History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 8Here is chapter eight of the great series on Hardshell Baptists by Brother Bob Ross.
Subject: #8 -- HARDSHELLISM: "ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON" [08/05--2006]
HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #8 [08/05--2006]
[Note: The seven previous articles in this series were posted a few weeks ago on the Internet at the two links listed below. The article was not prepared at the time, and therefore is late in being sent forth for the first time. This material was actually written by a Primitive Baptist minister who included it in his book in which he rebukes the Hardshells for their heresy.
'ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON"
John H. Watson (M.D.) was a Primitive Baptist Minister (born 1798, died 1866), and is described as "the leading minister of the old order of Baptists in Tennessee" (BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY OF PRIMITIVE OR OLD SCHOOL BAPTIST MINISTERS OF THE UNITED STATES by R. H. Pittman, page 285). Also, he was a medical doctor of considerable repute, and taught in the University of Nashville.
Dr. Watson wrote a book entitled, THE OLD BAPTIST TEST, reprinted in recent years by Primitive Baptist Publications, Harvey D. Fulmer (President), 65 N. Lakeside Drive, Ellenwood, Georgia 30049. Every student of Primitive Baptists and their history should read this book. Why it was ever reprinted is indeed a "mystery," for it is a veritable refutation of the "Old Schoolers" on the matter of gospel preaching and their opposition to "means." One might think that Dr. Watson "apostatized," if he ever held to the "Old School" theory.
A large part of the book is devoted to refuting the "Manicheo Parkerite Heresy" of the nineteenth century "Parkerites" who accepted the teachings of Elder Daniel Parker (page 244). This theory had to do with suppositions in regard to the source of Evil and the Devil and his "offspring" ("seed"), also the resurrection of the body. One seldom hears "Parkerism" today, but I am told that it is not altogether gone by the wayside.
The other elements dealt with by Dr. Watson are very much alive among the Hardshells, however, and I doubt that they appreciate Dr. Watson's rebukes and refutations. I am going to reproduce comments which are most appropriate to the anti-gospel, anti-missionary Hardshells. Dr. Watson upholds the use of gospel "means" in the calling of the elect, and he upbraids his "ultra brethren" who oppose preaching to "every creature" (p. 84).
"We fear," he says, that "some are opposed to it, and use their influence to suppress it." He asks, "Brethren, have we not deviated somewhat in this particular from the Apostolic mode of preaching?" (page 85).
Here are the excerpts from --
THE OLD BAPTIST TEST or
BIBLE SIGNS of the LORD'S PEOPLE
BY ELDER JOHN M. WATSON
SECOND EDITION, REVISED AND GREATLY ENLARGED
"HIDDEN WISDOM FOR HIDDEN ONES"
He must suffer the just for the unjust. He must save them from their sins. Besides, He must be delivered for their offenses, and raised again for their justification. He must ascend on high, and intercede for them. He must go away, that the Comforter might come, to give efficacy, unfailing efficacy to all the means, which He ordained for the ingathering of these "other sheep." Means which, when instituted and employed by the Divine Spirit, will take the way of God's predestination, in all their efficiency; hence, they derive both WAY AND POWER from God.
When we look at the state of these Pagans, we see that there was nothing on which Arminianism could act. There was no religious vitality in it, nothing that would respond spiritually to any of its boasted powers. Arminianism is powerless here. The curse and death of sin must be removed, and Arminian works cannot do it; life, divine life, eternal life, must be given, and Arminianism has none to give, for it cannot even operate in the way of justification when there is life. This the Romans obtained by faith.
Christ in his great love ordained higher and better powers, than any pertaining to any of the different forms of Arminianism. Christ's practical way of bringing these in, excludes all Arminianism. Grace, for instance, puts away all their sins through Christ; gives them eternal life; creates its own help in the soul -- repentance towards God; forms its own will in the heart of the creature; and gives its own faith through the mighty power of God! And then gives assurance of perseverance through the same Power.
Reader, what effect has grace on your heart? Does it engender Arminian powers, or does it repudiate them? If so, then he that enjoys the most grace, has the least Arminianism! May not grace exclude it entirely from the soul, and bring the "new creature" to trust in Christ by faith only for salvation? It surely acted in this way in the case of the Romans. "It was of faith that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed" of which these "other sheep" were a part. Rom. iv, 16. The promise is sure; we see through grace and faith. And the Apostle plainly intimates that it could not have been sure in any other way. So, those who were predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ were called. This then brings me to the subject of their calling. This was of God, and gave efficacy and certainty to all other callings -- by the preacher-- by the written word, or by any means whatever. Grace creates its own helps -- its own works, and its own plans -- all of which will be fully discussed.
