IN DEFENSE OF TRUTH
DANVILLE CHURCH DIVISION
IN WHICH IS PRESENTED EVIDENCE
BROUGHT BEFORE, AND GATHERED BY
THE INVESTIGATING COMMITTEE
FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND FIFTH SUNDAY
ALSO QUOTATIONS FROM LEADING BAPTISTS
SHOWING THEIR POSITION ON
AND ASSUMED AUTHORITY OF ASSOCIATIONS OVER CHURCHES
S. E. COPELAND, CLERK
R. H. PITTMAN, COMPILER
The purpose of the meeting with Mill Church, near Danville, Va., Friday, Saturday and 5th Sunday in May 1926 was to learn, if possible, The cause or causes which led up to the division in Danville Church;— The immediate cause of the exclusion of Eld. J. R. Wilson and those voting with him; The gospel labor Danville Church bestowed upon those excluded before exclusion—if any; The action of those excluded,—did they act disorderly, and if so, did they see their error, confess their wrongs and thus seek to cure their disorder, and if so why were they not forgiven; If Danville Church refused to forgive, did the church refer the case to the Association for settlement; Did brethren involved in the Danville Church trouble to go to law with brethren over church property, and if so which party began the lawsuits? The further purpose of the meeting was, not to extend the division, but if possible to prevent the trouble spread-by getting the facts in the case and putting them before the Baptists in as clear light as the time and space would admit. All peace-loving Baptists desire peace and fellowship one with another on the basis of the principles and practices clearly taught in the Bible.
The work of the Investigating Committee was a labor of love for the cause of truth. The Committee honestly endeavored, within the short time at their hand, to learn the truth,—to turn on the light,—to get the real facts. Their sessions were held openly and they welcomed information from any quarter. But they did not, and do not, undertake in any way to bind their findings or conclusions upon any one. The direct evidence gathered by this Committee, and the evidence bearing on the questions involved gathered by the Committee on Information, is herewith presented in this little book. It is sent you, kind reader, for your perusal. You are to render your decision as before God and not before men. May you give it a prayerful and careful study. May your desire be, not to find fault but to find the truth. And may God bless it to the good of His cause, the advancement of His truth, the unifying of His people, and to the glory of His name.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Php 4:8.)
Luray, Va., Sept., 1926. R. H. Pittman, Compiler.
The following call was sent for publication, to The Primitive Baptist, The Advocate and Messenger, and Zion’s Landmark, and was published in the two first named papers to-wit
“WHEREAS there arose some years ago a contention among Primitive Baptists in sections of Va., and N. C. over certain points of doctrine which resulted in local divisions, and WHEREAS gospel labor was bestowed and repeated efforts made to heal the breach but without success, therefore be it RESOLVED that we the Primitive Baptist Church in Danville at her regular conference in Feb. 1926 do call our Sister Churches everywhere to meet with us the 5th Sunday in May, and Friday and Saturday before at the Mill Church, near Danville, for the purpose of investigating the doctrine and practice of our good brethren in this country. We want spiritual judges to sit in judgment. The people will be met in Danville; expenses of ministers will be paid. We have invited Elders Hassell, Dalton, Hanks, Turnipseed, Petty, Webb, Cayce, Pittman, Vass, Thompson, Dickerson, Copeland, Rawlston, Parker, Monsees and others. All lovers of the truth and ministers everywhere are cordially invited to be at this important meeting.
Done by order of the church in Danville, Va., at her regular conference, Feb. 1926. J. R. Wilson, Moderator, W. L. Parker, Clark.” The moderator and clerk also in a special way invited the following elders and brethren to meet with us in the investigation by writing them special personal letters, some of them being opposed to Elder Wilson and those with him in this unhappy division in Danville Church, namely: Elders P. G. Lester, S. J. Roberts, S. J. McKinney, M. L. Gilbert, Jessie Barnes, J. W. Gardner, J. A. Fagg, A. L. Owen, B. S. Cowin, J. M. Dickerson, E. R. Harris, J. D. Vass, 0. J. Denney, S. G. Dobbins and Dr. C. B. Hall.
The churches that met with Mill Church by messengers, and those represented by brethren who came only on their own accord, not being especially appointed by their respective churches to represent them in this meeting, were assembled together in the Mill Church house on Friday, May 28, 1926 and after song service and prayer by Elder J. N. Bobo of Alabama were invited to take seats in conference. They are as follows: Sugartree Church—W. H. Winn, Eld. J. J. Beck.
Dan River Church—Elders W. F. Pruitt, F. F. Eggleston, T. L. Wilson, and brethren W. T. Ward, A. H. Dickerson.
Martinsville Church—D. T. and Ed. Winter. Strawberry Church—J. C. and Arthur Mitchell and Eld. W. H. Oaks.
High Point Church—A. H. Idol, J. M. Snyder, J. T. Hicks.
Pine Ridge Church—Eld. P. J. Washburn.
Walton Church—Elijah Lewis.
Little Flock Church—E. M. Anderson, S. J. Martin. Lawyer Spring Church—H. M. Baucom.
Union Grove Church—L. W. Medlin.
Mill Church—W. A. Chaney, J. H. Hawker, Elders Joel T. Lewis and J. S. Lewis.
Axton Church--J. H. Wilson, S. W. Wilson.
The following named brethren also met with those above mentioned : Elders Lee Hanks, B. G. Parker, J. N. Bobo, R. H. Pittman, and brethren Vann P. Helps, W. A. Nance, W. Z. Littleton and S. E. Copeland.
The church then requested that the investigation be full and open.
Elder B. G. Parker was elected moderator and S. E. Copeland, clerk of the Investigation Committee.
A Committee on Information was appointed to gather evidence bearing on the question of doctrine and order involved, predestination, good works, etc. and associations and their recently assumed authority over the churches. This was done because it was claimed by those opposing Eld. Wilson and those with him, that his (Eld. Wilson’s) abusive language toward the moderator and the church was the cause of the division, and not the doctrine, nor the assumed authority of the association over the churches, while Eld. Wilson and those with him contend that it was the doctrine and the assumed associational authority that caused the division.
Now it is the understanding of this Investigation Committee that it is called upon to find out whose claim is right, and to say who, in their best judgment, is the church in order in Danville.
Now, after careful consideration of the evidence presented, and prayerful consideration of the troubles leading up to the division we were brought to the following conclusions or findings, (the evidence upon which we based them being appended hereto) to-wit:
We find that the doctrine of the indiscriminate predestination of God—making no distinction between God's attitude toward sin and His attitude toward righteousness was the main cause which led to the division in Danville Church; this being clearly evident by opposition upon the part of some in certain associations to the preaching of certain elders because these elders were not advocates of "the absolute predestination of all things",—and this was before the trouble in Danville Church.
2. We find that also the doctrine of “the one salvation theory” and the assumed authority of associations over the churches was involved in the contention of brethren, and that Elder J. R. Wilson and those who would not advocate these things were opposed by some in different associations.
3. We find that Elder J. R. Wilson was excluded by Danville Church without gospel labor, and that the charge against him, of abusive language toward the moderator and the church (which appeared in the papers) was not correct.
4. We find that Elder Wilson, after his exclusion from the Danville Church was received into the Mill Church on confession of faith before gospel labor was bestowed by Mill Church upon Danville Church, and that Elder Wilson realizing the mistake thus made went before Danville Church,—first in December 1923 and upon two other occasions during the months following having laid down his gift while thus laboring for reconciliation, making confession for any mistakes made by himself, and asking forgiveness for same, and that Danville Church refused to forgive Elder Wilson.
5. We find that Mill Church also realized her mistake in receiving Elder Wilson as above stated, and rescinded said act and that she, together with Lawyer Spring and Dan River Churches, realizing that they had erred by retaining Elder Wilson as pastor before bestowing gospel labor upon Danville Church for reconciliation did, by messengers, go before Danville Church in her regular conference, first in December, 1924, and upon two other occasions, receiving the promise of forgiveness by Danville Church, which act she later rescinded. Then said messengers, while making the third effort for peace, were told by Danville Church that they would have no more to do with the case, but had referred it to the association!
6. We further find that a minority of Danville Church consisting of about seventeen members withdrew from said church being aggrieved because of the doctrine (of the absolute predestination of all things that come to pass) held to, advocated or tolerated by the majority, and the illegal exclusion of Elder Wilson, did, with him (on the night that they last visited Danville Church seeking reconciliation and being told at this time to stay away from the church) retire to the home of Elder Wilson where a conference was organized by messengers from the following churches: Lawyer Spring, High Hill, Mill, Union Grove, Strawberry, Sugartree, High Point, Dan River, Walton, Martinsville and Leatherwood by electing Elder J. M. Bagwell moderator and H. M. Baucorn, clerk, and upon investigation by the said conference in session Elder J. R. W. son and those with him were declared to be the church in order and doctrine at Danville, and the Baptists present recognized them as such by the extension of the right hand of fellowship, and
7. We find that before this present meeting efforts were made by Lawyer Spring and Mill Churches, and by Elder Wilson and others to call a council of Elders for the purpose of bringing about a reconciliation, but that no agreement could be reached, and this call for investigation was open for all and not a one sided affair.
Now, we, the Investigating Committee believe from the evidence submitted that Elder J. R. Wilson and those standing with him is the church in order at Danville, Va., and we respectfully submit the evidence hereto appended for the careful consideration of all Baptists concerned.
Elder B. G. Parker, Moderator. S. E. Copeland, Clerk.
The Following Evidence Submitted
The first witness heard and questioned was Eld. J. R. Wilson who testified as to How The Trouble Started, the cause of the division, etc. Eld. Wilson said that about fifteen years ago he was sent as a messenger or correspondent from the Mayo Association to visit the Pig River association. W. I. Carnell, an excluded absoluter from Tennessee was visiting in the bounds of the Pig River at that time. Knowing his standing; that he was not then identified with orderly Baptists, Elders A. B. Philpot and J. R. Wilson entered their protest against his preaching among the Baptists here, whereupon Elder J. C. Hurst a member of the Pig River questioned Elder Wilson on the doctrine of predestination. Elder Wilson answered that he believed in the doctrine of predestination as the Bible teaches it, but he did not believe, nor could he fellowship the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things both good and evil, nor the doctrine of the non-resurrection of the dead and the annihilation of the wicked ; that it was not then the doctrine of the Mayo Association of which he was a member. Elder J. C. Hurst (now excluded from the orderly Baptists) said he was an absoluter and he objected to Elder Wilson in that association. His objection was sustained and Elder Wilson, who had already been seated and appointed to preach, was unseated and not allowed to fill the appointment.
Shortly after this meeting Elders L. H. Hardy and J. R. Wilson had extensive correspondence over the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things that come to pass both good and evil. Elder Hardy in said correspondence endorsed the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things. He said that sin was as much a link in God’s predestination as righteousness. Elder Wilson could not agree with him.
A few years later Elder J. A. Shaw preached in one of our associations that God predestinated that Czolgosz should kill McKinley at that particular time and place. Some in the Staunton River, Pig River and Upper Country Line Associations, who were in sympathy, did not object, neither the pastor, Elder Spangler, nor the moderator of the association, but Elder W. F. Pruitt, then a member of the Upper Country Line, and Elder J. R. Wilson and others did object to that extreme position. At that same association (the Staunton River) those extremists objected to Elders Lee Hanks, R. H. Pittman, and W. F. Pruitt preaching on that occasion “because they are not sound.” But after receiving some word of warning the committee on preaching did rearrange, and finally preached them during the meeting. At another session of the same association they refused to recognize Elder C. W. Miller of the Ketocton Association for the same reason. At the next session of the Staunton River Association the moderator, Elder C. T. Evans, together with Elder P. G. Lester and others declared non-fellowship for the doctrine that was preached by Elder B. G. Parker of the Mt. Zion Association of Alabama and treated him very unkindly and unbrotherly during his whole discourse. Elder M. L. Compton, another minister of the Staunton River, a firm believer in the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things that come to pass, got into a dispute with Elder M. E. Petty on the doctrine. Elder Compton got mad with Petty, called him an Arminian, said he had no business in this country; that he had not been invited here only by Wilson, and threatened to knock his teeth down his throat. Later, at another session of the Staunton River held in Danville, Va., 1923 they refused to preach Elders R. H. Pittman and M. E. Petty because of the doctrine they preached. From that meeting forward Elder J. F. Spangler and others took sides with the absoluters, endeavoring to preach only absoluters even to licentiates. This was done not because of a scarcity of preachers but to get rid of Elders Pittman and Petty with their doctrine. They simply rejected all that did not hold to their (absolute) doctrine. Elder Wilson was sick and not present in that meeting which explains his failure to raise objection to such procedure. At the next regular church conference meeting, at Danville, (Sept. 8, 1923) after that association was held, Elder J. A. Ward was present and preached that “absolute predestination of all things” was not strong enough for him ; that he wanted the wills and shalls of the Great Jehovah for everything that he did; and that the sinner is as dead after regeneration as he was before. Elder Evans, the moderator of the association was present, and Elder J. F. Spangler, pastor of the church endorsed him and said that he had hit the keynote for him. Elder J. R. Wilson refused to endorse him. A move and second was made to exclude Brother Sam Walton because he would not endorse that doctrine and to withdraw fellowship from J. R. Wilson and his followers because they would not endorse it. This was done without any labor with them, or any complaint in the church up to that time. And the charge was published soon after this that Elder J. R. Wilson was excluded for using abusive language toward the moderator and the church. This Elder Wilson denies before this committee and the people in these words: “I did not use any abusive language but had a great desire to save my brethren from being carried away by that doctrine. I did not mean it for abuse toward anyone but only to rebuke them sharply as the scriptures authorize. I only dealt firmly with them as a member of the church, and now I wish to say to any person or persons whose feelings were hurt by my stand against those departures, or for what I said on that occasion, I am very sorry for did not intend to hurt anyone as I was dealing with principles and not against persons. I was trying to learn why they refused to preach Elders Pittman and Petty and why they changed the Articles of Faith at the Association and took out one like Art. 4 in the Kehukee Association and put in another.” Brother W. L. Parker arose and stated to the committee that the charge of abusive language against Elder Wilson was not the cause of his exclusion; that he himself made the move to exclude Brother Wilson; that several were speaking abruptly; and that the charge of abusive language was added after the conference closed. He also stated that he was then clerk of the church, taking sides with the absoluters and opposed to Elder Wilson.
Statement by Elder F. F. Eggleston:—”As I see this the trouble has been over doctrine all along. The Staunton River Association was not organized on the doctrine of absolute predestination of all things. Trouble also started in Strawberry Church at the first meeting after the association in 19—(clerk failed to get exact date) where Elder Shaw preached that God uses the devil as a chain-dog to run people into the church. The brethren made complaint about the fourth article of faith being changed in the minute of the association. The article that was changed read as follows: IV. “We believe that when God made man at first he was perfect, holy and upright and able to keep the law but liable to fall; that he stood as a federal head or representative of all his natural offspring and that they were to be partakers of his obedience or exposed to the misery which sprang from his disobedience.” But since they changed it Art. 4 reads thus:
“We believe that when God made man, He made him upright, but he has sought out many inventions; that He stood as the representative head of the whole human family, and that He represented them in death, and therefore they are all totally depraved, and have no power to recover themselves from the fallen state they are in by reason of the fall.” The absoluters hold that Adam was passive in disobedience or the fall ; that man is as passive after regeneration as he was before ; that the association holds power over the churches and when a church joins an association she surrenders her sovereignty. We the Baptists with Elder Wilson do not believe that Adam was predestinated to break the law God gave him, but that he was responsible for his fall. Now, fallen man is passive in regeneration, but active after regeneration God put man in the garden to dress and keep it; not for the purpose of violating the law and falling. Adam was not forced to disobey; he sinned willfully.” Elder W. F. Pruitt of Dan River Church briefly stated: “The division at Dan River was strictly on doctrine. This, I know to be true. I will try to furnish a written statement later.” (Written statement received too late to appear here. It appears in another part of the testimony.) Statement by Elder P. J. Washburn:—”Eld. Lee Hanks was at our association and preached that the sinner is passive before regeneration, but active after regeneration. Elder Dyer said he did not see how any man could believe what Hanks preached. I heard them say that there is nothing gained by obedience nor anything lost by disobedience. One asked him if he considered Elder R. H. Pittman a sound Baptist. His answer was “There is a string of Baptists up that valley that we never have considered sound.” The circular letter which I wrote was objected to by the Pig River Association because I used the term ‘common salvation’ as used by Jude. They said my letter, if adopted, would cause strife. Truth often causes strife among its opposers.” Statement by Elder J. J. Beck attended the Pig River Association at North Fork and was appointed to preach on Friday P. M. In my closing remarks I said that `absolute predestination’ is correct when used in the right connection, also ‘conditional time salvation’ is correct when used in the right connection. The brethren around gave me their hands as an endorsement of what I said. But Brother Jones said ‘Where do you get this time salvation term? I don’t believe a word’ of it? Elder P. G. Lester was there and got stirred up at what was preached, and declared against time salvation. I endorse Elder B. G. Parker and his people in Alabama. Eternal salvation was conditioned on the part or work of Jesus, and time salvation or salvation in time from errors, false ways, false doctrine, etc., is conditioned upon the obedience of God’s children. Elder Cockran said on one occasion that his and Elder J. W. Wyatt’s doctrine is a `new thing here in the Staunton River Association;’ but said he it is the coming doctrine.’ “ Brother J. H. Hawker’s Statement:—I was sent by my home church (Mill) as a messenger to the association. Elder Cockran preached the introductory sermon and he preached what he said was the doctrine of the Baptists in this country. He preached absolute predestination of all things that come to pass, and said he knew that there were some soft Baptists present, and looked straight at the messengers from Mill Church, so all eyes were turned on us. This made us feel badly but we made no public protest. They turned Elder C. W. Miller down at this same association and would not tell their reason for it, the moderator saying, only, that it had been fixed by the preaching committee. We came home and reported to our church that a bad spirit had been manifested at the association. The church decided to bear with them, hoping for a change for the better. The next year I was sent to Danville as a messenger to the association. On the second day of that meeting they did change the fourth article of faith over the protest of the messengers from Mill Church and the assistant clerk Brother P. D. Williams. They also refused to preach Elders Petty and Pittman at this meeting. When we reported to our church she voted to withdraw from the heresy and disorder in our association. Elder J. R. Wilson was our pastor and he said that he would have to stand with us. He went back to Danville Church to see what they would do about it, and some of the members of Mill Church went with him. We found the house full arid many Elders present. Elder Wilson requested and received permission to speak. He ,called for a report from the association. In that report nothing was said about changing any article of faith nor anything about turning down any Elders. Brother Wilson then asked to know if they did not vote to change an article of faith and where they got their authority for so doing. One answered that Elder Dodd told him to vote to change it, and another said that the old article was against the doctrine that the Baptists believe. So there arose some disorder in the stand and Elder Spangler asked Brother Wilson if he could endorse what the association did. Elder Wilson told him that was not for him to say; that they had turned down men that preach the very same doctrine that he (Elder Wilson) preached, and had lined themselves up with the absoluters, and that he had taken his stand with the brethren at Mill Church. Then they voted to exclude him. Brother Wilson made use of no abusive language. So the next time the Mill Church met Elder Wilson and others that came out of Danville with him offered themselves to Mill Church and were received by her.
The above are the main points that I know occurred up to the time of Elder Wilson’s exclusion. Now I would like to speak of the efforts we made for peace. Our pastor soon realized that he had made a mistake in joining Mill Church before a special effort was made to be reconciled with his home church (Danville) even though his church had excluded him without labor; and Mill Church also realized that she had made a mistake in receiving him and also for retaining him as her pastor, and so Elder Wilson went before Danville Church several times confessing his error and asking forgiveness. But while promises were made to forgive him, the church finally decided not to do so, but to refer it to the association. And my church, Mill Church, sent me as one of the messengers to Danville Church to seek a reconciliation and we told the brethren at Danville that our church asked forgiveness for receiving Elder Wilson before we labored with them, and also informed them that Elder Wilson had laid down his gift. He did not preach for us from December, 1923, to April, 1924, and during this time he and his churches were laboring with Danville Church for reconciliation. Our messengers went several times to Danville Church. At their January, 1924, conference Danville voted to forgive Mill Church, but in their next (February) meeting they decided to rescind that act and abandon all labor. The last time I went with other messengers from other churches was April, 1924, and I was requested to speak for the messengers, and I did ask Elder Spangler’s permission to do so. He said ‘On what subject?’ I told him we were trying to find out why Danville church would not forgive Elder Wilson and the several churches that had confessed to making mistakes and asked forgiveness. Elder Spangler told me that they had thrown out these cases and he did not expect to have anything more to do with it, and that if we would stay a way from there they, could have peace. So we had to abandon all further labor with them and I, with all the other messengers retired and we went to Elder Wilson’s home and Sister Wilson gave us-the use of her dining room and there were messengers from Mill, Lawyer Spring, Union Grove, and High Hill went into conference by electing Elder J. M. Bagwell moderator and H. M. Baucom, clerk. We invited members of other churches present and there were nine churches represented and more than two hundred people present at this meting—quite a number. Not being able to get in the house. Our moderator asked the messengers from the above four churches to relate what efforts had been made during the several months past to restore peace with Danville Church, which was done and received as gospel labor. The moderator then called in Elder Wilson and asked him to relate before the messengers what efforts. He had made to restore peace with Danville Church. This he did and it was the mind of all present that he had made gospel efforts to satisfy Danville Church, and failed. The conference of the various churches then decided unanimously that the minority of Danville Church consisting of about seventeen members standing with Elder J. R. Wilson is the orderly church at Danville, Va., and that those standing with Elder Spangler are in disorder. Since then the orderly church at Danville has been going on, not only in standing aloof from extreme predestination and other confusing doctrines, but feel they are also maintaining the gospel order and godly practice.” J. H. Hawker.
Brother W. A. Chaney said, “Brother Hawker’s statement is true.” Brother W. L. Parker stated as follows :—”Brother Moderator and Brethren: I feel weak and insufficient to the task of testifying in so grave and great a cause but will state the facts as I see them, for the consideration and benefit of God’s people everywhere. This trouble which is so great a menace to our people first appeared, according to the best historical account that I have of it, in the bounds of the Sand Lick Association on May 16, 1896, and the issue was the doctrine of “the absolute predestination of all things’ which caused a division in several churches and associations in that country. This doctrine gradually crept eastward until the year 1915 when it was introduced in the Pig River Association by Elders W. I. Carnell from the state of Ohio and J. C. Hurst of Roanoke, Va. And it was tolerated and advocated by others. But it was opposed by Elders J. R. Wilson and A. B. Philpot, the much loved and efficient assistant moderator of that old and honored association. Elder J. R. Wilson was, on that occasion, sent as a messenger to represent the Mayo Association, and he was received and seated, but later he was called in question and unseated because of his opposition to Elders W. I. Carnell and J. C. Hurst on their doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things and the nonresurrection of the body.
On the fourth Sunday night in October, 1917, Elder J. R. Wilson and wife were received by letter into the fellowship of the Danville (Va.) Church and he became an active worker in the welfare and upbuiiding of the church, preaching the doctrine considered sound and comforting by the Baptists of the surrounding country, and was more or less responsible for the good showing of the Danville Church. He was untiring in his efforts, ever ready to lend a helping hand in matters pertaining to the welfare and comfort of his brethren. But a spirit of jealousy began to manifest itself against him, especially from the aforementioned Pig River Association and others who allied themselves with her to try and cause his downfall. At a meeting of the Staunton River Association held with Cahaan Church near Hinesville, Va., in August, 1916, a messenger, Elder J. A. Shaw became so bold in his “sassy” talk on the absolute predestination of all things that many of the sisters, as well as some brethren, turned and walked away from the stand with flushed cheeks, and his slang talk was generally condemned, but he was allowed to finish his discourse unmolested. At the association some years later some good visiting brethren were very rudely treated because they advocated the doctrine of the `common salvation ;’ and all who preached more than one salvation were declared against and rejected. At the association in Richmond in 1919 the absolute element was oppressive against visiting brethren and threatened them with bodily harm. At a union meeting in Danville, Oct., 1918, Elder Wilson was accused with opening the doors and turning the goats in. In. 1920 there was a division in Dan River Church at Mayfield, N. C. The pastor resigned and left them in a divided condition, torn asunder. Elder Wilson went there and labored with them and succeeded in reuniting them and restoring peace and fellowship, was called to serve them as pastor which place he successfully filled until the division in Danville Church, Sept. 8, 192S, when a certain element of that church came out again and stood with their old pastor, thereby causing a second division in the short space of three years, and instead of a labor of love to save them from error as our dear Lord commands, a lawsuit was instituted to wrest their house of worship from them, but in this latter effort they have failed to accomplish their purpose. Eld. Wilson’s people still hold their house.
