Edman Forman

The Life And Testimony Of Edman Forman

Earthen Vessel 1887:

The Late Mr. Edman Forman
(Pastor Of Providence Chapel, March, Cambs.)

“We grieve to think, our eyes no more
That form, those features loved, shall trace.”

Our divine Lord and Master continues to thin the ranks of His servants—His beloved Messengers, by calling them to Himself. It must be a source of more than ordinary grief when a loving Christian minister is removed from his flock by death; and especially so when a close, spiritual relationship has existed between them for many years, as in the case of our dear departed brother, Mr. E. Forman, pastor of Providence Chapel, March, who entered his eternal rest, after a painful illness, on Monday morning, August 1, 1887, at the age of 73.

Our late brother’s occasional visits to the Metropolis and its suburbs were always acceptable, and whenever we were privileged to listen to his voice, we invariably found his ministrations and conversation to be most genial and spiritually profitable. We have pleasurable remembrance of having heard him preach at the Surrey Tabernacle, Wansey-street, as also at Mount Zion, Dorset-square, Wandsworth, and at Hayes Tabernacle. On the never-to-be-forgotten day (June 15, 1887) of the public recognition of Mr. O. S. Dolbey as pastor of the Surrey Tabernacle, it was generally expected, as previously announced, that Mr. Forman would preside at the evening meeting, but on the morning of that day a telegram and letter reached us from one of the good deacons of the Tabernacle stating Mr. Forman’s inability to attend the meeting. This was felt to be a source of regret to many, and it was the first occasion of our hearing of his severe illness. We were then most unexpectedly called upon to fill the vacant chair of his stead.

We gather from the local papers that Mr. Forman had been Pastor of Providence Chapel, March, for nearly 40 years. Although possessed with a robust constitution, Mr. Forman suffered many years from rheumatism, which frequently deprived him from taking much bodily exercise. He, nevertheless, continued his labors among his people, assisted at times in the Lord’s day services by one of his excellent deacons, mr. W. Norton, Mr. forman was, in fact, in the discharge of his ministerial duties when he received a shock to the system which terminated in death. On lords day, June 12, he preached at the Branch Chapel, on the Whittlesey Road, and the building being small and crowded with hearers, he became overheated, and on riding home, almost directly after the service, in an open conveyance, he caught a chill, which, however, had no perceptible affect upon his health until several days afterwards. On the following Sabbath, June 19, Mr. Forman, preached his last sermons, the morning one being based upon Ephesians 1:3, and that in the evening upon Psalm 92:13,14. The evening of June 22, he spent in spiritual conversation at the house of Mr. J. Morton, of Stonea, in company with Mr. J. Full, of Cambridge, but on his return home he became so ill that he was obliged to be conveyed to bed, and never recovered.

We are informed that the late Mr. Forman was the son of Mr. Michael Forman, and was born at Halton, near Spilsby, in 1814. Early in life he was called by divine grace to know the Lord, and was baptized at Monksthorpe, in Lincolnshire, by Mr. David Wilson, then of Partney. Shortly afterwards he was brought into the work of the ministry, and preached occasionally in many of the neighboring chapels. In the year 1848, the Church meeting in Providence Chapel, March, being without a pastor, invited him to their pulpit, and his first sermon was preached in April of that year. On the following November, he fully entered upon his stated pastoral labors. At that time the friends met for worship in a small hired building, originally used as a barn, situated in Bevill’s Yard. Soon afterwards the Church had notice to quit the premises, and as the congregation continued to increase, it was decided to erect a new chapel on a site purchased of the late Mr. H. Johnson. A chase and minister’s house were then accordingly erected, at a considerable cost. The ministry of Mr. Forman continued to be successful, insomuch that a gallery had to be built in order to accommodate the people; and about that time a schoolroom was also erected, and a Sunday-school commenced. In 1860 other enlargements were made in the chapel and schoolroom, but even they proved insufficient to meet the growing requirements of the congregation, and additional room was made at an outlay of £183. In 1873 the old chapel was pulled down, and a new one erected to accommodate 750 persons.

Mr. Forman’s ministry was, to the last, a grand success. The influence of his godly life, and the power of the great truths of the Gospel he so boldly and constantly preached during the greater half of his life, was instrumental in the accomplishment of much real good in and around the immediate locality, and which will only be fully known in the “land of far distances,” where we shall see the King in His beauty, and be like Him. Our desire is identical with that of a master poet, C. L. Ford, when he sang,—

“Still let me be with Thee, Father, and every be Thou with me;
When the clouds of death shall gather, O then let me trust in Thee;
Let me hide in Thy quiet shadow, let me dwell in Thy secret shrine,
The home of the men that love Thee, the souls that Thou callest Thine.”

