his Old Baptist Test if Wilson Thompson taught what Elder Screws said he did; if the Kehukee Association believed and taught as Brother Screws has represented; if the London Confession teaches as he insists that it does; if ALL Baptists until the last century or so believed as he has told us they did; if the Pence-Burnam faction were right and we were wrong; if 1 Cor. 4:15, 2 Thes. 2:13-14, James 1:18, Acts 26:15-18, 1 Peter 1:23-25, John 17 :20, Acts 2:37, 2 Cor. 3:3 and Eph. 5:25-26 all refer to regeneration or the new birth and the gospel as that THROUGH which it was done...we owe the Pence-Burnam faction and our Missionary brethren an apology; and we ought to take down all fences and mix and mingle and feed in the same pasture." ("Regeneration" chapter One, by Elder W. H. Crouse)


What a proposition for discussion and debate! Who is willing and able to come forth and meet the challenge laid out by Elder Crouse? Have I not done it thus far in this book? He laid out the criteria for judging whether today's Hardshells are apostates from Baptist and Bible faith or not. What is that criteria? Let us list each of Crouse's criterion.

1. "If Dr. Gill was right in his Commentary" (and I will add, in his "Body of Divinity" and "Cause of God and Truth"!).

2. "If Dr. Watson was right in his Old Baptist Test."

3. "If Wilson Thompson taught what Elder Screws says he did."

4. "If the Kehukee Association taught as Elder Screws..."

5. "If the London Confession teaches as Elder Screws..."

6. "If all the Baptists of the last century believed as Elder Screws..."

7. "If the Pence-Burnam faction were right."

8. "If 1 Cor. 4:15, 2 Thes. 2:13-14, James 1:18, Acts 26:15-18, 1 Peter 1:23-25, John 17 :20, Acts 2:37, 2 Cor. 3:3 and Eph. 5:25-26 all refer to regeneration."

If these things are taken as the criteria, then all Hardshells ought to come forward and do as Elder Crouse said they ought, when he said that the above being shown, then he and the Hardshells would "owe the Pence-Burnam faction and our Missionary brethren an apology" and should "take down all fences."

I have already shown how Dr. Gill and Dr. Watson are against them. I have already shown too that the articles of faith of the Old Kehukee Association are against Hardshellism (and will enlarge upon that further in upcoming chapters).

I have also shown already, to a great degree, how Elder Wilson Thompson is against them on several leading points in their "new birth paradigm" (and will enlarge upon further also in upcoming chapters).

I have also shown that the Old London Confession truly taught contrary to Hardshellism (and will expand on these in upcoming chapters). The only thing left, besides expanding the proofs for each of these criterion, but to deal with the Pence-Burnam division, already mentioned. But, enough was cited in the last chapter to show that Elders Waters, Dalton, Daily, and the side they represented, were not the real "primitive" Baptists, at least on the matter of faith and means.

Elder Crouse continued:

"We doubt if another copy of his testimony can be found in Georgia. We do not want to be unkind, but we cannot view it a light crime against Elder Thompson and against Primitive Baptists for anyone to teach our unsuspecting brethren (and so openly and emphatically) that this great minister was a “means” Baptist. ("Regeneration" chapter Two)

I will be dealing with Elder Thompson more at length in future chapters and so will let this pass for now. But, I will say this much; Elder Thompson would not be welcome today in most Hardshell churches. So, to bring him up, is really a little hypocritical unless one is willing to take the whole of Thompson, "lock, stock, and barrel." Or, will they do to Thompson as they did to Elder Daniel Parker?

"In that trial, under oath, Elder Thompson also said: “Doctor Gill’s Commentaries on the Testament is like other works; on some points he is good and on others as corrupt as any. His works have never been adopted by Baptists.” (Ibid)


But, all this shows is that Elder Thompson, in his mid life and later days, when he was going further and further into Hyper Calvinism, had plenty of reasons to distant himself from Dr. Gill.

When he was a young man, and a new born babe in Christ, he felt much differently about things, as I will show in upcoming chapters on "Hardshell Founding Fathers."

But, Elder Thompson simply states a gross falsehood when he says - "Dr. Gill's works have never been adopted by the Baptists."

Dr. Gill a Hyper Calvinist?

Was Dr. Gill a Hyper Calvinist? A Hardshell on the new birth? Did he have any "leanings" at all in that way? If so, in what ways? These are the questions I will begin to address in the conclusion of this chapter and in preparation for the next chapter (which I recently decided to add - making eight chapters total on Gill) .

