Sep 22, 2007

Chapter 53 - Regeneration Evidence?

The Hardshells have so "whittled down" the biblical concept of what it means to be "regenerated" and "born again," it is no wonder that they have been troubled with the idea of a "no change" or "Hollow Log" view of the experience. Since they embraced the idea that men could be "regenerated" and "born again" and yet not be converted, or yet know the true and living God, or the Lord Jesus Christ, and the good news of his work of salvation, what is it that such a person, a heathen or an infant, experiences that could be called the "experience" of "regeneration" and the "new birth"?

No wonder it has become something "on the sub-conscious level," something that does not have any repentance or faith a part of it, something that does not change the individual, but something that only makes change possible.

This "whittling down" of the definition of what it means to be "regenerated" and "born again" has also caused the Hardshells to have, historically, all kinds of problems with "Universalism" and the "No-Hell Doctrine." At least it has caused today's Hardshells believe that the "elect few" are not those who go to Heaven but those who go to Hell!

If infants and heathen people are "born again" and "regenerated," then what evidence can be seen in these people that gives proof of this "drastic change"? It can't be anything connected with the written word or preached gospel, or with "conversion," so it becomes really a bunch of nothing. But, today's Hardshells have come to find all kinds of "evidences" of a supposed regeneration in heathen people! Today's Hardshells think that if anyone struggles with doing good, has any sense of guilt and shame over sin, who believe in any named "god" or "supreme being," and who seem to be good people, loving their neighbors, etc., even if they do not know the true God or Jesus Christ, show, by these "evidences," that they too have been "born again." I have addressed this topic lightly in earlier chapters but will now elaborate more fully upon it.

I wrote the following in chapter 12 in preparation for the fuller treatment of the topic in this chapter (I actually addressed it also some in chapter 13 and in a few other chapters).

"Wrote Sarrels:" perhaps the vast majority of cases the elements of conversion–repentance, faith, and justification–may be present only embryonically..." (Systematic Theology, page 369) "The more advanced intellectual Christian concepts about all of these progressive steps which unfold in the believer's experience do not prove that these do not exist embryonically in the obscure, yet spiritual, exercise of the quickened soul in heathen lands. The child of God, be he heathen or cultured, may not understand all that is woven around his life in God, yet in germ all is there. (See Rom:2:14)"

And then I wrote in response:

"What a wild concoction is this Hardshell definition of faith! Here is a man who has "faith," is a "believer," and yet only because he has "embryonic faith"! It is there, this "faith," secretly hidden somewhere in the man's soul, they say, but what is it, according to Hardshellism? It is simply some "metaphysical" "substance," like a "dormant seed," some "germ", or like some kind of "spiritual deposit," something they call an "inner ability," yet without much more further elaboration or definition.

Sarrels wrote:

"Just what God does to the soul substance to fit it for eternal life, we do not know." (Page 344)

I then wrote this rebuttal:

"This is an interesting confession by this Hardshell apologist. It seems hypocritical, in a sense, seeing that he and other Hardshells seem to know so much about the "metaphysics" of the new birth, their "logic" opening up to them the "mysteries" of the new birth.

But, then, in another sense, it does seem fitting to say that he and the Hardshells do not have the foggiest idea about what it means, Biblically, to be born again and regenerated. They have so divorced regeneration from conversion that it becomes, in essence, a bunch of nothing. Regeneration does very little for a man. It does not change anything about him, does not produce any activity of the soul, it being all something unconscious with him. So it is understandable that Sarrels and the Hardshells would acknowledge that they do not know what God does to the soul in regeneration.

Where is the Biblical evidence for all this baloney that they put forth about "faith?" Where do the Biblical writers distinguish between "embryonic faith," and "gospel faith?" Brother, the only kind of faith there is, in the Bible, is that "faith that comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17) I have an open challenge for any Hardshell.

Show me one passage of scripture that identifies a man that has "faith," and yet who never heard the word of God! Can you do it? Name the Biblical person. Show us the Bible passage. You can no more find a passage that points to a man with "faith," who is a "believer," and yet who has not heard the gospel and word of God, than you can find a Hardshell church prior to the 1800's."

Evidence of Regeneration?

What evidence of regeneration or the new birth could possibly be found in heathens who know not the word of God? Let me summarize the "evidences" of "regeneration" that today's Hardshells generally acknowledge.

1. Ethical goodness or general morality.

2. Theism and belief in a Creator.

3. Desire to please the gods (or God).

4. Sense of guilt before God or the gods.

5. Devoutness in religion (religious seeking and praying).

6. Hope in the after-life, hope for salvation.

7. Desire for salvation and forgiveness.

Hardshells obviously have come to confuse the "work of the law" with the "work of grace." They also confuse natural virtues with the Christian. They also do not understand the distinction between the natural conscience and the conscience of one who has had the blood of Christ applied to it.

First, let me cite the references from Hardshell sources on what they consider to be the "evidences" or "sure signs (immediate effects)" of the "new birth." Then, I will state my rebuttal and conclude with questions that will lead into the next two chapters.

Wrote Elder Charles Taylor:

"Who is it that is endowed with the ability to have a desire? Certainly the dead have no desires! This is a simple deduction. Then it must be one who is alive that has the ability to desire anything. Therefore, if any person desires salvation, it is an evidence of life!"

"The person who desires to have salvationalready has it..."

"Only that one who is born of God has the desire of Salvation."

(Excerpts from the book - "Questions and Answers: What Do Primitive Baptists Believe?" by Elder Charles Taylor)


Elder C. H. Cayce' Testimony

"...if we are sorry for sin and grieve on account thereof, it is because we are alive spiritually. That is what cause the three thousand who heard Peter's preaching to cry out, 'what shall we do?' They had feeling, or his preaching would not have pricked them in their hearts; that is, his preaching taking effect on them, shows that they were alive, for we might prick a dead man a hundred times, and that in his heart, but it would be of no avail. But Peter's words, as the word of the Lord, fell into three thousand hearts that were circumcised by the Spirit of God..." (Cayce's Editorials, Vol. 3, page 169)

"A brother asks us this question: 'When does the new birth take place? Is it at the time one is quickened, or is it when one is delivered from the burden of sin and guilt?"

"The very fact that a child cries is unmistakable proof that a living child has been born. So when one begins to mourn on account of sin and to cry unto the Lord, begging for mercy, it is positive proof that he has been born of God. Then one may ask, 'Why does he mourn if he has been born of God?' We answer, Because he does not know he has been born of God. When the fact is made known to him that Jesus is his Saviour and that he has been born of God, then he rejoices. The fact is one thing, and the knowledge of the fact is another thing." (Vol. III, pages 187,188)

"There can be no such desire for natural things without natural life first. There can be no such thing as holy and righteous desires without the righteous life. The life is first." (Vol. IV, page 14)

"The divine life which God gives by the direct operation of His Spirit on the spirit of the sinner, has a nature peculiar to itself. It is called the divine nature. From that life, which is a holy life, and which nature is divine, springs all our hatred of sin, and all our desire to live a holy and righteous life. From that life springs the desire to 'do good.' 'When I would do good, evil is present with me,' says the eminent apostle to the Gentiles. This shows clearly that he had both natures--the divine nature, by reason of which he 'would do good.'" (ibid)

"A saving knowledge and faith in Christ does not come through the gospel; but one must have that before he can be reached through or by the gospel." (Vol. VI, page 176)

Elder Bernard Gowens

"In fact, Romans 2:14 indicates that ethical holiness is an evidence of new birth." (

Note: I have already addressed this citation and mentioned some of the argumentation that Hardshells have put forth upon it, and will deal with it even more fully in our series on "Hardshell Proof Texts."

Elder John R. Daily

"It is not commanded that we should comfort any except such as are troubled. As it is commanded that God's people could be comforted, it follows that they are troubled. Those who are in real trouble of soul, are, therefore, children of God...If you were not alive to the unfeeling state of your heart you would not be sensible of it. No one ever complains of the darkness who never saw the light. You need to be comforted and are therefore a child of God. Only those who are born of God know about the distress produced by a dark and barren mind."

