In August, 1865, I went to Northwest Illinois, Ogle County, to meet m eldest brother's widow, whom I had never seen. He went to Missouri when I was about sixteen. His wife and two children died and he married again. He was killed in the war, and his widow and five children drove six hundred miles to relations in Illinois, where I visited them. Elder Clement West, a younger brother of Elder Hezekiah West, lived in Palo, Ogle County, and had urgently invited me to visit the Northwest Association of Illinois, which was to be held at Howardsville, Stevenson County, Ill. In an interview with Elder West, he had told me that the "Two Seed" doctrine was held by some, although all the ministers did not hold it, and most of them tried to hide it. On that account he would not attend the meeting, but urgently desired that I should do so.
At this association I met Elder J.P. Allison, now for many years a member of the ?? Association, with whom it is still my privilege to correspond. He preached well. I met here Brother Henry, a colored preacher, a man well known through the western country, and a most interesting preacher and a spiritual man. I spoke at a private house on the evening of my arrival. When I concluded, they called for Henry. I had noticed a colored man sitting near me, but had never heard of Henry. He arose and began to speak of Aaron's priestly garments, and of the bells arranged upon them, "And I was watchin' and a-listenin', while you was speakin', my brother, an' if I hadn't heard them bells, I'd a spoke out, Henry would." It was good to hear him speak.
Elder Benjamin Saller, a good preacher, preached the introductory, using as a text Eccl. 9:14,15. I noticed nothing to object to, but I heard that Elder Long complained to him because he did not tell plainly where the great king came from. I gathered that he understood that great king to be the devil, and that his existence and kingdom were eternal. On Sunday morning Elder Allison preached first and I followed. In the afternoon Elder Butler preached, and Elder Long preached last. He told me he had the arrangement made so I would have the best time to speak. So far I had not noticed anything erroneous in the preaching. Elder Long used the words: "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound," Rom. 5:20. Soon he said: "What ground does grace cover? I understand it covers all the ground that sin covers." "I know, my brother," he said, turning to me, "That Elder Beebe and other great preachers at the east, call us heretics because we assert this, but it is true." And then he went on with great vehemence and in an excited way, to assert that all that fell in Adam were saved. They were the only sinners, and grace saved them. That the devil's children were born of Eve and were not Adam's children, and they would go back to the devil's kingdom where they came from. While he was speaking, the moderator came to me with a hymn book and said, "You have a strong voice, and I wish as soon as Elder Long is done that you would read this hymn. The young people who sing have come upon the ground and will sing." I saw he feared I would reply to Elder Long. There was a congregation of near two thousand. As he concluded I arose and told them what the moderator had requested. "But," I said, "I must leave tonight, and cannot be with you tomorrow, and so I will say a few words by way of a farewell. If a father should send out his son into a strange country he would tell him of all the dangers of the way, and describe the enemies he was likely to meet with. This is what our Father has done. This book tells us not only the right way, but also every wrong way; and not only the truth of salvation by grace, but every error. It is the opposition of the carnal mind to the plain, simple doctrine of election. The natural mind is opposed to the truth that the Lord should elect some of the fallen race of Adam to salvation, and leave others to suffer the just desert of their sins, and give no reason except that so it seemed good in his sight. Only by faith could any one know and believe that truth, and only the spirit of Christ could any love it. Some believe that salvation is offered to all men upon conditions to be performed by them. That is because of their opposition to the doctrine of election. Others declare that all men are eventually saved. That is because of the opposition of their minds to the sovereign will of God. Others believe that there is an original difference among men, some being the devil'' children and not the children of Adam. I have no more fellowship for that sermon we have just heard than for the rankest Arminian sermon I ever heard." There was great excitement, but I spoke very rapidly for some time, and the scriptures seemed given to me to expose the error of what we had just heard. While I was speaking, he said, "What will you do with the multiplied conception?" I replied, "I have read the Psalms and Isaiah and the Gospels and the Epistles, and have never seen a word about it. And I am willing to leave it where Paul left it." "That is where we ought to leave it," cried out several from the congregation. "But," I said, "multiplication brings in nothing new or different." I then read the hymn and the congregation was dismissed. One said, "You have broken up our association." "Then it ought to be broken up," I replied. Another said, "You must have a talk with Elder Long." I said, "I have nothing to do with Elder Long, but I expect to be at that house over there two hours, and will be glad to talk with any of you." I did talk with Elder Saller. At first he argued strenuously. He said those who are lost were not children of Adam, and were never under the law. When I asked him why they were called the man of sin, he asserted that we could break a law we were not under, as I was then not under the law of Illinois, yet could break its laws. But he soon gave up and said to me, "I will confess to you that I have never been clear in my mind upon this subject. Now I want to ask you if you have evidence that I am a gospel preacher?" "Most surely I have," I replied. "And now you are older than I, but let me advise you never to try to preach upon a subject until it is clear in your own mind." He was a good man, and his wife, who stood by his side during the argument, was clear upon the subject. The result was that the association dropped the church from which the trouble came, and were afterward able to dwell together in peace and love and unity.
