Bernard Foskett (1685-1758): An Eighteenth-Century Valiant for the Truth -- By: Robert W. Oliver

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 03:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Bernard Foskett (1685-1758): An Eighteenth-Century Valiant for the Truth
Author: Robert W. Oliver

Bernard Foskett (1685-1758):
An Eighteenth-Century Valiant for the Truth

Robert W. Oliver

Robert W. Oliver, Ph.D., is pastor of Old Baptist Church, Bradford on Avon, UK. He is also Lecturer in Church History/Historical Theology, London Theological Seminary, Lecturer in Church History Nonconformity, The John Owen Centre, London, and Guest Lecturer, Westminster Theological Seminary, London. His recent book, History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1791–1892, was published by the Banner of Truth.

In the summer of 1719 the Particular Baptist Church at Broadmead, Bristol, was facing a crisis. Some indication of the seriousness is given in a letter written by Emanuel Gifford, pastor of the sister church at the Pithay. Gifford was writing to his nineteen year old son Andrew, then a student at an academy in Tewkesbury.

Matters at Broadmead are worse and worse every day. Mr Jope, I am afraid will not remove if possibly he can avoid it, and I am sure their church state is in jeopardy, which is a very mournful circumstance: it will be well if they should consider the hand of God on this melancholy providence, and I wish it may be an effectual warning to all, that none think too highly of themselves. God will maintain his controversy with a people who walk contrary to him. If any be left to themselves we shall see what wickedness is in the heart of man. May it be your care to keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.1

Over the years Bristol’s two Baptist churches had enjoyed a close relationship. Both had endured well during the fierce years of persecution of the previous century, but now in the more tranquil years of the Hanoverians it was clear that something was wrong at Broadmead. Closer investigation suggests that Broadmead was suffering a leadership crisis. The pastor, Peter Kitterell, was elderly. He had been in office since 1707. Joseph Ivimey quotes a document which states that he was ‘a good old man but of mean abilities, and the church sunk under his ministry’. There was a further complication. Under the terms of the will of a former deacon, Edward Terrill, the church had been endowed to

provide instruction in Hebrew and Greek for ministerial students. Kitterell was unable to give this teaching and so an assistant had to be found. It was at this point that the church made a bad move. Their choice was a young man who showed a grievous lack of maturity and who was later to prove in a series of pastorates unable to work with others. He was Caleb Jope, who was a student at an academy at Trowbridge when he received the call from Broadmead. Jope already had a commitment to ...

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