John Foreman's Life And Ministry

The Life And Ministry Of John Foreman

The Earthen Vessel 1888:

His Early Career At Laxfield, Suffolk

With the exception of a few recently-built dwelling houses, we presume little change has taken place in the pretty rural village of Laxfield since the youthful days of the late Mr. John Foreman, of blessed memory. Mr. Foreman was evidently, from his own testimony, a bold and intrepid man when in the world, and equally so, in after years, when called by divine grace. His name ranks early on the roll of pastors of the Church at Laxfield, which Church has long been favoured with ministers of truth and of unblemished repute.

Mr. Foreman’s Life, As Related By Himself

On the occasion of the jubilee of Mr. Foreman’s pastoral labours at Mount Zion, Hill-street, Dorset-square, London, October 10, 1865, he (Mr. Foreman) received, in recognition of his past services, a valuable gold watch and a handsome silver salver. Mr. Foreman, in acknowledging the gift, related the following interesting account of his own life, which we extract from the Gospel Herald of that date:—

“I am told that I was born on the second of April, 179I. I was certainly put to a little school for several years, but having to go out at gleaning and other times, I didn’t manage to glean much learning. I was a parish boy, and was put out at eleven years of age as a rough sort of hand. I left that place in the year 1807, and that very year the Gospel was brought into Laxfield. I had been and was a great black-guard till upwards of twenty-one years of age; but on a Lord’s-day, in the month of July, 1812, the Lord stopped me through the discharging of a gun I was out shooting with; and a dead shot it was to the course of life I had pursued. Then there was so great a change, that one notoriously ungodly man said of me, ‘If there were anything in any man’s religion, certainly that was the young man.’

“In the year 1813 I joined the Church at Laxfield, and in 1815 the Church appointed me to speak at the prayer meetings. I did so three times, but felt I could never go again; the deacons flogged me for not going, and I again tried. On March 10, 1816, the minister, a Mr. Taylor, left, and the people unitedly requested me to take the table pew for a few Lord’s-days, to see what the will of the Lord might be concerning them as weak and deep in debt, and which I did on the 17th of March, 1816, till the 14th of the following December, during which time the people often urged me to take the pulpit, which I dared not to do, for it seemed to me too awful and sacred a place for me to tread.”

Mr. Foreman’s First Appearance In Laxfield Pulpit

“Towards the end of the months in the table pew, the people gave me a call for six months, and God helping me, I ventured into the pulpit, and preached my first sermon from the words, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’ It was soon noised abroad that the parish boy was preaching, and the people flocked to hear what sort of a preacher their ‘public-house sportsman,’ as I was called, could be.

“I started on a begging tour through thirty-two counties, traveling 2,750 miles, and gathered up almost £300. You may judge how I travelled when I tell you my total expenses were £10 2s. 6d. How well I remember my dear old mistress coming under my ministry; and the word was blessed to her soul; and one of her grandchildren is now a member with us at Mount Zion.”

He Leaves Laxfield For Bungay And Cambridge

“Well, I continued at Laxfield until April, 1821. I then went to preach for a few weeks to a people at Bungay. They had no chapel then, but gathered together in a room. In July, 1821, I went to Cambridge. There I preached out the old lease, and was the means of building a chapel, and collected almost £500 out of the £800 which it cost; and I thank God there is now a good cause of truth at Cambridge.”

He Removes To London

“I came to London the first Lord’s-day of May, 1827, and for a good many years it was a tremendous uphill struggle—the building and different enlargements of the place costing about £3,400. My income, for the first eleven years, never exceeded £100 a year; and with a wife and five children, no wonder some said to me, ‘Mr. Foreman, I can’t imagine how you manage to get on;’ [neither did I] but having obtained help of the Lord, I continued to this day. We have, as a Church, risen in number of members from thirty-six to over five hundred, and I believe there is not a Church in the kingdom that enjoys more peace, and, as brother Holmes says, we work in thorough harmony. We have no lord deacons nor lackey deacons—each takes his turn in presiding at prayer and Church meetings when I am absent, so that there shall be no room for pre-eminence. I have been supplied all my way through from hand to mouth—even from God’s hand to my mouth. I have always had to pray my way into my work. No wonder that Paul said he died daily, for what he lost one day was restored the next.”

Mr. Foreman’s Method Of Studying For The Pulpit

“People have often said, ‘When does Mr. Foreman study?’ At any time and at every time; from one end of the country to the other. With my reference Bible under my arm, I often go out under sealed orders, and sometimes get a word within a few miles of my destination. This I take as from the Lord, and find it a sweet portion to my soul, and often a blessing to the people. This unexpected gift of your kindness is not the first token I have received. In 1848 I received a purse 0f 100 sovereigns, and a Bible of the value of 100 shillings. Some time after that I received a time-piece, value £16, at least; and now but little time since I received a beautiful inkstand from the dear children of the Sunday-school. I believe, dear friends, you give it not unprofitably, for when love meets love good fruit is brought forth. Friends, you have my love.”

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.