"How shall we comfort those who are thus distressed?" "Oh! Poor, distressed ones, and not comforted, let us search you out. We fain would soothe your troubled hearts, and wipe the tears from your lamenting eyes. We do not wish to deceive you. Your case is extremely bad, beyond the reach of any earthly physician, and we dare not preach ourselves, for we are, like you, but poor, sinful worms." ("Comfort Ye My People" - Zion's Advocate, Vol. 38, No. 11, November 1899)

Elder Lemuel Potter

"Referring to Romans i. 20, where it speaks of the heathen being without excuse, why were they? It says they had knowledge of God: “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” That should teach there is a God. Ought not the same thing teach to the heathen now that there is a God? Do they not have the sun, and moon and stars, to look at, and do they not have all nature to look at, just the same as the people anciently? And if it answered the purpose then, should it not answer the same purpose today with the people that are without the Bible or gospel? If it teaches them there is a God, it ought to teach them at the same time to have respect for that God. My idea is that where people think there is a God, and have an idea of his divine character, they ought to have some respect for him; and it is my idea that this is so; that nature unfolds a volume to the people wherever they live, that reads in more intelligent characters perhaps than the tongue of mortal could ever tell, that there is a God. David walked out, and he would look up and say: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” And Paul said the people that had that were without excuse; they had some way to know. Then the Bible and the ministry are not absolutely essential for the heathen to know there is a God." (Debate on Foreign Missions-Chapter 4 - MR. POTTER’S SECOND SPEECH)

He said further:

"And by his Spirit he can, and I will say he will, and does, quicken the benighted soul of the heathen and prepare him for heaven and glory. If that is not true, what mean all the Scriptures I have quoted here to you?" (Fifth Speech)

And again:

"Here is question two: “If the heathen are in an unfortunate condition, as you claim in your speech, how can this be consistent with that part of them who are God’s elect from eternity?” Now, as far as my speech yesterday was concerned, I quoted from missionary authors to show their plea for missions. I quoted from the Minutes of the Philadelphia Association and Circular Letter, in which they tell us the very grounds for the Christian Missions. In that letter they go on tell us of the deplorable condition of the heathen, and preach their universal damnation." (Chapter 12)

And then further, he says:

"Let me say right now, that so far as charging my people with denying the responsibility of man, Brother Yates knows we preach the responsibility of man—the obligation of man. He has heard us enough to know that. We do not deny the responsibility of man at all. We say that man, by the law of God, is required to do every thing that is right, and forbidden to do any thing that is wrong, no matter what. The law of God requires that; and while the law of God requires that, it requires nothing unreasonable. " (Ibid)

Elder Michael Ivey

"In yesteryear, a doctrine existed that sometimes plagued the Old Baptist in certain areas of the country. This belief was referred to as the Hollow Log Doctrine. The scenario is that a rabbit runs into a hollow log and out the other end. This rabbit that runs in and out of the hollow log provides no change to the log whatsoever. This is called the Hollow Log Doctrine."

"In my new birth, God wrought a tremendous change IN ME. In Psalms 40:2, He makes me realize that "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." He changed me. He gave me a new nature and set the direction of my compass points on a new course of life." (Refuting the Hollow Log Doctrine by Bernard Gowens)


"We are taught those who are born again have joy, peace and comfort and these as a result of obedience toward God which is possible for all who are born again. However, Paul described his experience after new birth to include feelings of wretchedness."

"Assuredly, regeneration is an occasion for joy. Yet it also causes one to become acutely and painfully aware of the evil of his sins thru guilt as a consequence of committing sins."

"For him, after new birth, the Law worked to demonstrate the nature of sin as exceeding sinful (Rom 7:13)."

(Paradox of Regeneration by Michael Ivey)



The above citations substantiate what I said at the outset of this chapter about what constitutes the "evidences" and "immediate effects" of "regeneration" and the "new birth" in the understanding of today's Hardshells. Nothing in the above descriptions includes a knowledge of and faith in Christ and the gospel. There is no evangelic conversion a part of the new birth. In fact, it has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity.

It was an interesting question that was posed by a Hardshell brother to the great Hardshell apologist and debater, C. H. Cayce, where he asks - "When does the new birth take place? Is it at the time one is quickened, or is it when one is delivered from the burden of sin and guilt?"

Why would this brother even ask this question? Was there any dispute or disagreement about it at the time? Were the Hardshells not all united then as to how they defined the experience of regeneration and the new birth?

It seems to me that by the time of C. H. Cayce, the "Beebe-Trott" model (or paradigm) of the salvation experience of the elect was being eliminated in favor of another model, representing a clear "paradigm shift" in the accepted first model/paradigm.

The great debater did not accept that first paradigm. In his reply to this brother's question, he might well have said (were he honest enough to give a complete answer to the question):

"Our founding fathers believed - that in being quickened or regenerated, a man immediately becomes burdened with grief over his sins and has no joy, but when he has been in the womb of conviction a while, he will finally be born and delivered from that womb of conviction and thereby receive the joy of salvation. But, I do not accept that view, believing that the quickening is the same as the being spiritually born, so that no part of the new birth ever makes a man happy. That experience comes only when the already born again person is converted by the gospel and believes that Jesus is his Savior."

Now, that would have been a more honest answer. Instead, he puts forth his view and paradigm as being the right one and implies that the Old Baptists have always agreed with him on it. But, the brother asking the question is also an Old Baptist, and he seems not to know that this is a settled question.

As I have said previously, it seems that the model that Cayce is putting forth was of recent origin, probably one that did not begin to gain the ascendency till the 1860's period. That is not to say that the "Beebe-Trott Model" was the only one up till that period, but that it was the one that predominated and the model that was able to keep the new heterogenous group relatively cohesive.

Elder Cayce then wrote:

"Then one may ask, 'Why does he mourn if he has been born of God?' We answer, Because he does not know he has been born of God."

This is absolutely a novel idea among Calvinistic Baptists! How in the name of all that is scripturally reasonable and historical can the Hardshells say such things and yet claim to be the "Old" and "Original" and "Primitive" Baptists? It is purely assinine! It is, as brother J. M. Peck declared long ago, an "arrogant" assumption! The Old Baptists who wrote the London Confession, the brethren who adopted it and incorporated it into the Philadelphia Confession, the oldest in America, would turn over in their graves were they alive today and could read such things from those who claim to be their descendents!

Jerry Falwell, God rest his soul, said years ago, in a sermon I heard him on "The Old Time Gospel Hour," - "If you can have salvation and not know it, you can lose it and not miss it." The very idea that one could be born again and not know it is a view of the new birth that no leading Baptist affirmed prior to the "rise of the Hardshells," especially those of the second generation and those following. Cayce was a second and third generation Hardshell.

I will be dealing with the subject of conviction and its relationship to the new birth and regeneration in the next couple chapters and so will forestall dealing with it further now.

Cayce wrote further:

"A saving knowledge and faith in Christ does not come through the gospel; but one must have that before he can be reached through or by the gospel."

I don't know a more ridiculous and unscriptural statement that anyone can make who professes to believe the Bible! It is so absurd that no neo Hardshell, that I know of, advocates such an idea. I did cite a statement from Elder Pittman (who supposedly says Elder S. Hassell agreed) where he said that Christ is the great Preacher who can and does preach the gospel personally to many heathen!

Did any apostle or missionary to heathen lands ever find anyone who had already come to faith in Christ without the gospel being preached to them? Has Cayce forgotten Paul's teaching in Romans 10? Modern Hardshells will affirm that a faith in Christ only comes by the gospel, although a "faith" in "God" does not, nor the metaphysical faith that some affirm is "implanted in regeneration," even in infants.

Cayce says a man must believe in Christ before the gospel can be preached to him! Paul says the opposite! He says men cannot believe in Christ till they have first come to hear of him by those who preach the gospel! How absurd for Cayce to have argued, in his debates and apologetic writings, that he and the "Old Baptists" only went by the Bible!

