Jun 22, 2011

Elder Hosea Preslar on Means


I bought a book over 40 years ago when I was visiting the Cincinnati Primitive Baptist church by Elder Hosea Preslar titled "Thoughts On Divine Providence." I have recently re-read this book and found some interesting remarks by this Elder as it relates to who are the real Old Baptists.

According to Elder Preslar, he was born in Anson county, North Carolina in 1814 (page 2). This is the county adjoining the county in which I now reside. He was a member of Lawyer's Spring Primitive Baptist church, near Peachland, a church still in existence and one which I have visited and preached in when I was a Hardshell and a member in the Bear Creek Association in the late 1970's. He mentions how Lawyer's Spring was a member church in that association.

Elder Preslar lived during the time when the Hardshells separated themselves from the main body of Baptists during the 1830's and 1840's because of the promotion of mission, bible, and tract societies, and of seminaries. In this book Elder Preslar spoke against these things and those who promoted them, and like a typical Hardshell, decried their existence and usefulness, even declaring non-fellowship for all Baptist who supported such things.

However, he was not like today's Hardshells, for he taught that God used means in the regeneration of sinners, and believed in giving gospel invitations to those dead in sins, and in the perseverence of all the born again. This will be evident from the citations I will shortly give from his book.

It appears that Elder Preslar wrote his book during the Civil War, when he was living in the Nashville, Tennessee area, and had become a close friend with Elder John M. Watson. He mentions Elder Watson's book "The Old Baptist Test" and heartedly endorsed it. It has been shown, in previous postings on Elder Watson, how Watson believed that regeneration was accomplished by means of the application of gospel truth to the heart and mind, and how he believed that faith in Christ was an essential element of the new birth.

It would be interesting to observe the reaction of Elder Joe Helms, present pastor of Lawyer's Spring church, at the citations I will give from Elder Preslar. Elder Helms and the present day elders of the Bear Creek Association reject the idea that God uses gospel truth to effect the new birth, yet their forefathers believed it. Who then are the real Old Baptists?

Elder Preslar wrote:

"The gospel of the grace of God is food to the children of God, and they all hear it and recognize it, as it is (the truth)." (Page 60)

No modern "Primitive Baptist" would confess such to be the truth of the bible! They do not believe that "all" of God's elect will believe the gospel.

"...the other is the child of God, that was begotten by the word of truth; James 1: 14; I Cor. 4: 15; I John 5: 1." (Page 112)

"This is the new man begotten by the word of truth; yea, begotten of God; I John 5: 18." (page 185)

Obviously Elder Preslar, like Elder Watson, and a large number of Hardshells, in the 1830-1860 period, believed that God's elect were born again by the gospel being applied to their hearts, and thus represented the historic faith of the Baptists who endorsed the London and Philadelphia Confessions of Faith, while those today who call themselves "Primitive Baptists" reject the teaching of Watson and Preslar, and of the old confessions and are therefore not what they profess to be.

Elder Preslar, in combating the errors of Daniel Parker, a founder of the Hardshell denomination, and his "Two Seed" faction, writes:

"And as to their views of the use and design of the gospel being for nothing but for the edification of the Church, and believers being the only subjects of gospel address, I believe it not." (Page 186)

He says that the gospel "is moreover to be for a witness unto all nations; Matt. 24: 14; and for the awakening of sinners, who are dead in trespasses and in sin." (page 187)

He goes further (same page), saying:

"But some object (the "ultraist" Hardshells - SG) to these ideas and say all this is the work of the spirit of God; and the gospel has nothing to do with it. Ah, a gospel without a spirit! Well, God save me from a gospel that has not His spirit. God says His word is quick and powerful, and He says by Peter, This is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you; I Peter 1: 25. And as to the subjects of Gospel address, it is to every creature the disciples were commanded to preach the gospel; and Paul said, Whom we preach warning every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, etc.; Col. 1: 28. So we see that their idea on that point is false as the balance, and we will now give their last, but not least error a passing notice."

So, who are the real Old Baptists? Those who deny means or those who affirm them? Those who preach the gospel to the dead so that they might live, or those who decry it?

The "Old Baptist" - A New Blog


I have started, together with Elders Kevin Fralick (Florida) and Brad Whitley (North Carolina), former "Primitive" or "Hardshell" Baptists, a blog called the "Old Baptist." This is what we three authors of the blog consider ourselves to be. We are not "Primitive" but "old" or original Baptists, believing that those today who call themselves "primitive," or "old," are not really so in fact, but are imposters, but are rather a new or novel denomination of Baptists. Brother Kevin and Brad have come to see the errors of the Hardshells regarding "Spirit alone" (anti-means) position, and of their other errors, relating to perseverence, missions, education, etc.

