If for believing the sinner should be saved, or for not believing he should be damned, and such faith to be the natural man’s duty, this would indeed be putting salvation into man’s own hands. And if the Lord had thus put salvation into man’s own hands as a charge, together with the endowment of sufficient ability at any time to be able to keep and perform that charge, then man would be justly subject to capital punishment, as a sort of spiritual murderer, if he neglected to exercise his given ability to the salvation of his soul.
But is the case so? Is this in fact the truth? No; for Job was a believing man of God, Job 1:8; but as he was not by experience quite strip, emptied, and brought down to the dust of self-nothingness in the temperature of his mind, but in some few things talked somewhat like a duty faith preacher, the Lord, to bring him quite out of all false conceit, put him as a child of his mercy, under a little further instruction, saying unto him, ‘Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightning, that they may go, and say unto thee, here we are? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency, and array thyself with glory and beauty. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low. Then will I confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee, Job 38: 2,3,34,35;40: 9,10,12,14. This lecture to job fully shews that neither salvation, nor the possession of properties that shall ensure it, are any-part of man’s responsibility before God his creator; and its effects upon job were consequently, stripping and humbling until he cried, ‘Behold, I am vile,’ 40:4; I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes, Job 42: 3, 6.
To me, nothing can appear more plain and self evident, from the above lecture to job, than that the Lord himself intends (1) To say that it is as easy for a man to answer the above great questions in the practical affirmative, as it is for him to save himself, or of himself effectually to do any thing in part thereof. (2) That salvation is no more man’s own work and business to perform, and that he is no more responsible for the performance of any thing in whole or in part thereof, than it is man’s work, business and responsibility to do and to have the affirmative of the above questions, of himself and in his own person. (3) To say that any sentiment or thought in the mind of man, or language on his lips, as that of the performance, or that it is his duty from God to perform any thing as a part of his salvation, is as proud, vain, false and fruitless, as for a man to say that he can, or that it is his duty, practically to produce and sustain an affirmative to the above great questions. (4) That none but he who can practically answer and sustain an affirmative to the above questions, can save a soul in whole or in part, or can with truth say it is his business so to do. (5) That the Lord’s appeal produced a full conviction and humble confession of the truth of this in job. (6) That when any poor, proud, conceited soul is brought to hear and see that of the Lord, and of himself in the light of the majesty and glory of the Lord that job was, he will never after it be able to hold any thing of the duty faith profession. (7) That God will bring all the vessels of his mercy, and heirs of his salvation, as much off duty speculations and expediencies after the flesh, into the true experience of their own entire vileness, and nothingness but guilty helplessness, as he brought job, before he takes them to heaven. (8) With all job’s possessions, fine parts and abilities, he never was so largely and manifestly blest before, as he was after being brought to the fully humbling scene and confession, saying, ‘I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes, Job 42: ,6,12.
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.