In the association held with Danville Church in August 1923 certain highly respected visiting brethren were called in question on doctrine and conduct which the accusing parties have utterly failed to establish or prove to be true, though they have been requested to do so. At a conference meeting Sept. 8, 1923, Elder J. R. Wilson was hauled before the church and wrongfully accused and excluded without either labor to save, or trial, a charge of using abusive language being written into the minutes of that meeting after he had been so excluded from the church and the church received the same, also denying that the doctrine was the cause of the exclusion or of the trouble in the church. The charge of abusive language never was brought against Elder Wilson in Church conference, but, as already s ated it was added after the conference had closed. I as clerk of the church and lined up with the majority or absolute element which was doing these things, and I added that charge myself being prejudiced against Elder Wilson. With shame I confess my own part in these unholy proceedings. And in my search for evidence and charges against Elder Wilson I learned of things and charges of a humiliating nature against other brethren. So in order to save them and my church from exposure and shame, which I was confident was bound to come if there was not a radical\ change in the condition of affairs in the Danville Church, I went to my own brethren, as well as able advisers in sister churches, in the interest of peace, and they assured me that I was pursuing the proper course. On the 29th day of October following, the church adopted another resolution in which she did say that “the doctrine was the cause of a difference between the Elders of the association.” While I was engaged in the interest of peace some whom I was seeking to save turned against me and I found myself led astray by designing men, and into a very humiliating position. I have tried to pray God to forgive me for these things and I deeply feel that He has done so. I have also gone to the brethren that I have wronged and begged their forgiveness and I believe they have freely forgiven me.
Elder Wilson went before the church three different times and acknowledged his wrongs and begged the church to forgive him and offered to get down on his knees to the pastor, but, though he met every demand of the church (his confession being pronounced good by an Elder of the church), and though he was promised forgiveness, yet in the face of all this it has been denied him, and he and those with him on doctrine declared against as disorderly and unworthy of the notice of Primitive Baptists. A greater part of the year 1924 and the first few months of 1925 Brethren J. W. Jones, H. M. Baucom and I spent laboring together to bring about a better understanding or state of affairs in our beloved Zion. At times we seemed to be progressing nicely, then unforeseen obstacles would spring up. Finally we did succeed in bringing Old Mill, Danville, and Lawyer Springs churches together in conference. Danville voted to forgive them, as the minute will show, but in a later conference this was abandoned and they were declared against and invited to stay away from Danville church. After Danville Church had agreed by unanimous vote to forgive Mill Church certain members of the Danville Church wrote me as follows: ‘I am sorry that the Mill Church came back; I am sorry that we forgave them and I want the act rescinded just as soon as possible.’ While these disturbances were going on and an unkind spirit being manifested against me because of my activities in the interest of peace I wrote my good pastor and told him that if conditions did not improve I would leave the church. Answering, he assured me that he would do his best to get the matter straightened out next meeting. The time came and I only received another denial. So when the church voted to abandon these dear brethren and churches that I had labored so hard to save, I felt that I also was one pf them, and that the church’s act also excluded me, so I told them to exclude me from their membership, which they did without any labor or any other motion. I know that the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things caused this sad division. I went with them at the first, but saw my mistake and begged forgiveness of God and my dear brethren. The absoluters have taken many positions and contradicted themselves. Elder Wilson is sound and orderly.
Dear brethren, I have opened to you my heart. I now feel clear and free and ask you to bear with me, a poor sinner, who loves peace. Brethren, is there not yet some hope? Cannot there yet be a way devised to heal the breach and avoid if possible a general division among our churches? Cannot we all bow our heads in fervent prayer to God for showers of His blessings, and labor on, and not faint? We deeply deplore the idea of a general division. There is much good to be accomplished in well-doing. The prayers of the righteous availeth much. The will of God be done.
Yours in christian love and fellowship, William L. Parker.
"Letter of Dismission"
We the Primitive Baptist Church at Axton, Hen County, Va., holding the doctrine of the total depravity of man, the predestination of God, unconditional and personal election, effectual calling and final perseverance of the saints, being in conference this the 9th day of June, 1917, certify that Elder J. R. Wilson and his wife, Sister Lillie Wilson, are in good standing and full fellowship with us, and they are granted this letter of dismission when joined to a body of like faith and order.
Jas. L. Minter, Clerk. A. L. Moore, Moderator.
Written Statement of Sister Pruitt: "I wish to say that I was in the Danville meeting on the night that it is claimed that Elder J. R. Wilson used abusive language, and wish to sa - that he did not use any abusive language as charged, but merely reproved them sharply for the purpose of saving them if possible. I will say further that the cause of the trouble in Danville was the doctrine."
Mollie C. Pruitt.
Sister Dodson said in writing: "On the night of Sept. 8, 1923 Danville Church met in conference and they first said, 'We will look after Brother Sam Walton for non-attendance.' So they called on him -and he got up and said 'I do not believe the doctrine that you preach.' Then the question—'What will you do with him?' A brother said 'I move we exclude him.' So they did. Next, `What shall we do with Elder Wilson?' A brother said `I move we exclude him.' Brother Wilson did not use any abusive language. More than this he asked them if they were not going to call for a report from the association. Elder Spangler scratched his head and answered, 'yes.' So one of the committee got up and said, 'We had good preaching and all in peace.' Then Brother Wilson asked him if they did not change the fourth article of faith. He answered, 'We did, but we had a right to change it.' So they moved to exclude Brother Wilson, and did so, without asking him one question. I was there and heard all of this.' Your sister in hope."
Mrs. Henry S. Dodson. Brother P. S. Walton's Written Statement: "In regard to the trouble at Danville Church I had not been going to meeting very much for some little time before the night of the trouble. Some time before this, one Saturday night,in regular meeting the pastor, Elder J. F. Spangler, said in his discourse that some had asked him what he thought about the two salvations. He answered that he had never seen the letter (s) added to salvation, and went on trying to prove that there is but one. When he preached that, I began to feel like he was off. I had always believed that the Bible taught more than one salvation. So, as stated above, I had not been going to hear him much, but on the night of the trouble I was there, and after preaching by Elders Thos. Ward of Leaksville, N. C., and C. T. Evans, the moderator of the Staunton River Association, they did not ask Elder Wilson if he had a word to say, simply paying him no more attention than if he had been a dog. Elder Ward had said in his sermon that 'absolute predestination was not strong enough for him ; that he wanted the wills and shalls of the Great Jehovah in everything that he did and when he had finished, Elders Spangler and Evans gave their hands by way of endorsement,—Elder Spangler saying that was his sentiment along that line. The absolute element had said before this meeting that they were going to clear out the house of Arminianism; so after those men had preached they started it, beginning on me. They said, 'We see Brother Sam Walton here tonight. We want to know why he has not been coming to preaching?' I answered, 'Because I don't believe what you (Elder Spangler) preach when you say there is but one salvation taught in the Bible.' Then two of the members put their heads together and whispered something, then spoke out: 'We believe what you preach, Brother Spangler. We move that we exclude Brother Walton.' So, out I went. This trouble had been brewing for some time. Once they appointed a committee of three to get Eld. Spangler and me together. I told them that I did not believe his one salvation theory. He said when the Lord showed him that there was more than one he would preach it that way. The brethren of the committee of three also told him that they believed in more than one salvation. He said the difference between us was settled, that he had nothing against me and if I did not want to hear him preach I did not have to come. I could write more but haven't time now. Your brother, I hope.
1805, N. Main St., Danville, Va. P. S. Walton.
Sister Canaday Wrote: "Elder Spangler came to my house on Tuesday before the September meeting, 1923, and cited us to trial, saying that he wanted all members present and all to be faithful, let him stand or fall; that either he or J. R. Wilson would have to come out. I told him that I could not and would not raise a hand against Brother Wilson for he preached the doctrine that I had always believed, and that as well as any man I ever heard. He said he had heard him preach that way too, and that he used to love to hear him. I told him that if the called preachers would only preach what God gave them and let the opinions of men alone they would not have these troubles to contend with.
Your sister in hope of a better life." Schoolfield, Va. Bettie Canaday.
Written Statement by Elder Beck: "Elder Gold said he had been preaching time salvation all his life. I was present at that meeting and heard him make the remark and ask the question: 'Where do they get the term 'absolute predestination' for it is not in the Bible?' I was with Elders Cochran and Wyatt at the Staunton River Association and heard them talking and say 'It seems that the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things is a new thing to people.' Elder Cochran said to me 'Brother Beck, the people are gathering to it; it's going to be the thing.' Isaac Jones told me that thirty years ago he preached a conditional time salvation but he had quit it now; that he was now preaching that he might have peace of mind."
Rt., 7, Danville, Va. J. J. Beck.
Written Statement of Brother H. M. Baucom: "After the committee or messengers from Lawyer Springs, Union Grove, High Hill and Mill Churches had been denied a hearing by the majority faction of Danville Church, and ordered to stay away from there and let them alone, then the committee retired from the church at the conclusion of the services and obtained a room in the home of Elder Wilson and organized themselves into conference, inviting all brethren present to seats with us—and there were many present. Then the moderator, Elder J. M. Bagwell asked Elder Wilson if he desired to make a statement and he replied in about these words:— `Brother Moderator and Brethren: I have seen my error. I did wrong in going over to the Mill Church and joining on confession without first trying to show the majority at Danville their wrong or error, but I went back to Danville after I had laid down my gift, made my confession to them, of this wrong, at the January meeting, I believe it was, and my case was deferred to the February meeting, and though I have met every demand they have made of me, except to compromise the doctrine, they have thrown my case out, as many of my brethren here know, and now, since they will not forgive me, nor hear the brethren from the sister churches who desired that they forgive me or render a good reason for not doing so, I and my brethren and sisters now here present with me desire to confess our wrongs to you and the Baptists present, and ask forgiveness of you for same.'
Then all of the brethren and sisters with one accord forgave them and manifested the same by extending the righthand of fellowship. The number was estimated to be about two-hundred including the messengers from the four churches above mentioned. (The work of said messengers was ratified by their respective churches). And there was great rejoicing by the congregation when the hand of fellowship was extended. We felt then, as we feel now, that the order was with the minority at Danville who were walking in the footprints of the lowly Jesus, confessing their faults and asking forgiveness, bearing the marks of the lowly Nazarene, and not with those who were unforgiving. May the Lord pity us all."
Peachland, N. C. H. M. Baucom.
To Whom It May Concern: "I was at the meeting in Danville on the night that Elder J. R. Wilson was excluded and to say that he used abusive language toward anyone is positively false. It is true that he spoke firm and to the point but I do not consider that the language he used was out of order on such an occasion."
Bettie A. Nance.
Elder Jackson Wrote: " I was very much cast down because I could not be at our fifth Sunday meeting at Mill Church. I so much desired to meet you brethren, but afflictions prevented me from being there. I felt that the meeting would be worth much to me, and now feel that I have lost much, but dear brother, I never for one moment felt uneasy about the outcome of the meeting. I am always ready to put my life in the hands of true Primitive Baptists. Grace inspires this confidence, I hope, and I feel sure that grace makes us worthy of confidence. Elder Wilson wrote me to send you any matter showing why my article was rejected by the Pig River Association and other matters that would be competent evidence. Please get a copy of The Primitive Baptist of June 15, 1924, and in my article in that issue under the caption, "Some of the Facts,' you will find the facts about our division here. I have heard many of the absolute preachers many times preach that doctrine without using the expression, 'absolute predestination of all things,' which was just as obnoxious to me as if they used the above expression. I have heard Eld. J. W. Coleman say several times, 'that we gained nothing in obedience and lost nothing by disobedience, for all this was fixed.'
Eld. Ben Martin said at Friendship Church while preaching, 'that just before we got to the depot this morning, the train blew for the station and my father said, 'Ben we just as well turn around, we are too late,' and I said, come on, if the Lord has predestinated for us to go to Friendship, He will hold; the train some way. We got to the depot several minutes before the train. The Lord had caused a strong wind to blow a telegraph pole across the track and delayed the train. I believe that God predestinated before the foundation of the world that the wind should blow that telegraph pole down.' I replied that, 'I did not believe that God would injure any company, corporation or individual just to accommodate a man who was too lazy to get up soon enough to catch a train.' In my article referred to above you will find an expression of that doctrine made by J. W. Wyatt at the Spring Session of the Pig River Association, 1924. I think this is sufficient from me, however if you want more, I can and will gladly give it or any other information that I can give. One more thing, Eld. Wyatt was endorsed by all the preachers in the stand at the association. Will you please sign my name to the 'Hassell Peace Proposition' that was unanimously endorsed at the Council Meeting? I have fought this false doctrine against great odds, but I felt assured all the time that I was contending for the doctrine of God our Saviour, and somehow I trusted in Him. He delivered us, bless His Holy Name. I want to praise Him all my life for His goodness to us. Somehow, however dark the way appeared or however strong persecution raged, there always appeared unto me a bright ray of hope and my courage was strengthened and our little band was encouraged and they, by grace, put up a bold front and a noble fight—the 'good fight of faith.'
There can be no armistice in this war. Let us fight as becomes true soldiers of the cross until we receive our discharge, lay our armor by and go home to rest. SWEET REST. Let us be humble, gentle, forgiving and loving, yet uncompromising with error. May God bless you and your family and the household of faith is my prayer. Pray for poor afflicted me, if you can pray for one so little and unworthy as I feel to be. If I am saved it is by God's rich grace freely bestowed upon me, without worth or merit upon my part. The election of grace hath obtained for us that which we could not obtain by so called works of righteousness. In election we can see how poor sinners like we, are saved. Precious doctrine. 0, may I live in a godly manner. In hope."
Bassett, Va. J. T. Jackson.
Statement of Elder H. F. M'Ghee: "I heard Eld. Isaac Jones in preaching at the Pig River Association at Camp Branch in 1924, say, 'I have always been afraid to preach absolute predestination in Va. I am not afraid of these Virginians any longer. I have no use for your duty preachers.' This was the year of the division here. This division was over the doctrine contended for by Elder J. T. Jackson in his article published in Gospel Messenger, Feb. 1st, 1923 and the Primitive Baptist of March 1st, 1923, headed, 'Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth.' I heard Elder J. P. Helms at Canton Creek Church, June, 1922, say in preaching, 'Brother McGhee preached about predestination yesterday. All Old Baptists are predestinarians. None of you could have been anywhere except where you are today.' I heard him on another occasion say, 'Paul meant by keeping our bodies in subjection, that the churches were to be kept in subjection.' No doubt but what he was then insidiously propagating their doctrine of associational supremacy over churches. I heard Elder C. L. Ross at Canton Church say, 'I have no use for the doctrine of two or more salvations. The Bible speaks of only one Jesus and one salvation. I have no use for but one salvation.' Many and many times I have heard others use the expression, 'absolute predestination of all things' and preach things that were embraced in that expression. Also they continually declared for one salvation and associational authority over churches."
H. F. M'Ghee.
Statement of Brother W. L. Foster:—"The division in the Pig River Association was caused by the refusal of the said association to continue in the doctrine of the Old Baptists. This evidenced by their rejection of the article written by Elder J. T. Jackson and pronouncing him a heretic because of his determination to stand steadfast and unmovable in the old doctrine of God our Saviour. He was uncompromising. He would not suffer any to preach in his presence and use suffixes or ride `hobbies.' The same I say of Elder J. R. Wilson. These two able brethren and others would not yield any true doctrine or acknowledge the supremacy of an association over churches. I heard Elds. Isaac Jones, J. P. Helms and C. L. Ross preach the same words as testified by Elder H. F. M'Ghee. I have heard Elder G. F. Dyer preach that fatalistic doctrine many times. I have heard several others preach and argue the same doctrine,. It got so bad that we could not bear it any longer, and Elder M'Ghee drew up a resolution declaring non-fellowship for that doctrine. He, sister Fannie M'Ghee and myself signed the resolution and read it to the church. They made no comment but just ordered the clerk to erase our names from the church book, and no charge was made against us. Brother M'Ghee and myself then went and joined Leatherwood Church on Confession of faith. Elder Jackson was then and is now pastor of that church. They would never allow us to defend ourselves, but always treated us with contempt and showed their hatred of us." W. L. Foster.
Statement of Sister Fannie McGhee:—"The doctrine of the 'absolute predestination of all things' has been a bone of contention in this country for many years. I remember on one occasion at the home of my father,—Elder John McGheen,----father said to Elder J. D. Cockran, 'If you don't quit preaching that doctrine (absolute predestination of all things) you are going to divide the churches.' Cockram's reply was, 'I long to see that day.' The division here was over doctrine and not any so-called disorder. My father was pastor of Canton Creek Church many years, and if he was living today, he would be standing with Elders J. T. Jackson and J. R. Wilson. They preach the same doctrine that my dear old father preached and loved so well."
Fannie L. McGhee.
Withdrawing from Heresy: "Whereas seeing that we the church at Canton Creek are divided over the doctrine of 'the absolute predestination of all things' and seeing that we the undersigned are not in fellowship with it and knowing that it is contrary to the holy word of God and also to the principles of the Baptist faith upon which the dear old church was founded and has been their rule of faith and practice down through the ages ever since the days of Christ and the apostles:—Therefore, we, the undersigned do claim to be Baptists of the same old faith and expect by the grace of God to live and die in it, and also in obedience to the command of Christ to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. We do now and here withdraw from those who believe the doctrine of 'the absolute predestination of all things' and we do now and here declare non-fellowship for the same and withdraw ourselves from this church.
H. F. McGhee, W. L. Foster, Fannie L. McGhee.
FINDINGS OF COMMITTEE
(From the Primitive Baptist of June 1, 1925)
The Mill, Lawyer Springs, High Hill, and Union Grove Churches, and all orderly Primitive Baptists who were present on April 11th, 1925 at Danville, Va., submit the following:
1. We, your committee, find that the majority party of Danville Church has endorsed, affiliated with, tolerated, directly and indirectly, "the absolute predestination of all things whatsoever come to pass," and that their pastor is now and has been in fellowship and recognized and tolerated those who preach that heresy, and who contend that man is as passive in obedience as in regeneration, making the child of God an irresponsible machine. Their pastor serves Spray Church that has some in it that advocate that heresy, making their pastor guilty by toleration.
2. We find that this heresy had been allowed preached in the Staunton River Association and tolerated by the majority, as they raised no objection, and that they tolerated those who preached it by allowing them to preach in their pulpits without objection to them or what they preached.
3. We find that Elders M. E. Petty and R. H. Pittman were not allowed to preach at the Staunton River Association in Danville, 1923, for opposing that heresy and that the majority party of Danville Church endorsed said act of the association.
4. We find, further, that true Primitive Baptist preachers who preach, as our fathers did, what the Bible teaches on predestination and good works and obedience to the living children of God, have been mistreated and ignored by the Staunton River Association and the majority faction, by Danville Church tolerating the same.
5. We find, that Elder J. R. Wilson had all the way preached salvation wholly by grace, that he teaches all regenerated persons that it is their duty and privilege from a principle of love, wrought in them by the Spirit of God, to lovingly obey their Lord and King as living children (Heb 12:7), and that God works the will in them and gives them the ability to perform and that they enjoy blessings in the sweet service of God that they can not enjoy in disobedience. They praise God for every blessing and feel that the chastisement for disobedience is just.
6. He preaches predestination as the Bible teaches (Ro 8:29-30; Eph 1:5; 2Ti 1:9; Joh 15:6; Ac 13:48), and is sound on all points of doctrine and is an orderly gentleman, having a good report of them that are without. He contends for the order contended for by all orthodox Primitive Baptists.
7. We find that his sharp rebuke (Tit 1:13) on the majority for changing an Article of Faith and for mistreating his brethren who opposed absolute predestination of all things was the cause of the majority denouncing him.
8. We find that the majority hastily and rashly excluded Elder Wilson without labor or trial. The civil courts give a man a fair and impartial trial before it convicts him.
9. We find that the minority of the church stood with Elder Wilson against absolutism and the way sound orderly ministers had been treated, and they never were willing for Elder Wilson to be excluded and protested against the action of the majority.
10. We find that the charge was for abusive language. He asked forgiveness for any harsh language if so considered and paid the debt. The moderator wanted him to correct a statement made about him in the papers, which he did. Elder Wilson paid the debt in full. The majority refused to accept it. But we find the doctrine of absolute predestination of all things was the origin and cause of the trouble.
11. We find Elder Wilson and the minority part of Danville Church to be sound, orthodox, orderly Primitive Baptists.
12. We find the majority are unforgiving; refused to forgive Elder Wilson; and that they have rejected all labor from sister churches who have lovingly gone there and labored for peace. We, therefore, declare the majority faction of Danville Church to be in a state of gross disorder for ignoring gospel labor and refusing to hear sister churches; for refusing to forgive, as the Scriptures direct, when confessions were made; in disorder for fellowshipping and tolerating those who advocated fatalism, etc.; for rashly excluding without any gospel labor; for excluding without the vote of the minority who protested.
13. We find that Elder Wilson was illegally excluded, for he had a right, as a gospel minister, to rebuke them sharply (Tit 1:13) for tolerating such heresy and then condemning true servants of God.
14. We find the order in doctrine and practice to be with the minority of Danville Church who have stood for orthodox principles all the way, and have been and are yet willing for their faith and practice to be investigated; and if questioned, they are willing to jointly call a council of our most talented brethren in faith and practice and let them investigate the majority and minority and say who is standing for the doctrine and practice of the Primitive Baptist Church and laboring in love for peace, and who are entitled to be recognized as Danville Baptist Church.
Signed: Elder J. M. Bagwell, Moderator; H. M. Baucom, Clerk.
W. A. Chaney, J. H. Hawker, A. J. Terry, W. M. Clonts, R. G. Hared, S. D. Outen, F. P. Dees, C. H. White.
SOME LETTERS AND EXTRACTS
(Original Letters on File)
(Elder J. F. Spangler to W. I. Parker—before Bro. Parker came out of Danville majority party).
W. L. Parker
Dear Brother in Christ: Your letter to hand stating that you understand that J. R. Wilson is coming back next meeting to surrender to Danville Church also, that old Mill Church was coming to rescind her act against Danville. Now you all put on your studying caps. They have a purpose in it and we don't know just what it is, and I suspect he had to lay down the care of Lawyer Springs Church. Now my advice to you all is to be thinking over this matter. It is up to you now what you do with him. But my advice is that if he and Mill Church comes back in a way that you will have to forgive them, make them sign up their acknowledgments, and if you all forgive him, he then will have to straighten up with me some. Your brother in hope.
Cascade, Va. J. F. Spangler.
Elder Wilson to Brother Parker
(Let the reader remember that Bro. W. L. Parker was at one time lined up with the absoluters and opposing Elder Wilson. Here are some extracts from letters written to Bro. Parker by Bro. Wilson):
Mr. W. L. Parker
Precious Brother in Christ: Your letter did me lots of good in soul. I could hardly keep the tears back while reading it. I just wanted to take you by the hand and tell you yes, my dear brother, I freely forgive you of all of your errors and blot them from my mind, and I truly hope to have your prayers and fellowship what few days we sojourn here on this earth. I know I have said hard things about you. I am very sorry for it and I truly hope you will forgive me and let's be brethren indeed and in truth. I hold no personal matter against anyone, but I have stood, by the help of the good Lord, for principles that are dearer to me than life. I feel that you did a good deed when you withdrew from that disorder. I feel, as you say, that it makes no difference what people say about us. If we suffer with the dear Saviour we hope to live with him and his dear saints in glory. May God bless you. Pray for me.
Yours in love and fellowship. J. R. Wilson.
Mr. W. L. Parker
My precious brother in Christ: I was made to rejoice in soul to hear from you again. Your letters to me are as sweet messages from a far off land of blissful peace. I want to see you. I am so sorry that you were deprived of hearing the sweet gospel as proclaimed by our dear brother Elder R. 0. Raulston. I do hope you can be with us in the union meeting. We feel like it would help us greatly. I want you to know that you have friends in Danville. I feel so unworthy of the fellowship of God's humble poor, but I love them. I hope I am a child of God. I can't know it. I am so sinful in my nature. Can it be true that I am born of God and called to the high calling of the ministry? If so, I want to make my calling and election sure by giving all diligence. Pray for me. Yours in love. J. R. Wilson.
Elder Daily to W. L. Parker
Dear Bro. Parker: Yours received asking me for a statement concerning Eld. J. R. Wilson's record while a member of our church here. I was a member when he joined and know his standing while a member of this church. I know of no one with a cleaner record than he had, and as to a serious charge being placed against him here, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact no charge of any nature was ever placed against him by our church, and I have never heard any member of our church speak evil of him. On the contrary he was held in high esteem by them and all of the churches of our faith and order in this part of the country. I do not know what object Elder Schenk had in giving out a report that he had a serious charge against him while here. Elder Schenk's church took action against him after his return from the south and now he (Eld. Schenk) is not recognized among any of our churches.
I can prove every statement I make here if necessary.
