Written by W.H. Crouse
Regeneration and the New Birth by Elder William H. Crouse, was published in 1928 and has been out of print since that time. It is my opinion that this book is one the best ever defenses against the "Gospel Means" heresy. This heresy is the belief that the gospel is the means by which eternal salvation is brought to the Lord's people. Sound Primitive Baptists do not believe this doctrine. The leaders of this doctrinal advocacy were Elders Burnham, Pence, Screws, Yates and others.
In the book Trial and Decision of Matthew Carmel Church, Elder R. H. Pittman gave the background of the "Gospel Means" movement:
"In the latter half of the nineteenth century the spirit of unrest began to be manifested. Dissatisfaction with the old way of the fathers was evidenced in the public and private service of some. Improvement on the old way of teaching is urged. The children of Baptists must be saved, and the New Testament plan is not thought sufficient. The 'Heathen' must have the Gospel preached to them, and the Old Baptist system of depending entirely upon the Lord is not considered the proper one. And so a fireside campaign is put on foot to prepare the Baptists for the public introduction of the things thought to be needed. And the result of all this was that a party within the church was being formed, tutored, and nourished by certain local ministers within the bonds of the Ketocton and Ebenezer Associations, but led mainly by Elder E. H. Burnam, a minister of talent and influence that finally divided churches where peace and fellowship had long been undisturbed. This party showed their hand in a test of numerical strength, first at the Ebenezer Association which met with the church at Robinson River in 1889, and where by a narrow margin Elder Burnam's effort to exclude Elder Benjamin Lampton's Circular Letter, was voted down. Not sufficiently discouraged by their failure, and not willing to let the old church live in peace, the issue was again brought to a test at the meeting of the Ebenezer Association with Alma church in 1890. Here they again failed to elect their moderator and were by the Association virtually non-fellowshipped and excluded. It was then they undertook the reorganization of the Ketocton Association, which in substance meant the organization of a new Association, composed of those in sympathy with them, which they named Ketocton after the old Association, then in existence and had been for one hundred and twenty-four years. In this division a new denomination was formed, known in this section as Regular Baptists, having entirely discarded the name Primitive, or Old School. Sometimes they, like the Lutherans and Campbellites, are called after the name of their most prominent leader, but they do not adopt it as their denominational name."
These "Meansites" or "Burnamites" first afflicted the churches that were of the "OldLine" persuasion. Soon, the heresy crept in the "Progressive" churches. Though Elder Crouse was a member of a Progressive church, it is my feeling that his wonderful defense of doctrine of Regeneration should stand and speak for itself. This, I am certain, the reader will discover.
When I received my original copy of the book, I showed it to Elder Sonny Pyles who told me to, "guard it with your life." Elder Pyles explained to me that the book was very rare and that it explains the 1689 London Confession of Faith as it ought to be interpreted. It was his feeling that every Old Baptist should read this book, especially the ministry. With such a recommendation, I felt behooved to republish it as soon as possible and get the work back into hands of the Baptists.
Upon reading the book, it made me wonder why this book has never been republished heretofore. Elder Crouse so clearly explains this important doctrine and the Scriptural and historical evidence that he gives in support of his position, more than convinced me of the scholarship of this work and encouraged me all the more to seek its republication. So, with all this in mind, it is a great joy for me to present this volume to the public.
In His service,
Elder David Montgomery
Written by William H. Crouse
The Primitive Monitor
To all who may be interested: -Not long since one of our ministers saw fit to leave us to live with the Missionary Baptists, and now we bear of another having gone (H. E. Pettus). They have given us their reasons for their course. If all they have written were true (which we deny), their course is not likely to inspire much confidence in them as heralds of the cross. It seems to me that the change from Primitive to Missionary Baptist is too great for one to make who believed and loved the principles of the former-all their present and past professions notwithstanding. "Actions speak louder than words," and a man who will today insist that the Missionaries are wrong and that the Primitive Baptists are the church of Christ, and tomorrow find a home with the Missionaries and preach for them, is, to say the least, not worthy of our confidence or one whom we should willingly follow. If he can make such a change now, where may he land in another year?
Brethren, be not deceived. The fact that they may have preached the truth while among us, or that they may have been persecuted just as they affirm, will not justify you and me in defending them in their present course. We will remember them for the good they have done, but we will give them to understand that no amount of service done will justify such a step as they have taken. True they say they will still preach just as they did among us, but we know they will not. Imagine Elder R. S. Kirkland preaching in a Missionary church as many of us have heard him in ours! No; this cannot be their course if they live with the Missionaries. They have decided to be Arminians-that is all there is of it, and their fair speeches are only intended to deceive some of our good, sound, faithful brethren with the idea that they can live with the Missionaries and advocate Primitive Baptist faith and practice. The difference between our denominations is as great as that between night and day. Now I am a Primitive Baptist from principle, and no matter what I may ever have to endure I will not forsake those principles unless deceived or my reason dethroned.
The action of those brethren is no surprise to me since our meeting at Indianapolis. No one can believe and champion all the things contended for by Elders I. V. and R. S. and remain long in the Primitive Baptist ranks. Those things are so different from what we have always believed as a people that they at once "read" themselves out of the denomination.
I am indeed sorry to see any brother make shipwreck-and especially one in whom I have had such confidence, but so far will I go and no farther. I expect to lift my voice in defense of the apostolic practices so sadly neglected by many of our people, but I will not (God being my helper) embrace Arminianism or encourage it among us. I have not changed in the least as regards doctrine and practice, and I appeal to those who, with me, tried to save those brethren, to utterly forsake them and stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of the church of God, called Primitive Baptist.
WM. H. CROUSE.
Written by W.H. Crouse
IS THERE CAUSE FOR ALARM?
Note: These articles were originally prepared for publication in The BannerHerald. Much of Chapter I was added after it was decided to publish in book form.
We have been requested to write a series of articles for publication in which shall be clearly set forth the recognized faith of Primitive Baptists as respects the use of the ministry and the preached word in the work of regeneration or the new birth; that such articles shall be a bold and fearless defense of the things most surely believed among us, and supported by such historical and scriptural proof as to establish and confirm our people in the faith of our fathers and to overcome the unscriptural and un-Baptistic teaching of some among us, which has confused many, overthrown the faith of some, and seriously threatens the fellowship and union of our people.
With such ability as we possess we comply with their request, trusting that God may own and bless the effort to His glory and the good of His cause.
We have never felt called upon to make any apology for boldly teaching and fearlessly defending what we conceive to be Primitive Baptist faith. We accepted that faith when we united with the church; when ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry we gave our sacred and solemn pledge to teach and defend it. However much we may have been tossed hither and thither by the billows of time, and, through the frailty and weakness of human nature and imperfect wisdom, carried now and then from the course charted by Christ and the Apostles, we have never entertained any doubt as to that faith to which we subscribed and to which we pledged our loyalty being THE faith once-for-all delivered to the saints. It was that faith that made of us a Primitive Baptist. In the days of our youth, when this decision had to be made, the most of our associates and friends were in other religious organizations. We could have gone their way without any sacrifice-save that of our conviction as to truth. God alone knows the tears, the groans, and the earnest prayers ere we made that decision. But having made that decision, we have never for one moment entertained any thought of turning back.
So deep are our convictions respecting that faith that we are not willing to apologize for it nor compromise it not even to retain the fellowship and friendship of the dearest friends on earth. For eighteen years we have labored for and with the so-called "Progressives" firmly believing that they stood true and loyal to that faith. We are still of that belief. But should the time ever come when they discard or compromise that faith, and the tares of error are allowed to grow and multiply unmolested among us to the shame and reproach of those who claim the name of Primitive Baptist, we very frankly confess that we shall, without the least hesitation, sever our connection with them and seek that people who still remain true to the faith to which we pledged ourselves twenty-six years ago. If that be treason and rebellion in the eyes of our opposers, let them make the most of it.
That many of us have for some time been alarmed by certain teachings among us is no secret among our people. And that such teaching should have been so little offence to our people (so far as we could see) has caused us inexpressible sorrow. And it has been humiliating and heart-rending in every effort we have made to call attention to these errors and to anchor our people securely in the old time faith, to be privately and publicly accused of seeking leadership; of being possessed by an evil spirit; and of seeking to create an issue solely for the destruction of certain brethren and to destroy certain movements, very commendable in the eyes of many good and true brethren, but of which we did not and do not now approve.
We, therefore, feel it necessary to begin this series of articles by clearly pointing out to our brotherhood the things which have touched our fellowship and caused us such alarm. In doing so, we do not desire to unnecessarily offend. If it were possible, we would prepare these articles without making mention of any brother whom we believe to be in error. As this is not possible, and as their teaching has been public, and as we have been time and again challenged to meet the issue, we shall expect them and their friends to allow us liberty to clearly point out the things to which we object.
And to our brethren everywhere we plead, Come, let us reason together. Our cause is greater than any man. We have claimed that in our church we knew no man after the flesh. What will it profit us to defend, shield or follow men if, in doing so, our foundations are destroyed? We should seek only after truth. If we can discover what the recognized faith of our people is, we have a right to expect, and should demand, that our teachers be ever loyal to that faith.
The Bible declares that two cannot walk together except they be agreed. It will not be denied, even by our erring brethren, that the great body of our brethren do NOT believe that God regenerates through the ministry and the preached word. This they have publicly admitted. They have publicly stated that those who hold to their view of this subject are "few" in number. This being true, we reach the following conclusion:
1. Our brethren must be converted to the "means" doctrine; or
2. Our brethren must exist part "means" and part "anti-means"; or
3. They must rid themselves of this "means" doctrine and stand united upon the doctrine that God, in all cases, regenerates without the ministry and the preached word.
The second is impossible. The first is equally so, though some of our brethren have set themselves to the effort.
And we submit that since it is admitted that but very FEW agree with them, and it is publicly admitted that the recognized faith of our people at this present day is that God ALWAYS regenerates without the ministry and the preached word, those who have introduced so suddenly and so unexpectedly this "means" doctrine among us must bear the blame for any and all confusion and strife that may result from its introduction, and NOT those who oppose it and choose to stand upon and defend the recognized faith.
Nor is it fair to the brotherhood, or becoming of those who would be leaders and teachers among us and who express themselves as so sure of their position, to raise other issues to obscure the issue and blind with prejudice the minds of the brethren and secure a verdict contrary to the real convictions of their souls. Such a verdict might serve the present needs and designs of designing men, but it can not stand, and should not satisfy those who battle honestly for what they conceive to be truth. With these observations let us turn to the question before us.
Is There Cause For Alarm?
Our people have been troubled more than once with the introduction of this "means" question; or, more clearly stated, as to whether or not God regenerates by, with, or through the ministry and the preached word. The history of American Baptists will sustain me in this statement, that NEVER has it been taught among us and an effort made to establish it as a part of our faith that it has not brought strife and widespread division. Time and again that doctrine has been rejected by our people. Whether or not the position of our people has been scriptural we will leave for other articles, but that they have time and again rejected this doctrine and refused to tolerate such teaching or fellowship those who insisted upon it cannot be successfully denied.
In another article we will discuss the London Confession of Faith. Just here we call attention to the meeting of our brethren held at Fulton, Ky., in the year 1900. Having been troubled and divided by this issue in years gone by, they added footnotes to the Confession which left no room for misunderstanding. Elder J. H. Oliphant was moderator of the meeting and associated with him were many of the ablest ministers of our denomination from the different sections of the United States.
Their position was that God NEVER effectually calls or regenerates through the written word. Their interpretation was most universally accepted by our people. The question was settled so far as our people were concerned. Not only did Primitive Baptists KNOW that that was their faith, but the religious world everywhere knew it. The Methodists knew it; the Campbellites knew it; the Missionaries knew it; the Pence-Burnam faction knew it; and time and again in public discussion we met them on this very issue.
When the division came in Georgia over the organ question it was reported that our people believed that God regenerated through the gospel. Our ministry was quick to sense the danger. They knew if that could be established in the minds of our brethren there would not be a corporal's guard stand with us. So very promptly a meeting of our ministers was called at Cordele, Georgia. They met in February 1909. There they drew up a statement of our faith and strongly condemned the idea of God regenerating through the gospel. This was signed by our ministers; and among those signatures we find the names of Elders T. E. Sikes and W. B. Screws of Georgia.
The point at issue between "means" and "antimeans" Baptists is not as to whether men may be brought to repent and believe THROUGH the preached word,-they often are; indeed that is one of the great purposes for which the gospel was to be preached. Nor do we deny that God may and sometimes does regenerate a sinner WHILE the preacher is preaching. He may as easily do so as when the sinner is in his home, in the shop, or following the plow. But the exact issue before us is this- Does God REGENERATE or make alive the dead sinner THROUGH the ministry and the preached word?
And to this question, Primitive Baptists have very emphatically answered, NO.
The so-called Progressives of Georgia, by their teaching in the pulpit and through the press, had convinced our brethren at home and abroad that, whatever mistakes we may have made in practice, we were sound in doctrine. It was very apparent that among the conservative brethren there was not that prejudice against us that there had been in the past and many were led to believe that the day was not far away when there might be a union of our forces.
In August, 1921, Elder Screws begun the publication of the Pilgrim's Messenger. It was a perfectly legitimate enterprise. Many things instructive and comforting appeared in its columns and it was appreciated by many of our brethren. Suddenly, to the surprise and astonishment of our brethren, Elder Screws came out in his paper as a champion of the "means" doctrine, identifying himself with the Pence-Burnam faction as against our brethren in that division, insisting that our people had departed from original faith and in so doing bad ceased to be Primitive Baptists and had become "modern" Baptists, and stated that it was the purpose of his paper to revive among us an interest in what he termed "Original" faith and lead them back to that from which they had departed, viz., that ordinarily God regenerates sinners THROUGH the preached word.
It was no surprise to Elder Screws that some of us took issue with him and set ourselves to uncompromisingly oppose his teaching. He knew us well enough to know that we would do so. If there has been any surprise upon his part it must have been that there has been so little said publicly against his position and so little done to counteract his teaching.
To show that we do not misrepresent him we give here quotations from his paper:
Volume 3, Number 3, pages 2 and 8:
"If a Primitive Baptist should believe and teach that God sometimes regenerates a sinner through the INSTRUMENTALITY of the preached word, would he be out of line with the Baptists of the past? Let us see about it.
"Elder John M. Watson is looked upon as one of the leading preachers of his day, among our people. He says: (Here he quotes from Watson's Old Baptist Test to prove that Watson believed that God regenerated sinners through the instrumentality of the preached word.-Crouse.) An examination of the Life and Labors of Wilson Thompson will show that he (Thompson) believed as did Watson. He wrote the history of his life and labors mentioned above, and he certainly taught that God uses the preached word in the regeneration of sinners. (He then quotes from the minutes of the Kehukee Association for the year 1778 to prove that they held the same view.-Crouse.)
"Now, let us go back to the seventeenth century. In 1689, the London Confession of Faith was written, and adopted by the Baptists of England. At various times the Primitive Baptists of the United States have stated that they, too, believe the London Confession. In 1900, the Fulton (Ky.) convention, composed of representatives from nearly all parts of our country, adopted this confession, with some explanatory footnotes, (which footnotes are more confusing than explanatory). Chapter XIV, paragraph I, of the London Confession, says: 'The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word.'
"I have shown here, that a Primitive Baptist may believe in the INSTRUMENTALITY of the preached word, and be in line with Elders John Watson and Wilson Thompson, with Elder Sylvester Hassell's association, and with all our Baptist forefathers in 1689. But the most important question is: Would he be in line with the Bible? We shall see: (He then quotes certain texts of scripture to prove that the Bible teaches that God regenerates through the instrumentality of the preached word.-Crouse.)
"To say that God is limited to the preached gospel, in the salvation of sinners, would be very erroneous. But to say that he is limited to the practice of saving without the gospel is equally erroneous. I believe that God can do whatever he wishes to do; and he can do it in anyway he wishes to do it. He has all things at his command, and can work through any MEANS that he chooses.
"I am a Primitive Baptist, and I yield to no man in my love for the doctrine of grace. At the same time, I declare without any fear of successful contradiction, that God, in some cases, brings about the regeneration of his elect, through the preached word. Neither does this position contradict the confession of faith of my church."
We wish the reader to note the use of the words ''means" and "instrumentality" in these quotations.
Speaking of the preaching of the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost, Elder Screws says:
Volume 3, Number 5, page 5: "What a display of the power of God! The church began with about one hundred and thirty, and, at the close of the first service, she had three thousand one hundred and thirty, and three thousand of that number were not even regenerate characters when they entered that house at nine o 'clock that morning. The power of God pricked the hearts of those people as Peter preached to them. The same power of the same God pricked the heart of Saul of Tarsus, when no preacher was near. It is a Bible doctrine that God works when and how he will." "It is also a Primitive Baptist doctrine. What is a Primitive Baptist? A Primitive Baptist is an Original Baptist. We Original Baptists, and God knows that we are few in number, attribute all powers to God, and declare that he can work either with or without MEANS, and that if he works through MEANS, there is absolutely no power in the MEANS-all the power is in God."
Elder Screws is too plain here to be misunderstood. It is the MEANS doctrine for which he contends and which he insists is Original Baptist faith.
In the November 1923, issue of the Banner-Herald there appeared an editorial in reply to Elder Screws. It was copied by the Pilgrim's Messenger, appearing in Volume 3, Number 5, page 5.
In the closing part of his editorial Elder Barwick said:
"That (Elder Screws' affirmation of the doctrines of election, &c.,) is all sound and good, but it has not touched the question at issue-Does God use the gospel as a means of regeneration?"
The reader will note that it was the MEANS doctrine that Elder Barwick was opposing in his "Editorial Remarks" following this, Elder Screws said:
"We did not quote Dr. Watson and Elder Thompson to prove our position. We did not quote them as authority. We quoted Elder Watson to show that in the past there were those who believed the theory to which Elder Barwick objects, and yet they were not called heretics, nor even taken to task about it. We referred to Elder Thompson for the same reason. * * * Then we quoted from Hassell's History showing that the Kehukee Association, the oldest Primitive Baptist association now in existence, went on record as believing this theory in 1778. We then quoted the London Confession of Faith to show that this theory was the belief of THE ENTIRE DENOMINATION OF BAPTISTS in 1689."
The "theory" to which Elder Barwick objected was that God uses the gospel as a MEANS of regeneration. Elder Screws replies that Watson, Wilson Thompson, the Kehukee Association, the London Confession of Faith, and the entire denomination of Baptists in 1689 believed THIS THEORY. He not only insists that these brethren believed this theory of the use of the gospel as a means in regeneration, but insists that the London Confession taught it and that no one can be a Primitive Baptist who does not believe that Confession. The brethren at Fulton, in 1900, bad added footnotes denying this use of the gospel in regeneration and Elder Screws takes them to task for it.
Volume 4, Number 1, page 2:
"So far as we are aware, the most important pronouncement, on the part of Primitive Baptists, AGAINST the London Confession of Faith, was made by a council meeting held at Fulton, Kentucky, in 1900. And, curiously enough, the Fulton Council claimed to endorse the London Confession. They published the Confession in book form, and sent it out, as a correct expression of Baptist faith. But they claimed that certain parts of it needed to be explained. So, where there was anything that they did not believe, they put in an explanatory footnote. In the most of cases the footnotes entirely changed the meaning of our English forefathers. In other words, the footnotes amounted to a denial of parts of the very confession that the council claimed to endorse. (This is rather a serious charge against those able representative ministers who met at Fulton.-Crouse.) There were at least three preachers in the meeting who did not, in their hearts, endorse those changes. * * * (But they voted for its adoption and signed it with the footnotes. And the question became "Shall we stick to what we have promised?"-Crouse.) The fact that the Fulton Council did such a thing is proof that the preaching of Primitive Baptists in that section, for quite a while had been contrary to some things that the Baptists had believed in 1689, when the London Confession was written. And such, indeed, was the case. The Fulton Council only reflected the condition that already existed in the Primitive Baptist ranks,-a rather widespread denial of parts of the ancient Baptist faith. The Pilgrim's Messenger has tried to revive an interest in the original teachings of Baptists."
The "widespread denial of parts of the ancient Baptist faith" to which Elder Screws refers was the denial that God uses the gospel as a means in regeneration. They had had two divisions over that question. More than once the question of church property had been taken to the courts and the courts had decided in favor of the "anti-means" party. But Elder Screws' contention is that our brethren were wrong and the means party was right; and if so, of course, the courts erred in deciding in our favor.
After writing in such a way as to leave the impression that Elder Sylvester Hassell, our able historian, endorsed and agreed with Dr. John Gill in his interpretation of all scripture, continuing Elder Screws says:
Volume 3, Number 9, page 1: "if these extracts speak the truth, would our present day Primitive Baptists want a sounder preacher than was Dr. John Gill? We hardly think so. Dr. Gill lived at a time when the modern missionary enterprises were not thought of in the Baptist ranks, and when no one had ever thought to style himself a Missionary Baptist or a Primitive Baptist. They were just plain Baptists. This was many years before the division in 1832. * * * There can be no doubt of the general reception and endorsement of Gill's works among the Baptists. Nor have those works ceased to be admired by Baptists of this age. Only a few months ago the Banner-Herald endorsed Gill's works and spoke of his soundness. Elder W. A. Lamb, of blessed memory, valued Gill's commentaries next to the Bible. It is the boast of Primitive Baptists that we stand where the Baptists stood before the division of 1832. Dr. John Gill's writings tell us where Baptists stood before the division of 1832. If we stand where Dr. Gill stood, we arc Primitive Baptists. Who will deny this? All right, here is a sample of Dr. Gill's exposition of the Scriptures:"
It certainly is unfair to thus leave the impression that the Banner-Herald, Elder Lamb and Elder Hassell endorsed Gill's position on every text and on every line of gospel truth. Primitive Baptists HAVE very generally agreed that Gill's Commentaries are the best that have ever been written; but they have NOT endorsed his position in. his commentaries on the utility of the gospel. Elder Screws relies upon Gill to prove that he (Screws) is contending for Primitive Baptist faith. He takes the position that for one to be a Primitive Baptist he MUST agree with Gill. To not do so, in his opinion, is evidence sufficient that one has ceased to be a Primitive Baptist. He then gives his "sample" of Gill's interpretation, with which he agrees, and insists that all must agree or become "modern" Baptists. Here it is:
"For in Christ * * * I have begotten you through the gospel-1Co 4:15. Which is to be understood of regeneration, a being born again, and from above; of being quickened when dead in trespasses and sins; * * * the apostle speaks this of himself only as the INSTRUMENT or MEANS which God made use of in doing this work; * * * it was the power and grace of Christ accompanying his ministry which made it an effectual MEANS of their regeneration and conversion; and which were brought about through the gospel. "-Dr. Gill's Commentary.
The purpose Elder Screws had in making this quotation from Gill's commentary was to show that Gill believed and taught that God uses the ministry and the gospel as means and instrumentalities in the work of regeneration. That this was Dr. Gill's teaching in the above quotation there can be no doubt. Indeed he says that Paul's ministry was made "an effectual means OF their regeneration." I call special attention to this for Elder Screws has time and again stated that he was in line with Gill and that one had to be in line with Gill or cease to be a Primitive Baptist.
Elder Screws then quotes from his editorial to show his (Screws') position on this text to he in line with Gill, with the Philadelphia and Kehukee associations, and the London Confession, and again quotes Chapter XIV, Section I of that Confession. He then continues:
"This is what all Baptists believed in 1689, *** in 1742, *** in 1765. If we believe what the London Confession teaches, we stand where the Baptists stood in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We are, therefore, Primitive Baptists."
