A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: Thomas Ekins Fuller


This is the seventh chapter of the above-titled book. The earlier chapters can be found via the categories listing at the end of the post.

 

CHAPTER 7 – “Up and Down the Shaft.”

WHEN the missionaries had been started, and funds secured for their probable requirements, there came the difficulty of communicating with them, so as to sustain them in their work. They were in need not only of supplies for their maintenance, but of comforting communications to bear them up in the sorrows attendant upon such a life in a strange land Overland routes, telegraphs, and mail-steamers were then utterly unknown. There was only the slow and uncertain communication of the Company’s liners, – more uncertain, ere long, from the fact that French privateers filled the Channel. Amongst the earliest resolutions passed by the committee was one to the effect “that all goods be insured from the sea and the enemy.”

It was not until the 29th of July, 1794, a little over thirteen months after their departure, that the missionaries were heard from. “This day,” writes the secretary, “letters were received from our brethren in India. They had, except ,one perilous night, a good voyage; arrived on November 7, 1793, – less than five months after their departure. Have met with as much success as can at present be expected. Ask for a Polyglott Bible and Malayan Testament.”

It appears to have been thought best to supply the needs of the missionaries by consigning to them packages of stationery and cutlery. It was probably an easy way of increasing the funds of the Society. Accordingly, after the receipt of the above-named letter, goods to the amount of £160, besides the Polyglott Bible and the Malayan Testament, were duly forwarded. Before we see what became of these goods, we may turn to an almost amusing episode in the proceedings of the committee. Letters were received April 7, 1795, informing the Society that Providence had directed them to such means of providing for the support of themselves and families, that at present they stood in no need of further assistance from the Society, but rather wished that what had been applied to their support might be employed in commencing some other mission.

This communication excited the fears of the committee, lest the missionaries should pursue the affairs of the world to the neglect of the mission and the injury of their spiritual state. They accordingly addressed the following letter, in entire ignorance that their supplies had never reached them, and that but for this timely employment they must have starved. The letter appears to have been deemed a most important communication, and to have been signed by the whole of the committee:-

“VERY DEAR BRETHREN, – We hope ere now you have received some accounts from us. Last May, before we heard from you, we sent £50 in goods, at a venture. After hearing from you in August, we voted, in addition to the above, £160, which we committed to Mr. Potts to execute according to your directions. He was hurried by a hope of their going soon, and did not complete the order. What of it was deficient we consider ourselves in your debt. The goods did not go so soon as was expected. After remaining a while in London, they were sent to Copenhagen, to go by Captain Christmas’s ship. Another parcel, containing the books which you had ordered, with letters, &c., went by the Swallow packet; but she was, we hear, a long time detained in port.

“On March 4th we received your letters dated August 7, 1794. A committee meeting was called on the 18th, at Guilsboro’. Their contents produced a mixture of joy and trembling. When we considered the difficulties to which you and your families were subject, the peculiar embarrassments of Mr. Thomas, and the hopeful prospect afforded by your undertakings of not only relieving you under these difficulties, but of affording an asylum for any of the natives who might lose caste for the Gospel, we rejoiced. But when we considered you as involved in affairs of trade, we rejoiced with trembling. It is true our apprehensions do not rise so high as those of our friends in London; owing, perhaps, to our more perfect knowledge of you and great confidence in you: but we ourselves are not without our fears lest your hearts should be overcharged with the cares of this life, and so rendered unfit for the work in which you have engaged. We remember what Brother Carey said in one of his letters last summer, that ‘a man that goes on a mission to India had need to be dead to the world,’ &c.; and what Brother Thomas said to him, in a letter dated from Hempstead, December 22, 1792: ‘There are many ways whereby a missionary might gain a livelihood and a fortune, that would take less of his time and labour than cultivating land; but not less of his heart and affections, which are soon carried off too far to be comfortable to himself or profitable to others, when the getting of money begins.’

“Far be it from us to damp your spirits or cherish an unfeeling temper concerning the distresses of your families, much less to suspect your motives, or to entertain a jealousy of your inclination to neglect the mission for the sake of worldly emolument. But we know that the human mind is incapable of ardently pursuing two objects, of a different tendency, at the same time. We have no jealousy of you more than we should entertain of ourselves in your circumstances. But we know that many worthy men who have stood firm in the day of adversity, have been melted into indifference by the smiles of prosperity. While, therefore, we shall each offer up our supplications to God on your behalf, permit us earnestly to entreat and seriously to caution you that you engage not deeply in affairs of this life. We are more afraid of your having a partnership than merely a part in the employment you mention, as it must more interest yonr hearts; and though it may not wholly divert you from your work, may, nevertheless, damp your ardour in it.

“While· we take the liberty of writing to you in the language of friendly caution, we consider ourselves as called to turn our attention to another mission. We expected to have seen at this meeting a Mr. Boulton, a deacon of a Baptist church in Gloucestershire, who feeling ardently for the good of the mission, and fearing that worldly affairs should engross too large a portion of your attention, had offered to come over and take a part of your burden upon him. He is a single man, about thirty years old, and of an excellent character; but about a week ago, he wrote us that he had a brother lately deceased who had left him executor; and an aged mother, who laid the death of one son and the departure of another so much to heart, that he feared it would be more than she could bear. He, therefore, gives it up for this year: but still hopes to do something for God in India.

“We hope in your next accounts you will give us particulars of your labours. We could be glad to hear something of this in all your communications. Suffer us to suggest another caution, which may be equally necessary for ourselves as you. Be not discouraged if success do not at present attend your labours. Notwithstanding what we have heard of the docile character of the Hindoos, we have  no doubt but their hearts, like other sinners, are naturally,at enmity with God, and this enmity will discover itself as they begin to understand the Gospel. It maybe wise in God to withhold His blessing too, for a time, to teach us our entire dependence on Him in the use of means. Some of the greatest trials to the Greenland missionaries were their seeing for so long a time no fruit of their labours. We must pray as well as work. Dearly beloved brethren, farewell. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits. Signed on behalf of the Society by

“REYNOLD HOGG,”‘&c.,&c.

Nearly two years after this correspondence, in the month of March, 1796, a letter, somewhat curt, was received from a clerk in a certain Cripplegate warehouse, to the following effect: “There is a large cask in our warehouse directed T. & C., to your care. It has been there ever since 1794. If you do not take it away we shall sell it to pay for warehouse room.” The T. & C. are duly enclosed in the minute­book in a roughly drawn diamond. Some correspondence ensues, but nothing can be ascertained save that the cask has had some mysterious communication with Copenhagen, and has also been to Falmouth. The sequel shall be given in the words of the minute-book: “On April 4, A.F. set off for London, partly to find out what this cask was. On going to Cripplegate he found the cask, and it proved to be the cutlery sent two years ago. Consequently our friends have received no remittance from us, except to the amount of £50 in drugs and stationery, which went in May, 1794, by the Royal Admiral, and of which they have acknowledged the reception. And if they had not engaged in business for their own support, must long ago have perished for want !” How they must have smiled at their round­robin, with the homily on the dangers of the world! The goods were happily uninjured, and were put on board the trustworthy Royal Admiral, which at that time was fortunately waiting for a cargo.

Amongst the remains of Andrew Fuller is a bulky folio volume, brought by Mr. Ward to England. It contains copies of all the letters which he wrote to the Serampore missionaries. They are transcribed in a clear, bold hand, by a native who was ignorant of the English language. Having been brought to England since the publication of Mr. Fuller’s Memoirs, they are for the most part unknown even to his familiar friends. Some use has been made of parts of them copied from the originals at Serampore, but as a whole they have been as a sealed book during all these years. It has been a most difficult task to glean suitable extracts for this Memoir. They are well worthy of being published unabridged, and would form a volume larger than this. They possess that quality which constitutes the true charm of letters – the play of power. Their affectionate earnestness, their racy commentaries on passing events and home matters, bear the reader from page to page without weariness. Letters in those days had to be newspapers, as well as epistles of friendship; and so at no small pains Mr. Fuller keeps the missionaries informed on public and private affairs. I have ventured to give two or three letters entire, as specimens of the kind of correspondence which passed between the secretary and the brethren, and to cull such extracts as seemed of special interest, duly arranged for the reader’s convenience. The first letter is selected not because it has any particular points of interest, but because it forms a sequel to the one before published, and gives a familiar glimpse of affairs at home.

TO MR. CAREY.

“Kettering, August 9th, 1796.

“My VERY DEAR BROTHER, – I received yours, dated January 12th, 1796, accompanied with another of three sheets to the Society, for all of which I thank you. I am grieved that anything we have written should have grieved you. You complain of my not writing. I think I must have written more than a dozen letters to you, and several of them very long ones. I am glad Brother Morris is ‘copious.’ I will encourage him to be so still, and will do the best I can myself, though I have ten times the writing, I suppose, upon my hands that he has, and not half the capacity to perform it.

“Be assured, my dear brother,we are perfectly satisfied with your conduct. We have no suspicions of your being indolent. Our cautions were not the result of any particular jealousy of you, any more than we should have felt for any other person, and perhaps not so much as in most other cases.

“You are ‘astonished that an indigo manufacturer should be called a merchant.’ You seem to me to be answering Mr. Booth’s letter rather than that of the Society, for I do not find the word merchant in the latter. It is true there is mention made of your engaging in ‘affairs of trade,’ but this merely refers to the supposed share or partnership, and you yourself acknowledge that ‘were you proprietors, the name of merchants might be proper.’ We did not mean, my dear brother, to hurt your mind or grieve you; and we ourselves are grieved that the remittance in cutlery should have been so long detained by the strange mistake of dear Mr. Savage, of which I have this spring sent you a full account; and, had you not been otherwise provided for, we should have felt inexpressibly on account of it. On these considerations we are not only satisfied but thankful that you have engaged in business.

“We never thought of your being unemployed; and so far from thinking the worse of you for your willingness to do something to support yourselves, we are satisfied that it arises from your disinterested regard to your undertaking. It was the kind of employment that excited a degree of fear. And this the Society stated in their letter, in which is a quotation from a letter from Mr. Thomas, sent from Hempstead to you, December 22nd, 1792, stating the comparative influence of trade and husbandry upon the mind. And though we did not mean to censure you for anything, nor shall we think of doing so, if you possess a share in the business, yet you must not wonder that we felt a degree of fear on your account .

“You must also make some allowance for the fears on account of the strong language of the Londoners, by which for a time we were almost overset. But you say we ‘ought to have boldly avowed that we expected you to engage in business of some sort.’ And I answer, so we did. I immediately answered the Walworth opinion upon your conduct in the strongest language I could devise in your favour; proving, by reference to your publications, that this was always your plan, and that the Society agreed with you so to do. This letter had the desired effect; there has never been a word from that quarter nor any other that I know of, since that time, by way of reflection. I believe they were fully convinced by it that they had gone too far. And, lest their opinions should be whispered about to your disadvantage, I introduced the substance of my letter to Walworth into No. 2, Periodical Accounts, page 93, which has afforded universal satisfaction.

“It is true there have been rumours from Tewkesbury to the disadvantage of the mission, owing, it is supposed, to Mr. Thomas’s communications to his sister, in which it has been said he invited his relations to go over, telling them that they might have £1000 a-year when there. Except this, which seemed to imply that he himself was making a fortune, I have heard of no reflection upon either of you since the publication of No. 2, Periodical Accounts. What or whether any occasion was afforded for this by Mr. T., I don’t know; I wrote to him, however, concerning it.

“You may think we have treated the Londoners with too much tenderness; but the longer I live, the more I see the necessity and the justice of setting no man down for an enemy till I have good evidence that he is one. As a proof that Booth and Thomas are cordial friends, I will give you a short anecdote. About half-a-year ago, poor Swain (who is since dead), with some other young ministers in London, made an effort to have an assistant Society in London, and proposed an annual meetin of the Society there. Booth and Thomas opposed it; and gave us their reasons, which were to this effect: ‘If the Londoners form into a Society they will, perhaps, have an ascendancy in the management; you have hitherto conducted the business well, and should it come under other influence?’ We could not but admire this disinterested advice. For my part, as soon as the proposal was made, I saw what would be the consequence if it succeeded, and therefore told Booth, in a letter, to this effect: ‘Though we had no jealousy from the love of power, yet justice to our brethren, who were gone out upon our assurances of never deserting them, required that we should not give up the management nor an ascendancy in it.’ With this Booth and Thomas concurred, and, therefore, opposed the plan. Booth also undertook to conciliate Swain and others, which was happily effected. Even Dore, and Keene, and Giles, notwithstanding they erred that once, have ever since been very friendly, and give us all the help they can. Keene, I think, is not long-lived; and Dore has had something of the apoplectic kind, so as greatly to affect him.

“Some months ago, Brother Sutcliffe and I agreed to send you a quantity of seeds, &c., and accordingly spoke to Maddock, of Walworth, to execute the order, promising him ready money for them; and which we agreed to advance on your account. That order will be completed and go, I expect, this season. So, however, Mr. Maddock assured me it should, when I was at Walworth about six weeks ago. And now as the water has destroyed your indigo plant, and you cannot assure us that Boulton would meet with any employ of a secular kind if he were to come, we conclude it may be the same by Fountain. We, therefore, shall allow the value of the seeds for his support the first year, together with four guineas which Brother Sutcliffe has paid for Parkhurst’s Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, which he has sent you. Or, if he should not need it, apply it in some way for the promotion of the mission, or reserve it for the expense of printing. We expected, according to your last letters, to receive letters for types. Whenever we receive them, I dare say we shall cordially unite with you in that work. I do not fear for want of money. Only take great heed that it be as accurate as possible. It is not for want of money that we cannot send out more missionaries, but of suitable characters. That is a matter of great importance. A Wesleyan mission to the Fowlahs in Africa has failed this last year owing to this. When they came to meet difficulties they refused to go any further. We had better wait than send unsuitable persons. Brother Ryland thinks that the Lama of Thibet and his heathen Popery will be as great a bar to a mission there as can exist in Spain or Portugal: but we may have wrong ideas at this distance.

