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Written by W.H. Crouse   


Note: These articles were originally prepared for publication in The Banner-Herald. Much of Chapter I was added after it was decided to publish in book form.

We have been requested to write a series of articles for publication in which shall be clearly set forth the recognized faith of Primitive Baptists as respects the use of the ministry and the preached word in the work of regeneration or the new birth; that such articles shall be a bold and fearless defense of the things most surely believed among us, and supported by such historical and scriptural proof as to establish and confirm our people in the faith of our fathers and to overcome the unscriptural and un-Baptistic teaching of some among us, which has confused many, overthrown the faith of some, and seriously threatens the fellowship and union of our people.

With such ability as we possess we comply with their request, trusting that God may own and bless the effort to His glory and the good of His cause.

We have never felt called upon to make any apology for boldly teaching and fearlessly defending what we conceive to be Primitive Baptist faith. We accepted that faith when we united with the church; when ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry we gave our sacred and solemn pledge to teach and defend it. However much we may have been tossed hither and thither by the billows of time, and, through the frailty and weakness of human nature and imperfect wisdom, carried now and then from the course charted by Christ and the Apostles, we have never entertained any doubt as to that faith to which we subscribed and to which we pledged our loyalty being THE faith once-for-all delivered to the saints. It was that faith that made of us a Primitive Baptist. In the days of our youth, when this decision had to be made, the most of our associates and friends were in other religious organizations. We could have gone their way without any sacrifice-save that of our conviction as to truth. God alone knows the tears, the groans, and the earnest prayers ere we made that decision. But having made that decision, we have never for one moment entertained any thought of turning back.

So deep are our convictions respecting that faith that we are not willing to apologize for it nor compromise it-not even to retain the fellowship and friendship of the dearest friends on earth. For eighteen years we have labored for and with the so-called “Progressives” firmly believing that they stood true and loyal to that faith. We are still of that belief. But should the time ever come when they discard or compromise that faith, and the tares of error are allowed to grow and multiply unmolested among us to the shame and reproach of those who claim the name of Primitive Baptist, we very frankly confess that we shall, without the least hesitation, sever our connection with them and seek that people who still remain true to the faith to which we pledged ourselves twenty-six years ago. If that be treason and rebellion in the eyes of our opposers, let them make the most of it.

That many of us have for some time been alarmed by certain teachings among us is no secret among our people. And that such teaching should have been so little offence to our people (so far as we could see) has caused us inexpressible sorrow. And it has been humiliating and heart-rending in every effort we have made to call attention to these errors and to anchor our people securely in the old time faith, to be privately and publicly accused of seeking leadership; of being possessed by an evil spirit; and of seeking to create an issue solely for the destruction of certain brethren and to destroy certain movements, very commendable in the eyes of many good and true brethren, but of which we did not and do not now approve.

We, therefore, feel it necessary to begin this series of articles by clearly pointing out to our brotherhood the things which have touched our fellowship and caused us such alarm. In doing so, we do not desire to unnecessarily offend. If it were possible, we would prepare these articles without making mention of any brother whom we believe to be in error. As this is not possible, and as their teaching has been public, and as we have been time and again challenged to meet the issue, we shall expect them and their friends to allow us liberty to clearly point out the things to which we object.

And to our brethren everywhere we plead, Come, let us reason together. Our cause is greater than any man. We have claimed that in our church we knew no man after the flesh. What will it profit us to defend, shield or follow men if, in doing so, our foundations are destroyed? We should seek only after truth. If we can discover what the recognized faith of our people is, we have a right to expect, and should demand, that our teachers be ever loyal to that faith.

The Bible declares that two cannot walk together except they be agreed. It will not be denied, even by our erring brethren, that the great body of our brethren do NOT believe that God regenerates through the ministry and the preached word. This they have publicly admitted. They have publicly stated that those who hold to their view of this subject are “few” in number. This being true, we reach the following conclusion:

1. Our brethren must be converted to the “means” doctrine; or

2. Our brethren must exist part “means” and part “anti-means”; or

3. They must rid themselves of this “means” doctrine and stand united upon the doctrine that God, in all cases, regenerates without the ministry and the preached word.

The second is impossible. The first is equally so, though some of our brethren have set themselves to the effort.

And we submit that since it is admitted that but very FEW agree with them, and it is publicly admitted that the recognized faith of our people at this present day is that God ALWAYS regenerates without the ministry and the preached word, those who have introduced so suddenly and so unexpectedly this “means” doctrine among us must bear the blame for any and all confusion and strife that may result from its introduction, and NOT those who oppose it and choose to stand upon and defend the recognized faith.

Nor is it fair to the brotherhood, or becoming of those who would be leaders and teachers among us and who express themselves as so sure of their position, to raise other issues to obscure the issue and blind with prejudice the minds of the brethren and secure a verdict contrary to the real convictions of their souls. Such a verdict might serve the present needs and designs of designing men, but it can not stand, and should not satisfy those who battle honestly for what they conceive to be truth. With these observations let us turn to the question before us.

Is There Cause For Alarm?

Our people have been troubled more than once with the introduction of this “means” question; or, more clearly stated, as to whether or not God regenerates by, with, or through the ministry and the preached word. The history of American Baptists will sustain me in this statement, that NEVER has it been taught among us and an effort made to establish it as a part of our faith that it has not brought strife and widespread division. Time and again that doctrine has been rejected by our people. Whether or not the position of our people has been scriptural we will leave for other articles, but that they have time and again rejected this doctrine and refused to tolerate such teaching or fellowship those who insisted upon it cannot be successfully denied.

In another article we will discuss the London Confession of Faith. Just here we call attention to the meeting of our brethren held at Fulton, Ky., in the year 1900. Having been troubled and divided by this issue in years gone by, they added footnotes to the Confession which left no room for misunderstanding. Elder J. H. Oliphant was moderator of the meeting and associated with him were many of the ablest ministers of our denomination from the different sections of the United States.

Their position was that God NEVER effectually calls or regenerates through the written word.

Their interpretation was most universally accepted by our people. The question was settled so far as our people were concerned. Not only did Primitive Baptists KNOW that that was their faith, but the religious world everywhere knew it. The Methodists knew it; the Campbellites knew it; the Missionaries knew it; the Pence-Burnam faction knew it; and time and again in public discussion we met them on this very issue.