Then referring to his (Screws') position that God sometimes regenerates sinners through the preached word, he says:
"Isaiah this any more unsound than the entire Baptist denomination was in 1689? We have no succession from the apostles, except as we trace it back through our forefathers, who believed precisely what I (Elder Screws) believe. And yet, I (Elder Screws) am held up before the public as unsound. *** I am humiliated, by the exposures in the press, although I know that my position cannot be overthrown, either by history or the Bible. Elder J. A. Sutton, of Wray, Ga., believes in, and teaches the doctrine of INSTIRUMENTALITY, and no one has published him to the world as unsound. Elder Thomas M. Whatley of Griffin, Ga., believes in gospel INSTRUMENTALITY, in salvation, and yet he has never been publicly exposed as unsound. We are aware that we shall be further persecuted, but we hope that our good brother will find some time that in doing so he is fighting against the word of God. You will be told that we have referred to these historical characters to prove the truthfulness of our position. Not so! We have referred to them to show that we are a Primitive Baptist. To show that we are a Bible Baptist, we refer to 1Co 4:15; Eph 5:25-26; 2Th 2:13-14; Jas 1:18; Ac 26:15-18; 1Pe 1:23-25; Joh 17:20; Ac 2:37; 2Co 3:3, etc." Let the reader note all the scriptures to which he refers us for proof that lie is a Bible Baptist (we will notice all of them later); and remember that the thing he is trying to prove is that God uses the preached word as a means and instrumentality in the work of regeneration.
Some of the emphasis in these quotations is mine. We gave this emphasis to show that Elder Screws HAS all along identified himself with those who teach that God regenerates through the gospel as a means and instrumentality. THIS was what be said we must believe or cease to be Primitive Baptists. Because we deny this doctrine be called us "modern" Baptists. This doctrine was what he said he could prove by history and by the Bible. It is the doctrine he set himself to bind upon our people as their "original" faith. It was for this doctrine that he lauded the Pence-Burnam people and endorsed them as against us. We emphasize this to show clearly what it was that gave offence and caused alarm.
We now notice some of his teaching in regard to certain texts of scripture. Each text cited was introduced by him to sustain his contention that God regenerates through the preached word. "For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.-1Co 4:15. This is the birth of which Jesus speaks when he says, 'Marvel not, that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.' Bless the name of Jesus for the new birth." (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1.)
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.-1Pe 1:23-25. The word in the text means the written word. Being born, again, means being born of God."
"In this birth we receive an incorruptible nature, the life of Jesus Christ. Without this birth we shall not see the kingdom of God. *** Some have tried to destroy God's word, while others have tried to explain away its meaning. But neither can be done. After the fleeting glory of such ones is forgotten, the word of God will still be in existence. * * * If the text teaches anything, it connects the new birth and the word." (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 2.)
''Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth. -Jas 1:18. According to God's will, he begets us with the word of truth. Thy word is truth-Joh 17:17. Let him be put to confusion, who limits God in his operation. God is not limited. He does what he will, when he will, and how he will. If it is his will to beget us by the word of truth, he does it." (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1.) (Time and again Elder Screws has explained this text to mean that God regenerated "us" with the gospel.-Crouse.) "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath, from~ the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto he called you BY OUR GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.-2Th 2:13-14. The election of sinners took place from the beginning or before the foundation of the world. The end of the choice is salvation, or the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those thus chosen are set apart by the Spirit and caused to believe the truth. (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1). If Paul did not mean that God used the preached word in calling the elect, to the obtaining the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, pray what did he mean'?" (Vol. 2, No. 10, page 3.) Brother Screws explains a. number of times that his understanding is that regeneration is here under consideration. This would very clearly limit the elect to the scope of the preached gospel. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with; the washing of water BY THE WORD -Eph 5:25-26. The elect, those who are to compose the church are very unclean in a state of nature. They are the children of wrath, even as others. But Christ gave himself for them. He died for them. And this he did, that he might sanctify and cleanse them, with the washing of water by the word. The church thus washed, shall be presented to Christ by himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1.)
This scripture is cited by Brother Screws a number of times to prove the INSTRITMENTALITY of the preached word in the work of regeneration. And he insists that the "word" in this text is the written word and that the thing accomplished through it is regeneration. Paul here speaks of the CHURCH. It is to be washed and cleansed. Now if ALL of the church is to be washed and cleansed by the written word, will we not be forced to conclude that the "church" includes none who have not come under the influence of the gospel? And if none can get to heaven without regeneration, and Brother Screws is correct in his interpretation of this text, must we not conclude that regeneration or salvation IS confined to the scope of the gospel?
Another proof text to which he cites us is Ac 26:15-18: "And I said, who art thou, Lord? And he said I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. But arise, and stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
"The unsaved sinner is blind, and walks in darkness instead of light. He is entirely under the power of Satan, and has not received the forgiveness of sins. In that condition he has no heavenly inheritance. What a wonderful grace it is that changes all this and prepares the poor sinner for eternal glory." (Vol. 3, No. 7, pages 1 and 2.)
Read this scripture again and think what a revolution it must work among Primitive Baptists to understand that this text teaches that Paul was going forth to REGENERATE dead sinners! And this is one of his proof texts to prove that the gospel as an instrumentality in regeneration is a "Bible doctrine."
"By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.- Eph 2:8. The exercise of faith by the sinner is not the cause of salvation. But God saves by grace THROUGH faith, not to the exclusion of faith. But the faith is the gift of God. But HOW does God give faith? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.-Paul to the Romans, (Ro 10:17)." (Vol. 3, No. 3, page 3.)
The entire passage in Ro 10, to which he refers as proof, reads as follows: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear WITHOUT A PREACHER? * * So, then, faith cometh by bearing, and hearing by the word of God." Paul clearly teaches that no one can have THIS belief, or faith, without the gospel-and the preacher. And Elder Screws says this is the way God "gives" it. That being true, if God NEVER saves to the exclusion of THIS faith, is not eternal salvation confined forever to the scope of the gospel? Certainly it must be. And that is the rock upon which every teacher has landed who has insisted upon the gospel as a means in regeneration and emphasized faith as necessary in order to eternal salvation. Strive as they may they cannot avoid it. And the reader will note, too, that Brother Screws has the SINNER exercising faith BEFORE regeneration. Time and again in. his paper he has criticized us for saying anyone is regenerated who does not believe in Jesus Christ. Well, if they are not, and this belief comes through the preacher and the gospel, then NO PERSON will be in heaven that has not heard the gospel.
Note carefully the following quotation: "Let it not be thought, however, that this salvation is out of Christ. We saw in the quotation from Ephesians that the choice is in Christ, and we read further, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Christ), in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. The redemption and forgiveness of the elect is in the blood of Christ. But does the gospel play no part in this matter?" (Vol. 3, No. 4, page 1.)
We now call attention to the explanation given of Joh 6:37,39, that text upon which Primitive Baptists have ever relied to prove their faith.
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me. * * * For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me; that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. Not all the Father hath given me, but all that the Father giveth me. It is in the present tense, not the past tense. One by one the Father gives to Jesus those whom he hath chosen in Jesus. The power of the Godhead quickens the sinner, and gives the sinner to Jesus. * * * God giveth, then he hath given the sinner to Jesus. * * * In Joh 17, Jesus speaks frequently of believers having been given to him. 'I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me." -Joh 17:6. * * * To whom did he have reference? Not to elect ones who had not yet been quickened, but to those who were actually his disciples at that time. 'I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me'-Joh 17:9. This has reference to those who were actually his disciples. THEN, in Joh 17:26, He mentions ALL the elect, who should afterwards be given to him. "'Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me THROUGH THEIR WORD." (Vol. 3, No. 6, page 1.)
Elder Screws got this interpretation from Elder Sikes' pamphlet. This does away with the covenant. According to this none were given to Jesus BEFORE he came down from heaven; they are not given to him until AFTER they are quickened (regenerated)!
And Elder Screws says ALL the elect, who should afterwards be given to Jesus, are embraced in the expression, "which shall believe on me THROUGH THEIR WORD."
Unless he can prove that some of the elect are not given to Christ-that sinners not given to Christ can get to heaven-he has limited the elect to believers-those who hear the preached gospel. This is the ultimate end and goal of this teaching and the reader can see this trend through all his teaching, though he time and again insists be does not limit eternal salvation to the scope of the gospel.
In discoursing again upon Ro 10, he says: "There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for the Lord is rich unto those who call upon him, argues Paul, for all whether Jew or Greek, who call upon him shall be saved. God sends the preacher, they hear, they believe and they call upon the name of the Lord." (Vol. 3, No. 6, page 3.)
I copy the following from Vol. 3, No. 4, page 7: "In one of our associations an elder said that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt was a type of regeneration. What would have been the attitude of the rest of us, if he had stressed the fact that the deliverance was accomplished THROUGH MOSES? Another elder said that when Christ raised Tabitha, it was a type of regeneration. What would we have done, if he had stressed the fact that Christ spoke to Tabitha THROUGH PETER? Another elder said that flesh and blood had not revealed Jesus unto Peter, but that God revealed it unto him. We can't help but wonder what would have happened if he had referred to the first chapter of John and proved to us that when God made the revelation he made it THROUGH ANDREW, Simon Peter's brother. But the brethren did not refer to those things. If they had wanted to do so, they would have been afraid, for we have lived to see the day when we will not tolerate some things that our forefathers would tolerate."
In another place we find this expression: "The Bible connects belief and salvation." And we have seen that he means eternal salvation.
Elder Screws quotes from Elder John Rowe, in Vol. 3, No. 12, to prove that Elder Rowe held this same position he seeks to fasten upon us as our faith. We have Elder Rowe's book, from which he quotes, and deny emphatically that he taught as does Brother Screws. Here is a part of the quotation Elder Screws gives from Elder Rowe:
"Since all has been done for sinners in the way of election and redemption, all now depends upon effectual calling and perseverance, and surely the Holy Spirit will not be delinquent in filling his office, which is to apply to the 'means the Father hath devised, the principle of which is the blood of Christ, which cleanses us from all sin. That there are other subordinate MEANS is not denied, such for instance as repentance, sanctification, faith, preaching the Gospel, etc. When the Lord has use for means they are always at hand. Moses was an instrument through which the Lord accomplished much."
If Elder Rowe had under consideration what Brother Screws represents, he certainly taught that God regenerates through the gospel as a MEANS.
If Elder Rowe was here presenting the MEANS through which dead sinners are made ALIVE, then we must conclude that in this work he believed that repentance was a MEANS to that end. And whatever he included in "etc." were also means to that end, and all these must precede regeneration.
Who can believe for a moment that the preaching of Elder John Rowe would have been so acceptable to our people if he had preached in this manner? Impossible!
In Vol. 3, No. 6, page 6, Elder T. E. Sikes says: "God alone can bring about this inward change. He may speak to man direct by the Spirit's impression in the heart, or he may use any kind of MEANS or INSTRUMENTS he may choose in bringing this change into the life of man, but it is, nevertheless, God doing it. There is no use caviling over HOW God does things. Jesus gave life to Lazarus, direct. The same Jesus used Peter in giving life to the dead maiden, Dorcas."
Again in Vol. 3, No. 8, page 6, Elder Sikes says: "Another view of the use of means is, that God, at his own time, and of his own will, speaks to such persons as he chooses to speak to, through such agency as he chooses to use, to convey his power, and to awaken them from nature's slumber to a living knowledge of God. * * * Paul's conversion was certainly the work of God, and yet we must admit he used MEANS in accomplishing the work. * * * There is no use for brethren to fall out over this difference."
Elder Screws' paper was read by many. It went into many states and to the editors of all our papers. It was supposed to reflect the sentiment of our people. It was very humiliating to many of us, believing as we do in reference to ibis question, knowing the recognized faith of our people throughout the Union, and having made the pledge we did at Cordele, to now have our brethren abroad understand that we had turned "means" and repudiated our former position. In the Banner-Herald of February 15th, 1924, Elder Barwick felt it necessary to refer to it again, and among other things, he said:
"We were, many of us, hoping he (Elder Screws) would not insist upon this, for it is an error. He has the right to any personal opinion he may entertain, but he need not expect to publish this to the world as the principles of Primitive Baptists, and his position go unchallenged. It is not our doctrine. We must protest against this innovation upon our brotherhood. It is a vital point, and we sincerely hope he will not trouble our people further with it."
The agitation continued. Feeling, as did Brother Barwick, that it was a vital matter, Dr. T. J. McArthur suggested a meeting of our ministers and deacons to consider the matter. This was finally agreed upon and the meeting was called to meet at Vidalia, Ga., March 25th, 1924. There were twenty-one ministers and thirty-five deacons present. Elder J. M. Thomas stated the position of our brethren and called attention to the teaching of which our brethren complained.
Elder Sikes responded, setting forth briefly his views. Elder Screws offered the writings of Gill and others to show that his position was Baptistic, and he quoted scriptures to show that it was scriptural.
After discussion, in which a number of brethren took part, Dr. C. H. Parrish of Statesboro, Ga., offered a resolution which was read, adopted, and the meeting adjourned. We here give the resolution.
The Vidalia Resolution
"WHEREAS, the doctrine of the use of the preached word as a means in the regeneration of sinners is again being agitated among us, causing great unrest among our brethren in Georgia, and among those associated with us in other states, and grave fears are entertained that our fundamental doctrines are being compromised and that doctrines, time and again rejected by Primitive Baptists, are being fastened upon us as a part of our faith, and WHEREAS, Such teaching among us has always led to strife and ultimate division, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we reaffirm our belief in and loyalty to the time-honored faith of Primitive Baptists, which faith we understand to include the doctrine of eternal, particular and unconditional election--that a definite number of particular persons were, before time, chosen of God unto salvation or eternal life, that this number can not be increased or diminished; that this definite number of particular persons were embraced in the covenant of grace and given to Christ to redeem, and that Christ in his death on the cross died for these and none others, and that their eternal salvation was thus made infallibly secure. And be it further RESOLVED, That as touching the doctrine of regeneration or effectual calling we reaffirm the declaration of our people expressed in 1909, and published in. what is known as "The Cordele Statement," in. which they say, 'Through the gospel the children of God are instructed and fed, strengthened and rebuked, exhorted and corrected; but nowhere does the Bible teach that God uses the gospel as a means of regenerating sinners." And be it further RESOLVED, that we advise, beg and implore our churches to kindly, lovingly and faithfully labor to guard our people against any teaching contrary to this faith, that strife and division may be avoided and the bond of fellowship between our churches may be preserved and strengthened. And be it further RESOLVED, that we here assembled pledge ourselves to one another and to our brethren everywhere to teach and labor to establish these doctrines most firmly in the minds and hearts of our people." It was evident as soon as this resolution was read that it met the approval of the brethren. They recognized it as a clear expression of our faith and they were ready to vote for it. Elder Sikes asked to be excused and did not vote for nor against its adoption.
To the great surprise of all present Elder Screws quickly seconded the motion for its adoption and voted for it. The brethren could but wonder what it all meant. Such a conversion, so sudden and so radical, was unusual. Some were happy, feeling that the matter was permanently adjusted. Many were filled with doubts and fears. But all were willing to wait and see what time would develop. We did not have long to wait. The next issue of the Pilgrim's Messenger carried the same teaching which the brethren had condemned. In October following (Vol. 3, No. 3, page 1) Brother Screws commented on the Resolution as follows:
"In March of the present year, a Council meeting was held at Vidalia, Ga., in which meeting a resolution was adopted, declaring that the Gospel is not 'a means of regeneration.' The adoption of the resolution was seconded by the editor of this paper. There was only one vote against the adoption of the resolution.
That part of the resolution was drawn precisely right. It declares that the gospel is not a means OF regeneration. God guided the hand of the man who wrote it, and caused it to be written so that we could fully endorse it. The gospel is not a means OF regeneration. In order for a thing to be a means OF a thing, it must have within itself some quality that makes it a help in accomplishing that thing.
A man cannot cut down a tree with a sheet of paper, because the paper has no cutting quality. He can cut down a tree with an axe, because the axe has a cutting quality. The axe would be, therefore, a means of cutting down the tree. God, on the other hand, could cut down the tree with a sheet of paper. Would the paper be a means in God's hand OF cutting down the tree? Assuredly not. How could it be, when the paper has no cutting quality?
When God spoke to the dead Tabitha, through the words of Peter, and gave her life, were the words of Peter a means OF giving her life? No, because Peter had no life-giving power. God's power was the means, and the only means.
Man's lack of power is shown in the fact that he cannot accomplish a work through a thing, unless that thing has some quality that makes it a help in accomplishing the work. God's infinite power is shown in the fact that He can work through that which has no quality about it that makes it a help to Him in accomplishing the work.
This power is shown in the bringing of Isaac into the world. Abraham and Sarah were not means in this work, although God worked through them. They could not help God, but God could take a man who was dead in a sexual sense, and a woman who was in the same condition, and produce Isaac, the child of promise. They did not do it. God did it.
This power was shown on the day of Pentecost. Peter, the most cowardly of all the apostles, preached to a mob of murderers. He certainly was not a means OF pricking them in the heart. He could no more do this, than he could give life to the dead Tabitha. God pricked them in the heart, through the words of Peter, and yet Peter's sermon was not a means OF doing this. The words of a man have no such power, but God can speak through the words of a man, and the pricking takes place.
This power is shown in the case of the Philippian jailer. Paul said to him, 'Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.' Was there any life giving power in Paul? Certainly not. Was Paul a means OF regenerating the jailer? He certainly was not. God spoke to him as Paul did, and he came in trembling, a poor mourning sinner, asking, 'What must I do to be saved?'
Many such things are related in the Life and Labors of Wilson Thompson, and yet Elder Thompson took the same position that we have here taken, namely, that the gospel is not a means OF regeneration. And he made the same argument that we have made, which is, that in order for a thing to be a means OF accomplishing a thing, it must have some quality about it that makes it a help in accomplishing that thing. The emphasis is his. I have given it just as it appeared in his paper. We can but wonder why he gave such emphasis to the little preposition "of." He didn't simply put it in italics but in capital letters.
He said God guided the hand of the man who wrote it, and caused it to be written so that he could fully endorse it. Did he mean by that and the emphasis he placed on "of", that if the preposition in had been used instead of the preposition of he could not have endorsed it? His comment on this Resolution is very deceptive. Let the reader compare it with the quotations and teaching given above as taken from his paper.
Every reasonable minded person must say that Elder Screws has misrepresented the Resolution and the brethren who so heartily adopted it. His position here is that God regenerates THROUGH the preacher and the preached word BUT that they are not used as a MEANS. In a recent issue of his paper he says:
"It (the Vidalia Resolution) also declares against saying that the gospel is a means of regeneration. The gospel is not a means of regeneration. Anything to be a means to an end, must have about it some quality that makes it a help in accomplishing the end. The gospel does not help God save sinners--and I have contended all along that it does not. The only means of regeneration is the power of God-and that power is so great, till God regenerates sinners when, where and how, He pleases."
His statement here is calculated to deceive and to throw a burden upon those who have so seriously objected to his teaching. His definition of "means" does not reach the point at issue. A means is an instrument by which, or a medium or channel through which anything is accomplished. While Elder Screws HAS repeatedly and boldly taught that God uses the preached word as a MEANS, as his writings will prove, yet, if he had not, his explanation would not remove in the least the cause for alarm, for he DOES contend that God regenerates THROUGH the ministry and the preached word, and that is the means doctrine.
Means Baptists do NOT contend that the minister and the gospel HELP regenerate sinners. They contend that God regenerates by his own POWER, but that HE regenerates by his power through the medium or agency of THE PREACHED WORD. He says, "the only means of regeneration is the power of God"; but he insists, and so interprets a long line of scriptures, that this POWER reaches and regenerates the sinner "ordinarily" through the preached word.
It appears to us that by his attempt to define the word means he seeks to make it appear to many that he is in harmony with the Cordele Statement and the Vidalia Resolution when it is very clear, and he must know that his teaching is in direct conflict with both.
After spending all this time to show what Gill believed, and so emphatically declaring that one MUST agree with Gill in order to be a Primitive Baptist, Brother Screws now says that GILL WAS WRONG when he said God used Paul and the gospel as means and instrumentalities in regeneration.
And after trying to show that Watson and Thompson and Rowe held the same doctrine; that the old associations believed the same; that the London Confession so taught; that Elders Whatley and Sutton so believe and teach; and that HE (Screws) is in perfect agreement with all of them, and therefore a Primitive Baptist, he now says that ALL these were WRONG in holding the position he has labored so hard to prove they held! He NOW discards and disqualifies ALL his witnesses by declaring they were in error when they insisted that the ministry and the preached word were used by God as a means and instrumentality in the work of regeneration!
He said one had to be in line with Gill in order to be a Primitive Baptist; that he was identical with Gill, therefore he was a Primitive Baptist. NOW he says he is NOT in line with Gill. Therefore, from his argument, we must conclude that he no longer considers himself a Primitive Baptist.
Let it be noticed, however, that Brother Screws doesn't renounce his position in reference to the regeneration of sinners THROUGH the preached word; he simply makes a play on the word "means." Note his expression: "The only means of regeneration is the power of God--and that power is so great, till God regenerates sinners when, where and HOW he pleases." And Brothers Screws and Sikes are trying to educate our people to believe that the HOW is "ordinarily through the preached word." Elder Screws is teaching the SAME identical doctrine, but he seems to have determined (for reasons he probably could explain) to leave off the word "means."
Webster's International is our standard dictionary. In this work we are given the following definitions:
Means-- That through which, or by the help of which, an end is attained; an instrumentality at command for effecting any purpose; medium; instrument.
As medium and instrument are given as synonyms of means we give the definition of these terms:
Medium-- That which lies in the middle, or between other things; that through or by which anything is accomplished, conveyed, or carried on.
Instrument-- That by means of which any work is performed, or result is effected; a tool; a utensil; an implement; one who, or that which, is made a means, or is caused to serve a purpose.
These definitions are so clear that they need no explanation. The idea that God regenerates THROUGH, or by, or with, the ministry and the preached word BUT that, in such cases, the ministry and the preached word serve no purpose in the work and are NOT a means or instrumentality is absurd and a reflection upon the wisdom of God. Primitive Baptist doctrines remain Primitive Baptist doctrines, call them by what name you will; Arminianism remains Arminianism though its advocates may clothe it in a new dress and call it by another name; and when men say that God regenerates by, with, and through the preached word and give to Ac 2:37; 1Co 4:15; 1Pe 1:23-25; Jas 1:18; Eph 2:8 and Eph 5:25-26; 2Th 2:13-14; Joh 6:37-39 and Ac 26:17-18, such an interpretation as to sustain this contention, Primitive Baptists at once recognize it as the MEANS doctrine, irrespective of what its advocates may call it or how loudly they may proclaim their opposition to the term "means."
But let us go back to his comment on the Vidalia Resolution. He says God could cut down a tree with a piece of paper and the paper would not be a. means, because it would have no cutting quality about it. That may be clear to him, but we confess it is not clear to us. How God would cut down a tree WITH a sheet of paper and the paper have no cutting quality about it we cannot understand. In fact, we insist that God himself could not do so. In order for God to cut down the tree with a sheet of paper he would have to GIVE to the paper cutting quality; otherwise God would be cutting down the tree, but not WITH the paper. And the Arminian idea is that God energizes the gospel with the Holy Spirit so that he (God) regenerates THROUGH or WITH the gospel.