Grace creates its own ministry, and its own preaching; it also directs and seals its own blessed truths on the hearts of its own subjects. Hence, Paul in his letter to the Romans defines the Gospel to be the "Power of God unto every one that believes." The power of God unto whom? In this instance they are termed the predestinated of God -- wherein we learn that the Gospel was ordained unto them as the Power of God: a very sure and effectual power, verily! Sure unto them as some of the seed, called in his letter, the predestinated ones, a term synonymous in a Gospel sense with that of seed. Thus, the Gospel as the power of Gold could not fail to reach them with its blessings bad as their natural state was. Any inferior power would have failed. The Gospel as the Power of God must accord, in its practical course, with the foreknowledge and predestination of God. It is absurd to entertain a thought to the contrary.
How did the Gospel become the Power of God to these "other sheep" which Christ brought in from among the Romans? Not by Paul, nor by those who had previously preached to them; for Paul admits that his preaching, and that of others also, was, unto them who were not called of God, foolishness to some, and a stumbling-block to others! We may therefore learn that the preaching of Paul, and of others was included in the calling of God. Hence, the Apostle asks the questions, how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach except they be sent?
And may I not ask most significantly here by whom are they sent? Will our missionary Baptists allow Christ to answer? "Pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest." Herein we are taught they are sent by the Lord; and we ask, no less significantly than in the former question, where? To a theological school? Nay, to the harvest, to the field of active labor. Not one of these "other sheep" was brought in, by any means connected with a theological school, missionary society or missionary pay per job of any kind. But their preachers were the servants of the Church for Christ's sake, for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of souls -- doing their work all the while under the power of inward grace, and not from outward constraints; hence, Paul says, "not I, but the grace of God which was with me;" while we fear some, in our times, might with equal propriety say, not by the constraint of grace, but by those outward considerations which are offered. The ministry of Christ has a Bible feature in this respect, which has distinguished it from every other, in all ages; one which it has not yet lost, nor ever will, as long as He, in answer to the prayers of his people, sends laborers into his harvest.
For the bringing in of these "other sheep" Christ sent preachers to them; they spoke, the Lord opened the heart, and the hearer attended to the things spoken. If this three-fold cord will not bind modern Missionaries, and constrain them to pursue the Lord's way of bringing in his "other sheep" of the present day, we ask what will? Our only resource is in the prayer, that God of his great power and mercy will grant them repentance unto an acknowledgment of his own Divine Plan. They seem indeed to have forgotten that Christ is still in agreement with his word, and that some of these "other sheep" are now being brought, and if so, on the same divine plan; for they are in the same relation to Himself both doctrinally and ministerially that the Romans were, as far as regards the promises of the Gospel. For they are made sure to all of them. Rom. iv, 16.
But to proceed with the Romans: A failure of the Gospel to these Gentiles, whom Christ said, He must also bring, would have been, as we have seen, through the power of God! Just as if those "other sheep" unto whom Paul and Barnabas preached at Antioch in Pisidia had not believed, the failure would have been through the ordination of God! Acts xiii, 48. A thought too wicked, and too absurd to be entertained for a moment! As far as preaching the Gospel was concerned they were brought in under the last general commission. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Every creature, bond and free, male and female, all sorts, all grades, from the king to the peasant, in all countries and in all times and ages are included in this broad and general commission. But, observe, preaching the Gospel according to this commission, latitudinous as it is, never did, nor ever will add to the number of God's chosen ones. Christ still says in his word, "many are called, but few are chosen."
Further, that this commission does not extend to any who are incapable of believing, under the operation of the blessings of the Gospel. Hence, infants and idiots are not subjects of Gospel address; but we know they may become subjects of its grace when the Gospel becomes the Power of God unto them in the bestowal of grace. And, inasmuch as Christian baptism can be received only through the faith of the operation of God, they cannot become visible subjects of the Church. Therefore, we see no account of infants having been brought into Christ's fold from among the Romans. Had there been as much ceremonious sprinkling of them in those days as in ours, he, who did not shun to declare all the counsel of God, surely would have given full instructions on the subject. Nay, when "the Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved," not single instance is recorded! Therefore we with confidence assert there were no infants in the Church at Rome.