A Writer on Gill and Hyper Calvinism says:

"Those critics who imagine that Gill refused to preach repentance and conversion need take note of what Gill actually did preach and teach on the subject. Two of Gill`s favourite texts were Isa. 24:16 "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth", and 2 Chron. 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him." Time and time again he refers to his duty to gather together Christ`s sheep who were scattered abroad. Preaching at the induction of John Davis, Gill told him, "Souls sensible to sin and danger, and who are crying out, What shall we do to be saved? you are to observe, and point out Christ the tree of life to them; and say,...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, Acts XVI: 31." He goes on to stress, "Your work is to lead men, under a sense of sin and guilt, to the blood of Christ, shed for many for the remission of sin, and in his name you are to preach the forgiveness of them." Who can mistake his evangelical objectives when he urges the Gospel minister to, "Be faithful, labour to shew the one and the other their wretched state by nature; the necessity of repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in his blood, righteousness, and atoning sacrifice, for peace, pardon, justification, and salvation?"

Is that anything akin to Hardshellism? Do modern Hardshells teach that repentance towards the one true and living God, and faith (cognitive) in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith in his blood and righteousness, faith in his atoning sacrifice, as "necessary" for "salvation," or for "justification" and for "pardon"? No, they do not teach such, and yet they claim Dr. Gill as their forefather and founder! Bunk!

The writer continues:

"At the ordination of George Braithwaite of Devonshire Square, Gill says solemnly, "Ministers are Instruments by whom Souls believe, and so are saved; the Word preached by them being by the Grace of the Spirit, an engrafted Word, is able to save them; and the Gospel being attended with the Demonstration of the Spirit, is the Power of God unto Salvation. What can, or does, more strongly engage Ministers to take heed to themselves, to their Doctrine, and abide therein, than this? That they may be useful in the Conversion, and so the Salvation of precious and immortal Souls. ´He that converteth a Sinner from the Error of His Ways, shall save a Soul from Death, and shall hide a Multitude of Sins (James 5:20)."

Does that sound like Hardshellism? No, they would call Dr. Gill an Arminian! It is laughable and highly ironic. Rather, even as one of their own testified, Elder John Clark, that it was the "ultraist" Hardshell who was the "sublimated Arminian" (a sentiment shared by Dr. Watson)! I will show testimony in upcoming chapters where Hardshells have testified that supporting Bible Classes and Sunday Schools was to be guilty of Arminianism! And these people want to come along and want us to listen to them tell us about what is Arminianism versus Calvinism? Give me a break!

This good writer continues:

"Preaching to his congregation which often included some hundreds of unconverted ´hearers`, Gill could plead from Matthew 11:28: "Christ having signified, that the knowledge of God, and the mysteries of grace, are only to be come at through him, and that he has all things relating to the peace, comfort, happiness, and salvation of men in his hands, kindly invites and encourages souls to come unto him for the same: by which is meant, not a local coming, or a coming to hear him preach; for so his hearers, to whom he more immediately directed his speech, were come already: and many of them did, as multitudes may, and do, in this sense, come to Christ, who never knew him, nor receive any spiritual benefit by him: nor is it a bare coming under the ordinances of Christ, submission to baptism, or an attendance at the Lord`s supper, the latter of which was not yet instituted; and both may be performed by men, who are not yet come to Christ: but it is to be understood of believing in Christ, the going of the soul to him, in the exercise of grace on him, of desire after him, love to him, faith and hope in him: believing in Christ, and coming to him, are terms synonymous, John vi.35. Those who come to Christ aright, come as sinners, to a full, suitable, and able, and willing Saviour; venture their souls upon him, and trust in him for righteousness, life, and salvation, which they are encouraged to do, by this kind invitation; which shows his willingness to save, and his readiness to give relief to distressed minds."

Is this the "Gillite method" you use, my Hardshell friends? Or, will you come forth now and call Dr. Gill an Arminian because he addressed the lost and exhorted them to go to Christ for salvation?

The Gillite historian continues:

"Ardent critics may not be impressed by the above as they miss the direct end-of-sermon-appeal in the ´you` form to listening sinners. Gill has many such direct addresses to sinful man as in his sermon on The Character and End of the Wicked where he closes with the exhortation, "There is no way of escaping the wrath to come, due to the sons of Belial, but by fleeing for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before you in the everlasting gospel; by fleeing to Christ, turning to him, the strong hold, as prisoners of hope; and, being justified by his blood, you shall be saved from wrath, through him. It is he, and he only, who delivers from wrath to come." ("John Gill and the Charge of Hyper-Calvinism")

"The Relation of the Gospel to the Unregenerate"

By Elder J. H. Oliphant in the "Messenger of Peace" - August 1905

"I wish to call your attention to the articles of faith of the “Strict Baptists” of England. The names of Gill, Gadsby, Philpot and others are attached as aiding to get them up, and I have no doubt these articles express the sentiments of John Gill. They certainly express what has been held by our people in this country."

