Jan 18, 2009

Good Hardshell Testimony

The following is some interesting testimony from the famed "Mt. Carmel Old School Baptist Church Trial," held at the turn of the 20th century, but respecting a division that took place in said church around the early 1890's, and other Old School or Regular Baptist churches on the question of who was the original Old School Baptist church at Mt. Carmel church in Virginia.

The dissenting factions came to be known as the "means" and the "anti-means" factions. The "means" faction believed in means in regeneration, the necessity of faith for regeneration and complete salvation, and in perseverance, as opposed to simple preservation, and also believed in Sunday Schools, Bible classes, and missions, and in ministerial education. Both sides were five point Calvinists. Each side claimed to represent the historic Calvinistic Baptist faith. Here are some interesting exerpts from the "means" side. Notice how they cite the great Abraham Booth whom I have recently cited.

Notice also how two leading Hardshells are mentioned, Elders Purifoy and Dalton, and how the means side (Elders Burnam, McIrntoff, and Huff) affirm that Purifoy and Dalton at one time believed in "means" before they became "anti-means." They also avow that one of the great leaders among the Hardshell founding fathers, in the 1832-1882 period, in the formative years, Elder John Clark, founder and editor, in that period, of the famous periodical, "Zion's Advocate," was a believer in gospel means. They cite material from the first issue of the paper, in 1854, where this position was taken by that leading paper, the paper that competed with the "Signs of the Times" periodical, edited by the infamous Elder Gilbert Beebe. Beebe and Clark became leaders of two camps within the "anti-mission movement." Clark accused Beebe of Arianism and of believing in Parker's "two-seedism," of his "eternal vital union" doctrine, or the "eternal children doctrine."

There was a division in the 1880's within this movement, one in which the "means" faction separated itself from the "anti-means" faction. It also took place at a time when the movement was also dividing over the question of the extent of predestination.

Excerpts from the Testimony at the Mt. Carmel Trial

Q. Did I understand you to say, Mr. Burman, that faith was necessary to regeneration?

A. It is inseparable from regeneration, Mr. Leedy. We do not say that a man must believe in order to be regenerated. We don’t say that a man must be regenerated in order to believe, but being regenerated he believes, and believing he is regenerated. They are simultaneous and inseparable.

Q. You believe that faith is necessary to salvation then?

A. Oh, yes, certainly, just as much as regeneration is.

The Trial and Decision of Mount Carmel Church-Part 1


Q. Now, Mr. Mclnturff, will you be kind enough to produce those writings to which you referred?

A. I would just like to show that at one time Brother Dalton there (indicating) wrote one of the best articles on the subject of “Means” that I have ever seen. It is just gold. It is just exactly what we believe and a great deal better than I could express it myself. Now I had noted down here a good many places for different things, I didn’t know what you were going to ask me. I was going to show you that old Brother Clarke who was the founder of Zion’s Advocate taught the same, and Dr. Gill, the great commentator, did too. And that Dr. Purifoy did the same but we have already spoken of him. On page 59 in the first volume of Zion’s Advocate, I have copied an article from it. Well, it is simply an editorial that I wrote. It is the beginning of the third number, March, 1891.

“Commenting upon Romans 1:16, he says that the gospel ‘is a means made use of by God in quickening dead sinners, enlightening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, softening hard hearts, and making of enemies friends’ (Vol. VIII. p. 437) Same volume; page 339, upon Acts XXVI, 18, he says ‘Now, though this is all the work of the spirit, by whom only the eyes of the understanding are enlightened; yet this is ascribed to the apostle, not as the efficient cause, but as the instrument and means, through preaching of the gospel, which the spirit of God would, and did, make use of.’”

Dr. Purifoy published in Zion’s Advocate in 1879 and here are his exact words taken from it. I can produce the original. Here are his exact words:

“I firmly believe that it is the duty of every gospel minister to preach repentance and remission of sins, in the name of Jesus, to all the unregenerate with whom he comes in contact in his pulpit ministrations. As he does this in the name of Jesus, realizing the utter inability of the sinner to repent until the grace of repentance is given him from on high, he has an assurance from the scriptures, that God’s word will not return unto Him void, but will accomplish that whereunto he sends it, and prosper in the thing he pleases. Thus the gospel ministry is instrumental in God’s hands, through Jesus, in raising dead sinners to newness of life---spiritual life---just as the apostles were instruments in His hands in casting out devils, healing the sick, and raising the dead.”

Q. In what respect do you differ from the “anti-means” party?

A. I think Elder McInturff in his testimony defined the difference.

Q. You adopt that then as your view?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Have you any authorities of the church or church writers showing that the use of means does not conflict with the doctrine of the church as laid down in this deed, and if you have please produce them?