In this blog we will be writing articles which show how the "primitives" or "hardshells," are against both scripture and Baptist history as regards their novel doctrines. The blog is at this address


Jun 13, 2011

Hall"s Notes on Hardshellism


J. N. Hall wrote these things concerning Hardshellism. (emphasis mine - SG)

"To know Daniel Parker is to understand his times and his people. About him cluster all the elements of anti-Missionism that were crystalized by him into Hardshellism. Eliminate Daniel Parker and his kind and Hardshellism becomes an enigma." (pg. 32)

"The conditions of special importance among Baptists in these regions are those creating a relentless contest between the spirit of missions and that of anti-missions. In the early part of the last century this was supposed to have been fought out to a finish. The ultra Calvinistic or fatalistic doctrines of Parker and Taylor and others prevailed to a large degree, and their dead­ening influences were deeply felt. The fatalistic interpretations of the London creed disputed the progress of the gospel. But a man arose who was endowed by both nature and grace, for the superb work of preaching and defending the truth. That man was Elder Rubin Ross. One cannot read "The Life and Times of Rubin Ross" and not be impressed with both the man and the times in which he lived and labored. He was a [p. 32] lasting breakwater in the trend and flow of anti-Missionism, and the narrow and fatal doctrines out of which it grew. He boldly stood up and preached the glorious gospel of redeeming love to all men, the glad tidings of great joy to all people. The fierce opposition that he met with from that gospel of doom that, instead of bringing hope and joy, brought awful forebodings of destruction by election, did not deter the preacher of the gospel, but lent beauty and attractiveness to his hopeful message of light and life. But Rubin Ross died. Did his works die with him? Far from it. Oth­ers were in readiness to take up and carry it on. As the son of Rubin Ross, J. S. Wilson and others dropped toward the horison of life, there arose the stars of J. M. Pendleton and J. R. Graves."

"But there arose in the wake of Calvinistic theology, a sentiment of fatalism. This took advantage of the old fundamental doctrines of election and salvation by grace, and distorted these into a system of iron doom. This proved to be the greatest internal enemy that had yet appeared among Baptists. It is remarkable that this asserted itself just at a time when conditions became more favorable for the wider propaga­tion of the gospel. This fatalistic doctrine grew as the opportunities and spirit of gospel propaga­tion asserted itself, and when a determination to carry the gospel into the heathen world was announced, this idea became clearly defined in its active opposition to such evangelistic enterprise. It first clearly defined itself in England when William Carey proposed to carry the light of truth into the regions of benighted India. The funda­mental basis of this opposition lay in two ideas: (1) That Christ made atonement for only a por­tion — a certain and definite number of the human race, and (2) that all for whom he died would be saved, by election, and without any conditions, contingencies, agencies, means of instrumentalities on the human side. The conclusion was inev­itable, that the preaching of the gospel as a mes­sage of salvation, was not only unnecessary, but an insult to the Almighty who would save the elect by unconditional decree."

"The fiercest conflicts between the dominant genius of Christianity and this ism occurred in this country of special Baptist liberty. The acute stage was produced by the announcement of the conversion of Adorniram Judson to Baptist views, and an appeal to American Baptists for his sup­port. Among American Baptists, and especially [p. 35] in the regions with which this volume deals, this anti-Baptistic, or anti-Christian, or anti-Missionism became relentless, as the spirit of missions grew in the churches, until at last the necessity came for either the active co-operation in this great missionary work or a positive and active opposition to it. At this point Hardshellism dis­covered its opportunity for a plausible excuse for planting itself forever against the real progress of the gospel. This is now known as the "Black Rock Memorial." Here is anti-Missionism veiled in a just and righteous protest against the growth of another spirit and method that must bring its troubles further on. "The Black Rock" and sim­ilar documents recite opposition to "the soci­eties," and disavow opposition to missions as such. This brought decisive division. Had the principles of the "Black Rock Memorial" been adhered to and practiced, there never would have been any Hardshell or Anti-Mission Baptists, —but there would have been many Gospel Mission Baptists. But the real genius that was veiled in that just protest displayed itself in its true colors in the teachings and works of a class of men, of whom Daniel Parker was the most perfect repre­sentative and exponent, and by these men, this new Baptist Protestantism was crystallized into historic and contemporary Hardshellism."

"Hardshellism became largely a negative force and system, that corresponded with its negative doctrines. The only positive feature has been its positive opposition to the doctrine and work of missions, otherwise it is noted mainly for doing nothing."

"In the battles with Hardshellism in this sec­tion loom up Ross and Tandy, and Bourne and Wilson. Then come Pendleton and Graves and others contending against both Hardshellism and Protestantism..."

"Pendleton and Graves appeared almost simultaneously, as it were, to meet the double opposition of Campbellism and Protestantism. Standing in the closing conflicts of a defeated Hardshellism, they hoisted afresh the ancient Baptist ensign and in the face of a brazen simper­ing."

"When Pendleton and Graves were called away, they left the battle going, and the forces against them still being Protestantism, Campbellism and Hardshellism. In the tri-cornered conflict comes up, with almost startling sudden­ness the titanic figure of John Newton Hall. It fell to his lot to combat all these forces. Hard­shellism kept comparatively quiet during his life but came stalking forth upon his death."