His reference to Abraham is misleading. If it was as Brother Screws here explains it, then Isaac was not Abraham's son, but the Son of God as Jesus was. I don't think Elder Screws will have that after he carefully considers it. It IS true that Isaac was the child of promise and that without God's special blessing he would not and could not have been born; but that Abraham and Sarah had nothing to do with his begetting and birth is certainly beyond the mark. The Bible says "Abraham begat Isaac." God did not beget him--Abraham did. God caused Abraham and Sarah to be fruitful and Isaac was born just like any other child, and Abraham and Sarah were the means through which he was born.
After all his declarations that he does not believe that the gospel is a means OF regeneration he time and again in this explanation asserts the means doctrine by saying that it is THROUGH the preacher and the preached word that God regenerates or quickens the dead. If God quickens or regenerates THROUGH the preacher and the preached word, they are MEANS or INSTRUMENTALITIES' in that work.
Suppose we attach the hose pipe to the hydrant with the object of watering our flower garden. Now, the hose pipe has no power within itself to get the water to the plants. Nor does it have any "wetting quality." The water is forced THROUGH the pipe and the water (not the hose pipe) wets the flowers. But the hose pipe is the medium or means through which the water moistened the flowers. And if God has the Holy Spirit to reach sinners THROUGH the preacher and the preached word, they are means in the work. But why quibble over the definition, of the term?
If Dr. Gill was right in his Commentary; if Dr. Watson was right in his Old Baptist Test if Wilson Thompson taught what Elder Screws said he did; if the Kehukee Association believed and taught as Brother Screws has represented; if the London Confession teaches as he insists that it does; if ALL Baptists until the last century or so believed as he has told us they did; if the Pence-Burnam faction were right and we were wrong; if 1Co 4:15; 2Th 2:13-14; Jas 1:18; Ac 26:15-18; 1Pe 1:23-25; Joh 17:20; Ac 2:37; 2Co 3:3 and Eph 5:25-26 all refer to regeneration or the new birth and the gospel as that THROUGH which it was done, we may emphasize the preposition OF, talk about Isaac, and discourse on the cutting qualities of paper all we please, it still will remain true that our people have been woefully ignorant and deluded and deserve the pity and censure of the world; and we owe the Pence-Burnam faction and our Missionary brethren an apology; and we ought to take down all fences and mix and mingle and feed in the same pasture.
And it will do no good to loudly proclaim our soundness on certain doctrines of our faith until this doctrine is renounced and the interpretation of all these scriptures is in harmony with our recognized faith. Affirmations amount to little while on the opposite page there is a flat denial. Elder Sikes published a pamphlet in November 1920, which our brethren well remember; many of you have our review of it. In that pamphlet he denied the recognized faith of our people on most every fundamental. He made election meaningless to Primitive Baptists, and remodeled the doctrine of the atonement along the line of Fuller. Elder Screws endorsed that pamphlet. "Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world" as explained by them mean nothing from a Primitive Baptist standpoint. Elder Screws states that this pamphlet of Sikes' converted him from the faith of his early ministry which was so acceptable to our people. And we know, from our own personal knowledge, that they have thus converted others since. The question is, Shall these seed they have sown be rooted up, or shall we all remain quiet and allow them to mature and scatter until the entire field has been infested?
We here give a quotation from that pamphlet: ''If the atonement of Christ is the only medium through which God can save sinners, and if the atonement has been definitely fixed on certain individuals from the beginning of time, and all others are as definitely excluded from its virtue, then there is certainly no place whatever left for prayer. * * I thank God I have been enabled to interpret the scriptures without accepting this view of the atonement. * * * The theory that the atonement has already bit you or missed you, so that you are eternally saved if it hit, or everlastingly doomed if it missed you does not appeal to me. Note that the word giveth (in Joh 6:39-40) is not in the past tense. There is a sense in which God, the Father, is giving day by day, convicted sinners to Christ to be healed. * * * All believers were given to Christ in the covenant of grace. * * * But who is given? Not a black-eyed boy or blue-eyed girl, * * * but the person who is given is here explained as the one who seeth the Son and believeth on him." The reader will see by this that Elder Screws got his interpretation of Joh 6:39-40 from Elder Sikes. And you can easily see what sort of "particular" election and "special" atonement they believe in. The covenant of grace and the atonement, according to them, includes only BELIEVERS. No certain person was chosen--just all who would afterwards believe. And since the atonement was for no CERTAIN persons, but for those who would believe, the atonement must have been as Fuller said, "sufficient for all," but "efficient only for believers."
They say they believe in election as firmly as any man, and that ALL the elect will be saved in spite of all the powers that may oppose. That sounds good. And they say they believe that everyone for whom Christ died will be saved. That sounds good. BUT they then explain that the elect, and those for whom Christ died, are BELIEVERS.
Turn back and read Elder Screws' interpretation of this text and you will see that he states that ALL the elect who were to be given to Christ, as above explained, were those who should believe on Christ through the word preached. True, they try to explain that this belief is as much the gift of God as eternal life; but we know that the Bible teaches that men believe through the gospel (Ro 10); and they time and again cite us to this scripture to show how faith comes; and if this be true, deny as they may, salvation is confined to the scope of the gospel.
Let us note another quotation from Elder Sikes' pamphlet: "Let us never say that a person was a living child before faith was given, or before he repented, or before he loved God and his cause." This places faith, repentance and love BEFORE regeneration or eternal life.
There can be no compromise on this point. They are either before regeneration, or they come AFTER regeneration as evidences of life and as fruits of the Spirit. The latter is the position of Primitive Baptists, and if that position be true, then, men are "living" children of God BEFORE faith, repentance and love.
One more quotation:
"These and many other scriptures show that these unbelieving Jews, who were broken off for their unbelief, were denied eternal salvation, for their failure to be faithful and responsive to their opportunities with which God had blessed them in Adam and in Abraham and in Moses. Now, to sum up these scripture investigations, we will first ask: if it does not appear from this testimony that God hath respect to the obedience and faithfulness of his creatures who serve him in the natural and legal relations, and that this respect, or kind consideration, sometimes moves him to bestow a gift of mercy upon them, EVEN ETERNAL LIFE."
According to this last quotation, the number of the elect and the number for whom Christ's blood is an atonement, depends on the faithfulness of God's creatures who serve him in the natural and legal relations. Therefore, the number of the elect and the number embraced in the atonement is uncertain. And, according to this quotation, eternal salvation, in some cases at least, is conditional. It was Elder Sikes' pamphlet that laid the foundation for this means doctrine. We were cautioned then to be quiet. Had our people at that time expressed themselves in no uncertain way and let it be known that they did not intend to tolerate such teaching, we would not have had the crop we have upon our hands today.
We do not want to make a brother an offender for a word. We do not want to be so extreme as to demand the same interpretation or application of every text of scripture. But when brethren so publicly, so boldly, so emphatically, and so continually TEACH among us such error as we have here pointed out surely you must agree that there is cause for offence and for alarm, and that there is urgent need for our ministers to throw themselves into the breach and boldly teach and fearlessly defend the faith so dear to the hearts of our people.
Written by W.H. Crouse
MEANS OR ANTI-MEANS---WHICH?
Dr. John Gill, when he wrote his commentary of the Bible, held to the doctrine of gospel regeneration--that God regenerates His elect through the means or instrumentality of the preached word. After careful investigation we feel sure his interpretation of certain scriptures relative to the gospel and regeneration will admit of no other construction.
In every effort that has been made to reform our faith Dr. Gill's Commentary has been used against us to prove that American Primitive Baptists have departed from old time Baptist faith and have therefore ceased to be the "original" Baptists. If it were necessary for us to accept all interpretations given by Dr. Gill in his commentary in order for us to be "original' or Primitive Baptists, there might be some merit in the contention of our adversaries. But the faith of Primitive Baptists of America does not rest upon the belief of Dr. Gill. And the fact that our opponents are always driven to his commentary for proof is evidence that American Primitive Baptists have NOT held the idea of the gospel as a means, or that sinners are regenerated by, with, or through the preached word.
We should be very careful in writing about the dead. They are not here to defend or explain and we should not give their writings a strained interpretation in an effort to prove our position. We observe, however, that later, after years of careful study, and after observing the results and outgrowth of his former position, that he wrote quite differently and indicated that he had undergone a change. In his Body of divinity, which was his last work, written a number of years later than his commentary, he says:
"This instrumentality of the word in regeneration seems not so agreeable to the principle of grace implanted in the soul in regeneration and to be understood in respect to that, since it is done by immediate infusion and is represented as a creation; and now as God made no use of any instrument in the first and old creation, so neither does it seem so agreeable that he should use any in. the new creation; wherefore, this is rather to be understood of the EXTERIOR of the principle of grace and the drawing it forth into act and exercise, which is excited and encouraged by the ministry of the word by which it appears that a man is born again. So the three thousand first converts and the jailor were FIRST regenerated, or had the principle of grace wrought in their souls by the Spirit of God, and then were directed and encouraged by the ministry of the Apostles to repent and believe in Christ; whereby it becomes manifest that they were born again." Volume 2, page 844.
In his Cause of God and Truth, page 180, Dr. Gill says: "There is want of spiritual consideration and attention in every man, until God opens his heart, by his powerful grace, as he did Lydia's, to attend to the things which are spoken, or which regard his spiritual and eternal welfare. The parable of the seed sown shows that the hearts of unregenerate men are unfit and unprepared to receive the word, and therefore, it becomes unfruitful to them. And that it is only fruitful where it is received in an honest and good heart, made so by the Spirit and grace of God in regeneration; whence it follows, that regeneration is rather a preparation for the right hearing of the word than the hearing of the word is a preparation for regeneration."
Dr. Gill here stated our position exactly. They indicate to my mind that discovering the legitimate results of his former position he forsook that position and took a stand for the faith expressed at Fulton, in the Cordele Statement, and in the Vidahia Resolution. The reader can form his own conclusions.
That some of our ministers in Georgia have given up the recognized faith of Primitive Baptists to embrace the doctrine Gill forsook cannot be successfully denied.
Elder John V. Kirkland was a great and good preacher, though he left us and went to another denomination. He insisted that God does NOT use the gospel in regenerating sinners and that regeneration always precedes faith. If the reader does not have a file of the Apostolic Herald, let him turn to page 42 of Volume 14 of The Pilgrim's Banner, if he has that, and read his reply to Dodd of the Baptist Banner.
In the division of the White Water Association in Indiana many years ago one party held that God uses the gospel in the regeneration of sinners. The other party held that God regenerates sinners independent of the gospel--that this work is always done without the preached word. The first party was known as ''means," the other as "anti-means." Elder Wilson Thompson led the anti-means party, insisting that God regenerates of himself, by the Holy Spirit, without any other means or instrument. See Autobiography of Elder Wilson Thompson, page 447. Wilson Thompson was probably the greatest gift we have ever had in America.
In October 1923, one of our editors (Elder Screws) wrote of Elder Thompson as follows:
"He certainly taught that God uses the preached word in the regeneration of sinners." Elder J. Marshall Thomas is a grandson of Wilson Thompson. He wrote the editor, denying and resenting that statement and demanding its retraction.
Instead of retracting, we find in December following the following statement: "We are quoting from Elder Thompson in this issue to show that we did NOT misrepresent matters." In the quotations he gave from Elder Thompson there is not a single word that could be construed to teach that he held that God uses the gospel in the regeneration of sinners. Not one. In the trial over church property at Rushville, Ind., following the division in the association, to which we have referred above; Elder Thompson was a witness. I have the stenographic record of that case. The following quotation is taken from page 29:
"Wilson Thompson having been sworn and flow interrogated, says: * * * No one point has been more universally subscribed to than the universal corruption of the human species. There can be no means used until they are brought to life. As soon as life is in them, then means may be used; God never appointed any means-Scriptures or anything else-until they are made alive. The Scriptures and the preached word are intended for living men alone. The Bible and the preached word are the means by which God works on men AFTER they are made alive. It is NOT for the purpose of awakening dead sinners--not to give life."
This testimony was given in the year 1845. It rings true to our faith. It cannot be misunderstood. It is exactly what Primitive Baptists have ever believed and taught. We have in our library his book, Triumphs of Truth, written one hundred years ago (1825) in which he stands as a mighty warrior battling for the same truth we are presenting in these chapters.
Our people very generally know of Elder Wilson Thompson as one of our greatest representatives. Very few of our brethren have any of his writings.
We doubt if another copy of his testimony can be found in Georgia. We do not want to be unkind, hut we cannot view it a light crime against Elder Thompson and against Primitive Baptists for anyone to teach our unsuspecting brethren (and so openly and emphatically) that this great minister was a "means" Baptist. And we conclude that such a representation of him is for the express purpose of removing from the minds of our brethren all prejudice against the "means" doctrine. For certainly many will conclude that if such a great and recognized leader and teacher among us believed and TAUGHT that God regenerates sinners by, with, and through the preached word and died in our love and fellowship, then it should be no offence for others to so TEACH now. And thus the gate is left ajar for the entrance of error. In this way they plead for "toleration." And many good, faithful, and unsuspecting brethren who love peace and tremble at the thought of division insist upon such toleration, seeming not to realize that all the while such teaching is being tolerated the seed of error is taking root which must at last end as it did in the White Water Association.
It seemed no great crime for Absalom to sit beside the gate, but his beauty and fair speech stole the hearts of the young men of Israel.
In that trial, under oath, Elder Thompson also said: "Doctor Gill's Commentaries on the Testament is like other works; on some points he is good and on others as corrupt as any. His works have never been adopted by Baptists."
In this trial Elder John Sparks, leader of the "means" party, testified as follows: "The point of doctrine on which the party split, and the difference between them, I understand is this: our belief is that God does use his means, the word and gospel, as his instruments in his own way for the saving of sinners, by and through the direct influence of the Holy Spirit; that word itself is ineffectual unless accompanied by the Spirit. Anti-Means believe that God exercises and uses means in every way except for the regeneration of dead sinners, and in no instance does God use his external agents to make alive the dead sinner." Page 14.
Kindly and brotherly, and with no intention to offend, I ask my readers, is not this the issue that confronts us today? Was this not the exact issue which caused brethren to suggest the Vidalia meeting? And yet, momentous as was the issue, it was beclouded and belittled, and good and faithful brethren left that meeting bewildered, and many deceived. And those who undertook to clearly present the issue were frowned upon by many and classed as egotists and disturbers who, because of prejudice and jealousy, sought the lives of others.
We assume the fullest responsibility for these articles. If we make a mistake, it is of the head and not of the heart. In the above division my people stood by Elder Wilson Thompson in his contention upon this point. Nettle Creek Church was willing to be cast out of the association rather than tolerate this "means" doctrine. We stand where father stood and insist that Elder Wilson Thompson correctly represented Primitive Baptists and the teaching of God's holy word. That the Thompson faction made mistakes we have no doubt; but that they were in error on this issue, NEVER!
Elder Grigg M. Thompson (son of Wilson Thompson) was one of the most eloquent speakers and ablest debaters we have ever had. In many discussions with men of other religious orders he successfully defended our position and merited the esteem and commendation of our brotherhood everywhere.
Elder John A. Thompson (son of Wilson Thompson) [Editor's Note : Actually, he was the grandson of Wilson Thompson. Elder Crouse made a common mistake-- DM] in his memorable debate with Benjamin Franklin (Campbellites) at Reynoldsburg, Ohio, in the year 1874, affirmed the following proposition:
"The quickening of the sinner by the Spirit of God into new life, or eternal life, is independent of the written word or scriptures."
Please note the wording of this proposition. It leaves no ground to quibble or evade. With the exception of Alexander Campbell, the Campbellites have never had an abler debater than Franklin. He was a finished scholar and an eloquent and forceful speaker. He had had a score of public debates with the ablest men of the different denominations. The fact that our people selected Elder Thompson to represent us against Franklin is evidence enough of their opinion of him as a representative man. We ask you to note carefully, and with open mind, the following quotations from their addresses:
Franklin (the Campbellite): "That God quickens the sinner into new life I never entertained any doubt, and certainly am not here to dispute. Had my worthy friend simply proposed to prove that God does this work he would have had no debate with me. This is NOT what he is here to prove nor what I deny; nor need he quote scripture to prove that he does this by Christ, for I do not deny this, nor that he does it by the Holy Spirit. All this I hold as confidently as he, and all the scriptures that prove this I receive at their full value. There is no issue at all between us here. I believe that God quickens the sinner into new life-that he does it by Christ, by the Spirit and by his grace. On this he need expend no more labor. But the precise point for him to prove is that he does it without the word, the written word, the Scriptures." -Pages 98 and 99.
Had we not put Franklin's name to this, our readers might have thought it had been written by some of our brethren in Georgia. This is their language precisely in trying to prove their soundness in the faith. And they tell us in plain words that this is ALL that is required to be sound in the faith on the doctrine of regeneration. And they virtually brand Elder Thompson and the host of Primitives be represented in that discussion as ignorant and worthy of being ''put to confusion" for not giving to Franklin the right hand of fellowship on this issue. Thompson and those he represented, according to our Georgia "means" brethren, were "modern" Baptists and not Primitive.
And, strange to say, there are good brethren who fly to the defense of our erring brethren and insist that this is NOT heresy among Primitive Baptists for the express reason that they insist that it is GOD that regenerates.
This is not, and never has been, the issue. The issue is as to HOW God regenerates. Does Ho do it himself, independent of the ministry and the preached word, or does HE do it through the gospel? But notice what OUR representative said:
Thompson: "There is not one text in the entire Bible that attributes the quickening of sinners, directly or remotely, to the written word, * * * (1Co 1:18-24.) The gospel is the power of God and the wisdom of God to them who are saved only. But sinners in a state of death in sins are not saved, but lost; therefore the preaching of the cross of Christ is not the power of God to them. The calling here referred to is distinct from the preaching, and instead of being dependent on the preaching, the effect of the preaching depends on their being saved and called. This salvation or calling is from death to life, and is emphatically attributed to the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus, our Lord, from the dead. Ro 8:11; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13. It is just as distinct from preaching or the written scriptures as the resurrection of the dead. But my friend has got around to the often-told theme (told now by Elders Sikes and Screws. -Crouse.) of the Corinthians being begotten by Paul through the gospel. And James says: God hath of his own will begotten us with the word of truth. But what does James or Paul say about the written word quickening the dead sinner into new life or eternal life? Paul did not claim to be their father in the sense of giving them spiritual being; but in the gathering of them into the visible Church he was a father to them. Through the gospel he begat them to many precious privileges; but he who quickened them into eternal life was far above Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas-even the Lord from heaven, a quickening Spirit. * * * Mr. Franklin has searched in vain to find some favoring term to connect the written word or Scripture with the quickening of the sinner into new life, or eternal life; he has found no such term in the word of God, for which reason he fails in his negative on this proposition. The nearest terms he has found are 'begotten,' 'convert,' 'power of God unto salvation to the believer,' and like expressions applied to the word preached to living subjects, which I believe just as much as be does, notwithstanding he says that I do not. I love to believe God's written word is a means in every connection stated in God's word. But when I am asked to believe that it is a means used to quicken sinners into new life, or eternal life, I must decline doing so until some proof from the word of God is adduced, declaring such doctrine to be true. I ask Mr. Franklin, as a gentleman, to take back the unkind remark that I do not believe that God does anything by means. God uses means and mediums in all his gracious works, and the means used in quickening sinners into new life, or eternal life, is the Son of God, by the Spirit."-Pages 116, 129, 155.
This debate was held fifty years ago. It was largely attended. It was published, and thousands of copies scattered throughout the United States. Every true Primitive, who is so fortunate as to have a copy of it, considers it a valuable addition to his library. My father turned his copy over to me. In that discussion Elder Thompson correctly represented the Primitive Baptists of the United States. He defended the doctrine my father believed; the doctrine Nettle Creek church held when we joined them, and the doctrine they hold still; the doctrine the presbytery held that ordained me; it is the doctrine my people have a right to expect me to defend. We propose to do it with such power as God may give us. And any fair-minded Primitive must see that Elders of our body are asking too much when they beg us, for the sake of peace, to repudiate John A. Thompson, condemn his work, and dub him and all he represented as unscriptural in faith and as "modern" Baptists. To this we will not agree. On account of the "progression" of some, we may never enjoy the full fellowship of our brethren everywhere, but we are determined, by the help of God, that no such repudiation of Primitive Baptist faith shall ever be charged to us.
Twenty-one years before this debate was held Elder Joel Hume held a public discussion with this same Mr. Franklin. That was in 1853. It was held at Matthew Vernon, Ind. In that debate Elder Hume taught and defended the same truth.
Elder Lemuel Potter, often in public discussion represented Primitive Baptists in defense of this same doctrine. When the church at Luray, Va., divided over this "means" question, Elder Potter went to the defense of our brethren and met Elder Pence in a public discussion there, and this was the bone of contention-Pence insisting that God used the gospel in regenerating sinners; Potter denying that God ever uses the gospel in that work. Many of our brethren well remember the eloquence, the fire, the earnestness and the power of Lem Potter in defending our faith and in combating the idea that God EVER uses the gospel in regenerating sinners.
The discussion at Luray, Va., was held in 1890. The propositions were as follows:
I. The Scriptures teach that God uses the gospel as a means to regenerate sinners.--Pence affirmed; Potter denied.
II. The Scriptures each in all cases the regeneration of souls without the gospel.- Potter affirmed; Pence denied.
You cannot mistake what Elder Potter understood Primitive Baptist doctrine to be and what he believed the Bible to teach.
In the lawsuit over the church property E. H. Burnam, the leader of the "means" faction, testified on oath as follows:
"And now I will state what our people have always understood by means. Not that a man or all mankind, or all the angels of God and men combined, could ever regenerate one, but that God, as our fathers taught, spoke through the gospel by his Holy Spirit in the preaching of the word at his pleasure to the regeneration of men. I was asked the question by Dr Purifoy in 1889 at Robertson River Church, whether he understood me as saying that those men on the day of Pentecost were regenerated through Peter's preaching and I said, 'Sir, you heard me say that God's Holy Spirit regenerated those men through the gospel which Peter preached.' I there declared the faith of our people, as it has always been understood. It is God who regenerates, and God alone, and through the gospel." The court gave the property to our people, declaring that the Pence-Burnam faction had departed from the old-time faith.
During the discussion of this question in the days of the division, the Pence-Burnam people insisted that they stood for original faith and that we had forsaken the old time faith. They claimed to be THE "regular" or "original" Baptists while we were "modern" Baptists. They insisted that God does the regenerating, but that the gospel is the vehicle upon which the Holy Spirit reaches the sinner. Elder Bradley, one of their preachers, in his testimony in court (over church property) gave this illustration: "God is a hunter. The gun represents the preacher; the gospel the powder; the bullet the Spirit; the sinner the game."
(We give our gospel regeneration brethren this illustration, but we trust they will never use it.) Of course they argued that God does the killing. And HE kills with the Spirit. But a hunter wouldn't get much game without "powder." It takes the gun and the powder for the bullet to get in its work. So, we would have to conclude, that as the gun and powder are essential in order to kill game "with the bullet," so sinners are not saved in the absence of the preacher and the gospel. Therefore, no eternal salvation except men hear the gospel. That's where every man MUST land who takes a position in favor of regeneration through or by the gospel. He can't escape it, strive as he may to avoid it.
Let me quote one of our Georgia brethren again: "Saved through faith, NOT to the exclusion of faith; and this faith is given THROUGH THE PREACHED WORD."