When the division came in Georgia over the organ question it was reported that our people believed that God regenerated through the gospel. Our ministry was quick to sense the danger. They knew if that could be established in the minds of our brethren there would not be a corporal’s guard stand with us. So very promptly a meeting of our ministers was called at Cordele, Georgia. They met in February 1909. There they drew up a statement of our faith and strongly condemned the idea of God regenerating through the gospel. This was signed by our ministers; and among those signatures we find the names of Elders T. E. Sikes and W. B. Screws of Georgia.

The point at issue between “means” and “antimeans” Baptists is not as to whether men may be brought to repent and believe THROUGH the preached word,-they often are; indeed that is one of the great purposes for which the gospel was to be preached. Nor do we deny that God may and sometimes does regenerate a sinner WHILE the preacher is preaching. He may as easily do so as when the sinner is in his home, in the shop, or following the plow. But the exact issue before us is this- Does God REGENERATE or make alive the dead sinner THROUGH the ministry and the preached word?

And to this question, Primitive Baptists have very emphatically answered, NO.

The so-called Progressives of Georgia, by their teaching in the pulpit and through the press, had convinced our brethren at home and abroad that, whatever mistakes we may have made in practice, we were sound in doctrine. It was very apparent that among the conservative brethren there was not that prejudice against us that there had been in the past and many were led to believe that the day was not far away when there might be a union of our forces.

In August, 1921, Elder Screws begun the publication of the Pilgrim’s Messenger. It was a perfectly legitimate enterprise. Many things instructive and comforting appeared in its columns and it was appreciated by many of our brethren. Suddenly, to the surprise and astonishment of our brethren, Elder Screws came out in his paper as a champion of the “means” doctrine, identifying himself with the Pence-Burnam faction as against our brethren in that division, insisting that our people had departed from original faith and in so doing bad ceased to be Primitive Baptists and had become “modern” Baptists, and stated that it was the purpose of his paper to revive among us an interest in what he termed “Original” faith and lead them back to that from which they had departed, viz., that ordinarily God regenerates sinners THROUGH the preached word.

It was no surprise to Elder Screws that some of us took issue with him and set ourselves to uncompromisingly oppose his teaching. He knew us well enough to know that we would do so. If there has been any surprise upon his part it must have been that there has been so little said publicly against his position and so little done to counteract his teaching.

To show that we do not misrepresent him we give here quotations from his paper:

Volume 3, Number 3, pages 2 and 8:

“If a Primitive Baptist should believe and teach that God sometimes regenerates a sinner through the INSTRUMENTALITY of the preached word, would he be out of line with the Baptists of the past? Let us see about it.

“Elder John M. Watson is looked upon as one of the leading preachers of his day, among our people. He says: (Here he quotes from Watson’s Old Baptist Test to prove that Watson believed that God regenerated sinners through the instrumentality of the preached word.-Crouse.) An examination of the Life and Labors of Wilson Thompson will show that he (Thompson) believed as did Watson. He wrote the history of his life and labors mentioned above, and he certainly taught that God uses the preached word in the regeneration of sinners. (He then quotes from the minutes of the Kehukee Association for the year 1778 to prove that they held the same view.-Crouse.)

“Now, let us go back to the seventeenth century. In 1689, the London Confession of Faith was written, and adopted by the Baptists of England. At various times the Primitive Baptists of the United States have stated that they, too, believe the London Confession. In 1900, the Fulton (Ky.) convention, composed of representatives from nearly all parts of our country, adopted this confession, with some explanatory footnotes, (which footnotes are more confusing than explanatory). Chapter XIV, paragraph I, of the London Confession, says: 'The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word.'

“I have shown here, that a Primitive Baptist may believe in the INSTRUMENTALITY of the preached word, and be in line with Elders John Watson and Wilson Thompson, with Elder Sylvester Hassell’s association, and with all our Baptist forefathers in 1689. But the most important question is: Would he be in line with the Bible? We shall see: (He then quotes certain texts of scripture to prove that the Bible teaches that God regenerates through the instrumentality of the preached word.-Crouse.)

“To say that God is limited to the preached gospel, in the salvation of sinners, would be very erroneous. But to say that he is limited to the practice of saving without the gospel is equally erroneous. I believe that God can do whatever he wishes to do; and he can do it in anyway he wishes to do it. He has all things at his command, and can work through any MEANS that he chooses.

“I am a Primitive Baptist, and I yield to no man in my love for the doctrine of grace. At the same time, I declare without any fear of successful contradiction, that God, in some cases, brings about the regeneration of his elect, through the preached word. Neither does this position contradict the confession of faith of my church.”

We wish the reader to note the use of the words ‘‘means” and “instrumentality” in these quotations.Speaking of the preaching of the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost, Elder Screws says:

Volume 3, Number 5, page 5: “What a display of the power of God! The church began with about one hundred and thirty, and, at the close of the first service, she had three thousand one hundred and thirty, and three thousand of that number were not even regenerate characters when they entered that house at nine o ‘clock that morning. The power of God pricked the hearts of those people as Peter preached to them. The same power of the same God pricked the heart of Saul of Tarsus, when no preacher was near. It is a Bible doctrine that God works when and how he will.”

“It is also a Primitive Baptist doctrine. What is a Primitive Baptist? A Primitive Baptist is an Original Baptist. We Original Baptists, and God knows that we are few in number, attribute all powers to God, and declare that he can work either with or without MEANS, and that if he works through MEANS, there is absolutely no power in the MEANS-all the power is in God.”

Elder Screws is too plain here to be misunderstood. It is the MEANS doctrine for which he contends and which he insists is Original Baptist faith.

In the November 1923, issue of the Banner-Herald there appeared an editorial in reply to Elder Screws. It was copied by the Pilgrim’s Messenger, appearing in Volume 3, Number 5, page 5. In the closing part of his editorial Elder Barwick said:

“That (Elder Screws’ affirmation of the doctrines of election, &c.,) is all sound and good, but it has not touched the question at issue-Does God use the gospel as a means of regeneration?”

