John Foreman on Duty Faith (Complete)

13 Duty Faith Speaks In The Terms Of The Mosaic Covenant

Duty faith goes by proposals to put the world of sinners in the same position for heaven and eternal salvation, as Moses addressed the Israelites, saying, ‘I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live,’ Deut 30:19. As though the world had only to make their own choice in believing, and so obtain salvation, or lose it; yea, more, be damned for not believing unto salvation when it was so proposed to them. But these cases are not at all parallel, because Moses did not hereby propose to the heathen world, much less made it their penal obligation to make themselves Israelites of the seed of Abraham and his seed, so as to possess that land in common with them, or to be cut off from the face of the whole earth for not being and doing all this. But Moses was speaking to them as Israelites, who were already Israelites of the seed of Abraham, not by their own doing, but of the Lord’s own will and power, and who were already initiated into all their privileges as the seed of Abraham, and into all the ordinances, statutes, and judgments of the Lord peculiar to the seed of Abraham. And the possession and enjoyment of their privileges in the promised land of Canaan, was their life here intended; and the loss of the enjoyment and possession of their privileges, through disobedience to the Lord’s statutes in the land of promise, was their death here intended. They were not hereby required to put themselves into any new character, as that of from unbelievers to believers, and from sinners dead in sin, to living saints; nor to put themselves upon any new premises; as that from aliens to citizens of the household of God; but honorably to maintain their character as the already distinguished seed of Abraham, by obediently observing the ordinances, statutes, and judgments of the Lord, in which they were now already initiated, and in which they now stood as a people, and which was the way of their figurative, civil and covenant life; while the disobedient neglect thereof was the way of their figurative, civil and covenant death as a people, Ezek 18; Hos 13:I. And as they did depart from the statutes of the Lord, and die in the sense intended, see their correspondent resurrection, at least of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, in Ezek 37. So that this portion of sacred truth cannot, in a gospel light and meaning, with any authority and parallel consistency, be applied to the world that lieth in wickedness; but it belongs to the admonitory and exhortatory branches of truth to the called and believing church of Christ, for their honorable regard of, and obedience of faith to the whole revealed will of God, as their own gracious God, Father and Saviour; and which is the way of life to their comforts, peace, and credit as Christians and professed followers of the Lord. As it is written, ‘in the way of righteousness is life, and in the pathway thereof there is no death,’ Prov 12: 28. ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them is great reward,’ Psalm 19: 9,11. And ,they that observe lying vanities, forsake their own mercy, Jonah 2: 8.

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.”