W. Winters, Editor
Church Yard, Waltham Abbey, Essex

Notes On The Late Mr. E. Forman

By His Daughter

Edman Forman was the youngest son of a farmer, Michael Forman, who was a strict Wesleyan, but being a good singer, and a young man of high spirits, he chose the Church of England, and joined the choir at Halton Church (in the village where he was born). Mr. J. Yawnsley being the rector. His talent for music and affability caused him to become a favorite, and he remained there several years, and became seriously impressed. He went from place to place of worship to try and find rest for his soul, but could find none (the Lord had met with him, and would not let him rest until He had completed His work). He resisted his convictions for several years, till at last, under Mr. Wilson’s preaching (Baptist Minister of Partner), he was set at liberty at the age of twenty-four, and was baptized after a time, having proved that he was really called of God. As his talent for preaching became developed, he was asked to assist at Partney Chapel, Monksthorpe, and many other small causes which have had reasons to bless God he was sent amongst them. He gradually became known to those who were in need of ministers. Lady Lucy Smith, Wilford, Mr. J. Harrison, Leicester, and the friends at March, obtained his services; the two latter being in need of a minister. Between the two there was to be his choice of taking the pastorate; the former with no difficulties, the latter with many. He saw God’s hand in the latter. Through all the difficulties his wife strongly opposed March, seeing what there would be to encounter, but he was firm through it all; the cause being then very small; the former ministers being Mr. Felton and Mr. Creasy, the latter (through death), Mr. Forman succeeded. Some not being pleased with his strict doctrines, divided and opened a schoolroom close to the chapel, and persecuted the minister and people to the fullest extent. In a few weeks they hired the old chapel over the heads of Mr. Forman and the cause. There was nowhere else for them to go; they sought for a piece of ground, and with much difficulty, bought the piece where the chapel now stands, the money was raised, for the people loved their pastor, and amongst the young much good was done. In 1849 they settled in the new chapel, called Providence (through the mysterious hand of God on their behalf). Mr. D. Irish preached the opening service from Genesis 26:21. Mr. Forman’s first text was Psalm 18:2. The congregation soon began to increase, until they found it necessary to erect a side gallery, then another, and then a schoolroom, and so on until 1873, when a new chapel was built. Mr. Forman had left many friends and sympathizers, who will bear him in their hearts to their death as being their spiritual earthly father, counsellor, and friend. He bore their temporal as well as their spiritual burdens, relieved the poor, and was indeed a present help in time of need. He continued his labors until June 19th, preaching that day two sermons, never to be forgotten by his people; many said, this must be his last time amongst us, he seemed to have a double portion of the Divine unction of the Holy Spirit. He was for many years a martyr to rheumatism, but the final disease was acute phthisis, which ended fatal on the 1st of August, at the age of 73. During his illness four were baptized, and since his death one more proposed.

The Last Hours Of Mr. Forman

By Mr. J. Jull, Of Cambridge.

The disease—inflammation of the lungs and pleurisy, set in to an alarming extent; at times he was unconscious. For some few days after this his mind became dark, and the tempter tried him, and he was sorely cast down. At one time one of his deacons went to see him (Mr. W. Morton), he then said the Lord had appeared again and delivered his soul; he was no longer troubled, all was bright and clear, and he now felt confident all was right. The following passage was sweetly applied to his soul: “Come, now, and let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Is 1:18); which gave him great comfort and peace. He was often heard to say by his friends who waited upon him: “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.” As the weeks passed away he became weaker, and to most all who saw him it was clear he could not recover, yet he himself thought he should; he had, even now, a desire to get better. One day he said to his daughter-in-law and housekeeper: “I want to be alone for an hour to pray to God; each of you go and pray to the Lord that I may be spared; if not, ask Him to give me grace and submission to bow to His will.” They did so, and afterwards he seemed more calm and reconciled. Though at times unconscious, yet he was often heard, in silent, to offer ejaculatory prayer to the Lord.

Sunday, July 31, he told his friends he was sinking, but not to tell the Church and congregation lest it should affect them. The day to him was a most happy one, such calm resignation, all was right and bright, with no fear, but waiting for the Lord. Sunday night his sufferings were great, and at six o’clock, August 1, the Lord took his spirit to Himself. His friends, who have listened to his voice so long, deeply deplore their loss. During his affliction they have been most kind and considerate in ministering to his needs. Mr. Forman has left behind three daughters and one son; also one widowed daughter-in-law, with five children totally dependent upon her, and a most kind, self-denying housekeeper, who has been most devoted to him—whose whole conduct towards the departed deserves the highest praise and commendation. May the Lord preserve the bereaved Church and congregation together in peace and love, and in His time send them another pastor after His own heart.

The Funeral Of Mr. Forman

On Friday afternoon, August 5th, the remains of Mr. Forman were interred in the Cemetery at March.

The ceremony commenced with a service in the chapel at two o’clock, at which a large number of persons were present, in addition to the relatives of the deceased, including J. Jull (Cambridge), S. Kevan (Ramsey), S. Willis (Whittlesea), A. B. Hall (Chatteris), Turner (Petersborought), S. H. Firks (March), J. L. James (March), J. Sanger (March), and Lamb (Somersham).