Although the holy scriptures are thus explicit on the subject of preaching as ordained in subordinate agreement with the inward calling of God, they are no less plain in regard to the general call of the gospel as proclaimed under the last commission which embraces every creature. As it is very necessary for us to entertain correct views of this part of our subject also, I will offer a few remarks just here for the consideration of some of our ultra brethren, who, I fear, have imbibed erroneous views on this important, and just at this time very interesting subject. And I further fear that all such will object to my exposition of it; but see, brethren, that you do not, by so doing, refuse the testimony of the Bible!
There is, strange to say, an error entertained by some brethren, that the minister of the Lord should not call on "all men every where to repent;" on sinners to look to Christ and be saved; nor an unbelievers to believe. They are constantly saying, to preach in this way betrays Arminianism on the part of the ministry which thus exhorts its hearers, and also on the part of the Church which tolerates such preaching! Observe, shall we become Arminians by faithfully preaching according to the commission given by the Saviour? Some, indeed seem to think so! For when the minister discharges his duty zealously, faithfully and in a gospel manner, there are certain ones who cry out, he is an Arminian! The great error, that this is one of the varieties of Arminianism, is affecting both our pulpits and Churches; for instead of requiring this kind of preaching, and sustaining it as a Church, we fear some are opposed to it, and use their influence to suppress it? I ask now, in the name of this world-wide commission, including as it does every creature capable of hearing, and which authorizes and commands the ministerial servants of the Lord to preach the gospel to every creature, who does so? With that love, zeal and regard for the sinner, I subjoin to the question, which the Lord enjoins. Further, is it not to be feared that we have in this way grieved and silenced to some extent the spirit of exhortation in our pulpits? The spirit of exhortation which spoke out plainly and fully, through primitive ministers in the great affair of bringing in these "other sheep" we fear is now with us only in a grieved and vexed state! Primitive preachers did not suppress it, nor attempt to confine its word of exhortation to believers only, as some affect to do among us! The following scriptural truths may be read with profit by all. Yes, reader, I am willing for you to lay down this production until you search the Scriptures and examine the subject according to the following references: Luke iii, 18. Acts ii, 40; xiii, 15, Rom. xii, 8, and I Tim. iv, 13.
Others of equal force might be added. It is high time that our Churches were looking after their preachers in this respect, and calling on them for those pointed warm gospel exhortations which accompanied Christ's primitive ministry. Brethren, have we not deviated somewhat in this particular from the Apostolic mode of preaching? If so, let us correct our errors by the word of God. Who is willing to attempt it? Who is ready to lead off in this great but neglected work as "examples" to more timid and fearful ones? Let those undertake it who are able to convince the gainsayers from the word of God, that such preaching was commanded by the Lord; and that the preaching of his servants as long as we have a Scriptural history of it furnishes a practical example of this mode of preaching the gospel.
A gospel without exhortation; without a call on the sinner to repent and believe; a gospel which does not in word address itself to all; is not the gospel which Christ ordained subordinately for the bringing in of his "other sheep." And for the benefit of the Arminian I will also add, nor is a gospel without the power of God, without predestination, without election, without spiritual blessings, the gospel ordained of God for the bringing in of those "other sheep." So that we are bold to affirm that the gospel embraces all these things.
Let us take a practical example. We have it on record in the 13th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. When Paul and Barnabas preached at Antioch of Pisidia, had any of our ultra brethren been there and heard their zealous appeal to all those present, they would have called them Arminians. And Arminians in their objection to the revealed history, that "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed," contradict it by saying that all might have believed, one as well as another. Thus we perceive, that the notions of each are wrong.
While we combat this ministerial deviation of ours on the part of some, which affects to find Arminianism where there is none, let us carefully guard against those tenets which do really involve it. For instance, when we in our doctrine maintain that by means of our own devising, we can extend the spiritual blessings of the gospel beyond the ordination or election of God, and employ such means for such a purpose, we then deviate both from the principles and practical course of the gospel, and thereby plainly indicate that we are Arminians in the proper sense of that term, so justly opprobrious to the Old Order of Baptists. But as long as we call on all men to repent everywhere, believing that God only can give repentance, and that he will give it to as many as are ordained unto eternal life, even if He does not to as many as we may address, we may escape all Arminianism, and more especially if our practical course in preaching does not involve any unscriptural methods.