That's exactly what Bradley said. The game was killed by the bullet, through the gun, NOT to the exclusion of the gun; and the gun was made effective through the powder.
Bradley's illustration will exactly fit the position of our Georgia brethren, unless perhaps we should add that, notwithstanding they say sinners are NOT saved to the exclusion of faith through the preached word, yet the hunter in EXCEPTIONAL cases kills game without any gun, powder, or bullet. And, probably, we should add, that in case he uses a club, stone or cord they are not to be considered as a ''means''!
Elder Rufus Reed, in conversation with Elder E. W. Thomas, used the following illustration:
"Regeneration is correctly represented by a man boring a hole with an auger. The man represents God; the auger the preacher and the gospel; the hole bored, the sinner saved."
Since the man couldn't bore the hole without the auger, we would have to conclude that sinners can't be saved without the preacher and the gospel. See? You can't escape that conclusion once you take the position that God uses the preacher and the gospel in this work. The way to use that illustration would be to make the man represent God and the auger the Holy Spirit and leave the preacher and the gospel entirely out of it.
Elder John R. Daily was recognized everywhere as one of the ablest debaters we have ever had. He knew our doctrine and was able to defend it against all corners. He had many public discussions and by all his opponents was recognized as a foe worthy of their steel. In 1894 he debated with a Mr. Weatherford, of the Campbellite denomination. Weatherford affirmed and Daily denied the following proposition: "The Scriptures teach that God uses the preaching of the gospel as a means in the regeneration of sinners." Weatherford quit before the debate was half over and a Mr. Johnson took his place. It was a great victory for our people.
Brother Daily had a debate in 1895 with a Mr. Williams of the Campbellites. This was where the writer was fully converted (not regenerated) to old Baptist faith. Their first proposition read as follows: "The Bible teaches that sinners are regenerated by means of the gospel-the spoken or written word." Williams affirmed and Daily denied. Another GREAT victory for Primitives. After Elder Todd left us and went to the Missionary Baptists, carrying with him a number of our young ministers, there was a sharp contention which finally led to a public discussion at Ewing, Ill., in the year 1912. The Missionaries selected their strongest man, W. P. Throgmorton, to represent them; Primitives selected Elder Daily to represent them. This discussion continued four days. In this discussion Throgmorton affirmed and Daily denied the following proposition: "The Scriptures teach that God employs the Preaching of the gospel as a means in the regeneration of sinners."
In defending his proposition Throgmorton said: "Isaiah faith the work of the sinner? No, sir. 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." -Joh 6:29. The question before us is not a question as to what God's power is. It is a question as to what God's method is. God could make the giant oak of the first without an acorn. But that is not the method he employs. He employs the acorn. And he as truly makes the oak when he employs the acorn as he made the first oak that was without an acorn. So our question is not whether God regenerates sinners! That is in my affirmation; I say in it that God regenerates sinners. We both agree that he does. But my affirmative is that, in doing it, he uses the: preaching of the gospel. That is not ruling God out. God is in, and God does the work! And we are both agreed to this. The ONE question is: Does God, in regenerating sinners, employ the preaching of the gospel as a. means? * * * That is what I have to prove and that is what I am going to prove. ** * Our question is not whether salvation is conditional or unconditional; our question is just one thing: whether God employs preaching in the regeneration of sinners! * * * Another preliminary remark I desire to give you. This remark is that in denying my proposition Brother Daily is out of harmony with the Old Baptist Faith. Do you get that? In denying my proposition Brother Daily is out of harmony with the Old Baptist Faith! He sets himself squarely against the Old Baptist Confession of Faith. If he shows that I am wrong in this discussion, he will show that the Old Confession of the Seven Churches in London, of 1644, was wrong. He will show that the Somerset Confession (1656) was wrong. He will show that the Old London Confession of 1689, of which his people have boasted so much, is wrong. If he shows that my proposition is wrong, goodbye to the doctrine of the old Baptists. I am here to defend the Old Baptist Faith, as to what is involved in this discussion. Brother Daily is here to oppose it, and to overthrow it, if he can! Will you 'Old School' Baptists follow him in this?"
That was what Throgmorton, the Missionary champion, said in opposing Primitive Baptists in public discussion thirteen years ago. The preacherswho now try to fasten this doctrine of gospel regeneration on us say EXACTLY the same thing. One would think they have borrowed their language from Throgmorton.
Throgmorton said further: "God employs the word of God in producing faith. By this faith men are saved, have life, are purified, are regenerated. (Eph 2:8) 'By grace are ye saved through faith.' Not BEFORE faith. Not WITHOUT faith, but by faith. And how does faith come? 'Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.'"
We have read just that, too, in the writings of some preacher besides Elder Throgmorton. I gather the following from Brother Daily's reply:"This proposition was worded by my opponent. He would not consent to have the word necessary in it. In our correspondence, he insisted that no Missionary Baptist, no representative Missionary Baptist, had ever taken the position that the preaching of the gospel is really necessary in the regeneration of sinners, and so would not have the word necessary in the proposition." (Another similarity.-C.)
In one of his speeches Throgmorton said: "Now, Brother, come up to the trough and lick salt. It is NOT the preacher that gives the life. It is God. And HE gives it by MEANS of preaching."
In another speech he said: "The truth is Brother Daily limits God's power. He holds that God CANNOT use the preaching of the gospel on a dead sinner. He thinks God CANNOT use it in the regeneration of sinners. We say he can and does."
We are quoting these passages from Throgmorton to show our brethren that when Elders among us say that ALL it takes to constitute us sound Primitive Baptists on this fundamental of our faith is to believe THAT GOD REGENERATES-no matter what means is employed, they are either ignorant of Primitive Baptist faith or deliberately try to deceive. The point at issue is NOT as to whether or not God regenerates sinners, but HOW does he do it.
Elders Sikes and Screws agree with Throgmorton that God ordinarily does this work through the gospel. Primitive Baptists have ALWAYS held that God NEVER employs the gospel in the regeneration of sinners.
In 1907 Elder C. H. Cayce represented our people in a public discussion with I. N. Penick (Missionary Baptist). Elder Cayce affirmed that "The Scriptures teach that sinners are regenerated, or born again, independently of, or without, the gospel as a means," and Penick affirmed that "The Scriptures teach that in regeneration, oil the new birth, the Lord uses the gospel as a means." I do not think I have ever read a clearer presentation or abler defense of Primitive Baptist faith than was done by Elder Cayce in this discussion. It is to be regretted that the edition of this published discussion is exhausted. It ought to be in every Primitive Baptist home.
In this discussion, Penick said:
"Now, notice. The Lord is to regenerate a soul. He is to do the work. He is the efficient great cause. He is the one that is to bring it about. The question is, Does He use HIS word as a means in that work, or not? My opponent says that he does not. I insist that God has arranged and planned it all as he pleases, and that it has been his purpose to use his word, not my word, your word, but HIS word. * * * Possibly I might use a simple illustration. With respect to the new covenant: suppose I take a fountain pen here. Here is ink in it. * * * Here is Christ, the writer; here is Paul, the pen; here is the heart, the paper; and the Spirit is the ink. Now, the means is brought in contact. The means don't save by itself. The Spirit is brought in contact; there is CONTACT of both. There is God's word, there is God's minister, and there is God's Spirit. When a man denies that the means is used, or when he denies that the Spirit is used, we are there to say that both the Spirit and the word comes into contact with the heart." I suppose Elders Screws and Sikes would have urged Elder Cayce and our brethren to be "calm," that there was nothing in Penick's position to get scared at or to fuss over.
We give space for Elder Cayce's reply to this illustration:
Cayce: "He makes an argument on the fountain pen, and quotes 2Co 3:3: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart * * * Remember the pen is the preacher. Look out now! Ex 31:18, 'And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the FINGER of God.' There is the law, written on tables of stone, on Mount Sinai, written with the finger of God. De 9:10, 'And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount.' De 10:4, 'And HE wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount * * * and the Lord gave them unto me.' Now, Tit 3:3 'For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly--through Elder Penick? NO! 'THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.' If language means anything, God the Father is represented by the penman, Jesus Christ is represented by the pen, and the Holy Spirit is represented by the ink. Thus the three-one God is engaged in the salvation of sinners, saving them from the ruinous consequences of sin, and giving them a home at the Father's right hand. 2Ti 1:8-11,----'who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.' According to Brother Penick's argument, as I see it, life is brought through the gospel; but the life and immortality are brought TO LIGHT through the gospel. Nothing can be brought to light that does not exist already. If the life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel, the life and immortality exist in. the character before the gospel brings it to light. Now, as to 2Co 3:3: Just as the law was written on mount Sinai on tables of stone. BY THE FINGER OF GOD, so God's law is written in the heart, on fleshy tables of the heart, WITH THE FINGER OF GOI). So, then, whenever you say God uses you in this work, you say, by that, that you are the finger of God. And as there are so many of your brethren among the Missionary Baptists who propose to do the same work, tell us, How many fingers does God possess?" Thousands of our brethren heard and have read that discussion. It was published in book form and the demand was so great that the issue was soon exhausted. It met with universal praise and commendation from Primitive Baptists. That debate was held in July 1907. And God now has a few fingers among our brethren in Georgia!
Elder John Clark, a recognized leader among Primitive Baptists, for years editor of Zion's Advocate (afterwards edited by T. S. Dalton, C. H. Waters, John R. Daily, and now by R. H. Pittman) in an editorial on this subject in June 1858, said:
"We can conceive how agencies and instrumentalities can be employed in ministering to the living, but what place they can have in giving life, we cannot so readily conceive. * * * Is it scripturally true that God uses instrumentality in quickening, or giving life, to sinners dead in trespasses and sins. The burden of proof, we know, rests upon these who affirm this, but let us see a moment what saith the revelation of God upon the subject. * * * (Joh 5:21,25; Ro 4:17; 2Co 3:6; Eph 2:4-5,10; Col 2:13; 1Ti 6:13; Heb 4:12.) This array of scriptural testimony is sufficient, we should think, to establish the proposition that God quickens the sinner independent of means."
In a letter written in the year 1908, just a month before his death, and published in Zion's Advocate, Elder J. H. Purifoy said: "For a few years after I left the New School Baptists I was very much unsettled on the means question. Like a man walking through a mud hole,some of the mud will cling to him as he comes out of it, but when I investigated that point thoroughly In the light of the Scriptures I became fully convinced that God does not use the preached word to quicken sinners and make them alive from death in trespasses and sin. 'You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sin.' How? Through the preacher? Nay, verily. It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profiteth nothing. Is not God the father of his children spiritually as the natural man is the father of his children naturally?"
Elder S. A. Paine, of Texas, who many times successfully represented us in public discussion, in his book entitled Campbellism; A Religious Deformity, says:
"I will now prove that the salvation, which is by the faith of the creature, is not regeneration, but a salvation of those already born of God. We refer you first to Ro 1:16, 'I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.' Who, then, is a believer? As we have before proven, they are born of God, justified, etc. Then the gospel 'saves' those who are born of God. It does not born them. The question is often asked; if they are already born how and in what way does the gospel save them? The gospel is to God's children what your father's teachings; corrections and reproofs are to you.
There is a practical or gospel faith that no one can have without the gospel. See Ro 10. 'How can they believe on him of whom they have not heard, and how can they hear without a preacher?' This is the message that Cornelius needed AFTER that God had cleansed and justified him. It was by Peter's mouth that the Gentiles were to hear the gospel and believe. Ac 15:7. It was not by the message of Peter's mouth that the Gentiles were to be cleansed or justified, but to believe. Men believe only as they have been given ability. God gives ability in regeneration to believe the gospel. See 1Co 3:5. This shows that God gives the ability before the gospel will make a believer. The sinner being saved by grace is enabled to then believe in Christ and rejoice in the salvation so graciously bestowed."
Elder J. H. Oliphant has probably written more for publication than any other minister we have had in America. His writings have been very acceptable to our people and his soundness in the recognized faith of Primitive Baptists has never been questioned. In his book Regeneration, he says:
"The reader will see that I have taken the view that the Bible was never intended by its Author as a weans or instrument through which eternal life is given. These acts are evidences that we are the children of God. A man may have this Spirit, and never have opportunity to see its fruits, but still he would be a child of God. Fruit has simply nothing to do in producing the tree. The tree may he good, and we never see any of its fruit. The question how long a man's nature may be changed before he manifests that change to others does not touch the point at issue. The Spirit must be in men first. 'Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ IS born of God.' In the order of nature the birth is first, and let the interval be long or short, the birth is antecedent to believing. A man may be of God, and never have an opportunity to hear on earth, and yet he would be of God. The act of believing is evidence of life, and nothing more. Life precedes any impression made by the word, and it is the cause of its favorable reception. Hearing and believing are not the cause of passing from death to life, but the evidence of it; passing from death unto life is first. This life may be in men, idiots, and heathens, who may never have opportunity to manifest it; yet to heaven they will go."
This was sound Primitive Baptist doctrine, and unless I am very much deceived, it will still pass as "legal tender" among our brethren in Georgia.
Writing us under date of March 17th, 1924, Elder Sylvester Hassell says:
"So far as I know, the Kehukee Association never entertained or endorsed the doctrine that God sometimes uses the preached gospel in regenerating sinners. * * Man, not regenerated by God's Spirit, may have a natural conviction of sin and conversion (a turning from their outward evil conduct). In my time I never knew one of our ministers or members to believe or maintain that the preaching of any man is a means of regeneration; nor do I suppose that in 1778 any minister or member of the Kehukee Association held that the Holy Spirit comes through the human preacher to quicken into life a person who is dead in sin. He may regenerate a sinner while a minister is preaching, but He does so by His own direct operation in the sinner's heart or spirit. True conviction and conversion are the effects of immediate Divine regeneration."
Under date of November 21st, 1923, Elder C.H. Cayce writes me:
"I do not think that the London Confession teaches that the Lord uses the gospel as a. means in regeneration, but to the contrary, that the gospel call is not sufficient to that end. Regeneration is by the direct and immediate work of the Spirit always. Life is never given through a medium."
Elder E. W. Thomas writes me as follows:
"It seems strange that after the subject of the gospel as a means through which God regenerates sinners has been so thoroughly discussed by our people the past thirty years, any one should now have the effrontery to say it was Baptist doctrine. If any question can be settled, it surely is settled, that Primitive Baptists believe that in the regeneration of sinners God acts independent of all means and instrumentalities. To say that God sometimes uses the gospel as a means, I think, is begging the question and trying to hide from the real issue and putting up a camouflage for protection. I would utterly be at a loss to know what scripture to quote to prove that God sometimes regenerates through the gospel. I fear this is only a subterfuge and not the sincere faith of its advocates. This question was agitated among Primitive Baptists at the time I begun preaching. The division in the Danville (Indiana) association in 1890 was caused chiefly-almost exclusively---from this doctrine and others that are naturally and inseparably connected with it. From my experience in controversies on this subject, I have observed that brethren taking this view have been slow and cautious to commit themselves clearly and plainly on the subject."
We cannot add further testimony as our space is limited, but from what we have given in this article the reader can clearly see what has ever been the recognized faith of Primitive Baptists on this subject.
Written by W.H. Crouse
THE LONDON CONFESSION OF FAITH
Much has been said about the London Confession of faith. It was written by a number of English Baptist ministers in 1689. Their manner of expression was quite different from ours. In so long a time language has naturally undergone some change. Some sections, standing alone, seem ambiguous. These sections, separated from the remainder of the Confession, and without explanation, have never been accepted by American Primitive Baptists as clearly and correctly expressing their faith. Taken as a whole, and properly explained, our ministry has most universally accepted it as a true expression of our faith. That there might be no misunderstanding in reference to its teaching the meeting at Fulton, Ky., in 1900, added explanatory footnotes.
To illustrate let us notice a few sections.
Chapter 2, Section 1: "The Lord our God is but one only living and true God, * * * invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, &c." To this the following footnote was added: "We do not understand by the word passion that he is not a God of love, or that he is not angry with sin, but to teach that God is not a fallible, mutable being as man."
Chapter 3, Section 1: "God hath decreed in himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever come to pass; yet so as, &c."
Standing alone this would be most universally rejected by our people; but interpreted in the light of the entire Confession it is accepted. To this a footnote was added making it clear that we do not accept the doctrine of the "absolute predestination of all things" and we are cited to Chap. 5, Sec. 4, and Chap. 6, last part of Sec. 1.
Chapter 7, Section 2: "Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a Covenant of Grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him that they might be saved, &c."
Primitive Baptists would not accept this section without explanation. Therefore a footnote was added setting forth our interpretation and calling attention to seven other sections where their teaching clearly shows that they held the same view we do on this point.
Thus the reader will see that Primitive Baptists accept the London Confession, ONLY when taken as a whole, and giving to each section that interpretation which the complete Confession demands. It seems strange to us that they would say, "wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation"; but the remainder of the Confession clearly shows that those words did not mean to them what they would, without explanation, mean to us. The most of our American associations and churches in drafting their articles of faith have entirely eliminated this ambiguity and set forth their faith in language so clear that all may easily understand.
Concerning this London Confession, one of our Georgia publications, under date of December 1923, editorially says:
"What is a Primitive Baptist? A Primitive Baptist is an Original Baptist. The Original Baptists published the London Confession of Faith. * * * No one can possibly be a Primitive Baptist who does not believe the London Confession, for Primitive means Original, and the London Confession was written by the Original Baptists. The London Confession does not limit God, but Modern Baptists do. * * * We Original Baptists, and God knows that we are few in number, attribute all powers to God, and declare that he can work either with or without means, and that if He works through means, there is absolutely no power in the means- all the power is in God. And the Scriptures, as well as the London Confession, bear out our contention on this point."
The point the Editor (Elder Screws) had under consideration was as to the use of the ministry and the preached word in the regeneration of sinners. He affirmed that God used them as a means in this work-that this was the belief of Original Baptists-and that the London Confession and the Scriptures sustain him in his contention. And he affirms that no one can possibly be a Primitive Baptist that does not believe that God uses the preached word as a means in the regeneration of sinners. Since we deny that God regenerates sinners through the means of the ministry and the preached word we are no longer to be considered as Primitive but as "Modern" Baptists. Statesboro, Metter, Graymont-Surnmit, and Tifton churches do NOT believe in this means doctrine, therefore, according to this Editor, they should be styled "Modern" Baptist churches. I have before me a little pamphlet entitled Minutes of The Lower Canoochee Association of Primitive Baptists. Unless this association is converted to the means doctrine I suppose they must change their minutes to read, "The Lower Canoochee Association of Modern Baptists." And all our ministers, present and past, whom we considered true Primitives, we are now informed, were only "Modern" Baptists, all because they did not believe that God uses such means in the regeneration of sinners. Let me state clearly his line of reasoning:
1. To be a Primitive Baptist one must believe the London Confession, which confession teaches that God uses the gospel as a means in the regeneration of sinners.
2. We repudiate that Confession in that we deny that God uses the gospel as a means in the regeneration of sinners.
3. Therefore, we are not Primitive Baptists.
It is a rule in logic that if the first and second propositions of a syllogism be true the conclusion cannot be overthrown. Number three is the conclusion. It contains the matter proved-we are NOT Primitive Baptists. To escape that conclusion we MUST prove at least one of the premises to be false. The second we readily acknowledge to be true. We must therefore prove the first false or admit that we are not Primitive Baptists-we must either prove that one does not have to believe the London Confession to be a Primitive, or that the Confession does NOT teach that God uses the gospel as a means in regeneration.
But let us apply the syllogism to the Editor:
1. To be a Primitive Baptist one must believe the London Confession, which confession teaches that God does NOT use the gospel as a means in regeneration.
2. The Editor repudiates that Confession in that he teaches that God does use the gospel as a means in regeneration.
3. Therefore, the Editor is NOT a Primitive Baptist.
According to his own statements and course of logic, if we prove that the Confession does NOT teach the use of the gospel as a means in regeneration, HE is not a Primitive Baptist. This is not our reasoning, but his. A Doctor ought to be willing to take his own medicine.
Now, back to the Confession.
I have already shown what Throgmorton said about that Confession. He insisted that he, as a Missionary Baptist minister, was standing on that confession, so far as it relates to the use of the gospel in the regeneration of sinners. And you remember that HE charged Elder Daily with denying that faith. Said he, "In denying my proposition, Brother Daily is out of harmony with the Old Baptist Faith! If he shows that I am wrong in this discussion, he will show that the Old London Confession of 1689, of which his people have boasted so much, is wrong. If he shows that my proposition is wrong, goodbye to the doctrine of the old Baptists. I am here to defend the Old Baptist Faith, as to what is involved in this discussion. Brother Daily is here to oppose it, and to overthrow it, if he can! Will you 'Old School' Baptists follow him in this?"
So you see when these "Original"(?) Baptists charge US with having repudiated the London Confession, and they assure the brethren that in contending for gospel regeneration they are standing on the London Confession and defending Old Baptist Faith, they are only joining hands with Dr. Throgmorton, the Missionary; and they are publishing to the world that Elder John R. Daily and those who stood with him were traitors to Old Baptist Faith and that Throgmorton was faithful and true! The idea of Elder John R. Daily trying to repudiate and destroy Old Baptist Faith, and W. P. Throgmorton weeping and wailing over it, and declaring that Old Baptist faith SHALL NOT be destroyed!
And after thousands of prayers have gone up in thanksgiving to God for such a man as Elder Daily to so ably present and defend our faith, as he did in that discussion; and after thousands of volumes of that published discussion have been circulated in the interests of our cause, these self-styled "Original" Baptists fly to the defense of Throgmorton and declare to the world that he was right and Daily was wrong! And then they ask us to be quiet, that there is no principle involved, that there is no need for a fight, and will be none!
I cannot think they believed this. Surely they knew their attack upon our faith would meet determined opposition. They KNEW some of us well enough to know there would be a fight. May it not be that they seek to so mould sentiment and becloud the issue that we, who wage the fight, will lose out with the so-called "progressives" and they will hold them with them.
Personalities and other questions are injected to deceive and prejudice. In this way it is hoped to lead good brethren to forsake the established faith and enlist under a banner which has for its motto-"God regenerates sinners through the preached gospel."
As we have said before, if the London Confession does teach that God uses the preached word in regenerating sinners, that is NOT the faith of Primitive Baptists. Primitive Baptists have the right to interpret that Confession for themselves when they adopt it, and they have NEVER so interpreted it.
The discussions to which we have referred and from which we have quoted reach back to almost 1832-the time of the division with the New Schools.
These debates were largely attended, great interest was manifested in them, they were published and widely circulated, and the ministers who represented us were universally endorsed as sound in faith and as correctly representing our faith in those discussions. Not a word did we ever hear from Primitive Baptists complaining that THESE MEN were trampling under foot the London Confession and repudiating the accepted faith of our people. NO! Our brethren knew what their faith was, and they were proud that we had men who could so ably present and defend it. But let's see what the London Confession does teach:
Chapter X, Section 1. "Those whom God hath predestinated unto life he is pleased in his appointed and accepted time effectually to call by his Word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace of salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made most willing by his grace." Undoubtedly they were here speaking of regeneration or the impartation of eternal life to dead sinners. This is the effectual call, as they say in Section II. This work is done they say conjointly by the Word and Spirit.
