John Beart (1673-1716)A Reformed preacher of the Gospel and Christian scholar.
“Christ’s active and passive obedience is a believer’s justifying righteousness before God.”
Whenever there are works or treatises that define and explain justification, the Christian ought to be exceedingly hungry to devour these biblical works. Throughout the history of the church justification, the doctrine by which the church stands or falls, has been attacked by the devil time and time again. One simply needs to take a moment to peruse the history of the Reformation and the attacks made against the true church by sectaries and the Papists and such an attack against Jesus Christ and his righteousness comes immediately into view. So it is with a hearty love of Christ’s imputed righteousness that John Beart penned this magnificent treatise on the manner in which sinners are justified and stand before God in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Biography of John Beart (1673-1716):
Little is known about John Beart (1673-1716). He was for the pastor of the church at Bury. He was a fiery preacher and one who contended for the doctrines of Christ’s Gospel. He says, “Our God hath given us rest and liberty under a wise, just, and good king, who judges the toleration of Protestant Dissenters to be agreeable to Christian charity, and necessary to the riches and trade of the Kingdom. Blessed be God, who hath heard the prayers of His people, and hath put such a thing as this in the King’s heart! Let us study what return we may make unto God, and to the glorious instrument of our new deliverance.” Having preached the gospel about five years in Bury, and having his home in the town near there for three of those years, in which time his doctrine and conversation were satisfactory to the church, he was received into this church on the November 26th, 1699, by a letter of recommendation from Ipswich. The Ipswich church was congregational but Beart was becoming more Presbyterian, though he had not as yet accepted covenant baptism. He has preached for some time at Ipswich but they released him seeing his desire to join himself to the Ipswich church. They did, however, write a letter to the church at Bury on his behalf which said the following:
“Whereas our dear brother, Mr. John Beart, hath signified to us that the Church of Christ at Bury hath requested him to desire his dismission from this church of Christ in Ipswich, so that he might join himself to them in order to their calling him to the pastoral office among them… Now therefore we, though very loathe to part with our said brother, yet willing that the service of our Lord Jesus, to which he may be called, should be promoted, do in the name and with the consent of this church, for the ends before mentioned, dismiss our said dear brother from that relation in which he hath for some years stood unto us as a fellow member, that he may join himself to that Church of Christ at Bury. And we do also recommend our said brother unto them in the Lord as one whose spirit and walking with us hath been in all respects such as becometh the gospel of Christ, to the glory of God and our great comfort. Signed the 16th day of November, 1699.
John Langston, Pastor.
Thomas Wyncall, Deacon
Joseph Wyatt Deacon
After the reception of Mr. Beart to the fellowship of the Bury church, he was requested several times to accept the pastorate, but, for some unknown reason, declined doing so; at length, on May 1, 1701, he stated that, after seriously considering their call, he had resolved to accept it, provided that the choice was approved of by the neighboring churches; and, as he had at that time some doubts about baptizing infants, he desired that neighboring pastors might perform this rite instead of himself. On June 12, 1701, Beart, having accepted the call to office, was ordained to it by the public election of the church, signified by the lifting up of hands, and his renewed acceptance of the office. On this the church declared their submission to him in the Lord as their pastor, and by solemn prayer with fasting separated him for the work to which the Lord had called him. There were present Mr. Petto, of Sudbury, who preached a very weighty sermon from Ephesians 4:13; Mr. Langston, of Ipswich, who preached from John 21:15-17; Mr. Stackhouse, of Norwich; and Mr. Doughty, of Soham who also prayed. These four were pastors, and in addition to them there were thirteen messengers from churches there.
Mr. Beart continued in the pastorate until the closing days of 1716, when he suddenly passed away. On January 3, 1717 the church sorrowfully records his death:
Mr. John Beart, a minister and pastor of this church of the gospel of the Lord Jesus with all faithfulness and readiness; preaching the word in season and out of season as the Lord gave him opportunity; declaring salvation alone by grace through the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the law; dividing the word of God aright, giving to every one their proper portion; having in his lifetime printed two excellent books of great use for the good of those who read them; and having preached a sermon on the Lord’s day on Romans 3:24, to the great comfort of those that heard him; departed this life on the Thursday after, in the midst of his days, being 43 years of age; leaving a wife and five children.
On January 25, 1717 the church had a solemn meeting of prayer to seek the Lord for counsel and direction how to manage the affairs of the church so as it may be for his glory; and then and there, as many as were able and willing, contributed towards the charge of our pastor’s funeral, with great cheerfulness, to the sum of fourteen or fifteen pounds.
If one were to be remembered through history for a particular writing or work, what would it be? Mr. Beart is not remembered for a number of his fiery sermons, or his final move toward Presbyterianism. Instead, he is remembered for his work on Christ’s imputed righteousness and the sinner’s justification. Is there any doctrine more worthy of such accolades?