23 Did Paul Take Opportunities To Preach Duty Faith?
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ,’ Acts 24:24. This was a most favorable opportunity for duty faith and universal invitations to have been advanced and enforced; and such an opportunity too, as could not have justly or innocently been suffered to pass by un- embraced and unimproved, had any such doctrines, sentiments, principles, thoughts or ideas been contained and known in the apostle’s great commission `to bear the Lord’s name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel,’ Acts 9:15. But is there anything of the kind to be found here in Paul’s address? No, not one word, for at verse 25, chap 24 it is said, `And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.’ Here was no duty faith nor universal invitations in this, but a fair and honest statement of facts, supported by sound and solemn reasoning. This was a mode of address to a Gentile sinner that needed no reconciling with the counsels of God and other truths of the faith of Christ.
And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds,’ Acts 26:29. Here was a good opportunity, and one in which we might reasonably expect to find something of duty faith and universal invitations principles, in some one form of countenance or another, if any such thing had been in either Paul’s creed or commission. For ‘Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,’ verse 28. And why did not Paul snatch up this opportunity that was so widely opened before him, and at once tell Agrippa and all that heard him that day, that it was their duty to believe unto salvation, and to be altogether as he was in the faith of Christ: and accordingly exhort and invite, and enforce upon them to be so without delay? He did not do so, and his not doing so could not be from fear, for he spoke freely before the king, verse 26; nor could it be from a want of zeal for the cause of God, for he counted not his life dear compared to that, Acts 20:22-24; nor for want of love to souls, because he wished all that heard him that day to be altogether as he was in the faith and hope of the gospel, if the Lord’s will. But he did not appeal to Agrippa and the rest, or any of them, on duty faith principles, saying that it was their duty, and that they ought to be so; but made his appeal to God, if it were his will, to make them so; as that it was in God’s power only to make them so, and that the divine will, and not man’s, must determine whether it should be or not; and that with all his best wishes, Paul had no authority to speak otherwise of the matter. Here the apostle said not a word that was not in harmony with the counsels of God, and all the truths of the free grace gospel and sovereign salvation of God. And why did he not? but first, because he had no such thing in his commission from the Lord; second, because he knew of no such thing in his own faith; and, third, because he knew of no such thing as duty faith and universal invitations in his own personal coming into the faith of Christ and hope of eternal life: nor as any way relating to his own free grace salvation, which he so fully maintained to be by the power of God, according to eternal purpose.
In the two epistles to Timothy, and in the one to Titus, in which Paul the apostle gives them respectively his most solemn, faithful and affectionate charge, in the name of the Lord, on the truths, and on the order and manner of life they should be careful to maintain in their ministry and example to the end of their days, not a verse, line or word, can be found which can, even in sound, be decently made to imply the least shadow of a charge, hint or intimation to enforce, preach or name faith unto salvation as the natural man’s duty; nor anything of universal invitations, or invitations of the dead in sin to believe and come into the love, peace and blessings of God’s salvation.
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. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“John Foreman (1792-1872) was for upwards of 40 years pastor of the Church at Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone—a tall, stalwart, rugged man, with an iron constitution and of tremendous energy. When an agricultural labourer in the county of Suffolk he was called by grace; his first pastorate was at Cambridge, whence in 1827 he came to London. Although not a learned man, in the usual sense of that expression, he possessed varied general information, which he obtained by considerable reading, by intercourse with men, and by long and close observation. As a preacher he was distinguished by great plainness of speech and vigour of address; his sermons were often very instructive and impressive, and many of his thoughts grand and lofty. There was, however, considerable inequality in their value. His voice was strong and clear and, when he was warm in his subject, was exerted with great animation and rapidity of utterance. He was emphatic in declaring salvation to be entirely by grace and not in any sense or degree by works. Hence he had a great antipathy to what is termed the duty-faith scheme, which in his view, as it makes salvation depend on the exercise of faith as a moral duty, entirely enervates and destroys the character of the Gospel dispensation; changing a system of free favour and special distinguishing grace into one of condemnation and legal bondage. At the same time he was careful to maintain the necessity of good works, as the fruit of a gracious change of heart. His "Remarks on Duty-faith," with a preface by James Wells, is a valuable production worthy of a reprint. It gives a fairly complete idea of his views of truth, and affords a sample of his style in writing and preaching. As an able minister of the New Testament, he distinguished carefully between the several covenants therein set forth, and faithfully described the various characters therein indicated. Careful and prayerful attention to the nature of these covenants, as set forth in various parts of the Old Testament especially, will clear away clouds of difficulties which often trouble young believers. He was tender and sympathetic in his addresses to the weak and tried, and careful and considerate to the lambs and nurslings of the flock. He was a remarkable proof of what the Divine Spirit can effect by the instrumentality of a plain, unlettered man, so far as the learning of the schools is concerned. Possessed of the smallest possible advantages of early education he had to make his way by dint of perseverance and self-culture. Part of a report published by bis Sunday School during his pastorate has present-day lessons.
"At the commencement of our school it was supposed by some of our friends that it was impossible to carry on the Sabbath-school on free grace principles. The experiment, however, was tried, and our prayers have been answered —we have not to pronounce it a failure. Free-will and duty-faith have never formed a part of the creed of any of the teachers to our knowledge. We have always contended that life must precede action, and, consequently, have never been able to invite the dead to perform acts that belong alone to the living. The first chapter that was read in the school, in the hearing of the children, was John 3, in which is set forth the necessity of the new birth, and that alone by the invincible and omnipotent power of the Holy Ghost. Here we took our stand and from this point we have never swerved. The grand and glorious doctrines of free and distinguishing grace, as preached by our pastor, have ever been maintained as the truth within the walls of our school; and, although warm advocates for the use of means, we have never believed, much less taught, that there is any power or efficacy in them, but that they are only useful as made so by the Holy Ghost. The providing of suitable class books has been a matter of no small concern. A catechism was chosen, and others added after, besides reading and spelling books; but as years rolled on, one after another was given up, until we are left with the Bible only. This is our one class book for all who can put their words together.”