Michael Ivey said - "Assuredly, regeneration is an occasion for joy." But, I really don't think he believes what he said. I think, if "pinned down" on the matter, that he would interpret his words as meaning - "regeneration, in itself, is a reason for joy, but, not knowing that regeneration has occurred, there is, in all practicality, no occsasion for joy."

You have to watch these Hardshells, for they are very good at "speaking out of both sides of their mouths," and of speaking parables and proverbs where "the legs of the lame are not equal," and where they "wrongly divide" the word of truth, and such like.

The State of the Heathen

"Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name." (Psalm 79: 6)

"To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people..." (Psalm 149: 7)

"Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name..." (Jeremiah 10: 25)

"Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." (Joel 3: 12)

"For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been." (Obadiah 1: 15,16)

"And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard." (Micah 5: 15)

"To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen." (Galatians 1: 16)

"...that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." (2: 9)

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Galatians 3: 8)

"For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (Romans 15: 18,19)

"But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils." (I Corinthians 10: 20)

"Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led." (12: 2)

"Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved..." (I Thessalonians 2: 16)

" the Gentiles which know not God..." (4: 5)

How a man can read all these verses (and there are more) and yet claim that those who die in heathendom, without a knowledge of Christ and the gospel, are yet to be saved, and are "born again," is truly amazing! They will affirm the salvation of large scores of heathen people! Where do they get that idea? How can they claim that their beliefs, though perhaps not in accord with the oldest Baptist confessions, are nevertheless in accord with Scripture?

In the next few chapters I will go into more detail, both scripturally and historically, on the topic of "evidences" of the Christian "new birth" or "regeneration" experience. I will talk about "prevenient grace," "conviction of sin," of "elenctics," and the such questions as - "Is there no conviction that precedes regeneration?" Do any resist or quench the Holy Spirit in conviction? In other words, are all those who are convicted, either by the law or by the gospel, the elect? And, are all such who are convicted, already born again?

I will show that there are no scriptural passages that define conviction of sin as a "work of grace," but always views it as a "work of the law" or a "work of the gospel."

I will discuss the difference between the natural (or moral) conscience and the spiritually renewed conscience? I will also look at passages that seem to be pertinent to this topic, like the case of those who were "pricked in their hearts," in Acts 2, as a result of the evangelistic preaching of Peter, and the case of Lydia, where the sacred record says "who's heart the Lord opened so that she attended to the things spoken of Paul." Is the "pricking" of the heart an "evidence" of a prior regeneration? Is the "opening" of Lydia's heart her regeneration or new birth experience? What is the "work of the law" versus the "work of grace"?

Here is what the London and Philadelphia Confessions say about the state of the heathen.

Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof 1._The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners. ( Genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8 )

2. _This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; much less that men destitute of the revelation of Him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance. ( Romans 1:17; Romans 10:14,15,17; Proverbs 29:18; Isaiah 25:7; Isaiah 60:2, 3 )

3. _The revelation of the gospel unto sinners, made in divers times and by sundry parts, with the addition of promises and precepts for the obedience required therein, as to the nations and persons to whom it is granted, is merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God; not being annexed by virtue of any promise to the due improvement of men's natural abilities, by virtue of common light received without it, which none ever did make, or can do so; and therefore in all ages, the preaching of the gospel has been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the counsel of the will of God. ( Psalms 147:20; Acts 16:7; Romans 1:18-32 )

4. _Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life; without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God. ( Psalms 110:3; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:19, 20; John 6:44; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6 )

Here the clearly affirmed that the absence of the gospel and word of God sealed the doom of the heathen. Now, who is Old Baptist on this point?

Sep 18, 2007

Hardshell News

I went to a session of the "Bear Creek Association" of "Primitive Baptists," the association I used to be part of, this past Saturday afternoon (with my son). We got to the "Agri-Center" in Albemarle, N.C. at 2 PM. on Saturday. When we arrrived, the first preacher for the afternoon session was preaching.

There were about 250 people present for this session. I saw some faces I have not seen in many years. My ex father in law, a leading preacher in the Bear Creek Association, Elder Newell Helms (mentioned in chapter two of my book on Hardshellism) and I got to spend a good 90 minutes in private talks about my book and the several items with which it deals. He does not have a computer and so I am going to be forwarding him chapters over the next few weeks. He also wanted a copy of the Old London and Philadelphia Confessions of Faith and I am giving this to him also.

He did respond to me relative to a question I asked him (in a private letter months ago) about what were the original articles of faith or accepted confession of the Bear Creek Association and its oldest churches. He pastors High Hill Primitive Baptist Church, here in Monroe, N.C., the oldest church in this county, supposedly constituted "on a river bank" in 1784. I had asked him if they have the "original" articles. I asked also - "Have they been altered?" He could not say for sure. He affirmed that their articles, at said church, do say that all the elect will be converted. So, we talked about that point. He also admitted that the old churches embraced the Philadelphia Confession.

I will not go into further detail about our discussions, except to say they were enjoyed on both sides. Brother Helms and I always had good fellowship and discussions during the years that I was a member and minister within the Bear Creek Association. He has promised to visit me in the future at a location where I am every afternoon as part of my secular work. I do hope so.

We also spoke about Elder Charles Smith, another leading Elder in the Bear Creek Association, and who is about the same age as brother Helms (and my dad also, who is well acquainted with the above two Elders), and who was ordained at the same time and at the same church back in the 1960's.

Elder Smith came out of the Missionary Baptists. Later, after he had been a Hardshell for several years, he seemed to be going back to believing in Means (I know this from personal talks with him at that time, and he even worked with me on trying to start an independent church called "Sovereign Grace Fellowship"). He certainly was favorable to the "means" position at that time and had little to do with the Bear Creek brethren. But, he eventually went back to them and is with them now, as far as I know. I mentioned to Elder Helms how I would like to know where his mind now is on this topic. I think too that people like Brother Helms and Brother Smith ought to be very interested in reading my book, especially when it is finished. Brother Helms will get his chance to read what I have already written.

When I arrived at the afternoon session, as I said, an Elder was already preaching. I knew this preacher. His name is Elder Danny Parker. He is a few years older than I, and he started preaching just a few years before I did.

Brother Parker has always been favored with praise from the Hardshells. In his younger days, back in the "hay day" of Elder Bradley, he used to imitate Bradley in his preaching style. Everyone saw it. It was obvious. I don't know whether anyone ever mentioned to him that it was obvious or counselled him to learn to be himself and to develop his own style of preaching, but someone should have done so.

I had not seen him in many years. He seemed to be doing well, not changing all that much. His preaching was a little slower paced, with less excitement, and now more like a Sunday School lesson. What was he preaching about?

Well, he seemed to be talking about the 144,000 of the Book of Revelation. He was emphasizing the description of them that says - "they follow the Lamb withersoever he goes." He affirmed that these 144,000 were the members of the old Hardshell church! Did I not say, earlier in this book, that some of them affirm such things, and that this was evidence that they were a "cult"?

I mentioned this to Brother Helms after the afternoon session. I told him that this proves my assertion that the Hardshells are a "cult." They see themselves as the "one and onlys." Elder Parker also went further into this idea that the Old Baptist Church, the "Primitive Baptist Church," is the "elect within the elect," the ones denoted by the statement "a remnant according to the election of grace," the ones, the only ones, who "follow the Lamb withsoever he goes." What does that say about how they view themselves? Does it not show how "stand offish" they are to other inferior Christians, those who are not the "elect of the elect," or "super elect," or the "elite elect."

I asked Brother Helms - "you all are saying (by this kind of message) that you are the only ones who follow Christ where ever he goes"! You all are the only ones persevering! (And they, the Conditionalist faction, do not even give God the credit for their persevering, but to their own 'free will'!)