The reader will note that it was the MEANS doctrine that Elder Barwick was opposing in his “Editorial Remarks” following this, Elder Screws said:

“We did not quote Dr. Watson and Elder Thompson to prove our position. We did not quote them as authority. We quoted Elder Watson to show that in the past there were those who believed the theory to which Elder Barwick objects, and yet they were not called heretics, nor even taken to task about it. We referred to Elder Thompson for the same reason. * * * Then we quoted from Hassell’s History showing that the Kehukee Association, the oldest Primitive Baptist association now in existence, went on record as believing this theory in 1778. We then quoted the London Confession of Faith to show that this theory was the belief of THE ENTIRE DENOMINATION OF BAPTISTS in 1689.”

The “theory” to which Elder Barwick objected was that God uses the gospel as a MEANS of regeneration. Elder Screws replies that Watson, Wilson Thompson, the Kehukee Association, the London Confession of Faith, and the entire denomination of Baptists in 1689 believed THIS THEORY. He not only insists that these brethren believed this theory of the use of the gospel as a means in regeneration, but insists that the London Confession taught it and that no one can be a Primitive Baptist who does not believe that Confession. The brethren at Fulton, in 1900, bad added footnotes denying this use of the gospel in regeneration and Elder Screws takes them to task for it.

Volume 4, Number 1, page 2:

“So far as we are aware, the most important pronouncement, on the part of Primitive Baptists, AGAINST the London Confession of Faith, was made by a council meeting held at Fulton, Kentucky, in 1900. And, curiously enough, the Fulton Council claimed to endorse the London Confession. They published the Confession in book form, and sent it out, as a correct expression of Baptist faith. But they claimed that certain parts of it needed to be explained. So, where there was anything that they did not believe, they put in an explanatory footnote. In the most of cases the footnotes entirely changed the meaning of our English forefathers. In other words, the footnotes amounted to a denial of parts of the very confession that the council claimed to endorse. (This is rather a serious charge against those able representative ministers who met at Fulton.-Crouse.) There were at least three preachers in the meeting who did not, in their hearts, endorse those changes. * * * (But they voted for its adoption and signed it with the footnotes. And the question became “Shall we stick to what we have promised?”-Crouse.) The fact that the Fulton Council did such a thing is proof that the preaching of Primitive Baptists in that section, for quite a while had been contrary to some things that the Baptists had believed in 1689, when the London Confession was written. And such, indeed, was the case. The Fulton Council only reflected the condition that already existed in the Primitive Baptist ranks,-a rather widespread denial of parts of the ancient Baptist faith. The Pilgrim’s Messenger has tried to revive an interest in the original teachings of Baptists.”

The “widespread denial of parts of the ancient Baptist faith” to which Elder Screws refers was the denial that God uses the gospel as a means in regeneration. They had had two divisions over that question. More than once the question of church property had been taken to the courts and the courts had decided in favor of the “anti-means” party. But Elder Screws’ contention is that our brethren were wrong and the means party was right; and if so, of course, the courts erred in deciding in our favor.

After writing in such a way as to leave the impression that Elder Sylvester Hassell, our able historian, endorsed and agreed with Dr. John Gill in his interpretation of all scripture, continuing Elder Screws says:

Volume 3, Number 9, page 1: “if these extracts speak the truth, would our  present  day Primitive Baptists want a sounder preacher than was Dr. John Gill? We hardly think so. Dr. Gill lived at a time when the modern missionary enterprises were not thought of in the Baptist ranks, and when no one had ever thought to style himself a Missionary Baptist or a Primitive Baptist. They were just plain Baptists. This was many years before the division in 1832. * * * There can be no doubt of the general reception and endorsement of Gill’s works among the Baptists. Nor have those works ceased to be admired by Baptists of this age. Only a few months ago the Banner-Herald endorsed Gill’s works and spoke of his soundness. Elder W. A. Lamb, of blessed memory, valued Gill’s commentaries next to the Bible. It is the boast of Primitive Baptists that we stand where the Baptists stood before the division of 1832. Dr. John Gill’s writings tell us where Baptists stood before the division of 1832. If we stand where Dr. Gill stood, we arc Primitive Baptists. Who will deny this? All right, here is a sample of Dr. Gill’s exposition of the Scriptures:”

It certainly is unfair to thus leave the impression that the Banner-Herald, Elder Lamb and Elder Hassell endorsed Gill’s position on every text and on every line of gospel truth. Primitive Baptists HAVE very generally agreed that Gill’s Commentaries are the best that have ever been written; but they have NOT endorsed his position in. his commentaries on the utility of the gospel. Elder Screws relies upon Gill to prove that he (Screws) is contending for Primitive Baptist faith. He takes the position that for one to be a Primitive Baptist he MUST agree with Gill. To not do so, in his opinion, is evidence sufficient that one has ceased to be a Primitive Baptist. He then gives his “sample” of Gill’s interpretation, with which he agrees, and insists that all must agree or become “modern” Baptists. Here it is:

"For in Christ * * * I have begotten you through the gospel-I Cor. 4:15. Which is to be understood of regeneration, a being born again, and from above; of being quickened when dead in trespasses and sins; * * * the apostle speaks this of himself only as the INSTRUMENT or MEANS which God made use of in doing this work; * * * it was the power and grace of Christ accompanying his ministry which made it an effectual MEANS of their regeneration and conversion; and which were brought about through the gospel. “-Dr. Gill’s Commentary.

The purpose Elder Screws had in making this quotation from Gill’s commentary was to show that Gill believed and taught that God uses the ministry and the gospel as means and instrumentalities in the work of regeneration. That this was Dr. Gill’s teaching in the above quotation there can be no doubt. Indeed he says that Paul’s ministry was made “an effectual means OF their regeneration.” I call special attention to this for Elder Screws has time and again stated that he was in line with Gill and that one had to be in line with Gill or cease to be a Primitive Baptist.

Elder Screws then quotes from his editorial to show his (Screws’) position on this text to he in line with Gill, with the Philadelphia and Kehukee associations, and the London Confession, and again quotes Chapter XIV, Section I of that Confession. He then continues:

“This is what all Baptists believed in 1689, *** in 1742, *** in 1765. If we believe what the London Confession teaches, we stand where the Baptists stood in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We are, therefore, Primitive Baptists.”