“I have seen your letter to Brother Morris, from which I learn that you had received another letter from me. You there state a case for the Society to judge. Morris seems greatly puzzled about it, owing, he thinks, to your obscurity in stating it. I will copy his remarks. ‘Brother C. says, in one part of this letter, that the different castes may not eat and drink together’ (your words are speaking of the distinction of the castes: it extends to nothing but eating and smoking tobacco, intermeddling with each other’s employments, and intermarrying one among another), ‘yet that they might partake of the Lord’s Supper, if prepared by a Brahmin.’ Your words are, ‘They can join, in every act of religious worship, except eating the bread at the Lord’s Supper, with­out losing caste, but cannot eat bread unless prepared by a Brahmin.’ Again,’ What does Brother C. mean by a Brahmin’s preparing the bread? any kind of consecration, or only making bread? If the latter, this is no more than its being made by the tribe of bakers, and can be no objection. If the former, and that consecration be no other than what attends their common meals, the objection is like the former, and should be no hindrance to their using it in the Lord’s Supper. But if the different castes may eat bread together, why does he talk of their being subject to lose caste on that account? Or does he mean that, though the castes may thus eat together, yet none of them may eat with one who is a Hindoo? If so, the question will require further consideration.’ Thus far Brother Morris to me. We cannot at present obtain the judgment of the Society, as we have but lately had a public meeting. I have stated the question, however, to brethren Ryland, Hogg, Sutcliffe, and Pearce. For my own part, I think, with Brother Morris, your statement is very obscure. I am not sure, from your statement, whether the Lord’s Supper might not be eaten by them with bread prepared by a Brahmin. But if not, if there be an impossibility of their eating bread with you, or the different castes among themselves, without losing their caste, according to what at present strikes me you have no right to allow of their neglecting Christ’s institute, seeing this would be dispensing with it. Nevertheless, you may forbear to press it upon them; let them do it voluntarily, if at all. Time may open a way, and sweep away the impediment. If no Christian duty be inconsistent with the caste but eating at the Lord’s Supper, why are they not baptized? What you say about the discontent of the officers, may be a serious matter. Whatever may be said to you and your colleague upon it, or whatever may take place, I beseech you take no part in it. You will find these officers a set of wicked men, and I should fear they would be greater tyrants over the natives than the Company, and you would enjoy less liberty and justice from them than from the other.

“You say Mr. C. loves writing better than you. It is time he wrote Brother Pearce a long letter, which arrived this spring. Except this, we have not received any proof of his delight in writing. We have heard nothing from him by these ships. Give my love to him. You say the ironmongery from Denmark, you understand, is arrived at Calcutta. I am glad to hear it; but you will find it to be the books, which we all along understood were gone by the Swallow, and which Mr. Savage mistook for the ironmongery. The letter also, I hope, will have arrived ere you receive this, as it has gone by the Royal Admiral, last May, to the care of Fulloh & Co.

“Your afflictions of different kinds greatly affect us. Indeed, we cannot but wonder how you are supported, and how you labour as you do, only that we know that your God is all-sufficient, and your work, instead of being a task, is your meat and drink. You have weathered many storms, my dear brother. God is certainly with you, and will not suffer your labours to fall to the ground. It rejoiceth us greatly to hear that the leaven begins to operate. We shall be glad to hear the result of things at Dinagepore, and to know how the young Brahmin, Cassinut Mookhurgee, goes on, and how Moonshee, and Mohun Chund, and Parbotee go on in religion. Tell Mohun Chund we are glad that he talked to the poor people of Dinagepore, and that he must willingly and cheerfully communicate that which he has heard and known of the love of Christ. Tell Cassinut Mookhurgee to write me a letter, and inform me how he came to be a Christian, and what were the workings of his mind. And be you so kind, my dear brother, as to translate it. Present my kind love to him, to Mohun Chund, and Moonshee, and Parbotee, if ever you see them. Tell Podo Loson, who seems to be indifferent about an interest in Christ, that if Christ had been thus cold-hearted towards him, he might have been in hell before now, ‘where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.’ Tell him there are many Christians here who would rejoice to meet him in heaven. Present my love to brethren Thomas, Long, and Powel. I hope Brother Powel will consider the opportunity of communicating the knowledge of Christ to the heathen as a price put into his hand. If you judge proper, present my Christian love, too, to the worthy Mr. Udney. I am sure I feel to love him.

“Leicester church is rather at a stand as to prosperity; Several of their late additions have turned out bad characters, and they have been obliged to exclude them. Some giddy-heads have also run after a man who has been there in the Antinomian way. I hope Cave grows, and will be a useful man. I think him possessed of deep seriousness, only he does not sufficiently know himself. At Sheepshead they are in sad confusion, owing to a Mr Garrot, one of Lady Huntingdon’s men, who is turned Baptist, and has drawn people thereabouts after him. There have been considerable additions this year, of which I think I sent You some account in June. We had about ten or twelve added: Our friends, Mrs. Wallis, Hobsons, Gotches, Timms, Burditts, &c., are all very well, and unite with Mrs. Fuller and self in love. If you should not have sent off the letters for types ere this reaches you, be very particular as to the articles you want, both as to what, and what quantity. Shall you want a printing press? I have heard say it is contrary to our laws to send one out of the land; but if you want it, I hope we shall some way accomplish it. I have received as much as £80 from individuals and missionary societies in Scotland towards the translation. A Paedobaptist mission is about going off to the South Sea Islands. Booth has published a piece lately. There are some things in it which I approve, and others which I do not. I hope he will send you one. I have reminded him to do so. Brother R. can hardly deny himself from coming to join you. I also could cheerfully do so, were it not iny duty to do otherwise. We all admire your disinterested advice to Pearce. – I am, my dear brother, ever yours,

“A. FULLER.”

TO MR. J. FOUNTAIN, MUDNABUTTEE.

“Kettering, September 7th, 1797.

“You will excuse me, my dear Brother Fountain, if I do not, write you a long letter. Writing is labour to me, on account of a complaint which perhaps ever will attend my head. I received your letter from Madeira, and two from Mudnabuttee. Be assured they afforded me, and all our brethren, great satisfaction, – not only to hear that you were safely arrived, but to find that your heart was in your work.

“We had no opportunity of proving your ministerial abilities; but from the taste we had of your prayer and conversation, we did not much hesitate on that subject. If your heart be in the work, I doubt not but you will be able to increase in the good knowledge of the Lord, and to communicate that knowledge to the poor heathen.

“All that we felt any hesitation about was your too great edge for politics. The mission has awfully suffered in Africa through that folly. The loss of £300 or £400 is the least thing to be considered; though, considering that as public property, it was grievous that it should be so thrown away. Mr. Grigg asked me; in one letter, what I thought of his conduct; and thus I wrote him: ‘I think it wrong for any individual, in any nation or under any Government, to indulge a restless, discontented, complaining spirit; and still more to be employed in stirring up others to the same things. But if this would be wrong in any man, it must be more so in a Christian minister and a missionary. You should have avoided everything that would impede your main object. If Free Town had been the seat of your labours, you should have avoided these things; much more as it was not, but merely a friendly shelter to you in the rainy season. I do not think that a Christian or a Christian minister forfeits any of his rights as a man or as a citizen; but I think that Christianity teaches in many cases voluntarily to forego the exercise of those rights for the sake of attaining a greater good. What if the benevolent Howard, in exploring the dungeons of the wretched all over Europe, had embroiled himself in every nation in attempting to correct their Governments? Would he not have defeated his end? Could he have had admission into any nation after a single attempt of the kind? Was it not to his honour to forego many of his natural rights, and to submit to the laws, even under despotic Governments, for the sake of doing good to men’s bodies? But if so, would it not be to the honour of a Christian missionary to do as much for the good of men’s souls? Rather, would it not be greatly to his shame if he did otherwise? But all is in vain: he is gone to America, in pursuit of liberty. Well does the apostle charge us which have engaged to be soldiers of Christ, not to entangle ourselves in the affairs of this life.

“It gives us great satisfaction to find that Brother –, whose mind also used to be pretty much engaged in those sort of things, has dropped them for things of greater consequence. May you, my brother, follow his example. We have heard nothing of you at present, except a little too much freedom in speaking on political subjects after your arrival, but what is favourable. We haye not had opportunity of knowing much of you; but it affords us good hope of your being a useful missionary, that you seem to love and revere the counsels of Brother Carey. A humble, careful, circumspect, disinterested, faithful, peaceable, and zealous conduct like his, will render you a blessing to society. Brother C. is greatly respected and beloved by all denominations here. I will tell you what I have forborne to tell him, lest it should hurt his modesty. Good old Mr. Newton, in a letter to Brother Ryland, dated August 8th, 1797, says: ‘Mr. Carey has favoured me with a letter, which, indeed, I accept as a favour, and I mean to thank him for it. I trust my heart as cordially unites with him for the success of his mission as though I were a brother Baptist myself. I look to such a man with reverence. He is more to me than bishop or archbishop: he is an apostle. May the Lord make all who undertake missions like-minded with Brother Carey!’

“You will also see somethings in Brother Thomas worthy of your imitation. He possesses a familiarity and affection in his address which is very desirable, and of which I conceive you are not wholly incapable.

“When I heard, by your letter from Madeira, of the unkind treatment that you met with on board, I felt almost sorry that you went in the steerage. Yet I find the disposal of public money to be a delicate undertaking.

“We have allowed for you £50 per annum for the present, which is rather more than Brother C. asked for. And while you are single, I dare say you will be so considerate and regardful of the undertaking as not to think we slight your services in allowing you no more. If God should provide you with a companion, we shall not be backward to give you every possible encouragement. If Brother C.’s plan, indeed, should be put in execution, you will have all things common. At all events we shall be happy to see you happy, and to contribute anything in our power to render you so. The Lord be with you, my dear brother. – I am, yours very affectionately,

“A. FULLER.”

TO MR. WARD.

“Kettering, Augnst 1st, 1801.

“My DEAR BROTHER WARD, – Lastnight, returning from Derby, where Brother Blundell and I have been to the ordination of a Mr. Newell, a member of dear Pearce’s, I found your letter of five sheets; I should have said I saw one from Felix Carey to Mr. Yates as we came through Leicester; and have been weeping for joy over both his and yours. I beseech you do not shorten your journal – your talent is to journalize. I understand more of the mision from those daily statements of things as they occur than by any other means. We think of having, soon, a day of solemn thanksgiving to God for the success which has attended your labours; and which may probably be held at Leicester. Yes, my dear brother, we will join with you in blessing and praising God. Two things have forcibly struck me in reading your letters: 1, That this strong barrier of Satan, the caste, shall not only be made to give way to the Gospel, but prove of singular advantage to Christ’s cause in India. It will be a test of sincerity. The Hindoos are distinguished by their hypocrisy; and if no extraordinary test of their sincerity existed, you could never be satisfied of it. But a willingness to lose caste may be as great a proof of sincerity with you, as anything which our converts can offer can be with us. They may not all be sincere; neither are ours: but I hope some will. 2. That with this test you may safely admit them to baptism without waiting for further proofs. This, I think, is the Scripture plan. The apostles did not hold back the primitive converts; but if they professed faith in Christ, and were willing to forego their former course of life, and to comply with the Christian precepts; they, without further hesitation, baptized them. If, after this, they turned back, they dealt with them accordingly. Whatsoever ye have seen and heard of them, do; and the God of peace will be with you. I think we in England place too much dependence on our good opinion of each other’s piety. A profession of Christ, not contradicted by words or actions, should be our ground of proceeding. We have had many fears about your colony being taken; but the good understanding which subsists between you and Messrs. Brown and Buchanan, and through them with Government, makes us easy. God has given this favour in the eyes of men, no doubt, for gracious purposes. I have a hundred things to rejoice in; among which, the state of things with that dear youth Felix, is not the least; and I hope his brother William will soon follow. 0 my brother, God has honoured you much in making you instrumental to the good of these dear children, as well as in other respects. Praise Him, for His mercy endureth for ever! It appears to me a token for good that what success you have hitherto met with, has appeared to be indirect and preparatory for something future. Brothers C. and T. were looking for Hindoos: God gave them a Fernandez, a Cunningham, &c., by means of whom a kind of establishment is given to the recording of His name in Dinagepore. You were anxious to settle up the country: God impelled you to settle where you are, that the sacred Scriptures might be printed without molestation. You still kept praying for the poor Hindoos: God gave you Felix and William! (This moment a letter is arrived from Brother Ryland, containing Brother Marshman’s journal. I must leave off writing and look it over. 0 blessed for ever be the Lord, and blessed be you! Surely, I never loved you all so well before. To say, Give my love to Brother Marshman, is feeble. If I could send my soul over in a letter, it would come and mingle with your souls, with your labours, your sorrows and your joys!) Well, I have not half read the journal of dear M.; yet I must return to it. 0 how his note to, and conversation with, the sick lady at the hotel endears him to me. There is a fitness in your corresponding with me; Brother M. with Brother Ryland; and Brother B. with Brother Sutcliffe; and I do not wish it otherwise: I love you all, I think, alike. Poor Brother T.! His afflictions, I am inclined to think, account for many of his eccentricities. Those seasons of dejection in which he could do nothing, and which once I thought hard of him for, might be owing to something tending to what has lately taken place. I find I have not got all Brother Mo’s journal – only from September 15th, 1800, to December 10th. The rest Brother Ryland will send soon. By the bye, your letter cost 9s. 2d., and Brother Ryland’s 10s.

“I am now very ill, and obliged to give up a tour through Oxfordshire and Berkshire to collect for the mission. I got £130 in April, in Devonshire, &c.; £70 last month in Norwich; Brother Sutcliffe £320 in London. £100 is just sent from the Glasgow Missionary Society. But doing my own work and that of dear Pearce, is too much.

“Lord’s day, August 2nd. This day I have been so ill as to be unable to preach. Your letters were read instead of sermonls. In printing No. 7, I, by mere oversight, omitted the insertion of Brother Brunsdon’s journal. It lay among some other papers sent by Brother Sutcliffe, till I was too late. On looking them over, I afterwards saw it, and perceived some things which were omitted in the others. I hope he will not be grieved at the omission, or communicate the less in future. All your communications are dear to us, and we see some peculiar talents in each.