One preacher from the Powell's Valley Association (the infamous association referred to earlier in my book) was present, although I cannot recall his name. He preached, if you can call it that. He was what has been called a "hiccup preacher," one who had an "uh" after every breath he took in preaching. It does sound like a "hiccup." This is an old traditional form of preaching in many circles, both presently and historically, and already alluded to earlier in my book under chapter two and "personal experiences," and one that is not very pleasing to the ears of most people. It is like trying to understand an auctioneer. One has to strain to get an idea of what is being said.

The other two preachers were dry as toast. There was no exhortations to the unsaved, even though there was good opportunity for doing so when certain passages of scripture were cited. There was no excitement and manifested joy over the riches of the gospel. Sad to say, it was like being in the midst of a valley of dry bones.

Elder Guy Hunt was there from the Mt. Zion Association of Alabama. He is a former Governor of that state. I was told that he has cancer and is taking treatments, but that the prognosis is not good. I do hope the Lord has mercy upon him.

Elder Helms and I also talked awhile about Elder Bradley and his "movement" and how most Primitive Baptist today will not fellowship with him. He named the leading Elders who were with Bradley. I told him about my recent attempted correspondence with him. He basically said "typical Elder Bradley." For sure. He thought that Elder Bradley may be going back to a belief in gospel means. Is that so? If I find out, I will be happy to post it here. Why doesn't Bradley just not come out now for himself and tell us all?

Sep 15, 2007

Chapter 52 - Beebe Trott Model

The First Hardshell Birth Model

1. "Regeneration" was without means, by "direct speaking," while "conversion" was often by use of means.

2. "Regeneration" was the initial "implanting" of the "seed" or "principle of life," and "conviction" represented the state of a newly "begotten" soul in the "womb" of darkness, longing to be freed and delivered from the "womb," to see the light, and finally, the actual "delivery" or "birth" of the soul represented "evangelic conversion."

3. The "new birth" had three distinct stages to it. The first stage is "regeneration," the second stage is "conviction of sin," and the final stage is "conversion."

This was the first position taken by the leaders in the "Hardshell Baptists." It had two legs.

I. It did not totally separate means in the "new birth." It did eliminate means in "regeneration," thus "bending the tree" in a direction that would guarantee future change.

II. It included a belief in the new idea that Jesus speaks words directly to the sinner in "regeneration" and "quickening."

The Beebe-Trott "Birth Process"

Elder Gilbert Beebe said - "Regeneration, as we understand it, like generation, involves the begetting, conception and birth, of that which is generated..." (Here he gives a "broad definition" to the term "regeneration" and has this formula: begetting+conception+birth = regeneration)

And again:

"In the order of regeneration, or the development of the children of God, no intermediate agencies are employed, no system of means can bring forth the promised seed, as was demonstrated in the case of Hagar and Ishmael; it is the immediate work of God himself. "Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth." - James i. 18. How, by the word of truth? Jesus saith, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." - John vi. 63. In the preceding chapter Christ testified of the power of that word which is spirit and life, by which the children of God are begotten, quickened and born; saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." - John v. 25...The word of the Lord, which is Spirit, and which is life, which liveth and abideth forever, is that by which regeneration is affected; not merely by the Scriptures in their letter, nor reading or preaching them, but the words which Jesus himself speaks to the individual persons who are made to hear and live. Hence Peter could say, "To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." - John vi. 68, 69. Until this word, which is spirit and life, is spoken by Christ himself, who is the quickening Spirit, or life-giving Spirit, to an individual, that individual is in a state of alienation from God, dead in trespasses and sins, and utterly beyond the reach of any power, short of that which is in Christ, to quicken him. "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." When a sinner is thus quickened, the incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever, is implanted in his heart, and the evidence of this implantation is first given by a sense of the purity and holiness of God, and the spirituality of his law, contrasted with a sense of guilt, pollution and just condemnation of the person to whom this communication is made, and consequently a struggle for deliverance. The ear is now opened to hear the thunders of Sinai, and the eye is made to see the justice of God as a sin avenger; a brokenness of heart that he or she, as the case may be, has been all their lifetime in open rebellion against so holy, just and righteous a God, who has followed them with his mercies all their days. A sense of his goodness leads them to repentance, contrition and humble acknowledgment of their guilt. Now the quickened and awakened sinner becomes burdened with the load of depravity, which they vainly try to put away from them; an effort is made to reform; a resolution is formed to sin no more; tears flow in anguish of spirit, and prayers are offered for pardon; the sinner is pricked in the heart, and cries out, Men and brethren, what shall I do? But all that he can do for himself, and all that kind, sympathizing friends can do for him, does not ease his pain or lighten his burden. At length he concludes there is no hope in his case, he sees that all his efforts, cries and tears, have been unavailing, and all hope of salvation seems to be shut out from his view.

Now all this conviction, contrition, lamentation and distress, is the legitimate consequence resulting from life implanted, and indicates to all who know experimentally the way of life, that the poor sin-burdened soul is drawing near to the time of his birth, or deliverance. He who has thus arrested him, and brought him to a sense of his lost and helpless estate, will perform the work in his own time, but the burdened soul must wait until "God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in [not into] his heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." -2 Cor. iv. 6. Or, as Paul relates his own experience, "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me." - Gal. i. 15. Then by the revelation of Christ in us the hope of glory, the way of salvation through him is brought to view, the burden of guilt is removed, the blood of Christ is applied, the demands of the law are canceled, the curse is removed, the prison doors are opened, the captive is delivered, the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, old things are passed away; behold all things have become new; a new song is put in his mouth, even praise unto God, the gospel pours its joyful sound into his quickened ears, his goings are established and he is a new creature..."

"We have endeavored to give our views on the subject proposed by our brother, and in doing so, to trace the generation of the children of God, as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; which are born, not of a corruptible seed, but of an incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. What we have written are our views, and what we have understood to be the views of the Old order of Baptists, from the days of John; but if we are mistaken in our views, (and we are liable to be) or in any part of them, we hope that our brethren will in all christian kindness point out to us the more excellent way.

("REGENERATION AND THE NEW BIRTH" - Middletown, N. Y., September 1, 1857 - Editorials of Gilbert Bebee Vol. 4) (

Elder Trott writes:

"Brother Beebe: - I received, a short time since, a letter from brother Davis S. Woody, of Missouri, in which he makes the following request:

"I now come, brother Woody, to give you my views, briefly, on the new birth, as to what it is. Regeneration, as I hold it, is the implanting in an individual, or adding to his mind, that incorruptible seed which Peter speaks of, even the spiritual seed of Abraham, which is Christ, Christ in you, and which is that life that was in the Word, which is the light of men; for Christ is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world John 1:9. Hence this individual sees his relation and accountability to God and to the law, and sees his sinfulness as he never saw or felt it before, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. He sees this as the natural man cannot see it, for the law is spiritual. And he so sees and knows the reality of these things, that he cannot shake off or drive them from him as he could former impressions, which arose from mere fleshly views, or a natural conscience. The reason of this is, that whilst the implantation of this seed is of God, and of God only, and not through any instrumentalities of men, the seed itself being life and light, quickens the mind and conscience to such a sense of the reality of these things, that the individual feels himself as standing before a heart searching and rein trying God; and in the ultimate view of this, and of the purity of the law, all his goodness and doings are turned to corruption, and he falls helpless at the footstool of mercy, or at the feet of that God against whom he has sinned. Being thus stripped and killed by the law, he is prepared to be married to another, even Christ, or brought to view in his relation to a crucified and risen Jesus.

