John Foreman, Believer’s Baptism And Communion Considered

Mr. Bridgman: “The Baptist minister who will shew me the plain unequivocal command for the immersion in water of a believer, as constituting water baptism, either as commanded by Christ, or his apostles under his authority, I tell him this, that in my own chapel, at my own expense I will have a pool made, and he shall be my baptizer—will you accept the challenge?”

My Reply:

In reply to this paragraph, I shall state some things that appear quite plain to me on the subject of believers’ baptism, but I shall not pretend to a successful execution of the challenge, because that which may be laid down as a truth and proved so beyond any fair disputation by one person, may not be at all effective in another’s sight, and the point in hand is not only to be established on the ground of undeniable truth, but it is to be shown, and here lies the difficulty; because I have not only to make my exhibition, but to secure admitted sight thereof in the same sense in which the point in hand is exhibited. And when any man can see sufficiently clear for practice under the name of an institution of God, what has not one single text, direct nor indirect, in precept or precedent in the Word of God, it is hardly to be expected that he can by any human effort, be brought to see what is plainly written and practiced out in the Word of God. There is but one cause for a man’s seeing all the parts of truth’s system in their native order, but there are a vast many reasons for his not seeing, as there are also for his seeing that to be truly divine that has no relation whatever to divinity.

In my stating how believers’ baptism is to me so plain on the text of the New Testament, let it be fully understood that I believe the Scriptures to be the infallible word of God, that there is no deficiency about them, nor superfluity in them; that they contain no self-contradiction, and that nothing that is commanded is by us to be reckoned indifferent; that they are sufficiently pointed and plain to the purpose of every subject intended, and that where one part may seem inexpressive, it is that we should associate some other part therewith, that so by comparing Scripture with Scripture we may come at the mind of the Spirit; that the greater or less acceptation of a word is to be taken from the association in which it stands, and that the current practice of immediately inspired men is infallible comment on, and explanation of, the mind and will of God, for our obedient and practical observance; and that, according to these rules, I shall, by the merciful kindness of our God, now endeavor to proceed. And,

1. Our Lord’s commission to his apostles stands in as positive command of baptism as it does of preaching the gospel. And the mode and subjects are as positively determined by command, as the whole commission itself was of God. And the apostles as well knew what was to be…

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Mr. Bridgman: “But the preacher more than implied that the command for believers only to be immersed in water is as plainly written in the New Testament, as those particular directions about the Ark, &c. were in the old. I appeal to his common honesty, and he seemed to be an honest man; but to that principle I appeal, and to his face I would say, and in God’s presence I would say, You Know that is not the truth.”

My Reply:

1. This is carrying the point of hostility to a high pitch and to a great length. Wrong opinions may through mistake be with great sincerity entertained both of persons and things until the judgment be better informed, but a positively affirmed charge must involve immediate guilt on the one side or the other. I am here charged as in the presence of God, with WILLFUL LYING IN THE PULPIT, as KNOWING what I Said IS NOT The Truth. My brother Bridgman says, that his pen is not dipped in honey, but unfortunately, on the contrary, he hath so filled it as to blot his lines with gall. However, I am not troubled at this, for as the Lord liveth, by whom the heavens and the earth were made, by whom I have my being and my breath, before whose solemn judgment-seat I must shortly stand, by whose august will, and by the word of whose mouth the final destiny of my never-dying soul must finally be determined, I KNOW NO SUCH THING AS Mr. Bridgman SO SOLEMNLY AFFIRMS THAT I DO.

2. The command, mind, and will of God in the New Testament, on believers’ baptism and immersion, and that of believers’ only, is as plain to my view, and to my entire confidence, as the above directions referred to, and as any one truth of God revealed in the whole Scriptures, and has been so for above these twenty years. And all that I have read and heard to the contrary, for between these five and six and twenty years, have not at all shaken my confidence, but on the contrary, have always more confirmed it. And I do most soberly declare, that so plain has the subject appeared to me for the above years, that I have often felt the…

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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…

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Mr. Bridgman: “The preacher said, indeed, that he respected our feelings, yet at the same time dealt out with all his vehemence, hard blows, not, indeed, of sound argument, but which certain sophists know best suit weak minds, merely hard words and positive assertions.”

My Reply:

1. You make a mistake about my saying that I respected your feelings, for I neither said, thought, nor meant so; but that I loved my Independent brethren in the faith of Christ, although I condemned infant sprinkling to be sent back to its mother at Rome, and I am still of the same mind. My work, my aim, and my object was to state what I believe in the presence of God, and on the text of the holy Scriptures to be the truth, and to oppose what I believe to be not so; consulting no feelings whatever any further than such sentiments and such statements would go.

2. As to vehemence, I know of no such thing about my speaking on that day, more than what is my usual way when speaking to so many hundreds so closely crowded together, and out at the doors, that could not get in, and consequently could not hear, unless the speaker made some exertion. Nor do my friends who were there, that are in the habit of hearing me, know of anything peculiar of the kind on that day; but if sentiment had suited, sound would not have offended; but as the contrary was the fact, the consequent was according.