“Monday, August 3rd. I am taking medicines to-day. My complaint is a very bad cold, attended with fever. You have had to encounter the heathen doctrine of laying sin at God’s door; which, undoubtedly, is subversive of all religion. But I have been thinking when they come to read such passages as Isaiah xix. 14; Rom. ix. 18, they’ll tell you your Scriptures teach their doctrine; and they will ask (as ver. 19), Why doth He yet find fault? who hath resisted His will? You must beware that in opposing their lie, you do not betray the truth.

“You will now also have a number of cases come before you similar to those in the primitive times, as of unbelieving husbands and wives deserting their companions, &c., &c .. I trust you will be endowed with wisdom from above, according to your wants.

“Well, Brother Sutcliffe has been here and brought dear Brunsdon’s journal; and the rest of Brother Marshman’s is come also. How precious is each! I weep and rejoice with you all. Surely, brethren Powell, Fernandez, and Thomas (if he retain his reason), will form a branch at Dinagepore, and will keep up worship there. You could occasionally visit them. Would not Mr. C. be disposed to visit them? Or has he a caste to lose? Brother S. and I have been talking much about investing moneys in India. If a sufficiency was sent over to support the mission, we are all persuaded it would greatly injure it in the esteem of subscribers. On the other hand it is very desirable that you should have a resort in times of need. We think of dividing the matter, of sending a certain sum, which may serve in part to meet your wants, and the rest you draw for. We hope what was sent last Christmas with Mr. Short, and the 8,000 rupees you have taken up, will meet your wants at present. As you will now have occasion to visit the houses of the converted natives, it may be expected that the malice of the Brahmins will invent something scandalous against you: I am persuaded you will all watch against everything which might furnish them with a handle for reproach.

“I was reading the 25th chapter of Isaiah this morning (August 8):-The spreading of the Gospel feast (ver. 6); the destruction of idolatrous darkness (ver. 7). The conversion of the heathen will be a kind of resurrection, and a glorious one too, accompanied with great happiness and respect to God’s people (ver. 8); this great blessing will come after long waiting for it by the church (ver. 9); and the heathen power shall fall, to rise no more (vers. 10-12).

“August 10.- I am but little better in health; but have just finished the MS. for a sixpenny number of Periodical Accounts, consisting of extracts from your journals and letters. It goes to Morris tomorrow, and he begins next day to print it. Our meeting for thanksgiving is appointed for the 19th inst., at Leicester. 0 my dear Brother Ward, you have an interest in my prayers; and I am persuaded I have in yours. Jesus Christ be with you all! male and female, Europeans and Hindoos. – Ever yours,

“A. FULLER.”

LETTER TO NEW CONVERTS.

“To Brother Krishno, Sister Joymonee, and any other who have since joined them in heartily embracing and publicly professing the name of the Lord Jesus.

“DEARLY BELOVED IN OURLORD, – The joy of our hearts’, was great when the news of your conversion reached us. In you we see the first-fruits of Hindostan, the travail of our Redeemer’s soul, and a rich return for our imperfect labours. You know, beloved, that the love of Christ is of a constraining nature. It was this, and only this, that constrained us to meditate the means of your conversion. It was this that constrained our brethren that are with you to leave their country, and all their worldly prospects, and to encounter perils, hardships, and reproaches. If you stand fast in the Lord, and are saved, this is their and our reward.

“We affectionately congratulate you on your having embraced the Gospel, and united with the Church of Christ. To unite with the church below is to be akin to that which is above. ‘Ye are come to the Mount Zion, the city of the living God; to an innumerable company of angels; to the spirits of the just made perfect; to God, the Judge of all; and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.’ The nature of Christianity is to unite those that were divided, that all may be one, as the Father is in Christ, and Christ in the Father; that we may be one in both. Satan wishes to divide men from God and one another; but the Gospel breaks down every middle wall of partition, making us of one heart and, of one soul. Neither distance of situation, difference of customs, language, or colour, shall prevent a union of spirit. We welcome you to the participation of all the privileges and blessings of the Gospel. You were once darkness, but are now made light in the Lord: walk as children of light. You have lived in almost all evil; but now put off these things, and put on the new man, speaking everyone truth t0 his neighbour. Abhor and shun every kind of idolatry; for this God hateth. You have lived without hope and without God in the world; but now ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God. As a virgin you are married to Christ, your bridegroom. Forget, therefore, your own people and your father’s house. He is your Lord, and worship ye Him. But we say the less to you, knowing that our dear brethren who are with you will teach you all things – how ye ought to walk, and to please God. We only add: Lay your account with persecutions for Christ’s sake. This was the lot of the Master; and they that would follow Him must expect to suffer with Him. But if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him before men, He will deny us before His Father and the holy angels. We must all be tempted: blessed is the man that endureth temptation; when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.

“Dearly beloved! let your chaste and holy conversation, your meekness, uprightness, gentleness, goodness, and firm adherence to the truth, continue to refresh our bowels in the Lord! Pray for and seek after the salvation of your benighted countrymen. Recommend the Gospel to them by patience and by long-suffering, by kindness, and by love unfeigned. Love and obey those who are set over you in the Lord. In short, as members of civil society, be peaceable and faithful; as heads or branches of families, be kind and orderly; and, as members of the church of God, be holy in all manner of conversation.

“Signed at our committee meeting, held at Leicester, August 19th, 1801.

“JOHN SUTCLIFFE.
“ROBERT MILLS.
“EGERTON LEIGH.
“BENJ. EVANS.
“T. BLUNDELL.
“BENJ. CAVE.
“J. W. MORRIS.
“RICHD. BRUIN.
“JOHN YATES.
“ANDREW FULLER.”

EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS UPON MISSIONARY AFFAIRS.

A DEBATING COMMITTEE.

“I would in general recommend whoever may succeed us, to beware, 1, Of a speechifying committee. We have never had a speech among us from the beginning. All is prayer and brotherly consultation; and I do not remember a measure carried by a mere majority. We talk over things till we agree. 2. Of a fondness for multiplying rules and resolutions. An excess of legislation, if I may so call it, is perplexing and injurious. We have not imagined ourselves to be legislators, but brethren acting with you in the same object.”

A FAREWELL AT GRAVESEND.

“MY VERY DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS, – We set off from London on Lord’s day evening, nine o’clock, and got down to Gravesend a little after one. There we learned that everything was done at Gravesend necessary for sailing, and that the ship was then probably under sail. We therefore immediately took a boat, and came to you about a mile down the river. As we found you under sail, we could only just descend into the cabin, and say farewell. We could have been glad to have sung and prayed with you once more, but that pleasure was denied us. On leaving the ship, we watched her progress two or three miles, and many an affectionate prayer was put up by us on your behalf while you were gradually receding from our view. The following lines are expressive of what were the feelings of one, and I believe of all, at and since that time:-

‘Farewell, beloved friends, once more farewell!
For you our hearts have felt, and still shall feel:
Of late we’ve cared, and some attention given;
Now ‘we must leave you to the care of Heaven.

‘If we should ever wickedly omit
To aid, or offer up our strong desire,
Let our right hands their wonted skill forget,
And all our hopes and joys in death expire!

‘Go then, dear friends, in yourRedeemer’s cause, -
Go plough the briny wave, and brave the deep:
Mercy and truth be with you as, you pass;
Preserve your souls, your lives in safety keep.

‘Go join those much-loved names on yonder shores;
Go share their ardent, honourable toil;
Mingle your tears with theirs – with theirs your joys,
And bear to them the blessings of your native isle.

‘Go teach the nations, sound the Saviour’s name:
As He was sent of God, He doth you send;
His word of promise still remains the same, -
Lo! I am with you always to the end!’ “

LORD WELLESLEY AND THE MISSIONARIES.

“I have said some things to Brothers Carey and Ward, and must repeat to you: that I and some others are under strong apprehensions that the friendship of Dr. Buchanan to you and the mission is purchased too dear, and that you are in great danger of being drawn into his worldly, political religion. Your printed proposals, which must be of his moulding, have sunk you much in the esteem of many. They are unworthy of your names. How can you talk of Hindoos seeking and desiring the Scriptures, in a way as if they were ready to receive them? Gratitude required your acknowledgments to the Marquis W., but not your signatures to a paper which approves and boasts of his wars, which are here generally thought to be nearly as ambitious and unjust as those of Buonaparte. If Dr. B. had not known and felt that you were under his influence, he dared not have altered Brother Carey’s Sanscrit speech, and sent it, interspersed with flattery, to the Governor, without the author’s knowledge. Beware, my brethren, of the counsel of this Mr. Worldly-wise-man. He will draw you off from the simplicity of Christ; and, under the pretence of liberality, &c., you will be shorn, like Samson of his locks. ‘ Beware of the flatterer!’ Mr. Brown is, I trust, a godly man; but he is entangled with a worldly religion. You may be equally in danger from the kindness of the great, as Fountain was oran opposite spirit.”

KING GEORGE AND THE BENGALEE TESTAMENT.

“Mr. Fawcett published apiece on Anger. The king, who is said to be subject to passion, read it with much interest, and sent the author a diploma. Mr. F.’s modesty induced him to decline the use of it; but he declined it in a letter to his Majesty, written in such a manner as to give no offence. His Majesty, in reply, desired him (it is said) to ask any favour of him in future, and he should be happy to oblige him. Last spring, a young man, of Halifax, son to one.of Mr. F.’s friends, a dissenter, was guilty of forgery, and was condemned to death last August. Great was the distress of the family, of course. Mr. F. addressed a letter to the king, stating some extenuating circumstances, and entreating, if it might be, his Majesty’s pardon. It was granted, to the astonishment of the country; since a case of forgery has never been pardoned before during his Majesty’s reign. I forget the young man’s name. The king has several dissenters, I am told, in his family, and is very determined that the other servants do not interrupt them in the enjoyment of their religious privileges. We have presented him with a Bengalee Testament, which he received very graciously. We accompanied it with the following address: ‘The Baptist Missionary Society humbly entreat that this copy of the translation of the New Testament into the Bengalee language may be accepted by your Majesty as a token of their dutiful regard to your person and government; and beg leave to express their desire that your Majesty may live to see the principles it contains universally prevail throughout your Eastern dominions.’ He told Mr. Bowyer, who presented it, that he accepted the book with pleasure, and requested him to return the managers of the Society his best thanks for it.”

DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS SECTS.

“You have introduced your journal with a few friendly remarks on my publications. I thank you. I hope I have not been in any of my writings a Mindoza or an Humphreys; though I am aware there has been a mixture of self-seeking: which has run through this and everything else I have done. There is not the same degree of importance, I allow, in some of my controversies as in others; but they all seemed to me of importance sufficient to require a defence. I see different schemes of religion like different soils and climates. Socinianism and Universalism are the frigid zones of Christianity; now and then a spark of what is apparently practical appears in their lives, and that is all. Socinians and Universalists are men of the world. V — is little short of a blasphemer, and a man, I believe, of no principle. Arianism approaches a little nearer, talks more about Christ; but I see no fruit. I heard a sermon from one of them (who was supposed to be more evangelical than some) as dead as ditch­water, and at an immense remove from the Gospel. Arminianism admits of more fruit, but oh! it is miserably cold. I conversed much in Ireland with one of their ablest men, and all very friendly. Professing myself to be a poor sinful creature every day of my life, he would have persuaded me that I was free from sin! I assured him I was far from it, and I believed those who thought they were, to be deluded and blind to the spirituality of the Divine law. ‘What should you think,’ said he, ‘of a man who assents to the atonement, but never felt the necessity ‘of it?’ ‘I own,’ said I, ‘I should think him wanting in the essentials of religion.’ I presently found this was his own case. (Yet this person was reckoned one of the greatest and best men in the Wesleyan connexion.) He is a considerable writer, though not a preacher, and a very liberal man. He told me his ideas were chiefly directed to the necessity of inward religion. I told him that it was by believing in a Christ without us, that inward religion was best promoted. Sandemanianism, of which I met with plenty in Dublin, is making progress in many places. It is cold as death, in one view, but full of contention; and elated with spiritual pride. It talks much of knowledge and faith,. but it is a stranger to love, except a strong attachment to its own. It is as bitter and censorious and confident as Huntingdon; but not so foul in its diction. It has swept away a promising congregation in Dublin (and Cooper, who was lately famous for preaching to the Jews, at the head of them). Antinomianism is loose, and foul; its congregations have a few individuals whose hearts are right; but the fruit they bring forth in general leadeth unto death. Under the influence of this presumptuous system, our churches in Norfolk, Suffolk, and many other places, are going to ruin. Nowhere does Antinomianism grow more than in London. (There is not a man there who properly lifts up a standard against it. Indeed, they are all disposed to compromise matters with it. It gets into all their churches, committees, &c., &c.) Mr. Booth, though a very good man, yet feels no alarm on that score; all his apprehensions are, the churches will be ruined by American divinity! I think as highly of the integrity and piety of A. Booth as of almost any man I know; but his prejudices are strong, and when once fixed, almost immovable. He and I are nearer together in sentiment by far than he and many others with whom, nevertheless, he is on ‘terms of close friendship; while his conscience has, within a few months, impelled him to publish a book against me! I have no intention to answer it. . . . So you see, I am not quite a “drawcansir” (This word is faithfully transcribed from the copy. Being unable to suggest a substitute, as some unusual word was plainly intended, I must leave the reader to draw on his imagination.) (I think the word is, which tbe reviewers once called me), cutting and wounding every man that stands in my way. Yet, if I can state the truth amidst all these discordant notions, without any direct attack on any of them, it may have its use. Would you think it? Dr. Ryland, you know, is one of the most pacific of men. .  .  .  I am reckoned (from the days of Ward being in the neighbourhood of Birmingham) a man with a sledge hammer in my hand: yet I am always wishing to write no more in a controversial way; and Dr. R. is always pressing me to depict Antinomianism and Sandemanianism in their own colours!

“0 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection! I have felt within the last half-year an increasing attachment to Christ crucified. Have preached ever since about nothing else, in a manner. How sweet is the way of salvation through His name! I feel how much more useful I should be if I were more imbued in this subject. I lately preached from Gal. iv. 19, with much interest.