They positively mention no other way in which this work is done. So, if by the "Word" they mean the gospel, then where do our brethren who hold that interpretation and harp on the London Confession, find in this section any ground for saying that sinners are ever regenerated without the gospel? Here again they bind themselves to the position that eternal salvation is limited to the scope of the gospel. And it is another rule in logic that whatever proves too much for one's proposition proves nothing. They must do one of three things, viz.,
1. They must renounce this section of the Confession altogether, or
2. They must deny that the "Word" means the gospel, or
3. They must admit that none can be regenerated where the gospel has not gone.
But this was NOT the meaning of this Section. In the Fulton Meeting, 1900, this footnote was added: "We do not understand that sinners are effectually called by the written word IN ANY SENSE out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature to grace and salvation but by Christ, the Word of God. The quickening and renewing of the holy Spirit prepares the sinner to answer the gospel call, as seen in Section 2 (2Ti 1:9; 1Jo 4:6)."
That footnote was added by fifty-one ministers, representing three hundred and thirty-five churches, aggregating fourteen thousand five hundred members in direct correspondence with over one hundred thousand Primitive Baptists. (See Confession, page 15.) And Elder T. E. Sikes of Georgia was there and agreed to it. (See signature on page 17.)
We all KNOW that they meant by the "Word" the Word which John says was made flesh and dwelt among us (Joh 1:14)-the Word which lives and abides forever (1Pe 1:23). "And this is the word," says Peter, "which by the gospel is preached unto you." This Word is NOT the gospel. It is the Word which the gospel declares unto us-even the Lord Jesus Christ. By this Word (Christ) ye are born again.
But concerning these footnotes Elder Screws, who claims to be an "original", says: "In 1900 the Fulton Convention, composed of representatives from nearly all parts of our country, adopted this confession, with some explanatory footnotes, which footnotes are more confusing than explanatory."
What a reflection on these "representatives from nearly all parts of our country!" In that number were included many of the ablest ministers in the United States. What a pity the Editor was not there to set ALL of them straight!
They said in their footnote as quoted above that the effectual call of sinners out of a state of sin and death is NOT IN ANY SENSE by the WRITTEN word but by CHRIST, the Word of God. Isaiah that "confusing" to a Primitive Baptist? It seems to us that they explained themselves pretty clearly. Their explanation may be "confusing" to Dr. Throgmorton and "Original" Baptists, but to the great body of Primitives throughout the United States it is entirely satisfactory.
If the Editor could prove (which he can not) that our representatives erred in their explanation and that the London brethren did mean to teach that sinners are effectually called out of a state of death by the written word he will have established fellowship with London, but NOT with the Primitives of the United States whom our ministers at Fulton represented, nor yet with Christ and the inspired Apostles upon whose teaching our faith is founded.
These representatives from nearly all parts of our country, assembled at Fulton, emphatically denied that God EVER uses the preached word in the work of regeneration; and we are told that such denial is "confusing"!
Let us note other parts of the Confession:
Chapter X, Section 2 "This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature co-working with his special grace; the creature being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, UNTIL, being quickened and renewed by the holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead." That doesn't sound much like they thought sinners were regenerated through the ministry and the preached word.
We call special attention to this section. Here is the "effectual" call; the call from death to life. This is regeneration. FIRST there must be life imparted by no less power than that which raised Christ from the dead; then there is the outflow, the effect, the "answer" as they call it, and the laying hold upon or embracing of the grace or promises of God. And in this outflow is to be found all the Christian graces, faith, love and everything else. The preached word may and often does manifest, increase and develop these graces, but the preached word has no more to do in this work of quickening the dead than it had with raising Christ from the grave. The ONLY agency or means mentioned in this work is the Holy Spirit; and as to any avenue or channel or medium through which or by which the Holy Spirit flowed into the soul to accomplish this Work they are as silent as the grave. Now note that in the fourth section, which we will quote, they turn to the gospel call-the call by the ministry of the word, and note carefully how clearly they distinguish between the effectual call and the gospel call-how separate and distinct they are from each other, and that the gospel call is wholly ineffective UNTIL the sinner is made alive; and to be made alive is to be regenerated.
Section 4: "Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit; yet, not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ."
To this section our representatives at Fulton added the following footnote: "We understand for man to be spiritually profited by the gospel he must have been born of God and made partaker of his divine nature, and by the words 'common operations of the Spirit' is understood as teaching that the gospel has an enlightening and moral influence upon all rational men."
We would not need to tell our readers that this is Primitive Baptist doctrine. They KNOW it as soon as they read it. This is NOT confusing to our people; but it is confusing to our people for recognized leaders to tell them that God works with and without means; that ordinarily he regenerates through means-by, with or through the ministry and the preached word; that ALL Primitives so believe; that the London Confession so taught; and that no person can be a Primitive unless he thus believes.
And it is very confusing to our people for this means doctrine to be published and taught among us by recognized leaders and but few of our watchmen make any protest, and those who do protest are accused of being moved by jealousy, prejudice, envy and malice; and those who teach and are
responsible for this heresy are held in the fullest fellowship and admitted to the highest counsels of our people. It is useless to cry ''peace, peace" among Primitive Baptists while such seed is being sown among us and such noxious weeds being nourished with the tenderest care. The holy wrath of an outraged people may lie dormant for a while but it will eventually break forth and the multiplicity of the seed sown and the long continued growth of this error among us will only increase the desolation when the day of judgment shall come. Our people WILL NOT accept this doctrine. They WILL NOT fellowship nor condone it. Those who think they will are laboring under a delusion. False issues may be raised; prejudices may be aroused; motives may be impugned; ministers browbeaten, discouraged and destroyed; but the tide will not flow out forever; the returning tide will soon sweep our shores free of this polluting doctrine which has ever been so destructive to our denomination and it will be left neither root nor branch.
Though somewhat of a repetition, this chapter would not be complete did we fail to notice that often repeated section upon which our means brethren so confidently rely to prove their contention.
Chapter XIV, Section 1: "The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word."
We will examine this section carefully presently, but first let us notice the position of our means brethren. If this section teaches what they would have us believe that regeneration is by the ministry of the word, then we draw the following conclusion, and challenge successful contradiction:
First: Faith and belief MUST precede regeneration.
Whatever is meant by the expression "to the saving of their souls" follows and is dependent upon faith and belief.
An unregenerate sinner is dead in sins-destitute of eternal life. He is in the flesh-carnal- sold under sin. In this condition he must exercise faith and belief, if faith and belief precede regeneration. But the Bible teaches us that faith is a fruit of the Spirit and that those who have the Spirit are children of God. It also teaches us that he that behieveth IS born of God, and that they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Suppose we deduct a few propositions:
1. Unregenerate sinners cannot please God. (Ro 8:8.)
2 To have faith and believe is pleasing to God.
3. Therefore, unregenerate sinners cannot have faith or believe.
1. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. (Ga 5:22.)
2. Unregenerate sinners do not have the Spirit.
3. Therefore unregenerate sinners cannot have faith.
1. All who believe are born of God. (1Jo 5:1.)
2. Unregenerate sinners are not born of God.
3. Therefore unregenerate sinners cannot believe.
1. Faith proceeds from a pure heart.
2. Unregenerate sinners do not have a pure heart.
3. Therefore, unregenerate sinners cannot have faith.
Suppose we make these to fit the position of our "Original" Baptists. They will then read thus:
1. Unregenerate sinners cannot please God.
2. Unregenerate sinners have faith and belief.
3. Therefore, faith and belief are not pleasing to God.
1. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit.
2. Unregenerate sinners have faith.
3. Therefore, unregenerate sinners have the Spirit.
1. All who believe are born of God.
2. Unregenerate sinners believe.
3. Therefore, unregenerate sinners are born of God.
1. Faith proceeds from a pure heart.
2. Unregenerate sinners have faith.
3. Therefore, unregenerate sinners have a pure heart.
To Primitive Baptists this is absurd. But this is the position to which the means doctrine ALWAYS leads us. And have we not heard great emphasis laid upon faith since this means question was started among us. Faith or belief in Christ has been made the turning point between eternal life and everlasting death. This may be questioned, but we have the proof.
If regeneration precedes faith and belief, then they are in no sense a condition unto regeneration.
If regeneration precedes faith and belief (as Primitives have ever believed), then it can not be by or through faith or belief, for it would be impossible for it to be by something that did not already exist.
If regeneration precedes faith and belief, then it is wrong to say that all who do not have faith or belief are children of wrath and subject to everlasting death. And why should any of our ministers get "sick and tired" of hearing some of us say that there will be thousands in heaven who never had gospel faith?
Second: If in this section they had under consideration the work of regeneration, they then plainly teach that only in exceptional cases are any saved who do not hear the gospel. We call the reader's attention to this expression: "And is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word." And remember that we are told we MUST believe this confession; otherwise we become "modern" Baptists.
Webster's International Dictionary defines 'ordinarily' as follows: "According to established rules or settled method; as a rule; commonly; usually; in most cases."
If our London brethren, in this paragraph of their faith, had under consideration the subject of regeneration, they taught beyond the shadow of a doubt that the established rule or settled method by which God does this work is through the preached word. He does this not in exceptional cases, not in "some cases," but commonly, usually-In MOST CASES. They do teach that God sometimes varies from this rule, but when He does, it is the exception and NOT the rule. And putting this interpretation upon their language, if we are to be in line with them, and thus "original Baptists, we MUST believe that usually and in MOST cases regeneration is through the instrumentality of the preached word. We must either deny that they had regeneration under consideration, or believe that regeneration IN MOST CASES is through the preached word, or discard their faith altogether and cease to be "original" Baptists.
The raising of Lazarus has been cited as an illustration of regeneration without means, and the raising of Dorcas by the Apostle Peter as illustrating regeneration through means. But, according to the above interpretation we would have to understand that Dorcas illustrates the rule, the common and usual method-MOST cases; while Lazarus only illustrates the exceptional cases. This interpretation proves entirely too much for Primitive Baptists. There is altogether too much means in it. And those who seek to introduce the means question among us usually start off by leaving the impression that they believe that God in exceptional cases regenerates through the preached word. This is about all Primitive Baptists would be expected to digest at first. When this has been digested and assimilated they increase the dose. But unless they give up their interpretation of this Confession or repudiate it altogether they must insist that very few are ever regenerated except through the ministry of the word.
Unto this day seven-tenths of the human family have never heard the gospel. If the above interpretation be true, regeneration has been confined almost exclusively to the three-tenths. Regeneration among the heathen has rarely ever been known! And the same would be true of the deaf and blind, the idiots and infants! Only a few of these have any hope of heaven-the MOST of them are lost! Thus we would confine eternal salvation almost exclusively to the scope of the gospel. And it doesn't require a Solomon to see how this position leads to the denial of election and atonement as believed by our people.
Suppose those who insist upon this interpretation of the London Confession, and insist that it is the teaching of God's word, cite us to cases of regeneration without the preached word. Note carefully their teaching:
Saul of Tarsus--regenerated without the gospel.
Day of Pentecost-three thousand regenerated, and ALL through the preached word.
Philippian Jailer-through the ministry of the word.
The Church at Corinth-"I have begotten you through the gospel." They insist this is the new birth-regeneration. If so, ALL of these were regenerated according to the established "method." Eph 5:25-26. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word." We are told this is regeneration, and that the word here is the gospel. 2Th 2:13-14. "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto he called you by our gospel."
We are told that THIS scripture teaches that the "election of sinners took place from the beginning or before the foundation of the world,'' (sound and scriptural) BUT that the calling or regeneration is "by our gospel."
Jas 1:18. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth."
This, we are told, is regeneration, and the "word of truth" is the gospel. And the writer feeling humiliated and incensed that any of us should see differently adds, "Let him be put to confusion, who limits God in his operation."
Let ALL Primitive Baptists, past or present, who deny that God employs the preached word in the regeneration of sinners BE PUT TO CONFUSION!
Ac 26:17-18. "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."
We are told that this darkness and blindness was the darkness and blindness of unregeneracy and that they were to be regenerated through Paul's preaching.
1Pe 1:23-25. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever. And this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you."
Here is the explanation given of this text: "The word in the text means the written word. Being born again, means being born of God. It is the second birth."
"In some cases" has become a favorite expression with those who teach among us that sinners ARE regenerated through the preached word. But, if the above interpretations are correct, pray tell us where these "some cases" are.
"We Original Baptists, and God knows that we are few in number, attribute all powers to God, and declare that he can work either with or without means, and that if he works through means, there is absolutely no power in the means-all the power is in God." But, in view of the above interpretation of scripture, we insist that we be shown a few more cases where God works WITHOUT means.
We are told that the preached word is used as a means in regeneration and yet that there is "no power in the means." But Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it (the gospel) is the POWER OF GOD unto salvation." If this was eternal salvation or regeneration, and the gospel is the means used to that end, pray tell us how we can say there is no power in the means. If the position of our means brethren is true, we insist there is no escape from the conclusion here reached.
But in this section they do NOT have under consideration the subject of regeneration.
They use the term salvation, but not regeneration. The term salvation is used in the Confession (as in the Bible) with various meanings. They speak of "saving repentance," and of "repentance unto salvation." If by salvation here they mean regeneration, then they teach that repentance precedes regeneration and we would have a dead sinner repenting of sin while still carnal, in the flesh, and in love with sin.
It is by faith in Christ and in the promises of the gospel that we experience and enjoy the wonderful salvation God has treasured up for us. But this is an entirely different thing from eternal life imparted in regeneration. This "grace" of faith, by which we believe, they say is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word, that is, it is brought forth; set in motion; prepared for service. To illustrate: We have a peach tree in our back yard. It bears fruit. That fruit is primarily the result of the peach life in the tree. But the fruit is developed, perfected and made abundant by cultivation, fertilization and every care.
It is NOT true that the abundance of fruit we have in our pantry from that tree is as much the gift of the man who gave me the tree as was the tree itself. We could not have had the fruit without the tree, but we could have had the tree and no fruit. The fruit is largely the result of my own care and labor. Just so with faith and belief.
So much for the London Confession. We stand upon that Confession as understood and interpreted by the Primitive Baptists of the United States. To do otherwise is to read ourselves out of the denomination. Whatever their recognized faith is, we must be loyal to that faith or cease to be Primitive Baptists.
There has never yet been a minister among us so great that he could revolutionize our denomination and turn them away from their recognizedfaith. There are none big enough today. There have been those who departed from that faith and confused many and caused division, but the denomination purged itself and pursued its course in the old time faith of the fathers.
There are many great and good ministers among the Regulars and Missionaries. We grant they are honest and sincere. We have no disposition, if we could, to deprive them of freedom of thought and expression. This is a free country where every man is vouchsafed liberty of conscience and expression in religion. God grant it may ever be so.
But we do challenge the right of any man among us to teach doctrine contrary to our established faith and to slander the dead and the living by charging them with ignorance and attempting to bind upon them the name and odium of "modern" Baptists. We are not surprised when men of other denominations sometimes pursue this course toward us, but of men whom our people have ordained and set apart to teach and defend our faith we have a right to expect better things.
Written by W.H. Crouse
A FEW ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF OUR POSITION
Those who teach that God regenerates sinners through the ministry and the preached word use with great emphasis, and again and again, the following statement: "God is not limited in his manner of operation. He can do as he pleases. He can work with or without means. If he desires, he can regenerate through the preached word. To deny this is to limit God and to deny his sovereignty and power."
Those are high sounding statements and have received many; for of all peoples Primitive Baptists believe in the sovereignty of God and question not his omnipotence. Our brethren have sometimes answered, "We readily admit your statements. It is purely a question of his will, not of power. He could regenerate through the preached word, but he does not choose to do so." I am not so ready to accept this answer. God cannot deny himself. He has stated most clearly the condition of men in sin and the nature of regeneration, and has emphatically declared that until changed by quickening, creative, resurrection power he CAN NOT be affected spiritually by the ministry and the preached word. Here is laid down a law as: irrevocable as God himself.
To say that God has taught us that there are certain irrevocable laws respecting entrance from the natural to the spiritual kingdom, and that God then turns round and "ordinarily" works contrary to those laws-or that he can so work -is not crowning him with that glory we feel he deserves.
We now wish to offer some arguments in support of our contention that God NEVER regenerates by or through the preached word. Whatever the reader's views may be respecting this matter we trust he will carefully and prayerfully consider these arguments, measuring them by the word of God, and give to them such weight as he honestly feels they deserve.
THE NATURE OF REGENERATION
Argument One: We argue that the work of regeneration in its very nature is such that it cannot be accomplished through the instrumentality of the gospel--the written or spoken word. Much depends upon a proper understanding of what regeneration means. Light, heat and moisture are sufficient means to develop and unfold the life in a grain of corn; they are NOT a sufficient means to impart life to a grain of corn in which there is no living germ. An efficient teacher with the proper text book is sufficient means to educate a rational, willing mind; they are not sufficient to give a mind to an abnormal child. The light of instruction is a sufficient means to dispel the darkness of ignorance; it is NOT a sufficient means to dispel the darkness of death. The human finger would be a sufficient means to write God's laws in the sand; it is not a sufficient means to write them upon the fleshly tables of the heart. Human hands would be a sufficient means to remove the napkin and grave clothes from a living body; they are NOT sufficient to impart life to the dead. Adam and his posterity can till the ground, plant, cultivate and dress; but they had no part in the creation. And let me state very clearly that there will be no controversy between us as to what may be accomplished through the instrumentality of the ministry and the preached word once eternal life has been imparted; but that eternal life is imparted through such a medium we do most emphatically deny.
To practically the entire above paragraph our "means" brethren will profess to most readily assent. With the exception of the last statement they will say they accept it without the least reservation. But they then give to a long string of scriptures an interpretation which denies it in every part. We think we are able to show you this most clearly if you will with open mind follow us closely in our reasoning.
And now to the nature of regeneration.
Generate: to beget; to produce (a being similar to the parent); to cause to be; to bring into life.
Regenerate: to be born anew; to renovate in heart; to change from a natural to a spiritual state; to give new life.
Regeneration: the act of regenerating, or the state of being regenerated. - Webster's International Dictionary.
Regeneration: a new birth; that work of the Holy Spirit by which we experience a change of heart-Buck's Theological Dictionary.
Regeneration: the change and renovation of the soul by the Spirit and grace of God (Joh 3:5-6). It is called the new birth, and consists in the infusion of spiritual life into the soul (Joh 5:25), whereby be is enabled to perform spiritual actions, and live to God. (Ro 14:8.)-Alexander Gruden, M. A.
Regeneration is expressed by being born again, which it properly signifies (Joh 3:3-7; 1Pe 3:22); and this supposes a prior birth, a first birth, to which regeneration is the second; the first birth is of sinful parents, and in their image; the second birth is of God, and in his image; the first birth is of corruptible, the second birth of incorruptible seed; the first birth is in sin, the second birth is in holiness and righteousness; the first birth is of the flesh and is carnal, the second birth is of the Spirit and is spiritual; and makes men. Spiritual men; and what is produced in regeneration is called the new creature, and the new man; and those who are born again are said to be new born babes; * * * it is not a working upon the old principles of nature, nor the working them up to a higher pitch: it is not an improvement of them, nor a repairing of the broken, ruined image of God in man. But it is altogether a new work; it is called a creation, being a work of almighty power; and a new creature, and a new man. Previous to regeneration, men are dead while they live; though corporally alive, are morally dead, dead in a moral sense, as to spiritual things, in all the powers and faculties of their souls; they have no more knowledge of them, affection for them, will to them, or power to perform them, than a dead man has with respect to things natural; but in regeneration, a principle of spiritual life is infused. Christ is the resurrection and life unto them, or raises them from a death of sin to a life of grace; and the spirit of life, from Christ, enters into them. Regeneration is a passing from death to life.-John Gill, D.D. (Body of Divinity).
Let us stop repeatedly, as we pursue this subject, and ask ourselves this question: Isaiah the ministry and the preached word a sufficient means, in the hand of God, to accomplish that work? Isaiah this any part of the mission of the gospel ministry? Isaiah the gospel and the gospel ministry EVER blessed of God to the accomplishment, in any degree, of this supernatural work which can alone be done by a creative power?
Concerning the work of regeneration, Charles Spurgeon, on page 82, Volume 5, of his published sermons, says: "You will notice that God does not promise that he will improve our nature, that he will mend our broken hearts. No, the promise is that he will give us new hearts. Human nature is too far-gone ever to be mended. It is not a house that is a little out of repair, with here and there a slate blown from the roof, and here and there a piece of plaster broken down from the ceiling. No, it is rotten throughout, the very foundations have been sapped; there is not a single timber in it which has not been eaten by the worms from its uppermost roof to its lowest foundation; there is no soundness in it; it is all rottenness and ready to fail. God does not attempt to mend; he does not shore up the walls, and repaint the door; he does not garnish and beautify, but he determines that the old house shall be entirely swept away, and that he will build a. new one. It is too far-gone, I say, to be mended. If only a wheel or two of that great thing called 'manhood' were out of repair, then he who made man might put the whole to rights; he might put a new cog where it had been broken off, and another wheel where it had gone to ruin, and the machine might work anew. But no, the whole of it is out of repair; there is not one lever which is not broken; not one axle which is not disturbed; not one of the wheels which act upon the others. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot, to the crown of the head, it is all wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. The Lord, therefore, does not attempt the repairing of this thing; but he says, 'I will give you a NEW heart; I will take away the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.' In this one particular work, is the preacher and the gospel the medium through which God (ordinarily) operates?
W. P. Throgmorton, in his debate with Elder Daily, defined regeneration as follows: "Regeneration means the work of God in imparting to the human soul the divine nature and the divine life and making the children of Adam the children of Jehovah."
We have never read a better definition than this. But he then insisted that ordinarily God does this work through the preached word and sought to prove that this was original Baptist faith by the introduction of The London Confession of Faith; and to prove that it was scriptural he offered such scriptures as 1Co 4:15- "For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel;" Jas 1:18--"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth;" 1Pe 1:23-"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."
We ask in all candor of our Primitive brethren, do you know agree with Throgmorton that God imparts divine life to the human soul and makes the children of Adam the children of Jehovah through the medium of the preached word? What do you say? In almost unanimous voice we hear you exclaim, NO! But, we ask, if we give to these Scriptures the interpretation he gave them, how can we escape his conclusion? If Throgmorton was right in his application and interpretation of these scriptures, there isn't a man on earth who can successfully deny his conclusion. The whole proposition will finally rest on the interpretation to be given to this line of scriptures. And on this point there are but two schools of thought; one represented by the Missionaries, the other by the Primitives. Our interpretation of these scriptures will determine to which school we properly belong. And as we go along we wish you to note that the point of difference between our people and others has not been as to the condition of the sinner, nor yet the nature of regeneration, but the means or medium through which God regenerates them.
On page 464, in Baptist Doctrines, E. G. Taylor, D. D., says: "Regeneration is something radical and fundamental. It is not mere reformation, or a simple renunciation of error and reception of truth. That may occur and the heart be unaffected. Men's reforms are like lopping oft branches of the evil tree, while the poisonous root, from which other branches will spring, is not only unharmed, but cherished and assiduously cultivated. Regeneration is more than is included in a life of morality. There must be the seed created by the divine hand, and cast into the barren earth, before the fields can smile with abundant harvests. In vain would be all the husbandman's exhortations either to empty soil, or to the pebbles or stones that may be scattered around, to yield him a crop of cotton or wheat. He must have like to produce like. And the 'carnal' mind, that is not simply at enmity with God, but enmity itself, has in it nothing to produce likeness to God. Cultivation carried to the highest extent can never turn the pebble into the living tree. Regeneration is a miracle wrought by the Holy Spirit in man; so mysterious, so hidden in its operation, that it is known only by its effects; so subtle that the learned 'Master of Israel' could not understand it, and even Christ himself contents himself with asserting it. It is infinitely more than the highest result which man can, with all his efforts, produce upon himself."