Yours in gospel bonds.
Indianapolis, Ind. Earl Daily.
Eld. S. Hassell to W. L. Parker (May 19, 1925)
I think that the Danville Church, for the satisfaction of the brethren of other churches, should have given the reason for rescinding, at her conference last February her action at her December and January conferences. Such a course is very strange, and tends to continue and spread the division already begun among Primitive Baptists, and to lead to confusion, of which God is not the author. As I have written Elders Lester and Pittman, if a division cannot be avoided without a council, let a council of our wisest, most gracious, gifted, and informed brethren be called to hear and consider the whole case, and to advise as to the best course to be pursued.
The Bible doctrine of predestination should not be so stated as to make our Most Holy God, in any sense, the cause of sin; and, while the whole world is against us, we should not bite, consume, and devour one another by unprofitable, subverting, and unwholesome contentions on the deep doctrine of predestination, which is not comprehended by any finite mind, thus proving our pride and carnality, and our willingness to sacrifice the church of God to a humanly invented phrase. Yours in love.
Williamston, N. C. Sylvester Hassell.
From Elder E. Barker
It is a fact that the theory of the absolute predestination of all things, nu punishment for the wicked, and other like doctrines are just as false as can be, and has caused strife and division. But a small percent go that way, following such leaders who rise up to draw away disciples after them. Let them alone. Elder Wilson is right in having no fellowship for that doctrine. I don't like to see it in print nor hear it from the pulpit. Some of the churches in my country have excluded some preachers for preaching it. Yes, there is more than election and predestination taught in the Bible. Adam disobeyed God's law and went down of his own volition. God did not predestinate that he should sin. He did not give him a law that he could not keep. God's children in this day can do what God in His word has commanded. "Fear God and keep His Commandments for this is the whole duty of man." Let them obey and practice it in their every day life.
Klondike, Tenn. E. Barker.
Some Efforts for Peace Made by Lawyer Springs Church, North Carolina, Anson County
We, the Primitive Baptist Church of Christ, as we hope, at Lawyer Springs, to our sister church at Danville, Virginia, Greeting
Dear brethren, we have as pastor of our church Elder J. R. Wilson, who comes among us in a most orderly way and preaches the doctrine and true practice of the Primitive Baptists of this country, in fact, as it has been preached and believed ever since we were organized in our country.
But we hear some complaints from brethren of sister associations concerning the trouble between Elder Wilson and the church at Danville, and this is our earnest plea to you to know if there has been any reasonable labor bestowed to restore peace and fellowship between Eld. Wilson and the brethren and sisters of your church and the Mill Church, where we understand he now holds membership? Would you dear brethren, agree for Elder Wilson and messengers sent by Mill Church to come before your body in regular conference and seek a reconciliation and restore peace and fellowship? If so, will you please notify us of such willingness, and also notify Eld. Wilson and the Mill Church?
Dear brethren, we desire peace if possible, and we believe this can come if no doctrinal issue is involved in this trouble.
Done by the church in conference this Oct. 18, 1924.
H. M. Baucom, Church Clerk, Eld. W. C. Edwards, Mod. Protem,
Edwin C. Jones and J. W. Jones, Deacons.
(Remarks:—This effort for peace failed).
Another Appeal From Lawyer Springs
`Supplement to message formulated by the church at Lawyer Springs to the churches at Danville and Mill on Oct 18, 1924):
Since the trouble between the Danville Church and the Mill Church and Elder J. R. Wilson is of general interest to the Primitive Baptists, and since we desire that all of the parties connected with it be saved, we think that the ablest men in the church, and men remote from the trouble, men versed in discipline and free from extremes should be invited by both factions to attend a peace conference between the two parties before whom all of the facts pertaining to the trouble. should be related and then able ministers, acting in an advisory capacity, should be frank to point out any errors or wrongs done by either or both parties, and then the erring party or parties should then and there freely and publicly acknowledge their wrongs, and ask the aggrieved party to forgive them, and the aggrieved party should in the same spirit forgive the erring ones.
We suggest that the Danville Church and Mill Church and Elder Wilson invite the churches of the membership of Elders Sylvester Hassell, P. G. Lester, C. H. Cayce, R. H. Pittman and Lee Hanks to send those ministers for the purpose above mentioned. Thus you would have the editors of our three leading papers and the two best historians in our church, thoroughly representative men. The Danville Church can, with propriety, ask the Mill Church to agree with her in asking these men to sit with her in conference, and the Mill Church in like manner asks the Danville Church to agree to same.
We feel sure that these ministers then, with the consent of their respective churches, would gladly render the gracious service.
Done by the Lawyer Springs Church in conference this Nov. 1, 1924. J. W. Jones, Mod. and Deacon, H. M. Baucom, C. C., E. C. Jones, Deacon.
(Remarks:—Could a fairer proposition be made? But no agreement could be reached with Danville Church).
H. M. Baucom to W. L. Parker
Very Dear Brother:—After reading your noble article in a late issue of The Primitive Baptist I could not refrain from writing you and telling you how much I appreciate the christian spirit manifested in the same. How good! and so Christ-like to see a brother, when he sees that he has done wrong, confess his wrong and ask forgiveness; and oh! how good it is for those who feel that they have been wronged to freely and fully forgive those who have wronged them when asked to do so in a spirit of love. And if one has not a forgiving spirit, and will not forgive, such an one's condition is portrayed in Mt 18:23-35.
We are told in holy writ that the Lord will not leave Himself without a witness, and I believe that these witnesses will earnestly contend for the faith and true order of God's house at the hazard of their lives. I am so glad to know that even now there are a few that love mercy and can look over their brethren for good, for if we have not, charity we are nothing. And if we worship God at all we must worship Him in spirit and truth, and if I know my poor heart I desire to glorify Him in my body and spirit both of which are His.
I heard about your cast-down condition. Dear brother, this is the fruit of the spirit. Oh, that we could all get down to the feet of our brethren and confess our wrongs one to another as you have done, and forgive one another as little children of the kingdom! Then peace would reign and love would flow from breast to breast, and joy from heart to heart.
I feel that the labor of Brother Wilson and the Mill Church and the churches of Lawyer Springs, Union Grove and High Hill was a labor of love, and I believe the Lord recognized this labor, for it was based on the teachings of His word, and my conscience is clear in regard to it.
If Danville would but just confess her wrongs and thus restore peace and fellowship how pleasant it would be. We cannot worship Him neither can we pray while our hearts are set to do evil. A fountain cannot send forth both sweet and bitter water at the same time.
Brother Parker, you do not owe us anything down here. We have freely forgiven you. You have done the best thing—confessed your wrong, and oh, the joy among God's people when one comes out of error to the light. More joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety and nine that need no repentance.
I have known all the while since I made my first visit to Danville, at their February meeting, that the doctrine was the real issue. Oh, that God's people would search His word, learn His will toward man, and do it! But we can never inherit this goodly estate while we are carnally minded—walking in the counsel of the ungodly. The christian spirit is full of love, mercy, pity, patience, of long forbearance and easy to be entreated. In love. H. M. Baucom.
(Remarks:—A prominent Baptist and consistent laborer for peace).
Deacon Jones to W. L. Parker
Deacon J. W. Jones, clerk of the Bear Creek Association, is reputed to be one of the best disciplinarians in the church. The following extracts are copied from letters written by him to Bro. W. L. Parker:
"It is such a great pity that men of extreme views should so dominate affair, as to partly, at least, make void the efforts of conservative and faithful brethren. Conditions have been, to say the least, chaotic, and, as always is the case when wide distress is on hand some inconsistencies have crept in to keep good brethren apart, but usually in such cases justice, common sense, and reason will set in and prevail. I am hoping so much that conditions can assume a normal attitude and that yet truth and righteousness may be enthroned and we all settle down again in love, peace and sweet fellowship. As you say we should, and could if we would, come to terms and cease strife and confusion. We must not consult our vain flesh, but be guided by the unction of the Holy Spirit. 0 that we all could meet on common grounds and just be little children together in love. Thirty-eight years ago I joined the dear Primitive Baptists and in those days peace and love seemed to be dominant among them, and the troubles of this day and time were undreamed of. 0! that our God would renew in us a clean heart and a right spirit.
We had a fine, good meeting at Lawyer Springs last Saturday and Sunday. Elders Bagwell and Wilson were both with us. Elder Wilson was reinstated as pastor of our church. Two young men joined by experience and were baptized by Bro. Wilson. The meeting house would, not hold the large congregation." "I notice a long communication in the latest issue of The Landmark from the pen of Elder P. G. Lester. If he had been using the prescription he offers for others it would have been much better for him and all concerned. If he only knew it he met himself several times coming back. Also I see in same paper where Elder L. H. Hardy is defending Elder Ben Martin. If the people at Danville had acted as Elder Hardy suggested about forgiving Brother Martin there would not have been any division. All possible efforts were put forward to avoid a division, but their attitude showed all too plain they did not want peace on any just terms, and they will surely reap what they have sown. I yet feel so sorry they did not see fit to do right, but I absolutely am clear of doing them any wrong and have a clear conscience,—having labored and admonished and plead for the right course as long as there was any hope. I am anxious to know what they are doing, or trying to -do, under present circumstances and conditions. It is so strange that good people will get so far out of the way, but the evil spirit is always ready to thwart truth and righteousness at every opportunity, and when we go wrong there is not much telling when trouble will end."
"I am much convinced that absolutism is a God-dishonoring doctrine, and always where you find it you find trouble, and you had as well try to push down a thick rock wall as to try to have peace with characters who preach this heresy. It is most unreasonable, and nothing reasonable can result from its teachings."
"I had been much cast down in feelings with doubts and fears, but when I received the good news from Brother Hanks telling me of his dream or vision I seemed to be renewed in spirit and realized fresh courage. The tears flowed freely and I am yet strengthened. The Lord is, and has been, so wonderfully good and merciful to His people and to see many of them show so little appreciation and concern often causes me heartfelt sorrow. It seems peculiarly strange to me that any of the beneficiaries of such great favor should be so cold and hard hearted as to strive and contend over matters which should not enter their minds. We should love and cherish and look over each other for good and not for evil. Years ago when I was much younger than I am now there was no such strife among Primitive Baptists. They would meet, at general or associational meetings and all huddle up close together and tell their experiences and sing the sweet songs of Zion amidst rejoicing and the tears would flow freely when they had to part. I now look back to such times and seasons and feel that such are oases along the journey of life. Oh, for an awakening and a return to such again! Nothing less than the pure love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and the simple obedience required of us will bring again this happy condition. So many have sown to the flesh and are reaping corruption. I would to God this was not so.
Such a pity it is that all of our people are not open minded and seeking facts instead of running after every little whirlwind and phantom of vaguery prompted by prejudice and Satan. You study propositions from their true angles and find facts and stand by them. A student along these lines get many rebuffs, but for the labors and efforts such as you and some others have expended many things would never be brought to light. Sometimes my courage, in the face of so much opposition, strife and confusion is nearly destroyed, but absolutely I cannot find a place nor a time to ground arms and quit, and if God will bless me in coming days as in the past I want to still contend for truth and righteousness, and proper order in His kingdom here on earth. I understand that a goodly number of the brethren of sister churches expect to make an effort to line up with us on matters concerning recent events in our and your section. There is no doubt but what Elder McMillan will vigorously oppose such a move, but it is hoped that he cannot longer dominate the action favorable to us and the great body of Baptists of the country." "You see the absoluters are falling out among themselves, and no wonder, for men capable of advocating such stuff are also capable of the things you mentioned, and many more as their theory seems to license men to do anything their wicked minds might conceive of. My dear brother, the true people of God must stand together against such, and the sooner we can rid our churches of such disorder and heresy the sooner will peace and fellowship be restored and then Zion will again travail and bring forth sons and daughters to honor and glorify our God.
Some of the men responsible for our distressed condition are very treacherous, while others no doubt have been caught in the net unawares, but nevertheless we are up against a condition, and mere theory will not heal the wounds. Some drastic and efficacious remedy must be administered or the disease will destroy the organic life of sound bodies. Let us pray the. Lord to deliver us from the hands of ungodly men.
Let me hear of your progress. I am receiving a number of letters endorsing my poor writings for the papers. These responses are a comfort to me. The Lord bears me witness of my sincere desires to do right and to be fair and reasonable with His people, and when men will not hear admonition, nor forgive an erring brother, we cannot but become suspicious of their sincerity and christianity. The Lord's people are supposed to be meek and humble, ,and to find pleasure in obedience to the precepts and ordinances of the house of God."
"It does seem to me that a council of able ministers, worthy deacons, and good brethren should be able to formulate or come to some basis of settlement where all reasonable minded and peace loving Baptists could unite and again live in peace and fellowship. I feel sure it is necessary for such a meeting to be in the proper spirit and all, when shown they have been in error, to acknowledge same and ask forgiveness of those trespassed against. If those opposing us are desirous of doing the right thing, do not refuse them the opportunity. No harshness, prejudice or jealousy should be allowed to enter any such meeting. I only offer these suggestions prompted, I hope, by the good spirit. Indeed it is high time for something to be done and published so our people in general may know how to act toward all concerned. Yours with sincere love.
Peachland, N. C. J. W. Jones.
Some of the Facts
We will now reproduce Elder J. T. Jackson's article as published in the papers June 15, 1924. We feel sure that he has ably set forth the true doctrine, of the Bible and of true Primitive Baptists. Here it is entitled:—
"Some of the Facts"
"In sending forth this statement of the facts causing the sad division among the Primitive Baptists of Virginia (the southwest section of the state) we are actuated by no other motive than for the good of the cause and the glory of God. We shall strive not to cast slurs upon our erring brethren, but shall rebuke in love. In a few instances we may seem to be caustic, but the justice of the remarks will be apparent.
In 1922 Elder P. J. Washburn was appointed by the Pig River Association to write the circular letter. Elder Washburn wrote a most excellent letter as follows:
The Circular Letter
"I feel my inability to preach or write anything that would be of any comfort or benefit to God's precious children, for in my flesh dwells no good thing, neither is any man when left to the power and will of the flesh able to perform one spiritual act or to have one spiritual thought. Therefore I greatly desire that the gracious God of every good. gift and every blessing and of every salvation may guide and direct my mind that I may write things that make for peace in Zion.
'Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children; and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us and hath given Himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.'-- Eph 5:12. Dear brethren, when we follow Jesus we have peace. The fruit of the Spirit is love and peace. When we follow Him we bear the fruits of the Spirit. But can we do this without the Spirit. 'If any man hath not the Spirit of God he is none of His.' 'Without me ye can do nothing,' but 'I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.' Php 4:13.
Brethren, is it possible that the apostle gave commands or admonitions when there was no way of obeying? Have such admonitions become unprofitable to the children of God when the Spirit of God works in them to will and to do? He works in us the will and the ability to do, and when we are following that inward teaching then we are working out our own salvation by an orderly walk and Godly conversation. Then we have peace with God and with each other. In this kind of walk we are contending for the doctrine once delivered to the saints. When doing this both by walk and talk then we have the benefits of our 'common salvation.'
But that 'eternal salvation' was worked out for us when there was none of us (Heb 5:9; Eph 1:3-12). It was finished and complete in and by Christ and can not be altered or changed; therefore we do not have to work this salvation out, for it was finished on the Roman cross. But, dear brethren, be careful to maintain good works for necessary uses, for they are good and profitable unto men while here in time (Tit 3:8) : I am not contending that our good works will do us any good in eternity. I understand these good works to be the fruit of the Spirit in us and when we are walking in this way we have the benefits and God has the glory. Then we are following God as dear children, bought, cleansed and justified by the blood of Christ in an eternal sense and justified in time by our works when we are following the Spirit and walking by faith.
As this is my first circular letter I hope you will look over errors and mistakes. Brethren, pray for one another and live in peace.
Your unworthy brother saved by grace if saved at all." Martinsville, Va. P. J. Washburn.
Remarks: Eld. Washburn should receive the commendation and encouragement of his brethren. Though some object to this circular letter, it is in harmony with the Bible and will be received by nine-tenths of the Baptists of Primitive faith everywhere.—R. H. P., in Zion's Advocate."
"The association found fault, as they claimed, with the letter. At the next session of the body Leatherwood, Martinsville and Camp Branch Churches sent messengers, instructing them to demand that the letter be read in the association so the whole body could hear it and judge upon its merits. This letter had been acted upon in the former session by the committee appointed by moderator, and the association had blindly accepted the advice of the committee. A council meeting was held in the afternoon of May 6, 1926, at which meeting it was stated that 'the letter was not tabled because of the doctrine, but because of agitations disturbing the brethren.'—Association Minutes of May 6, 1922. Examine, dear reader, this letter closely and you will find that no question of a confusing character is set forth. Then it is apparent, after subsequent events, that IT WAS THE DOCTRINE. Who ever heard before that it was a violation of God's law, that it was disturbing to the church, to agitate the truth.
We who supported Elder Washburn agreed with the body to quit using the expression or phrase 'time salvation,' and they agreed to quit using the expression 'the absolute predestination of all things.' They kept this agreement until Sunday, May 7—just one day. A visiting elder loudly proclaimed the predestination of all things,' with the prefix 'absolute,' declaring that Webster said 'absolute' meant 'certain, sure,' and he wanted a predestination that was sure. We have only used the expression or phrase 'time salvation' since the above agreement was made in defending our position, it being forced upon us by our accusers. We are stating frankly that we find no fault with the phrase, because the brethren clearly set forth their meaning of the phrase, which is 'salvation from error, false doctrine, afflictions, misery, persecutions, perplexities, disasters, calamities, adversities, temptations, etc.,' in obedience to the commands of our Lord. He who would deny this has either forgotten God or never knew Him in the beauty of obedience.
The matter rocked along this way until about Dec., 1922, when after many false accusations and charges that we had departed from the faith, I turned over an article to the Gospel Messenger and The Primitive Baptist for publication which I had been holding several months. This article has been read wherever those papers are circulated, and has been endorsed, and is yet endorsed, by the ablest Primitive Baptist ministers in the United .States, as letters of endorsements in my possession will evidence.
At the spring session of the Pig River Association, May 5, 1923, the article was denounced, and a resolution of denunciation by the association was sent to Leatherwood Church. The messengers stated to the church that the article was denounced because of harsh and ungodly expressions. Dear reader, please read that article again and note that I say in the article, 'these arguments and questions may seem harsh and scathing but it is far from my mind to be either.' Now does it not appear to you that if the association had been minded to be fair, that they could never have denounced the article because of harsh words, seeing that I had already made the statement that excluded harshness? Now, please notice that Elder Washburn's circular letter was 'not tabled because of the doctrine.' There is not one expression in my article that conflicts with the doctrine as set forth in Elder Washburn's letter. IF IT WAS NOT THE DOCTRINE, what was the cause of the denunciation? I voluntarily stated to Leatherwood Church that I did not intend to be harsh or to use ungodly words; if anyone was hurt because of some words that I gladly withdrew such words and begged forgiveness of anyone who was hurt because of the words; and that I would publish an acknowledgment in both the Gospel Messenger and The Primitive Baptist, which acknowledgment I then wrote and read to the church. Leatherwood Church was satisfied with my statement, with the exception of three members who demanded a withdrawal of the entire article. I said that 'I would live by the doctrine as set forth in my article, and would die by it.' This was May 26, 1923, and until Oct. 27, 1923, the church labored with these three members to save them from exclusion. They tenaciously held to the position that I must satisfy the association committee before they would be satisfied. I took the position that the association had no right to take this matter up in any way; that they were, by their act, usurping authority over the church, and that I was amendable to Leatherwood Church, and only to Leatherwood Church would I answer. The church sustained me, with the three dissenting.
At the fall session of the association (the Pig River) the following resolution of the 'standing' committee was adopted by the association on Aug. 4, 1923, and we venture to say that not ten in the whole assembly knew what it was all about:
(A motion was carried to accept the advice of the Committee in reference to Leatherwood Church matter in regard to Eld. J. T. Jackson, as follows:
The Association at its May session having denounced the subject matter in a certain article or instrument of writing by Elder J. T. Jackson, and the church of his membership, to wit: the church at Leatherwood having failed to fully respect the judgment of the Association, the Association further denounce Elder J. T. Jackson as an heretic and in disorder as respect the conduct of said communication and its promulgation and advise Leatherwood Church to deal with him as such.)
By even a casual glance at this resolution it can be seen that the spirit of associational domination of churches ruled the committee and the committee ruled the body, because this theory, that the association has this right, has been preached and practiced by this body so long that the majority have become afraid to speak against advice, so called, that they may offer. A copy of this resolution, with some alterations in the association minutes was sent to Leather-wood Church, which was promptly tabled and an invitation sent out by publication in the Advocate and Messenger and The Primitive Baptist inviting any aggrieved church to bring her grievance to Leatherwood Church on Saturday, Oct. 27, 1923. No one appeared on that day or any other day, with a grievance against the church or with a charge of heresy against me. The matter was called up in conference as a matter of reference, and no complaint from any sister church was heard. The matter was dropped for always, so far as this church was concerned. The three members, John Adkins, William S. Minter and Sam Cole, were excluded after much labor with them, for contempt. One of these, William S. Minter, who had all along demanded a withdrawal of the entire article in question, said just a few moments before his exclusion, `If Brother Jackson would only go before the committee of the association, the matter could be quickly settled, as only one or two little words needed explanation.' Dear children of God, just notice he demanded the withdrawal of the entire article because of the doctrine, holding that only 'one salvation' was taught in the Bible, and that was eternal salvation, now saying in the last minute, 'just one or two little words' are wrong or need an explanation. Another John Adkins when asked by me 'Have you anything against me?' replied, 'No, sir. When you satisfy the association you satisfy me.' From this it can be and is seen, 'it does not matter what I believe or how I feel, just satisfy the bosses and you satisfy me.'" sociational Supremacy. ' We endorse associations as worshiping bodies and to keep up a chain of correspondence among churches, but we unhesitatingly denounce as unscriptural the proceedings of the Pig River Association.
Another matter just here. Before the exclusion of three members of Leatherwood Church named above, one of them, William S. Minter, had Elder Burgess of Camp Branch Church, to draw up a petition asking all who stood by the 'old doctrine' (when in truth their idea is new) to sign it. About twenty-four, as near as we can learn, signed the paper before suspicion arose as to the intent of the petition. Some of these have said that it was falsely represented to them. After the exclusion of these three members Elders Randolph Purdue, moderator of the association, G. F. Dyer, J. E. Burgess, R L. Winfield and others met at the Dyer school house, about one-fourth of a mile from Leatherwood Church, and took these three excluded members, together with the names on the petition (the majority of those who signed the petition were not there), and constituted what they called Leatherwood Church. Now we appeal to all peace-loving, all true Bible Baptists, to judge the order. Not one ever came to us with a grievance or charge. Not one ever tried to get our views. and if we were in error to save us from the error. NO LABOR OF LOVE WAS BESTOWED if we were in error. No effort was made to avoid a division, and it is evident that a division was premeditated by them. The OFFENSE has come—and "THE SIN LIVETH AT THEIR DOOR."
Why did they refuse to come to us with a charge? Just because they knew they could not sustain the charge against me. The whole matter sifted down is just this: "Draw these fellows (Jackson and Washburn) before the rulers for they trouble our city (association)." See Ac 16:20-21; also Ac 17:6. If they cannot be brought before the rulers so that they could be bound (mouth shut) and cast into prison, just kill them (cut them off). We will also call attention to the fact that we withdrew from the association on Saturday before the fourth Sunday in March, 1924. The association did not meet until Friday before the first Sunday in May, 1924.
From May 26, 1923 until they organized a "something" at the Dyer school house Jan. 12, 1924, we not only were ready but willing to answer any church as to our acts, and I not only stood ready but invited an exchange of views touching the doctrine in my article, and was willing to be excluded if, after they proved me in error I refused to retract.
Could a more Scriptural or reasonable course be pursued by any one? We invite brethren everywhere to come and behold our order or take these facts as set forth (which our accusers will not dare to deny) and judge us accordingly.
Now they are claiming that there is not enough difference in the doctrine to cause a division, but it is Elder Wilson's disorder that caused the division. Let us ask, was it Elder Wilson's disorder that caused the rejection of Elder Washburn's circular letter written nearly two years before Eld. Wilson's so-called disorder was born? Was it Elder Wilson's disorder that caused the denunciation of Elder Jackson as an heretic one month before Elder Wilson's `disorder' was born? Was it Elder Wilson's disorder that caused the Staunton River Association to denounce the article of faith as taken from Hassell's Church History as unscriptural, before Elder Wilson's so called disorder was born? Was it Elder Wilson's disorder that caused a portion of Danville Church to sign an agreement or have an understanding that they would exclude Elder Wilson at their next meeting for contempt, a week or more before Elder Wilson's so-called disorder was born? Was it Elder Wilson's (disorder) that caused Danville Church to "exclude" him and "his followers" without a conference? Was it Elder Wilson's disorder that caused Danville Church to change their charge of refusing to endorse the changing of the articles of faith to "contempt and abusive language," and later, in their circular, to plain "contempt?"
