Jan 19, 2009

Dr. Watson on Means

The following are statements from Elder (Dr.) John M. Watson of Middle Tennessee, a leader among the first generation of "Primitive" or "Old School" ("Hardshell") Baptists but who was no "Hyperist," believing in means (in regeneration) and missions. Notice these excerpts from his famous book (published about 1866), "The Old Baptist Test." He fought against the "Antinomians" and "Hyperists," or the "ultra brethren," as he called them. He also called Hyperism a "heresy."

(Emphasis mine - SG)

"A gospel without exhortation; without a call on the sinner to repent and believe; a gospel which does not in word address itself to all; is not the gospel which Christ ordained subordinately for the bringing in of his "other sheep." (Pages 84-86)

"Let us take a practical example. We have it on record in the 13th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. When Paul and Barnabas preached at Antioch of Pisidia, had any of our ultra brethren been there and heard their zealous appeal to all those present, they would have called them Arminians." (Page 86)

"While we combat this ministerial deviation of ours on the part of some, which affects to find Arminianism where there is none, let us carefully guard against those tenets which do really involve it. For instance, when we in our doctrine maintain that by means of our devising, we can extend the spiritual blessings of the gospel beyond the ordination or election of God, and employ such means for such a purpose, we then deviate both from the principles and practical course of the gospel, and thereby plainly indicate that we are Arminians in the proper sense of that term, so justly opprobious to the Old Order of Baptists. But as long as we call on men to repent every where, believing that God only can give repentance, and that he will give it to as many as are ordained unto eternal life, even if He does not to as many as we may address, we may escape all Arminianism, and more especially if our practical course in preaching does not involve any unscriptural methods."

"There are yet a few who contend for the general outward call of the Gospel, but we doctrinise it to (sic) much, lest some ultra brother should conclude that we are Arminians." (Page 89)

"Did these Corinthians hear through the preaching of Paul, by his words, or through the "demonstration of the spirit?" By both. The one was of the preacher, and the other of God. Who dare separate them? Who can unite them? God and God only. How do they become united?"

"This vital union of the word and the spirit is of grace; is not of the power of this world." (Page 94)

"As they are all brought by the same spirit, the same gospel." (Page 155)

"My text further says, "They shall hear my voice." – "the still small voice of truth pervading the whole soul in the power of the Holy Spirit." (Page 154)

"The Galatians began in the Spirit, by hearing the voice of Christ."

"Thus did these "other sheep" hear the voice of Christ according to the different modes of expression, as just cited, meaning in every example the same thing–the hearing of the voice of the Son of God inwardly, mystically, effectually. Christ never brought one of them without this." (Page 155)

"But they could not hear without a preacher, hence the divine plan included preaching, and inasmuch as it was embraced in the divine arrangement, it must be directed and maintained by the Lord, as it has always been and ever will be. "God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness," shined into their hearts, not only in the light of Paul’s preaching, but also in the light of the demonstration of the Holy Ghost. Otherwise Paul’s preaching would not have been heeded." (Pages 94,95)

"The blessings of Abraham–of the Gospel–came upon these Gentiles, by Jesus Christ, and not by works of righteousness, which they did...their state, being under sin before conversion, is the state which we know we were in. To be under sin, is to be under the curse of sin, and to be under the curse of sin, is to be under the death of sin. Nothing, then, but the Gospel, as the power of God, can deliver from this actual state of things. The soul must have life, it must repent, it must believe, it must persevere. Gospel blessings only, through Jesus Christ, not works of merit on our part–can produce these spiritual–not fleshy–results." (Page 112)

"The teaching of the Apostle is that the elect were chosen unto salvation from the beginning, through sanctification of the spirit unto a belief of the truth. Hence, as long as these "other sheep" are brought in, there will be a belief of the truth, through a sanctification of the spirit. It cannot, therefore, die out until all the elect are brought in." (Page 127)

"...let them have all the benefits of evangelical preaching, believing, as we do, that the great design of this providence about which I have been treating, is to bring in God’s elect among them, as I have before stated." (Page 142)

"We have often heard certain persons say, if they believed the things which we do, they would not exhort believers to perform their duties, or sinners to repent. They do not perceive how such exhortations and warnings may be transformed by the power of God into grace itself!

By our doctrine we are encouraged to exhort sinners, for we, by faith, look to the grace which sanctions it, and seals it often to the heart.

If these be the means of grace, let us employ them, though we may often fail in the use of them, in our own strength.

There is a palpable difference between a literal declaration of Gospel truths by the minister and a demonstration of them by the Holy Spirit; the former is general and the latter special. Nor does the specialty of the one interfere with the generality of the other. A supposition that these conflict with each other has induced many to conclude that we violate our doctrine whenever we exhort; but such a conclusion is very erroneous. The Gospel must be preached, in its literal fullness, to all, though a ‘demonstration of the Spirit’ he confined to a chosen few. Matt. 20:15,20; 22:16; I Thess. 1:5."
(Page 233)

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