The following is taken from the Word of God:
"Except a man be born again."-Jesus in Joh 3:5.
"You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."-Eph 2:1.
"We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus."-Eph 2:10.
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."-2Co 5:17.
"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."- Ga 2:20.
"He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."-1Jo 5:12.
"In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."-Ga 6:15.
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. "-1Pe 1:23.
"And shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life" -Joh 5:24.
"In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands." Col 2:11.
"Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."-Ac 16:14.
"According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost."--Tit 3:5. Peter, John and Paul.
We submit the following conclusion: Regeneration is that work of God by which the sinner is born again; eternal life is implanted in the soul; he is quickened and passes from death unto life; a new heart is given; the stubborn will is subdued, the enmity toward God is removed, and supreme love for God is implanted in the soul; he is changed from natural to spiritual; in short, it is that work of God by the Holy Spirit in which a child of Adam, destitute of spiritual life, dead in sin, and under the power and control of Satan is made a CHILD OF GOD capacitated to see, to know, to understand, and to enjoy the things of the Spirit and to render acceptable service to the Lord, and prepared inwardly to dwell with the Lord in the mansions above.
In this work God acts as sovereignly as ho did in the creation of the universe. This change must ALWAYS be the immediate work of the Holy Spirit, independent of all human means or instrumentalities-NEVER by, with or through the preached word. It is unscientific, as well as unscriptural, for us to assert that such a change as this can be accomplished by or through moral force. This change does not belong in the world of reason, of instruction, or of development. It belongs in the world of creation, of generation, and of resurrection-a world forever staked off from the ministry and the preached word.
THE NECESSITY OF REGENERATION
Argument Two: In connection with the nature of regeneration, our next argument is drawn from the teaching of the Scripture in regard to the necessity of regeneration. God has a good and wise purpose in all he does. With him there is no such thing as "wasted energy." We, in carrying out our plans and purposes, may do many things useless and unnecessary. Not so with God. There is a reason why men are regenerated; there is a necessity for it. "Ye must be born again." He who declares, "ye must" is the same who hath said, "I am Alpha and Omega, the Almighty. * * * I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore; and have the keys of hell and of death. He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth." Without this change Jesus declares no man can see the kingdom of God neither can he enter therein.
The external rites of religion; the mere fact that we are born of pious ancestors; the fact that we may have been dedicated to God in baptism; that we have made a public profession of religion; that men may place a high estimate on our piety; that we are considered by others and by ourselves as highly elevated in holiness and happiness here; all this, and more, will avail us nothing toward heaven if it must still be said "one thing thou lackest yet," viz., a new heart-the circumcision not made with hands. "Ye must be born AGAIN."
One need of regeneration lies in the fact that men are totally depraved. The very best of mankind are so corrupt that they have need to be born again. The purest, the loveliest, the gentlest, the most amiable, the fairest of all nature's flowers, stands as much in need of regeneration as the vilest outcast who walks the streets and the depraved and lost whose names are never spoken but by broken hearts and in earnest prayers to the heavenly Father. They must have a change which is not simply a surface or superficial matter. Man's pollution is not of the skin, but of the heart. This change must be a radical change, great in its character and lasting in its consequences, if they shall ever live with God. This change must affect the heart. It must reach down into the deepest recesses of the soul, and must stretch forward into the ceaseless ages of eternity. This change is represented as a birth.
In the mother's womb the child was begotten. Here life was imparted. In that life were all the elements of the senses and faculties of a human being, yet undeveloped. During the days, weeks and months of its development the child lay entombed in a living sepulcher. It neither saw, heard, breathed, loved nor feared. How mysterious indeed the beginning and the development of that life! "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." (Ec 11:5.) At length, at the time appointed by the Creator, the windows of sense are thrown open, the eyes see, the ears hear, the hands feel, the feet walk. Sweetly it nestles on the bosom of its mother, and drawn by emotions of love it smiles in the face of her whose heart burns with a love stronger than death.
This was the first birth. Jesus declared man MUST be born AGAIN. He uses the first to illustrate the second, and the second is even more mysterious than the first and is infinitely greater and better. In the first a child of Adam is but born for the grave; in the second a son of God is born for heaven. By the first little feet begin their march on a rough road which ends in death and the tomb; in the second we start upon a journey which, however full of sorrows, toils and conflicts, ends in a crown in glory.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that man by the first birth is NOT a child of God. He may be loved and chosen of God; he may have redemption through blood; but that which is born of the flesh is but flesh. He is but natural-a child of wrath. We hold, in no degree, the doctrine of "eternal vital union." Two-seedism is no part of our faith. And the efforts of some to brand us with this heresy is but a subterfuge and liable to deceive the brotherhood. Man becomes a child of God by regeneration. In this work children of Adam become sons of God.
What a mistake many have made in their attempt to explain this second birth! With them it means only the abandonment of a wild and wicked life for habits of temperance, honesty and decency; a change wrought by the power and hand of man. If a drunkard becomes sober, a libertine pure, a thief honest, a liar true, they acclaim him born again! All these things are good and much to he desired, but this is NOT being born again. In these changes men have much to do, but in the work of regeneration human arms are as helpless and powerless as they would be in their attempt to create a world.
A large percent of the religious world today think of regeneration as but a moral change. If this be true, it can be brought about by moral force. And if this be true, the salvation of the world rests alone in the hands of men, and men are born again through the instrumentality of the church, her ministry and the preached word. This unscriptural teaching, introduced long ago among Baptists, now appears in full fruitage in the teaching of many Doctors of Divinity and ministers of lesser prominence.
Prof. Foster of the (Baptist) Divinity School of the University of Chicago says: "The sum of what I have been urging amounts to the profoundest change of thought known to history. One may say that not supernatural regeneration, but natural growth; not divine sanctification, but human education; not supernatural grace, but natural morality; not the divine expiation of the cross, but the human heroism-or accident-of the cross; * * * not Christ the Lord, But the maim Jesus who was a child of his time; not God and his providence, but evolution and its process without an absolute goal-that all this, and such as this, is the new turn in the affairs of religion at the tick of the clock."-A Guide to the Study of the Christian Religion (page 736).
It would be slanderous in the extreme to charge such teaching upon our New School brethren as a whole. But we do charge that the above teaching is but the legitimate result and outgrowth of the introduction and emphasis of the unscriptural doctrine of Free Moral Agency and means and instrumentalities in the work of regeneration. Large oaks from little acorns grow. Only a very small opening was seen in the levee at first, apparently very insignificant, but little by little it grew larger until the dam was swept away and an entire city was destroyed. Having admitted that regeneration can be accomplished by or through the instrumentality of moral forces (such as the ministry and the gospel), these men were led on to affirm regeneration to be but a moral change, and at last God and the supernatural are entirely discarded and they have launched out into the open sea of rationalism and infidelity. In. all things essential the teaching of Voltaire, Hume, Bolingbroke, Paine and Ingersoll was nowise different from the teaching of Prof. Foster.
They fail to understand the nature of regeneration. It is not a work done FOR man, but a work done IN man; not a reformation of life, but a change of heart; not a turning of man to God, but God dwelling in us; not the development of Adam life, but the implantation in man of the life of God; not a work done through or by human means and instrumentalities, but a work done alone by the irresistible creative power of an omnipotent God who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast.
Ours is indeed an old theology, a theology out grown by many in the religious world, but it is the theology of Christ and the Apostles, and it is the theology of the Baptist fathers. In a sermon delivered sixty-five years ago, Charles H. Spurgeon said:
"A man may reform himself very much, and that is well and good; let all do that. A man may cast away many vices, forsake many lusts in which he indulged, and conquer evil habits; but no man in the world can make himself to be born in God. If he could make himself to be born again, still he would not enter heaven, because unless a man be born of the SPIRIT, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Regeneration consists in this: God the Holy Spirit, in a supernatural manner- mark, by the word supernatural I mean just what it strictly means; supernatural, more than natural-works upon the hearts of men, and they by the operations of the divine Spirit become regenerate men; the dead sinner is quickened, the unwilling sinner is made willing, the desperately hard sinner has his conscience made tender; and he who rejected God and despised Christ, is brought to cast himself down at the feet of Jesus. This is called fanatical doctrine, mayhap; that we cannot help."
Again in another sermon he (Third Series, page 215) said: "Holy Scripture tells us that man by nature is dead in trespasses and sins. It does not say that he is sick, that he is faint, that he has grown callous, and hardened, and seared, but it says he is absolutely dead. Whatever that term death means in connection with the body, that it means in connection with man's soul, viewing it in its relation to spiritual things. When the body is dead it is powerless; it is unable to do anything for itself; and when the soul of man is dead, in a spiritual sense, it must be, if there is any meaning in the figure, utterly and entirely powerless, and unable to do anything of itself or for itself. When we shall see dead men raising themselves from the grave, when we shall see them unwinding their own sheets, opening their own coffin-lids, and walking down our streets alive and animate, as the result of their own power, then perhaps ye may believe that souls dead in sin may turn to God. But mark, NOT TILL THEN. Divine life is God's gift.
"But Scripture does not only tell us that man is dead in sin; it tells us something worse than this, namely, that he is utterly and entirely averse to everything that is good and right. The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.-Ro 8:7. What said Christ in that text so often quoted by the Arminian to disprove the very doctrine which it clearly states? What did Christ say to those who imagined that men would come without divine influence? He said first, No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him; but he said something stronger-Ye WILL NOT come unto me that ye might have life. No man WILL come. Here lies the deadly mischief; not only that he is powerless to do good, but that he is powerful enough to do that which is wrong, and that his will is desperately set against everything that is right. Go, Arminian, and tell your hearers that they will come if they please, but know that your Redeemer looks you in the face, and tells you that you are uttering a lie. Men will not come. They never will come of themselves. You cannot induce them to come; you cannot force them to come by all your thunders, nor can you entice them to come by all your invitations. They will not come unto Christ, that they may have life. Until the Spirit draw them, come they neither will, nor can."
The Bible teaches clearly that sinners are totally and hereditarily depraved. Notwithstanding the efforts made to tone down this doctrine so despised by the world it remains as the foundation stone of salvation by grace and redemption by the blood of the Lamb-plainly and emphatically declared by Inspiration and clearly manifested as true by the lives of men.
Writing in the Western Recorder, L. C. Kelly, a talented and spiritual man of God, says:
"Total depravity means that every facility of man is incurably corrupted by sin. In the Fall the seed of all sin was planted in the soil of human nature. Sin became a fixed fact in the human soul. When the genesis of sin became a fatal fact in human nature, the fruitage of sin was the inevitable result.
"The Bible makes a distinction between sin and sins. It is the difference between a corrupt tree and its corrupt fruit. The sure way to stop the fruit is to kill the tree. And this is the aim of grace. What was active in Judas is latent in every man. What is active in the murderer, the covetous, the adulterer, the idolater, the fornicator, the effeminate, the self-lover, in fact, what is active in every down and out debauched soul is latent in every other soul. They are all 'chips off the same block.' The Bible picture of a guilty soul is complete. It views him from every angle. It goes from fact to fruit; from sin in its genesis, to sins in all their hideous results. Nothing can be more clearly portrayed than that in the fall man's ruin was complete. 'Without God and without hope' was God's verdict.
"We do what we do because we are what we are. Sin is the fountain; sins its flow.Much religion today is but an effort to rejuvenate or to embalm man's dead self. Christ died for a different purpose, and grace acted in a different way. To be good merely is not to be born again. A sinner minus his sins would not be a saint any more than a dead tree minus dotage would be alive. We must have more than corrected conduct (Mt 12:43-45). There must be a regeneration-a new LIFE implanted. All are guilty. The babe and the old debauchee are both corrupt alike in their nature. The human soil is the same. The difference is in the crop.
"The Epistle to the Romans is a picture of man's ruin and God's remedy. But before Paul was, God's Book was packed full of the truth about total depravity. The natural heart is a heart of stone. Humanity without God is a moral maniac. The heart is disgracefully deranged. Having ears they hear not, eyes they see not, and hearts that do not understand, because of their morally mad minds and deranged affections. Sin made man a mental, moral and spiritual pervert."
Of course, we expect those who believe in the gospel as a means of regeneration to declare that they believe all this as much as we. They will declare that they "yield to no man" in their fidelity to this truth of the total depravity of the race. They will exhaust their vocabulary in an effort to convince us of their soundness here. But if this IS the true condition of men in a state of nature, we ask, How is this moral mania, this mental, moral and spiritual pervert, with blind eyes, deaf ears, and a heart of stone to be reached by or through the gospel of Christ?
To say that God uses the preached gospel in changing this depraved being is to assert that which is unreasonable and absurd, and to break down a barrier which God says must ever remain until this pervert is made a new creature by the work of regeneration.
We copy the following from a pamphlet by the late J. H. Dew, D. D.: "Life must come first. Nothing else is scientific. We often see one part of a man dead while the other parts are living. For example, the eyes are sightless-dead to the world of light. The ear is deaf-dead to the world of sound or the arm is paralyzed- dead to the world of motion. These parts are dead, while the other parts of the body are living. So before one is brought into vital union with Jesus Christ his physical nature lives, but his spiritual nature which deals with God and divine things, is dead. It does not recognize God, nor discern the things of the Spirit, nor see the invisible realities of heaven and eternity. Man's greatest need, therefore, is something which he does not have-A SPIRITUAL LIFE. He may possess many redeeming virtues, many attractive qualities, many excellencies of character; yet without this divine principle he is spiritually dead. And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins. Eph 2:1.
"To give emphasis to this thought, let us look at a picture. Here is a man physically dead. His body is placed in a handsome casket. Friends collect garlands of beautiful flowers and wreathe them about this corpse. One comes and looks at its saying, 'Lovely.' Another comes and says, 'The features are perfect.' Still another says, 'What is lacking here?' And the very silence answers, 'Life! -Physical life.'
"Here is another picture--a living man without Christ. What is the matter with him? One says, 'He needs a change of environment.' Another says, 'He needs education and culture.' Another says, 'Let him imitate Jesus.' Still another says, 'He ought by all means to join the church and live up to its rules.' God says, 'No, you are all wrong; the man is spiritually dead; his greatest 'need is spiritual life.'
"Man must have a new life first of all. Regeneration is to the dead faculties of the spiritual nature of man what life is to the corpse. Unless this new life of God implanted in his heart gives him new vision, he cannot see; unless it gives him new hearing, he cannot hear; unless it gives him new understanding, he cannot enter in to the thoughts of the Most High. Without spiritual regeneration a man is only playing the Christian. He is no better spiritually than a galvanized corpse. Under the power of electricity there may be some movement of the body, but there is no glow upon the cheeks, no fire in the eyes, no warmth in the body, no blood in the veins, no breath in the nostrils. * * * where in the Bible does God command the unregenerate to live the life of the regenerate. There must first be life, then development. The order in the New Testament church was regeneration, organization, education. * * * Training, growth, development, are out of the question till they have some foundation on which to rest-some vital root out of which to grow. Dead men cannot be trained or educated. Food sustains life, but it does not originate it. Changing the environment or expanding the intellect will not evolve a Christian from a sinner, any more than putting a tiger in a cage and feeding him on milk will make him a lamb."There is no possibility of growth except to such as have entered into life. Life is the prerequisite. I may thrust a dry stick into the ground and foster it with all possible care, giving it access to the sunlight and the dews of the morning, but I shall never have anything but a dry stick-no growth, no foliage, no fruit-because there was no life in the beginning.
"Our greatest need is not a development, but a new creation-the impartation of spiritual life. Human nature is too far-gone ever to be mended. So it is not the old nature worked over and patched up. For by no course of education, by no kind of ethical culture, by no process of evolution, can the natural man be made into the spiritual." The point at issue is clear. In this work man has no part; moral forces can be of no avail.
Many of you have read Natural Law in the Spiritual World by Prof. Henry Drummond, one of the world's greatest scientists, written before he embraced the destructive teachings of the Modernist. It is an unanswerable refutation of the doctrine of spontaneous generation or the possibility of environment, culture or education ever making a saint out of a sinner.
I have laid stress upon the doctrine of total depravity for in this scriptural doctrine we find much of the answer to the question as to whether or not God uses the ministry and the preached word in the regeneration of sinners.
Let it be kept in mind that we are not discussing the question of education or development. The question is: how are DEAD sinners made ALIVE? How are they regenerated or born AGAIN? And we affirm, "without fear of successful contradiction" that this work is NEVER done through the gospel-the written or spoken word.
Written by W.H. Crouse
BIBLE TEACHING AS TO HOW MEN ARE REGENERATED
Argument Three: Based on Eph 2:2-5. "And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But GOD, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ."-Paul.
Paul declares sinners to be DEAD. GOD quickens them, or makes them alive. Paul says the medium through which this work is accomplished is Christ. Nowhere in his argument here does the Apostle mention the gospel. If God uses the gospel in this work, Paul either did not know it, or knowing it, he failed to make mention of it. Paul cannot be charged with criminal neglect; and since regeneration is one of the fundamentals in the religion of Christ, and in the statement of that doctrine he makes no mention of the use of the gospel, we argue that sinners are NOT regenerated through the instrumentality of the written or spoken Word Paid learned this doctrine from Christ.
Joh 17:2- "As thou hast given him (Christ) power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him."
This not only proves that Christ gives them eternal life, but it forever refutes the idea that "God first quickens the sinner and then gives him to Christ." God gave them to Christ BEFORE they had received eternal life, and Christ gave them eternal life in consequence of that gift-just as many, no less and no more, as God had given him.
Paul further teaches this doctrine in Ro 6:23 "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD." Not through the gospel, but through Jesus Christ.
Joh 5:26-"As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself."
Joh 5:39-" Search the scriptures; for in them ye THINK ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of ME."
Argument Four: Based on Joh 5:21-29. "For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. * * * Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the VOICE of the Sox OF GOD: and they that hear SHALL live. * * Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear HIS VOICE, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."-Jesus Christ.
"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your MORTAL BODIES by his SPIRIT that dwelleth in you."-Ro 8:11.
Here Christ himself, and Paul by inspiration, tell us HOW the dead sinner is quickened, regenerated or born again. It is by the VOICE of the SON OF GOD!
Not the preacher's voice; not the gospel; but the same voice with which he will raise the dead from the grave. And Paul explains this voice to be the SPIRIT. Unless Christ will use the preached word in raising dead bodies from the grave, he does not use it in quickening or regenerating the dead in sin. The instrumentalities and means are the same. And since Christ and Paul positively state that the medium through which this work is done is the Spirit, and no mention is made of the preached word, though Christ is telling us HOW sinners are regenerated, we argue that sinners are NOT regenerated through the preached word. This argument is not new. Time and again it has been used, and never has been found a man intelligent enough to destroy its force. Turn to 1Co 15 and note what Paul says of the resurrection of the dead; and "let him be put to confusion" who argues that men have anything to do, either direct or remotely, with the raising of the dead in sin to a life in God! Argument Five: Based on Joh 6:62-63.
"It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."-Christ. If sinners are quickened or horn again through the preached word, this scripture cannot be true. It would be just as reasonable to say that since Christ quickens through the Spirit the Spirit profits nothing, as to say that sinners are regenerated through the preached gospel and yet the preaching profits nothing in the work. No intelligent person would think of using an instrument or means in any work that was of no profit, and certainly we cannot charge God with ignorance or with greater inconsistency than men. And we lay down the following propositions as self-evident and unanswerable:
1.God, being intelligent, uses no means or instrumentalities that are not profitable.
2. He expressly declares that in the quickening of sinners, the flesh-which certainly includes preachers-profits nothing.
3.Therefore, God does not use the ministry in the quickening of sinners dead in sin.
It is true David says, "Thy word hath quickened me." (Ps 119:50.) But David does NOT refer to his regeneration. The gospel does quicken the saints, but that is quite different from quickening the dead. We might very easily quicken a living horse, but we have no power to quicken a dead one. That requires creative and resurrection power, and this is found alone in the three-one God.
Argument Six: Based on 2Ti 3:16-17 and Eph 4:8-15. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
"Wherefore, he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; "-for the quickening of the dead in sin? for the regeneration of the lost? for the eternal salvation of the unsaved? for the effectual calling of the 'elect' yet by nature the children of wrath? NO! "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."
Here Paul clearly states the purpose of the gospel. He is very explicit. He mentions all the gifts. He leaves no room for debate. The gospel is for the man of God; that HE may be perfect; it is for the saints. Not once does be mention a sinner dead in sin. No allusion to the unregenerate. Not the least intimation is made that it was any part of God's plan or purpose that through the ministry of the word sinners would be regenerated. Certainly nothing is of greater importance than the regeneration of sinners, for except they be born again they can never reach heaven. And we ask, in all candor, could we believe it possible, if the gospel preached is the medium or means "ordinarily" used in regenerating sinners or borning them again, that Paul would have been so negligent as to make no mention of that as one of its uses? To say that God uses the gospel in that work is to charge Paul with ignorance or criminal neglect!
Paul wrote by inspiration. Since in stating the purpose of the gospel he makes no mention of it in the work of regenerating, we argue that God does NOT use it in that work.
Argument Seven: This argument we found upon the Parable of the Sower. Mt 13; 13:3-9. "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold a sower went forth to sow: and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon the stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold."
The Savior's commission was to preach the gospel to every creature-Gentile as well as Jew. The world was to be the field. Unlike the earlier commissions, they were not limited to a certain people or a certain section, but were to preach to all men everywhere. They may have had the idea that through their ministry and the ministry of those who followed, sinners would be effectually called, receive eternal life-be regenerated. If so, Jesus taught them that this would NOT be the result of their teaching. Instead of teaching that God would use their preaching in the work of regenerating sinners, he taught them that this work would be separate and apart from their ministry. Their preaching would only be effective and bring forth fruit in hearts already prepared and made good and honest by the Holy Spirit. But where hearts are ALREADY prepared and made good their preaching would produce fruit.
As the sowing of the seed had nothing to do with making the ground good, so the gospel has nothing to do with changing the hearts of dead sinners, who are said to have stony hearts, and hearts of flesh. If Jesus intended by this parable to illustrate the preaching of the gospel (which is almost universally admitted by all denominations), sinners are NOT regenerated through the preached word, unless indeed Jesus used a parable which was misleading and utterly failed to correctly represent his teaching. The latter we know could not be true; therefore, we argue, that it was no part of the teaching of Christ that sinners are regenerated through the instrumentalities of the preached word.
Concerning this parable Elder Lemuel Potter says: "Doubtless this parable is intended to teach the effect of the preached gospel, dependent on the state or condition of the heart. The unconverted heart is represented by the wayside, and the gospel fails to reach such a heart effectually. The fruit of the gospel in such a heart is as certain to be a failure as the natural seed sown by the wayside, which fowls devour up. The same is also true of the stony ground, and the thorny ground. In the parable, the reason all the seed sown on these three different grounds was a failure, is because the ground had not been previously prepared for the reception of the seed. As this is true, literally, so it is true that the human heart must, of necessity, have a previous preparation for the reception of the gospel, in order that the gospel bring forth fruit to perfection. The seed that fell into the ground, that had been prepared for the reception of seed, was the only ground that was productive of fruit, as the result of sowing seed in it. Seed could not fall into good ground, if there was no good ground for it to fall into. The ground was good before the seed fell into it. So the heart must be good before the gospel is preached, if it brings forth any fruit." Labors and Travels, page 321.