Dr. Gill may be claimed by the "Strict Baptists" and the "Hardshell Baptists" but it is a falsehood and is a case of irrevently misrepresenting the dead, especially on questions that he was not the least bit ambiguous.

The great Hardshell apologist, Elder J. H. Oliphant, of whom I will have more to say in the remainder of this book, leaves the distinct impression that Dr. Gill was a Hardshell! Where oh where did he ever get that idea? Who is he trying to fool except his own cult members?

He says further:

"I labored in the ministry with Elders Thomas, Potter, Lampton, Hume and many others now at rest. I do not believe that there is a Baptist now living who will say they ever heard these men call on all to savingly repent."

To the degree that this is true of these men, it is a disgrace to the name "Christian." And to the degree that they did not preach evangelistically, to that same degree they show how unlike they are to the Old Baptists who preceded them. I am sure it is true of most of the men he named. But, it is certainly not true of all the first, and many of the second generation, of Hardshells or Old School or Regular Baptists. But, let me at least pick out Elder Joel Hume from the list of names that Elder Oliphant listed. What did Elder Hume say about this matter (1860's in his debate with the Arminian Stinson).

In that debate Elder Hume said:

" regard to the command of Christ to the apostles to preach the gospel, and to preach that gospel to every creature under heaven. I am as unshaken a believer in its truth as any man. Neither do I believe that Christ, in the giving of that commission, designed it to be restricted, but that it should be preached in all the world. I would, however, ask, hoping an answer from him, for what purpose was that gospel to be preached?"

Here is one of the very first Hardshell debaters and apologists and what does he affirm? He affirms that it is the command of Jesus, in the great commission, that all men have the gosple preached to them. Elder Hume was in a very crucial point in Hardshell history (1860's) and was caught in the middle (as was also Elders Watson and Clark) of conflicting groups within the general Hardshell or Anti-Mission Movement. No more clear is this fact from what he says next in this debate. He says:

"While I admit this fact, I am not at all ashamed to acknowledge my ignorance as relates to some portions of scripture. And here I will make an admission that my friends are welcome to the benefit of, if any can be derived from it; it is this: the 15th verse of the 1st chapter of Mark has caused me more serious study, more close attention, more intense application, and perhaps more prayer to God, than any other one passage found in the Bible; and I confess now that there has been no passage introduced into this discussion about which my mind is as unsettled: "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel." That is the whole text; and I can not, as an honest man, tell you that this address was made to the disciples (or those already born again SMG); consequently, the mystery in my mind is in regard to its application. I can not reconcile that single verse with the general tenor of Revelation upon the subject. The best I can do is this: I learn from the Bible that where the word of a king is, there is power. Jesus Christ was the king, and when he made this commandment, he possessed power to enforce it, and understood to whom it was to be applied. Now, if that is not the meaning, I confess I do not understand it. I would not know how to reconcile that expression with what the apostle says, in Acts v, 31, where it says that God has exalted Christ with his own right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Now, if repentance is an act of the creature, and if mankind possess that power, I can not see the propriety of Christ being exalted to give it. It is either a gift of Christ, or an act of the creature; it is not both. Here we have an emphatic declaration that God has exalted Christ for that purpose, not only to give repentance to Israel, but forgiveness of sins. This is precisely the view I entertain of the gospel plan." (Hume's first reply on the 3rd proposition)

What an admission for a Hardshell apologist to make in debate! He is certainly to be commended for his frank honesty, which is far more than we are accustomed to see in Hardshell "debaters" and "historians"! But, what an admission!

Why, oh why, can he not reconcile these scriptures? Is it not because he has embraced some very unscriptural propositions? Is it not because he is being hard-headed and stubborn (living up to the "hardshell" name!)and refusing to see how a thing can be both a sovereign and gracious gift of God and still be an act of the creature? Good Lord! Does he not believe that faith and repentance are acts of the creature? Does he believe that God believes and repents for the sinner?

Now, I will deal more fully with such incongruities as these in my upcoming series on "Hardshell Paradigm Problems," but will deal with the leading difficulty that Elder Hume is having in his hermeneutics. Who came out of the grave when Jesus said, "Lazarus, come"? Did Jesus come forth? Was it his act of "coming forth," or that of Lazarus? Oh yes, no question about it, it was the power of Christ that made the dead to act, but it still was the act of the dead man, of Lazarus, just as much so as it was the act of the bones in "coming together" in the resurrection in Ezekiel chapter 37.