Then referring to his (Screws’) position that God sometimes regenerates sinners through the preached word, he says:

“Is this any more unsound than the entire Baptist denomination was in 1689? We have no succession from the apostles, except as we trace it back through our forefathers, who believed precisely what I (Elder Screws) believe. And yet, I (Elder Screws) am held up before the public as unsound. *** I am humiliated, by the exposures in the press, although I know that my position cannot be overthrown, either by history or the Bible. Elder J. A. Sutton, of Wray, Ga., believes in, and teaches the doctrine of INSTIRUMENTALITY, and no one has published him to the world as unsound. Elder Thomas M. Whatley of Griffin, Ga., believes in gospel INSTRUMENTALITY, in salvation, and yet he has never been publicly exposed as unsound. We are aware that we shall be further persecuted, but we hope that our good brother will find some time that in doing so he is fighting against the word of God. You will be told that we have referred to these historical characters to prove the truthfulness of our position. Not so! We have referred to them to show that we are a Primitive Baptist. To show that we are a Bible Baptist, we refer to I Cor. 4:15; Eph. 5:25-26; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; James 1:18; Acts 26:15-18; 1 Peter 1:23-25; John 17:20; Acts 2:37; 2 Cor. 3:3, etc.”

Let the reader note all the scriptures to which he refers us for proof that he is a Bible Baptist (we will notice all of them later); and remember that the thing he is trying to prove is that God uses the preached word as a means and instrumentality in the work of regeneration.

Some of the emphasis in these quotations is mine. We gave this emphasis to show that Elder Screws HAS all along identified himself with those who teach that God regenerates through the gospel as a means and instrumentality. THIS was what be said we must believe or cease to be Primitive Baptists. Because we deny this doctrine be called us “modern” Baptists. This doctrine was what he said he could prove by history and by the Bible. It is the doctrine he set himself to bind upon our people as their “original” faith. It was for this doctrine that he lauded the Pence-Burnam people and endorsed them as against us. We emphasize this to show clearly what it was that gave offence and caused alarm.

We now notice some of his teaching in regard to certain texts of scripture. Each text cited was introduced by him to sustain his contention that God regenerates through the preached word. “For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.-l Cor. 4:15. This is the birth of which Jesus speaks when he says, ‘Marvel not, that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.’ Bless the name of Jesus for the new birth.” (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1.)

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.-1 Peter 1:23-25. The word in the text means the written word. Being born, again, means being born of God.”

“In this birth we receive an incorruptible nature, the life of Jesus Christ. Without this birth we shall not see the kingdom of God. *** Some have tried to destroy God’s word, while others have tried to explain away its meaning. But neither can be done. After the fleeting glory of such ones is forgotten, the word of God will still be in existence.  * * * If the text teaches anything, it connects the new birth and the word.” (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 2.)

‘‘Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth. -James 1: 18. According to God’s will, he begets us with the word of truth. Thy word is truth-John 17: 17. Let him be put to confusion, who limits God in his operation. God is not limited. He does what he will, when he will, and how he will. If it is his will to beget us by the word of truth, he does it.” (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1.) (Time and again Elder Screws has explained this text to mean that God regenerated “us” with the gospel.-Crouse.)

“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath, from~ the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and  belief of the truth; whereunto he called you BY OUR GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.-2 Thes. 2:13-14. The election of sinners took place from the beginning or before the foundation of the world. The end of the choice is salvation, or the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those thus chosen are set apart by the Spirit and caused to believe the truth. (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1). If Paul did not mean that God used the preached word in calling the elect, to the obtaining the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, pray what did he mean’?” (Vol. 2, No. 10, page 3.)

Brother Screws explains a number of times that his understanding is that regeneration is here under consideration. This would very clearly limit the elect to the scope of the preached gospel.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with; the washing of water BY THE WORD -Eph. 5: 25-26. The elect, those who are to compose the church are very unclean in a state of nature. They are the children of wrath, even as others. But Christ gave himself for them. He died for them. And this he did, that he might sanctify and cleanse them, with the washing of water by the word. The church thus washed, shall be presented to Christ by himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.” (Vol. 3, No. 7, page 1.)

This scripture is cited by Brother Screws a number of times to prove the INSTRUMENTALITY of the preached word in the work of regeneration. And he insists that the “word” in this text is the written word and that the thing accomplished through it is regeneration. Paul here speaks of the CHURCH. It is to be washed and cleansed. Now if ALL of the church is to be washed and cleansed by the written word, will we not be forced to conclude that the “church” includes none who have not come under the influence of the gospel? And if none can get to heaven without regeneration, and Brother Screws is correct in his interpretation of this text, must we not conclude that regeneration or salvation IS confined to the scope of the gospel?

Another proof text to which he cites us is Acts 26:15-18: “And I said, who art thou, Lord? And he said I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. But arise, and stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

“The unsaved sinner is blind, and walks in darkness instead of light. He is entirely under the power of Satan, and has not received the forgiveness of sins. In that condition he has no heavenly inheritance. What a wonderful grace it is that changes all this and prepares the poor sinner for eternal glory.” (Vol. 3, No. 7, pages 1 and 2.)

Read this scripture again and think what a revolution it must work among Primitive Baptists to understand that this text teaches that Paul was going forth to REGENERATE dead sinners! And this is one of his proof texts to prove that the gospel as an instrumentality in regeneration is a “Bible doctrine.”

“By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.- Eph. 2:8. The exercise of faith by the sinner is not the cause of salvation. But God saves by grace THROUGH faith, not to the exclusion of faith. But the faith is the gift of God. But HOW does God give faith? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.-Paul to the Romans, 10:17.” (Vol. 3, No. 3, page 3.)

The entire passage in Romans 10, to which he refers as proof, reads as follows: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear WITHOUT A PREACHER? * * So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Paul clearly teaches that no one can have THIS belief, or faith, without the gospel-and the preacher. And Elder Screws says this is the way God “gives” it. That being true, if God NEVER saves to the exclusion of THIS faith, is not eternal salvation confined forever to the scope of the gospel? Certainly it must be. And that is the rock upon which every teacher has landed who has insisted upon the gospel as a means in regeneration and emphasized faith as necessary in order to eternal salvation. Strive as they may they cannot avoid it. And the reader will note, too, that Brother Screws has the SINNER exercising faith BEFORE regeneration. Time and again in. his paper he has criticized us for saying anyone is regenerated who does not believe in Jesus Christ. Well, if they are not, and this belief comes through the preacher and the gospel, then NO PERSON will be in heaven that has not heard the gospel.