Was it Elder Wilson's disorder that caused Canaan Church to refuse letters to two members that wanted to join Sugartree Church? Was it Elder Wilson's disorder that caused a very prominent Elder to declare in Danville that Elders Hassell, Pittman, Hanks and others were Arminians? They clearly see what they have done, and in sheer desperation they plead "it is not the doctrine" for sympathy, thinking that through the name of as great an institution as the association they can retain their standing among the Primitive Baptists.
Thousands of brethren and sisters over this country know their tactics, because they have already had divisions with these same people, or with this same doctrine. Brethren, if preaching that God did not predestinate all sin and wickedness is heresy, then we are guilty. If they do not believe that He does predestinate all of these things why not leave off the prefix "absolute" and the suffix "all things" then we could begin to agree. If preaching that we should "save ourselves from this untoward generation," "take heed unto ourselves and the doctrine, for in doing this we save ourselves and them that hear us" is not eternal salvation is heresy, then we are guilty. If preaching that Joseph saved the lives of his people in the day of famine is not eternal salvation is heresy, then we are guilty. If preaching that the "great salvation" wrought by Jonathan was a national salvation and not eternal salvation, is heresy, then we are guilty. If preaching these and many other salvations—that is, salvation from many things, is heresy, then we are guilty. If preaching and believing that "nothing is gained in obedience and nothing lost in disobedience" ism Old Baptist doctrine, then we have never preached or believed :old Baptist doctrine. If the doctrine, "I know that many sweet little texts along the line of duty are found in the Bible, but we have no use for them," is Old Baptist doctrine, then we have never been an Old Baptist. If preaching that Czolgosz was predestinated to kill President McKinley is Old Baptist doctrine, then we have never been an Old Baptist. If preaching that "the man who killed Dr. Phoff at Ferrum, Va., was the blessed man, because he only did that which God predestinated that he should do,;" that "Grant was predestinated to kill a man near Mountain Valley, Va., last year and the murder was predestinated" (the constable who delivered Grant to Sheriff Turner at Martinsville, Va., made this declaration to the officers, and he is considered "sound" by what is called the Pig River Association); that a man could not kill another unless it was predestinated—that the gun would not fire (this was argued by one of their number at Canton Creek Church at the May, 1924, session of the association); that if a man breaks into your smokehouse and steals a side of meat, or breaks into your corn crib and steals a bushel of corn, he should not be dealt with, because God predestinated it; that "when God gets ready for one to join the church, He will make them come in," is Old Baptist doctrine we have never been an Old Baptist.
Allowing these doctrines to be preached and holding in fellowship those that teach these doctrines and calling them "sound Baptists" and condemning us for preaching duty and condemning the aforementioned doctrines is the cause of our division. When they charge us with preaching "a freedom of will doctrine" that embraces that alien sinner, or "a freedom of will doctrine" in any sense as they charge, they know that they are publishing a falsehood. They seem to be unable to distinguish between an attribute of God and an act of God. We hold that which is good is of the Lord; that which is sin, is of the devil. We hold salvation is by grace, whether eternal or in this time state; but we make a distinction between the given grace (Eph 2:5-9) and the found grace (Heb 4:16) ; yet we uncompromisingly declare that these salvations are of the Lord. We make a distinction in the will of God as revealed to us in His word, to-wit, His decretive will and His preceptive will. We hold that His attitude to holiness is CAUSATIVE; His attitude to sin is PERMISSIVE and OVER-RULING.
Leatherwood and Martinsville Churches, also several other churches in adjoining counties, would not accept above fatalistic doctrines, declared their withdrawal from such, and the two named churches withdrew from the Pig River Association in March, 1924, on the condition that the association recognize these excluded factions at the Dyer school house and the court house at Martinsville. These churches pointed out in their resolutions sent to the association that no effort had been made by them for peace even after our repeated efforts to get them to come to us and point out our errors, if we were in error. No church in the Pig River Association had by an act of conference passed upon our order or disorder or sent any recommendations to the association affecting us in any way, but left the matter entirely to the association, as a ruling body over the churches, to deal with us as they saw proper. We can prove every assertion here made, and they will not dare deny it.
The resolutions of these two churches were referred, as were the resolutions of the excluded faction of these two churches, to the committee appointed by the moderator. We had no opportunity to defend ourselves. The committee was composed of the MEN WHO SET UP THESE EXCLUDED FACTIONS AS CHURCHES. Reader, please notice, men appointed by an unscriptural organization to sit in judgment upon churches, and that COMMITTEE WERE MEN WHO HAD, SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, SET UP these excluded factions as churches. Is that order? Will our brethren throughout the United States submit to and recognize such acts as orderly? We do not believe they will.
This committee met at night and held their session behind closed doors and the curtains over the windows were pulled down. We do not go so far as to charge that this was a secret meeting and the act of closing the doors was to keep us out, but we do say that the act was not Scriptural and had every appearance of unfairness and "steam rollers" at secret work. Elders P. J. Washburn, H. F. McGhee and I remained at the house until late in the night, and as we were not called we concluded that we would not be called and we went home with Elder McGhee and spent the night We certainly had every reason to believe that no fairness was in the meeting. There is no question as to the un-baptistic and unscriptural manner and proceedings of the committee and of the body. The committee reported that they found the excluded factions in order, and they were seated by the vote of the body. We all knew that would be their findings. Had they not decided months before this meeting that the excluded factions were "orderly?" The action of this committee was but a farce. Had not this committee found them "orderly" several months ago, when they .learned that they be-believed in extreme predestination and "only one salvation?"
Allow us to repeat, this committee were the men who set up these excluded factions as orderly bodies, and they alone were to sit in judgment with two others that held the same views, to judge between the work of two Primitive Baptist Churches in peace and order, and their own ungodly acts!
In my article published in the Gospel Messenger, Feb. 1, 1923, and The Primitive Baptist of March 1, 1923, I charged them with believing and preaching a doctrine that placed the regenerated character under a physical law, as machines, and not under a law to Christ. This they have bitterly denied, and brought many false accusations against me secretly; but, mark you, THEY NEVER BROUGHT ANY CHARGE TO MY CHURCH AGAINST ME. On Sunday at the Pig River Association, May 4, 1924, J. W. Wyatt declared in the pulpit that we were "like a graphophone"—no music in us, no preaching in us, no praying in us; it was all on the record. When the gramophone was wound up, the record put on and the needle placed on the record the music, preaching or praying would come out." Now who has made a false representation? Say again you were misrepresented, if you can. In the introductory sermon by J. F. Goode he said, "I want to be submissive to the association. It is not according to my will that I am here, but according to God's will. I had NO WILL IN THE MATTER." We will not offer comment on these words, but will leave it to our readers. At this association T. M. Stanley, who was excluded from orderly Baptists nearly four years ago, was recognized as orderly because he said, "we are fighting the same things in the Bear Creek Association of North Carolina, as you are fighting." It is known to all that the Bear Creek Association is an orderly body and is recognized as such by Baptists everywhere. They have endorsed us, so have other bodies that sit with them in an association capacity.
Brethren, if their acts which we have truthfully set forth in this article is the order as has been held to by the dear old church all along, we do not care for such order and will have none of it.
I challenged Hutchens or any of his crowd to debate with me. He refused, saying that "nothing would be gained by a debate." We told him that we felt sure that was his feelings about the matter. They well know that when the searchlight of truth is turned on their position, that their rottenness will be revealed.
Brethren, in conclusion let us beseech you to pray for us and visit us. We are sure that we are preaching the same doctrine that over ninety per cent of the dear Old Baptista love, and are standing upon today. We hold to the London Confession of Faith, the Resolutions and appendix to this confession by the Fulton meeting in 1900, the Black Rock Address, and we will have no innovations or institutions of men.
We are contented with the old way, the Bible way. May God keep us and save us from false doctrines. If we are in error, please labor with us to save us from error. We want to be right. May the Lord bless poor Zion. Your weak servant, if one at all.
Rt. 1, Martinsville, Va. J. T. Jackson.
FSOME PRINCIPLES QUOTED
Here we quote a few of the principles upon which many orderly associations of the South—Alabama, Georgia, Texas, etc. are constituted. They will not tolerate associational authority over the churches because it is unscriptural :
Hillabee:—"No act of this association shall be binding on the churches."
Flint River:—"The association shall have no power to lord it over God's heritage, nor infringe on the internal rights of any church."
Texas Associations:—It is also understood that no church on becoming a member of this association parts with or surrenders any of her rights, privileges, duties, or responsibilities given her by the Great Head of the Church and made binding on her in the New Testament."
Choctawhatchee:—"We declare that each church is a sovereign fully clothed by the Great Head of the Church with authority to execute gospel discipline and cannot transmit its business to any other body -for consideration and final judgment. Therefore, we, as an association, declare we will not receive from any church disciplinary questions to be discussed or adjusted."
Mt. Zion:—"The association shall have no power to lord it over God's heritage or to infringe on any of the internal rights of the churches."
Wetumpka:—"No act of the association shall be binding on the churches, but it shall be its duty to give best advice in matters of difficulty, and endeavor to preserve the union of the churches."
More could be given but these are sufficient to show that orderly Primitive Baptist Associations do not claim any right as a higher court to rule churches. All who are at all informed know that there is no Scriptural authority for such.
Here now are some more sayings and writings (taken at random) of the absoluters:
"I would as soon borrow from anything else as the Bible. The man that thinks he can improve his preaching by studying the Bible is nothing more than a fool." Elder Allen (a brother, to the boys who shot up the Hillsville, Va. court.)
MORE ABSOLUTISM FROM THEIR OWN PAPER
"While I believe with all my heart and mind and strength what is called the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things whatsoever come to pass, I want it clearly understood that I do not in the least believe that God ever prompted, inclined or caused anyone to commit sin, yet I do believe that God is the first great and grand cause of all causes, and creatures are secondary causes of secondary events, under His control, but not under His promptings at all times, for we are very often prompted by a wicked spirit Now I believe that God absolutely predestinated, determined, decreed. and appointed all things, times, events and occurrences that come to pass, and so rules and controls them as seemeth good in His sight, and so directs them in a way they will redound to His glory. I know this is deep water. I view Adam a figure of Christ, and Adam's existence and sphere that he filled was as much predestinated, fixed in the mind, wisdom and purpose of God as was Christ's duration. God, so to speak, looked down through the channels of time, and moulded the chain of events from the morning of time, throughout in time and eternity, and there is no changing of that chain, for every link was forged and welded in the furnace of God's wisdom and purpose." Joseph Hill Bozeman, Tehuacana, Texas (In Lone Pilgrim,. Feb., 1925.
Remarks by Eld. Hanks: "If this does not make God the author, cause and originator of all sin, wickedness, murder, and all lawlessness and leave the devil without an office, I fail to know what language means. It puts man under a physical law, destroys all accountability, ignores God's moral government over His creatures, and forever abolishes the commands and exhortations of the Bible and excuses the vile, ungodly criminals of the world, placing their devilish acts upon God as the first great cause that 'forged and welded' all their abominable crimes by fate, and makes the vile criminal not blameworthy. If God molded the chain of events, forged and welded all the links and the chain can not be changed, then it follows that Christ Jesus coming into the world to put away sin is a failure—failed to do what He came to do, as every link (sin and wickedness) was forged and welded in the chain; and if Christ had put away sin, He would have changed the chain; and 'the writer says it is forged and welded by God the Father and can not be changed. Then it follows that Christ could not put away our sins, for by so doing He would destroy the chain; and according to the writer, Jesus Christ would have been working in opposition to God the Father, trying to destroy what the Father had forged and welded; the Holy Spirit could not regenerate the heart, for that was forged and welded a cage of unclean birds and a sink of sin, and the chain can not be changed. If the writer's position be true, every human being will go to hell, for sin can not reach heaven. The position of the advocates of the above theory is that sin is an essential link in the chain of salvation. Then if Christ put away sin, cleansed His people from their sins by His own blood, then He removed the essential link, destroyed the chain, and eternal condemnation would be the result for all the race, and the work of Jesus brought damnation instead of salvation. Then, if sin brings salvation, what brings death and damnation? The Bible teaches that sin is of the devil. Then, if sin brings salvation, the devil must be the prime factor in man's salvation. The Bible teaches that sin is the transgression of the law. Then if sin is the essential link in man's salvation—salvation upon that principle would be conditional, conditioned upon man's disobedience, while the Armenian has salvation conditioned upon obedience. Both systems eliminate grace and are Christless. This doctrine is the doctrine of Mahomet, who believed the following:
"God's absolute decree and predestination both of good and evil. The orthodox doctrine is that whatever hath or shall come to pass in this world, whether good or bad, proceedeth entirely from the divine will, and is irrevocably fixed and recorded from all eternity in the preserved table; God having secretly predetermined not only the adverse and prosperous fortune of every person in this world, in the most minute particulars, but also his faith or infidelity, his obedience or disobedience, and consequently his everlasting woe or misery after death; which faith or predestination it is not possible by any foresight or wisdom to avoid."—Buck's Theological Dictionary, Page 333.
It is indeed sad that professing Christians will espouse such a heathenish fatalistic doctrine, which is the most dangerous heresy. See what the Bible says: "Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say "We are delivered to do all these abominations?"—Jer 7:9-10. "They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind."—(Jer 19:5).
Not a prophet, the blessed Saviour, or any of the apostles ever used the word predestinate, except Paul, and then when he referred to our eternal salvation. (Ro 8:29-30; Eph 1:5.) The word absolute is not in the Bible. God's doctrine does not need any prefixes and suffixes. it is strong enough. Preaching what the Bible teaches has never divided our people, and never will. What concerns me is, am I predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ? Ninety per cent of the people bearing our name will not accept Mohammedanism—absolute predestination of all things. Paul says, "He that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject."—Tit 3:10. "If I or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."—Ga 1:9; Ro 16:17; 2Jo 7,10-11.
Elder G. Beebe, in Editorials of the Signs, vol. 1, page 130, said, "Men and devils act voluntarily in sin." God did not mould, forge, or weld, the wicked acts of Joseph's brethren, or cause them to become wicked. Those wicked men carried out the' desires of their hearts, did what they wanted to do, acted voluntarily in what they did, influenced by an evil spirit, but God overruled their wicked designs. Our people generally believed that God's relation toward holiness is causative, but His attitude toward sin is overruling, restrictive or permissive (in the sense of not hinder). Predestination is an act of God—what He does, intends to do, restrict, bound and overrule. Predestination pertains to our eternal salvation. Foreknowledge is an attribute of God. If this distinction was made' clear in preaching and writing our people would be united. No true Primitive Baptist believes that God is the author or cause of sin and wickedness, that He forces men to sin, coerces, forges, welds and moulds all their murderous deeds, and that they act in His hands as an irresponsible machine, and that predestination bears the same relation to sin as it does to holiness. Elder Hassell, one of our safest, soundest and wisest ministers, expresses the views of the Primitive Baptists. (See Hanks' History, page 180)--
"Fatalism—That all the acts, right or wrong, of all human beings are necessitated or compelled to be exactly what they are. But this makes man an involuntary and irresponsible machine; while all men are voluntary in the commission of sin, and are accountable to God for their sins (Ge 2:6-7,16-19; Joh 8:44; 1Co 5; 10; Re 20:12-13). The Lord works holiness in His children, and graciously rewards it (Php 2:12-13; Ps 19:14; Jas 1:25; Isa 1:19-20; 48:18; Re 22:14). While God foreknows and suffers sin (De 4:13; Ps 81:12; Lu 4:41; 8:32; Ac 2:23; 7:42; 13:18; 14:16; Jas 1:13-14; Ro 1:24,26,28; 9:22), He is in no sense its author or approver; but He chastises it in His own loved and chosen people (Heb 12:5-13), and punishes it forever in His unredeemed, impenitent and rebellious enemies (2Th 1:7-9; Re 14:9-11; 21:8). Those are Scriptural facts, and believed by all Primitive Baptists. They are as true in the matter of God's predestination as in the matter of His providence. His attitude toward sin is that, not of instigation or compulsion, but of foreknowledge. Sin, which is enmity to God and ruin to man, comes only to the creature, and salvation from sin, in both soul and body, comes only from the electing, redeeming and renewing Triune God, and for this salvation, He alone will deserve and receive all the glory. If the children of God will take all the teaching of the Scriptures on this, as well as on other subjects, they will be united (2Ti 3:16-17; Joh 17:17,20-21). Fatalism is a doctrine of the heathen Mohammedans.—Elder S. Hassell.
Elder L. H. Hardy said:
Our brethren have reason to stand shoulder to shoulder and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints. I heard a minister use for a text: "All thy works shall praise thee, 0 Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee,"—Ps 141:10. In his exposition of the text he left the full impression that all evil deeds are the works of the Lord, and that they were for His praise. If my evil deeds are works of God where are the works of the devil? What experience have I with him? Does no such being exist? My own experience tells me there is such a being. He is my tormentor. I often find that he has dictated to me and I have followed his evil ways, and am brought very low in repentance from my evil ways. Satan is a snare and a trap to the children of God; and, my brethren, I do not feel that I should put it to God's account. We should be careful to shun the appearance of evil, not only the evil itself, but the very appearance of it.—L. H. Hardy, in Zion's 'Landmark, Nov. 15, 1916. (Bro. Hardy seems to have changed recently. Ed.)
Eld. Gold said:—"But while the promised land was given to the children of Israel, they were to be taught that blessings followed their obedience, and that curses followed their disobedience.
When Israel disobeyed God the rains were withheld, and the sky became as brass, and the earth yielded not her increase."—P. D. Gold
Gill said:—"Who is the Saviour of all men; in a providential way, giving them being and breath, upholding them in their beings, preserving their lives, and indulging them with blessings and mercies of life; for that He is the Saviour of all men, with spiritual and everlasting salvation, is not true in fact. Specially those that believe; whom though He saves with an eternal salvation; yet not of this, but of a temporal salvation, are the words to be understood. 1Ti 4:16; saves himself from the pollutions of the world, from the errors and heresies of false teachers, and from the blood of all men, and from all just blame in the ministry. Them that hear thee; from erroneous principles and immoral practices, by faithfully preaching the gospel to his hearers. Php 1:19: 'For I know this shall turn to my salvation'—be the means of his enlargement and liberty, of his salvation and deliverance from bonds."—John Gill, in 1748.
Elder Beebe taught below two salvations "temporal" and "eternal." His followers have learned that Eld. Beebe was wrong,—they teach "one salvation" only. But they seem to be confused about which one it is. Read Eld. Beebe:—
We have shown above how the illiterate and genuine disciples of our Lord stood half a century ago, and what temporal salvation God wrought for America in their time; but how the times have altered, and the popular Baptists have adopted the policy of their old oppressor Our Bible knows of no other eternal salvation than that which secures to the heirs of promise the blessings of immortality and eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.—Elder Gilbert Beebe in 1835, in Editorials of the Signs, Vol. 1, page 239.
Elder Durand (page 47) in his book shows the curse of disobedience :—also he taught that some blessings are conditional:--
"How many who have been cast off from the church on account of disobedience, on account of crime. . . . So God's forgiveness is asked for as we forgive our debtors; the one placed in conditional connection with the other, even in supplication. Page 87: I know that the comfort of God's people in this land of Canaan, the gospel church, is in some sense conditioned upon their obedience to the laws of Christ, and sometimes have thought that I had experienced it in some degree. Page 96: All temporal blessings and salvation are from Him. He sends His rain and sunshine upon all. But the especial salvation unto eternal life is for His brethren only."—S. H. Durand.
Here is a sample of "absolutism." Not many Primitive Baptists will have it:
"As you will understand there is nothing comes to pass but what our God has a good purpose in it somewhere. There is nothing working contrary to the purpose of God, but is working together for good (somehow) to them who love God." J. A. Preston, Shoals, W. Va., in Lone Pilgrim, March, 1926.
H. V. Cole, Simpson, Va. was writing against gospel preachers admonishing people to duty.
He said, "Oh they say `Go on and do your duty.' If one were to come to the church and say that he came because he felt that it was his duty, I would not baptize him." Lone. Pilgrim, March, 1926.
(Remarks: I wonder, would he want him to come feeling that it was not his duty, or in disobedience to his Lord?)
Read a mixture of Foreknowledge and Predestination:--
"It is hard for me to get the difference in purpose and predestination. While I believe in the predestination of God over all worlds, creatures, and things, I can't get my mind to accept of a limit any more to his predestination than I can to his foreknowledge. For by Him were all things created, that are in ,Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, principalities, or powers. All things were created by Him, and for Him; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. Col 1:16-17." J. B. Bowden, Kerrville, Tex., in Lone Pilgrim, March, 1926.
In this letter of Paul, we find embraced all things. —J. B. Bowden, Kerrville, Tex., in Lone Pilgrim, March, 1926.
"The two salvations so highly prized by home who have the title of an elder, are the two coats—one for time; the other for eternity, the conditional time salvation is pleasing to nature, and is comforting to the carnal mind.
There were some anciently who limited God as being god of the hills and not god of the valley. They felt to limit the holy one of Israel to hills only. So it is in this day that some limit God's predestination to what they call good things, but he is not God of all things; setting themselves as judging what is good and what is bad. Paul said how to perform that which was good he found not. Some will go so far as to say that absolute predestination is a dangerous doctrine. These are hard sayings, who can hear them?" J. W. McClanahan, Poca, W. Va., in Lone Pilgrim, March, 1926.
Another mixture of Foreknowledge and Predestination, obedience and disobedience:--
"We often meet men that are so wise they can tell us there is a great difference between God's Predestination and His foreknowledge. They take hours of time to explain and reason out their theories, saying Predestination is an act of God and foreknowledge is an attribute of God. Preaching of this kind is not edifying to the body of Christ, but is only confusing to the Little Children. I am not trying to tell any one how to preach, but only trying to tell what they preach, so you can judge them by the fruits they bear. . . We will endeavor to tell you a little of what we hope we are established in, regarding these things of which we have been writing.
I believe that not anything ever has, is now, or ever will come to pass, in heaven, earth or hell, in time or eternity, contrary to God's will and purpose in Divinity. In other words I believe in a Sovereign God.
I believe all the salvation there is, is in Christ Jesus, and that it is enough for time and eternity. H. F. H., in Lone Pilgrim, Sept., 1925.
(Question: If nothing ever has, is now, or ever will come to pass contrary to God's will and purpose, either in heaven, earth or hell, how is it that He is not the author of sin, and His predestination the cause of Adam's transgression and the sin of all men? If disobedience and sin did not come to pass contrary to His will and purpose, then it must have been in accord with His will and purpose. S. E. C.)
In the Lone Pilgrim for December, 1925, is published an article from the pen of Elder Lytle Burns, once a Primitive Baptist, but now gone off with the absoluters. His article is entitled "Absolute Predestination," and his first sentence "The above subject has been the cause of much confusion and divisions among the Primitive Baptists for the last thirty years." Some admission! But it is the truth from one of them. S. E. C.
Some more muddy water which has the appearance to some as being deep water:—
"The doctrine, you can obey or disobey as you choose is free will doctrine, pure and simple."
* * *
If Adam had not transgressed you never would have sung "Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me," etc. You never would have sung
"Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song, The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue, Thy free grace alone from the first to the last, Hath won my affections and bound my soul fast."
Yes, are you glad His grace has bound your soul fast? You can't get away. Isaac R. Greathouse, Tampa, Fla., in Lone Pilgrim, April, 1526.
(Question: Does he mean to convey the idea that God's children can neither obey nor disobey? and that their salvation was conditional on Adam's transgression? S. E. C.)
Says another :—
"When one thinks he can do things he would, that he has the ability to keep the commands or let them alone as he pleases, he is not much like a little child, and must be in need of conversion, and is 'out' and not 'in' for the time being." H. B. Jones, Winsboro, Tex., in Lone Pilgrim, January, 1926.
(Now we wonder why Jesus commanded "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Was He just idly chattering to fill up space? S. E. C.)
Can see only one salvation taught in the Bible:--
"This two salvation doctrine would put the gauling yoke of bondage on the necks of the free heirs of salvation. There is only one salvation, and that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which salvation was ours (if I am one) before the world was. I submit a few questions. Did not God create the heavens and the earth and all the fulness thereof? What for? For His own purpose and that purpose is His pleasure. Did He have any pleasure in the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Did He have any pleasure in the crooked serpent? Did they, and do they serve that purpose? If not, tell what God's pleasure was in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Did not God have power to have prevented Satan from beguiling Eve? Why did He not do it? Did He intend that they stay in the garden? For what reason were they cast out?" R. W. Rhodes, Lillie, La., in Lone Pilgrim, January, 1926.
(Answer:—They were cast out because of disobedience. R. H. P.)
