John Foreman's Believer's Baptism And Communion Considered

Chapter 4—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Inappropriateness

Mr. Bridgman: “I should say to the preacher concerned in this censure, my brother, let us do to others as we would they in like circumstances should do to us. And as a Baptist (so called) would not have patience to hear a Pseudo-Baptist rant on a general occasion about infant sprinkling; so neither vice versa.”

My Reply:

What have I done, but honestly spoken out principle at a proper place, occasion, and time? It was a Baptist ordination, and I was published to state sentiments according to my well known public profession and personal belief, and I did so, and will leave the public to judge if I should not have departed from the laws of honesty on such an occasion if I had not done so. I spoke pointedly on believers’ baptism, because it was a particular occasion for such statements to be made; but you call it a general occasion. But if an ordination be a general occasion, pray what in all our lives is a public particular one? And if we may not speak out our sentiments at an ordination, when may we speak them? Say, not at all, because while they are opposed they cannot be refuted; nor oppose infant sprinkling, because though so lovely, it cannot by one text in the Scriptures be supported; nor can the unbaptized of God’s flock be directed to search them to find it there before they embrace it, without great danger and liability of their being to the very contrary convinced of believers’ baptism in doing so. Ah! that is it, and I shall believe that I have now hit the nail on the head, until the contrary be proved.

If we go to an Anti-Baptist ordination we expect to hear them speak out plainly all their leading sentiments, and especially those which more particularly distinguish them as a denomination, because it is a most particular occasion for doing so, and if they do not so speak out, we conclude they do not act honestly to the occasion. And when you go to a Baptist ordination, do not be offended if they speak out plain, but reckon them not to act honestly, but with some subtle design, if they do not so speak; for truth demands to be frankly told, and fears nothing but silence, secrecy, and cowardice, in its professed advocates. And when a preacher comes forth with excellency of speech and enticing words of man’s wisdom, 1 Cor. 2:l, 4, and is not plain and open in sentiment, it is to be feared that he is seeking the praise of man more than the praise of God, or that he aims to please the multitude more than to feed the flock of God, or that he suspects the truth of his own sentiments, or that he does not sufficiently understand his own sentiments to make them plain to others, or that the subject in hand is not of that vital importance to himself to induce him to wish other people to understand it as well as himself, or that he has some other motive than that of promoting the knowledge of the truth in that simplicity in which the truth is in Jesus, 2 Cor. 1:12. Eph. 4:21. The sun is not ashamed to shine, and an honest man is not ashamed to walk in the light thereof, but a thief covets darkness, and a hypocrite a mask.

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