Note carefully the following quotation: “Let it not be thought, however, that this salvation is out of Christ. We saw in the quotation from Ephesians that the choice is in Christ, and we read further, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Christ), in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. The redemption and forgiveness of the elect is in the blood of Christ. But does the gospel play no part in this matter?” (Vol. 3, No. 4, page 1.)

We now call attention to the explanation given of John 6:37,39, that text upon which Primitive Baptists have ever relied to prove their faith.

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me. * * * For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me; that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. Not all the Father hath given me, but all that the Father giveth me. It is in the present tense, not the past tense. One by one the Father gives to Jesus those whom he hath chosen in Jesus. The power of the God-head quickens the sinner, and gives the sinner to Jesus. * * * God giveth, then he hath given the sinner to Jesus. * * * In John 17, Jesus speaks frequently of believers having been given to him. "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me.” -verse 6. * * * To whom did he have reference? Not to elect ones who had not yet been quickened, but to those who were actually his disciples at that time. ‘I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me’-verse 9. This has reference to those who were actually his disciples. THEN, in verse 29, He mentions ALL the elect, who should afterwards be given to him. “’Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me THROUGH THEIR WORD.” (Vol. 3, No. 6, page 1.)

Elder Screws got this interpretation from Elder Sikes’ pamphlet. This does away with the covenant. According to this none were given to Jesus BEFORE he came down from heaven; they are not given to him until AFTER they are quickened (regenerated)!

And Elder Screws says ALL the elect, who should afterwards be given to Jesus, are embraced in the expression, “which shall believe on me THROUGH THEIR WORD.”

Unless he can prove that some of the elect are not given to Christ-that sinners not given to Christ can get to heaven-he has limited the elect to believers--those who hear the preached gospel.

This is the ultimate end and goal of this teaching and the reader can see this trend through all his teaching, though he time and again insists be does not limit eternal salvation to the scope of the gospel.

In discoursing again upon Romans 10, he says: “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for the Lord is rich unto those who call upon him, argues Paul, for all whether Jew or Greek, who call upon him shall be saved. God sends the preacher, they hear, they believe and they call upon the name of the Lord.” (Vol. 3, No. 6, page 3.)

I copy the following from Vol. 3, No. 4, page 7: “In one of our associations an elder said that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt was a type of regeneration. What would have been the attitude of the rest of us, if he had stressed the fact that the deliverance was accomplished THROUGH MOSES? Another elder said that when Christ raised Tabitha, it was a type of regeneration. What would we have done, if he had stressed the fact that Christ spoke to Tabitha THROUGH PETER? Another elder said that flesh and blood had not revealed Jesus unto Peter, but that God revealed it unto him. We can’t help but wonder what would have happened if he had referred to the first chapter of John and proved to us that when God made the revelation he made it THROUGH ANDREW, Simon Peter’s brother. But the brethren did not refer to those things. If they had wanted to do so, they would have been afraid, for we have lived to see the day when we will not tolerate some things that our forefathers would tolerate.”

In another place we find this expression: “The Bible connects belief and salvation.” And we have seen that he means eternal salvation.

Elder Screws quotes from Elder John Rowe, in Vol. 3, No. 12, to prove that Elder Rowe held this same position he seeks to fasten upon us as our faith. We have Elder Rowe’s book, from which he quotes, and deny emphatically that he taught as does Brother Screws. Here is a part of the quotation Elder Screws gives from Elder Rowe:

“Since all has been done for sinners in the way of election and redemption, all now depends upon effectual calling and perseverance, and surely the Holy Spirit will not be delinquent in filling his office, which is to apply to the ‘means the Father hath devised, the principle of which is the blood of Christ, which cleanses us from all sin. That there are other subordinate MEANS is not denied, such for instance as repentance, sanctification, faith, preaching the Gospel, etc.  When the Lord has use for means they are always at hand. Moses was an instrument through which the Lord accomplished much.”

If Elder Rowe had under consideration what Brother Screws represents, he certainly taught that God regenerates through the gospel as a MEANS.

If Elder Rowe was here presenting the MEANS through which dead sinners are made ALIVE, then we must conclude that in this work he believed that repentance was a MEANS to that end. And whatever he included in “etc.” were also means to that end, and all these must precede regeneration.

Who can believe for a moment that the preaching of Elder John Rowe would have been so acceptable to our people if he had preached in this manner? Impossible!

In Vol. 3, No. 6, page 6, Elder T. E. Sikes says: “God alone can bring about this inward change. He may speak to man direct by the Spirit’s impression in the heart, or he may use any kind of MEANS or INSTRUMENTS he may choose in bringing this change into the life of man, but it is, nevertheless, God doing it. There is no use caviling over HOW God does things. Jesus gave life to Lazarus, direct. The same Jesus used Peter in giving life to the dead maiden, Dorcas.”

Again in Vol. 3, No. 8, page 6, Elder Sikes says: “Another view of the use of means is, that God, at his own time, and of his own will, speaks to such persons as he chooses to speak to, through such agency as he chooses to use, to convey his power, and to awaken them from nature’s slumber to a living knowledge of God. * * * Paul’s conversion was certainly the work of God, and yet we must admit he used MEANS in accomplishing the work. * * * There is no use for brethren to fall out over this difference.”

Elder Screws’ paper was read by many. It went into many states and to the editors of all our papers. It was supposed to reflect the sentiment of our people. It was very humiliating to many of us, believing as we do in reference to ibis question, knowing the recognized faith of our people throughout the Union, and having made the pledge we did at Cordele, to now have our brethren abroad understand that we had turned “means” and repudiated our former position. In the Banner-Herald of February 15th, 1924, Elder Barwick felt it necessary to refer to it again, and among other things, he said:

“We were, many of us, hoping he (Elder Screws) would not insist upon this, for it is an error. He has the right to any personal opinion he may entertain, but he need not expect to publish this to the world as the principles of Primitive Baptists, and his position go unchallenged. It is not our doctrine. We must protest against this innovation upon our brotherhood. It is a vital point, and we sincerely hope he will not trouble our people further with it.”