Can't see how God could Foreknow all about sin without bringing all of it to pass. But God permits, allows, suffers sin, and will punish for it. But read some more "sound" doctrine:
"I can not conceive of how God could foreknow all things without all things being embraced in His infinite thought. I am not afraid to take the position that the eternal God, has eternally, thought of all things. That He thought of all things just as they have been, are, and will be.
Man's after-thought of things which come to pass are because they have come to pass, and arise from our knowledge of the fact. But such can not be the manner and cause of God's thinking.
God's fore-thought as well as his fore-knowledge were with Him before any thing came to pass. God's thoughts were and are, as eternal as He is eternal, and could not therefore arise from His fore-knowledge as our thoughts arise from our after-knowledge of facts. Brethren, I do not expect to please the Conditionalists, when I come to express my views upon the subject in hand, and I owe allegiance to NO man, nor am I accountable to any man for what I teach.
I am going to say that no man is able to separate God's forethought and fore-knowledge from His predestination. God never did begin to think about anything. As He has eternally thought, so shall it come to pass. He has eternally thought of and foreknown all things, and I can not think of His fore-thought and foreknowledge as resting on and arising from anything else than His predestination, even if we were justified in fixing in our minds the order of them and have one placed before the other.
God's eternal, all-embracing and immutable thought can be nothing more or less than His eternal, all embracing and immutable predestination. Disprove it if you can. God's thought all embracing; He thought of the evil as well as the good. He thought of both the evil and the good as it has come to pass, and I can not believe that He thought of the good and evil as coming to pass contrary to His plan of infinite wisdom that embraces all things that come to pass." C. M. Weaver, in Lone Pilgrim, January, 1926.
(Eld. Weaver's position is that God's attitude toward sin is the same as his attitude toward holiness,—which is not true.)
Eld. Hardy worried, and seeking a remedy :—
"I remember that in the last days of Elder James S. Wilson, of the Middle Creek Church, he requested the brethren to watch over him, and try to bear with his mistakes, but to not follow him to go wrong. I was present in that conference when that old father gave this advice. I shall never forget it. As he talked to the brethren the tears were rolling down his wrinkled cheeks, and they told of love to God and His children. That was faithfulness to the end.
We should adhere strictly to the teachings of the Bible, "Rebuke not an Elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren," 1Ti 5:1. To do otherwise, we bring the rebuke of God on our own head. Sooner or later we will feel it. We may be able for the present to pass along with these violations of the word of God, but He is a just God and Savior. He knows all our secret thoughts and He will require it of us. He will not in anywise let the guilty go free. He knows how to mete out justice to us, and He will make no mistake.
As I pass through out the country, I see that in some places the candlestick has been removed, and in many others there is only a lingering few, and when our brethren go there to preach, there is only a very small hearing. We ask, "What is the matter?" No one can tell. Evidently there is a cause. Faithfulness to the teachings of the word of God has not been complied with, and His rebukes are felt. In some places there has been an ingathering but there appears to be no life in that ingathering. It may be that some thing like muckraking has been going on and care has not been taken in the ingathering. We know that where there has been a great reaping there is of necessity to be a great threshing, and separating.
Oh that our God would show Himself in the midst of the churches.
In reading of the seven churches in Asia, we see that no one church was held accountable for the sin of any other church. This should teach us that the churches of God are, each one for itself, accountable to God. No church nor combination of churches hold the keys of any single church. She is a little family to herself with her own government.
The Lord bless us all to live unto Him. L. H. Hardy, in the Lone Pilgrim, January, 1926.
"What is the matter?" the Elder asks. The answer is apparent:
Destruction to the prosperity and life of Old Baptist Churches always follows in the wake of absolutism. Study the history of it, look the country over and compare the condition of Old Baptist Churches where this heresy is preached and where it is not allowed to be preached. Brethren and churches, gospel discipline of preachers, and a return to Bible doctrine is the remedy and cure for this terrible disease. Please do wake up and apply it. S. E. Copeland.
Staunton River Association Circular Letter in 1877
(From Zion's Advocate, Feb., 1922.)
According to appointment it becomes my duty to write an annual letter to be approved or disapproved by you. And being quite young—two years old if a child of grace—and very weak, it is with reluctance that I expose my weakness to those that are well grown in grace. But St. Paul writing to the saints at Philippi tells them to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, (Php 2:12). This has no reference to the work of regeneration, but to the time work and common salvation of each individual saint, for it is God that works in them, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. There is much said in Scripture about works, and it becomes each one to examine for himself and find out what is required at his hands. It is the duty of all sane men to labor in some way to make an honest and honorable provision for themselves and those of their own household. But it would be very absurd to expect one to work naturally until he is first naturally born. And equally so in a spiritual sense. Therefore the Scriptures nowhere teach the Arminian theory that there are certain conditions to be performed by the creature who is dead in trespasses and in sins in order to receive the grace which saves the soul. "Now to him that worketh," in that sense, "The reward is not reckoned of grace, but debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom.) "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb 11:6). And that faith which is counted to sinners for righteousness is the gift of God. Thus we have Jesus the beginner of salvation, and notwithstanding the clamor and tumult of anti-Christ and spiritual wickedness in high places, we have confidence and reason to rejoice in believing that the unerring Spirit of Jesus is yet carrying on His quiet, sure and irresistible work of regeneration, and will finally cause every heir of promise to be born of incorruptible seed by the Word of God which liveth and abide th for ever. Brethren, is not Christ a whole Saviour? He is not only the beginning but also the end of salvation. What a blessed faith and hope is ours in such a Saviour. Should we not strive to glorify Him in our bodies and spirits if we are what we profess to be? We may glorify Him in spirit and rejoice in our Saviour when no earthly eye can see, nor ear hear. But to glorify Him in our bodies it is necessary to keep them under and bring them into subjection to the hidden man of the heart, and that our every day walk and talk be such as becometh the gospel of Christ. Therefore, brethren, be zealous in maintaining good works, such as the Scriptures teach. And if they do not thoroughly furnish us unto all good works, we may truthfully conclude that we are not men of God (2Ti 3:16-17). Stand aloof from all the institutions, doctrines and commandments of men and thereby prove that our Maker is our Husband, Prophet, Priest and King, our all and in all. Your brother in hope of eternal life. Chas. P. Williams.
The date of this letter is July 22, 1877. There seemed to be no opposition to this letter, to the doctrine it set forth, or to the brethren who taught this doctrine at that time. There should be none now.
P. D. Williams.
The above shows very clearly that the expressions used by some of our brethren now, and which are objected to by some, are not new. The above circular letter was written forty-eight years ago. Notice the expression, "Time work" and "common salvation," which the Lord's children were commanded to work out. That doctrine is not new, and the man who says it is new is the man that is wrong.
C. H. Cayce.
STATEMENTS BY R. H. PITTMAN TOGETHER WITH IN FORMATION FURNISHED BY HIM
I joined Hopeland Church in the Kehukee Association 36 years ago, assisted in the organization of a church in Bishopville, S. C. some years later to which I moved my membership and held it until I moved it to Mt. Carmel Church Luray, Va., 20 years ago, and where it now is. I love the Primitive Baptist cause and have labored for a closer unity among them. It has been my observation that Primitive Baptists have been disturbed, distressed, confused and divided more over the doctrine of "the absolute predestination of all things" than over any other doctrine. I have labored earnestly and prayerfully to live in peace with extreme predestinarians. But I have almost come to the conclusion that it cannot be done, especially with certain leaders among them. I loved Eld. Chick and Eld. Durand and preached with them; they were not bitter. They did not call me and my people Arminians. They knew we were not. I gave the so-called Beebe Baptists equal representation in my Biographical History of Baptist ministers. But Eld. Lefferts, Editor of The Signs, wrote me that he would not preach in my church at my invitation. I am not complaining, but just showing the spirit of some leaders. Such men as Eld. Chick and Eld. Gold, though not perfectly agreed on predestination, yet in their day, (like Eld. Hassell does now), exerted a saving influence over extreme brethren. I loved Eld. Gold; he was at my marriage, visited my home, preached in our churches among the so-called Clark Baptists as Eld. Hassell still does every few years. But I have during the past few years, seen a determination upon the part of some to press extreme predestination upon our people. When this is done division follows.
I visited the Mayo Association May 1921 and met a few extreme predestinarians also visited the Staunton River and Pig River Associations the same year and met a few more. At the Staunton River I heard one preach that God predestinated Czolgosz to assasinate President McKinley. I was at the Staunton River Association in Danville, Va. Aug 1923, just before the Danville trouble. The question of preaching Eld. M. E. Petty came up. He opposed "absolute predestination," and was not allowed to preach. I stood with Eld. Petty, but I was also charged by Eld. M. L. Compton with declaring non-fellowship with Richmond, (Va.) Church. This charge could not be sustained, but I admitted that I believed the church had erred in discipline and that I did not agree with some in doctrine whose membership was there. Like Eld. Petty, I was not recognized by the association. At this association an article of faith was changed. I learned later that the article was the same as No. 4, held by the Kehukee Association. This article was claimed to be unscriptural. If it is, then the Kehukee Association is holding to an unscriptural article. Eld. Wilson was sick and did not attend the Association in 1923 though it met not far from his home in Danville. At the first Danville Church meeting following the association he and others wrote me that a discussion arose in Conference,—that Eld. Wilson made some objection to the doctrine of "absolute predestination";—that he endeavored to learn why an article of faith was changed, and also why certain Elders were not allowed to preach at the Association. The result was Eld. Wilson, and others were excluded, and it is said by many who were present that the exclusions were hasty and without gospel labor. If this is true, then Danville Church committed the first disorder. I read in the Land Mark that Eld. Wilson was excluded for "abusive language toward the church and the moderator;" I have also read several denials of this, one denial by the brother who made the motion to exclude. If these denials be true then Danville Church committed the second disorder by recording and publishing an incorrect cause of exclusion. I was further informed that Eld. Wilson joined Mill Church by relation without gospel labor by Mill Church with Danville Church, and that he related to other churches of which he was pastor the cause and method of his exclusion and was retained as pastor by these churches before they labored with Danville Church for peace. This being true, Eld. Wilson and his churches committed the third disorder. Eld. Wilson at that time was associate Editor of The Advocate & Messenger. Because of the disorders I took his name off. Nor did I visit his churches until Eld. Wilson and messengers from his churches went before Danville Church several times, confessing their wrongs and asked forgiveness. When I learned that Danville Church could not be made to see her own disorders, and that she continued to commit further disorders by refusing to forgive brethren and churches who asked forgiveness and by referring the trouble to the Association for settlement, then and not until then, did I visit Eld. Wilson's churches. I think I saw, and still see, an effort to destroy Eld. Wilson and all who opposed "absolutism," the "one salvation theory" and the assumed authority of associations over churches. And I am not in the killing business. I refuse to knowingly touch God's annointed with a view to bind and destroy. I know ministers can destroy themselves by ungodly lives, cruel envy, unholy strife, preaching false doctrines and advocating false practices. But Eld. Wilson has not been proven guilty of such things, and I feel, does not deserve death. He and his churches made mistakes and committed wrongs, but they have confessed their wrongs and asked forgiveness. What more could they do to satisfy Danville Church? You say, "Lay down his gift—quit preaching." Well, he did this:—For about four months while laboring for peace he did this. What then was the verdict of Danville Church? It was, in substance: "We will not forgive you, but we will deliver you and your churches over to the association;—this 'High Tribunal' will attend to the case." But Eld. Wilson and his churches refused to be bound and delivered by a disorderly church into the hands of an association that had already virtually declared non-fellowship for them when it changed their article of faith against their wishes and refused to preach ministers who opposed "absolutism." And it is apparent that there is but one thing that Eld. Wilson can do that will satisfy the extremists,—and that one thing is to quit preaching entirely and altogether. And if extremists can silence him then they will turn their attention to others who oppose "absolutism," "one salvation" and the assumed authority of associations over churches.
The following principles were prepared and published by Eld. Sylvester Hassell many years ago. Brother Hassell says,—"These principles are the great truths taught by the prophets, Christ, and His apostles in the Holy Scriptures, affirmed, in regard to eternal salvation, by the early European reformers and martyrs of the 14th and 15th centuries, similarly reaffirmed by the Protestant reformers, including the Episcopalians, of the 16th century, embodied, in substance of doctrine with reference to final salvation, in the Articles of Faith of the Presbyterians, Independents or Congregationalists, and Predestinarian Baptists of the 17th century, fully set forth in the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, adopted as an expression of their belief by all the Predestinarian Baptists of the United States in the 18th century, maintained by nearly every Primitive Baptist Church of the 19th century and these principles, exactly as here published, were unanimously approved by the general meetings of Primitive Baptists at Oakland City, Ind., September 27, 1900, and at Fulton, Ky., November 14-18, 1900, representing two-thirds of the Primitive Baptists of the United States and, I believe, that they are the sentiments of nine-tenths of all the Primitive Baptists now living." I read these principles before the Investigating Committee and they were unanimously approved by a standing vote of all Baptists present. They are believed and defended by Eld. Wilson and the churches of his care. Read them:
The Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments are the perfectly inspired Word of God, and the only infallible standard of faith and practice; although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as to leave all men inexcusable for their sins, and yet unable to accomplish their own salvation.
There is only one living and true God, who is a pure spirit, self existent, perfect, infinite and eternal in all His glorious attributes of holiness, justice, truth, wisdom, mercy, and goodness, the sovereign Creator, upholder, governor, and judge of the universe, and who exists in the three-fold undivided and indivisible subsistences of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Nothing takes place by chance; but God's foreknowledge, purpose and providence embrace all things, including grace and holiness, positively and efficiently, and sin permissively and overrulingly—sin proceeding from the will of the creature, and of which God, who is most holy, is neither the author nor approver, but of which He is the fatherly chastiser in His children, and the righteous punisher in His enemies; the Lord, for the former sins of His people, and to make them more humble, watchful and prayerful in the future, clouding their sense of His love, bringing temporal judgments upon them, and leaving them for a while to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, and giving over the wicked, for their former sins, to their own lusts and the temptations of the world and the power of Satan, so that they harden themselves under the same circumstances by which God softens the hearts of His people.
For the manifestation of His glory, God, before the foundation of the world, predestinated some men and angels to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace, and left others to act in their sins to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice. The Father gave all the elect of the human family to the Son in the eternal covenant of grace; the Son, according to the prophecies and types of four thousand years, became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and died and rose again to redeem and justify the elect; and the Holy Ghost regenerates the elect, creating in their souls a new spiritual life, and effectually applies to them the holy and everlasting salvation of Jesus, giving them, generally though not always, under the administration of the word and the ordinances of God, true repentance and faith and hope and love, and working in them both to will and to do of His own good pleasure, and infallibly keeping every one of them unto the fullness of salvation which is to be finally revealed to them; and this eternal salvation is for the elect only, and is personal and unconditional on their part, God by His Spirit working in them all the so-called spiritual conditions of repentance, faith, and love, so that the salvation of the elect is all of Divine and unmerited grace and for it God deserves and will receive all the glory, and all who die in infancy are among the elect, and are saved by God's almighty grace.
God created man in His own image, very good and upright; and man of his own will, without any compulsion and undeceived, transgressed the law of God, falling from his original innocence and communion with God, and involving all his posterity in death in trespasses and sins, in total depravity, in utter inclination to all evil, from which only the saving grace of God can deliver him, and enable him fully to will and do that which is spiritually good; aid this corruption of nature remains during all this earthly life even in the regenerate, who are made perfectly and immutably free to good only in the state of glory.
Good works are such only as God bath commanded in His Holy Word, and are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of adversaries, and glorify God; and their ability to do good works is wholly from the Spirit of Christ, who dwells in them; and the best saints do less than God requires of them; and the best works, being mixed with imperfection, can never merit pardon of sin or eternal life. Works done by the unregenerate, though useful in this life, to themselves and others, yet, not proceeding from faith in God, nor meant for the glory of God, are sinful and can not please God, nor entitle the doer to salvation, and yet their neglect is more sinful and displeasing to God.
While the ceremonial law of types and figures was fulfilled and abrogated by Christ, and the judicial and civil law given the Jews was of limited national use, the formal law of the Ten Commandments, written in substance in the heart or conscience of Adam while he was upright and in the image of God, and delivered by God on Mount Sinai, and written in two tables, the first four containing our duty to God and the last six our duty to man, is of universal and perpetual obligation for all persons, both regenerate and unregenerate, Christ in the gospel in no way dissolving, but much strengthening this obligation, and, while true believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them, as well as others, as a rule of life, and to show them their sinfulness and their need of Christ and the perfection of His obedience, and to restrain their corruptions, and teach them what their sins deserve; and these uses of the law are not contrary to the grace of the gospel, but sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in His law, requireth to be done, true Christian liberty not being a liberty to sin, but a freedom from guilt and all the consequences of sin, and from the doctrines and commandments of men, that we may all our lives yield obedience to God, not out of a slavish fear, but with a child-like love and willing mind.
The Triune God alone is to be worshiped, and in spirit and in truth, and only through the meditation of Christ, by prayer, reading the Scriptures, preaching, hearing the Word of God, singing spiritual songs. baptism, the Lord's Supper, fasting, and thanksgiving; and one day in seven—which from the creation of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, but since the resurrection of Christ has been the first day of the week, and is called the Lord's Day— should be kept free from worldly employments and recreations, and devoted to the public and private worship of God, and to the duties of necessity and charity.
All orderly-walking believers in Christ ought to be gathered in particular churches, having Christ as their only Head, and having power to carry out that order in worship and discipline which He requireth, their officers being Elders (or Bishops and Deacons), qualified by the Holy Spirit and chosen by the common suffrage of their church, and set apart by fasting (in the case of Elders) and by prayer with imposition of hands by the Eldership; the duty of Deacons being to serve the tables of the Lord, of the pastor, and of the poor; the duty of pastors being to give themselves to the ministry of the word and prayer and watching for souls; and the duty of the church being to communicate of their natural substance according to their ability to their pastor, and to hold communion with other churches of like faith and order, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification; and, in cases of difficulty in doctrine or practice, to seek, if necessary, the advice of other churches, but no decision of messengers to be imposed upon any church; and all saints should lovingly labor for the mutual good of each other, both in the inward and the outward man.
10. Baptism is a sign of the fellowship of believers in Christ with Him in His death and resurrection, and should be administered only to believers, and by immersion in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; and the Lord's Supper was not meant by Him to be a sacrifice for sin, but only as a perpetual memorial of that one offering up of Himself by Himself upon the cross for all the sins of the elect; and the bread and wine are only emblems of His body and blood, and are to be given to all communicants who, while outwardly partaking of these visible elements, inwardly and spiritually receive and feed upon Christ crucified and all the benefits of His death. 11. While after death the bodies of men return to dust and corruption, their souls return at once to God who gave them—the souls of the righteous being made perfect in holiness and received into Paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. At the last day such of the saints as are found alive shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever; the bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor, and the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honor, and be made conformable to His own glorious body. 12. God hath appointed a day of general and final judgment, unknown to men, when apostate angels and all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ at His second personal coming to the world, to give an account of their thoughts and words and deeds, whether good or evil—the object of God in the appointment of this day being to manifest the glory of His mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect, and of His justice in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; and the righteous shall enter into the fullness of everlasting life, while the wicked shall be cast into everlasting torment."
PRINCIPLES FURTHER EXPRESSED
The following article was written and published by Eld. S. Hassell several years ago. It was republished in the Advocate and Messenger, Jan. 1926. I read this article before the Investigating Committee. It was unanimously approved by all Baptists present as expressed by a standing vote. Eld. Wilson and those standing with him are defending these principles. Study them for yourself:--
I have earnestly labored for years (I hope not without success, which I gladly confess is due entirely to the Lord,) to show that the contention, among Primitive Baptists, in regard to the extention of predestination is, when properly understood, a mere unprofitable and unwholesome strife of words. Every true Baptist believes that God foreknows and controls all things; and no true Baptist believes that God influences or compels His creatures to sin. Thus God's fore-knowledge or predestination of sin is not of a causative or compulsive, but of a permissive, directive, restrictive and overruling character. So far as I am aware, the war, among the most of our brethren, on the extent of predestination seems to have about ended—the vexed question being finally settled on this immutable basis of scriptural and eternal truth.
Another equally unnecessary and unprofitable verbal contention among a few Primitive Baptists is one similar to, if not connected with, the controversy on predestination. It is the question concerning what is called "the conditionality of time salvation," and, connected with this, the question as to the ability of the child of God to obey the commandments of his Heavenly Father.
Ail Primitive Baptists are agreed upon the unconditionality of our eternal salvation, and the inability of those who are dead in sin to render spiritual obedience to the law of God. Instead of repentance and faith being conditions prerequisite to salvation, we understand that they are the work of the Holy Spirit in the renewed heart, and are thus essential parts of salvation; and, until this spiritual renewal, the fallen child of Adam will love sin and hate holiness and continue in rebellion against God.
But there is an apparent disagreement in two or three of our Associations, among worthy and lovely brethren, who would be heartily fellowshipped and gladly welcomed by other Primitive Baptists everywhere, as to whether our time salvation, that is, our deliverance from spiritual darkness, coldness, distress, and chastisement during the present life is conditioned or dependent upon our obedience to God, and as to whether the child of God is able to obey or not.
Now, even the authors of dictionaries have no right to manufacture or change the meanings of words; their business is simply to ascertain and state the meanings which words actually and already have in the language of which they treat. It would be deceptive to use words in a different sense from that which they generally have, unless we explain the sense which we mean. The most of controversies are strifes of words; and when words are properly defined, and their correct meaning is accepted by both parties, the controversy ends.
A "condition" is defined by the best of English dictionaries to be "an event, object, fact, or being that is necessary to the occurrence or existence of some other, though not its cause; a prerequisite; that which must exist as the occasion or concomitance of something else; that which is requisite in order that something else should take effect; an essential qualification." And these dictionaries say that the word "if" is "the typical conditional particle, and is nearly always used to introduce the subordinate clause of a conditional sentence,” and means "on the supposition that; provided, or on condition that; in case that, granting, allowing, or supposing that."
There are 1,422 "ifs" in the Bible-830 in the Old Testament, and 592 in the New Testament; and these conditional sentences make up about one fiftieth part of the Bible. Thus forty-nine fiftieths of the Scriptures are unconditional, and one fiftieth is conditional. All reverent minds must admit that this conditional part of the Scriptures, though comparatively small, has a real and true meaning.
It cannot be denied by any informed and honest man that such Scriptures as the following are conditional: "If His children forsake My law, I will visit their transgression with the rod, nevertheless My loving-kindness will I not utterly take from Him." (Ps 89:30-33). "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." (Isa 1:19-20). "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (Joh 13:17). "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye. through the spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (Ro 8:13. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb 2:3). "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." (1Jo 2:7). See, also, such scriptures as Le 26; De 4:29-31; 12:26; 11:13-32; 28; Eze 18; 33. Not only is it certain that these Scriptures are conditional, but it is equally certain that the condition, introduced by "if," necessarily precedes the conclusion, which would not take place unless the condition took place first. If the conclusion in these sentences means eternal punishment, then Arminianism is true; but either the text itself, or the context and other Scriptures, prove that the punishment or chastisement threatened in case of disobedience, is temporal and corrective, and not eternal and destructive, for God gives His children eternal life, and they shall never perish, and though their voluntary sins separate them from His face, nothing present or future can ever separate them from His love. (Joh 10:28-30; Heb 12; Isa 59:2; Ro 8:28-39). Thus the conditionality of time salvation is just as certain as the truth of the eternal word of God. Baptists have always heretofore understood it so; nearly all Baptists understand it so now; and this truth is in perfect accordance with Christian experience. And if the living child of God, having the indwelling of the Spirit of life and grace, which makes him alive, is not able to obey heartily and sincerely, though imperfectly, the commandments of his Heavenly Father, his real state does not differ from that of those who are dead in sin. Of course he can do nothing spiritual or acceptable to God except by that Spirit of grace; but that Spirit dwells in him. (Joh 1:16-17; Ro 8:9-17; 2Co 6:16; Eph 2:22) ; and he "can do all things through Christ, who strengthens him." (Php 4:13) ; and he well knows and loves to confess that he has nothing good which he did not receive from God, and that without Christ he can do nothing, and that, by the grace of God, he is what he is—a poor, hell-deserving sinner, SAVED BY GRACE—a brand plucked from the eternal burning (1Co 4:7; Jas 1:17; Joh 15:5; 1Co 15:10; 1Ti 1:15; Zec 3:2). And he knows just as well, both from the scriptures and his own experience, that, in willful disobedience to God, he does not enjoy that spiritual comfort which he has in obedience. All the children of God are as assured of these truths as they are of their own existence; and bitter contention over them is wholly unnecessary, unprofitable, unwholesome, and subverting. The ENTIRE scriptural truth about any matter unites, comforts, and edifies the children of God; while a contention for a PART of the truth for the WHOLE truth divides, distresses, and overthrows them. Truth is spherical; we must look at it on all sides to understand it at all aright. Extremes are dangerous; let us avoid them as we would the verge of a fatal precipice. "Let our moderation be known unto all men—the Lord is at hand." (Php 4:5).
