Jan 25, 2009

Grime on Hardshell Origins

J. H. Grime wrote a valuable history on the Baptists in Tennessee, especially middle Tennessee. Here are some excerpts from it dealing with the division with the "Hardshells."

"In the early part of the nineteenth century, all Baptists were missionaries. Such a thing as an anti-missionary was not known. In Kentucky and Tennessee the anti-mission movement had its beginning about 1816. In the History of Kentucky Baptists, by J. H. Spencer, Vol. 1, page 570, we find the following:

"Previous to 1816, there was not an Anti-mission Baptist in Kentucky, so far as known. In every Association where a missionary enterprise was proposed it met with universal favor. In the early period of the first churches, planted on the soil of Kentucky, missionaries were sent to the surrounding country. The oldest church in what was then called West (now Middle) Tennessee, was constituted by Ambrose Dudley and John Taylor. These ministers, in 1791, traveled through wilderness, on horseback, nearly two hundred miles, where they were constantly exposed to destruction by Indians, to establish the Redeemer's cause in this remote settlement. John Sutton and James Sutton were afterward sent, in turn, by Elkhorn Association, to minister to this church, and the moderator was directed to pay them...for this service." Numbes of other instances might be given where the early Baptists of this country were actively engaged in mission work. Opposition to missions was born in Virginia and grew out of prejudice created by the persecutions of the Baptists at the hands of the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. When the hand of persecution was stayed by the American Revolution, and Baptists, as a free people, went forth to build schools and inaugurate mission movements, a few good, but mistaken, brethren, who were still smarting from the hand of persecutions, said:

"This will never do. When once our ministry becomes educated, and our systems of mission work established, we will become an ecclesiasticism like our persecutors, and lose the simplicity vouchsafed to the churches of Jesus Christ." The scenes of Culpeper and Fredricksburg jails, and the impassioned notes of Patrick Henry's eloquence in defense of their persecuted brethren, loomed up before them and they said, "down with anything which would tend to make us like our persecutors." This touched a tender place in many hearts and their misguided zeal swept them off their feet. When the news of this anti-mission movement reached Tennessee, it found a responsive chord in the heart of Elder Miles West, late from Virginia, and a man of unquestioned piety. He found a strong ally in the person of Elder Daniel Parker and later on in Elder Sion Bass and others.

"I close by restating that ancient Baptists were all missionaries, and the anti-mission movement began about 1816, and took shape in the thirties, as will be seen in other parts of this book. This was the first Primitive, or Hardshell, Baptist the world ever saw, and they who speak of the Hardshell Baptists before that time simply betray their ignorance." It would be well to state that this division was not caused by any doctrinal difference. They were one in doctrine. Since the division Two-Seedism and fatalism have been advocated by some in the ranks of the Hardshell brethren." (Pages 547, 548)

See here

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