Twice, a number of years after this, I had a contest upon this most dangerous heresy; once in Canada and once in Crawfordsville and its vicinity, Indiana. In Canada the attempt to introduce it under cover was defeated, but a few of the most excellent brothers did not fully understand how great danger they had escaped until more than a year had passed by, and during that time they felt hurt with me. But they fully understood after awhile, and the utmost cordiality and confidence were manifested again toward me. They are gone home to glory now.
In Indiana after preaching several times in churches where that "Parker's Two Seed Doctrine" prevailed, I had a conversation with an elder, esteemed a leader among them, in the presence of thirty brothers and sisters, twenty of whom were with him in belief. This was December 30, 1878. At first he seemed inclined to put the subject off lightly, and with levity. They did not want a division, for many in the association were clear in the truth, and they hoped finally to get the whole association with them. At length I said, "Now, Elder Skeeters, this is not a becoming way for you to talk. I will wait till you are done joking, and then I am going to get answers from you to four questions, or an acknowledgment before these brethren that you do not dare to give them. And when I get your answers I am going to use them." He at once changed his demeanor and said, "Well, ask the questions." First, "Were those who are lost created in Adam when he was created, and did they fall under the same law from which the Lord redeemed his people?" "No," he replied emphatically. Second, "Is this body of flesh and blood change and made spirit in the new birth?" "Yes," he said, "the work is begun." Third, "Did the devil beget upon the person of Eve the bodies of the non-elect?" "Yes," he replied. Fourth, "Did the elect exist in bodies of flesh and bones in eternity before Adam was created?" "No," he replied. "I do not believe that."
Some of the leading ministers did believe it, but he differed with them. "Now," I said, "I regard this as a most terrible heresy, and dangerous to the welfare of a church and community. I have fought it wherever I have met it, and shall continue to do so. And your answers I am going to repeat before I leave the state. The following week I spoke upon the subject in Crawfordsville, and told what Elder Skeeters had said, and advised the church to close their pulpit to that unscriptural doctrine. Dear old Brother Van Cleve, the pastor of the church, and as good a man as ever lived, heartily seconded me. He loved many of those men who were in this error, and it was hard for him to separate from them. But he was firm as a rock. The matter was brought into court, and I saw a newspaper in which one of the preachers said they were in peace till a certain Elder Durand came and made trouble. But the court decided that the Primitive Baptists were Elder Van Cleve and those who were with him in the old Bible doctrine, and that the meeting house belonged to them. I visited them in two years, and found the brethren and churches at peace, and have heard that they have continued so.
Two expressions of Paul are enough to disprove the Two Seed Doctrine. First, we were by nature children of wrath even as others, and second, "hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" Also did one ever say to the Lord, "I was better by nature than those who are not redeemed?"
From the Northwest Association of Illinois I went to the Licking Association held at the Elizabeth Church, near Paris, KY. That was my first meeting with Elder Thomas P. Dudley, J.F. Johnson, Samuel Jones, Theobald and many others whom I have come to know and love and most highly esteem, and whose undisturbed fellowship and love it was my dear privilege to have while they remained here on the shores of mortality.
Elder Silas H. Durand
"Fragments" pgs 27-30