Oct 31, 2008

Hardshell Respass on the Parable

Elder J. R. Respass, a late 19th century Hardshell minister, wrote the following on the parable of the Sower and the Seed. I post this article here because it expresses the truth.

Most first generation Hardshells took the standard and traditional Baptist interpretation of the parable, the one that identifies only the "good ground" hearer with the truly born again. By the end of the 19th century, however, this view was being rejected and a new view, promoted by men like Elder Claud Cayce, was being accepted, a view that affirmed that all of the four kinds of hearers were the elect or born again people of God. Elder Respass, however, held to the original view. He also clearly presents the teachings of the parable in these words.

"Brother B.B. Stallings, of Humbolt, Tenn., writes us that some people in his section use this parable to teach the doctrine of "falling from grace;" but to our mind it teaches the opposite doctrine, or rather the absolute necessity of grace in the salvation of sinners. The Jews were well acquainted with sowing wheat and barley. They knew from experience that it was necessary to have the ground broken by the plowshare to raise it; and that, therefore, the Saviour was telling the truth when he taught them that grain sown by the way or road-side would be unfruitful, because men would walk on and tread it down, and the fowls would devour it; and that seed sown on stony, hard and unbroken land would yield nothing; because, though it sprang up quickly, it could take no root, and that when the hot sun necessary to its maturity should shine upon it, that it would be scorched, and soon wither away. They knew, also, that seed sown among thorns, in a briar patch, for instance, would make nothing, because the thorns would choke it. All these things they knew from natural experience as farmers or husbandmen. They knew that the land must be enclosed or fenced, cleared of thorns, bushes and briars, and be broken up before the seed was sown; enclosed from the fowls and the tread of men; cleared of thorns and briars that would choke it; and broken up so as to absorb and retain moisture, and the roots have depth of earth to strike down into the moisture when the hot sun poured down upon it. But, like people now, they did not perceive the truth when applied spiritually. No sensible Jewish farmer would have undertaken to make a crop of wheat otherwise than as taught by the Saviour in this parable. Nor would he have undertaken to break his land until the first or "former rain" was sent by the Lord upon it; because the land, especially in that country, by the dry, hot summer sun grew, like the sinner's heart, very hard, so that it could not be broken until softened by the first rain. But land softened by the rain, broken by the plow, enclosed from the fowls and cleared of thorns, and sown, will be unharmed by the fowls, the feet of men, the cares of the world or the heat of the sun, and will yield thirty, sixty and one hundred fold. Any thing short of this thorough preparation will be fruitless. So in the way-side, stony and thorny ground hearers the Saviour shows the lack of grace, rather than the falling from it. And another thing perhaps he taught, and that is, that the fault was not in the seed sown, or the word preached, but in the sinner's heart. "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life."--John v. There were many of these kind or hearers in the Saviour's day as well as in this; and doubtless the Saviour spoke the parable for the comfort of his people then and his people now; that they should not be discouraged when they should see many, who had received the word with a temporary joy, turn back for love of the world, its honors or riches, or to escape persecution; that they should know that such professors had not received the word in a contrite and broken heart, and hence they neither understood it nor kept it. He asked his true disciples when many so-called disciples went back and walked no more with him on account of his hard and unpopular doctrine, "Will ye also go away?" but they answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."--John vi. Thus the hot sun of trials and persecution that withered up the shallow letter hearers, only caused his good-ground hearers to take deeper root in Christ, making them feel more and more the necessity of Christ in their salvation; and thus they brought forth an hundred fold, whilst the others brought nothing to perfection. This briefly, Brother Stallings, is our understanding of Christ's teaching in the parable of the sower."

(Written by John R. Respess in the GOSPEL MESSENGER, May 1885)


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