John Foreman's Believer's Baptism And Communion Considered (Complete)

Chapter 18—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Denominationalism

Mr. Bridgman: “Yours is a Baptist rule, not an apostolical —not Christian—not Christ’s rule. It is the rule of a party, and therefore schismatical, because it rends the beautiful garment of Christian love.” 

My Reply:

1. “Yours is a Baptist rule.” 

This we are quite ready to admit, and are by no means ashamed of it, nor disposed to conceal it, or deny it; for we have a good conscience in it as such, on the authority of the word of God, as we can find no authority therein for any gospel rule to the contrary. For our great Christ was a Baptist, being baptized in the cold water of the river of Jordan; and he was a Baptist minister, for he made, and by his authority in his presence, his disciples baptized more disciples than John, in the same mode that John baptized him; and he is a Baptist Savior, as he was baptized in sorrow, woes, and death, for all that he saves from wrath to come: and he is a Baptist King, as he connected the institution of believers’ baptism with the great laws of life—saying, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel; he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved—teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” And ours is a Baptist salvation, as we are saved by Christ’s baptism, and the ordinance of baptism is a figure of it, and hope in it was in scripture times, publicly professed by baptism. And the very first institution of the table communion was in the strict order of a “party” of Baptists only, as the disciples were of one heart in hope, faith, and sentiments; and of one mind on the way of God in his church; and this order at the institution of the table, is divine law to the church in all ages, as the institution itself is: hypocrites, like Judas, being lawless in the case. And the apostles being baptized (Acts i. 22) were all Baptist ministers, who baptized no person but on their personal profession of faith, and after that only received them into the church, as of the Lord’s adding. Acts ii. And all the churches of Christ in the New Testament are baptized churches, who never knew any communion but of persons baptized on their own personal profession of faith, and no account can be found in the book of God of any one soul otherwise in communion. And as a baptizer is a Baptist, and the all overflowing, all heart and life affecting work of the Holy Spirit is compared to baptism, so He is the divine Baptist thereby, as also by his holy approbation of presence at Jordan, and by many undeniable evidences of power exercised, and of saving favor imparted, by quickening and other operations mercifully wrought on baptizing occasions, on many persons, and even through my unworthy- to-be-named instrumentality too, as well as others, whom I could bring before you if required, who must bless and give thanks to the gracious name of God, for his blessing of life, love, and mercy, on their souls, through the means of that ordinance, of which you and others can speak so reproachfully. And the New Testament scriptures are Baptist scriptures, as they speak so largely of and for the baptism of believers, as that which gave distinct character to the professed penitents, believers, and followers of Christ; and they cannot be forced to say one word against it, or for anything contrary, although in violence for their silence, they be scourged at Walworth, and crucified at Camberwell. And as they are the scriptures of the eternal Triune God of our salvation, as the divine Lawgiver, and object to be confessed, adored and reverenced in the institution, He is divine Baptist Author of “Baptist rule.” 

You may say what you will, but you must come over to our denomination to be saved by the great Baptist One, who was baptized in the “cold water” of the river of Jordan; although it may hurt your feelings as much as it did Naaman’s, that his own rivers could not cleanse him, as well as the Israel waters of God’s appointment. It is no use whatever of your jostling, shuffling, and shriveling about so awkwardly, poor creature, for there is no way whatever by which you can possibly get to heaven, but in the arms, the bosom, the grace, mercy, and peace—and by the life, love, and baptismal blood and death of the triumphantly risen, and all-glorious Prophet, Priest, Advocate, and King Baptist—who sits upon his throne, and looks like one that has been slain, with his vesture dipped (baptized) in blood. 

And you have got all this to contradict and overturn with the sacred text in your hand, and by that authority only, before your intended reproach will to any effect fasten upon us ; and also to give the heavy taxation of your next words any shadow whatever of bible truth. 

2. “Not apostolical—not Christian—not Christ’s rule.” 

All this throws light upon nothing, but the prejudice of your own mind; for otherwise it is a darkening of counsel by words without knowledge. Is anything truly apostolical rule, that is not Christian rule? and is anything Christian rule, in communion, or in anything else in religion, that is not Christ’s rule? Can the apostles of Christ differ from Christ, and therein be acting apostolical? and can the Christian deviate from Christ, and be therein acting the Christian? If not, then nothing is either Christian or apostolical rule, that is not Christ’s rule. 