3. As to hard blows, I cannot see how that could be, unless it was in the force of plain truth, hitting you were you were unshielded, uncovered, and naked of truth’s plain chapter and verse; and so being yourself doubtfully tender were pinched; for a mist can never hurt, and that which will not apply cannot affect.

4. And as to my being a sophist, or acting the part of a sophist, there was no dark and mysterious cunning, nor subtlety of argument with concealed intrigue, in what I said that day on…

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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.

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Chapter 3—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Disorderliness

Mr. Bridgman: “But as an ordination is a service similar to the first opening or anniversary of a chapel, I for one, nor I alone by many, consider the preacher quite as much breaking the rule of the Apostle, ‘Let all things be done decently and in order,’ as was Joseph in sprinkling an infant in the presence of John Andrew the dipper.”

My Reply:

I never did know, and you are the first person who ever said within my knowledge, that an ordination is a similar service to that of opening a chapel, or to that of an anniversary: for,

1. At an ordination the church is required to give an account of the leadings of Providence, relative to their chosen minister, and this is not required, nor even looked for to be done at the opening of a chapel, or at an anniversary.

2. At an ordination, one minister is appointed, and by us is generally published, to state the nature of a gospel church, and which statement is generally supposed to include the constitution and order thereof. And this part of the service, to be anything at all of what is intended, must be the most decidedly sentimental, and fully descriptive of our real standing as a denomination of any service performed among us, and herein I only fulfilled my appointment. And this is not necessarily expected, though in part frequently performed at the opening of a chapel, but by no means of an anniversary.

3. At an ordination, the chosen minister is requested and expected to give some account of his call by grace, his call to the ministry, and his call to preach in the place then under consideration, and also to state the sentiments he holds, and publicly undertakes in the presence of the then assembled witnesses, by the help of God, to preach and maintain, in doctrines and ordinances, as according to which the church has chosen him to be their pastor. But there can be no place for such a service at an opening or an anniversary, only at the opening of a chapel, the sentiments are frequently stated that are to be maintained in the worship of God in the place, and this I have heard as much of at the opening of an Independent chapel as I have heard at the opening of one by the Baptists, and that without considering it out of order, time, and place. But I feel persuaded that many of the professing public will laugh at your statement that the services of opening a chapel, an anniversary, and an ordination, are so similar, as that what would be out of place at the one, cannot be in good order at the other; and this I say from much practical acquaintance with such services for several years. We always consider it honorable and orderly,’ as the occasion may be, for a man to speak openly, plainly and honestly, the sentiments which he holds in his soul to be the truth before God; but we do not consider it to be in good time, place, nor order, to baptize at an ordination, the opening of a chapel, or at an anniversary, unless public notice be given that arrangements are made for such a service at such a time. And therefore our esteemed friend Irons carried his infant sprinkling out in a manner, in which we, without public notice, should consider among ourselves, confusion and untimely disorder, and more like vaunting pride over our surprised neighbors, than a sober act of religious worship.

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Mr. Bridgman: “I ask was it candid, was it fair, when bills were sent round to Pseudo-Baptist chapels, with requests to ministers and people to attend (not an immersion, but) an ordination, was it fair in the preacher to turn the opportunity into a clap-trap, to draw away the weak and simple among our people into your pools of water?”

My Reply:

My reasons for saying so much on baptism, on that and on all such occasions are,

1. Because so much is said against it without the least true authority of chapter or verse from the mouth of God.

2. Because so many of its professed friends say so little about it as a part of the revealed will of God and of their ministry, to what the first New Testament preachers evidently did.

3. Because I have determined in the help of the Lord with its comparatively few firm, consistent, and unbiased advocates, that that lamp in the temple of truth shall not be quite extinguished in these compromising, vacillating, passion-pleasing, and respectability-seeking days, while I can lift up my voice in my Great Master’s name. I am but a servant, and it is not in me to pick or to choose, or to have any will of my own but as arising out of and again devolving into the will of God. Preach the preaching that I bid thee, Jon. 3:1. Whatsoever I command thee, that thou shalt speak, Jer. 1:7. Preach the Word, 2 Tim. 4:2. teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, Mat. 28:20. Diminish not a word, Jer. 26:2; and Whosoever shall break one of these least commands, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, Mat. 5:19; are my solemn orders and instructions from the throne of the Holy. The whole revealed will of God, in doctrine, precept, promise, and ordinance, as exampled out in the spirit, mind, and order of the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ, is my message to deliver, and my premises to defend; and my orders are, to salute no man by the way, by way of compromise on any part of truth, but to be faithful unto my Master’s death, and my own too, as time, place, and occasion may demand. And where the siege is laid, there to defend; where opposition stands, there earnestly to contend, and where it stands within the…

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Dear Sir,—Your letter came to hand Oct. 21, or the day following the date thereof. At first sight I thought of giving a short and private answer only, but in looking it over again, I feel convinced that justice to you, to myself, to the truth, and to the denomination to which I have the honor to belong, demands an answer in a very different way.