The new birth I understand to be the being born again of the incor­ruptible seed by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever. Whether by the word of God in this text is understood the essential Word, who is God, or, as is frequently intended by the word of God, that which God directly speaks or communicates to a person, is immaterial, for both ideas are true. For Christ said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" John 5:25. This person being, as we showed, dead, killed by the law, is now made to hear the voice of the Son of God, the proclamation of pardon and salvation through Christ's atonement. And every child of grace knows that it took something more than the power of man to make him hear; that it came with the power and as the word of God; and he already having Christ or the seed of life in him, he is enabled to receive, believe and rejoice in that word, and feels himself standing in a new relation to God, no longer a condemned and banished one, but a pardoned, justified one; has peace with God, and is enabled to cry Abba, Father; that is, he feels that God is his Father. Thus in the new birth there is a striking correspondence to the natural birth; to each there is a seed implanted, and then a quickening by which life is manifested. And when the natural child is brought to the birth, the sorrows of the woman in travail, the fetus being broke loose from that by which alone it had been hitherto nourished, strongly represents the agonies and the killing by the law belonging to the second birth. But then there is a contrast in the births. In the first birth the child comes into the world in the image of Adam, an alien from God and subject to pain, disease and death, as the fruits of depravity and condemnation. In the second birth, he comes into the kingdom of heaven, where grace reigns through righteousness; has communion with God as a Father through Christ; stands manifested as one with Christ; and having a common interest with all the members of Christ's body, in all that Christ accomplished by redemption, in all the promises of God, and in that inheritance which is reserved for the saints in light. ("THE NEW BIRTH" From "SIGNS of the TIMES" - Vol.21 - 1853 - Writings of Elder Samuel Trott, pages 404 - 409)

"Beloved Brethren: - In addressing to you this token of our particular relationship and regard to you, we would call your attention to the subject of the new birth. This doctrine in all by-gone ages has been almost as distinguishing a mark of the Regular Baptists, as is baptism. Although the multitude bearing the name of Baptists have dwindled down the idea of a second birth to a mere wordy phantom, a change which an individual can procure, if not accomplish for himself by his efforts, and others claiming to be Regular or Old School Baptists, have substituted for it, imaginations of the human mind, having no direct resemblance to the idea of a birth, the scripture testimony still is: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.""

"We might go on to notice the effect of the conception of this incorruptible seed, how it produces faith in God, quickens the man to a sense of his relations, and accountability to God, of the spirituality and broadness of the law, and of the sin in his acts, thoughts, and nature; of the distress occasioned thereby; of the darkness that covers the whole operation within, hiding all excepting certain external effects from the individual view, so that he is a mystery to himself, and can tell no more why he is thus, than he can tell of the wind whence it cometh or whither it goeth. We might show that whilst the soul is thus quickened to such a deep sense of the law or of sin as being against God, that it still evidently is not changed from a natural to a spiritual soul, and therefore it cannot receive the things of the Spirit, or the things freely given us of God, but entirely looks to the deeds of the law as the way of acceptance with God. But we forbear, and come to the BIRTH. We are told that Sarah bear to Abraham a son at the set time of which God had spoken to him; and that Abraham called the name of his son whom Sarah bear to him, Isaac; also that Sarah said on the occasion. "God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me." And she further said, "Who would have said unto Abraham that Sarah would have given children suck &c." Gen.21:1-7. The name Isaac signifies laughter, as Sarah says, God has made me to laugh. Laughter is an expression of sudden, but transient and light joy. The name Isaac therefore and Sarah’s being said to laugh, is strikingly expressive of that joy which is experienced when a person is first born again, or brought by faith to behold the light of the Sun of Righteousness into liberty. It is all joy and excitement at beholding the way of pardon and acceptance with God. But as it is a general, but rather superficial view which the child of grace has at this time of the way of salvation, and not that full understanding which he has afterwards when taught of Christ as the way, his joy is easily and quickly turned again to sorrow and grief, and his light is obscured soon by clouds and darkness. Still with the very first burst of joy, there is a feeling in the individual that it is God and no other that hath made me to laugh. There is also a feeling as with Sarah, that all who hear shall laugh, and he is therefore anxious for the moment to impart the good news to others, some under the idea of publishing it to all, and therefore as having a kind of preaching excitement. As Isaac retained his name of laughter through life, so the believer in his after pilgrimage has his times of this transient excitable joy...But brethren, let us not stop merely to laugh with Sarah, let us inquire what has transpired to occasion it."


This model is closer to Scripture. Yet, it is still wrong. It is a "compromise position." It still makes conversion and gospel preaching a necessary means in the eternal salvation of the elect, in their "rebirth," though not in their initial "regeneration." It is also in accord with the first Old Baptist "articles of faith," for it espouses the view that "all the elect will be regenerated (and then convicted) and converted." In preaching the "three stages view" of the "new birth," the first Hardshells could be said to believe yet this article of the primitive faith. They were also fairly innoculated against the charge that they were entirely against means in the "new birth," though yet affirming that there were no means in "regeneration" and in "quickening."

As I said, it was a "compromise position," and one we would expect to find, as historians, to "fill the gap" in the movement's history, from the first "rise of the Hardshells" to their present day condition. There has been a clear change or evolution in doctrine, respecting the new birth, conversion, perseverance, and on predestination that has "come on the heels" of the first grand division.

This model makes "conception" to equal the "planting" of "seed" (first stage). In this stage, the person is "regenerated" or "quickened" (the first Hardshells generally saw the terms "regenerated" and "quickened" as synonymns). This model also makes the experience of "conviction" as a post-regenerative experience, correlating to the time the "generated" person is in the womb, in that place of darkness and imprisonment.

In chapter 50 I cited various "experiences of grace" as given by many leading Hardshells, many veritable "founding fathers," in which they all spoke of experiencing the law's convicting sentence, coming to the foot, experimentally, of Mount Sinai. Under the experience of Elder R. A. Biggs, the writer says:

"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..."

This writer (mid to late 1800's) apparently was still a believer in the "Beebe-Trott Model" of the "new birth." I have not yet found a source, in the early to mid 1800's, that has demonstrated that any Hardshell founding father disagreed with this model. Consider also that this view was the one constantly put forth and defended in the only paper (excet perhaps the old "Primitive Baptist" magazine put out from Raleigh, N.C. in the 1830's, possibly 1840's, and not to be confused with the other "Primitive Baptist" magazine later began in the late 1800's by Elder S. F. Cayce; but, more on this later) the first Hardshells had as a "means" of promulgating their many "anti isms." I hope I can later pinpoint the exact time when the "Beebe-Trott" model of the "new birth" was discarded, along with the belief that "conversion" was necessary for eternal salvation and a part of the "new birth."

No "Conditionalist" Hardshell today will accept the view that all the elect will be brought out of conviction of sin to a conversion experience through the gospel, whereby they are, as Trott said, "made spiritual," and "born again," where they first come to have faith in Christ Jesus. It is thus obvious that the first Hardshells were not of the faith and variety of their modern day fifth generation Hardshells.

I tend to agree with the first Hardshell forefathers, in this regard: anyone who truly experiences conviction with deep repentance, will be brought to a view of the Savior and made to embrace him as such. But, I have all through this work contended, and personally to my dad also, that it is I who am more "Primitive" and "Original" in my views than are today's professing "Primitives"! I suppose that is why none want to come forth today, as Potter and Daily, and debate the old question, "Who Are The Primitive Baptists"?

