John Foreman's Believer's Baptism And Communion Considered

Chapter 6—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Vain Argumentation

Mr. Bridgman: “The preacher made long and tedious quotations concerning the building of Noah’s ark, the tabernacle, and the temple, and to prove what? that which every godly Pseudo-Baptist acknowledges equally with himself—that God’s commands, when plainly given, are to be by his servants implicitly obeyed—no Christian denies this.”

My Reply:

1. Quotations certainly were made from Gen. 6. Ex. 25. the 40. and 1 Chron. 28. concerning the building of the ark, the tabernacle and the temple, and my design was to shew that the Old Testament saints were not left to contrive nor devise anything in the service and fear of God, either in matter or shape, but that the Lord himself patterned out all that whereby he would be feared, and that they were commanded to do what was acceptable, and that they did as they were commanded, and that less would have been offensive, and more would not have been acceptable to God. And the conclusion deduced from this was, that so it is now; we are not to cut and contrive anything of ourselves as a standing public ordinance in the worship of God, but that the word of God is our entire rule and authority to be immediately regarded, and that all things are to be excluded as not of God but of Satan, that are void of sacred text.

2. That it is the duty of every believing child of mercy in the divine family to observe and walk in all the household laws and ordinances of their Father, God, and King; but that this is not done by many who know and admit what the word of the Lord saith on believers’ baptism. And some out of many of my reasons for this remark I will here set down. And, first, Mr. H. Fowler, in a sermon which he published, admits that believers’ baptism was an ordinance from heaven, and that the first believers were baptized, but that it is now optional with ministers to baptize or not, as they think proper. Where any man can find authority thus to speak in the name and in the solemn presence of God I must leave, but which side of this option is of course taken needs no observation, because there are so many respectable professors that do not like the name of believers’ baptism, although they are as ignorant as an ox as to any scriptural reasons why. Second. I have met with many in the course of my public life whom I believe to be the subjects of the grace of effectual calling, who have freely said that they saw believers’ baptism clearly commanded in the Scriptures; and yet they have not attended to it, saying, “That they could not see it revealed to them for themselves.” And when they have been told that, “What is commanded on believers in the Lord in general, and is so practically carried out in the New Testament, devolves as a family duty on every believer, personally as a believer, without anything in the shape of a special revelation on that point any more than particularly so on all and every other point of truth;” their answer has been, “But I do not feel myself worthy to walk in that ordinance,” although, at the same time, they could in all these cases see the Lord’s Supper for themselves without any particular revelation to them on the subject; and could, also, at the same time go to the table of communion, worthy or unworthy. So that I have not found, nor can I find, implicit obedience to the admitted plain commands of the Lord, quite so fruitfully exemplified as my brother Bridgman has undertaken to vindicate.

3. God’s commands plainly given, and a plain obediently observant sight of them are two very different things, because circumstances have so greatly to do with the latter; such as who, and who do not see them this way or that, and are they the most respectable that see them so, and have any of the rulers so believed? Fine clothes, money and multitude, has very often great influence over the minds even of many of God’s own called children; and a golden calf is of God with many, if an Aaron do but make it. This would not be the case if Scripture text was the only sought and regarded rule by which all professors received doctrines and ordinances for belief and action in the things of godliness. And if the Word of God was thus regarded, the point that has seven times as much said upon it as another, would not be the least of the two regarded, as is now the case with believers’ baptism, in comparison to communion; and that which has not a word nor act recorded for it in the Scriptures, as is the case with infant sprinkling, would not be received at all, as being anything of God whatever. I have always found hitherto, when a person could be persuaded impartially, closely, and prayerfully, to read through the New Testament, that they have been disappointed in not being able, as they expected, to find one text for infant sprinkling, instead of many; and that they have found believers’ baptism as undeniable as the plain text is to be regarded. And for this cause I do always in public, and in private, when persons come to ask me questions on the subject, recommend a close reading of the New Testament for a just conclusion of mind on the sentiment and of conduct therein. And of the many that I have had the honor to baptize, I have never baptized one who has not been satisfied for themselves on the point by the text of the New Testament, and who has stated the same before many witnesses.

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