“My mind is often present with you, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. If I had the wings of a dove, I would often visit you; I see the work of conversion has a little stopped with you of late. You must expect times of this kind to try you, and much disorder among those who have already believed. A good old deacon once remarked to me, from Gal. vi. 1, there will always be work enough for those who are kept a little more spiritual than their brethren, in lifting up those who are fallen.”

COMMENTS ON PASSING EVENTS.

RELIGIOUS TOLERATION.

“Dr. Priestley has this weeksailed for America. I do not blame him. He has printed a farewell sermon, in the preface of which he assigns the reason of his going. Some have accused him of timidity on account of the reasons he gives, but I consider such accusations as brutal and malevolent. It is to the disgrace of England to have driven him away! Such treatment is enough to make a bad cause appear a good one! I am glad he is gone to America. He will have justice done there. There let him write, and if our cause cannot stand in the fair field of argument, let it fall.”

FRENCH REVOLUTION.

“Public affairs wear a dark aspect to a political eye; but to the eye of faith it is otherwise. In France, the Mountain (or Marat’s) party are uppermost, and have guillotined almost all the rest. Brissot and his party were, twenty-one of them, guillotined together last October. Among them were Rabaut and Lasource, two Protestant ministers, and men whom I always esteemed of great virtue. No, I mistake; Rabaut was executed by himself a while after. The Mountain party are desperate men; but perhaps none but such men could carry things through. Their arms this last summer and winter have been almost everywhere victorious. I reckon there will be no more campaigns worth the name. The combined Powers are about done over. Old Catharine is a baggage. She talked all along, but never meant to do anything. She looked on while Prussia, and Austria, and England were weakening themselves, and has reserved her strength to obtain the Turkish empire without interruption from them, at which her mouth has been watering for years, and against which she is now upon the eve of declaring war. Prussia has had enough with France, and, it is said, has declared off. Austria is poor, and can go on but a little longer.

“We have sent out fleets to take Domingo and the French West India Islands. The Convention, to counteract us, has lately passed a decree utterly abolishing slavery in all their islands; and admitting the blacks to sit in their assembly as representatives of the islands. For all this, I say, Blessed be God! Slavery will soon be abolished! America has resolved to abolish it in less than two years; and if the British Parliament does not unite, the slaves will liberate themselves when liberty comes to be spread all around them. The French, in passing their decree, owned their fault in not having done it before; and declared it to be no favour, but the mere restoring to them of what had been unrighteously taken away.

“The negroes, when liberated, will defend their own islands.

“A dark cloud hangs over us.We expect the French will shortly attempt to invade us. They have been making great preparations for it for several months. Great numbers are going to America. Dr. Priestley and eighty or ninety families are going this month.”

ROBESPIERRE AND DANTON.

“I have heard of scarcely any debates of late in the Convention. I conceive free debate is not admitted there. It is as much as a man’s life is worth to oppose the prevailing party in any way. From such a situation men of independent minds must withdraw, and leave it to those who know how to cringe and tyrannize by turns. Robespierre is about head ‘cock of the walk’ at this time. He is another Dr. Johnson for temper. Thousands court his favour, while he seems to court no man’s; but is more frequently employed, like a bull with his tail, in whisking the flies from off his back. In the Jacobin club many strive to gain his esteem by making violent and sanguinary motions. He tells them to their face that they are villains. In the Convention he cuts up all by turns; and after he speaketh they rise not again!

“Matters with us are going on with great severity; five or six gentlemen, chiefly Scotch, are condemned to transportation to Botany Bay, and are now about setting off, merely for associating in what they imprudently called a convention for the purpose of petitioning for a reform in Parliament. Their names are Muir, Palmer, Margorat, Gerald, &c., and, I think, two or three more.

“Danton, who had vied insanuinary measures with Robespierre, is this week expected to lose his head. The Cordeliers, who now suffer, are charged with a conspiracy. Hebert and Clootz were of that party, and, I suppose, Danton. They are now accused by the Jacobins of Atheism, and persecution of religious worship. Clootz, and some others of the party, it is said, died like Atheists, professing their persuasion that they were going into a state of non-existence!”

PEACE AND WAR.

“We have had many fears for you on account of the war between us and Denmark. A dreadful battle was fought last month by the fleet under Admiral Parker or Lord Nelson, off Copenhagen. There was a truce immediately concluded, which we have no doubt will issue in a peace with the Northern powers. Russia and Prussia, and Sweden and Denmark, had formed a league to resist our claim of searching their ships in time of war for contraband articles. The sudden death of Paul of Russia, and the battle of Copenhagen, seem to have broken the league. We pray you and your colony may be preserved. All the West India Islands of Sweden and Denmark have been taken by the English this spring, besides two or three successful engagements in Egypt. We long for the return of peace, though we are not clamorous after the manner of some, who love it so dearly that they seem to long to wade up to the ankles with blood to obtain it.”

POLITICAL AGITATORS.

“We are required by the New Testament to pray for all that are in authority; but this we cannot do without mockery; unless we bear good will towards them, and that in their official capacity. It is written, ‘Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler (or rulers) of thy people:’ but to deal in sarcastic reflections upon them is the worst kind of evil speaking, and is utterly inconsistent with the practice of Christ and His apostles. Paul and Peter and Jude never say anything disrespectful of the powers that were, nor allowed it in Christians. On the contrary, they described the ‘liberty’ of that day in a light which should make us tremble how we join with or approve of them in ours. 2 Pet. ii. 10; Jude viii. 9, 10. (You ‘are not ignorant of many in India being dissatisfied with the Company.’ Very likely, and I am not ignorant of many in England who are the same with the Government, and who, I believe, would not only be glad to see things reformed, but utterly overturned; but I never give encouragement to such talk, much less join it.) I am not an old man, but I have lived long enough to perceive that nine out of ten who are clamorous for liberty only wish for a share in the power: and follow them into private life and you will find them tyrants to their wives, children, servants, and neighbours. Now, whatever faults I may see in the Government of my country, I had rather be under it as it is than under such kind of liberty as I should have reason to expect from such characters. I have seen enough of French liberty to be fully convinced that, although there were well-meaning individuals among them, whose object was justice and the melioration of the state of mankind, yet the great body of the leading men, and by whose influence all the rest were led, were unprincipled infidels, whose object was to climb over the throne and get the supreme power, and to root up not merely Popery but the very existence of Christianity. And now they have got the supreme power in France, their object is to extend it over Europe, and even the whole earth.”

TRAFALGAR.

“We have been hitherto mercifully preserved as a nation. The ranging Bear is now gone into Germany – has entered Vienna. All Europe is, in a manner, up in arms. We know not what will be the end of these things. On October 21st, a terrible battle was fought at Trafalgar, near Gibraltar, between the British and combined fleets – 27 of the former against 33 (I think) of the latter. Nineteen of the enemy’s ships-of-the-line were taken or destroyed; but Lord Nelson, the commander-in-chief, was shot in the action. Almost all the French and Spanish admirals were taken. Four of the ships which escaped, were met and taken by four British, under Sir Richard Strachan, a few days after. Afterwards we had a day of public thanksgiving, on December 6, on which I preached from Psalm lxv. 5. Awful as these events are, they may contribute to prevent what would be more awful – an invasion.”

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html

A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: Thomas Ekins Fuller


This is the sixth chapter of the above-titled book. The earlier chapters can be found via the categories listing at the end of the post.

 

CHAPTER 6: Holding the Ropes

 

“FRIENDS,” said Mr. Fuller, soon after the missionaries had departed, “talk to me about coadjutors and assistants, but I know not how it is, I find a difficulty. Our undertaking to India really appeared to me, on its commencement, to be somewhat like a few men who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine which had never before been explored. We had no one to guide us; and while we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said, ‘Well, I will go down if you will hold the rope!’ But before he went down, he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us at the mouth of the pit, to this effect, that while we lived we should never let go the rope. You understand me. There was great responsibility attached to us who began the business.” Such words as these enable us to understand and appreciate the devoted and untiring service of Mr. Fuller’s life. He went about his work as one who was constrained by vows given to God and man.

“In addition to the numerous collections made in various parts of the kingdom, and the management of the accounts, the correspondence of the secretary increased rapidly on his hands. To him was chiefly committed the drawing up of official letters to the missionaries, all of whom received additional tokens of his affection in private communications. The interests of the mission demanded a still more extensive correspondence at home; its cause required a frequent advocacy with cabinet ministers, members of parliament, and East India directors, not for the purpose of procuring exclusive privileges, but for securing a legal passage for the missionaries, and the protection justly due to every peaceable subject of colonial government. Nor were there wanting bitter and subtle enemies, both at home and abroad, who left no means untried to accomplish the ruin of the mission, and whose machinations were successively exposed and defeated by the unwearied pen of the secretary.” (Note: Memoir of Mr. Fuller, by his son, A. G. Fuller.)

His journeys took him into almost all the counties of England, Ireland, and Scotland. The amount of physical toil they involved was at that time something very serious. The luxury of coaches had been hardly introduced; for the first stage-coach blew its blast through the green fields of England, and crossed the Cheviot Hills, in the year 1788, on its way from London to Edinburgh. These were the days in which men made their wills, and left affectionate messages, before they ventured far from home. Moreover, his journeys were the more irksome because his writings had already gone before him, stirring up discussion and strife in all parts. Sharp, subtle controversialists everywhere waylaid him for a personal encounter. There was the Sandemanian in Scotland, and the high Calvinist in various parts of England and Wales. Think of Luther and Melancthon making a companion tour in Italy and Germany, and you will have a notion of what Andrew Fuller met with in some parts of the country. Some would seek advice on personal or ecclesiastical matters, for it was not often that one so wise in counsel journeyed through the country. And yet, with all the toil it involved, it is good indeed to think of one with so much tone and power of character going through the land. The savour of his visits, apart from their direct object, was felt in every part for many years, and indeed still remains. Men vexed and lonely, struggling with difficulties, felt the bracing influence of his character; children kept the memory of his solemn blessing; and the sick and weary found consolation in his grave and tender words. Moreover, glimpses are afforded to us of the religious state of the country in that day, which no other memoranda has furnished. No man could have thus entered into the religious and social life of all with whom he met, and have imparted so much help, without such an intensity and activity of mental and spiritual life as must have told upon the strongest frame. The living sacrifice finds the same end as if smitten with the knife or the fire !

Mr. Fuller was a reserved man – & lover of quiet communion and silence; and to one of such a nature the cost of these journeyings must have been far greater than to a man of freer temperament. ” I am going,” says he, in reference to his first journeys, ” among faces which I have never seen. My spirit revolts at the idea, but duty calls. I am subject,” he continues, “to many faults in company, and often incur guilt. The Lord keep me in the way I go, and enable me to keep my heart with all diligence. Oh ! that I may be spiritual, humble, and watchful in all companies. May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ prosper my way. May the God of Israel preserve my family, friends, and connections during my absence !”

Mr. Fuller’s first movements led him into Scotland, where he was received with much kindness by some who were his theological opponents. Dr. Stuart, Mr. Mc Lean, Dr. Erskine, Mr. Haldane, and the venerable David Dale, all gave him a warm welcome. His fame as a writer had prepared the way for his appeals; everywhere large congregations were gathered, sometimes numbering more than four or five thousand persons. He returned to Kettering with upwards of £900 for the mission, and with earnest solicitations to repeat his visits, and promises of future help. While on his first journey, at Glasgow, he received the sad tidings of Samuel Pearce’s death. One of his dearest friends, and the warmest promoters of the mission, was thus taken away just as he commenced his toils. ” Oh, Jonathan,” he exclaimed, ” very pleasant hast thou been to me. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan! Oh, Jonathan! thou wast slain upon thy high places.” Sometime afterwards, when thinking of his friend, he says: ” The God of Samuel Pearce be my God.”

The warmth of his reception in Scotland encouraged him to repeat his visit. In 1802, we find him sailing along the Humber to Hull, with only elevenpence in his pocket. He had started with four guineas, but waiting for the passage-boat almost exhausted his store. ” I was afraid,” he writes, “I should be in the position of a number of small ships hereabouts at low tide – run a-ground! I am thinking “whether I must not take a walk before dinner, instead of having one. It was a fine sight,” he writes of this passage, ” to see the waves, each as large as the roof of a small house, continually beating against our vessel, while she rode triumphantly above them all. I felt no sickness, but stood above-deck, having hold of a rope with my hand, and gazed all the time with a kind of sublime pleasure at the majestic scene.”

He stayed on his way at York, determined to see what he could do with “serious church people,” and received some encouragement, for he went away with about £12. He met with several clergymen, and from his conversation with one of them, a Mr. ————, the author of a pamphlet called “The True Churchman,” it will be seen that he did not succeed with “serious churchmen” by forgetting his own principles. The author of the “True Churchman” said, almost apologetically, “In the course of my work I have said some things which some Dissenters have thought severe.” A. P. replies: ” I suppose you mean in calling them schismatics ?” T. C.: ” Yes, in part.” A. F.: “I never felt it; for it did not appear to be aimed to hurt us, but merely to screen yourselves in the view of your bishops from the suspicion of favouring us. It did not hurt me, at all events, because I perceived no justice in it. The term schism is relative, and has reference to the society from which separation is made. Before you can fix the guilt of schism upon us, you must prove, 1, that the Church of England is a true church; 2, that it is the only true church in the kingdom.” “He did not go about it,” he adds, “and we were very sociable until eleven o’clock.”