These questions sometimes arise in my mind, when I hear people talk so winningly, so lovely, and so unwittingly of a course of things in the professing church, for which there is not the authority of one word from the mouth of Christ, I do hereby ask you, in the name of the Judge of all the earth, and before angels and men, and more especially before the generally assembly and church of the first-born—and shall expect you to give me a plain, unequivocal, and decisive answer, on the clear authority and plain testimony of the sacred text—What is Christ’s Rule of Communion in His Church on Earth? You may point out some way that is best pleasing to most men, but my request to you is, what is the revealed and declared mind and will of God recorded in the New Testament text?—to be gathered from the mouth of Christ, or from the mouth of the apostles, or from the acts of Christ, or from the acts of the apostles, or from the conduct of the churches of Christ? You have roundly and pointy said that communion, exclusively on the principles of believers’ baptismal profession of faith in Christ, is neither apostolical, Christian, nor Christ’s rule. And we shall now demand of you to find up the truth of that saying in the word of God, as an honest man of God, who would say nothing but the truth; and as a man of honor, who would not suffer himself to lie under the suspicion of saying what he is not at once prepared to support by the unequivocal laws of truth, ought to do. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ as the object of faith, and the example and commanding Head of baptism, and of communion, was himself baptized in the river, before he instituted the table communion; and therefore he did not even himself set down to the table of communion but as a much water Baptist with his apostles. Though Lord of all right to do as he pleased, he did not set down as an unbaptized person, nor as one unconsciously sprinkled, or done anything else to when an infant, so as that anyone else could take license to do so from his personal act. And as his personal acts were his rule, so his was personally Baptist rule; or it must be proved from the mouth of God, that his order of action in these things was no part of heaven’s will, declared as any rule at all for us; and that cannot be, until it can be proved that in these things he acted several very different ways; and that would be to prove that our great Lawgiver gave us no rule at all in these things: but the contrary is the fact, for as Leader and Lawgiver, he hath left us an example how to follow him. John xxi. 22. The apostles, in communion with him, were all Baptists, and as there were none else there, it was properly communion by Baptist rule. If it be said that the individual baptizing of all the apostles cannot be traced out, even that is no consequence to the point against us, for they were all baptizers of made disciples, in the presence and by order of Christ, and they were all of one accord after his ascension. Acts ii. 1. Nor did they differ in any religious sentiment of salvation, or of order in the Lord’s household, after the Spirit’s holy descent upon them; and so they were all Baptists, and all within Baptist rule: or why was Ananias so directly sent to baptize believing Paul, who was chosen and called of God to be an apostle? There is no account of the baptizing of Philip, nor of Ananias, but they were evidently Baptists enough to preach and administer believers’ baptism, and that was carrying out a Baptist rule. And all the churches of Christ, that were planted and watered by the apostles, were what we call Baptist churches only; for if there be some of them whose baptizing is not particularized, yet as all God’s foreknown, elect, and redeemed, strangers, begotten again to a lively hope, who were scattered abroad throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, were all baptized, as the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter i. 1, 2, 3. iii. 21.)—all those churches are at once included. And that they were so baptized is sufficiently clear and evident by the apostle’s so pointedly writing to them all as such. And this makes the fact plain enough to any impartial mind, that the Baptist rule was everywhere observed by believers, as the only Christian apostolical rule of Christ, then known or ever heard of among them. And that no other rule of communion is Christ’s, even by one solitary text; and so neither Christian nor apostolical by any one act recorded, or by any authority so to act. If this evidence is not plain enough for you, I will tell you what it is plain enough for, and that is, that by it I will hereby solemnly pledge myself, that when you shall find such good evidence in the sacred text for any other rule, I will from that hour be of your sentiments both on sprinkling and communion too; and will give up our Baptist rule, and publish the same in at least half-a-dozen periodicals. 

3. “It is the rule of a party, and therefore schismatical.” 

We suppose that by the charge of party, you mean to say that we are a mere seditious pestilential faction. But all this will only make us laugh at your weakness, unless you can and do support your charge by the New Testament law of God. However, the idea of a party, may be taken in a good sense, as well as in a bad one, and we have no objection, but earnestly desire to be a plain scripture party in the fear of God. We have no objection for conscience’ sake to be that party who are condemned without and against divine law (Isa. lix. 15), in distinction from those who justify themselves without and against divine law. 12. Rom. xvi. 18. We do not want men to call us good, so long as by the word of God they cannot prove us bad, and we have a good conscience in all things pertaining to godliness. You have made your deadly charge upon us, and it is now for you to sustain it by the evidence and power of the sacred text, and by the same law to overturn all the evidence in our favor on these papers; or retract what you have said, as one that has spoken unadvisedly. 

4. “Because it rends the beautiful garment of Christian love.” 

We are not at all accountable, nor are we careful, for whatever may be rent by a conscientious adherence to the word of God, in the evident sense of that word. We consider that there may be a great deal of fleshly religious finery, highly presuming to Christian love, which the sooner rent the better. Rev. xvii. We glory in rending that garment, though it be off a Christian’s back, and we get never so bitterly maligned for so doing, that is hostile to and unknown in the truth and order of God’s word. There is no real and important beauty in any religious garment, any further than it is inspiration-seamless, and bible truth- woven from the top throughout. John xix. 23. And that love that cannot live in the element of plain bible truth and order enforced, Jet it die ; for it is not a fruit of the Spirit, for he is the Spirit of truth as well as love ; and it is not of Christ, for he is the Son of God in truth and love. And all true godliness, whether in sentiment, disposition, or act, is the seed and offspring of Christ in truth and love, or in love founded upon truth. 2 John i. 1. 

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.