Let us see: The zealous preacher calls on all to repent, earnestly, faithfully and I may add, gospelly, but alas! The older brother whose head has got wrong, whose heart has grown cold, says all cannot repent, some have not the power to do so. How does he know?
Peradventure the Lord has given the power to repent to the very ones whom he had in his feelings excluded. The secret power, and merciful grace of repentance may have pervaded their souls hidden and unseen by him, and be moving their hearts in the sure way of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgetting that He who gives repentance and faith, also gave the word; and that he who is exalted a Prince and Saviour to give repentance unto the elect, also commanded that his gospel should be preached in the letter to all--to every creature.
But the objector here repeats that all men will not receive its blessings, and why call on all to receive them! But how dare any to say when the faithful preacher is calling on a congregation to receive these blessings, that some of them may not be at that time receiving them. The gospel may be going forth to them not in word only as they suppose, but "in power, in much assurance and in the Holy Ghost."
The gospel must be preached in all of its fullness in the word, for that which goes forth in word only is the same gospel in the letter, which goes forth in power through the Spirit. Then it is God who makes one hearer differ from another, and not the preacher. While it is foolishness and a stumbling block to some after the best efforts of the preacher; through a demonstration of the Spirit it becomes to others the wisdom and power of God. So, it is the same gospel all the while, which Christ has commanded his ministerial servants to preach, with all its merciful promises, and exhortations, warnings, doctrinal teachings, glad tidings, ordained ordinances, etc., to every creature, not allowing them to make any kind of exceptions in that respect.
How mortifying to the feelings of a faithful preacher to be called an Arminian on account of preaching according to the very commission which Christ gave for the rule and government of his ministry. Brethren preachers, it is high time that we strive to please God in this affair rather than men. It is high time indeed that some of us were waking up on this subject; let us rather exhort our opposing brethren to pray the Lord that he would open the hearts of our hearers to attend to the truths which we may preach, knowing that none will heed to profit without this blessing to the great end that the "other sheep" of our day may be brought in.
Here again the objector says, why pray for that which is sure? This, verily is the very reason why we should pray for it; for we can only have hope in prayer which seeks the things which God has ordained for us, and which may accord with His will to grant. Christ said in his day, that He must bring them; and did that declaration hinder the prayers of his primitive ministers?
Before closing the subject of preaching I will state, that the word of God must also be rightly divided. Both the sheep and the lambs must be fed; they must be directed to the "Plant of Renown." The man of full stature in Christ, and the babe of his bosom, must be fed. Strong [Top of Page 89:] meats must be dealt out for one, and the sincere milk of the word for the other. These specialties were plainly commanded by Christ, for he said to his servant, "Feed my sheep, Feed my lambs;" and after the general commission had been given by Him, it was again enjoined by his apostle: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with his own blood." The Old Order of Baptists have been more mindful of these specialties than any other people, and although some have deviated in their preaching from the general commission, all have not. There are yet a few who content for the general outward call of the Gospel, but we doctrinize it to much, lest some ultra brother should conclude that we are Arminians.
Having given an exposition of the state of the Roman Christians before their conversion to Christianity, and of the Lord's practical way of bringing them in; it remains to treat of them in their renewed state. They were, according to a plain scriptural exposition, justified. By whom? By Him who called them, for whom He called, them He also justified. Then it is God who justifies. By whom does He justify? By Christ; for, it is Christ who died, yea rather, that is risen again, who was raised for our justification. Hence, they were in a justified state; a state which did not admit of condemnation, for there is no condemnation to them who are justified by Christ according to Apostolic teaching.
Reader, were they justified, I ask most significantly, by their own works of righteousness or by the imputed righteousness of Christ, which is by faith, "unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference?" Thus we are plainly taught that the Romans were justified by Christ's righteousness, and not by their own.
Another new thing came up among them: their large assemblies which they call ASSOCIATIONS. Some ten or fifteen Churches unite and form one of these bodies, and then appoint delegates to meet annually at one of these Churches; and they there read letters from the different Churches composing this ecclesiastical assembly, and then discuss the different things which may be brought before them by a select committee. Having never witnessed anything of the kind before, I determined to try them by the word of God. I saw at once that they were well calculated to develop a dangerous power, which, whether it be subordinate or paramount to that of Church power, may be employed for the accomplishment of ambitious designs.
