John Foreman's Believer's Baptism And Communion Considered

Chapter 3—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Disorderliness

Mr. Bridgman: “But as an ordination is a service similar to the first opening or anniversary of a chapel, I for one, nor I alone by many, consider the preacher quite as much breaking the rule of the Apostle, ‘Let all things be done decently and in order,’ as was Joseph in sprinkling an infant in the presence of John Andrew the dipper.”

My Reply:

I never did know, and you are the first person who ever said within my knowledge, that an ordination is a similar service to that of opening a chapel, or to that of an anniversary: for,

1. At an ordination the church is required to give an account of the leadings of Providence, relative to their chosen minister, and this is not required, nor even looked for to be done at the opening of a chapel, or at an anniversary.

2. At an ordination, one minister is appointed, and by us is generally published, to state the nature of a gospel church, and which statement is generally supposed to include the constitution and order thereof. And this part of the service, to be anything at all of what is intended, must be the most decidedly sentimental, and fully descriptive of our real standing as a denomination of any service performed among us, and herein I only fulfilled my appointment. And this is not necessarily expected, though in part frequently performed at the opening of a chapel, but by no means of an anniversary.

3. At an ordination, the chosen minister is requested and expected to give some account of his call by grace, his call to the ministry, and his call to preach in the place then under consideration, and also to state the sentiments he holds, and publicly undertakes in the presence of the then assembled witnesses, by the help of God, to preach and maintain, in doctrines and ordinances, as according to which the church has chosen him to be their pastor. But there can be no place for such a service at an opening or an anniversary, only at the opening of a chapel, the sentiments are frequently stated that are to be maintained in the worship of God in the place, and this I have heard as much of at the opening of an Independent chapel as I have heard at the opening of one by the Baptists, and that without considering it out of order, time, and place. But I feel persuaded that many of the professing public will laugh at your statement that the services of opening a chapel, an anniversary, and an ordination, are so similar, as that what would be out of place at the one, cannot be in good order at the other; and this I say from much practical acquaintance with such services for several years. We always consider it honorable and orderly,’ as the occasion may be, for a man to speak openly, plainly and honestly, the sentiments which he holds in his soul to be the truth before God; but we do not consider it to be in good time, place, nor order, to baptize at an ordination, the opening of a chapel, or at an anniversary, unless public notice be given that arrangements are made for such a service at such a time. And therefore our esteemed friend Irons carried his infant sprinkling out in a manner, in which we, without public notice, should consider among ourselves, confusion and untimely disorder, and more like vaunting pride over our surprised neighbors, than a sober act of religious worship.

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