John Foreman on Duty Faith (Complete)

18 Are The Self-Conflicting Doctrines Of The Duty Faith System To Be Held In Tension?

The fact that universal invitations cannot be made to agree with any doctrine of particular grace and ensured salvation, is forced to be admitted by some of those duty-faith ministers who profess to hold election, particular redemption, free Justification, and such like doctrines of grace. But they endeavour to excuse themselves in their evident self inconsistency, by saying, that ‘truth is no system, and that it is impossible for any man to reconcile the mode of address to sinners, authorized by the word of God, with the counsels of God.’ See James Smith’s Warrant, &c. However this may appear to others, to me it appears one of the most awful conclusions that any man can come to, in the name of the great Fountain of all wisdom and order for the support of a point. Surely our God is not chargeable with this strife, this war, this opposition, this contradiction, this say and unsay with himself in his word; for he is not the author of such confusion, 1 Cor. 14: 33. What! When there is not a term used among men significant of system, but what the Holy Ghost has summoned as a figure whereby to express the systematical economy and settled order of the grace of God to men, as that of the Vine and its branches, and God the Father its husbandman; the Shepherd and his flock, the Husband and his bride, the Father and his family, the Head and its body, the covenant and the Mediator, the Testament, or will, and the Surety, &c.; and yet the truth of it, truth by which it is published, and by which only it is made known to the sons of men in the power of the Holy Ghost, is no system! There cannot be a more pointed self-contradiction. If truth be no system, then God can have no determined method, boundary, harmony of parts, or end in his truth, but all must lie in the hazardous posture of an uncertain adventure. What an awful reproach upon the wisdom of God, and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Beside, it is a bold falsehood, for that divine truth is a system, and there is nothing in divine revelation that is out of system; whether speaking to and of man in general, and things as they belong to man in general, or whether speaking to and of the Jews, and of the things that belonged to the Jews, and as they belonged to them peculiarly in regard to the covenant in which they were related to God, Rom 9:4,5; or whether speaking on matters at all relating to eternal salvation, or of persons interested therein, or evidently connected therewith.

In a witness, self-irreconcilable inconsistency invalidates and destroys all his evidence. Now, ministers are professed witnesses for God, as his own ministers of truth really are; but behold a duty-faith preacher in his witness box, the pulpit, preaching what neither himself nor any man upon the earth can reconcile with itself, as to one part with another! Is such an one a very pious witness in the name of the most High God? Is such an one likely to convince man of their errors and inconsistencies, and to stop the mouth of gainsayers? Is such preaching likely to convert deepread, thinking, scrutinizing infidels? Does it not commend the wisdom of God in the gospel? Is it `sound doctrine?’ Titus 2:1. And `sound speech that cannot be condemned, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed,’ verse 8. Things that cannot be reconciled are opposed to one another, are against each other, and go to destroy and overturn each other. And Mr Smith himself tells us, what we really did think before was the truth, namely, – that universal invitations, which he calls `address to sinners,’ are really so opposed, that no man can reconcile them with the counsels of God. As we therefore cannot be consistent to hold and preach both, we will endeavour, by the help of the Lord, to abide by the whole counsel of God, as Paul did, opposed to universal invitations; and leave Mr. Smith and his companions in duty faith, by their universal invitations, which are admitted to be irreconcilable with the counsels of God. But did not Paul preach the whole counsel of God? Acts 20:27. And what more does he say, that he preached, so as to be clear of the blood of all men? verse 26. And did he not preach to sinners, even where Christ was not named? Rom xv 20. And did he preach what neither himself nor any one else could reconcile, and plead that too, for a justification of his preaching as he did? No, he would be ashamed of it; for amen promises only were his confidence, and amen doctrines only constituted the gospel he preached, saying, `But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay,’ 2 Cor. 1:17,18; `for we are not as many which corrupt the word of God,’ 2:17; `but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully,’ 2 Cor 4:2.

John Foreman (1792-1872) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone, serving this position for close to forty years.