Notice God's interrogative by Isaiah:

"Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God." (Isaiah 66: 9)

On this verse, wrote John Gill:

"Ver. 9. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth, saith the Lord?.... Or, "to the place of breaking" forth of children, as in Ho 13:13, the womb, and the mouth of it: or, "shall I break or open" that, so some {s} render it; lest too much should or seem to be attributed to the Church, she being said to travail in birth, and bring forth children, this is said by the Lord. The church may pray, and her ministers preach, and both be said to travail in birth, but it is the Lord that brings to it; regeneration is not the work of man, but of God; it is he that beget, again, quickens, renews, and sanctifies; it is he that begins the work of grace in regeneration, in real and thorough convictions of sin; which are right when men are convinced of the impurity of their nature, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, have a godly sorrow for it, and forsake it: the work is begun when souls feel the burden of sin; the inward struggling, of grace and corruption; a want of spiritual food, and hunger after it; desires after spiritual things, and a glowing love and affection for them; and when light is infused, faith, fear, and love produced, and every other grace implanted; and he that has begun the good work will perform it; as Jarchi rightly gives the sense of the clause,"shall I begin a thing, and not be able to finish it?'' no, he is a rock, and his work is perfect, as in creation and redemption, so in regeneration and conversion; as may be concluded, from his power to effect it, and his promise to do it; the grace of Christ, and the indwelling of the Spirit; the impotency of everything to hinder it, and the glory of the three divine Persons concerned in it. As in the natural birth it is he that gives strength to conceive, forms the embryo in the womb, ripens it for the birth, and takes the child out of its mother's womb; so he does all that answers hereunto in the spiritual birth. Shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb, saith thy God? no, I will not. As God has regenerated many souls in the first times of the Gospel, and many more since, in various nations, in each of the ages and periods of time; so he has not ceased, nor will he cease from this work, until all his elect are born again; for everyone that is chosen of the Father, given to the Son, taken into covenant, and redeemed by his blood, shall be begotten again to a lively hope of a glorious inheritance; God will not shut the womb of conversion until they are all brought to faith in Christ, and repentance towards God. He will beget many more sons and daughters; and he will cause the fulness of the Gentiles to be brought forth and brought in, and convert his ancient people the Jews; all his promises shall be performed, and all prophecies relating to these things shall be accomplished." (Commentary)

It seems to me that Beebe and Trott, and the first Hardshells, held this view. If the Hardshells want to go back to this "model," they will be a whole lot closer to the truth of the Bible on this topic and more "Primitive."


"My objections to certain relations of experiences to which I have reference is not that I think the persons not subjects of grace, but that they have missed stating the exercises in which they were brought, first to exercise faith in Christ, and have stated other things as those which they look to as constituting their deliverance, which in themselves afford no evidence of faith in Christ. Take, for instance, the communication of Brother Burroughs in the last (or sixth) number of the Signs (1845). From some things which he states as being the ground of his trust, etc., I hope the Spirit has taught him and applied the gospel consolations to his mind. But I should not be able to draw any such conclusion from what he relates as constituting his change; namely: that he was greatly distressed, and from what he says, this distress mostly arose from an apprehension that the time was about to pass in which he could be saved, and that this distress went off and was succeeded by a pleasant and cheerful sensation. The magicians of Egypt can produce as great a miracle, or as good an experience as such would be. Mere natural men are capable of being excited to just such exercises. They can be so alarmed as to be greatly distressed at the idea that their supposed, or rather fictitious, day of grace is passed, or about to pass. And it requires but little attention to the workings of nature to know that these excited feelings are very apt to subside during a nap of sleep, or even from mere exhaustion, and that they are naturally succeeded, like any other pain, by a pleasant feeling; and it is easy for the imagination, as in the case of the front-bench converts, to draw the conclusion that this great change of feeling is an evidence that they have got religion. It is no wonder that this excites them to as great a pitch of joy as they were before to that of grief. I feel sorry to see such things given as a relation of experience among Old School Baptists:

First, because, as in the case above referred to, there being grounds to hope that they are subjects of grace, I feel sorry to see the children of God so bewildered as to their deliverance, and as having no clearer evidence to their minds, to refer to at times, of their having passed from death to life. I know how to pity them, having been in like situation; from not having been conversant with clear, experimental persons, and not having heard discriminating, experimental gospel preaching, when Christ was revealed in me to the apprehending of Him by faith as a Saviour suiting my case, I had no idea that the exercise I had at that time was a being born again, or a first believing in Christ with that faith which is the gift of God. The exercise was something new and made a deep impression on my mind, but I considered it only as an evidence given me that I was truly a subject of religion, as I had most of the time before for three or four years hoped I was. And when I went to offer to a Baptist church, I had no idea of relating this exercise as an evidence of my being a believer or a fit subject of baptism, though I think something of it was drawn from me in their questioning me. But my own statement was similar to what I had made to the church session when I joined the Presbyterians some years before; that I had been impressed with a desire to be religious and to serve God, etc., with the addition of some of my ups and downs since, and the manner of my being convinced concerning believer's baptism, etc. It was not under fifteen months after that I had an idea of that exercise being that in which I was first brought to know Christ crucified and to believe on Him; so completely had my mind been bewildered by the muddy preaching I had been accustomed to, but then it was so showed to me that the thing appeared plain. And from that day to this I have known when and how I was taught the way of salvation for poor, condemned, helpless sinners, as I then was, through a crucified Jesus; and I know that man had no hand in teaching it to me, that I never learned it from reading nor preaching. Yet I have since passed through many dark seasons as to my interest in Christ, and to this hour have many doubts, from the awful corruptions within me, whether I can be a subject of grace, or whether my spot is the spot or exercises of God's children.

I feel sorry because such relations unnoticed make it appear as though the experience of Old School Baptists is nothing more than that of camp-meeting converts.

Because such unexplained statement are calculated to deceive inexperienced persons as to what an experience of grace consist in. Yet, I blame not this brother, nor others similarly circumstanced, seeing he is located where he can have but little intercourse with such as know what gospel experience is, for embracing the privilege of stating, through the Signs, what he had been led to look to as his conversion, doing it, as he evidently does, with a desire to be instructed in the way of God more perfectly, or, if he is deceived, to be undeceived. But in such cases I think it important that some one should be ready to act the part of Aquila and Priscilla; and my volunteering to do this is what may subject me to the charge of setting myself up as the standard of gospel experience. And it might have savored a little more of humility for me to have waited for some other one to step forward; in other similar cases which have occurred, I did wait, but in vain.

As to a standard, my wish is to make the Scriptures the standard of Christian experience, as I have ever aimed to set them forth as the only standard of gospel doctrine. As I have freely objected to the relation this brother gave of his experience, it is incumbent on me to show what it is that makes one manifest as a subject of salvation, according to the New Testament. For brevity's sake I shall touch only those points which might be questioned. A coming to Christ is admitted as necessary by all professors. I will, therefore, here show that Christ has said that none can come unto Him except they are taught of God. The words are, "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me, etc.," (John 6:44-45). Thus He evidently represents the drawing and teaching as the same thing. Teaching has to do with the mind, not the animal feelings; it is an instructing of the judgment, or a giving of understanding to the thing taught. But God's teaching is not like man's, a mere enlightening of the head whilst the heart is untouched. It is a revelation of truth in the heart, so that the affections are arrested; there is a heart-feeling of the truth taught, and a heart-love for it. To come to Christ, or to be believers on Him, we must know Him in His true character as the Saviour of sinners; as said he that had been blind: "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on Him?" (John 9:36). Thus to know Him, we must know what it is to be sinners in God's account. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." "The law is spiritual." Spiritual life is, therefore, first imparted to give spiritual discernment or understanding, and the commandment then comes, that is, the person, under the divine teaching, is made to understand its force and special application to himself, condemning him and all his seeking and doing; and ultimately he is made to know (if not, as in some cases, at once) its spirituality and exceeding broadness to the thoughts and intents of the heart. He then knows why he is distressed; the curse of God's law stands against him; all his former hopes and expectations of doing anything to obtain the favor of God are cut off, and he lies helpless and dead under the righteous sentence of the law. Were it not that the Spirit in that case helpeth his infirmities, making intercession for him with groanings which cannot be uttered, that is, leading him to lift up his heart to God in desires for mercy, if it can be extended to a wretch so vile, he would be silenced in dead despair. Ask this person now what distresses him; his answer will be not that his time for obtaining salvation is passed, but that he is such a sinner against God that he sees not how any salvation can be for him, consistent with justice. Nothing which he has sever (sic - never?) learned of Christ from reading or from hearing of preaching reaches his case. He cannot believe on Him, for he knows not His fullness of grace and truth, neither can he know Him till God teaches him the knowledge of Him. But when the Father thus teaches him, or the Spirit takes of Christ's and shows to him, he understands the mystery of salvation through Christ crucified, views Him as the Lamb which God had provided for a sacrifice to His justice in the room of the guilty, condemned sinner. He now sees how he can be saved consistent with justice and how the mercy and promises of God can come to a wretch like him; and from this time his trust is fixed on a crucified, risen Jesus, and he has hope towards God and approaches Him as a Father (Ephesians 1:13 and 1 Peter 1:3). Now he will rejoice even unto tears, and knows what occasion he has for rejoicing in God his Saviour. The knowledge he now has of Christ as the Way of salvation is altogether different from what he had before conceived of; and the purpose of God, as he now sees it, of saving polluted, helpless sinners, instead of such as can help themselves, and the salvation of Christ being so fully and exactly adapted to the case of such, is all new to him and all lovely and glorious, reflecting a glory upon all the ways and works of God around him. Can a man be taught these things of God and not know that his views of himself and his views of Christ and his expectations of acceptance with God are all new, all different, from what they once were, and that they are what he never learned of men?