On his second visit to Scotland, notwithstanding that the kindly welcome was in no respect lessened, Mr. Fuller encountered more of the keen scrutiny of his northern friends. He received from the Baptists a letter on church “order and discipline,” to which he sent a caustic reply in the shape of a parable. ” In one of the new Italian republics, two independent companies are formed for the defence of the country. Call the one A and the other B. In forming themselves, and learning their exercise, they each profess to follow the mode of discipline used by the ancient Romans. Their officers, uniforms, and evolutions, however, are, after all, somewhat different from each other. Hence disputes arise, and B refuses to march against the enemy with A, as being disorderly. A gives his reasons why he thinks himself orderly; but they are far from satisfying B, who not only treats him as deviating from rule, but as almost knowing himself to do so, and wilfully persisting in it. A, tired of jarring, marches against the enemy by himself. B sits at home deeply engaged in studying order and discipline. ‘If your form and rules,’ says A, ‘are so preferable to ours, why do you not make use of them ? Discipline is a means, not an end. Be not always boasting of your order, and reproaching others for the want of it; let us see the use of it. It is true, like the Quakers in 1745, you have bought waistcoats for our soldiers, and we thank you for them; but we had rather you would fight yourselves.’ “

On his arrival at Glasgow, a Baptist church sent a messenger with the offer of their pulpit if they could be satisfied that Mr. Fuller’s faith accorded with theirs ! The pastor brought with him a statement of their own creed, which Mr. Fuller glanced at, with the remark that he approved of it, as far he could then judge, but added that he did not come to Glasgow as a candidate for their pulpit, and that it was an indifferent matter whether he occupied it or not. The matter appears to have been solemnly debated by the Scotch doctrinaires, and at eleven o’clock a deacon returned with their decision, that if he would not make a confession they could not receive him. “Very well,” was the reply; ” I shall go to the tabernacle, and consider your conduct as a renunciation of connexion with us as English churches; for it implies that you have no confidence in us.” The Baptists repented, but it was too late. He preached in the tabernacle to between four and five thousand people, and collected £200. Eventually, however, the Baptist church became sincerely penitent, and he agreed to preach for them, receiving about £45 as their contribution. The indirect work he was doing all this while appears in his communion with these Scotch brethren. He told them he had heard of the Baptists in Scotland being negligent of free preaching to the unconverted, and of family religion. Whether this charge were true he could not tell, but he earnestly exhorted them to make it evidently appear that they were far more anxious that those around them should become Christians, than that they should embrace their opinions on baptism.

He never seemed to travel anywhere without leaving the savour of his presence behind him. In the coaches, or at hotels, he met with all sorts of characters – Jews, infidels, and libertines; and though he never obtruded himself upon their society, when he was drawn into conversation he spoke with such solemn earnestness, and dealt such home-thrusts, as to put to silence the scoffers. He describes meeting with a Jew, who began, he says, by ” accommodating” him with curses and oaths on the most trifling occasions. Afterwards, in a discussion, the Jew warmly praised the Ten Commandments. Mr. Fuller acquiesced, and added: “I have been not a little hurt, Sir, in observing, since we have been together, how lightly you treat one of them – ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.’” “I must own,” said the man, ” it is a bad habit.” There was no more swearing.

His personal contact with extreme Calvinists proved a most useful supplement to his writings, enabling him to grapple with their objections and explain his meaning more clearly. Journeying southward, he met with a person at Portsea, who thus accosted him:- ” Sir, I was greatly disappointed in you.” – “Yes, and I in you.” – “I mean in hearing you last Lord’s day morning; I did not expect to hear such a sermon from you.” – ” Perhaps so; and I did not expect such treatment from you. I had heard things of the Portsea people which gave me but a mean opinion of them; but I have hitherto no cause to complain; so that we are both agreeably disappointed.” – “Well, but I do not like your book.” – ” You do not understand it.” – ” Oh, I cannot believe faith to be a duty: we cannot believe.” – “You seem to think we ought to do nothing but what we can do.” – “True.” – “And we can do nothing.” – “True.” – “Then we ought to do nothing; . . . and if so, we have no sin, and need no Saviour.” – ” Oh no, no, no ! I want to talk more with you.” – ” Yes, but the mischief is, you cannot count five.” – “What do you mean?” – “First, you say, we ought to do nothing but what we can do. Secondly, we can do nothing. Then I say, thirdly, we ought to do nothing. Fourthly, we have no sin. Fifthly, we need no Saviour.” ” After all, this person, and all of that stamp, were greatly interested in the preaching, and pressed me to go to their houses; would have it that I was of their principles, &c., and were much concerned when I went away. I told them I thought very differently from them in various respects; but they took all well; and I prayed with them before we parted.” 

His influence was not only felt in rebuking the narrowness of his own denomination, but individuals at least within the pale of the church were moved to unwonted liberality. At one time he was permitted to preach for the Bible Society in a parish church in Scotland. He thus speaks of it in his journal: – ” About six o’clock we reached Saltcoats. Here I found that the parish minister, on hearing that I was to collect at the Burgher meeting-house, resolved to have a sermon at the same hour in the church, and a collection for the Bible Society. He said, however, that if I chose to preach the sermon in the church, and let the collection be applied to the Bible Society, I was welcome to do so. As soon as this was mentioned to me by another person, I immediately sent to the clergyman, offering to relinquish my own object, and, if he was agreeable, to preach the sermon in the church, in favour of the Bible Society. This he acceded to, and I called on him before worship. I then observed that he must be aware of what he had proposed being contrary to the rules of the Assembly of the Church of Scotland; and that I should be sorry if any ill consequences were to follow on my account. He replied that his presbyters were well disposed, and he had no fears on that head. I then preached the sermon, and pleaded with all the energy I could for the Bible Society. After worship, I went to my inn: then called to sup and lodge with the clergyman. (Such is the custom in Scotland.) While sitting in his house, I told him I felt happy in the opportunity of expressing my regard for the Bible Society, and requested him to add my guinea to the collection. But during my call at the inn, after worship, he had consulted with his friends on the subject of my having been deprived of a collection. He therefore answered me by saying, ‘I. cannot accept your guinea; and, moreover, I must insist on your accepting half the collection for your object; and you must make no objection whatever to it. Such is the conclusion of our session.’ Finding him quite resolute, I yielded, and took half the collection, which, however, did not amount to £6.”

On one of his journeys, he called one day on a celebrated clergyman of the Church of England, being perhaps the most popular man at that time among the evangelical party. He asked, without telling his name, for a subscription for the mission. The clergyman refused, and spoke in slighting terms both of the movement and of the body from which it emanated. He added, however, “There is one great man among you, and his treatise, entitled ‘The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation,’ is one of the most masterly productions I know.” The following colloquy ensued:-

“A. F.: “For all the faults in that work, Sir, I am responsible.” – C. rises from his chair with eager apologies, and ultimately presses a subscription.

A. F. (in his own deep bass): “No, Sir, not a farthing! You do not give in faith.” A little friendly conference, however, led to its acceptance. On one occasion he was even permitted to preach in a parish church in England, but that was not on behalf of the mission.

The readers of Mr. Marshman’s exhaustive book on the Serampore Mission will understand the amount of labour involved in defending the interests of the mission, and securing the liberties of the missionaries, by correspondence with the Government. He had interviews with several cabinet ministers, in which he pleaded the cause of the missionaries with dignity and effect. At one of them, one of the king’s ministers, probably Lord Liverpool, remarked, with genuine diplomatic courtesy, that he “quite approved of liberty of thought in matters of religion.” A deep voice, in measured words, answered: ” My lord, we do not wish for liberty to think: that you cannot give or take away: we ask for liberty to act.” His lordship, it is said, quite started, and, looking round, encountered the stern eye of Andrew Fuller, who sat rather behind the rest of the deputation.

He had, moreover, to do battle through the press with the agents of the East India Company unfavourable to the missionary enterprise. His reply to Major Scott Waring is a powerful piece of irony. The hot, blustering style of the major led him into all sorts of inaccuracies, which are most mercilessly ridiculed by his critic; while his own cautious way of dealing with facts left not one break in his armour for the weapon of his opponent.

In addition to all the labours of his pastorate, Andrew Fuller was secretary to the mission, collector, defender of the brethren as well as the Faith, all at the same time. All these toils were pursued, amidst frequent attacks of illness, with an undaunted resolution and perseverance. The nature of his engagements, and their overwhelming pressure, are summed up in a letter to an editor who was soliciting a contribution to his periodical:-

“My labours will increase without any consent on my part As to magazines, there are several to which I contribute, for the sake of the mission and other public interests; and, through such a number of objects as press upon me daily, my own vineyard, my own soul, my family, and congregation are neglected. Every journey I take only makes way for two or three more; and every book I write only occasions me to write others to explain or defend it. ‘All is vanity and vexation of spirit!’ ‘ I gave my heart to know wisdom; I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.’ Some are pressing me to write more largely on the mediation of Christ, and others to review the second edition of Mr. Booth’s Glad Tidings. Controversies perplex me; and I am already engaged with a gross and subtle sophist. My northern correspondents are ever raising objections against my views of faith, &c.; all of which I could answer, but cannot get time. I have sent your remarks to my friend at Edinburgh; they will serve as a tub for the whale to play with, and perhaps for a time he will let me alone.

“Pearce’s Memoirs are now loudly called for. I sit down almost in despair, and say: ‘ That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is lacking cannot be numbered.’ My wife looks at me, with a tear ready to drop, and says: ‘My dear, you have hardly time to speak to me.’ My friends at home are kind, but they also say: ‘ You have no time to see or know us, and you will soon be worn out.’ Amidst all this, there is ‘Come again to Scotland – come to Portsmouth – come to Plymouth – come to Bristol.’

“Excuse this effusion of melancholy. My heart is willing to do everything you desire that I can do, but my hands fail me. Dear Brother Ryland complains of old age coming upon him, and I expect old age will come upon me before I am really old. Under this complicated load my heart has often of late groaned for rest, longing to finish my days in comparative retirement.”

Thus the oath made at the mouth of the pit was faithfully kept. While every nerve was strained at home to fulfil the solemn pledge which had been given, the missionaries toiled on in the darkness abroad. It was seven years before the cry came cheerily up the shaft, that gems of strange beauty rewarded the hands that grasped the rope above and those that toiled below.

 

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html

A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: Thomas Ekins Fuller


This is the fifth chapter of the above-titled book. The earlier chapters can be found via the categories listing at the end of the post.

 

CHAPTER 5: The Secretary’s Minute-Book

 

AT the age of thirty-eight, Mr. Fuller commenced those great missionary labours which we may call ” The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation ” put to life, as it had been put to speech and paper. He had worked out a great result by patient thinking. In the second epoch of his life, he changes the instrument, but not the theme. What he had written and spoken, he set to the dull music of hard, grinding toil, and, until death, worked out the conception of his earlier years.

It remained for another, however, to draw the conclusions of which Mr. Fuller’s writings were the premises. It was easy to see that if the Gospel was worthy of all acceptation, its acceptance ought to be pressed on all mankind. But though Mr. Fuller fell in with such a conclusion, it was not given to him to arrive at it, or at the first to urge its claims upon the church. “The origin of the mission,” says Mr. Fuller, ” is to be found in the workings of Brother Carey’s mind.” These workings were of just such an order as to bring to a practical issue the new principles that had been received by so many.

While yet a shoemaker, he was busy constructing maps of the world, and studying the geography of the countries and the habits of the various tribes. Already, moreover, he was holding communion with the nations through their tongues. His power of acquiring languages, and the little incidents that would start him in some new enterprise, are now familiar to all. He would learn a language sooner than most Englishmen would master the dialect of Yorkshire or Devonshire.

It has been frequently said that amidst all these dreams of other lands, he made but poor work at his shoemaking and cobbling; and this common impression has been confirmed by a book of deservedly high authority in all that relates to the Serampore missionaries. His own words, however, emphatically contradict the report. It seems to have gained credence before his death, and in one of his letters home he declares that he was accounted both ” a skilful and an honest workman.”

He had not been unexercised by the questions which engaged the attention of Mr. Fuller. ” The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation” came just at the right time to strengthen and confirm his own convictions. From the time he was possessed with the missionary idea, he never ceased to press it upon the attention of ministers and laymen with whom he came in contact. Passing through Birmingham, he had a conversation with a Mr. Potts on the subject. Singularly enough, he declared that if he had the opportunity he would commence missionary labours at Otaheite, in the South Seas – the very scene of the London Missionary Society’s operations in later years.

Having been ordained minister of the village chapel at Moulton, in Northamptonshire, he came into nearer communion with that faithful band whose praise is now in all the churches. Ryland, of Northampton; Fuller, of Kettering; Sutcliffe, of Olney; Carey, of Moulton, were within easy distance of each other.

At a meeting of the Association, at Northampton, Mr. Carey, when pressed to propose a subject for discussion, submitted to the assembled brethren, “Whether the command given to the apostles to teach all nations was not obligatory on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent.”

Without waiting for the judgment of the company, the senior minister, addressing him, said he “certainly ought to have known that nothing could be done before another Pentecost, when an effusion of miraculous gifts, including the gift of tongues, would give effect to the commission of Christ as at first; and that he was a most miserable enthusiast for asking such a question !” To render the question still more memorable, it so happened, as if by a prophetic glance, that Mr. Carey’s interlocutor made a direct allusion to the Eastern languages, and said, in the course of his sarcastic remarks: ” What, Sir, can you preach in Arabic, in Persic, in Hindostani, in Bengalee, that you think it your duty to “preach the Gospel to the heathen ?”

There is no evidence that before this gathering Mr. Fuller had ever directly communicated with Mr. Carey on the subject of a mission to the heathen. After the senior minister just referred to had retired, Mr. Fuller drew near to him, offered his sympathy, and encouraged him to proceed in his inquiries.

Mr. Carey never lost sight of his object, but sought perpetually to engage the attention of his brother ministers. In the year 1790, he found his way to Birmingham, and unburdened his soul to Samuel Pearce, who entered into his views with characteristic ardour. Several members of the church at Birmingham shared their counsels, and urged Mr. Carey to prepare his “Thoughts” for publication. On his return to Northampton, he sought Mr. Fuller and two other brethren, and requested them to undertake the publication. Mr. Fuller, however, declined the task, though he still encouraged Mr. Carey to pursue the matter.