The solemn service commended with the singing of the hymn,

“Why do we mourn departed friends,
And shake at death’s alarm?”

Mr. Jull then read part of 1 Cor. 15, after which Mr. Lamb engaged in prayer. Mr. Jull delivered an address, in the course of which he alluded to the many pleasing occasions on which they had met together in that building. Six weeks previously, when he last addressed them there, he little thought that their next meeting would be for the purpose of paying a last tribute of respect to the memory of their pastor. On June 19 he (the speaker) discoursed with Mr. Forman sweetly and earnestly upon spiritual topics, and little thought it would be their last meeting together. But so it was; he was taken from them, and they were left behind to labor in the field. Although it had fallen to his lot to address them on that mournful occasion he had only known Mr. Forman for about sixteen years, but their deceased pastor’s kindness to him would ever linger in his mind. He had a deep affection for him as a Christian brother and as a Christian minister. Mr. Forman had exceeded the allotted term of human life. He had endured a great amount of bodily suffering and had often preached to them when undergoing great pain. In his conscious moments during the last few weeks he had fully realized that he would receive his reward. He had preached to them a living Christ, and had died in His embrace. The doctrines of grace which he consistently preached were very dear to him, and now he had departed to enjoy the glory of them. They were not only that afternoon burying a Christian man, but they were burying a Christian minister, who, by the providence of God, had for nearly forty years labored in one vineyard. What great cause, therefore, they had for thankfulness that God had sustained and blessed him during that long period. There were many present who could testify that through their deceased pastor’s instrumentality they had been led into the way of truth. He had in large numbers “seals for his hire, and souls for his ministry.” Many of his seals had preceded him into a better world, and many others were left behind to mourn his loss. How often had his words profited and encouraged his congregation; but now his voice would be no more heard within those walls. As a Church and congregation the decease of their pastor had left them quite a new pathway to tread, for there was perhaps, hardly another congregation in the country so favored as they had been, in having for forty years retained the services of one pastor. Other Churches in the country had oftentimes by changing circumstances lost their ministers, but it had not been so with them. So long a period had elapsed since Mr. Forman’s settlement there, that but few indeed in that congregation remembered his coming amongst them; and therefore they knew not what it was to experience a change of ministry. Under such circumstances as those they required watchfulness and prayerfulness, as well as forbearance one towards another. They must not expect perfection, and should trust to their deacons in the arduous duties that would now devolve upon them. Mr. Jull concluded by urging his hearers never to forget their late pastor’s admonitions, his walk and conversation, and his kindness towards them in ministering help and counsel when it was needed.

The hymn—“What through the arm of conquering death,” having been sung, Mr. Willis gave a brief address of a consolatory character, in the course of which he spoke of Mr. Forman as “not lost but gone before,” and made some observations respecting the verses printed on the mourning cards—“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” He pointed out that Mr. Forman had had a very large share of human suffering and trial, but had now gone where all was peace and joy. He alluded to the pleasure it had given him to perform the ceremony of believer’s baptism for Mr. Forman on several occasions of late years, and expressed a hope that the words he had spoken might still be fruitful in the conversion of sinners in the future, and that that funeral service might be blessed.

The hymn—“In vain my fancy strives to paint, The moment after death,” was sung, and the servcie was brought to a conclusion with prayer by Mr. Jull.

The congregation then slowly left the building, and the coffin was borne to the hearse in waiting outside by the following members of the Church:—Messrs. Henry Bates, Hy. Skinner, T. V. Watts, William Bates, G. Feary, and Hy. Rowe. A procession was then formed, and slowly walked to the cemetery, and included many of those who were present at the service in the chapel. Some of the shops along the line of route were partially closed, and at some of the private residences the blinds were drawn down. On reaching the cemetery the coffin was deposited in the grace, and another address was given by Mr. Jull.

Mr. Willis also made a few remarks, and prayer having been offered by Mr. Jull, the ceremony terminated.

The arrangements for the funeral were under the superintendence of Mr. W. Weldon.

On the Sunday evening following a funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Jull as the Providence Chapel. The text selected was Rev. 14:13, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.” The sermon contained several references to Mr. Forman’s bright Christian example.

The well-known sacred piece, called “Pope’s Ode,” was sung on the solemn occasion by the choir.

The chapel was crowded with attentive hearers, many of whom were moved to tears.

[We are obligingly indebted to Miss Forman, Mr. P. H. Davies, of March, Mr. S. Willis, of Whittlesea, Mr. J. Jull, of Cambridge, and other friends, for their kind and ready help in supplying us with many interesting passages relative to the life, death, and burial of the late Mr. Forman.—Editor]

Edman Forman (1814-1887) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. In 1848, he was appointed pastor of the church meeting at March, Cambridgeshire, a position he held for almost forty years, terminating with his death.