A Cluster of Evangelical Truths

John Johnson

Originally Printed In 1758

Posted On July 23, 2019

A CLUSTER OF EVANGELICAL TRUTHS AS EXTRACTED FROM THE WRITINGS OF JOHN JOHNSON. To enhance and enrich a believer’s valuation of Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness. EMBRACING A PERIOD OF TWENTY FIVE YEARS: 1754 - 1781. Accompanied by a most instructive discourse entitled, “Preaching the Gospel of the Grace of Christ, 1758.” John Johnson, Minister of the Gospel in Liverpool, England.

During a half-century commencing in or about 1740, one John Johnson, {born at Lostock, near Manchester, England in 1706,} the minister of a small and despised congregation of believers in the Liverpool, England area, began as invigorated by the Spirit of Divine Prophecy, to set forth a very clear and distinct Testimony of Christ, being made useful in the work of the Gospel Ministry in holding fast and proclaiming boldly the faithful word as he had been taught. Whilst neither Johnson nor his followers claimed any special illumination or any mission beyond that given to all true believers in proclaiming the Gospel of God’s Grace in Christ, they did seek to develop their doctrines from the Scriptures and the Scripture alone, and to renounce and disregard, so far as possible, all traditions, peculiarities, glosses, and commentaries, both of churches and individuals which were not based upon or did not proceed from the same source - the Bible. The doctrinal conclusions at which Johnson had arrived by the time he had reached 34 or 35 years of age, and before he was called to Liverpool, were never essentially departed from or varied except in one or two instances which he refers to in his letters, and they were held and promulgated by him with the tenacity, perseverance, and energy which were his characteristics. He soon found that the forcefulness of his arguments, his refusal to bow to any creeds or confessions, and his faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures led him into difficulties and caused unpleasantness with other ministers and that {to use his own language} he became to them a speckled bird. He married about 1740, and he and his wife had three children, born between 1741 and 1744. About 1741 he was appointed pastor of the Byrom Street Baptist Chapel, Liverpool, but left about 1747–8 in consequence of his doctrinal views having rendered him obnoxious to a section of the congregation. According to one source, Johnson was a vigorous pastor and preacher, with much originality of mind, unafraid of controversy; he was of medium height and short-sighted; his manner in the pulpit was solemn and majestic, but he used plain language. He attacked Arminians, Anglicans, Methodists, and other Baptists in print, entering into dispute with a number of men, including a few with whom he shared similar views regarding the sovereignty and absoluteness of Divine Grace, like the Particular Baptist author John Brine, who wrote a short treatise against Johnson in 1755, entitled, “Some Mistakes in a Book of Mr. Johnson’s of Liverpool, Entitled, 'The Faith of God’s Elect,’ Noted and Rectified.” Brine accused Johnson of holding to the following tenets: I. That Grace and Glory might have taken place upon God’s Elect, on the Ground of Adoption, without the Intervention of Sin, and Salvation from it. II. That Adam was called earthy, in respect to his Mind, as well as his Body; or that the Apostle called him earthy, in Relation to his Person, and Nature. III. That Grace in the Hearts of the Saints is not a new Creature. IV. That Faith, though it hath Activity is not an Act. V. That Faith is not, nor can be a Duty. VI. That Faith is not purchased by Christ. VII. That Ministers are not commissioned to preach the Law. VIII. That they are not to admonish Sinners to leave their Sins and amend their Lives. To this Johnson replied in a long {115 pages total} and able defense of his sentiments in a treatise entitled “Evangelical Truths Vindicated.” Herein he sought to re-enforce his doctrinal positions, and to use his own language, to declare: “I. The freeness and sovereignty of Grace, to be above all influence, incapable of being purchased by any price, or being promoted or impeded by sin. II. The precious Faith of the saints, to be a participation of the Divine nature, superior to the nature or to the work of any creature. III. The preaching of the Gospel, to be a message of pure Grace; in subserviency whereunto the Law is to be opened in its clearest light, but the Gospel alone to be preached. His supporters built a new chapel in Stanley Street, opened in 1750, and he remained with this congregation until his death in 1791. By 1757 Johnson became a leader amongst several ‘high-grace’ churches in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Associations, and his influence was such that his supporters were often dubbed Johnsonian Baptists.