The Spirit had probably implanted in Brother Burroughs the principle of life, causing a desire after God before the exercises he speaks of; but it may not have been till some time after this that he was truly drawn to Christ. I think if he will review his past experience there will be brought to his recollection a time when the awful depravity of his heart was so laid open to his view as to make him feel the justice of his condemnation, and the utter impossibility of anything good or acceptable to God coming from him; so that all idea of seeking salvation on his part was excluded; "Lord, save or I perish", was his cry in substance. Again, that in reading the Scriptures, or in hearing preaching, or in some passage of Scripture being presented and opened to his mind, he had a view of Christ crucified as a foundation just suited for such a condemned and helpless sinner to lean upon and trust to for salvation; and that since that time his hope of acceptance with God has not been from his determination to seek, but wholly through Christ and His finished work; and since then, it has been that he has known something of the God of Israel's opening rivers in high places, etc., for the poor and needy when everything else fails and they cry to Him. This revelation of Christ in him may have been at once by an opening up of the Scriptures to him, or it may have been more gradually that his mind was enlightened to understand the way of salvation.

The exercises which he related are such as are frequent with persons under a work of grace, by which Satan tries to settle them down on something short of Christ. Besides, being led by a way we know not, we are apt to look for a resting-place short of the proper one.

The position I have taken relative to this subject will, I think, be admitted by every reflecting Christian as the Scriptural one when he considers that the promises of salvation run alone through faith in Christ, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36 and Mark 16:16). And that faith implies a knowledge of Christ, and this knowledge evidently is only from being taught of God. "No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal him" (Luke 10:22). I hope this brother, on a re-examination, will be able to tell us something of what he has learned of Jesus and of His saving power.

(Elder Samuel Trott, 1845, Centreville, Fairfax County, VA)



1. Trott was being somewhat overly gracious about the brother's "evidences of 'regeneration'."

2. For Trott, evidence of "regeneration" was one thing, evidence for the "new birth" was another.

3. Beebe and Trott, and the first Hardshells, believed that conviction of sin was an "evidence" (result) of the "first stage" in the "birth process," what they call "quickening" or "implanting" of the divine "seed" (some metaphysical substance that they, nor any other Hardshell, has ever been able to adequately define), yet this "implanting" did not mean the person had been yet "born again" or made a "spiritual" person.

4. They spoke of the birth as equated with conversion, with evangelic faith and repentance; this brother (Burroughs), though convicted, though "implanted" and "quickened," is still not yet "born of the Spirit" nor "washed in the blood" of Jesus!

5. Modern Hardshells, excepting "Absoluters," reject this first Hardshell paradigm on the "new birth."

6. Hardshells are hereby challenged to bring forth the evidence of any Hardshell, in the early to mid 1800's, who rejected this view of the "new birth."

7. Historically speaking, Hardshells ultimately cut off one leg of the original two legged view of the "new birth." They did away with the "three stages" view, rejecting the idea that gospel "conversion" is any part of what it means to be "born again." They did retain the "direct speaking" view of the "new birth." They rejected the equation - regeneration + conversion = new birth, yet this was the view of their forefathers and founders. Conversion was a necessary post-regeneration experience for all the elect, according to the "founders," but not for their descendents.

8. To Beebe, Trott, and the first Hardshells, those "three stages" constituted the elect's "experience of grace," his "going from law to gospel."

9. Trott affirmed, like all the Old and Original Baptists, that the phrase "come to Christ," meant all the same as to "believe on him." I have shown in earlier chapters how this has consistently been the view of the Baptists throughout their history. It is a "gospel experience."

10. We must look to a later date in history for today's Hardshell views on the new birth and on conversion. I believe we must look to a date after about 1860 before we can see the departure from the first well received view of Beebe and Trott. But, more on this later.

A "Reformed" Writer wrote:

"The Bible teaches that in regeneration the person does absolutely nothing; the person is totally passive."

I will show, in upcoming chapters, where this is a crucial mistake made by the "Hyper Calvinist." This "reformer" has narrowed his view and definition of "regeneration" to denote simply the initial move of the Spirit upon a soul, referring strictly to that part of regeneration where the sinner is said to be "passive," and excluding all "active voice" terms from the meaning of "regeneration."

Though modern Hardshells reject the "three phase model" of the "new birth," except for some "Absoluters," many in the Hyper Reformed community have kept it alive.

He writes:

"This, of course, does not mean that man does not cooperate in later stages of the work of redemption. It is quite evident from Scripture that he does."

Regeneration is an act of God upon man’s heart. "The Holy Spirit comes and does something to the soul of man...He penetrates into the innermost recesses of man, into his soul, spirit, or heart."

"How the Holy Spirit changes man’s nature is mysterious. It is clear that man’s subtance or essence is not changed. There is no metaphysical change in man."

"In an instantaneous act the Holy Spirit implants in man the principle of a new, spiritual life. This change is so radical that the Bible refers to it as a new birth, regeneration, and a quickening."

"The second aspect of the change which the Holy Spirit effects upon man’s heart is one of renovation. The scriptural terms used to describe man’s spiritual birth are "born again" (Jn. 3:3), "regeneration" (Tit. 3:5), and "made alive" or "quickened" (Eph. 2:5). The person regenerated by God is called a "new creation" (Gal. 6:15, 2 Cor. 5:17), and a "new man" (Eph. 4:24). This aspect is represented in the heart of stone becoming a heart of flesh (Ezek. 32:2), and the uncircumcised heart becoming a circumcised heart (Col. 2:11). Jesus Christ referred to the new birth as being "born of the Spirit" (Jn. 3:5-6). The Apostle Paul calls it a "renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Tit. 3:5)."

"The regenerating power of the Holy Spirit enables the sinner to see, hear and live; therefore, after regeneration the sinner can repent and turn to Christ. Conversion is the fruit, not the cause of regeneration."

"Regeneration is the beginning, the starting point, the fountain of all the saving graces which are subjectively applied to the sinner. When Jesus told Nicodemus, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn. 3:6), He was saying that being born again invariably will lead to a person becoming a spiritual person. Regeneration will without fail lead to conversion."

"The person who is regenerated by the Holy Spirit embraces Jesus Christ because he wants to. After he is regenerated, Christ becomes the most important person in his life. The Savior becomes to him like a hidden treasure and a pearl of great price (Mt. 13:44, 46)."

"After the Holy Spirit regenerates a man’s heart, it is impossible for that man not to respond to the preaching of God’s Word. Regeneration always leads to conversion. "Regeneration is the act of God and of God alone. But faith is not the act of God; it is not God who believes in Christ for salvation, it is the sinner. It is by God’s grace that a person is able to believe but faith is an activity on the part of the person and of him alone. In faith we receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation."

"Are there not passages of Scripture which teach that regeneration is not an act of God in which man is totally passive? Does not the Bible teach that regeneration is dependent upon hearing the Word of God?"

