Brother C. G. Irwin, of Wilmar, Ark., asks the following questions: Where, by whom, and why did the term “Hardshell,” as applied to Old School Baptists, originate!
As to where and by whom it originated we do not know. We know it did not originate from any man who could be called a disciple of the Lord Jesus, nor even from one who could be called a gentleman by any stretch of charity. It evidently arose from some source that was opposed to the truth of salvation by grace alone, which truth necessarily embraces the doctrine of predestination and election, of special atonement and effectual calling, of the preservation of the elect in this life and their assurance of final glory. As to why it was given us, it seems clear that, as Old School or Primitive Baptists were ready to defend the truth of the gospel to the end, and would not make any compromise with what was opposed to this truth, and would neither yield the truth, nor hold in fellowship those who opposed it, they were thought to be selfish and unyielding; and so the term “Hardshell” seemed appropriate to the mind of the originator of the term. Unyieldingness, against which neither fear nor flattery could prevail, is what is intended by the terms “Hardshell,” “Iron Jacket,” and similar names. In this point of view, these terms are an honor rather than a reproach; we have never felt to resent them, or to be restless under them, or to protest against them. Some one, replying to another who had used the term “Hardshell “against him, said, “Well, a hardshell is better than a softshell, and far better than no shell at all.” We have felt much the same way about it. We do not think it right for Old School Baptists to use these terms when speaking about themselves, for they know that our righteous Lord has called the church of God his bride, and that she is to be honored in him and with him; and as, with love and reverence, we speak forth the things that are to his praise and exaltation, so we ought to speak of the church, his bride, in terms of affection and honor. But as men called the Master of the house Beelzebub, let us not find fault if they designate His bride by opprobrious titles. It was said of the blessed Redeemer that he was a friend of publicans and sinners. This was meant as a reproach, but it was his glory then and it is his glory now that he is a friend of publicans and sinners’; in this is the hope and salvation of such sinners. What was meant as a term of reproach against him then, was really a term of the highest honor, and a perfect description of his intent in coming into the world. He has on earth no more glorious title to-day than “Friend of sinners.” They called him a winebibber and a gluttonous man falsely, because he did eat and drink in common with ordinary men, and rejected none of the good gifts of the Father. How common it is to-day for fanatics to call men by similar names because they believe that everything created by God is good, and is to be used but not abused. The Savior knew nothing about prohibition, but he did teach and practice temperance; for this these opprobrious names were hurled against him by religious, self-righteous fanatics. The same class of men say the same things to-day. Why should believers be restless under these names, since thus they are one in their temptations with the Master?
The disciples were first called christians, at Antioch, as a term of reproach, yet we do not read that they murmured because of this, and soon they adopted the name as a term of the highest honor, and as being fully descriptive of what they were glad to be indeed. Wherever the name of Christ was honored this name would be an honor, but where the name of Christ was a term of reproach the name christian would be a reproach. This reproach the early believers gladly bore, and their enemies, in giving this name to the disciples of Christ, acted more wisely than they knew. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, that the name of his Son should remain on earth, even in the name of his people. Christ means the anointed One, and so christian means an anointed one. Truly the same Spirit that anointed the blessed Savior without measure, does anoint all his true disciples; for of his fullness they all have received, and grace for grace. Then let not believers grieve over the name “Hardshell,” rather let us so live among men that it will be seen that we are not hard in our conduct and in our feelings toward man, but rather gentle and loving toward even the unthankful and the froward. But let us remember that we do indeed have a solid foundation, and that there are around us the solid walls of God’s truth, which no weapon shall ever make any impression upon. Let us also remember that the real meaning of the name “Hardshell” is aimed at the doctrine which we love, rather than at ourselves as men. “This is hard doctrine.” is what men mean to say by this term; but so said they of the doctrine of the Master. “This is a hard saying; who can hear it!” If hard sayings make us hardshell, then indeed we are in fellowship with our dear Redeemer. The hard sayings of the Master were meat and drink to the disciples; not one doctrine that he uttered would ever break the teeth of his feeblest child; rather, in the hard doctrine was the milk of the word fitted to nourish an infant of days. That which is hard to the enemies of God is softer than downy pillows to the weary head of a disciple. Brother Irwin, and we all, know that these who are hardshells to the ungodly, the unbelieving and the Pharisee, are the true followers of the meek, lowly and gentle Savior, and are meek, lowly and gentle themselves.
In replying to our brother we felt like adding the above reflections, and hope that they will not be considered out of place. C.
Editorial – Elder Chick
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 17.
SEPTEMBER 1, 1908.