Though Mr. Fuller was thus slow in co-operating with his friend, he really contributed powerfully to the promotion of his desires. The next impulse which the movement received was from a sermon preached by him at Clipstone, in the year 1791, on the “Pernicious influence of delay in matters of religion.” How thoroughly Mr. Fuller had now made up his mind to the whole work before him, will appear from the following striking passage, which it is impossible to forbear quoting. Let it be remembered that Mr. Carey was amongst the hearers. How eagerly would he listen to the enumeration of his own long cherished desires, by the man whom, most of all, perhaps, he desired to influence. The preacher is actually assailing the very caution he has exercised, and with almost agonising earnestness pressing immediate action upon his audience. After deprecating delay because of the difficulties to be encountered, he proceeds:-

” Had Luther and his contemporaries acted upon this principle, they had never gone about the glorious work of the Reformation. When he saw the abominations of Popery, he might have said, These things ought not to be; but what can I do? If the chief-priests and rulers in different nations would but unite, something might be effected; but what can I do, an individual, and a poor man? I may render myself an object of persecution, or, which is worse, of universal contempt; and what good end will be answered by it ? Had Luther reasoned thus – had he fancied that, because princes and prelates were not the first to engage in the good work, therefore the time was not yet come to build the house of the Lord – the house of the Lord, for anything he had done, might have lain waste to this day.

“Instead of waiting for the removal of difficulties, we ought, in many cases, to consider them as purposely laid in our way in order to try the sincerity of our religion. He who had all power in heaven and earth could not only have sent forth His apostles into all the world, but have so ordered it that all the world should treat them with kindness, and aid them in their mission; but, instead of that, He told them to lay their accounts with persecution and the loss of all things. This was no doubt to try their sincerity; and the difficulties laid in our way are equally designed to try ours.

“Let it be considered whether it is not owing to this principle that so few and so feeble efforts have been made for the propagation of the Gospel in the world. When the Lord Jesus commissioned His apostles, He commanded them to go and teach ‘all nations,’ to preach the Gospel to ‘every creature;’ and that, notwithstanding the difficulties and oppositions that would lie in the way. The apostles executed their commission with assiduity and fidelity; but, since their days, we seem to sit down half contented that the greater part of the world should still remain in ignorance and idolatry. Some noble efforts have been made; but they are small in number when compared with the magnitude of the object. And why is it so? Are the souls of men of less value than heretofore? No. Is Christianity less true or less important than in former ages ? This will not be pretended. Are there no opportunities for societies, or individuals, in Christian nations, to convey the Gospel to the heathens ? This cannot be pleaded so long as opportunities are found to trade with them, yea, and (what is a disgrace to the name of Christians) to buy them, and sell them, and treat them with worse than savage barbarity! We have opportunities in abundance : the improvement of navigation, and the maritime and commercial turn of this country, furnish us with these; and it deserves to be considered whether this is not a circumstance that renders it a duty peculiarly binding on us,

“The truth is, if I am not mistaken, we wait for we know not what; we seem to think ‘the time is not come, the time for the Spirit to be poured down from on high.’ We pray for the conversion and salvation of the world, and yet neglect the ordinary means by which those ends have been used to be accomplished. It pleased God, heretofore, by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believed; and there is reason to think it will still please God to work by that distinguished means. Ought we not then at least to try by some means to convey more of the good news of salvation to the world around us than has hitherto been conveyed ? The encouragement to the heathen is still in force, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved: but how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?”

So profound was the impression produced by these words, that it is said the ministers were scarcely able to speak to one another at the close. Mr. Carey, seizing the opportunity, urged the immediate formation of a Missionary Society. Mr. Sutcliffe, however, counselled more deliberation; and the brethren separated with a recommendation to Mr. Carey to publish his “Thoughts.” His pamphlet appeared soon afterwards, under the title of ” An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to send the Gospel to the Heathen.”

In the spring of the following year, Mr. Carey preached his memorable sermon, in which he embodied his “Thoughts” in two mottoes which have been the watchwords of the missionary movement ever since: ” Expect great things from God;” “Attempt great things for God.” A resolution was passed afterwards, that “against the next meeting of ministers a plan should be prepared for the purpose of forming a society for propagating the Gospel among the heathen.” The long days of preparation were now passed. Henceforth we have to follow Mr. Fuller as the life and soul of an organization which has been increasing in influence and power ever since.

The narrative is henceforth furnished by a small quarto book which lies on the writer’s table. It is the first minute-book of the Baptist Missionary Society. It records with minuteness every particular of its history for the first seven years, and leaves off just at the time when Marshman and Ward added their names to the missionary roll.

On its first page the minute-book relates that the Rev. Andrew Fuller was appointed secretary, and the Rev. Reynold Hogg treasurer. A list of the subscriptions is given, amounting to the well-remembered sum of £13 2s. 6d. The meeting is adjourned to October 31st, and is to meet at Northampton. In the interval of twenty-nine days a branch has been formed, more fruitful so far than the mother tree, for when the committee met on the 31st, the Society at Birmingham had yielded £70, which, with a few other sums, makes a total of £88 18s. Already the Association rejoices in the title of the Primary Society. No definite plans are as yet formed as to where they are to send missionaries, or who is to go; but at the third meeting, in November, the brethren separate with the resolution to gain what information they can from books of travel, Christian merchants, or from such persons as would at least favour the design of converting the heathen, and to consider the needful qualifications for a missionary.

We can imagine the brethren retiring to consult such books of travel as they could lay their hands on. Not many years before, Captain James Cook had published his “Voyages Round the World;” and some, certainly, would follow his track on the high seas, wondering where, amid all the strange lands he lighted on, was the best place for them to begin their enterprise.

It is well known how the problem was solved by the appearance of a Mr. Thomas, who had recently returned from India, having made some efforts there to convert the Hindoos. Mr. Carey, according to general expectation, offered himself as a fellow-labourer; and the services of these brethren were gladly accepted as the first missionaries of the Society. At the fourth meeting of the committee, under date January 9th, 1793, the acceptance of these brethren is thus solemnly recorded: “After a most serious, solemn, and affectionate meeting, attended with fasting and prayer to Almighty God, accepted the offers of both the above brethren; engaged to pay every possible attention to the temporal accommodation of them and their families, and to afford every possible assistance to the church at Leicester, who must be deprived of the labours of their beloved pastor.” At this committee Mr. Thomas unexpectedly arrived, and was, for the first time, introduced to the companion of his future toils. “It was late in the evening,” says an eyewitness, “and while in full deliberation, that his arrival was announced. Impatient to behold his colleague, he entered the room in haste, and Mr. Carey rising from his seat, they fell on each other’s necks and wept.” All was hope and resolution; Mr. Carey’s memorable words, “Expect great things,” had become the watchword of the little band. “It is clear,” said Andrew Fuller to Carey, “that there is a rich mine of gold in India; if you will go down, I will hold the ropes.”

There is the following addenda to the minutes of the committee:-

“N.B. – The treasurer put into Mr. Squire’s bank:

 

 

£.

s.

d.

Nov. 1, 1792

87

17

0

Jan. 7, 1793

27

3

6

 

£115

0

6


This was their financial position at the time they had accepted the missionaries, pledged themselves to their support, and to the care of their families during their absence! So they work on in faith. A vigorous effort is now made through the country to procure funds, and form district societies to aid what is called the “primary society.” The reader must know that these journeys in no way resembled the trips of a modern missionary deputation, whom Squire Johnson, with the pretty house and park, is so glad to see; who find their names placarded at every town in expectation of their visit, and finally go home, not foot-worn and weary and loaded with abuse, but crowned with all kinds of itinerant honour, and much the better for the change! These early chronicles record that Mr. Thomas got into Bath, on the errand of collecting for the mission, wet through, late on Saturday evening. He preached the following morning, but so unmoved were the people that he says, “I thought I should get nothing here; but some woman, after hearing the case, sent in one penny. I thanked them, and set down, Bath, 1d.” This seemed to have moved the ecclesiastical pride of Bath, and our collector ultimately went away with some £20.

The farewell meeting of the missionaries proved quite a Pentecostal visitation. The minute-book thus describes it: ” The forenoon was spent in prayer. At two o’clock Mr. Thomas preached from Psalm xvi. 4, ‘Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another God,’ proving how this truth was exemplified in the state of the heathen, and exciting the compassion of Christians to endeavour to rescue them from their miserable situation.” The sad farewell had to be taken, and we are further informed “that Mr. Hogg preached from Acts xxi. 14, ‘The will of the Lord be done.’ After this, Mr. Fuller addressed brethren Thomas and Carey, from John xx. 21, ‘Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, so send I you.’” So richly was the missionary spirit poured out upon the assembled congregation, that the collections at the meeting amounted to upwards of £600. There were no ” ‘prentice hands” at the helm of the little craft that had breasted heavy seas, and already rejoiced in a favouring gale. The incident recorded is only six months after the meeting at Kettering, and how much had been accomplished in the interval!

The passage to India, however, was not so easily secured. These were the days of the ” traditional policy ” of the East India Company. And it is worth our while to see how a Christian Englishman contrived to reach British colonial possessions in the year 1793. It is only fair, however, to say that Mr. Thomas brought some of this trouble on himself by his indiscretions when in India.

After describing the mortifying refusal of the Company’s servants to give them a passage, the missionary proceeds : ” While Carey wrote to his wife, I would go to a coffee-house, with eager desire to know whether any Swedish or Danish ship was expected to sail from Europe to Bengal. When, to the great joy of a bruised heart, the waiter put a card in my hand, whereon were written these life-giving words, ‘A Danish East-Indiaman. No. 10, Cannon-street.’ No more tears that night. . . . Within twenty-four hours after our arrival in London, Mr. Carey and his family embarked for Dover to catch the ship in passing, while I set out for Portsmouth to fetch the baggage. It would be too late if I brought it by land, and it was so dangerous to go by water that the boatmen refused large sums, saying the channel was full of privateers from France, which came hovering close on our coasts. At last, one man undertook to go in an open boat for twenty guineas. Terrified as I was lest the ship should pass by, yet I refused to give this, and I spent two whole days in searching for a man, till a fisherman took me for nine guineas. “Who can cease wondering or praising,” he adds, ” that the captain of a foreign ship received us with the utmost tenderness and concern?”

Now that we have started the missionaries Eastward on their great errand, let us pause and inquire what was going on in other parts of Europe in this same year of our Lord. The priests of France were engaged in a far different work from that of the poor despised ministers of Northamptonshire. They were watching the political fortunes of the day, and bidding for the favour of the stronger party. Their property had been appropriated for national purposes by the sweeping measures of the Revolutionists; and they had been compelled to change their occupation of strangling liberty into that of keeping their own possessions from a power against which all their incantations had been impotent. It was only three years before, that the gloomy walls of the Bastille had been swept away by the fury of the multitude, and the prisoners set free; on that day twelvemonths, the king came to swear fealty to the multitude. The arena of the Champ de mars was filled with about 400,000 spectators; an ancient altar was erected in the centre, and 400 priests with tri-coloured sashes were posted at the four corners. Mass was celebrated amidst the sounds of military music, and the Bishop D’Autun blessed the “oriflamme and the banners.” On the same spot on which the Bastille had stood and the chains of its prisoners clanked, a grand ball was held, and the words, “Ici on danse,” were emblazoned at the entrance. With the smiles of the king and the forced benedictions of the church, the Revolution had taken heart. But the year-following witnessed other and more terrible scenes. The moderate counsels of the Gironde had been exchanged for the daring designs of the Mountain and Jacobin clubs. On the terrible 2nd of September, 300 assassins massacred all the political prisoners in cold blood. Meanwhile, the prevailing philosophy was indirectly aiding the blood-thirsty spirit of the times. The healing creed of JESUS of Nazareth had been exchanged for the worst forms of materialism. What mattered it that the cemeteries of the capital were being filled with the slain, when the creed of that day inscribed over them the motto, “Death is an eternal sleep”?

In the autumn of this same year, 1792, a few ministers met at a house still standing in Kettering, and formed the grand, but then ridiculed, design of preaching the Gospel to the whole world.

In the spring of the following year both these movements sought extension beyond the boundaries of the country. A strong soldier’s hand had been training in France to put down the internal dissensions and to carry the principles of the Revolution beyond the Rhine and the Pyrenees. Only a fortnight before William Carey started for India to preach the Gospel to its perishing millions, a young Frenchman, driven by the English fleet, sailed for an island of the Mediterranean. It was Napoleon Buonaparte, thwarted in his; first military undertaking, and with his mother and sister on the way to Marseilles.

Nor do these two things, thus strangely forming part of the same year’s history, lack another link of relation.

The Revolutions of 1645 and 1688, in England, had been steadily working out grand results. It is true that these had been almost as great, though not so bloody, as that of France. Yet, beneath the surface of things, there had been a quiet growth of civil and religious freedom springing from earnest religious conviction, which, after a while, manifested itself in a thousand schemes of charity and beneficence. One of these schemes was the great missionary enterprise. There were thus in Europe, almost at the same time, two movements taking an aggressive shape, and both tracing their ancestry to the English Revolution. The one was fitly personified in the person of Napoleon, looking over the frontiers of the Empire to the snows of Russia and the quiet hills of England, wishing all Europe were his own. The other is the eastward journey of one earnest man, landing amidst a wilderness of sin and death, yearning to reclaim it for his Master. The one filled Europe speedily with the terror of war and the glory of empire, but soon found his grave behind the rocks of St. Helena; and in that grave lay buried, evermore, the hope of changing the life of nations by dreams of outward liberty interpreted with fire and sword. The other, though he died in a far-off land, amidst strange faces, laid the foundation of a kingdom still slowly gathering in power. When William Carey gave the Gospel to the tribes of India, he took possession of the land for Christ. Thereafter “the one far-off, divine event, to which the whole creation moves,” was but a matter of times and seasons in the hands of the Great Disposer of all events.

 

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html

A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: Thomas Ekins Fuller


This is the fourth chapter of the above-titled book. The earlier chapters can be found via the categories listing at the end of the post.

 

Chapter 4: Home Sorrows

MANY men who have gained their laurels at public work, have won the greenest in their homes. Most beautiful is it to see men who have much to do with public affairs not unmindful of “home life” and “childward care,” and performing all daily duties with tenderness and grace. John Bunyan, making his tags and blessing his blind child, was as great a man, surely, in the eyes of the “throng supernal” as when he was writing his wonderful dream.