"There are passages in Scripture which, if superficially considered, appear to contradict the point established above, that regeneration is solely an act of God in which man does not cooperate. These passages are found in 1 Peter, James and Romans. "Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Pet. 1:23). "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (Jas. 1:18 KJV). "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Having already noted that the Bible teaches the total spiritual inability of man apart from regeneration (cf. Gen. 2:17, 6:5; Ps. 14:2-3; Pr. 20:9, 21:4; Isa. 6:9-10, 65:1; Jer. 17:9, 13:23; Ezek. 11:19, 16:6, 36:26, 44:9; Mk. 4:12, 7:20, 23; Lk. 8:10; Jn. 1:4-5; 3:3, 6, 19-20; 8:43-44, 47; Acts 7:51, 26:17-18; Rom. 1:21, 28, 3:11, 8:6-8, 10:20; 1 Cor. 2:14, 3:20-21; 2 Cor. 4:34; Eph. 2:1-5; 2 Tim. 2:26; 2 Pet. 2:13, 14, 22; etc.) and that regeneration is a sovereign work of God upon man in which man does not cooperate (Jn. 1:13; 3:5, 8; Ezek. 36:25-26; Tit. 3:5; Col. 2:11; Eph. 2:5), how are we to explain the texts which connect regeneration with hearing the Word of God?

"The answer lies in the simple fact that regeneration is viewed in Scripture from two different perspectives. Many passages discuss what Reformed theologians call the first stage of regeneration. During this stage "There is no co-operation of the sinner in this work whatsoever. It is the work of the Holy Spirit exclusively, Ezek. 11:19; John 1:13; Acts 16:14; Rom. 9:16; Phil. 2:13." The Holy Spirit comes to a man who is dead, blind and deaf to spiritual truth and quickens him, implanting new life into the dead heart. The inner disposition of the soul is renewed and made holy. "In this act of God the ear is implanted that enables man to hear the call of God to the salvation of his soul. This is regeneration in the most restricted sense of the word. In it man is entirely passive." During the first stage of regeneration the Holy Spirit works without means; that is, He works directly upon the soul apart from the preaching of the Word.

The second stage of regeneration, spoken about by Peter (1 Pet. 1:23), describes the point in time when regeneration issues forth into conversion. "Having received the spiritual ear, the call of God in the gospel is now heard by the sinner, and is brought home effectively to the heart. The desire to resist has been changed to a desire to obey, and the sinner yields to the persuasive influence of the Word through the operation of the Holy Spirit. This is the effectual calling through the instrumentality of the word of preaching, effectively applied by the Spirit of God. This effectual calling finally secures, through the truth as a means, the first holy exercises of the new disposition that is born in the soul. The new life begins to manifest itself; the implanted life issues in the new birth. This is the completion of the work of regeneration in the broader sense of the word, and the point at which it turns into conversion."

"Thus, the first stage of regeneration can be compared to the implantation of a seed, and the second stage could be compared to giving birth. During the second stage God employs means: the preaching of the gospel."

"The idea that regeneration occurs in two stages is both scriptural and logical. The Arminian or semi-Pelagian view of regeneration, which has man begetting himself by cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s influence during the preaching of the gospel, is a complete denial of the doctrine of man’s total depravity and inability as a result of the fall (cf. Jn. 5:42; Rom. 3:9-18; 7:18, 23; 8:7; 2 Tim. 3:4). Man is spiritually dead; therefore, regeneration logically proceeds or is coterminous with the preaching of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel, which can only work upon man’s conscious mind, has no persuasive power over a corpse. But once God opens the heart through regeneration, the regenerated person can and will believe the gospel. "The Lord opened her [Lydia’s] heart to heed the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14). Furthermore, if regeneration can only occur through the preaching of the gospel, how then are elect infants who die in infancy saved?"

"It is obvious from 1 Peter 1:23 itself that Peter rejects the concept of decisional regeneration. There are two elements spoken of: the incorruptible seed which is implanted in the soul by the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God which is the instrumental means for the second stage of regenerationconversion. "Those who believe in His name...were born [aorist passive indicative], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn. 1:12-13). Since Peter "refers to regeneration in a broad sense, then the passage offers no difficulty whatsoever in connection with the matter under consideration."



"[1] The word “regeneration,” which literally means “to beget again,” has been used by orthodox Protestant theologians in different ways over time. The older usage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries included the Holy Spirit’s implantantion of new life in man’s heart as well as conversion (repentance and faith) and sanctification. In order to avoid confusion Reformed theologians eventually narrowed their usage of the term regeneration to its strict biblical usage alone. “In present day Reformed theology the word ‘regeneration’ is generally used in a more restricted sense, as a designation of that divine act by which the sinner is endowed with new spiritual life, and by which the principle of that new life is first called into action” (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949], p. 467). Passages such as 1 Pet. 1:23 and Jas 1:18 discuss the regenerated heart as it comes in contact with the Word of God, “in which the new life first becomes manifest” (ibid., p. 475). Because most of the biblical passages which deal with regeneration define it in its strictest sense as solely an act of God, this narrow definition is used throughout this booklet (cf. objection 4, p. 15)."

"17] Ibid., p. 475. Rom. 10:17 speaks of the necessity of first hearing the gospel, for people to have faith in Christ. Paul is saying that saving faith requires that people have a certain knowledge of the truth; that is, they must know who Christ is and what He has done. In order for a man to have faith, he must have an object to have faith in. As a seed that is planted needs water to grow, the regenerate heart needs the Word of God in order to exercise faith toward Jesus Christ. Faith is impossible without an object of faith. Regeneration in the first stage always (except in the case of elect infants) issues forth into conversion. The implantation of the incorruptible seed and the hearing of the gospel both are necessary for salvation." (Ibid)

Answering the "Reformer"

1. There is no New Testament distinction made in the new birth, whereby one goes through various stages, each with its distinct name and term. The only passage that even comes close to affirming this model is the passage in Isaiah 66: 9, cited above and from which Gill seems to promote the same "model." Thus, in actuality, Beebe and Trott, and the "Reformed Community," must look back to the days of Gill, at least, for the genesis of this novel theory on the "new birth."

2. This "reformer" makes a frank admission, saying - "The older usage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries included the Holy Spirit’s implantantion of new life in man’s heart as well as conversion (repentance and faith) and sanctification." Thus, he admits that this "three stage" model was not the view of the Old Baptists and "Reformers."

3. He also candidly admits that "reformed theologians eventually narrowed their usage of the term regeneration to its strict biblical usage alone." There is both truth and error in this statement. Yes, the "reformed" and "hair-splitting" theologians, have "narrowed" the definition of the term "regeneration." They narrowed it from its scriptural broader definition and from the broader and scriptural definition which the Old Baptists, as Kiffin, Knollys, Keach, etc., used the term. Which are we to accept?

The Heresy Of Gospel Regeneration! by W.E.Best

"One of the greatest blunders, on the subject of the new birth, is to make it dependent on man’s faith. Opposers of Biblical Regeneration advocate the new birth must, in some way, be the response of one who hears the gospel! Such verses as James 1:18 & 1 Peter 1:23, are used to prove their theory: but the “exegesis” of the two texts demands no such conclusion. James 1:18 does not refer to “begetting or conception”, but “bringing forth or giving birth”.

Immediate regeneration does not deny that the new birth, in which the new life becomes manifest, is secured by response to the gospel; but distinction must be made between conception and birth. They are not the same."

"God’s act of giving spiritual life, to those who are spiritually dead, is distinct from the gospel; just as the faculty of sight is different from light. Quickening is an immediate and creative act."

"No instrumental means are used with God’s creative acts. The word does not produce life, but it is effective in those who possess life.

Life is responsive to living things. Nicodemus was told that he had to be “born again” before he could see. Once the faculty of sight is given; the recipient is guided, by the word to repentance and faith, leading to an initial conversion experience."


So, again, here are other Baptist Hyper Calvinistic groups who have adopted this unscriptural and un-Baptistic model. In the next chapters I hope to deal with this point further and to look closer at the scriptural "evidences" of "regeneration," versus those "evidences" that are denominated by today's Hardshells.