Elder Hume continued (in the same debate):

"My brother could not help believing it was old Joel Hume that was speaking, if he had to be hung till he was dead. So with every child of God, when the evidence comes before them that Jesus Christ is their Saviour, faith is irresistible. You know this is so, when you believed in the Lord Jesus; you could not help it. I do not remember how many kinds of faith there are in the Bible; there is such a theory spoken of as the faith of men and the faith of devils, as false faith, as little faith, as great faith; but the faith I have in view here, is the faith of God's elect. I inquire, who has this faith? The answer is, God's spiritual Israel possess that faith, and nobody else."

Knowing most modern Hardshells as I do, they will not accept this as the truth of scripture. Yes, the few remaining Absoluters may accept it, but not the Conditionalist faction, the faction which now almost universally prevails. The problem for the Hardshells, with such a citation from Elder Hume, is the fact that he does two things; 1) He equates the "faith of God's elect," the "faith" that is integral to regeneration, and the faith that is universal in all the savingly called, with a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! (But, today's Hardshells do not make this experience of coming to cognitive faith in Jesus with regeneration, nor do they believe it is universal in all the elect, but of only in a few who happen to get "converted"), and 2) That this conversion experience of coming to believe in Christ and in the saving message is an irresistable work of God.

To the Conditionalist faction, regeneration is irresistable, but not conversion. It seems to me that Elder Hume at least took the view that all the elect would be converted and that it would be an irresistable work of God. Who, other than the Absoluters, will want to claim him as a "forefather"?

But, it is not surprising that the further one gets to the year 1800, in a look at what leading Hardshells have said, he will see a clear "evolution in doctrine," much the same way there was among the Campbellites, the "twin" of the Hardshells. But, more on all this in upcoming chapters.

One can at least see, from the above citations from Hume, that the Hardshells in the 1860's did not separate cognitive faith in the gospel from what it means to have the "faith of God's elect." A departure from that point, though beginning to gain some ground, did not become the leading position till Dr. Waters and clan began to affirm that men could be save and regenerated "faith or no faith."

It is no wonder then that those among the Old School, Regulars, and Primitives, who still believed in a conscious experience of regeneration, and a faith that was cognitive, had said "it is enough"! They more or less said to the ultraists - "We cannot tolerate this theological "slippery slope" that the "ultraists" have been on since the Black Rock Address."

I think that Dr. Watson and Elder Clark had put up with the ultraists all their lives with hopes that the ultraists would "die out." Sad to say, it has been the other way around. Elder Burnam, a close associate of Elder Clark and the "Zion's Advocate," and who clearly believed in gospel means, was correct when he stated that it was not till the latter quarter of the 19th century that such views, as Dr. Waters put forth on saving faith, gained the ascendency within the broader movement.

He said that chiefly in regard to the new "paradigms" that were gaining ground, since the death of Dr. Watson, not only on this point, but also on points relative to predestination and perseverence, and about church activity, such as missions, bible classes, etc. But, more on all this in upcoming chapters.

Elder Hume also did an uncharacteristic thing for Hardshells, at least as they have evolved today. He gave a half-hearted invitation. But, at least it was an invitation. The further one goes back in Baptist history, beyond Hume, he will see, as I have already abundantly shown, much more fervent giving of invitations, and more from a heart that truly was concerned for the lost.

"Oh, blessed Saviour, that has thus died for sinners, and in his sweet heavenly voice says: "Come unto me, all ye that labor." But where does he invite the gambling man, the cursing, blaspheming drunkard? Nowhere. He invites the poor mourning soul and sin-stricken sinner, to come to Jesus, for he has died for such. He says: "Take my yoke upon you, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your soul." Will you receive it, children?" (Hume's closing reply on the 3rd proposition)

Now, while I commend him for giving an invitation, I abhor his restricting it, the very thing he said one should not do (in relation to the command to preach the gospel to every creature)! He did not come to call sinners? the gamblers and drunkards? Good Lord! He has been infected with Hyper Hyper Calvinism and thus he is blinded from giving good news to the worst of sinners and from understanding a simple passage such as "repent ye and believe the gospel"!