(Chapter III - For Such A Time As This)

See here

Jun 12, 2011

Hall Against Hardshellism/Cambellism


J. N. Hall was a strong opponent of both Hardshellism and Campbellism. In the following citations from Hall, from his lectures and writings on the topic, one can see his opposition to both, to the Hardshell theory of regeneration by the Spirit alone and the Campbellite theory of regeneration by the Word alone.

"My proposition does not deny the use of means on God's part, to accomplish his purpose, and while I claim that the Holy Spirit can and does operate on the heart of the sinner, without means, and above all means, I do not ignore the fact that He uses means. I believe in the use of all the means, which God has appointed for the conversion of the sinner. I believe in a preached Gospel, a living ministry and a witnessing Church, I believe that the "gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth," and that "it hath pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe."

"My proposition does not assert that the work of the Spirit is distinct from the written or spoken word, in the sense that he saves men, when there is no knowledge of Christ (Hardshellism denied - SG). But rather, it asserts that the work of the Spirit is in addition to the means used(Campbellism denied - SG). This work of the Spirit may reach the sinner through the instrumentality of means, but its power is distinct from the power of means."

"I quote these passages simply as illustrations of the kind of power that is used, and to show that the power is distinct from the means (Campbellism denied - SG), while it works with and through the means (Hardshellism denied - SG). I and my brethren believe and teach that in the conversion of the sin­ner, God uses means, yet there is a power, called the power of the Holy Spirit, which is distinct from the means, yet works through the means."

"I now address my self more fully to the sub­ject. I think the issue is clear cut between us, and amounts to just this: that in the conversion of the sinner, God works, and God does not work. I know there are a class of Scriptures, which taken by themselves and without reference to any other part of God's word, that seem to teach that the Spirit alone does the work. But there is another class of Scriptures which occupy a "golden mean" between the two, and which, when taken in all their bearings and relations completely harmonize God's word, and these Scriptures teach the doc­trine which I believe and teach, that it is not by the Word alone (Campbellism denied - SG), or by the Spirit alone (Hardshellism denied - SG), but that it by both the Spirit and the Word, in conjunction with each other, each performing the work as­signed to each in the conversion of the sinner."

"The parable of the sower is a striking illustra­tion of these different classes. We are taught in this parable that the seed is the word of God.

Now, suppose we are riding along the road, and I we come across a man in the woods sowing seed. Here he is, sowing the seed broadcast among the trees and bushes, and around over the logs and stumps, and brush — anywhere and everywhere sowing his seed. We ride up and ask that man what he is doing? "Oh," says he, "I am sowing wheat!" " Sowing wheat?" we ask in astonishment, "why you don't expect to get a crop, do you, sowing around the logs and brush?" etc., "Why, yes, sir," says the man." This is a new kind of seed. You see there is a peculiar power in this seed that will clear up the ground, remove the logs, and trees, and brush, and break up the ground, and produce an abundant harvest. This is a splendid kind of seed, sir." (Laughter from audience) This is the man (Cambellite - SG) who believes that all the power is in the Word alone. But here is another man (Hardshell - SG) who goes to work and prepares the ground, and gets it in good condition for sowing, and then goes to his home, folds his arms, and sits quietly down, and expects a harvest. You ask him, "What he has prepared his ground for?" He says, that he "expects to raise a crop of wheat." "Well my friend, you have got your ground in mighty fine condition for sowing, and if you will plant the seed, you may expect a good harvest." "Oh," he says, "I don't need to sow any seed on this ground, it has a peculiar power or element in it, that all you have to do is to get it good condition, and it will produce an excellent harvest without sowing any seed on it at all." This is the man that be­lieves that all the power is in the Spirit alone, and that all a man has to do is to fold his arms, and in God's good time, he will do the work."

"Now, I am going to admit all the power God has placed in his Word, yet I believe that that power is exerted on the sinner's mind and heart, through the personal influence of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe that power is in the Word alone, or that it is in the Spirit alone, without the use of any other means whatever, but I believe that "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." Not one alone, without the other, but both together. We cannot lay stress on one, and exclude the other."

"My first argument in support of the proposi­tion is based on the fact, that MAN IN AN UNREGENERATED STATE, WILL NOT ACCEPT THE WORD OF GOD, WITHOUT THE DISTINCT INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT."

"Suppose you go and preach to a man who is dead, will your preaching do any good, unless there is some divine power to ac­company your words? Would this simple preach­ing of the prophet in the valley of dry bones, have accomplished anything had there been no exercise of divine power? You go and preach to these dry bones and see if they will live. It required something more than mere preaching to cause those dry bones to live."

From "Memoirs of Elder J. N. Hall" (CHAPTER XII) - "The Work of the Spirit in the Salvation of the Sinner."

Here is the proposition Hall defended against the Campbellites:

"The Scriptures teach, that in the conver­sion of sinners, there is a distinct, (from the writ­ten or spoken word) personal, (the Spirit himself acting) power of the Holy Spirit, on the sinner's heart."

See here