My labor in the pulpit at Crosby Row, on the eighteenth, in stating the nature, constitution, and order of a gospel church, seems greatly to have displeased you, both in manner and in matter too; so that beside speaking very low and contemptuously of me, calling me “The Preacher” sixteen times on your single sheet, you have condemned our sentiments as a denomination as false, on exclusive believers baptism and the communion of believers only as so baptized; and then you wish us to blush. But at this I am not surprised, and had you stayed here, I should have taken but little notice, because it would have only been to me a marking out the difference that we know exists in sentiment between us. But as I challenged any one to find one text of Scripture in the Word of God for infant sprinkling, and for any other communion at the table of the Lord than that of believers, who are baptized on a profession of faith in Christ, you have so strangely perverted and misapplied the Word of God for the purpose, and seem, with a look of disdain upon us, to please yourself in the triumph you suppose you have gained over the challenge. And your deadly charge also upon the integrity of my public character in the pulpit that day, you having taxed me with saying what I knew not to be the truth, I must consider demands a public trial. Your several reflections, as well as statements, on the sentiments in dispute, shall be fairly sectioned out, and set down in your own words for observation. And Mr. Bridgman: “He said, indeed, (else I should not have thought it) that he came after much prayer; but what think you? Could a man under such influence, -exhibit flippancy of manners, and use light and low language?”

My Reply:

I am a plain man, Gen. 25:27; using great plainness of speech, 2 Cor. 3:12; to make the matter plain upon…

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26 Jan 2023, by

To the Church of Christ meeting for the worship of God in Mount Zion Chapel, Hill Street, Dorset Square, London.

Dearly Beloved,

It is well known to most of you, that on the 17th of October, I attended the ordination of our brother Wycherly, at Crosby Row Chapel, King Street, Southwark. And that the part of the service assigned for me to take, was to state the nature of a gospel church. I took that part, as many of you were present to witness, and as I have for years considered, and do now consider, that such services are most decidedly sentimental, and demand us to be more than usually explicit and pointed on the principles by which we are distinguished as a denomination, and pretty well as much hated: I was accordingly plain on the exclusive right of believers to baptism, and of baptized believers exclusive right to communion, according to the only order known or to be found in the New Testament for the church of Christ; and I offered to pay the national debt of England, if scripture could be found to oppose these conclusions.

Our brother, Mr. J. Bridgman, of Walworth, was greatly offended at my remarks, and wrote me a letter, in which, without the divine Judge, or the apostolic jury, he has passed very heavy sentence of condemnation both upon me, and our sentiments, without being able to shew that either are wrong by one fairly quoted text.

I turned the matter about for some time in my mind, until I concluded upon a public reply; and I have written it accordingly, and shall, with mercy’s leave, after a time bring it before the public.

Should anyone think that I am treating our brother unfairly by giving a public answer to a private letter, I would observe that he charges me with known falsehood in my public labors; and that the public ought to know and judge for themselves, and the Lord on their consciences, by his sacred word, be judge for us all. Not desiring to take any unfair advantage of my brother, I have set the chief things of his letter down in long quotations, in order that those who read my answer, may as well know what he has really said.

I hope that I have not written so much under the spirit of controversy, but what it will be seen that I have been somewhat moved by the Spirit of truth, and the love of truth, with the word of truth. And that you will not have to say, that it is all lost time to read this, as you have confessed it has not been so with other little productions of my pen.

The Lord abundantly bless and prosper you, as he has done, and pour out of his Spirit in every mercy-way upon you. Do continue to pray for me, my dear brethren, ‘while I have the honor to be

Your very affectionate Pastor,

John Foreman

27, Samford Street, Lisson Grove. January 17th, 1838

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Table Of Contents

26 Jan 2023, by

Chapter 1—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Flippancy

Chapter 2—On Baptism, Anserwing The Charge Of Dishonesty

Chapter 3—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Disorderliness

Chapter 4—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Inappropriateness

Chapter 5—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Callousness

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

Chapter 7—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Willfull Falsehood

Chapter 8—On Baptism, Answering The Challenge Of Proving From Scripture Believer’s Baptism

Chapter 9—On Baptism, Answering The Proof For Infant Baptism Recorded In 1 Corinthians 10:2

Chapter 10—On Baptism, Answering The Charge Of Doubtful Disputations

Chapter 11—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Schismatic Communion

Chapter 12—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Extremism

Chapter 13—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Inconsistency

Chapter 14—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Exclusivity

Chapter 15—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Discrimation

Chapter 16—On Communion, Answering Another Charge Of Schismatic Communion

Chapter 17—On Communion, Answering The Proof For Open Communion In John 3:5

Chapter 18—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Denominationalism

Chapter 19—On Communion, Answering The Charge Of Uncharitableness

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Title Page

26 Jan 2023, by

Believer’s’ Baptism And Communion Considered

By John Foreman,
 Minister At Mount Zion Chapel, Hill Street, Dorset Square.

Written in Reply to a Letter from MR. J. Bridge Man, M. A., Walworth.

“To Fulfill The Word Of God.”


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