Elder Hume then said:

"In the humble conceptions of my mind, all enlightened sinners choose Christ, from the fact that their eyes are opened, because they see." (Hume's 3rd reply on the 2nd proposition)

Again, that is just more reinforcing of the propositions mentioned above, propositions which modern Hardshells absolutely will not accept, although that may be changing. They still, however, for the most part, do not believe that all those who's eyes are opened in the new birth see and embrace Christ.

Elder Hume says again:

"Respecting Brother Stinson's passage, "he that believeth shall be saved," the question is, how does faith come? Upon what principles do men realize faith? I read in the first chapter of Ephesians, that they believed according to the working of the mighty power of God, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. What is the conclusion? It requires the same power to enable the sinner to believe in Jesus Christ that it requires to raise Christ from the dead." (Hume's last speech on the 2nd and last proposition)

"Now, if it requires this, such exercise of faith is the gift of God, and not the act of the creature. Faith is irresistible. I ask you, when you were first enabled to believe, could you help it; when you were first enabled to embrace Christ, to rejoice in God? I know the Christian says, no; and I know you could not neither. You were glad to know that the thing was so, and you received it as the gift of God. This is the way we understand faith."


Again, more proof that Elder Hume, and probably the majority of Hardshells at that time, believed that what today's Hardshells call a gospel conversion experience, was irresistable, applying the same language to the conversion experience as to the regeneration experience!

But, back to Elder Oliphant. He said:

"I love our people and their peace and I believe it will be ruin to us when we turn away from this beaten path of our fathers. When the Old Baptists de­part from this ground I will have no relig­ious home for I am not going to leave it, the Lord willing. When division came between us and the Missionaries we held they were responsi­ble for it because they brought sentiment and practices hitherto unknown among us. So when Elder Pence and Burnam brought their views into our midst we considered them responsible for the strife that ensued. I desire never to be responsible for division nor to be one that causes division. And if we adhere patiently and faithfully to prin­ciples handed down to us by our fathers, we will not be responsible for any strife that may arise among us. Elder Pence urges that our churches were dying out every­where for the want of his remedy (and I hear some say this today and I think it shameful—David Montgomery). But they have lived and grown from then until now and we as a people have lived without re­sorting to Arminian methods—to mourner’s benches, to Arminian exhortations, etc. Let us patiently and quietly go on as we have been doing, be content with the cross, the Lord will preserve us to time’s end."


I am so certain that it was this kind of appeal to the Hardshell brotherhood, at the end of the 19th century, that helped get the Dr. Waters, Potter, Dalton faction into the "driver's seat," denominationally speaking.

I am sure too that similar appeals were made, during the same time period, by the "conservative wing" of the "Restoration Movement," by the "twin brother" of the Hardshells, who were themselves "evolving." But, more on all this also in upcoming chapters.

Now, in closing, I want to cite some blog comments by Gene Bridges relative to the charge that Dr. Gill was a Hyper Calvinist. I have highlighted what I think are very worthy and truthful statements.

Gene Bridges wrote:

"Different historians classify Gill differently. I’m inclined to agree with Dr. Nettles, as most folks I’ve seen classify Gill as a hyper tend to do so on the presumption that high Calvinism and hyper Calvinism are close enough cousins to be the same. Gill was a high Calvinist, but the jury is out on whether he was supralapsarian or infra. If infra, he could not have been a hyper. All hypers are supras, but not all supras are hypers."

"Gill did not deny duty faith. This is the single most commonly adduced charge against him, and it seems based on his rejection of the offers vocabulary."

"Elsewhere he writes that “It is man’s duty to believe the word of the Lord and obey His will, though he has not a power, yea, even though God has decreed to withhold that grace without which he cannot beleive and obey.”"

"The responsibility to believe is not based on men’s ability (hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism) but it is indexed to the amount of light they have received by way of the gospel. If they received no light, they are justly condemned, but, to be saved, they need the gospel. It was the abuse of this idea of his by the hypers who picked up on it that has most often led to the charge he was a hyper."

"Some have used a statement that he did not issue an evangelistic invitation from his pulpit as exculpatory evidence. However, that can be interpreted as coming from his belief that the gospel is its own inherent invitation. One would have to read “altar call” into “invitation” in order to arrive at that conclusion. That would be a semantic anachronism."


I do disagree with Gene when he says - "All hypers are supras, but not all supras are hypers."

That is not true. All Hardshells are hypers, but not all Hardshells are supras. Further, I am supra, or a "High Calvinist," but not a "Hyper Calvinist." I defined these terms in the very earliest chapters of this book.

In the next chapter I will show some examples where Dr. Gill did show some doting about things and some leanings towards elements of Hyper Calvinism. Then, I will begin my series on "Hardshells & The Great Commission."