John Foreman on Duty Faith (Complete)

36 General Comment On Universal Sounding Texts

To me it appears the plain truth of God, and mind of the Spirit, that the alls and universal sounds, in texts relating to the redemption work of Christ, are of the very same meaning and intent as those in the texts relating to all flesh seeing the salvation glory of the Lord – of the Spirit’s pouring out upon all flesh – of all nations and tongues being gathered to see the glory of the Lord – of all men being drawn unto Christ – and of the Holy Spirit’s reproving or convincing the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John 16:8. And now to attach individual universality to the first class of these alls, &c must be to hold a perishable redemption, with the wreck of all involved in it, to an extent as far as the whole world is not saved. And to attach individual universality to the second class of these alls, must be at once to give God the lie, and say that his truth does not `endure for ever,’ nor his `word for ever settled in heaven.’ In my opinion, however, it is a decided error to consider that either of these classes of alls are at all intended to express personal numbers, few or many, in the redemption and salvation work of the Lord; but to declare the extension of the redemption and salvation work and goodness of the Lord to all nations every where, as in truth has been, is, and shall be done; and which meaning they sing with so much joy before the throne, as though nothing indeed is lost that God ever meant to save, and as through redemption itself is certain salvation; saying, ‘Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,’ Rev 5. `These were redeemed from among men,’ Rev 14:4. If all men alike individually and universally, were redeemed, it would not be common sense to say, that with the same redemption some were redeemed out of and from amongst the rest.

The personal numbers of the redeemed, as comprehended in the mind and will of God, are set forth in the sacred word as well known, but that is in a different form of expression to the above two classes of ails, as in the following manner, `By the obedience of one, many shall be made righteous,’ Rom 5:19. `The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,’ Matt 20:28. `By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,’ Isaiah 53:11. `I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb,’ Rev 7:9; `Having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his,’ 2 Tim 2:19. And thus, if a proper distinction be made between reference to all nations alike, and that of the personal numbers redeemed out of all nations, much error, confusion, and contradiction is easily avoided; for that while the Lord’s redeemed and saved church is out of all people, tongues, and nations of the whole world, the whole world of all people, tongues, and nations, are not the Lord’s redeemed and saved, for it is out of, and from among, and so not the universal whole, first redeemed and then lost.

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.”

John Foreman on Duty Faith (Complete)
John Foreman's Believer's Baptism And Communion Considered