The agitation continued. Feeling, as did Brother Barwick, that it was a vital matter, Dr. T. J. McArthur suggested a meeting of our ministers and deacons to consider the matter. This was finally agreed upon and the meeting was called to meet at Vidalia, Ga., March 25th, 1924. There were twenty-one ministers and thirty-five deacons present. Elder J. M. Thomas stated the position of our brethren and called attention to the teaching of which our brethren complained.

Elder Sikes responded, setting forth briefly his views. Elder Screws offered the writings of Gill and others to show that his position was Baptistic, and he quoted scriptures to show that it was scriptural.

After discussion, in which a number of brethren took part, Dr. C. H. Parrish of Statesboro, Ga., offered a resolution which was read, adopted, and the meeting adjourned. We here give the resolution.

The Vidalia Resolution

“WHEREAS, the doctrine of the use of the preached word as a means in the regeneration of sinners is again being agitated among us, causing great unrest among our brethren in Georgia, and among those associated with us in other states, and grave fears are entertained that our fundamental doctrines are being compromised and that doctrines, time and again rejected by  Primitive Baptists, are being fastened upon us as a part of our faith, and WHEREAS, Such teaching among us has always led to strife and ultimate division, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we reaffirm our belief in and loyalty to the time-honored faith of Primitive Baptists, which faith we understand to include the doctrine of eternal, particular and unconditional election--that a definite number of particular persons were, before time, chosen of God unto salvation or eternal life, that this number can not be increased or diminished; that this definite number of particular persons were embraced in the covenant of grace and given to Christ to redeem, and that Christ in his death on the cross died for these and none others, and that their eternal salvation was thus made infallibly secure. And be it further RESOLVED, That as touching the doctrine of regeneration or effectual calling we reaffirm the declaration of our people expressed in 1909, and published in. what is known as “The Cordele Statement,” in. which they say, ‘Through the gospel the children of God are instructed and fed, strengthened and rebuked, exhorted and corrected; but nowhere does the Bible teach that God uses the gospel as a means of regenerating sinners.” And be it further RESOLVED, that we advise, beg and implore our churches to kindly, lovingly and faithfully labor to guard our people against any teaching contrary to this faith, that strife and division may be avoided and the bond of fellowship between our churches may be preserved and strengthened. And be it further RESOLVED, that we here assembled pledge ourselves to one another and to our brethren everywhere to teach and labor to establish these doctrines most firmly in the minds and hearts of our people.”

It was evident as soon as this resolution was read that it met the approval of the brethren. They recognized it as a clear expression of our faith and they were ready to vote for it. Elder Sikes asked to be excused and did not vote for nor against its adoption.

To the great surprise of all present Elder Screws quickly seconded the motion for its adoption and voted for it. The brethren could but wonder what it all meant. Such a conversion, so sudden and so radical, was unusual. Some were happy, feeling that the matter was permanently adjusted. Many were filled with doubts and fears. But all were willing to wait and see what time would develop.

We did not have long to wait. The next issue of the Pilgrim’s Messenger carried the same teaching which the brethren had condemned. In October following (Vol. 3, No. 3, page 1) Brother Screws commented on the Resolution as follows:

“In March of the present year, a Council meeting was held at Vidalia, Ga., in which meeting a resolution was adopted, declaring that the Gospel is not ‘a means of regeneration.’ The adoption of the resolution was seconded by the editor of this paper. There was only one vote against the adoption of the resolution.

That part of the resolution was drawn precisely right. It declares that the gospel is not a means OF regeneration. God guided the hand of the man who wrote it, and caused it to be written so that we could fully endorse it. The gospel is not a means OF regeneration. In order for a thing to be a means OF a thing, it must have within itself some quality that makes it a help in accomplishing that thing.

A man cannot cut down a tree with a sheet of paper, because the paper has no cutting quality. He can cut down a tree with an axe, because the axe has a cutting quality. The axe would be, therefore, a means of cutting down the tree. God, on the other hand, could cut down the tree with a sheet of paper. Would the paper be a means in God’s hand OF cutting down the tree? Assuredly not. How could it be, when the paper has no cutting quality?

When God spoke to the dead Tabitha, through the words of Peter, and gave her life, were the words of Peter a means OF giving her life? No, because Peter had no life-giving power. God’s power was the means, and the only means.

Man’s lack of power is shown in the fact that he cannot accomplish a work through a thing, unless that thing has some quality that makes it a help in accomplishing the work.

God’s infinite power is shown in the fact that He can work through that which has no quality about it that makes it a help to Him in accomplishing the work.

This power is shown in the bringing of Isaac into the world. Abraham and Sarah were not means in this work, although God worked through them. They could not help God, but God could take a man who was dead in a sexual sense, and a woman who was in the same condition, and produce Isaac, the child of promise. They did not do it. God did it.

This power was shown on the day of Pentecost. Peter, the most cowardly of all the apostles, preached to a mob of murderers. He certainly was not a means OF pricking them in the heart. He could no more do this, than he could give life to the dead Tabitha. God pricked them in the heart, through the words of Peter, and yet Peter’s sermon was not a means OF doing this. The words of a man have no such power, but God can speak through the words of a man, and the pricking takes place.

This power is shown in the case of the Philippian jailer. Paul said to him, ‘Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.’ Was there any life giving power in Paul? Certainly not. Was Paul a means OF regenerating the jailer? He certainly was not. God spoke to him as Paul did, and he came in trembling, a poor mourning sinner, asking, ‘What must I do to be saved?’

Many such things are related in the Life and Labors of Wilson Thompson, and yet Elder Thompson took the same position that we have here taken, namely, that the gospel is not a means OF regeneration. And he made the same argument that we have made, which is, that in order for a thing to be a means OF accomplishing a thing, it must have some quality about it that makes it a help in accomplishing that thing. The emphasis is his. I have given it just as it appeared in his paper. We can but wonder why he gave such emphasis to the little preposition “of.” He didn’t simply put it in italics but in capital letters.

He said God guided the hand of the man who wrote it, and caused it to be written so that he could fully endorse it. Did he mean by that and the emphasis he placed on “of”, that if the preposition in had been used instead of the preposition of he could not have endorsed it? His comment on this Resolution is very deceptive. Let the reader compare it with the quotations and teaching given above as taken from his paper.

