Perhaps it will be said that duty faith, as held by those who embrace it, is but one among many glorious points of Bible truth and doctrine which they hold, and, therefore, not of sufficient importance to divide about. But I must say, from thirty years’ observation, that whatever other doctrines are held in connection with It, I have always seen that duty faith is leaven that leavens the whole lump. And that as a disease is contrary to the health, and alters the natural figure and countenance of a person, until he looks not at all like the man of his name; even so is duty faith contrary to the very spirit, healthy fulness, richness, freeness, harmony, and beauty of every truth by which salvation by grace only is revealed and declared, until the whole countenance of gospel truth is altered thereby, and made of doubtful appearance as to which takes the greatest share, man’s duty or the grace of God in the salvation of a sinner.
To my apprehension, duty faith is no part of the moral law or covenant, equitably instituted on the day of creation, between God the creator and man the creature. It is no part of, nor any way belongs to the covenant of grace with Christ for the chosen seed, or to the law of the Spirit of life in him, Heb 13:20; Rom 8:2. And so it is neither a doctrine of the law nor of the gospel, but a muddling denial of the true spirit of both, agreeing with neither. Because it is opposed to the spirit of the doctrine of God’s for knowledge and purpose of election before time, it is opposed to the proper surety-ship of Christ, to his real and proper redemption, to the plainly stated fact that the saved by grace are the bought with a price, and to the settled imputation of the Saviour’s righteousness as the only way of a sinner’s justification of life. It is opposed to the Holy Spirit’s divine agency in the economy of triune grace, as being the only quickening power by which the sinner first comes into the life of godliness, the natural man is made a spiritual man to understand and receive the things of the Spirit, and the carnal man has his enmity smitten to the ground, and he reconciled to God by the peace- making, peace-speaking, and pardoning-love-declaring blood of Christ. It is opposed to the truth of the real state of the sinner in his nature state, as that of bring really dead in sin till actually quickened by the power of the Holy Ghost; for death under the law, and duty to have the very life of God’s favour, can never be made to agree; and, indeed, duty faith appears to put every thing out of order and agreement, in relation to the salvation of lost sinners, and the display of divine favour.
And so we may observe, that between parties in a matter of duty, the oblige acts first, as must be the case in duty faith, for duty faith to mean any thing at all; but in a matter of favor, the benefactor acts first, as is the stated fact in the sacred word in every named case and character of personal faith unto salvation.
Man should be the author and finisher of his own faith, if faith unto salvation be the natural man’s duty; but Christ alone is the only author and finisher of faith, and of all the saving faith known in the word of God.
For faith unto salvation to be the duty of the natural man, it must be by man produced from human nature; but the only true and precious faith unto salvation known in the word of God, is obtained through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 1:1.
For faith unto salvation to be the natural man’s duty it must be man’s duty to believe unto salvation previous to the new birth; but the word of God puts believing unto salvation after the new birth, as a spiritual consequent of it, saying, ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, John 1:12,13.
The word of God makes previous secret relation and interest in grace to be the cause of personally believing unto salvation, John 10:26; but duty faith avows a denial of this, and makes believing to be the cause of relation and interest unto salvation.
God himself was the author of all the difference in which Israel stood from other nations, and did himself put a difference between Israel and Egypt, Ex 11: 7; but duty faith goes to say that it was the duty of all nations to be exactly what the Lord by choice and favor made Israel to be, and that it was the Egyptian’s duty not to allow, but at once to destroy the difference which God himself had put between them and Israel.
God called Abraham out alone, and blessed him, Isaiah 51:2; but duty faith goes to say, that it was the duty of all the rest of themselves to have come and been as blest.
Duty faith, to be properly named, should be called the faith of all men; but the only faith unto salvation known in the word of God is the faith of God’s elect; according to which faith Paul was made an apostle, Tit.1:1.
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.