Our ministers who met in Cordele (1909) said: "In the parable of the sower we learn that the seed were sown broadcast, falling on different kinds of soil, but only that falling on good ground-ground that had been prepared-brought forth fruit. So we understand as the gospel is preached in the hearing of all who may be present, yet it lodges and brings forth spiritual fruit only in those whose hearts have been touched by divine grace."-Expression of Elders, page 10.
And here let us observe that if our interpretation of this parable is correct (and HE has said it is), Elder Screws is wrong in saying that the three thousand on the day of Pentecost were regenerated through Peter's preaching. Peter preached according to the commission that day-he sowed the seed broadcast. It fell upon different kinds of soil. The wayside, the stony ground, and the good ground were certainly represented in that congregation. As, in the parable, the good ground was good before the seed fell and the seed had absolutely no part in making the ground good, just so were the hearts of those who were touched and moved by Peter's preaching changed, good hearts, regenerated hearts, BEFORE he preached to them, or before they were affected by it. It is the wildest speculation for Elder Screws to say that "not one of them was regenerated when they entered the house at nine o'clock that in morning." We think there is evidence to show that he is mistaken in this, but we shall not argue that part of the question, for certainly God can regenerate a man while the minister is preaching as well as he could while he was following the plow, wielding the hammer in the shop, or in slumber on his bed. His remark only shows how hard pressed he was to prove his position, how recklessly he handles the word of the Lord, and how willing he was to wound the feelings of his brethren and to provoke a battle. Elder Screws must either give up his teaching concerning that meeting on the day of Pentecost or repudiate his interpretation of the Parable of the Sower. He cannot hold to both.
The same is equally true of his position in reference to those "begotten through the gospel," and of every other scripture he interprets to teach gospel regeneration. He must repudiate his interpretation of that parable or he must acknowledge his error in teaching that God uses the preached word in the work of changing the hearts of dead sinners. It is a glaring inconsistency, a contradiction which all can easily see.
Argument Eight: Since the Scriptures teach that unregenerate sinners are DEAD, having eyes they see not, ears they hear not, hearts and understand not, they cannot be reached or affected by the gospel. Life must first be imparted, the eyes given sight, the cars opened, the heart capacitated to understand. The three-one God alone can give life, open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, take away stony hearts and give hearts of flesh. He alone can dispel the darkness of death and give the light of life. The ministry and the gospel can dispel the darkness of ignorance and bring the light of instruction, but farther than this they cannot go. This was Paul's commission as recorded in Ac 26:15-18. Through his preaching HE was to open eyes, but not blind eyes. If you want to know who opens BLIND eyes, turn and read Isa 42:6-7. And since the natural man, the unregenerate man, the man dead in sin, the man who has never been born again, cannot see, hear, know, feel, understand, or receive the things of the Spirit, we argue that they cannot be regenerated through the preached word.
We have heard much said about limiting God; what God can do, &c. We do not think it would be sacrilege, but rather honoring, and scriptural, for me to say that God CANNOT regenerate a sinner through the preaching of the gospel. For to do so, would be a denial of himself, a setting aside the law of life, and a denial of the whole tenor of the teaching of his word.
Note the following scriptures:
1. "And you hath he quickened who were dead." Eph 2:1.
2. "But we had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust, in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death." 2Co 1:9-10.
3. "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all (of us), then were all (of us) dead." 2Co 5:14.
4. "And you being dead in your sins * * * hath he quickened together with him." Col 2:13.
5. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. There is no fear of God before their eyes." Ro 3:9-19.
6. "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Ro 8:8.
7. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." 1Co 2:14.
8. "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." 2Co 4:3.
9. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us WHICH ARE SAVED it is the power of God." 1Co 1:18.
10. "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." 1Co 1:23-24.
11. "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. * * He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God." Joh 8:43,47.
12. "Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep." Joh 10:26.
13. "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us." #1John 4:6.
Then turn back and read all the scriptures we have offered in our other arguments. And if, after reading all of these, you decide that the gospel can reach the heart of the unregenerate-if it can be used as a means in the regeneration of sinners; if it is through the preached word men are created anew; I beg you to tell me what reason under heaven cam you give for the further existence of the Primitive Baptist denomination!
Argument Nine: De 32:2. "My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb and showers upon the grass."
I suppose all will admit that God's ''doctrine'' and "speech" mean the gospel. The gospel in its effect is compared to rain; it affects the people as the rain affects the grass. If the rain gives life to dead vegetation, then we must concede that the gospel gives life to dead sinners. Or if God gives life to dead vegetation through the rain, then it is true that God gives eternal life to sinners dead in sins through the gospel. Unless the first is true, the second cannot be true, for God uses the one to represent the other. If the first is false and absurd, the second is equally so, for God declares both to be alike-the gospel SHALL drop upon men just as the rain falls upon vegetation. And unless the life giving power comes to dead vegetation in the rain, the life-giving power of God does NOT come to dead sinners in the gospel. To deny the first and then affirm the second would destroy the figure. Since the former cannot be true, we argue that the latter CANNOT be true.
God cannot regenerate sinners through the preached word for the express reason that to do so would make null and void the law he here so positively declares. God declares his gospel SHALL be just like the rain; should he give eternal life to one sinner through the preaching of the gospel this declaration would be proven false. God CAN NOT be untruthful. Therefore God cannot regenerate through the gospel. If this limits God, God set the "limit" himself. The rain does administer to living vegetation. It feeds, nourishes and develops its life; but its effect upon dead vegetation is quite different. So it is with the gospel. How different the gospel showers fall upon men!
Some mock and say, "these are full of new wine," while others are deeply touched and cry out, "men and brethren, 'what shall we do?" Glorious gospel! not to the dead, but to the LIVING. And the living are ALREADY regenerated.
Argument Ten: 2Co 4:3-4. "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
In this text the glorious gospel of Christ is represented as a light that shines. It declares that the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers (the "lost" or unregenerate) so that this light of the gospel cannot shine unto them. Note the figure. If every avenue of light is blinded, our room is dark, even at noon day. The sun cannot shine in until the blinds are removed. Light will NEVER remove the blinds; it will only shine in after the blinds have been removed. Nor can the light be used as a means in removing the blinds. Man cannot remove the blinds by, with, nor through the light. Neither is it any part of the office of the light of the sun to remove blindness. It only gives light to those who can see.
Just so with the gospel. It cannot shine into the mind of an alien sinner for his mind is blinded. It cannot remove that blindness, nor can any power remove blindness through its light. To take the position that GOD opens the blinds (removes the dead sinner's blindness) through gospel light would set aside and make meaningless this figure given by Inspiration.
The light of the gospel 'will "open" eyes of regenerate people, but NOT of dead sinners. And dead sinners are under consideration in this text. They must FIRST be regenerated; THEN the light of the gospel can shine in. They are NOT regenerated through gospel light.
Argument Eleven: Everywhere in God's word the quickening of the sinner, the new birth, regeneration, is attributed to God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but never to the preached word. We, therefore, argue that in this work God never uses the preaching of the gospel as a means.
That heaven-born souls are made believers through the gospel, the Bible abundantly teaches. But it no where teaches that children of God are made that way. Christ prayed for all who should afterward believe on him through their word (Joh 17), but he did NOT pray that God would regenerate sinners through their word. Paul said the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. (Ro 1:16.) John says he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ IS born of God. (#1John 5:1.) If this means anything, it means that the new birth or regeneration must precede belief. The gospel reaches those who are saved with eternal salvation, and saves them from a thousand and one things that will distress, corrupt and harm in this life, and unto joy, peace, happiness, and the glory of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. It "begets" us unto a lively hope and faithful service. But for it to be the means which the Holy Spirit employs in the regeneration of sinners, it must do vastly more than this-it must reach the unbeliever, must save the unsaved, must beget the soul destitute of eternal life. This it does NOT do; this it CANNOT do.
We may be mistaken, but it seems to us that in his zeal to remodel his faith to harmonize with the faith of some of the "Fundamentalists," whose faith he has adopted on other lines, Elder Screws has sought to invert the order of Primitive Baptists and make belief precede rather than follow the new birth;and in the attempt he has finally accepted the theory that none but believers shall ever reach heaven. We love the Fundamentalists. They teach and defend many doctrines dear to my heart. But they are Arminian on the plan of salvation. They use Ro 10 to teach their plan of salvation-first the preacher; then (by hearing) the believer; then calling upon Christ; then salvation, (eternal). This confines eternal salvation to believers, and makes the ministry and the gospel a means in regeneration.
Argument Twelve: The Bible teaches the doctrine of the quickening or regeneration of sinners dead in sins. In the statement of that doctrine the preached word is NEVER given as a means or medium to that end. If it is not given in the statement of that doctrine, as it is taught in God's word, it does NOT belong to that doctrine.
If, notwithstanding it is nowhere mentioned in connection with the statement of that doctrine, it may be added as a part of that doctrine, then what is there on earth which may not also be added! We are told that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and their passage through the Red Sea was a type of regeneration; and we arethen reminded that God led them out and through that sea THROUGH Moses-it was God who did it, BUT through Moses. But, to make this more acceptable to our people, we are assured that Moses was NOT a means. If this is a type of regeneration (and we have often so used it in a limited sense) the Children of Israel must, of course, represent God's elect, covenant people.
The next thing for us to determine is, who did Moses represent? OF WHOM WAS MOSES A TYPE? If Moses represented the gospel minister, as we arc told by our means brethren, then what right have they to say that ANY ONE will ever be regenerated except through the preacher? Every soul who came out of Egypt and through the Red Sea did so under the hand and leadership of Moses. Not a single exception. So again we are confronted with the doctrine that eternal salvation is limited to the preached word. But Moses there is NOT a type of the gospel minister, he is a lively type of CHRIST. And this eliminates the preacher and the preached word. God's word is perfect. We are exhorted to study and rightly divide the word of truth. Our faith is consistent at every point. To espouse the theory of gospel regeneration involves one in a maze of difficulties and inconsistencies and carries him eventually into the whirlpool of Arminianism.
Written by W.H. Crouse
SCRIPTURES RELIED UPON TO PROVE THE MEANS DOCTRINE
We now come to consider the scriptures relied upon to prove the means doctrine-that God regenerates through the ministry and the preached word. Let the reader give careful consideration. If the Scriptures here quoted do NOT prove this doctrine, then it cannot be proven.
1. 1Co 4:15: For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
In the consideration of this scripture we observe first that the Apostle claimed paternal relationship to these Corinthian brethren. He called them his sons. "As my beloved sons I warn you"-1Co 4:14. They had had many pedagogues, schoolmasters or instructors; if it were possible that they should have ten thousand more, yet they had but one father, and that was Paul. The Apostle then shows them upon what foundation he claimed that relationship, viz., for in Christ Jesus he had begotten them through the gospel. 1Co 4:15. Whatever is embraced in the word "begotten." it contains the sole ground for the relationship which Paul claimed they sustained to each other, viz., father and sons.
Jesus said to his disciples, "And call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your Father which is in heaven," Mt 23:9. And in his instruction to them in regard to prayer, he said, "Pray ye, our Father which art in heaven," Mt 6:9. Jesus plainly taught here that saints have but ONE father, and that Father is in heaven; and yet Paul would have these brethren at Corinth to recognize him as their father and that they were his children.
This shows conclusively that Paul was not properly their father, nor were they properly his sons. The text cannot be taken in its literal meaning. All must readily admit that God is properly the father of all his children. We are not said to be born of Paul, nor of Apollos, but "born of God." And John, speaking of this spiritual relationship, says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God," 1Jo 3:2. Not sons of some gospel minister, but sons of God. The sense in which Paul was their father was infinitely below the sense in which God was their Father.
And inasmuch as God alone is our Father in regeneration, and as the sole ground upon which Paul claimed to be their father is embraced in the word ``begotten,'' we argue that it cannot here mean regeneration.
Many words, in the Scriptures, are used hi a metaphorical sense. In Ro 4:16, Abraham is said to be "the father of us all"; but none would be so foolish as to claim that it was through Abraham that we were regenerated. It is also said of Abraham, "That he might be the father of them that believe."
Now, in some sense Abraham IS to be considered as our father, but not in the sense of regeneration. In Jg 18:19 we find this language: "And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father." The word father here must be understood in some explained sense. Paul calls Timothy his son (1Ti 1:18 and 2Ti 1:2) and yet there was no natural relationship, and no room is left for us to believe that Paul had anything to do with his regeneration for Timothy was a beloved disciple when Paul first met him. Ac 16:1-3. Job said he was "a father to the poor," Job 29:16; and Joseph said God had made him "a father to Pharaoh," Ge 41:8; but neither of these scriptures can refer in any sense to the work of regeneration.
Paul was their father, not in the sense of regeneration, but in that they were made disciples by his ministry. He had established the church among them and brought them into the church. He was the minister by whom they believed. By him they had been brought from forms of idolatry to the faith of the gospel and the true service of the living God. He had laid the foundation among them and others could only build upon the foundation he had laid. As a "fisherman," divinely sent, he had fished them out from among the world and brought them into the service of the Master. In the sense of faith and service he was their father and they were his sons.
We next observe that whatever work is meant by the word "begotten" Paul did it. It was his work. Note his language: "I have begotten you." He didn't say God had begotten them, but he positively declared, "I HAVE." If regeneration is here under consideration, then the proposition is established beyond dispute that one man can regenerate another man. Not that he does it by his own strength and power, we admit; but by the power and strength given of God, or God's power working through him, or however it may be explained, HE DOES THE WORK, nevertheless. This language will not admit of the elimination of Paul in this work. It would be just as reasonable to conclude that when the Bible says Philip baptized the eunuch that it means God baptized him, or when it says David killed Goliath that it means God killed him, or that when we are told that "Sampson arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went out with them, bar and all," that it was not Sampson, but GOD who did it, as to say that it was not Paul, but God, who begot these Corinthians. There are many instances in the Bible where men were used as instruments to do great works, and in every case they were made able to do the work, and they did it in a proper sense. Sampson had to be given supernatural strength to do the things he did, and they are recorded as his acts, although performed by strength given by the Lord. Certainly David could not of himself have done what he did; he did it through and by the help and strength of the Lord; but nevertheless DAVID KILLED GOLIATH; it was his act, and is so recorded.
However much God and the Holy Spirit may have dwelt in, and wrought through Paul, yet it remains that PAUL BEGAT THESE BRETHREN; and if begotten means regeneration, as our means brethren insist, then Paul REGENERATED them. Strive as they may, they cannot escape this conclusion. And inasmuch as our means brethren deny that one man can regenerate another, we insist that they have no right to use this text to try to prove the instrumentality of the gospel in regeneration. The Bible often speaks of men saving others; but in no case does it have reference to the work of regeneration. This work is ascribed alone unto God, and God never moved and inspired any poor mortal to say to another "I have REGENERATED you." NEVER!
The word "begotten" does not necessarily refer to regeneration. Note the language of the Apostle Peter: "Who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," 1Pe 1:3. We are very sure this does not mean regeneration. By the resurrection of Jesus their hope had been restored, and they had been inspired with new confidence. Men are not regenerated but once; but Peter says, "Who hath begotten us again." When Paul says he had begotten the Corinthians, he has no reference to regeneration. God never taught Paul that regeneration was any part of the work he was to accomplish through the ministry of the word. But Paul had accomplished through the gospel the work for which God had taught him the gospel was designed; he had preached to these people and the good ground had brought forth fruit; he had begotten them to gospel faith, and hope, and service.
Many who read these lines are thinking just now of some dear servant of the Lord who, through his preaching, brought them into gospel faith and hope and service. Others may preach well; many may be abler in the expounding of the word; numbers may be found more eloquent and of more commanding presence; but somehow, when we are in our right minds, there remains, a peculiar tenderness and affection for the watchman which first "found us and took away our veil" from us. We crown him with all the honor God will allow; but in the work of regeneration God alone shall have all the praise.
Before we pass from this scripture let us notice Paul's teaching in the chapters preceding this. Upbraiding them for saying, "I am of Paul; and I am of Apollos," Paul says: "Who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase," 1Co 3:5-6.
Paul was here explaining to these erring brethren just what it was that had been done by the ministry and the gospel. What was it? Apollos had "watered;" the gospel he preached had come to them like the rain and the dew. But rain and dew doesn't give life, nor does life come to dead vegetation THROUGH water. So this could NOT refer to their regeneration.
Paul had "planted;" Does this mean that he had planted eternal life in them? Does this refer to regeneration? If so, then again we insist that Paul DID regenerate them, and this our means brethren will not accept, for they say, "It was God that gave the increase." I submit that if "giving the increase" was regeneration, then, "planting" was NOT. Planting and increase are two separate and distinct things. According to nature, planting is essential to an increase; it MUST precede. And if the "increase" was regeneration, and the "planting" was the preaching of the gospel by Paul, have we not established then that the preached word is absolutely essential to regeneration?
In verse five Paul explains that be and Apollos were simply "ministers by whom ye believed." They had made believers out of them. And unless making believers is the same as regenerating dead sinners, Paul bad nothing to do with regeneration. If they do mean the same, then ministers can and do (under the blessing of God) regenerate others, for it is abundantly taught in the Scriptures that ministers make gospel believers.
After stating that they had made believers of them, Paul adds, "Even as the Lord gave to every man." Whatever is included in that expression-whatever it was that God gave to every man (every man that believed)-was necessary in order for them to believe. Without it they never would have believed. And whatever it was, it necessarily PRECEDED their belief. If it was regeneration or the implantation of divine life in the soul, then they were regenerated BEFORE they believed and these ministers making them believers had nothing to do with their regeneration. They were too late for that.
Let our means brethren answer the following questions:
1. Which comes first in point of time, belief or regeneration?
2. Can an unregenerate sinner, dead in sins, have gospel faith?
3. If not, would it not follow then that he must be ALIVE (regenerated) before belief?
4. Isaiah belief pleasing to God? Paul declares, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." Ro 8:8. Are unregenerate sinners in the flesh? If so, can they please God by having gospel faith?
5. Faith is said to be a fruit of the Spirit. Do unregenerate sinners have the Spirit? If not, can they have faith?
6. Can belief spring from an impure heart?
7. Do unregenerate sinners have a pure heart?
8. In one place we are told hearts were purified by faith. Ac 15:9. If this means in regeneration (and not in a practical sense, as our people explain it) does it not necessarily follow that faith must be found in an impure, unregenerate heart? for how could faith purify unless faith existed BEFORE the heart was pure? If the heart has to be pure (regenerated) before there can be faith, it is too late for faith to purify in that sense.
9. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," (1Jo 5:1), how would it be possible for any one to be regenerated who had not heard the preacher?
10. Are any born of God who does NOT believe? If not, and Paul was correct when he said, ``How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?'' (Ro 10), how would it be possible for any one to be regenerated who had not heard the preacher?
We Primitive Baptists insist that regeneration must precede gospel faith or belief-before the preached word will make a believer the sinner must he made ALIVE. Making alive is God's work independent of the ministry and the preached word. It IS the work of the ministry to make believers and disciples; God makes CHILDREN. Some of these Corinthians were attributing too much to the ministry and Paul reproved them.
Again: "For we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God," 1Co 1:23-24. They preached the gospel to ALL it did not have the same effect upon all. To some it was a "stumbling block" and ''foolishness;" to others it was Christ the power and wisdom of God. Why this difference? It is to be found in this expression, "But unto them which are called." Those first mentioned were NOT called; the later class was. It is admitted that this is the "effectual call" or regeneration. It is the same thing that we found (in 1Co 2:5) had to precede belief. This language will not admit of the position that this call was simultaneous with their preaching to them this gospel. It preceded, made the preparation for the gospel's reception, and was the ground and reason why the gospel did not come to them as it came to others. The same thing is taught in 1Co 1:18: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." It cannot be denied that "saved" here means regenerated. And the word ''saved,'' in 1Co 1:18, and the word ''called,'' in 1Co 1:24, has identically the same meaning.
And we observe again that if the change wrought in the hearts of men by being "saved" and "called" as Paul here expresses it, was done THROUGH their preaching, then regeneration is confined to the scope of the preached gospel. This calling was either something separate and apart from the preached word, or it was inseparably connected with it. If the latter, none are regenerated without the gospel. If this call (or regeneration) is separate and distinct from the preaching of the gospel, we can understand how God might call (regenerate) WHILE they were preaching; but if it is THROUGH the minister and his preaching that sinners are thus called, then none are regenerated except those who hear and not until they hear the gospel preached. The word "save" is used with a different meaning in 1Co 1:21: "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save the-in that believe." The believer, as we have seen, is already born of God. Therefore Paul could not have meant, "to regenerate them that believe." And besides, if Paul was here telling how it pleased God to regenerate sinners, we come again face to face with two Armenian premises, both unscriptural, viz.,
1. If regeneration is meant, none are regenerated except believers. And since the gospel is necessary to belief, (Ro 10) none are saved except they hear the gospel.
2. It also places belief BEFORE regeneration; and we then have dead sinners, carnal, in the flesh, without the Spirit, who cannot please God, exercising gospel faith.
Saved here does NOT refer to regeneration; but those regenerated or effectually called are, by the gospel, to he saved in a practical sense.
3. Jas 1:18: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth."
4. 1Pe 1:23: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."
The means brethren always assume that "word" in these texts, means the written word. Word is one of the names of Christ Jesus the Lord. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," "All things were made by him." "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father."-Joh 1:1,3,14. "And he was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God." Re 19:13.
Word in Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; Joh 1:1,3,14, and Re 19:13, is translated from the Greek word Logos. This being true, and in view of the general teaching of the Scriptures, before our brethren can use Jas 1:18 and 1Pe 1:23 to prove that sinners are born again by the written word they must PROVE that "word" in those passages means the written word. Until they do so, we will continue to believe that the word by which the dead are made alive is Christ the living Word of God. Eternal life is not in the written word, but in Christ. We are taught that Christ as the Word made all things in creation; and it is just as clearly taught the new creation is through Christ and NOT the written word. This is the "incorruptible seed." John says, "this is the record that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
5. Ac 26:15-18: "For I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness * * * delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."
This is one of the scriptures to which Elder Screws cited us to prove that it is a "Bible doctrine" that God uses the preached word as an instrumentality in the work of regeneration. (See Vol. 3, No. 9) That a Primitive Baptist minister should so interpret this scripture will seem strange indeed to our brethren. If his interpretation of this one text is true, it means the complete overthrow of EVERY fundamental of our faith. If the work which God here assigned Paul was the regeneration of the Gentiles, Brother Screws need not seek another text in his effort to put to confusion, and the destruction of the faith of those whom he styles "modern" Baptists; with shamed faces for their ignorance and almost unpardonable sin through all these years, they should fold up their tents and silently steal away into the land of oblivion. If God sent Paul out to open the blind eyes of the dead in sin; to turn alien sinners from the power of the Devil unto God; to bring the spiritually unborn from the darkness of death into the light of life; to cause the lost to receive the forgiveness of sins; to bring those who were by nature the children of wrath into sonship with God and the inheritance of the saints, -I say, if this was THE work which God assigned this minister of the gospel, then indeed have Primitive Baptist violated their Commission and well deserve the condemnation of men and the fierce judgments of Almighty God. For certain it is that we have never conceived this as any part of our mission; our denomination has not only neglected THIS commission but they have determinedly opposed it.