God is the only independent and absolute Being in the universe; not for one instant does any other being cease to be, both naturally and spiritually, dependent upon Him. All our sins come from ourselves alone, and with confusion of face we must take all the shame for them, and not charge them in any way upon our holy Creator—upon His foreknowledge, or predestination, or the partial withdrawal of His spirit of grace, for well do we know that such a blasphemous imputation would be the grossest of sins; while all our salvation from sin and its consequences comes from God, who deserves and will receive every particle of the glory of it.
While fear and hope are, in the conditional scriptures, recognized and addressed as strong motives to human action, pure, self-denying LOVE is set forth, in the scriptures, as the highest and strongest motive that can actuate any being; the motive which assimilates us most to the character of the Three-One God, who is love, and who saves His people because of His eternal and infinite love of them. Without this divine motive in our hearts, our services cannot be acceptable to God, and we can never enter that "heaven above, where all is love," or if we could enter the home of eternal love, we could not enjoy its holy delights.
Man is not an unthinking, involuntary, irresponsible machine. He can and should be moral—it will be better for him in this world; but it is far better for him to be spiritual, and to be thus prepared for heaven.
I believe that all right-minded Primitive Baptists will accept these scriptural truths. Such acceptance would put an end to the useless and ruinous strife of words on this subject."
Eld. P. D. Gold on "Absolute Predestination"
The following Editorial written by Brother Gold many years before his death and published in his paper—Zion's Landmark, clearly shows his opposition to this extreme doctrine; yet some "absoluters" are now claiming him as one of the defenders of that confusing and fatalistic faith. Brother Gold has gone to his reward, but God will continue to raise up others to oppose indiscriminate predestination as Elders Hassell, Hanks, Cayce, Dalton, Monsees, Cowin, Harrington, Pruitt, J. R. Wilson, and hundreds of others are now doing. But read the article --
BROTHER P. D. GOLD:—Please give your views through the LANDMARK on the predestination of all things, and you will oblige L. L. Thomas.
By answer it is not meant that such as the imperfect writer is able to expound all that is involved in this or any other question, but that such as he has he gives to the household of faith.
A drinking man last night said he would do such a thing (naming it) if the Lord will. It occurred to me that what James intended by the expression, if the Lord will, is that a brother should earnestly and sincerely desire to be guided and controlled by the will of the Lord. If any thing and every thing that comes to pass is according to the will of the Lord, why should one be at all concerned to do the Lord's will? For then it would not matter when, where or how one moved, he could say, this is the Lord's will. Now instead of supposing that we can merely of our own will go to this or that place, and buy and sell and get gain, we ought to say, if the Lord will we will do so and so. We should feel and acknowledge our dependence on the Lord's will, even in matters of secular business, such as trading. Surely our natural life is subject to his will.
There should be a distinction drawn between what one does when led by the Spirit of God, and what he or another does when he walks according to the flesh or the carnal mind which is enmity against God, and not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. When one walks by faith what he does is right before God; whatsoever is not of faith is sin. When God works in one both to will and to do of God's good pleasure all that this man thus does is righteous; but if the prince of the power of the air works in one prompting and leading, all that this man does is sinful.
Now to say that God would be disappointed or frustrated by one's conduct which is disobedient and sinful is begging the question. We cannot conclude that any act of wicked men can at all defeat God's purpose, for he makes the wrath of man to praise him, and restrains the remainder of wrath: yet any theory that mikes no distinction between what God commands and what he forbids is false on its very face, and any or all theories that ignore the difference between what the spirit of God prompts or leads men to do, and what the spirit of the evil one prompts men to do are false and not of God. God's work condemns sin invariably and universally, and his word is the only standard of right.
Shall I say that all things that come to pass are right in themselves? Shall I say that it is right in this man to get drunk, or in another to steal, or in another to commit murder? No. The word of God condemns all such acts. Then can the man who is a drunkard say he is doing God's will, or the thief, or murdered say he is doing God's will? No. Let no man say when he is tempted it is of God. For God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust: (Jas 1:13-18).
Again: Do not err my beloved brethren. Every good gift comes from above, etc. No sin therefore comes from above. A fountain doth not send forth both sweet and bitter water. Shall-we do evil that good may come? (Ro 3:8.) Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid: (Ro 6:1-2). Then men cannot plead that any and every thing they may do is right, or all that others do is right.
Possessed with evil minds how would men act otherwise than evil? How shall ye who are accustomed to do evil learn to do well? How then can evil men do otherwise than evil? But the necessity that leads or causes them to commit sin is not of God. We have proved that a man's own lust entices him to sin.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil who sinneth from the beginning. Jesus came not to destroy any of God's works, but the works of the devil.
No man can say to God any more than the clay can say to the potter, why hast thou made me thus? It is true that the more God-like one is the less he is inclined to charge God foolishly, or to say, I am as thou madest me; but rather as penitent David will he say, In sin was I conceived, and in iniquity was I hapen: (Ps 51:3-6), thus showing that man's guilt begins in his conception, or the beginning of his existence, and therefore he is the more guilty. For God made man upright, but man hath sought out many inventions. By man came sin. Men cannot therefore plead that whatever is is right. The word of God alone decides whether it is right or not. If whatever is is right then men can defend themselves as righteous in all they do. Whatsoever God does is right. Does not God do all things? No. He as is already proved does not tempt man to sin. All God's works shall praise him; but many things on earth are inventions of men, or men's works that are condemned by the word of God.
Predestination cannot be accidental, or doubtful, nor can it be uncertain. Hence the bible does not use any qualifying word such as absolute or conditional predestination.
A brother-in-law of mine, who was much opposed to predestination, said to me once, "I suppose you believe that what is to be will be, do you?" I replied to him, "I suppose you believe that what is to be will not be, do you?" If what is to be will not be, what would take its place? Could that which is not to be take its place? What sense is there in the question, is what is to be certain to be? Surely it is certain to be. Our ignorance of it, or our inability to change or make one hair white or black does not in the least affect such things. We ourselves are creatures of circumstances, driven or led by a power not in the least dependent on us. God controls all things according to the counsel of his own will, doing all his pleasure, and we know that all things work together for good to them that love him, to them that are the called according to his purpose: for whom, or as many as he foreknew he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son. One carefully reading the Old Testament must see that God handled the Gentile nations of earth as rods with which to correct his people, the Jews, and raised up one and put down another as he pleased, showing that he makes all men subservient to his will.
But what he purposes or means, and what men intend are as different as day is from night, or his thoughts are as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth. When Joseph's brethren sell him they mean it for evil: but God sends him to save much people alive, or for good. In the death of Jesus with wicked hands men kill the prince of life, or mean evil, but the God of love and mercy gives his son to save much people alive. All this is according to predestination. Indeed predestination directly concerns the church of God, but it embraces and controls all things needful in the accomplishment of that infinite purpose, and what, or how many things are needful for this no man can tell. God only knows. Until we can see from the beginning to the end how can we judge or foresee what is needful? Man, who made thee a judge? To the book let us go, and in its safe counsels let us abide. Fear God and keep His Commandments which is the whole duty of man. P. D. G.
Extracts From The "SIGNS" And "LONE PILGRIM"
It might be well to here give a few extracts from the writing of some who oppose the teaching of such teachers as Hassell and Gold in order that the reader may see the difference. Much space could be taken up with such teaching if it was thought profitable. But read these:--
"Some churches claiming to be Old School Baptists in different parts of our land have departed from the doctrine, in some respects, held by genuine Old Baptists. Correspondence with such is a menace rather than a benefit. It behooves us therefore to be careful along such lines. Should any church of our Association not believe in salvation wholly by grace, that member would not be considered one of us. Should any church not believe in predestination of all things, whatsoever comes to pass, that member would not be reckoned in fellowship with us." From circular letter by Eld. Ker in The Sign Oct., 1925.
I ask Baptists who may read this: who is drawing the line? who is causing the division? Is it not "absoluters" who, in their teaching, make no distinction in God's attitude toward righteousness and sin? Will Primitive Baptists endorse such a doctrine? But here is some more:
"God, so to speak, looked down through the channels of time, and moulded the chain of events from the morning of time, throughout in time and Eternity, and there is no changing of that chain, for every link was forged and welded in the furnace of God's wisdom and purpose." Joseph Hill Bozeman in Lone Pilgrim, Feb., 1925.
"Nothing shall ever be in this world that hath not already been in God's counsel from eternity, for the works are finished in his counsel from the foundation of the world. It was all appointed by him." Eld. J. C. Sikes in Lone Pilgrim Aug., 1926.
"Now if God could and did predestinate the murder of His own Son, and was not the author of sin, in the ones that committed the murder, He can just as easily predestinate every wicked act of every wicked man that has ever or ever will live; and yet not be the author of sin." . . "For the Scripture plainly teaches that God has predestinated the wicked acts of wicked men." . . "Eld. Cayce, don't ever get it in your 'Cocoanut,' that I am afraid of the Doctrine I believe in; this doctrine has been tried in the fiery furnace, in the den of lions, and in prisons, and at the burning stake, and it has come out conqueror over all, yea over the grave itself. If you do not believe in the Predestination of the wicked acts of wicked men; then you do not believe the account in the Scripture of the Crucifixion of our Savior." Eld. Hutchens, Editor of Lone Pilgrim, Aug., 1926.
What the editor means by "Cocoanut" the reader may guess. But let him not guess at the doctrine of predestination, nor accept the Lone Pilgrim's brand;—let him take his predestination from Paul, the inspired writer, and it will do him good.
"But viewing all things as they are, we must admit God is first to exist, and before all that is and was and shall be, foreknew all existing things, and in accordance to the extent of his foreknowledge he did predestinate, foreordained and caused to come to pass." J. B. Bowden in Lone Pilgrim, Aug., 1926.
Here we have the contention that God's predestination is co-extensive with His foreknowledge,—that the Lord could not know a thing without predestinating it. The Lord does not tell us this,—I wonder how our "absolute" brethren found it out.
"Your paper has a sure ring on these subjects. While as a matter of fact, it may not always be necessary to use the word `absolute' when speaking of predestination, yet I am very glad the Pilgrim is not afraid of the word 'absolute' and very glad you do not mind being called an `absoluter'. Personally, I rarely ever use the word 'absolute' myself when trying to preach, but I want it distinctly understood that I fully believe what the word `absolute' involves and it always seems to me that anyone who hates the word 'absolute' in connection with predestination is trying to soften things down to suit the natural mind. .. Indeed, it seems to me that the birth of the Lone Pilgrim was most providential for there was undoubtedly needed among Old School Baptists in the south a paper contending for the same principles as does the Signs in the north." H. H. Lefferts, Ed. The Signs, in The Lone Pilgrim, Aug., 1926.
I expect this is enough "sound" doctrine from one issue of The Lone Pilgrim. The reader can, from these extracts, see the unvarnished doctrine of "absolutism." And he can also see that the purpose of its advocates is to invade the south and to force it upon the churches wherever possible. Can the reader blame J. R. Wilson for opposing it? From reliable accounts it is losing ground in the north,—Eld. D. M. Vail and others have seen their mistake and are now satisfied with the way Paul taught predestination. It is hoped that Southern Baptists will continue steadfast in the apostle's doctrine and resist all efforts to further introduce "absolutism" among their churches.
Some Resolutions and Statements Regarding Absolute Predestination, Associations, Etc.
"2nd. The doctrine of absolute predestination of all things has always been a source of division, and we wish to reaffirm our determination not to bear with, nor preach men in our stands who hold to such doctrine. We should not use any unscriptural terms or phrases that cannot be found in the Word of God. Such terms will always lead to strife and division." From minutes of Lott's Creek Primitive Baptists Association of Ga., in 1923.
8. At the Spring Session of the Mayo Primitive Baptist Association held with the church at Pleasant Grove, Va., May, 1910, the following resolution was recommended:
Whereas, the Mayo Association, one of the oldest Associations in the country, has always stood firm on the doctrine of predestination; and whereas, there is at present much agitation in regard to said doctrine. Therefore be it resolved that, while we do believe in predestination, as set forth in the Scriptures, yet we desire to advise the churches of this Association that when the words "absolute," "all things," "limited," or "unlimited," or any other prefix or suffix, is appended to "predestination," it changes its true meaning and is therefore dangerous, and should not be tolerated. It was adopted. A. L. Moore, Moderator.
E. M. Barnard, Clerk, G. L. Ziglar, Ass't. Clerk.
The above resolution was re-affirmed and ordered printed in the minutes of the Mayo Association of N. C. and Va. In 1924.
"We, the churches composing the Sequachee Valley Association in session assembled, being aware that in Virginia and elsewhere, some who call themselves Primitive Baptista are advocating certain heresies—namely:
That God from all eternity forged and welded every link in the chain of events through time and eternity, both good and bad.
That the child of God is as passive in obedience after regeneration as he is in regeneration.
That when a church joins an association she surrenders her independence and sovereignty and comes under the laws, rules and regulations of the association.
Now, therefore, we most earnestly protest against such heresies and we heartily commend the exposures being made of these heresies by R. H. Pittman, editor of the Advocate and Messenger, Luray, Va.; C. H. Cayce, editor of the Primitive Baptist, Fordyce, Ark., and by Elders T. S. Dalton of Md.; J. R. Wilson, J. T. Jackson, of Va.; S. Hassell and W. F. Pruitt, of N. C., and many other faithful ministers the country over. Brethren, let us keep such heresies out of our churches and "Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them." (Ro 16:19.) Published in minutes of the 104th annual session of the Sequachee Valley Association Aug. 1925.
"I HAVE MADE IT A POINT during my ministry of nearly forty-five years to be governed by this rule, and Bro. Gold, if all our preaching brethren would do the same, how much useless and unprofitable controversy might be avoided, instead of wasting their time in trying to prove the absolute predestination of all things, which they cannot do without making God the author of all the wickedness and mess that takes place in the world. Stop when the Saviour and the Apostles do and all will be well; and may the God of all grace incline the hearts of the people everywhere thus to walk and maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, is the prayer of your aged brother, now in his 76th year, for Jesus' sake. Your unworthy brother in gospel bonds." John R. Martin.
Remarks: The above is quoted from the minutes of the Pig River Asso., and written by its clerk, Elder John R. Martin, who was considered the ablest preacher of that Association. He died many years ago. Now some of this Association seems to have departed from the doctrine Elder Martin preached, who, in his day preached like Elder J. R. Wilson preaches today. Why should Wilson be opposed by the Pig River Association now?
"During forty-eight years I have lived with The Old Baptists we have not been disturbed with the stuff of Absolutism, and I pray God we never will, and ask the Household of faith not to allow it to come into our churches. We are all in peace here in Wayne and adjoining counties. As to the Doctrine; we have not and will not give over that a just, true and Holy God predestinates a man to murder or purposed us to sin. God forbid." Eld. J. W. Gardner, Goldsboro, N. C., in Primitive Baptists.
A PERSONAL STATEMENT :—It is reported that in my efforts to live peaceably with brethren that I promised to preach the doctrine of "the absolute predestination of all things," and also the "one salvation theory." This is not correct. I made no such promise. I love to preach the blessed doctrine of predestination as clearly set forth in God's word, and as I hope has also been taught me in my heart, but further than Paul preached predestination, I dare not go. I think to go further dishonors God and confuses His people. I feel that if our Elders would use Bible language on points of contention there would cease to be .much confusion over the doctrine of predestination. And I am confident also that this is true of the so-called "one salvation" theory. We all believe that there is but one way sinners are saved from sin and prepared for that world where there is no sin, and that one way is alone by grace. But we also know, if we know our Bibles, that there are deliverances or salvation from various things taught by prophets and apostles,—things that we save ourselves and others from. And if we rightly divide the word of truth and preach these truths as inspiration has taught them, we will not divide and confuse God's children. Let us lay down the things that confuse and gender strife and speak the things that make for peace. And let us gladly forgive each other for any evil word spoken or wrong deed done. This I willingly do, and I desire forgiveness from my brethren and from my blessed Lord. I have written this in love. Brethren. pray for me. P. J. Washburn, High Point, N. C., Rt. 2.
ELD. RAULSTON TESTIFIES AS TO ASSOCIATION'S ACTION
I attended the Salem Association at High Point, N. C. in 1925. There was a difference between good brethren regarding the Danville (Va.) trouble but the Association made no effort to harmonize the difference; nor did it recognize the efforts made by individuals and churches to cure the reported disorder, but it did assume the liberty, by a bare majority of the messengers, to take sides on the disputed question; it did take a position against the messengers of the church that was entertaining the Association; and it did declare against many good churches and ministers without any attempt at gospel order. Surely such assumption of authority of an Association will only lead to further division and confusion. This Association in its rulings manifested much opposition to disorder, yet as a matter of fact every church and every preacher on the ground were in a way connected with the so called Wilson disorder, for they were then affiliating with High Point Church that was constantly using ministers who were associated with him. I do not desire to kill any of our preachers; I feel like praying the good Lord to send us plenty more able and orderly men like Brother Wilson to condemn the dangerous extremes being advocated by many in our country. R. 0. Raulston, 306 Dodd St., Chattanooga, Tenn.
From Elder Vass
Dear Brother Pittman:--
Allow me to say that it was my privilege to attend the meeting of Danville Church in January 1925 when Mill Church and other churches, and also Eld. Wilson begged forgiveness for their errors. I was visiting a sick son in Martinsville, and by invitation of my brother who lived in Danville, I visited him, and we both attended church. Brother Spangler invited me to preach, which I did the best I could. The churches that made a confession and asked forgiveness were forgiven, but I understand that later the church rescinded this act of forgiveness. After Eld. Wilson had made his confession of wrongs, which I thought very good, he was asked to correct an erroneous statement which he published in the papers which Eld. Spangler said falsely charged him with believing the doctrine of "the absolute predestination of all things." Eld Wilson promised to correct the error in the same papers in which it was published, and this he did, and I read it, and was glad to do so, for I felt then that the trouble was settled. But how sad it seemed to me when I learned that the church would not forgive him and restore him though he had done all the church asked him to do. And I wondered what could be the cause. I remember some had accused him of preaching what they called "soft doctrine," but I had heard him preach about fifteen times and I never heard him preach any doctrine I did not believe and consider sound. I love the brethren at Danville but feel they have made some mistakes, and I am sorry that it has caused trouble among good brethren. Many have asked me about it, and I thought maybe it would do some good if I would briefly write of my trip to Danville and what I saw and heard. I know I am imperfect but I want to do right and I rejoice when brethren live together in peace. Our churches have had many additions during the past year for which we praise God.
We have 204 members and we are not following after either the "absolute predestination" doctrine, or the "one salvation" theory. We are satisfied to go along the good old way, preaching salvation by grace, and exhorting God's children to good works. I have just read the Advocate and Messenger and it seems to tell who I was, and what I was, and the doctrine I fully believe. It is good news to me and I hope all your readers will pay their subscription promptly and relieve you of carrying their accounts. May God bless you, dear brother, to send forth the paper, speaking the truth in love. And may he bless his children everywhere with peace and prosperity. Robt. P. Vass, Fancy Grap, Va., in Advocate and Messenger.
Extracts From Elder Monsees' Editorial In Advocate And Messenger August, 1926
"Reference is made by the eminent Apostle Paul to these certain and definite plans, who sums them up in the following impressive manner: "Whom He did foreknow, He did also predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren." "Moreover whom He did predestinate He also called, and whom He called, He did also justify, and whom He justified, He also glorified. What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us." (Ro 8:29.) Now I do not wish to confuse or jungle these sacred attributes of God, for each one has its own significance. Some apparently use the foreknowledge of God interchangeably with His predestination, as though they were synonymous terms. We think this confusing of terms largely responsible for much of the misunderstanding that exists between the Primitive Baptists on the question of predestination. It is declared by a few that it is impossible for God to foreknow all things without predestinating all things, and for that reason they make predestination extend to the wicked acts of man because God foreknew them. Surely to draw such conclusions from the text quoted above is farfetched, inappropriate, delusive and a misapplication of the Scriptures." . . . "It has been insisted that God is the author of sin and the wickedness of the world, because Isiah said "I, the Lord formed the light and create darkness, and make peace and create evil; I, the Lord do all these things." Very few are so unreasonable and ungrateful and God dishonoring as to bring such absurd charges against the all wise Creator. Those who would thus charge God with the authorship of sin are more to be pitied than blamed, for it is a great display of the lack of ordinary intelligence. However, when those who are so presumptuous as to make such charges, have been properly instructed and still hold on to their errors, they should be faithfully dealt with for such offenses."
Position of Eld. J. R. Respess, Former Editor of The Gospel
"No PRIMITIVE BAPTIST believes that God worked sin in man; it never has, in any age, been believed by the church, that God in His word forbade a thing, and that God in His Spirit prompted disobedience to His word. That would destroy His unity. But it is sin to violate God's word, and hence repentance is required. God the Spirit convicts the sinner for violating the word of God; shows him his guilt. But if sin was committed by God's prompting there would not, nor could there be, any sense of guilt for it; for it would be no sin."
(If Bro. Respess were living today, he no doubt would qualify his expression and say "No true Primitive Baptist" believes the fatalistic doctrine which he exposes. R. H. P.)
Statement by Eld. W. F. Pruitt, of Ruffin, N. C.
There has, for a good many years, been a difference in belief in our country over doctrine, but for several years they who opposed us were borne with, hoping that those holding extreme views might see their error and turn from it. And in the mean time we endeavored to save those in error and bore many things in consequence thereof, but to no avail. Those who opposed Eld. Wilson, myself and all who did not agree with them began to turn down God's precious servants on account of what they preached, refusing to preach such ministers as Elders R. H. Pittman and M. E. Petty in their Association. They also took a vote at one of their Associations against the doctrine that our precious brother, Elder B. G. Parker of Ala., preached. And at the Association at Danville in 1923 they changed the 4th Article of Faith, and when some questioned them for doing so, they contended that the article was not what they believed. Elder Wilson's membership was at Danville Church, and when he desired a report from the Association, and also desired to know why the Articles of Faith were changed, and that without authority of the churches, and told them that they had exceeded their authority, giving his reasons for saying this, a move was made to exclude him. And this was done without any labor to save, even if he had erred. After this Eld. Wilson went repeatedly to Danville Church and asked forgiveness for any wrong they thought he had committed, but all to no avail,—they finally telling him and those with him to stay away,—that the case had been referred to the Association. Without doubt, the doctrine of indiscriminate predestination, Associations domination over Churches, together with such doctrines as "nothing gained in obedience or nothing lost in disobedience, is the real cause of the trouble and not the disorder of Eld. Wilson or any other Elder associated with him.