Andrew Fuller had a little child, somewhat under six years of age, whose feeble health was a source of great anxiety to her parents. She appears at that early age to have gone for change of air to the house of Dr. Ryland, at Northampton. The first notice of her short history is given, in Mr. Fuller’s Diary, when he fetches her home from that city. Riding with his little one, he glances every now and then at her pale face and ill looks, and a shudder comes over his strong frame. There is some sad prophecy there of a deep shadow soon to fall upon his home. If he should lose her, it is inconceivable that he should sustain the shock. Then, what would be the future of his little child’s soul? He has been writing and feeling very much lately on accountability to God. Is she too young to give an account of the light shed upon her infant years? At all events he must not fail to teach her of that love which is worthy of even a child’s acceptation. So all the way home he tenderly discourses on eternal things to the little weak one, and ends with a fervent prayer to God for a blessing on his words.

On the following Wednesday evening, he goes into his study after service, and the darkness is still thick around him. He bends in prayer to God for resignation to his will. If he could but see the Saviour’s image in his little child, he thinks he could bear the loss even of one of the “dear parts of himself.” All the week he cannot escape from his sorrow. “Yet,” exclaims he, “the Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock.”

A few days afterwards the immediate disorder developed into an attack of measles, and the faint hope is cherished that the disease may be carried off by it, but it soon passes away. On the Sabbath he catechises the children, but the thought of his sick child haunts him all the while. “Lord’s day, March 19th,” he writes, “was a distressing day to me. My concern for the loss of her body is but trifling compared with that of her soul. I preached and prayed much, from Matt xv. 2-5, ‘Lord, help me.’ On Monday I carried her towards Northampton; was exceedingly distressed that night; went to prayer with a heart almost broken. Some encouragement from conversation with dear Brother Ryland. I observed that ‘God had not bound Himself to hear the prayers of any one for the salvation of the soul of another.’ He replied, ‘But if He has not, yet He frequently does so; and hence, perhaps, though grace does not run in the blood, yet we frequently see it runs in the line. Many more of the children of God’s children are gracious than of others.’ I know neither I nor mine have any claim upon the Almighty for mercy; but as long as there is life, it shall be my business to implore His mercy towards her.”

“Methought I saw, on Tuesday (21), the vanity of all created good. I saw, if God were to cut off my poor child, and not to afford me some extraordinary support under the stroke, that I should be next to dead to the whole creation, and all creation dead to me. O that I were but thus dead, as Paul was, by the cross of Christ! My heart seems to be dissolved in earnest cries for mercy.”

With touching simplicity he relates how from her birth he had cherished earnest solicitude on her behalf. “At the time of her birth,” he says, “I committed her to God, as I trust I have done many times since. Once in particular, viewing her as she lay smiling in the cradle, at the age of eight months, my heart was much affected; I took her up in my arms, retired, and in that position wrestled hard with God for a blessing; at the same time offering her up, as it were, and solemnly presenting her to the Lord for acceptance. In this exercise I was greatly encouraged by the conduct of Christ toward those who brought little children in their arms to Him for His blessing.” Speaking of her residence a short time at Northampton, he adds: “During this fortnight I went two or three times to see her; and one evening, being with her alone, she asked me to pray for her. ‘What do you wish me to pray for, my dear?’ said I. She answered, ‘That God would bless me, and keep me, and save my soul.’ ‘Do you think, then, that you are a sinner?’ ‘Yes, father.’ Fearing lest she did not understand what she said, I asked her, ‘What is sin, my dear?’ She answered, ‘Telling a story.’ I comprehended this, and it went to my heart. ‘What, then,’ I said, ‘you remember, do you, my having corrected you once for telling a story?’ ‘Yes, father.’ ‘And are you grieved for having so offended God?’ ‘Yes, father.’ I asked her if she did not try to pray herself. She answered, ‘I sometimes try, but I do not know how to pray; I wish you would pray for me, till I can pray for myself.’ As I continued to sit by her, she appeared much dejected. I asked her the reason. She said, ‘I am afraid I should go to hell.’ ‘My dear,’ said I, ‘who told you so?’ ‘Nobody,’ said she; ‘but I know if I do not pray to the Lord, I must go to hell.’ I then went to prayer with her, with many tears,”

As the sickness brought her nearer to the grave, the tender care of her father abounded yet more and more. When at Northampton, Dr. Ryland composed a little hymn especially for her use. Her father used to carry her out into the fields, and she would repeat to him the lines of this now well-known hymn:

“Lord, teach a little child to pray,
Thy grace betimes impart;
And grant Thy Holy Spirit may
Renew my youthful heart.

“A sinful creature I was born,
And from my birth have strayed;
I must be wretched and forlorn
Without Thy mercy’s aid.

“But Christ can all my sins forgive,
And wash, away their stain;
Can fit my soul with Him to live,
And in His kingdom reign.

“To Him let little children come,
For He has said they may;
His bosom then shall be their home,
Their tears He’ll wipe away.

“For all who early seek His face,
Shall surely taste His love;
Jesus shall guide them by His grace,
To dwell with Him above.”

He would then talk with her upon the desirableness of dying, and being with Christ and with holy men and women, and with those children who cried, “Hosanna to the Son of God!” “Thus,” he says, “I tried to reconcile her, and myself with her, to death, without directly telling her she would die.” One day he steals gently to her bed, and repeats the holy words: “And they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; but the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall lead them unto living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

But he was unable to bear up against the strain of this-continued anxiety; as it grew more apparent that his child’s sickness was unto death, he fell ill, and was unable to be at her side. Nothing can exceed the touching tenderness of his account of her last hours: “On the 25th, in particular, my distress,” he says, “seemed beyond measure. I lay before the Lord, weeping like David, and refusing to be comforted. This brought on, I have reason to think, a bilious cholic; a painful affliction it was, and the more so as it prevented my ever seeing my child alive again. Yes, she is gone! On Tuesday morning, May 30th, as I lay ill in bed in another room, I heard a whispering. I inquired, and all were silent! all were silent! – but all is well. I feel reconciled to God. I called my family round my bed. I sat up, and prayed as well as I could; I bowed my head and worshipped a taking, as well as a giving God. June 1st. I just made a shift to get up to go and attend the funeral of my poor child. My dear Brother Ryland preached on the occasion from 2 Kings iv. 26, – ‘It is well.’ I feel, in general, now, a degree of calm resignation. I think there is solid reason to hope that she has not lived in vain; and if she is but reared for God, it matters not when she died. I feel a solid pleasure in reflecting on our own conduct in her education; we endeavoured to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and I trust our endeavours were not in vain. Her visit to Northampton, too, was blessed for her good; she has certainly discovered ever since great tenderness of conscience, and much of the fear of God; great regard for the worship of God, especially for the Lord’s day; and great delight in reading, especially accounts of the conversion of some little children. But all is over now, and I am in a good degree satisfied.

“3rd. To-day I felt a sort of triumph over death. I went and stood on her grave with a great deal of composure! Returned and wrote some verses to her memory.

“4th. Had a good day in preaching on ‘these light afflictions.’ My mind seems very calm and serene, in respect of the child; but, alas! I feel the insufficiency of trouble, however heavy, to destroy or mortify sin. I have had sad experience of my own depravity, even while under the very rod of God!”

But the cup of his sorrow was not yet full. During his child’s sickness, another had been born to him; so strangely “death and life are mixed.” The circumstances attending this birth, amidst all the anguish of their watching over the little one whom God took from them, were too much to bear, and his beloved wife was seized with illness which led to distressing insanity, and ended in death. No biographer’s words can add to the picture of his grief, as given in his own bitter lamentation:-

“July 10th. My family afflictions have almost over-whelmed me, and what is yet before me I know not! For about a month past the affliction of my dear companion has been extremely heavy. On reading the fourth chapter of Job this morning, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th verses affected me, – ‘My words have upholden many. Oh that now I am touched I may not faint!’

“25th. O my God, my soul is cast down within me. The afflictions in my family seem too heavy for me. O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me! My thoughts are broken off, and all my prospects seem to be perished! I feel, however, some support from such Scriptures as these: ‘All things work together for good,’ &c. – ‘God, even our own God, shall bless us.’ – ‘It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.’ One of my friends observed, yesterday, that it was difficult in many cases to know wherefore God contended with us. But I thought that there was no difficulty of this kind with me. I have sinned against the Lord; and it is not a little affliction that will lay hold of me. Those words have impressed me of late: ‘It was in my heart to chastise them.’”

In a letter to his father-in-law, he gives an affecting account of his wife’s sickness and death:-

“Aug. 25,1792,

“DEAR AND HONOURED FATHER, – You have heard, I suppose, before now, that my dear companion is no more! For about three months back our afflictions have been extremely heavy. About the beginning of June she was seized with hysterical affections, which, for a time, deprived her of her senses. In about a week, however, she recovered them, and seemed better; but soon relapsed again; and during the months of July and August, a very few intervals excepted, her mind has been constantly deranged. In this unhappy state, her attention has generally been turned upon some one object of distress; sometimes that she had lost her children; sometimes that she should lose me. For one whole day she hung about my neck, weeping; for that I was going to die and leave her! The next morning she still retained the same persuasion; but, instead of weeping for it, she rejoiced with exceeding joy. ‘My husband,’ said she, ‘is going to heaven . . . and all is well! – I shall be provided for,’ &c. Sometimes we were her worst enemies, and must not come near her; at other times she would speak to me in the most endearing terms. Till very lately, she has been so very desirous of my company, that it has been with much difficulty that I have stolen away from her about two hours in the twenty-four, that I might ride out in the air, my health having been considerably impaired. But lately her mind took another turn, which to me was very afflictive. It is true she never ceased to love her husband. ‘I have had,’ she would say, ‘as tender a husband as ever woman had; but you are not my husband!’ She seemed for the last month really to have considered me as an impostor, who had entered the house and taken possession of the keys of every place, and of all that belonged to her and her husband. Poor soul! for the last month, as I said, this and other notions of the kind have rendered her more miserable than I am able to describe. She has been fully persuaded that she was not at home, but had wandered somewhere from it; had lost herself, and fallen among strangers. She constantly wanted to make her escape, on which account we were obliged to keep the doors locked, and to take away the keys. ‘No,’ she would say to me, with a countenance full of inexpressible anguish, ‘this is not my home .. . . you are not my husband . . . these are not my children. Once I had a good home . . . and a husband who loved me . . . and dear children . . . and kind friends . . . but where am I now? I am lost! I am ruined! What have I done? Oh! what have I done? Lord, have mercy upon me!’ In this strain she would be frequently walking up and down, from room to room, bemoaning herself, without a tear to relieve her, wringing her hands, first looking upwards, then downwards, in all the attitudes of wild despair! You may form some conception what must have been my feelings to have been a spectator of all this anguish, and at the same time incapable of affording her the smallest relief.

“Though she seemed not to know the children about her, yet she had a keen and lively remembrance of those that were taken away. One day, when I was gone out for the air, she went out of the house. The servant missing her, immediately followed, and found her in the graveyard, looking at the graves of her children. She said nothing; but, with a bitterness of soul, pointed the servant’s eyes to the wall, where the name of one of them, who was buried in 1783, was cut in the stone. Then turning to the graves of the other children, in an agony, she with her foot struck off the long grass which had grown over the flat stones, and read the inscriptions with silent anguish, alternately looking at the servant and at the stones.

“About a fortnight before her death, she had one of the happiest intervals of any during the affliction. She had been lamenting on account of this impostor that was come into her house, and would not give her the keys. She tried for two hours to obtain them by force, in which time she exhausted all her own strength, and almost mine. Not being able to obtain her point, as I was necessarily obliged to resist her in this matter, she sat down and wept – threatening me that God would surely judge me for treating a poor helpless creature in such a manner! I also was overcome with grief: I wept with her. The sight of my tears seemed to awaken her recollection. With her eyes fixed upon me, she said . . . ‘Why, are you indeed my husband?’ – ‘Indeed, my dear, I am!’ – ‘Oh if I thought you were, I could give you a thousand kisses!’ ‘Indeed, my dear, I am your own dear husband!’ She then seated herself upon my knee, and kissed me several times. My heart dissolved with a mixture of grief and joy. Her senses were restored, and she talked as rationally as ever. I then persuaded her to go to rest, and she slept well.

“About two o’clock in the morning she awoke, and conversed with me as rationally as ever she did in her life: said her poor head had been disordered; that she had given me a great deal of trouble, and feared she had injured my health; begged I would excuse all her hard thoughts and speeches; and urged this as a consideration – ‘Though I was set against you, yet I was not set against you as my husband.’ She desired I would ride out every day for the air; gave directions to the servant about her family; told her where this and that article were to be found, which she wanted; inquired after various family concerns, and how they had been conducted since she had been ill: and thus we continued talking together till morning.

“She continued much the same all the forenoon; was delighted with the conversation of Robert, whose heart also was delighted, as he said, to see his mother so well. ‘Robert,’ said she, ‘we shall not live together much longer.’ – ‘Yes, mother,’ replied the child, ‘I hope we shall live together for ever!’ Joy sparkled in her eyes at this answer: she stroked his head, and exclaimed, ‘Oh bless you, my dear! how came such a thought into your mind?’

“Towards noon she said to me, ‘We will dine together to-day, my dear, upstairs.’ We did so. But while we were at dinner, in a few minutes her senses were gone; nor did she ever recover them again. From this happy interval, however, I entertained hopes that her senses would return when she was delivered, and came to recover her strength.

“On Thursday, the 25th instant, she was delivered of a daughter, but was all day very restless, full of pain and misery; no return of reason, except that, from an aversion to me which she had so long entertained, she called me ‘my dear,’ and twice kissed me; said she ‘must die;’ and ‘let me die, my dear,’ said she, ‘let me die!’ Between nine and ten o’clock, as there seemed no immediate sign of a change, and being very weary, I went to rest; but about eleven was called up again, just time enough to witness the convulsive pangs of death, which in about ten minutes carried her off.