Every reasonable minded person must say that Elder Screws has misrepresented the Resolution and the brethren who so heartily adopted it. His position here is that God regenerates THROUGH the preacher and the preached word BUT that they are not used as a MEANS. In a recent issue of his paper he says:

“It (the Vidalia Resolution) also declares against saying that the gospel is a means of regeneration. The gospel is not a means of regeneration. Anything to be a means to an end, must have about it some quality that makes it a help in accomplishing the end. The gospel does not help God save sinners--and I have contended all along that it does not. The only means of regeneration is the power of God-and that power is so great, till God regenerates sinners when, where and how, He pleases.”

His statement here is calculated to deceive and to throw a burden upon those who have so seriously objected to his teaching. His definition of “means” does not reach the point at issue. A means is an instrument by which, or a medium or channel through which anything is accomplished. While Elder Screws HAS repeatedly and boldly taught that God uses the preached word as a MEANS, as his writings will prove, yet, if he had not, his explanation would not remove in the least the cause for alarm, for he DOES contend that God regenerates THROUGH the ministry and the preached word, and that is the means doctrine.

Means Baptists do NOT contend that the minister and the gospel HELP regenerate sinners. They contend that God regenerates by his own POWER, but that HE regenerates by his power through the medium or agency of THE PREACHED WORD. He says, “the only means of regeneration is the power of God”; but he insists, and so interprets a long line of scriptures, that this POWER reaches and regenerates the sinner “ordinarily” through the preached word.

It appears to us that by his attempt to define the word means he seeks to  make it appear to many that he is in harmony with the Cordele Statement and the Vidalia Resolution when it is very clear, and he must know that his teaching is in direct conflict with both.

After spending all this time to show what Gill believed, and so emphatically declaring that one MUST agree with Gill in order to be a Primitive Baptist, Brother Screws now says that GILL WAS WRONG when he said God used Paul and the gospel as means and instrumentalities in regeneration.

And after trying to show that Watson and Thompson and Rowe held the same doctrine; that the old associations believed the same; that the London Confession so taught; that Elders Whatley and Sutton so believe and teach; and that HE (Screws) is in perfect agreement with all of them, and therefore a Primitive Baptist, he now says that ALL these were WRONG in holding the position he has labored so hard to prove they held! He NOW discards and disqualifies ALL his witnesses by declaring they were in error when they insisted that the ministry and the preached word were used by God as a means and instrumentality in the work of regeneration!

He said one had to be in line with Gill in order to be a Primitive Baptist; that he was identical with Gill, therefore he was a Primitive Baptist. NOW he says he is NOT in line with Gill. Therefore, from his argument, we must conclude that he no longer considers himself a Primitive Baptist.

Let it be noticed, however, that Brother Screws doesn’t renounce his position in reference to the regeneration of sinners THROUGH the preached word; he simply makes a play on the word “means.” Note his expression: “The only means of regeneration is the power of God--and that power is so great, till God regenerates sinners when, where and HOW he pleases.” And Brothers Screws and Sikes are trying to educate our people to believe that the HOW is “ordinarily through the preached word.” Elder Screws is teaching the SAME identical doctrine, but he seems to have determined (for reasons he probably could explain) to leave off the word “means.”

Webster’s International is our standard dictionary. In this work we are given the following definitions:

Means-- That through which, or by the help of which, an end is attained; an instrumentality at command for effecting any purpose; medium; instrument.

As medium and instrument are given as synonyms of means we give the definition of these terms:

Medium-- That which lies in the middle, or between other things; that through or by which anything is accomplished, conveyed, or carried on.

Instrument-- That by means of which any work is performed, or result is effected; a tool; a utensil; an implement; one who, or that which, is made a means, or is caused to serve a purpose.

These definitions are so clear that they need no explanation. The idea that God regenerates THROUGH, or by, or with, the ministry and the preached word BUT that, in such cases, the ministry and the preached word serve no purpose in the work and are NOT a means or instrumentality is absurd and a reflection upon the wisdom of God. Primitive Baptist doctrines remain Primitive Baptist doctrines, call them by what name you will; Arminianism remains Arminianism though its advocates may clothe it in a new dress and call it by another name; and when men say that God regenerates by, with, and through the preached word and give to Acts 2:37, 1 Cor. 4:15, 1 Pet. 1:23-25, James 1:18, Eph. 2:8 and 5:25-26, 2 Thes. 2:13-14, John 6:37-39 and Acts 26:17-18, such an interpretation as to sustain this contention, Primitive Baptists at once recognize it as the MEANS doctrine, irrespective of what its advocates may call it or how loudly they may proclaim their opposition to the term “means.”

But let us go back to his comment on the Vidalia Resolution. He says God could cut down a tree with a piece of paper and the paper would not be a. means, because it would have no cutting quality about it.

That may be clear to him, but we confess it is not clear to us. How God would cut down a tree WITH a sheet of paper and the paper have no cutting quality about it we cannot understand. In fact, we insist that God himself could not do so. In order for God to cut down the tree with a sheet of paper he would have to GIVE to the paper cutting quality; otherwise God would be cutting down the tree, but not WITH the paper. And the Arminian idea is that God energizes the gospel with the Holy Spirit so that he (God) regenerates THROUGH or WITH the gospel.

His reference to Abraham is misleading. If it was as Brother Screws here explains it, then Isaac was not Abraham’s son, but the Son of God as Jesus was. I don’t think Elder Screws will have that after he carefully considers it. It IS true that Isaac was the child of promise and that without God’s special blessing he would not and could not have been born; but that Abraham and Sarah had nothing to do with his begetting and birth is certainly beyond the mark. The Bible says “Abraham begat Isaac.” God did not beget him--Abraham did. God caused Abraham and Sarah to be fruitful and Isaac was born just like any other child, and Abraham and Sarah were the means through which he was born.

After all his declarations that he does not believe that the gospel is a means OF regeneration he time and again in this explanation asserts the means doctrine by saying that it is THROUGH the preacher and the preached word that God regenerates or quickens the dead. If God quickens or regenerates THROUGH the preacher and the preached word, they are MEANS or INSTRUMENTALITIES’ in that work.