Eld Hanks further says:—It is sad to think that a very few ignore the teachings of such great and noble men as Elders Hassell, Gill, Respess, Gold and a host of others and prefer the doctrine of Mahomet, the Essenes and the fatalist, which are destructive to the peace and unity of Primitive Baptists and charge sin and wickedness to God's decree as the efficient cause. Predestination is an act of God,—what He does, intends to do or causes to be done or overrules to His glory. When God predestinated His people to be conformed to the image of His Son and to the adoption of children, He is the author of what He does, and what He does He causes to be done. Hence all that God predestinated to be done He will effectually cause to be done, therefore God is the author and cause of all He efficiently predestinated. Since He predestinated the eternal salvation of His people He will effectually cause their eternal salvation, and is the author of it. The Bible nowhere teaches that God predestinated sin and wickedness, therefore He is not the cause nor author of what He did not predestinate." . . "Sin is of the devil." "Sin is the transgression of law." "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted He any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." (Jas 1:13-14). "Will ye kill, steal, commit adultery, swear falsely and come and stand before me in this house and say we are delivered to do all these abominations?" (Jer 7:8-10). "They have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offering unto Baal which I commanded not, nor spoke it, neither came it into my mind" (Jer 19:5). The God of heaven condemns such doctrine. Then how can any man desecrate the sacred desk by charging that the murder of McKinley was predestinated of God! such doctrine is blasphemy, Mohammedism, etc. Predestination brings salvation, not damnation. How can a man charge God of moulding, and welding, and forging all the links in the chain of events, making God the author and cause of all events good and bad? How can any claiming to be a Primitive Baptist endorse such blasphemy? Why were Elders Pittman and Petty rejected at Danville in 1923? Because they would not tolerate fatalism, Mohammedism—because they rightly divided the word of truth, contending that they who believe in God should be careful to maintain good works. (Tit 3:8.) And because they believed that God's children are under a parental law and are accountable to God for their acts. Did they reject those who believed in fatalism? No. They were all received and preached.. . . . Again why was Elder B. G. Parker, a sound, orderly, orthodox minister denounced at the Staunton River Association? Because he rightly divided the word of truth and condemned fatalism. He had been invited to that association by Eld. J. E. Herndon. After he had preached the truth in love, rightly dividing, or applying same as Paul taught Timothy to do, he was called a blasphemer, an Arminian profigate, a Judaizing teacher, etc., by Elder McConnell of New York. And Eld. L. H. Hardy said: "His preaching was a low down, contemptible, nonsensical pack of tomfoolery." And at the close of the meeting Elder C. T. Evins declared "against that doctrine and all who advocate it." He went out of the house, beckoning others to follow him and whispering to some as he went. Eld. Lester exclaimed (as the people pressed forward to grasp Elder Parker's hand as an endorsement of his preaching), "What in the world do these people believe, anyhow?" Eld. Joe Lewis answered, "They believe the Bible doctrine?" Another Elder said "It is your indispensable duty to write his (Parker's) people at home and have a presbytery called and stop his mouth." Whereupon Elder Parker gave them the names and post office addresses of brethren in his home church, the clerk and others in his home association, the Mt. Zion of Alabama, with the urgent request that they write them. But none of his brethren ever received a line from any of them' concerning his preaching. Why did the Pig River Association unseat Elder J. R. Wilson? Because he did not fellowship fatalism and condemned their recognition of Elder Carnell, an expelled minister for advocating heresy. Why did the majority denounce Elder J. R. Wilson in Danville? Because he objected to their. rejection of true servants of God who did not accept heresy and endorse the changing of the article of faith in question. What caused this trouble? Elder Wilson refusing to endorse Fatalism. If it had been a personal difference, they evidently would have labored according to Mt 18:15-17, which they did not do. If Elder Wilson had advocated heresy, he should have had the first and second admonition (Tit 3:8), which was done. The civil courts of our country will give' the worst Criminal a fair and impartial trial before he is executed. They gave Elder Wilson no trial. They did not show him the courtesy that the civil courts of our country will a criminal. To execute a man without one step of gospel labor is not law. Is it not a fact that the majority at Danville have recognized and endorsed absoluters all the way? Does not their pastor, Eld. Spangler, belong to and serve a church, that holds in fellowship those who hold and advocate the most extreme views of fatalism? Is he not in fellowship with it, and endorses it by toleration? (Ro 1:32).
If Elder Wilson would accept the doctrine of fatalism would he not be received and heartily endorsed by his opposers?"
Regarding Obedience and Disobedience
Eld. P. D. Gold said;—"It is as true in the gospel as under the law that the obedient eat the good of the land. Under the law those who obeyed the law ate the natural good fruits of the land of Canaan, while those in the gospel who are obedient to the faith enter into the joys of their Lord: if ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them: if any man keep my sayings, I will love him and my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him. Blessed are they that keep His Commandments that they may have right to the tree of life and enter through the gates into the city. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth that shall be also reap. These things written under the law are examples to us." To obey is better than all the sacrifices or excuses you can ever offer. We do not preach or teach that your obedience of faith is the cause or ground of your obtaining these blessings, but it is in this way you enter into them. 'But' says one, `no one can obey the Lord without His Spirit.' That is all true. But is it not as much commanded to exhort and preach repentance in the name of Jesus as it is to preach election and predestination?" . . .
"Some preachers harp on some one point of doctrine making it a hobby to the neglect of other matters the God of heaven has also taught. We meet some preachers that cannot speak without all the time dwelling specially on predestination, but cry out against preaching that they that believe should be careful to maintain good works. . . . "There is great danger of slackness on our part in maintaining good works which are good and profitable unto men."
(Thus Eld. Gold wrote and preached, yet strange is it not, that we who are preaching the same truths today are called Arminians? This is the charge made by the Editors of The Signs and of The Lone Pilgrim. Will Zion's Landmark, the late Elder Gold's paper, fall in line with extremists and deny the doctrine taught by Eld. P. D. Gold? We will see. R. H. P.)
Read Texas Baptists' Description of False Doctrines "Heretical doctrine: We regard such as the following sentiments:
That God predestinated sin and wickedness. That God's predestination bears the same relation to sin as to holiness and righteousness.
That no part of man is changed in regeneration.
That the whole man is changed in regeneration.
That the bodies of the saints will not be resurrected.
That sin is as pleasing to God as holiness.
That the saints are as passive in obedience as in regeneration. The above and kindred expressions we believe are heretical and destructive to the peace and fellowship of the churches." History Texas Baptists, page 241.
(If Texas Baptists will travel in a few sections of N. C., and Va., where "absoluters" are in control and preach according to the above they will receive about the same treatment as Elds. B. G. Parker and M. E. Petty received, but they will find a welcome among the great body of Baptists in this country. R. H. P.)
The "One Salvation" Theory Condemned
Let the reader keep in mind that the "absolute predestinarians" who, opposed Eld. Wilson, did so long before his exclusion, and that during these years they were opposing all those who preached along the line of duty, exhortation, etc. Their "one salvation theory" is a product of "absolutism." Here follows some further expressions on this matter:
Elder T. S. Dalton, a faithful old father in Israel writes: "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins. (Jas 5). Notice he is not talking about the ungodly sinners, but brethren; hence if one of our brethren should be drawn into error, and therefore fails of the enjoyment of the blessings of the time salvation, it is our duty to labor with him, and do all we can to convert him from the error of his way, and we thereby save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins, not that we save him from an eternal death, for Jesus alone can do that; but we save him from death to the enjoyment of his privileges in the church of God; save him from that error in which he has been ensnared, and thereby enable him to enjoy again the blessings of salvation in time."
Eld. J. H. Oliphant said: I have hundreds of times urged that there is sweet peace found in obedience, and that we cannot have peace and rest of mind in sinful paths, hence we should eschew evil, seek peace, and ensure it. We should distinguish between that salvation in which we are quickened, and that which we work out. God's word does not call on us to be quickened, or to be born again; but it does hundreds and thousands of times, show it is our duty to obey. Now, if obedience is of grace in the same sense that born again is of grace, how is it that we are called on to do the one and not the other?
Elder F. A. Chick wrote ably on the text, "Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out." Showing the baneful results of disobedience. He believed that man is an accountable being and sin is man's fault, and that God's living children should be exhorted to obedience.
Eld. W. L. Beebe encouraged God's little children to obey the Lord. He said that all the time is the Lords and when one receives a hope then is the Lord's time and he should be encouraged to obey the Lord.
Elder A. L. Moore of Va., in 1882, showed from Php 2:12 that it is a gospel or timely salvation to God's living children which they were to work out and showed the difference in the eternal and the gospel or temporal salvation.
Elder S. F. Cayce, Editor and founder of The Primitive Baptist paper, June 28, 1887, said: "The Baptists of this association (Mt. Zion of Ala.) universally believe the doctrine set 'forth in our columns, (Primitive Baptists). . . . In short they believe as do all other sound Primitive Baptists, that the eternal salvation of sinners is altogether the work of God, that is, all of grace. And they believe too that the time or common salvation, of God's people, those already born of God, is conditional upon their part, or depends upon their obedience to the commands of God; that is to say, that the christian happiness, or enjoyment of the Lord's people, in this life, depends greatly upon their obedience to the commands of God."
Elder Vail says: "The Advocate and Messenger is good reading, and I want to say to all that read it, that I heartily approve the kind but firm stand taken against Absolute Predestination, Eternal Vital Union, and the 'one salvation theory.' `Absolute' is a prefix, or an addition, 'vital union' eternally is misplaced and misapplied. 'One salvation' is taking from the word which is condemned." Advocate and Messenger, page 28, Nov., 1925.
Brethren Going to Law with Brethren
As the unhappy division in Danville Church was allowed to spread—(mainly by associations taking up the trouble at the advice of extremists and seeking to discipline churches and individuals), the "absoluters" or "Association Baptists" were not satisfied to seek reconciliation through gospel methods but instituted lawsuits against their brethren over church property. Four such suits have thus far been begun, and in every case these suits were started by those opposing Eld Wilson and the Baptists standing with him on doctrine. Who is in disorder here? Future generations will put the blame where it belongs, and the true Primitive Baptists are doing so now as the smoke clears away (which has been blown in their eyes) and they are enabled to see the truth. Only one of the four cases has been passed on by the Supreme Court, and the absoluters lost that. Here is some information regarding that case :
POINTS OF INTEREST in Trial and Decision of Martinsville, (Va.) Church:—(1) The judge ruled that Primitive Baptists Associations are mere voluntary associations of a number of churches for the purpose of worship, and have no power over churches. (2) That the pronouncements of certain associations against the majority of the church and the pastor, Eld. Wilson, evidently influenced the judge of the lower court to err in his decision. (3) That the evidence failed to support the contention that Wilson and those with him had departed from the faith and practice of the Primitive Baptists, and that they were therefore legal owners of the property.
(4) That where there is no departure in doctrine or practice that the majority holds the property rights, but a majority, however preponderant, holding new and conflicting doctrines, cannot dispossess a minority holding to the old doctrine and practice.
Regarding My Attitude
No one can truthfully claim that I have personally sought to bring on division among our people, or that I have used the Advocate and Messenger for such a purpose. And it might be well to give a little proof of this. As early as Dec. 23, 1923, I wrote Bro. R. L. Dodson, Ass't. Clerk of Staunton River Association, in part, as follows:--
"I am glad there is a better feeling existing than has been. And since Brother Wilson has asked forgiveness, and Brother Spangler, the pastor, has in a Christian spirit forgiven him, I hope the church will do likewise. I do not see how the church could do otherwise. And I hope you will labor for peace. I believe you will. 'Blessed is the peacemaker.' When I talked to you in your home you seemed to want to labor for good-will and forbearance among brethren. I hope you still feel that way. Divisions are hurtful to the cause. We should be forbearing and forgiving. We need all our ministers. They all have their special influence and fields of labor. When God's children begin to fall out and divide, the enemies of the church laugh and rejoice. When your church forgives Brother Wilson as he has asked the church to do, and as the pastor of the church has done, I believe he will use his influence to correct any errors that have been made. May God bless and guide you all. We hope to live in heaven together. Let us try to live together here as brethren. Your brother in hope."
But it seemed the report that Eld. Spangler had forgiven Eld. Wilson was not true, but he was put off from time to time and finally advised that the matter was referred to the Association. I also on Jan. 22, 1924 wrote Bro. W. L. Parker at that time clerk of Danville Church and opposing Eld. Wilson, though willing at all times to labor for peace :
"I want to say that I feel that I have many dear friends on both sides of the trouble and I dislike to see a division and pray that there will be none. I also know that you and some of your special friends consider me working against them. And at the same time some of Brother Wilson's friends think I am working against them. I have, of course refused to publish some things that some have wanted me to publish.
I would like to make my position clear. If I know my heart I love the Baptists. They are my people. I have labored for them for years, and I have labored for peace among them. While I have opposed certain extremes, and in doing that I have had to oppose certain men, yet I have not desired to divide, but to unite. I think it better to bear with each other rather than cause division." . . . . But I am sorry to learn from you that the church does not feel disposed to forgive Brother Wilson. In this I think the church is doing wrong. . . . I see no wisdom in seeking to kill any Elder in the dear old church. Eld. Wilson has not been charged with preaching false doctrine, and you say that you gave him your hand when he last preached in Danville Church and told him you stood with him on the doctrine. We should seek to save and not destroy. If we bite and devour one another we will be consumed one of another. If a church refuses to forgive a member but seeks to destroy him will it not also suffer? For me I had rather make a mistake in freely forgiving than to make a mistake in refusing to forgive one who had asked forgiveness. I fear for our people when they begin to show stubbornness and an unforgiving spirit I want to see God's children bear with each other, and not divide and devour each other. We hope to live together in heaven,—why not try to live together here—especially when we are agreed on the essential points of doctrine as to our salvation. May God bless and guide you all is my prayer, I am, your brother in hope.
Dear Brother C. F. Denny, Associate Editor of Zion's Landmark, who died last year was an honest and consistent laborer for peace. He wrote me of his proposition to call a Council for the purpose of trying to heal the breach at Danville which was then spreading. On Nov. 12, 1925, I wrote him as follows:
"I note your brother 0. J. Denny suggests a postponement until next March. Also that the meeting be held,—if held at all,—in the city of Winston-Salem. It is kind and unselfish in Brother Denny to suggest his home city for such a meeting; but would not Danville, Va. be the most logical place of meeting? There is where the trouble began and where efforts have already been made for reconciliation. And possibly both parties at Danville would welcome the efforts of brethren to clarify and adjust the trouble. If the Danville brethren on both sides could be induced to invite the meeting of a council, I feel that God would bless their labors for peace. These are some of my views, and you may be assured that I shall rejoice in any unselfish labor of love for the upbuilding and unifying of the Primitive Baptists' cause; and I trust that extremists will not block the good work that you are laboring to accomplish. Your brother in hope."
But the movement was blocked. The Spangler party at Danville would not consider any get-together movement. Eld. W. F. Pruitt's membership is at Dan River Church (near Ruffin, N. C.) This church was brought in court by those opposing Eld. Wilson. On Dec. 20, 1923, I wrote Bro. Pruitt:
"Yes, I am with you in doctrine so far as I have ever heard you advance any doctrinal idea, and I feel that which you and Brother Wilson are contending for is the truth, and though truth may be crushed to earth it will rise again. I am glad you all are quiet, humble and loving and that you are not returning railing for railing. You cannot make a mistake in doing this. I am sorry that there has been suit entered for church property. Why not appoint a committee to meet with those who are leaders in this and ask for a division of time, giving them a day or days, and you people take an equal division and promising no conflict with meetings. Ask for a year's arrangement of this kind and do so with kindness. Tell them that you do not care to go to court over the matter, and that maybe the trouble could be agreeably adjusted so a division could be stayed. This is the way Mt. Carmel Church did with the Burnham people in 1890, and the trial was forced on our people about 20 years later and they lost out. . . . Be patient and long-suffering, prayerful and watchful. Ask God for wisdom. Try to make peace. Blessed are the peace makers. Better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. May God guide and direct you all. Give my love to your family and others. Your brother in hope."
Bro. Pruitt made offers to divide time, and even made this proposition before the judge of the court. But nothing would satisfy the "absoluters" except a law - suit,—and still they are not satisfied for they lost their case. And nothing would satisfy them at High Point, (N. C.) Church except to go to law. In this case as in the cases of Leatherwood, Martinsville, and, Dan River, the "absoluters" or Association Baptists" brought the suit, but in the High Point case they were required by the ruling of the judge to divide time.
Other Witnesses Testify Against the Assumed Authority of Some Associations Over Churches
Q. Has an Association a right to drop a church without complying with Mt 18:15-17?
Answer. An Association has no disciplinary rights at all. J. R. Respass in Gospel Messenger, Oct., 1894.
"Churches Deposed, even by an Association, are not in our judgment, legally deposed, for Associations are not vested by Christ with any such authority." J. R. Respess, March, 1888.
Eld. Wm. L. Beebe said:—"Associations are for the worship of God, and that only."
"God forbid that any of our Associations be made a catspaw to handle church trouble." Eld. S. H. Durrand.
"Associations are not executive bodies to decide church matters." Eld. E. Rittenhouse.
"Associations when orderly conducted are a blessing:—contrary to this, they are a curse." Eld. P. D. Gold.
"Associations or any other body of believers usurping authority over a church or churches is anti-Christ." Eld. J. M. Fenton.
Elder Hassell says: "Associations are for the worship of God without the slightest authority over the church."
"We are sure that nine-tenths of the Primitive Baptists of the United States believe that discipline belongs wholly to the church and associations have not the slightest authority over churches. Some of our leading associations state that no action of the association shall be binding on the churches." EM. Lee Hanks.
In Rannah Council, (Pike Co., Ala., Dec. 9, 1902) the following questions were asked and answered thus: "Has the Association the right to discipline the churches? Ans.: Our understanding is that the church of Christ is the only disciplinary body recognized in the New Testament."
"Is there any authority in the Bible for Associations? Ans.: Associations as general meetings of the brotherhood for the worship of God, for mutual comfort, edification and instruction, are lawful and expedient; but not as advisory councils or disciplinary bodies."
Does belonging to or not belonging to an Association impair the rights or standing of the church of Christ? Ans.:—Each local church has the sovereign right to become a member with such association, or not, or, if already identified with such association, she has the right to withdraw from it without thereby forfeiting or impairing any of her rights as a church of Christ."
How different is such teaching to the teaching and actions of some associations recently—for example, The Pig River and the Salem Associations. If these Associations and others like them which have been passing resolutions of non-fellowship against churches and individuals were doing right in doing so, then the old fathers above quoted were wrong, and Eld. Hassell and the thousands standing with him are wrong. We do not believe these brethren were wrong, but believe a few associations have been led to do wrong, and if so, these associations should acknowledge their errors and publicly rescind these resolutions against churches and individuals.
A Recent Statement from Eld. Hassell
"So far as I understand the trouble in Danville Church, both parties acted disorderly; but the Eld. J. R. Wilson faction has repeatedly labored to correct their disorder, while the Eld. Spangler faction has not attempted to remedy their disorder, but has appealed to the association, (a modern institution having no rights to settle troubles or rule over churches), and are trying to spread their local trouble over the whole United States, which they cannot do, for there still remains among us some God-fearing men, who will never submit to their unscriptural dictation, and confuse and divide the churches of the saints. Far better to disband all associations, and all formal associational correspondence than to disobey and dishonor God, and ruin His people.
I suppose a full and true account for this trouble will soon be published in pamphlet form for the guidance and satisfaction of all our people who really believe in God. Yours very truly."
And now reader, we close this account of the Danville, (Va.) Church trouble. The Danville Church was organized in 1901,--25 years ago. Her sister church, Old Mill,—where the investigation was held was organized 154 years ago and today has a membership of about 130. This old church kindly and freely extended an invitation to Baptists on both sides to meet and fairly, fully, and openly. investigate. This was done by a representative body of Baptists. But since the investigation some are claiming that the work was not done in the right way, etc. Well, these brethren who are now finding fault, have had three years to show us "a better way." Why did they not do so? Why did they not try to lead our confused people out of confusion? If they know so well how to do things, why don't they put a stop to the preaching of "the absolute predestination of all things" in their own churches? Why don't they require their associations to cease their efforts to discipline churches and individuals and have them rescind their previous unscriptural work along this line? Why don't they teach their people to forgive brethren and churches when asked to do so? Why don't they show their extreme brethren a better way to get along than to go to law with their brethren?
Now, until the grumblers have done, at least, some of the much needed work above suggested, we do not believe their railing against the work that has been done as set forth in this book will have much weight with real Primitive Baptists. It is much more pleasant to give advice than to take it; it is much easier to be critical than to be correct.
The Investigating Committee does not pretend to claim that their work is perfect,—in fact they know it is not; but they have honestly tried to serve the cause of truth,—they have endeavored to get direct evidence leading up to the cause of the trouble,—the reason and method of exclusions of members by Danville Church, and the unsuccessful efforts made to heal the breach in said church. Besides this, the Information Committee, with the assistance of the clerk, has gathered quite a lot of valuable history bearing on the question of doctrine and order at issue ; and from this the compiler has endeavored to select and arrange the matter herein presented. And though bearing many marks of imperfection, we send this little work forth in the fear of God and love of His truth, praying that He may bless it to the upbuilding of His cause, the unifying and edifying of His distressed and confused people, and to the glory of His name.
S. E. Copeland, Clerk, R. H. Pittman, Compiler.
S. E. Copeland to Eld. H. H. Lefferts
The following letter was written by Bro. Copeland to Eld. Lefferts more than eight months ago, and though the writer requested its publication in Eld. Lefferts paper—The Signs—this has not been done. Nor will it be done. And more, the writer cannot get even an acknowledgment from Eld. Lefferts of his receipt of the letter, though he has made repeated efforts to do so. Believing that nine-tenths of the Primitive Baptists endorse Bro. Copeland's position, and that the letter will be read with interest, I am presenting it herein:—
Elder H. H. Lefferts, Leesburg, Va. Dear Brother:—I have become interested in reading and re-reading your editorial "New Year's Greeting",—also other articles in The Signs from time to time. I have noticed that both you and your contributors or correspondents take pains to put great stress on the sovereignty and "absolute" predestination of God and salvation by grace, but all of you seem to touch very lightly, if ever, on any and all exhortation to the children of God regarding their duty—the many duties enjoined upon them throughout the Holy Scriptures. I have not found where one of you ever exhorted a bleating lamb, a little child of God out in the world, to come home to the church as Jesus lovingly invites or commands when He says "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest," etc., and I wonder about this. Why not preach a full gospel? Paul said all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, that the man of God, (not dead sinners) may be perfect throughly furnished into every good work. And he also said to Timothy, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." Also "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Why this idle chatter on the part of the great apostle if Timothy's taking heed and studying was already "absolutely" fixed and determined by the predestination of God? And why exhort him to continue in them if that had been or was predestinated of God—that he should continue in them? And by continuing in them did he save himself and others in the eternal heaven? or did he save them from something while they lived here in this world? Why divide the word of truth anyway? And if only "one salvation" is taught by Paul why does he in one place tell somebody to work out their "own salvation," and in another place say it is not by works? Please answer these questions for me.
If I know my heart I do believe that our eternal salvation, or our salvation from sin and death, in the eternal heaven is alone and solely by the grace of God. But often in the Scriptures men are commanded to save themselves by doing things (by works) and not always the same things, either. One was told to save both himself and his house by believing on the Lord Jesus. His believing did not take him and his family to heaven eternally. Others were told that unless they remained in a ship they could not be saved. But their remaining in the ship didn't take them to eternal bliss. This comes alone by the Saviour we read about in Mt 1:21, "He shall save His people from their sins." His people are those that the father gave him, and they shall all come to him, and none of them shall in anywise be cast out. He is the author of their eternal salvation.
In your editorial for Jan., 1926 you ask,—"Now, if God predestinated the salvation to come by Jesus Christ and yet Christ, not God, is the author of the salvation, why could not God decree sin to come into the world by man, yet man be the author of sin." That looks to me very much like twisting yourself into deformity trying to hang onto your hobby horse. According to your doctrine God's attitude to our salvation is the same as His attitude to our sins, hence if He overrules sin He will also overrule salvation, so down goes all of us and there is no unity in the Godhead; the Father and Son are not one as He said, they are. Or, on the other hand if He and the Father are one then God is the author of sin according to your doctrine. Instead of honoring God you have either dethroned Him or made Him the author of sin. You have gotten the thing in such shape that I can hardly tell whether it is one or the other, or both together. If, as you teach, God did decree that man should bring sin into the world, then man had to sin, God had made this, as well as everything else that He foresaw, sure to come to pass,—it had to be according to God's decree, so according to your doctrine God is the author of sin. Your reasoning is just like mine would be if I forced or compelled my little boy to go out and steal my neighbor's horse and then "cleared" myself by claiming that my boy was the author of that theft, not me. Any court of justice would say that I myself was the real thief and my boy was blameless. Likewise in your illustration man would be the "boy" and God the real author of sin. But I believe you failed or forgot to give any Scriptures to prove your contentions. Please let's have them. I am wondering why God would go about it in such a round about way to get sin into the world. Did He need it in His business? And if He did need it why didn't he just create or bring it instead of compelling man to be the author of it? Now you may think me a good sized little fool for want of more sense, (all of which I hereby acknowledge is true in part,) but these questions are as logical and reasonable as some of your doctrine I'm sure. Yes, Jesus is the author of our eternal salvation, and He did the Father's will when He wrought it out for us. And man is the author of sin, but he did not do the Father's will when He became the author of it. I know that you are a much wiser man than I, but I feel sure the Scriptures will bear me up in this, for God's attitude to salvation that came by Jesus Christ is not the same as His attitude to sin which came by man.
Please explain just how predestination does not make void man's accountability for his wicked acts if they are included in God's predestination, and they are, according to your doctrine, for you say the Scriptures plainly teach that He is unlimited in His predestination of all things. You say there can be no fore-knowing all things without the predestination of all things. If that is true (which I doubt so strongly that I just cannot believe it) then God predestinated all of this abomniable sin and wickedness that men and women are committing all over this sin cursed and God-forgetting world, and men are only instruments or tools in His hand to accomplish what He predetermined should be done. So man is not accountable. He is not to blame, for he cannot help himself—if that is the true doctrine of God. But it is not.