Though all the constitutions of these bodies declare that all their acts shall be subordinate to the Churches, yet it may be readily seen that there is a disposition on the part of ambitious leaders, and even some Churches led by them, to appeal to this ecclesiastical tribunal. This is another subject which I would like to see discussed through the medium just indicated, for I think there are elements at work in these bodies, which may engender a controlling power exterior to the Churches composing it, and which may re-act on the Churches in the production of much distress.
I observed another variation, which, although small, violates a principle which they seem to wish to maintain: In speaking of their ministers they occasionally designate them as the moderator of an association, even after its adjournment, and another as the pastor of four Churches, objecting all the while to all other ministerial titles.
Nor are they careful, as was the first practice, to lay up "upon the first day of the week as God hath prospered" them, that there by no gathering at improper times. 1 Cor. xvi, 2. This custom is not regarded by them as it should be.
Further, I was much surprised as well as mortified that they evinced so little concern about the unbrought "other sheep" which the Saviour said he must bring. They lay great stress on these words of the Saviour, but do not regard other things which he connected with the bringing them in as they ought to do. I heard but few prayers for the sending forth of laborers into his field; nor did I see much concern in any way about them. The Lord's foreknowledge, predestination, calling, etc., have the same relation to them, in principle at least, that they had at the beginning--the same to the last one which HE will bring that they had to the first. He does not foreknow the first one that he brought more fully than he does the last one that he will bring. Nor is his predestination any weaker toward that one, or his calling less sure! They preach well about the "effectual call," as they term it, but not so well about the outward one. No one should dare to limit the Lord to any rules which he may have prescribed for us to pursue for the accomplishment of great ends; but this does not release us from an obligation to employ them.
I felt inclined to ask these orthodox Christians, if they believed that any of the "other sheep" are now among the heathen nations? And if they were watching the providence of God in regard to them? Moreover, if they felt under any obligations to search them out; to pray unto the Lord to bring them in; and to encourage, aid and send out any who may feel called of the Lord to preach to them? I find that the great extravagance of many who have engaged in this work has had a very bad influence on these people, and probably prevented them in some instances from performing their duty toward the "other sheep" which may be in distant countries. And I really fear should any one profess a call of this kind, he would not receive the fellowship and assistance which he would be entitled to. Thus I fear they do not act as did those who heeded all the commandments of the Lord.
I also discovered that their elders, or pastors, pursued secular employments to a surprising extent, and that they were not cared for by the Churches as they ought to be; and that the pastor of four Churches did not get even a necessary support from them. Hoping that some of their wise men will engage in a friendly controversy on these subjects, I will say no more about them now.
I will also close my fanciful sketch of realities, and entertain the fact that we are the Old Order of Baptists of the nineteenth century, justly chargeable with the deviations acknowledged, looking prayerfully and hopefully for their correction by the word of the Lord, and the light of grace in the hearts of our brethren.
How shall these errors by corrected?
1. By weekly meetings instead of monthly ones.
2. Let our elders take charge of one Church only.
3. Let out associations be means of communion and not institutions.
4. Allow no standing titles of moderator and pastor of four Churches.
5. Lay up on the first day of the week as the Lord has prospered us.
6. Perform our duties to the "other sheep" which may be in heathen countries.
7. Let not elders entangle themselves too much with the things of the world.
8. Let the Churches do their full duty to their pastors and traveling ministers.
9. Let the deaconry be revived among us.
The manner of these reforms is now open for discussion, and I suggest that it be carried on in the HERALD OF TRUTH. [End of Dr. Watson's article].
We urge those among the Primitive Baptists to give ear to Dr. Watson's words and forsake the "antism" that split the Baptists in the 1800's. Renounce the "direct voice" regeneration heresy of Gilbert Beebe and turn away from the anti-London Confession thinking of Cayce, the "Christian Baptist" brotherhood of S. T. Tolley and associates, the Lassere Bradley, Jr. sect, and others of this order. Follow the advice of Dr. John H. Watson, one of the truly enlightened brethren of "Old School" Baptists. Get back to the faith and order of the London Confession of Faith!
Articles previously published:
#1 - "Hardshellism" - A Modern Cult and an Enemy of the Gospel
#2 - Which Primitive Baptist Faction is the "Original Church"?
#3 - The Original Issue in the Anti-Missionism Movement Was on
Methods, Not Theology
#4 - The "Old Baptists" and the Old Baptist Faith
#5 - Hardshellism's Diluting the Baptist Confession of Faith
#6 - Hardshell Doctrine is Pelagianism in a 19th Century Package
#7 - John Gill, Not a Hardsehll or Hybrid Calvinist