Suppose we attach the hose pipe to the hydrant with the object of watering our flower garden. Now, the hose pipe has no power within itself to get the water to the plants. Nor does it have any “wetting quality.” The water is forced THROUGH the pipe and the water (not the hose pipe) wets the flowers. But the hose pipe is the medium or means through which the water moistened the flowers. And if God has the Holy Spirit to reach sinners THROUGH the preacher and the preached word, they are means in the work. But why quibble over the definition, of the term?

If Dr. Gill was right in his Commentary; if Dr. Watson was right in his Old Baptist Test if Wilson Thompson taught what Elder Screws said he did; if the Kehukee Association believed and taught as Brother Screws has represented; if the London Confession teaches as he insists that it does; if ALL Baptists until the last century or so believed as he has told us they did; if the Pence-Burnam faction were right and we were wrong; if 1 Cor. 4:15, 2 Thes. 2:13-14, James 1:18, Acts 26:15-18, 1 Peter 1:23-25, John 17 :20, Acts 2:37, 2 Cor. 3:3 and Eph. 5:25-26 all refer to regeneration or the new birth and the gospel as that THROUGH which it was done, we may emphasize the preposition OF, talk about Isaac, and discourse on the cutting qualities of paper all we please, it still will remain true that our people have been woefully ignorant and deluded and deserve the pity and censure of the world; and we owe the Pence-Burnam faction and our Missionary brethren an apology; and we ought to take down all fences and mix and mingle and feed in the same pasture.

And it will do no good to loudly proclaim our soundness on certain doctrines of our faith until this doctrine is renounced and the interpretation of all these scriptures is in harmony with our recognized faith. Affirmations amount to little while on the opposite page there is a flat denial.

Elder Sikes published a pamphlet in November 1920, which our brethren well remember; many of you have our review of it. In that pamphlet he denied the recognized faith of our people on most every fundamental. He made election meaningless to Primitive Baptists, and remodeled the doctrine of the atonement along the line of Fuller. Elder Screws endorsed that pamphlet. “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” as explained by them mean nothing from a Primitive Baptist standpoint. Elder Screws states that this pamphlet of Sikes’ converted him from the faith of his early ministry which was so acceptable to our people. And we know, from our own personal knowledge, that they have thus converted others since. The question is, Shall these seed they have sown be rooted up, or shall we all remain quiet and allow them to mature and scatter until the entire field has been infested?

We here give a quotation from that pamphlet: ‘‘If the atonement of Christ is the only medium through which God can save sinners, and if the atonement has been definitely fixed on certain individuals from the beginning of time, and all others are as definitely excluded from its virtue, then there is certainly no place whatever left for prayer. * * I thank God I have been enabled to interpret the scriptures without accepting this view of the atonement. * * * The theory that the atonement has already bit you or missed you, so that you are eternally saved if it hit, or everlastingly doomed if it missed you does not appeal to me. Note that the word giveth (in John 6:39-40) is not in the past tense. There is a sense in which God, the Father, is giving day by day, convicted sinners to Christ to be healed. * * * All believers were given to Christ in the covenant of grace. * * * But who is given? Not a black-eyed boy or blue-eyed girl, * * * but the person who is given is here explained as the one who seeth the Son and believeth on him.”

The reader will see by this that Elder Screws got his interpretation of John 6:39-40 from Elder Sikes. And you can easily see what sort of “particular” election and “special” atonement they believe in. The covenant of grace and the atonement, according to them, includes only BELIEVERS. No certain person was chosen--just all who would afterwards believe. And since the atonement was for no CERTAIN persons, but for those who would believe, the atonement must have been as Fuller said, “sufficient for all,” but “efficient only for believers.”

They say they believe in election as firmly as any man, and that ALL the elect will be saved in spite of all the powers that may oppose. That sounds good. And they say they believe that everyone for whom Christ died will be saved. That sounds good. BUT they then explain that the elect, and those for whom Christ died, are BELIEVERS.

Turn back and read Elder Screws’ interpretation of this text and you will see that he states that ALL the elect who were to be given to Christ, as above explained, were those who should believe on Christ through the word preached. True, they try to explain that this belief is as much the gift of God as eternal life; but we know that the Bible teaches that men believe through the gospel (Romans 10); and they time and again cite us to this scripture to show how faith comes; and if this be true, deny as they may, salvation is confined to the scope of the gospel.

Let us note another quotation from Elder Sikes’ pamphlet: “Let us never say that a person was a living child before faith was given, or before he repented, or before he loved God and his cause.” This places faith, repentance and love BEFORE regeneration or eternal life.

There can be no compromise on this point. They are either before regeneration, or they come AFTER regeneration as evidences of life and as fruits of the Spirit. The latter is the position of Primitive Baptists, and if that position be true, then, men are “living” children of God BEFORE faith, repentance and love.

One more quotation: “These and many other scriptures show that these unbelieving Jews, who were broken off for their unbelief, were denied eternal salvation, for their failure to be faithful and responsive to their opportunities with which God had blessed them in Adam and in Abraham and in Moses. Now, to sum up these scripture investigations, we will first ask: if it does not appear from this testimony that God hath respect to the obedience and faithfulness of his creatures who serve him in the natural and legal relations, and that this respect, or kind consideration, sometimes moves him to bestow a gift of mercy upon them, EVEN ETERNAL LIFE.”

According to this last quotation, the number of the elect and the number for whom Christ’s blood is an atonement, depends on the faithfulness of God’s creatures who serve him in the natural and legal relations. Therefore, the number of the elect and the number embraced in the atonement is uncertain. And, according to this quotation, eternal salvation, in some cases at least, is conditional.

It was Elder Sikes’ pamphlet that laid the foundation for this means doctrine. We were cautioned then to be quiet. Had our people at that time expressed themselves in no uncertain way and let it be known that they did not intend to tolerate such teaching, we would not have had the crop we have upon our hands today.

We do not want to make a brother an offender for a word. We do not want to be so extreme as to demand the same interpretation or application of every text of scripture. But when brethren so publicly, so boldly, so emphatically, and so continually TEACH among us such error as we have here pointed out surely you must agree that there is cause for offence and for alarm, and that there is urgent need for our ministers to throw themselves into the breach and boldly teach and fearlessly defend the faith so dear to the hearts of our people.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 December 2008 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.