Brother Lefferts, do men ever get drunk on predestination? I believe they do. I notice that you don't attempt to give much Scripture as proof of your extreme views on predestination. Why don't you give them? Is it because you have no Scripture for it? And I am still wondering how you are going to get by with making no distinction between fore-knowledge and predestination, arguing as you do that there can be no fore-knowing all things without the predestination of all things. We read a Scripture like this: "For whom he did fore-know, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." "Moreover whom he predestinated, them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified; and whom he justified them he also glorified." (Ro 8.) Also "according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." Now who is it that was predestinated? It was and is those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Anyone else? It doesn't say so. Nothing said about predestinating those not chosen in Christ. Not a word said about predestinating sin and Satan and all of the wicked deeds of men and devils. But you might remind me that I have quoted "Whom he did fore-know," them he also did predestinate," and that he undoubtedly did fore-know all about sin and Satan. Yes, he knew (fore-knew) everything but will sin, Satan and all mankind, together with their wicked acts be conformed to the image of His Son? No! Will they all be called? No! Will they all be justified and glorified? No! And adopted as His children? No! Then will you not be obliged to make some distinction between fore-knowledge and predestination? Now really isn't predestination the act of God and not an attribute as foreknowledge is? And that all things that work together for good are the things that God works after the councel of His own will, according to His good pleasure, and we know that sin and wickedness is not according to His good pleasure, not according to His will, so these are not included in His predestination. He only suffers, allows, permits or does not hinder them, and why this is so I don't think any man knows. But I have sometimes caught myself wondering how a merciful, long-suffering, righteous God can longer suffer the abominations of this present time to continue.
Brother Lefferts, this letter is not what I started to write, but you see what I have written and of course I believe it is sound doctrine. If you can show me that it is not please do let me hear from you at once. And if you will publish this in The Signs of the Times it might, at least, interest some others to the point that they might help me. Anyway, maybe they would read and study Ro 8 and Eph 1 and see who were predestinated. Please try it. Yours in hope.
Guntersville, Ala. S. E. Copeland.
ARE WE TO HAVE "ASSOCIATION BAPTISTS" ALSO?
"We are living in a dark and restless day. Not only are other denominations having troubles and divisions over modernism, evolutionism, "conventionism" or other men-formed leadership, etc.; and we Primitive Baptists already have "Absolute Predestinarian" Baptists, "Progressive" Baptists, etc., but now it seems probable that we are to have a new party that might be appropriately termed "Association Baptists."
This is sad, but true, and Primitive Baptists just as well prepare to meet it, for there seems on the part of some of our preachers and leaders a determination, to rule local churches through .associations. Proof of this:—Pig River Association published a new "code" for Primitive Baptists in 1925. The paper is entitled "A Code of Practices, Customs and Government of Primitive Baptists." This "Code" plainly says, "any dispute" in churches of the association shall be settled by the association; "and that the church property at such place is to be held and used by the faction that is declared to be the church in faith, customs, practice, government and order, by the association." It appears that these "Association Baptists" have no use for the Bible. The fact that "the Lord is our Lawgiver" seems not to concern them. The Lord did not see the need of "associations" to rule over the churches, and so He and His apostles did not organize any. But these "Association Baptists" have learned something the Lord did not know. But read more of "The Association Code":—It says, "There is no higher tribunal to decide such questions among us than the association." Baptists, beware! Who organized this "High Tribunal?" There is no mention of it, and no authority for it, in the Scriptures! But this "code" further reads: "There is no such thing as a church, after it becomes a member of the association withdrawing from the association." There you have it! There is the lash to whip Baptists in line! There is your Supreme Court over the churches! There is your spirit of domination over churches similar to the spirit of Catholicism over its subjects! Will Baptists bow to the lash? Perhaps those Baptists will 'who believe that God did absolutely predestinate that churches be ruled over by "A Tribunal" which He failed to mention in the Bible! But Primitive Baptists who do not believe in this "absolutism" will not surrender their liberties and submit to the discipline of associations over churches and individuals.
But what says the moderator of the Pig River Association? Does he say that the church is sovereign or does he say that the association is sovereign? Read his answer. It was given under oath when he was a witness on the stand in the case which his people brought against Martinsville (Va.) Church—which case they lost. Question (by lawyer)—"In other words, then by entering into this covenant with the association she forever loses her independence as a sovereign church and is thereafter governed by the association alone. Is this true?" The moderator answered:—"It is true." The moderator's answer is entirely out of order, for it is directly opposed to the teaching of Christ. But read some testimony from another "expert witness," namely—the Clerk of the Smith's River Association. The lawyer said: "You have not at all answered the question which I will repeat. Do you not consider the church of which you are pastor, an independent organization, ruled and controlled by its pastor and local membership?" The clerk answered: "It has no sovereign right at all only as it does in the gospel order of the association." Note that the gospel order of Christ clearly written in the New Testament he renounces, but the "gospel order" of an unscriptural "Tribunal," he bows down to.
But this is not all; here is some proof of the work of the modern Ecclesiastical Supreme Court. The "Association Baptists" of Danville (Va.) Church which excluded Eld. J. R. Wilson without gospel labor and then recorded and published a false charge against him—(so says the clerk and others of that church), refused to give him and his churches due consideration when they went before the church seeking reconciliation, but told them that the case had been referred to the association. Danville Church evidently feared the wrath of "the Highest Tribunal" to settle church troubles. She was threatened that if she took Eld. Wilson back, and forgave his churches, "associational correspondence" would be cut off. And so, instead of following the teaching of Christ, she bowed to the association lash.
Again, Salem Associations (N. C.) in 1925 passed, by a small majority, a resolution over the head of the church (High Point Church) with which the association met, taking sides in the Danville, (Va.) Church trouble and declaring nonfellwship with everybody who would not agree with the Association. And to continue the destructive work its officers and leaders have induced churches to exclude members for no other reason than that they will not agree with the association's unscriptural ruling. For proof of this let the Baptists,especially of Va., N. C., and Ga., where Eld. P. W. Willard has traveled and preached, read this aged, able, humble and faithful minister's statement.
Statement by Eld. P. W. Willard
"I have been trying to serve churches and to preach the gospel for about 40 years. I will soon be 78 years old. God has blessed me to so live that my good brethren have, in the Primitive Baptist Churches everywhere, extended to me their full fellowship. I have served Abbott's Creek Church 38 years, and Saint's Delight about 37 years, and Sardis Church about 27 years, and other churches from time to time, and I baptized the most of the members in the above churches. My membership was, until recently, at old Abbott's Creek Church,—which was organized in 1756. But I was excluded by the majority of those voting in the conference of Abbotts Creek Church Friday before the 1st Sunday in Aug., 1926. There was no charge made against me or others who were also excluded, at the same time except our refusal to stand by and endorse the acts of Salem Association. I was the main organizer of this association and served as its moderator until two years ago when I resigned. But I cannot, in the fear of God and my soon appearance in His presence, go with my association in error. The association has sought to rule our churches, and its officers have encouraged the churches to exclude members who will not agree with its ruling. The rules of Decorum of Abbott's Creek Church say we should stand by Mt 18th chapter for our discipline. This I am doing. But I was excluded for not standing by the discipline of the association. I labored with my association not to take sides in local troubles and not to pass resolutions of non-fellowship against good brethren. And when my church was influenced to exclude me I also appealed to the ruling party to allow me half time in the church that I might continue to preach there at the request of some of my brethren. This they refused. I also asked for a copy of the minutes which recorded my exclusion. This they refused to give, and also refused to allow me to read the record. These are facts which can easily be proven. I could say more, but this is sad enough, and as I do not think we should go to law with our brethren, and as I have no church home I desire to live with Primitive Baptists who preach and teach what I have taught and who will not uphold associations as supreme courts over churches."
High Point, N. C., Rt. 2.
P. W. Willard.
Primitive Baptists, what think ye of this? What will not this "Highest Tribunal," do when it sets out to rule or ruin? But here is another victim. Brother E. J. Klinard who would not agree with Salem Association's wholesale non-fellowship resolution. His membership was at Abbott's Creek until excluded for the same reason Eld. Willard was. He said:—"I have been sick and helpless for several months. I could not go to church. The brethren opposing me, would not come to see me. I wanted to talk to them before I die. I sent for the deacons. They would not come." And then he told the High Point Church that he was homeless in the world; that he felt he could not live long, and that he wanted a home with them. He was too feeble to talk much and had to be carried from his car to the church by his brethren. His remarks were touching and many tears were shed as he was joyfully received at the Union Meeting Sat., Aug. 28th, 1926.
Now brethren, what shall we do? Shall we stand with those who have turned from the gospel order of the apostolic churches? Shall we be Primitive Baptists or "Association Baptists?" Shall we follow extremists or shall we stand with such men as Hassell, Mitchell, Respass, Dalton, Cayce, Cowin, Denson, Moore, Harrison, Shain, Vail, and hundreds and thousands of others who approve associations for worship only, but who will not submit for them to rule over and discipline churches? The great majority of Primitive Baptists, will, I believe, agree with Eld. Hassell on this question. He says:—"The first Baptist Association was formed in Swansea, Wales, in A. D. 1651, and was only an annual meeting of the members of the different Baptist Churches to worship God and to edify one another, and did not try to rule over the churches. The purpose was unity and not division. It would be better to abolish them than to allow them to spread trouble and divide churches. The local church was made by Christ, the last Court of Appeal (Mat. 18: 15-18.) Associations are not mentioned in the Scriptures, and are not a Supreme Court to settle church troubles."
Eld. W. M. Mitchell's church of Ala., withdrew from the association long before he died. The church is a prosperous church today. Hundreds of churches do not belong to associations. High Point Church has come out of the Salem Association. Dan River Church, Martinsville, Whitemell, Walton, Old Mill; Leathetwood and other churches in Va., and N. C. do not belong to associations. Where associations seek to rule local churches such churches should withdraw from the association; and where members are excluded by their churches for not agreeing with the acts of the association let them join gospel churches by relation as did Eld. Willard and Bro. Klinard. God will not forsake his people or his churches when they are living true to Him and keeping the order of His house. Our only hope is in Him and not in associations.
R. H. P.
Another Example of Willful Misrepresentation or Inexcusable Ignorance of Facts
The Lower County Line Association has joined a few other associations in their disorder of spreading trouble. In the Aug., 1926, session it passed a resolution against what they term "J. R. Wilson disorder" and all others "who have endorsed his actions by their preaching, writings, and affiliating with him." This takes in about all the Baptists in the United States except those represented by The Signs and The Lone Pilgrim, and a few who don't believe half of what has been said about the so-called Wilson disorder, but who are afraid to express themselves because of the association lash held over them. This resolution non-fellowships the safest, best informed, and most influential Baptist minister in this country,—Eld. Sylvester Hassell, as well as all others who stand with him rather than follow extremists; for Eld. Hassell says: "As the identity of the church is in its doctrine and order, I believe, according to my understanding of the case, that Eld. J. R. Wilson and those with him are the church (in Danville), rather than Eld. Spangler and those with him." And the Association did this public act without making one public effort to learn the real cause of the trouble or to heal the resents in the minutes that it met unanimous approval, when as a matter of fact there was strong opposition expressed publicly against it in the association, whether those speaking against it voted or not. Here is a clause in the resolution passed by the "Highest Tribunal" to regulate church troubles among Primitive Baptists:--
"And whereas Elders R. H. Pittman, Lee Hanks, C. H. Cayce, Parker. Pruitt, and others, have endorsed his actions by their preaching, writings and affiliating with him, and preaching a "do and live" system somewhat similar to the Arminians, which we believe is calculated to deceive the child of God."
Now reader, here it is again—doctrine. It was doctrine that caused the division of Danville Church, and it is doctrine that the clerk of the above association is blindly fighting. He charges Primitive Baptist ministers with preaching "a system somewhat similar to the Arminians." His charge is not true, and if he knows what Arminianism means, he knows it is not true. He says we preach a "do and live" system. For his information especially, I reproduce below one of my editorials of some years ago. This editorial also appeared in my book Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, and has been endorsed by all Baptists in this country except Absoluters. And if the clerk of the Lower Country Line Association is not an absoluter, he will endorse it. But whether he does so or not, if he is fair and does not want to willfully misrepresent me and my brethren, he will publicly acknowledge his mistake in charging that we preach a "do and live" system somewhat similar to the Arminians. Below is the article:
Two Systems:—One, Do and Live, the Other, Live and Do
In the world of religious workers there are two great systems. One may properly be called the system of DO AND LIVE. This system of works is illogical, unscientific and unbiblical. It cannot be sustained by good reasoning, nor by science, nor by the Bible. It is a system of religious works based on error. For it is a self-evident fact that the dead cannot act in order to live. Life must in all cases precede action. And to put the sinner, "dead in trespasses and sins," to work in order to obtain spiritual life, is a popular error of the religious world. It has ever been, and will ever be, a failure. Children may be sprinkled in infancy, but it does not change their nature. Adults may be baptized in water, but it will not cleanse from sin. Religious workers may by various methods "swell their numbers" and increase their membership, but they cannot regenerate the soul. They cannot make a child of God. They think they can, but thinking so, does not make it so. They can make children of error like unto themselves. Christ taught this truth plainly when he said, "Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." (Mt 23:15). Evidently the Pharisees, in the time of Christ, believed in the do and live system. But their system then, and the system now, is selfish and faithless, and would make man a co-worker with God in the matter of life-giving, and salvation from sin. And no Primitive or Old School Baptists, and thousands of others who are not Baptists, believe in this do and live system. But they believe in the system of LIVE AND DO. For this system is logical, scientific and Biblical. "Marvel not 0-at I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Life must precede even the action of seeing. Life precedes hunger, thirst, sorrow, pain, repentance, faith, belief, soul joy and true service. None of these things produce life, natural or spiritual. Life comes from The Giver Of Life. Christ said, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish." Now when this spiritual, eternal life is given one, then the live and do system of religious works appeals to him. AND THIS POINT I WOULD EMPHASIZE. I want to see all our people—all Primitive or Old School Baptists—and all others, who believe in the LIVE AND DO SYSTEM, to PROVE IT BY THEIR DOING. Now in as much as the position Baptists occupy on the doctrine of works is sound,—that is, one must be alive spiritually before he can perform works acceptable to God, then, to be consistent, Baptists must "be careful to maintain good works." For if they teach that only the living children of God can perform acceptable works, and they perform not those works, then they would make it appear that they are not living children of God. Ought they not, so far as they possibly can, "make their calling and election sure?" And besides, have not the living children of God greater reason to serve God than others have to serve self? If that part of the religious world who believe they can do something to make themselves children of God are busy laboring and toiling in their do and live system, should we not be equally busy and toiling in our live and do system? If they serve in order to be God's children, ought we not to serve because we are God's children? If they are willing to make sacrifices that they may obtain heaven, ought we not want to make sacrifice because heaven has obtained us? If they labor to pay the debt of sin, ought we to labor less because the debt of sin has been paid by Christ? If they labor zealously from a selfish motive, ought we not labor just as zealously from a grateful motive? God's dear Son has done far more for us freely, than they can ever do for themselves working, and so we should lovingly labor to show forth praise and gratitude to Him. This seemed to be the Apostle Paul's view of service. As a Pharisee, believing and rejoicing in a false religion, he was a great worker. But when converted from the error of his way, he became no less active. Saul going about to establish his own righteousness was a worker for self. Paul going about to establish the righteousness of Christ was a worker for the, Lord. Saul hoped to gain heaven by his own works. Paul hoped to obtain that glory world by the works of Christ. Saul built his house upon a sandy foundation, and it fell. Paul built his house upon The Rock, and it did not fall. Paul, the grace preacher was just as tireless a worker as was Saul the zealous Pharisee. And so it should be now. Primitive Baptist preachers claim to be grace preachers, and their claim can easily be established. Then if they agree with Paul in his preaching, let them agree with him in his working. He labored,, and taught others to labor. Preaching a grace system of salvation, did not in his mind, make void a system of works. Advocating predestination did not lead him to feel satisfied with things just as he found them. Preaching election did not with him, exclude the preaching of faith, repentance, and good works. He said, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." And this reminds me that I intended to write something along the line of seeking in this article.
As we examine God's word we shall find the word seek used about 241 times. Let us not forget it is always applied to the living, either naturally or spiritually, as the case may be. The dead seek not, nor can they. Lazarus in the grave sought not life. When called from death to life he could be served, and serve others. His friends could not give him life. Jesus did that. But when given life his friends could "loose him and let him go." Then he could seek the things of this life. So with the children of God. When quickened into divine life,—when called from the grave of carnality,—then they can seek in the right way and from the right motive, spiritual things. Then they can serve, and be served by others, spiritually. Then they can seek, and knock, and find. And they are exhorted to seek. God said to National Israel when they should be scattered among the Gentiles, "if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." Again it is said, "when thou art in tribulation, and all these are come upon thee, * * if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shall be obedient unto His voice, * He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee." (De 4:29-30). David in one of his Psalms exclaims, "Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually." Again he said, "When thou saidst, 'Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord will I seek.'" (Ps 27:8). The Lord's work is a heart matter, and when He speaks to us in regard to seeking Him and obeying His commandments, our heart testifies that it is right to do so, but our feet do not always walk as our heart would lead. Many of God's children in their heart have been lead to the Old Baptist church when their eyes have beheld the spiritual service there, but their feet have lead them elsewhere in the way of service. And many of God's children in the church fail to do things they are .impressed in their heart to do. They wickedly forsake the Lord and walk in forbidden paths. And God does not lead them in sin, nor tempt them to sin. But He says to them, "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God for He will abundantly pardon." (Ish. 55: 6-7.) This is to God's straying children,—those who had been with the Lord and had departed. Let them return. To return to the Lord is evidence they had been with Him. This is a good text. Also the one in Mt 6:33—"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." And another one spoken by Jesus as recorded by Mt 7:7-8—"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall open unto you; for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." This is the way Jesus preached to His children. Shall grace preachers today run shy of such practical preaching? I feel that there are not many preachers in the world who know how, as do the Old Baptist preachers, to properly apply such texts. They were not, by inspiration, applied to the unregenerate, unbelieving, faithless sinner. Nor should they be so applied by uninspired men. But it is often done. And unbelievers are told they have the power to ask, seek, and knock; that they must do such things in order to get into the kingdom. Free-will preachers seem to delight in stressing this point. But they never tell their hearers that they must be born into the kingdom, and that there is not a single exhortation, or command, in all the Bible, to be born again. It is a self-evident fact that the unborn cannot born themselves. These texts, as all others of like nature, belong to the children, and if grace preachers do not so apply them it will not be done. Let us not surrender any portion of God's word to graceless preachers. Every portion of it is in harmony with every other portion. It all harmonizes. There is no confusion there. The confusion is in the minds of men. God inspired the Bible, and He is not the author of confusion. It is a lamp to our feet, an inspiration to our souls. It does not contain eternal life, but it is a witness of Him in 'whom is eternal life. It tells us of our lost and ruined condition and shows the one way we can be saved from it. And it tells us that we "should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." Then "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." (Heb 13:13-16.)
Now when one tries to get a "do and live" system from such teaching as the above, he either does not know the meaning of language or he purposely misconstrues its meaning. How sad and unkind, as well as unwise, for Primitive Baptists to allow themselves to be led to misrepresent their brethren. If the Lower Country Line Baptists want to "scrap" they better turn their guns on the Arminians all around them. They better pass some resolutions against them rather than vainly spend their energy trying to discover Arminianism in the teaching of such men as C. H. Cayce, Lee Hanks, B. G. Parker and W. F. Pruitt. These men teach the same doctrine that the late Elds. C. B. Hassell and P. D. Gold taught,—the same doctrine that Sylvester Hassell and thousands of Primitive Baptists are now teaching. What is wrong with our Lower Country Line Baptists? Are they being led astray by extremists? Are they making room for "absolutism" to invade the south? Are they going to deny the doctrine of the Bible and the Faith of the Fathers? God grant that they may not. And may the great Head of the Church "send laborers into his harvest" who will "feed the flock of God which he has purchased with his own blood," and defend them against those who would bring in extreme and dangerous doctrines.
R. H. Pittman.
A LATER COUNCIL MEETING
Some of those opposing the meeting at Mill Church in May, 1926, and who would not attend that meeting, got up a Council, or "Jury," meeting of their own, at which time Eld. J. R. Wilson seems to have been tried and convicted in his absence, not being summoned or invited.
This second meeting from newspaper accounts, was held in Danville, Friday, August 6th. Request was made that a report of the meeting be sent me for publication, but they would not do so. However, quite a number of reports of the meeting were published in various daily and county papers. In fact, it seems to have been the purpose to give as much "newspaper notoriety" to the matter as possible, evidently with the view to prejudice the people against Elder Wilson and to keep them in the dark as to the real facts. As an example of this, I quote herewith one of the many of such articles published. Note the many errors and misrepresentations:
CONVICTED OF CONDUCT UNSUITED TO MINISTER
"Committee Representing Several States Declares Elder Wilson Unorthodox."
"Danville, Aug. 8.—Elder J. R. Wilson, of the Primitive Baptist church whose alleged utterances in 1923 while pastor of the Danville church were followed by his ousting has been formally convicted by a jury of elders of the church from Virginia, North and South Carolina and Maryland, an all day trial was held near this city secretly, but the verdict and surrounding facts have become known.
"Wilson on being excluded here carried ten supporting members of the church with him and organized a new church at Mill Creek in the county where he has been pastor since 1923. This alleged defiance has been a thorn in the side of Primitive Baptists since that time and church officials finally moved to have him and his church declared unorthodox.
"Wilson is said to have held advanced views on doctrinal interpretation. Questioned formally on the subject of temporal and spiritual salvation he is said to have resorted to language which shocked his ministerial interrogators and caused his expulsion. Mill church has been excluded from the association, the status of the minister has been constantly in question since 1923, but now appears to have been determined by the court of last resort."
Of course none of "the jury" who were present and who "sit in the case" have ever corrected any of the misstatements published broadcast all over the country. A few of our brethren replied and corrected some of the erroneous statements. I also sent the following article to two papers, which is given here in the further defense of truth.—
Mr. Editor:—"Elder Sylvester Hassell has called my attention to an article in your paper of August 9th, page 10, regarding the Danville, (Va.), church trouble, in which Eld. J. R. Wilson is involved, and suggested that I correct the many misstatements therein. I will not undertake to correct the various errors in the article, but by your permission, will give a brief statement of facts.
"Elder J. R. Wilson, a clean man and an able minister, resides in Danville and serves four churches in that section and in N. C., some of his churches being of large and influential membership. His opposition to the doctrine of "the absolute predestination of all things"—which doctrine is held by about 10% of the Primitive Baptists in the United States has brought him into direct contact with some advocates of the doctrine in Danville section. At the Staunton River Association in Danville in 1923, an Article of Faith was changed over the protest of messengers from Elder Wilson's churches. This Article is held by the old Kehukee Association,—the oldest Primitive Baptist Association in the U. S., and of which Eld. S. Hassell is Moderator. Elder Wilson's opposers eliminated this article, which bore on the predestination question, and substituted another.
At the following church meeting in Danville, where Eld. Wilson's membership was, a contention arose in conference over the changing of this article, and also why certain ministers who opposed indiscriminate predestination, were not allowed to preach at the Association. Eld. Wilson was excluded without gospel labor. The charge published against him at the time, was "abusive language toward the church and the moderator." The brother who made the motion for exclusion has recently published a signed statement that Eld. Wilson was not excluded for abusive language. Because of his opposition to absolute predestination, his inquiring into the change of the Article of Faith, and his displeasure with the Association for its discourtesy to visiting ministers, he was excluded. Seventeen other members went out with him. The exclusion of Eld. Wilson was rashly carried out without gospel labor. He united with Mill Church, where he was pastor, without gospel labor of Mill Church with Danville Church. In this he acted disorderly, and Mill Church acted disorderly, and the other churches retaining him as pastor without gospel labor with Danville Church, acted disorderly. But realizing these errors Eld. Wilson laid down his. gift, and for several months he and his churches labored with Danville Church for peace, going before Danville Church on several occasions, making confession of their wrongs and asking forgiveness. Danville Church repeatedly refused to forgive Eld. Wilson, and refused to forgive his churches, but told the church messengers to stay away from Danville Church and that the case had been referred to the Association. Then it was that messengers from various churches met in Danville, organized themselves into a conference of sister churches, examined into the true condition of affairs, examined Eld. Wilson and the seventeen members standing with him, and organized them into a church with Eld. Wilson as pastor. And when the truth about these things are known then will Primitive Baptists generally say as Eld. Hassell says,—"As the identity of the church is in its doctrine and order, I believe so far I understand, that Eld. J. R. Wilson and those with him are the church (in Danville) rather than Elder Spangler and those with him." Eld Wilson, because of the disadvantage taken of him and his exclusion, has been the target for target-practice while the. guns of the advocates of "absolute predestination" are being trained on others who oppose • this extreme view of predestination. Associations, unknown in Scripture, and organized alone for worship and of course have no authority over churches, are being appealed to by Eld. Wilson's opposers, and through these Associations local troubles are being spread and churches divided in the effort to force the doctrine of "the absolute predestination of all things," and other extreme doctrines upon the churches of N. C. and Va. The real issue is not "disorder," but doctrine, as facts clearly demonstrate.
R. H. Pittman.