A. I have, sir. I hold in my hand a copy of Booth’s works, Volume One. The title of this book is Booth’s Reign of Grace.

Mr. Downing: When was that book published?

The Witness: 1813.

The Witness: I will read from the fourth chapter, page 79,

“We have seen in the preceding chapter, that Grace presided in the eternal counsels, and reigned as an absolute sovereign in the decree of election. Let us now consider the same glorious grace, as exerting its benign influence in the regeneration and effectual calling of all that shall ever be saved. Election makes no alteration in the real state of its objects. For, as they were considered in that gracious purpose, in a sinful, dying condition, so they continue in that situation, till the energy of the Holy Spirit, and the power of evangelical truth reach their hearts. The means being decreed as well as the end, it is absolutely necessary, to accomplish the great design of election, that all the chosen, in their several generations, should be born of the Spirit and converted to Jesus; called of God, and bear his image.

“That important change which takes place in the mind and views of a sinner when converted to Christ, is frequently signified in the infallible word, by being called of God---called by grace---called by the gospel. In performing this work of heavenly mercy, the eternal Spirit is the great agent and evangelical truth the honoured instrument. Are men, in their natural state, considered as asleep in sin, and dead to God? When they are called, their minds are enlightened, and spiritual life is communicated. The Spirit of God, speaking to the conscience by the truth, quickens the dead sinner; shows him his awful state, and alarms his fears. The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. Awake thou that sleepest. Are they considered as having departed from God, and at a distance from him; in the way of destruction, yet afraid to return? Then the language of the gospel is, return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon you; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. Such a revelation of grace being made in the gospel, and such invitations being addressed to perishing sinners, the Spirit of truth, in effectual calling, gives them encouragement from these declarations to return to God, and enables them to look for salvation from the hand of Him against whom they have sinned, and from whom they have so deeply revolted. Such, in a general view, is the nature of that heavenly blessing which is the subject of our present inquiry .”

I am going now to introduce Mr. Benjamin Keach.

I will read a part of his exposition on the parable of the Marriage Supper from “Exposition of the Parables,” page 546.

“Therefore this compulsion only denotes the powerful argument they should use, together with those efficacious influences and operations of the Spirit, which Christ put forth with the preaching of the gospel; it being by the ministration of the word, that he makes the souls of obstinate sinners willing; they are said to compel them, whereas indeed it is Christ by them; they are but instruments in Christ’s hand in the doing of it: ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us,’ 2 Cor. IV. 7. The gospel hath to do with men as rational creatures, and as such Christ is presented unto them, and arguments are used to persuade them to accept him, but because all men are naturally blind, and their wills are stubborn and obstinate, ‘ye will not come to me, that you may have life,’ John V. 40. Christ, by the preaching of the gospel, and operations of his Spirit, enlighteneth their understandings, and bows and inclines their wills. And this is that which is only meant by compelling them to come to the wedding. Neither can this seem strange to any that observe divers places of scripture, where the same word is used, it is said Christ ‘Compelled his disciples to go into a ship.’

It is true, all that believe and receive Jesus Christ are compelled; grace hath such power in it, that it doth in some sense constrain the soul, ‘the love of Christ constraineth us,’ 2 Cor. V. 15. And as the spouse says, Cant. I. 4, it draws, but how is it? Is it against the consent of the will? Is there any force put upon that noble faculty? No sure, the will acts freely, and is not denied its own proper choice, but it is overruled and persuaded by the working of the Holy Ghost, cheerfully and freely to choose accept of Jesus Christ. ‘My people shall be willing in the day of my power.’ Psa, XC, 3. Jesus Christ, as I have formerly told you, will accept of no pressed soldiers, no, no, they must be all volunteers, but naturally the will is corrupt, depraved, and wills only that which is evil, and it is averse to all things that are truly and Spiritually good and so remains, until grace, or the Holy Spirit takes away that enmity and averseness which is in it, and so makes it willing; and this is done generally by the powerful preaching of the gospel, God being pleased to accompany it with the operations of his own Spirit and divine power; and this is all, no doubt, which is meant by compelling them to come in."

(The Trial and Decision of Mount Carmel Church-Part 2)

See here

1 comment:

Ian D. Elsasser said...


I love Burman's statement concerning the relationship of faith to regeneration:

"It is inseparable from regeneration, Mr. Leedy. We do not say that a man must believe in order to be regenerated. We don’t say that a man must be regenerated in order to believe, but being regenerated he believes, and believing he is regenerated. They are simultaneous and inseparable."

Perfectly stated.