Surely our brethren have not realized the awful and fatal consequences that must result by fastening this interpretation of scripture upon our people or they would not have been so quiet, and for so long, and heedless of the pleadings of some of us, who for all our protests have received but one answer, viz., the charge of being possessed of an evil spirit. We have been condemned by some for insisting that this teaching is heresy, but in the name of our blessed Lord, and in his Spirit, we ask in all candor: if this is NOT heresy among Primitive Baptists, then what IS heresy? And can it be supposed that we can accept this interpretation or tolerate this teaching and retain the love and fellowship, or respect, of our brethren at home and abroad? Isaiah it not high time that we were laying aside all prejudice and personalities and coming to the rescue of that banner which has been so gloriously and bravely flung to the breeze and defended by our fathers, but now already in many places has been trailed in the dust?
This commission was given to Paul by Jesus Christ himself. Notice the last expression: "By faith in me." Read Ro 10 again, and once more note that if regeneration was the work assigned to Paul, then regeneration is again confined to the scope of the preached word. Isn't it strange that one will give all these scriptures this interpretation and then play so much upon the term, "in some cases?" Be not deceived. If it is in some cases through the gospel, it is in ALL cases. And the position of those who teach this strange doctrine among us is that only in EXCEPTIONAL cases does God vary from the rule of regeneration through the preached word. Dorcas is the rule; Lazarus is the exception. And we are now told that even the revelation which Christ told Peter God had made unto him (Peter), as recorded in Mt 16:17, was made THROUGH Andrew his brother!
Elder Screws makes this commission of Paul's identical with that given to Christ, as recorded in Isa 42:6-7. "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." This interpretation has too much use for man and too little use for God; "too much humanity, and not enough divinity." Paul was a sinner to be saved, but not a savior of sinners. Are Primitive Baptists now to take a position that must lead them at last to conclude that there are as many saviors as there are ministers of the gospel?
Paul was not commissioned to open BLIND eyes. He could not do that. That was the commission of Christ. It requires a greater force to open blind eyes than is found in the gospel. Men's eyes may be opened by moral force, but it will never cause a blind eye to see. NEVER! Ministers, by gospel teaching, through the grace and blessing of God, are able to open eyes, in a sense; but they cannot cause the blind to see. And the work Christ gave Paul to do in his commission was to be HIS (Paul's) work-it was to he done by Paul. The light of the sun will enable us to see objects about us, but it never has caused blind eyes to see, and was never intended to do so. Christ was among the Gentiles opening blind eyes. Paul was to open eyes closed by falsehood and error by the proclamation of truth. He was to "sow" the seed, but only the GOOD GROUND would bring forth fruit. He was to be a minister and a witness. Sinners are not regenerated by the ministry and witness of men. Teaching will not bring about this change.
Paul was never commissioned to regenerate anyone, or to give to any dead sinner eternal life. Eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ (Ro 6:23), but never THROUGH Paul or any other preacher.
6. 2Co 3:3: "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living Cod not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart." This is another one of the texts Brother Screws says he relies upon to prove the instrumentality of the gospel in regeneration.
It seems to us that it will be rather difficult to hold that position concerning this text and still say that the gospel is not a means. Paul illustrates the regeneration of these saints by the writing of a letter. It is an impossibility to use this illustration and put the preacher in it without leaving one of the persons in the Trinity out. This text is always used against us in public discussion with the Arminians. They make Christ the penman, the preacher the pen, and the Holy Spirit the ink. This leaves the Father out of regeneration entirely. If you make God the penman you must leave Christ out. And they always prefer to leave out the Father or the Son rather than leave out the preacher! Now, let us notice this illustration. If Christ is the penman, the preacher the pen, and the Holy Spirit the ink, and the hearts of men the paper, then please tell us how the Holy Spirit could reach the paper or heart without the pen or preacher. Here we have a penman and plenty of ink; but how can he write on the paper without something to serve as a pen?
There we are again. No preacher and gospel, no regeneration. The reader cannot but see how that all roads traveled by the means brethren center in this one proposition. They can't escape it, though they strive ever so hard to do so. But, again: If the pen represents the minister, how can we say that the ministry is not a help and a means? Was the pen no help or means to the person in writing the letter with ink? Let Elder Screws answer.
Elder Penick (Missionary) used this scripture as proof in his debate with Elder Cayce. Here is what Penick said: "I might use a simple illustration. Suppose I take a fountain pen here. Here is ink in it. Here is Christ, the writer; here is Paul, the pen; here is the heart, the paper; and the Spirit is the ink. Now, the means is brought in contact. The means don't save by itself. The Spirit is brought in contact; there is CONTACT of both. There is God's word, there is God's minister, and there is God's Spirit. I use that to illustrate this point in getting the matter before your mind. When a man denies that the means is used, or when he denies that the Spirit is used, we are there to say that both the Spirit and the word comes into contact with the heart." (Page 289.)
Thus you see that our means brethren offer nothing new. All their proof texts are the proof texts Arminians have used against us time and again in public discussions. The only possible difference between Penick and Elder Screws on this text is Brother Screws' play on the word means. And Penick will understand that well enough that it will not affect his fellowship for Brother Screws in the least.
Now, the real import of this scripture is this: God is the penman; Jesus Christ is the pen; the Holy Spirit is the ink; the hearts of men the paper. And as God wrote with his own finger upon the tables of stone (read the entire chapter), asking nothing of Moses, so God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, writes upon the fleshly tables of men's hearts. This is that circumcision not made with hands (Col 2:11). It is done by the FINGER of God. Ex 1:18; De 9:10. Gospel ministers-not even Primitive nor "Original" Baptists, are to be considered fingers of God. All thus ircumcised in heart-written upon by the FINGER of God--are said to be "the epistles of Christ." To them Paul ministered; "ministered by us."
Our brethren can readily see that Paul had no reference to regeneration in verse 2.
7. Ac 2:37: "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
We are next cited to this text as proof of the gospel as an instrumentality in regeneration. We are told that these were not regenerated when they entered the house at nine o'clock that day. "Pricked in their heart," we are told was regeneration. This was done BY and THROUGH Peter's preaching; therefore, it is argued, they were regenerated by or through the instrumentality of the gospel.
I am sure my readers will not agree that this preacher and the gospel were no means or help in pricking their hearts. We cannot read this scripture and its connection and come to that conclusion. That it was through Peter and the message he delivered that their hearts were pricked is certainly beyond dispute.
There is but one question for us to decide: Will the preached gospel prick the heart of an unregenerate sinner? Will it have that effect upon the DEAD?
Will it thus affect a heart of stone? We can readily understand how the preached word would have that effect upon LIVING subjects, with hearts of "flesh"; but we can not understand how it could thus affect those who had not been made alive by the quickening power of God. If it be said that the Holy Spirit pricked them, and not the preached word, the point is yielded, for it is thus admitted that the gospel CANNOT reach the dead, alien, unregenerate sinner. But we would have the reader note that this text doesn't say, "While they heard this, they were pricked in heart," but "When they heard." It was what they HEARD that pricked them; and DEAD men, UNREGENERATE men, do NOT hear. They were listening to the word (gospel) of God. "He that is not of God heareth not us," 1Jo 4:6. To be ``of God'' is to be born of God. These, who were pricked in heart by Peter's preaching, were ``of God'' or they would not have understandingly heard Peter's words. They were therefore born of God. And being born of God before they HEARD, it was NOT through Peter's preaching that they were regenerated.
8. Joh 17:20 "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."
Let the reader remember that we were referred to this text as proof of the INSTRUMENTALITY of the preached word in regeneration. It is evident; therefore, that Brother Screws understands that regeneration is connected with gospel belief; that making believers through the preached word is the same as regenerating sinners. If he does not so believe we cannot understand why he cites us to this text to prove his position. The only work referred to in this text is the making of believers through "their word"-the gospel. It was through "their word" that certain ones were to believe. If that teaches the INSTRUMENTALITY of the preached word in regeneration, then belief and regeneration must be inseparably connected. And if to be made a believer is to be regenerated, and they were to be made believers through the preached word, we would have to conclude that none are regenerated where the word is not preached. See? And we remember that Brother Screws said THIS text includes ALL the elect who should be given to Christ.
If this means regeneration, we would be compelled to say that through the preached word unregenerate men are made believers. For if they must be regenerated BEFORE they can believe (as we insist) then believing through the preached word is too late for this text to prove the instrumentality of the preached word in regeneration or eternal salvation.
Gospel faith is produced in the hearts of the regenerate through the preached word. This is a part of the work of the gospel ministry. It is necessary to gospel service. But we are not to conclude that NO ONE except gospel believers are regenerated and reach heaven. If so, then all infants, idiots and heathen are forever lost!
9. Eph 5:25-26: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."
We have already given notice to Elder Screws' position on this text. We suppose the church here means all the church. It was the church for which Christ died. It is to be sanctified, cleansed and washed. Elder Screws says this includes regeneration and that this is to be done BY the word-the preached word. We make the following observations:
1. The church is to be sanctified and cleansed.
2. Paul says this is to be done "with the washing of water, BY the word." He makes no exception whatever.
3. If he has regeneration under consideration, and if he means by the word the written or preached word, then, since none can get to heaven without regeneration, it must follow that none will ever get to heaven who have not come under the influence of the gospel.
Whatever washing and cleansing of the church is to be done BY the preached word, is NOT a washing and cleansing from original sin and guilt, for that is done by the blood of Christ through the Holy Spirit; but it is a practical cleansing and washing. And this the gospel will do. God doesn't wash and cleanse alien sinners in regeneration by the gospel; to say that he does, is to deny the whole tenor of the Bible and place the ministry and the gospel in a field of labor where God expressly, time and again, says they cannot go.
10. 2Th 2:13-14: "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This has been frequently quoted and stressed as a proof text by Brother Screws in contending for gospel instrumentality in regeneration. We have noticed it somewhat in a former article. In the first place let us observe that if regeneration is here in this text connected with the belief of the truth and the call of the gospel, then there was not a single one of these Thessalonians who had been regenerated WITHOUT the gospel. Not one. There was no exception to the "established rule" in this church. We do not know how many members there were in this church at that time, but it seems a little strange that not a single one was to be found here who had been regenerated without a preacher. Every member was a Dorcas; there was not a single Lazarus among them. It does seem that there would have been at least one "exception," if God only regenerates "in some cases" through the preached word.
Now, what proves too much for a proposition proves nothing. And their interpretation of this scripture makes it prove too much for their position-at least at the present time. In fact the reader will note that if Elder Screws is right in his interpretation of ALL these scriptures, his great difficulty is, not to find one who was regenerated through the instrumentality of the preached word, but to find ONE who was NOT. So far, Brother Screws has only referred us to one-Paul; and Brother Sikes tells us that even Paul was regenerated through means and instrumentalities.
If "belief of the truth" is connected with regeneration, HOW much of the truth does one have to believe to be regenerated? Elder Screws says all "thus chosen are caused to believe the truth." (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1.) He admits that but few of our people throughout the United States for many years have believed that God regenerates through the preached word; Dr. Watson, in his attack upon our people, charged us with having woefully ignored the teaching of the Bible on this line. Now if Elder Screws and Dr. Watson have the truth, the rest of us have not--the denomination has not believed the truth on this point. If Elder Screws is correct in his interpretation of the book of Revelation, a very large percent of our people have not and do not believe the truth on that line. If Elder Sikes was correct in his explanation of election and atonement, as given us in his pamphlet, the great body of our people have not and do not- believe the truth concerning those doctrines. This being true, I ask, in all seriousness, have the great body of our people ever been regenerated? Were they chosen in Christ? And how about the other religious bodies who deny very much which we contend to be the truth-even salvation by grace? Are any of them of the elect? Are any of them regenerated? If so, just how much truth does one have to believe to be regenerated? These are fair and serious questions, and we feel that we have a right to a clear and honest answer, if indeed one must believe the truth or be classed as unregenerate, and not of those chosen in Christ from the beginning.
God teaches the doctrine of eternal, particular and unconditional election. His choice was "from the beginning." He chose these very Thessalonians-that was personal. He chose them unto salvation THROUGH sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. He chose ALL his people at the same time. "Belief of the truth" comes through the gospel. It is something they DO. If this means regeneration, does this not smack of conditionalism? If not, why not? Are men active or passive in believing the truth? Does God compel his children to believe the truth? If so, how does it come that so many of them do not believe the truth? If the gospel compels saints to believe the truth, why don't ALL saints who hear the gospel believe the truth? Are any of the elect in lands where the truth has never been proclaimed? If so, how did God choose THEM unto regeneration?
Salvation and regeneration are not synonymous terms. Salvation is a much more comprehensive term than regeneration. Salvation includes regeneration; but regeneration does not include all of salvation by any means. There is a sense in which we were saved when Christ died on the cross; there is a sense in which we were NOT. There is a sense in which we were saved in regeneration; there is a sense in which our salvation was far from complete even then. Salvation began in eternity, in the mind and purpose of God; it began IN us in regeneration, and it will not be complete until every heir of promise, in soul and body, shall be safely housed in heaven.
We are to be personally brought into the enjoyment of this salvation, first, "through the sanctification of the Spirit,"-that is regeneration; second, "through belief of the truth,"-that pertains to this life and is that phase of salvation sometimes called "time" or "common" salvation. Christ said, "Except a man be born again he can not see the kingdom of God;" but no where did he say, Except a man believeth the truth he cannot enter heaven. Unto salvation we ARE called by the gospel (but not unto regeneration)-unto that salvation which God has designed for us in gospel faith and hope and service.
11. Eph 2:8: "For by grace are ye saved through faith."
Elder Screws insists that this is regeneration, or eternal salvation, and that the faith here mentioned is that faith of which Paul speaks in Ro 10, which he (Paul) says one CAN NOT have without hearing of Jesus through the preacher. And we have seen that he (Elder Screws) very emphatically declares that sinners are thus saved THROUGH this faith and "not to the exclusion of it," that Paul here lays down the irrevocable plan, and only way, whereby sinners dead in sin are brought to LIFE in Jesus Christ.
We are not going to discount the intelligence and ability of Elders Screws and Sikes by saying they can not and do NOT see that if this interpretation be true there can be no such thing as regeneration without the gospel and the preacher. Our readers see it, I am sure.
If regeneration is brought about through faith, and that faith is produced (or given) through the preached word, then strive as we may to prove otherwise, it is forever established that where the word is not preached there is no regeneration.
We do not want to be unfair. Elders Screws and Sikes say they do NOT believe that regeneration is confined to the scope of the gospel. Very many of the ablest ministers in the Missionary Baptist denomination say the same thing. But having taken this position on this text, and interpreted other scriptures to support it, the great body of that denomination NOW believe and insist that there is no regeneration where the gospel is not preached.
Elders Screws and Sikes may never go that far; but having taken the Missionary Baptist position on this text, and others, and teaching it among us, it is only a question of time until it produces the same effect among us that it has among the Missionaries. Gill's position on these texts helped to open the door for Fuller's teaching; and it was doubtless the observation of the fruits of this teaching that led Gill, in his maturer years, to repudiate his former teaching.
According to this interpretation we must find ANOTHER plan of salvation taught somewhere in the Bible or even those who die in infancy are lost, since they cannot have THIS faith which comes by hearing the preacher.Where do we find TWO plans of eternal salvation taught in the Bible? Where?
"By grace are ye saved." Will anyone, infant or adult, be saved any other way? ALL of us, whether Primitive, "Original" or "Modern" must answer emphatically, NO. Well, then if this eternal salvation comes to dead sinners by grace THROUGH FAITH, and this faith comes through the preached word, how will infants, idiots or heathen be saved?
The position of these brethren on this text must revolutionize the thought, the preaching, and all the activities of our denomination. It identifies us with the Means Baptists, and makes the fence so low between us and the Missionary Baptists that we may soon expect our flocks to be ring-streaked and spotted.
And it matters not how sound these brethren may preach on other lines; they may become quiet on this particular issue; but everywhere this seed has been sown it is taking root, and must bring forth its harvest unless speedily rooted up. If we are right in our contention-if our people agree with us in our defense of our recognized faith-then do we not have the right to expect that they condemn this heretical teaching, that it be stopped, and that our ministers and periodical labor to reclaim those who already have been led astray and to fortify our people against its destructive influence?
We seek the destruction of no minister. We welcome into our ministry any worthy man called of God. But let it be known by all who would enter our ministry that we have a recognized faith, and to that faith they are expected to be true. If they are coming among us to REVOLUTIONIZE us and to introduce destructive innovations-if they feel to be a MOSES specially called and divinely sent to lead poor, ignorant and deluded Prims out of the darkness and the mire into which they feel our fathers led us- then let the signboards upon every road which leads into Zion bear the inscription, written in letters which he who runs may read, "Not Wanted."
We have many doctors among us who would prescribe for the peace, health and growth of our people. If I may pose as a doctor, I would prescribe the OLD TIME FAITH, THE OLD TIME RELIGION, ONLY SOUND AND SPIRITUAL HYMNS in harmony with the faith we believe, and humble, simple, quiet devotion in such faith in our Father as will not shrink though pressed by every foe. Some of the divisions among us were uncalled for and brought about by designing men. But much of the confusion among Primitive Baptists was caused by restless and unstable leaders who sought to revolutionize the denomination, and who were unmindful of the feelings and hearts of their brethren and turned a deaf ear to all their entreaties. It is useless to plead and beg for peace while the foundation stones upon which peace, love,fellowship and union rest are being removed. We quote here another text, often used by Arminians to support the interpretation given of Eph 2:8, "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God,"-Ro 5:1-2. It is argued that we are saved by grace, BUT that we have access INTO this grace through gospel faith. And since we cannot be saved only by grace, and we cannot get into this grace only by gospel faith, therefore the absolute necessity of the preacher and the gospel in order for sinners to be saved.
How would our means brethren answer their argument? Isaiah there any way they could answer it without first giving lip their position in reference to Eph 2:8? Primitive Baptists have given their interpretation of these texts. Let the reader study it and take it for what he considers it worth.
"By grace are ye saved"-saved with an eternal salvation. Paul has special reference to the work of regeneration as shown in verse 10. "Through faith"-the avenue through which we have personal knowledge of this salvation. Faith is the eye by which we see and the hand by which we lay hold of the blessings laid up for us in this wonderful salvation in Jesus Christ. It is not the hand by which we lay hold of eternal life in regeneration; this would put faith BEFORE LIFE. It is that by which we consciously and experimentally have access into this grace "WHEREIN WE STAND" and thus rejoice in hope. This faith justifies us, not at the bar of God, but at the bar of our own conscience; there it declares to us that we are righteous. It is to us the evidence of the things God has done for us and in us and of the things yet held in store. This faith, as a seed or substance, is laid in the heart or soul in regeneration, is the work and fruit of the Holy Spirit, and is said to be the gift of God. Experience, environment and teaching will develop it, and under the gospel it buds forth and blooms into belief in Jesus Christ, which is termed gospel faith.
It might very properly be said that no regenerate person, infant or adult, is without THIS faith mentioned in Eph 2:8. But it may be there only in substance undeveloped. The same may be said of all the Christian graces. MANY saints die without ever having GOSPEL faith, having never come under the sound and influence of the gospel. In this life our knowledge of our salvation and justification and the inexpressible joy that comes as the result of this knowledge depends largely upon the gospel-the written or spoken word. Instances of regenerated characters who had never heard the gospel are given us in the New Testament; but it would be impossible for us to imagine the exact feelings and experiences of a child of God who has never known anything of the Bible. Just how much the light of eternal life within and nature without would manifest this faith we do not know. Faith, whether ''given" or "gospel," is NOT the avenue through which LIFE flows into the soul dead in sin, but it IS the avenue through which knowledge comes to the NEW BORN soul.
Elder Sikes lays great stress upon certain scriptures which speak of righteousness being imputed by and through faith. If these texts mean to teach that the righteousness of Christ is imputed or made over to us in the court of heaven and at the bar of God WHEN we, as unsaved and unrighteous sinners, exercise faith, then EVERY fundamental of our doctrine falls.
So far as eternity and heaven are concerned, and as respects the covenant and the law of God, our faith has absolutely nothing to do with our justification. When Christ died, his death absolved from ALL guilt every one embraced in the covenant of grace. He then and there extinguished their guilt. It was done by substitution. Our sins were imputed to him and his righteousness was imputed to us. And through that transaction, ALL the saints of all ages-the millions of his people who were yet unborn-stood fully justified and righteous before God.
To undertake to so explain these scriptures as to bring atonement and justification by the blood of Christ down to the TIME when the sinner believes is a complete denial of the fundamentals of Primitive Baptist faith. It forces a new explanation of election and atonement.
We ARE justified by faith; and his righteousness is imputed to us by and through faith; not as respects the law of God and the court of heaven, but experimentally-in our own knowledge, to our great comfort and joy and peace.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God; a workman which needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." -Paul.
The writer realizes his accountability to God for his own stewardship. Every word that I say and every act of my life shall be brought into judgment. Though our sins were imputed to Christ and his righteousness imputed to us, and it is alone through this imputation that we can hope to reach heaven, yet it is true that in this life whatsoever we sow we shall reap. And God has said, "Be sure your sin will find you out." We know what it is to have the consciousness of his approval, and we know full well the keenness of his judgments. In the fear of Almighty God we send forth these pages.
The trials and conflicts, sorrows and disappointments of twenty-six years in the service has seasoned us much as a soldier of the cross; Satan's fiery and poisonous darts have so often been hurled at us that we have become immune to fear, for we take shelter under the wings of Him whose cause we undertake to serve and whose truth it is the delight of our soul to teach and defend; and as between the doctrines of the Primitive Baptists and the best of friends it does not require one moment for us to make our choice.
We are not the leader of any faction nor do we seek to be. We do not want strife and division- we pray division may come no more to our distressed people. The hearts of the true in Israel sink within them at the thought of another conflict. Many would feel like giving up in despair. But truth is worth contending for and defending, though time and again assailed. So many things have happened among our people in Georgia that it sickens the heart of those who have lived in hope of a general union of our people throughout the United States. The writer has kept in close touch with our people everywhere. He has been in touch with the leading ministers throughout the different states. Whatever else may be charged against him he does not believe that it can be truthfully said that he does NOT know Primitive Baptist Faith. Our people may have been mistaken in their interpretation of the Scripture, but what their interpretation is and has been, the writer most confidently asserts that he KNOWS.
For that Faith we intend to fight. With us there will be no compromise. We are pastor of four churches which have a combined membership of five hundred. They give me and my family a liberal support. They are as good and faithful brethren as are to be found anywhere. We are sure they stand true to old time Primitive faith. But whatever their attitude may be, by the help of God we expect to stand with those who love the old time doctrines of our church, the good old-time religion of the fathers, and who seek not the applause and favor of the world nor to pattern after her by the addition of aids and auxiliaries, and who do not seek to make the church a place of show and entertainment but rather a place of humble devotion and solemn service where God is feared and hearts beat in love and fellowship sublime.
Our experience has proven, it seems to us, that it is exceedingly dangerous for the church of God to attempt to be "progressive." There are always those in the church who have more zeal than knowledge, and little things-harmless and sinless within themselves, once introduced, pave the way for radical departures, Little by little those who know little of our doctrine, and perhaps care less, and who thirst for the applause and companionship of the world, will edge in the things of the world until there is at last trouble, and perhaps division.
We are thoroughly convinced that the church of God needs no additions, no worldly affiliations of any nature. Just as she came from the hand of Christ our Savior she is ALL the Christian needs. And it should be the desire of our hearts to keep that church pure that we may hand it down to our posterity in its primitive beauty as the greatest of all legacies.
Let us stand firm and true for the faith to which our people have subscribed through all the years, for that faith is, as we verily believe, THE faith once for all delivered to the saints.
WILLIAM H. CROUSE.