“Poor soul! what she often said is now true. She was not at home; I am not her husband; these are not her children. But she has found her home, – a home, a husband, and a family better than these! It is the cup which my Father hath given me to drink, and shall I not drink it? Amidst all my afflictions I have much to be thankful for. I have reason to be thankful that, though her intellects were deranged, yet she never uttered any ill language, nor was ever disposed to do mischief to herself or others; and when she was at the worst, if I fell on my knees to prayer, she would instantly be still and attentive. I have also to be thankful that, though she has generally been afraid of death all her lifetime, yet that fear has been remarkably removed during the last half-year. While she retained her reason, she would sometimes express a willingness to live or to die, as it might please God; and, about five or six weeks ago, would now and then possess a short interval in which she would converse freely. One of our friends, who stayed at home with her on Lord’s days, says that her conversation at those times would often turn on the poor and imperfect manner in which she had served the Lord, her desires to serve Him better, her grief to think that she had so much and so often sinned against Him. On one of these occasions she was wonderfully filled with joy on overhearing the congregation while they were singing over the chorus, ‘Glory,
honour, praise, and power,’ &c. She seemed to catch the sacred spirit of the song.

“I mean to erect a stone to her memory, on which, will probably be engraved the following lines:-

The tender parent wails no more her loss,
Nor labours more beneath life’s heavy load;
The anxious soul, released from fears and woes,
Has found her home, her children, and her God.’

“To all this I may add, that, perhaps, I have reason to be thankful for her removal. However the dissolution of such a union may affect my present feelings, it may be one of the greatest mercies both to her and to me. Had she continued in the same state of mind, which was not at all improbable, this, to all appearance, would have been a thousand times, worse than death.

“The poor little infant is yet alive, and we call her name Bathoni; the same name, except the difference of sex, which Rachel gave to her last-born child. Mr. West preached a funeral sermon last night, at the interment, from 2 Cor. v. 1.”

The reader will see that this letter bears the date of 1792, the very year the mission was formed. Up to the time of this great affliction, we have seen how all the events of his life seemed to tend to the work of this year. To us these sorrows may read like a break in the chain; but surely the link is there, though our eyes “are too dim to see it.” There was no tenderness or chastened feeling which such sorrow could bring that was not needed in his holy employment. That touching tale of the death of “mother and child” may be read over and over again in the history of after years. In the tenderness of his letters to the missionaries, and in the daily surrender by which alone such toil could be endured, the sorrows of these years repeat themselves. If we had been fashioning his life, we might have said, when “The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation” had been written, and was doing its work in the church, “Now is the time to found the mission.” But God had to write deeper things on the soul of His servant before He gave such an enterprise into his hands. “His ways are not our ways, or His thoughts our thoughts.”

His relations to his family were sustained with much tenderness and some sternness. There was little confidential intercourse between him and his children; but his love welled forth even in his severity. The constant anxieties of his busy life no doubt stood in the way of a freer and more loving fellowship; but they had enough to cherish a love, perhaps the more full of reverence because there was little confiding familiarity in its exercise.

 

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html

 

 

A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: Thomas Ekins Fuller


This is the third chapter of the above-titled book. The earlier chapters can be found via the categories listing at the end of the post.

 

Chapter 3: Removal to Kettering

DURING the first two years of Mr. Fuller’s residence at Kettering, his time was taken up in the usual engagements of ministerial life. There was the same tender interest in the affairs of his flock that we have already found at Soham, and the same earnest desire to serve his Master.

Yet even during these two years of quiet labour there are incidents and reflections that point onwards to the great labour of his life. We must remember, in looking at them, that he was unconscious that any such enterprise would be committed to his care. So much so, that when, afterwards, his help was challenged by the eager earnestness of Mr. Carey, he at first kept back from hearty co-operation. Yet from the time he had made up his mind to the one great truth, that salvation was to be preached to all men, how clear is the preparation that was going on! A more wonderful chapter in the history of Providence it would be hard to read; – not wonderful in startling events, but in the way in which everything contributed to open up the channel along which his life and work was to flow. His new associations at Kettering, his course of reading, the directions of his secret meditations, – all move forward to the gathering at Kettering, when the Baptist Missionary Society was formed.

The Association of Baptist churches to which Kettering belonged at that time, spread over several neighbouring counties, so that Mr. Fuller’s removal brought him into contact with many brethren and churches. If ever the value of what amount of collective life we have as a denomination has been shown, it was at that time in our history. The most marked results followed the collision of thought and feeling which it produced. We may depend upon it, it will be a bad day for us when we find out that all Associations are useless, and settle down into cold isolation. The immediate practical good may be difficult to realize, but when many pages of their history are written, and read in the broad light of contemporary events, we shall find they have not been without rich results.

Some of the brethren in this Association had been reading a pamphlet of President Edwards’s on the importance of general union in prayer for the revival of true religion. “Read to our friends,” says Andrew Fuller, in a portion of his Diary, “a part of Mr. Edwards’s attempt to promote prayer for the revival of true religion, to excite them to a like practice. Felt my heart profited and much solemnized by what I read.” It does not appear whether he introduced this matter to the Association; but it seems to have been discussed at a meeting at Nottingham, and that he had appended an exhortation to the same effect to a sermon which he had published on “Walking by Faith.” A resolution was passed recommending the setting apart of the first Monday evening in every month for prayer for the extension of the Gospel. These services were the commencement of the well-known missionary prayer-meetings of modern days. They met, then, when the stillness of death rested upon the churches, and no voice was heard crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” but now a thousand labourers in all parts of the earth are commended to the keeping of the “King of kings.” These gatherings may very often be found profitless and formal, but let it be remembered that from that day their succession has been unbroken. The voice of prayer awoke the zeal it still feeds!

We must not omit to mention that the ministerial communion of these two years brought Mr. Fuller into contact with a young man whose brilliant powers and commanding genius were already making themselves known to the world. The staid divine and grave thinker, whose training had been kept within the boundary marked by his religious career, was not a little startled, perhaps a little alarmed, at the eloquent young preacher drawing his illustrations from every realm of knowledge, and asserting a fellowship of faith and philosophy that had little place in the pulpit instruction of that day. A mark of his impression is found in his Diary, under date May 7th, 1784: “Heard Mr. Robert Hall, jun., from ‘He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.’ Felt very solemn in hearing parts of it. The Lord keep that young man.” The next day: “Conversation with Robert Hall on various subjects. Some tenderness and earnestness in prayer after his departure.” And so the prayers of the grave, tender-hearted servant of Christ, followed the young preacher in the fulness of his power, as he traversed paths unknown to the petitioner; paths full of danger, yet full also of possible triumph. Those prayers ware answered! No cloud save that of bodily pain dimmed the splendour of those powers, mellowing with advancing years. The homage of statesmen and philosophers never marred that humility that shone with meek peacefulness, in one who lived as if he were “less than the least of all saints,’ while the eyes of many lands were turned upon him.

Meanwhile his reading and meditation are also preparing the way for “The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation.” Two months after the last extract, he writes: “Read a poem by John Scott, Esq., on. the cruelties of the “English at the East Indies, causing artificial famine, &c. My heart felt most earnest desires that Christ’s kingdom might come, when all these cruelties shall cease. Oh for the time when neither the sceptre of oppression nor the heathen superstition shall have any sway over them! Lord Jesus, set up Thy glorious and peaceful kingdom all over the world. Found earnest desires this morning in prayer that God would hear the right as to them, and hear our prayers, in which the churches agree to unite for the spread of Christ’s kingdom. On the 15th, wrote a few thoughts on the desirableness of the coming of Christ’s kingdom.”

At one of the Association meetings already alluded to, Mr. Fuller preached a sermon which produced a remarkable effect, and was afterwards published. This sermon has some remarkable passages in it, revealing the working of the preacher’s mind at the time. The reader’s attention is the more earnestly directed to it, because in a “History of the Baptist Missionary Society,” by the late excellent Dr. Cox, these workings in the mind of Mr. Fuller are utterly ignored. He is represented as almost dragged into the matter by the persuasions of Mr. Carey. It is true, indeed, that in bringing the matter to a direct issue, Carey was first and foremost, yet it will be hereafter shewn that Carey himself was strongly influenced by the spirit of Mr. Fuller’s sermon and another publication to be referred to directly. The writer of this Memoir has adopted no theory for the sake of giving unity to his work, but after examining carefully Mr. Fuller’s writings he is forced to the conclusion that his early life was one solemn preparation for the missionary work. You cannot open a page of his Diary without finding some anxious aspiration after it. Let the reader peruse the following extract from the sermon just mentioned, and remember that it was preached eight years before the establishment of the mission. Some of these lines burn with the promise of the work which was so soon to be undertaken. When we further call to mind that all this time the writer was unconscious “whereunto the matter would grow,” the hand of Almighty God becomes more clearly visible. After giving some illustrations of the power of faith, as exercised in prayer, when the church was low in estate, he goes on to say:-

“This may encourage and direct us in larger concerns; concerns which respect the whole interest of Christ in the world. If we compare the present state of things, or even the past, with the glorious prophecies of the Word of God, we cannot think, surely, that all is yet accomplished. By these prophecies the Christian church is encouraged to look for great things at some period or other of her existence. She is taught to look for a time when ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea;’ when ‘a nation shall be born at once;’ when ‘the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ;’ and He ‘shall reign from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.’ But surely, for the present, though great things, upon the whole, have been done in the world, yet nothing like this has ever come to pass. Instead of the world being conquered, what a great part yet continues to stand out against Him! Heathenism, Mahomedism, popery, and infidelity, – how extensive still their influence! In all probability not a single country, city, town, village, or congregation has ever yet been brought wholly to submit to Christ! Nay, is it not very rare to find, in any one of these, so many real friends as to make even a majority in His favour? May not the Christian church then, for the present, adopt that language, ‘We have been with child; we have, as it were, brought forth wind, we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen’? What, then, shall we despair? God forbid! ‘ The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry;’ and, meanwhile, ‘the just shall live by faith.’

“Let us take encouragement, in the present day of small things, by looking forward, and hoping for better days. Let this be attended with earnest and united prayer to Him by whom Jacob must rise. A life of faith will ever be a life of prayer. 0 brethren, let us pray much for an outpouring of God’s Spirit upon our ministers and churches, and not upon those only of our own connexion and denomination, but upon ‘all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.’ Could we but heartily unite to make a real earnest effort, there is reason to hope that great good might follow. Whenever those glorious outpourings of God’s Spirit shall come all over the whole world, no doubt it will be in answer to the prayers of His people. But suppose we should never live to see those days, still our labour shall not have been vain in the Lord. To say the least of it, God would have been glorified, and that would be no small matter. It would at least convey this piece of intelligence to the world, that God had yet some hearty friends in it, who continued to pray to Him in the darkest times. And if, as in the case of David’s building the house, He is not pleased to grant our requests, yet He will take it well at our hands; and who can be said to have lost his labour, who obtains the approbation of his God?
“But this is not all; our petitions may prove like seed in the earth, that shall not perish, though it may not spring up in our days. The prophets laboured, and the apostles entered into their labours; and what, if we should be the sowers and our posterity the reapers; shall we think much of this? Perhaps as great an honour, at the last day, may attend Isaiah. who hardly knew who had believed his report, as ‘Peter, by whose sermons thousands were converted in an hour. Neither is this all: there are different degrees of prosperity bestowed upon different parts of Zion, and these favours are often granted to those particular communities where ardent prayer, love, and holiness most prevail. Add to this, the prosperity of our own souls is generally connected with an earnest pursuit of God’s glory and Christ’s kingdom. Consolation, like reputation, will not do to be sought directly for its own sake. In that case it will flee from us. But let us first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us. One great reason, perhaps, why so many Christians go destitute of comfort is, because they care so little about anything else; God, therefore, justly withholds it from them. If they were more to seek His glory, and the extending of His kingdom in the world, they would find consolation come of its own accord. He that cannot lie, when speaking of His own church, hath said, ‘They shall prosper that love thee.’”

The publication of this sermon, and the gatherings for prayer, did much to unite the hearts of the ministers, and fit them to share still greater labours. “The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation,” which was published soon afterwards, did just the same for the world at large. By this eminently pointed and practical treatise, the minds of men were directed just at the right time to the theme of which it treated. True, many were unconvinced, and it gave occasion to much controversy, but the agitation of thought was the beginning of truth.

The treatise set forth the duty of all men cordially to receive the message of the Gospel. It may be said to have been built on a double foundation. First and foremost, it set forth the plain declarations of the Divine word, referred to before, in describing the formation of his views on these subjects. Then, secondly, it was shown that the nature of man, as it stood in relation to these obligations, was not out of harmony with a full responsibility for his belief. In answer to the objection that, apart from the grace of God bestowed upon him, man was unable to receive the Saviour, Mr. Fuller maintained “that his inability was moral, and not actual or physical; in other words, that the inability ascribed to man with respect to believing arose from the aversion of the heart, – in a sense he can, but will not come to Christ. ‘Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life.’ This admitted, the obligation to believe remains in full force, but if the inability had been natural and physical, it was clearly swept away. As, for instance, if we should say of a dumb man, he would not speak, no obligation to utter sound could rest upon him; but if such silence were the result of any powerful passion, we should describe his inability as moral, and so hold him accountable.”

If it were objected that this universal obligation to receive the Gospel was inconsistent with the doctrine that believers are made such by the power of the Spirit, and that this Spirit was narrowed in its effectual operations to those who are predestinated by His grace, Mr. Fuller replies: “There is no dispute about the doctrine of election, or any of the discriminating doctrines of grace. They are allowed on both sides; and it is granted that none ever did or ever will believe in Christ but those who are chosen of God from eternity. The question does not turn upon what are the causes of damnation. No man is an unbeliever, but because he will be so; and every man is not an unbeliever, because the grace of God conquers some, changeth their hearts, and leads them to Christ. God’s Word, and not His secret purpose, is the rule of our conduct.”

These positions are maintained in three parts. The first explains the subject; the second argues it; and the third anticipates objections. The treatise is distinguished by a calm, full, and clear statement of the whole question. Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the book is its patience. There is none of the heat which so often distinguishes polemical writing; the arguments are slowly and quietly advanced, and the conclusions drawn with great fairness. The controversial aspects of the subject are little cared for as such, but there is a deep concern to impress soul-saving truths upon the reader. The style conveys admirably the meaning of the writer. Though severely simple, the point and vigour always save it from dulness. The illustrations, not unfrequently used, although not brilliant pictures, are so easily and naturally employed as greatly to help the elucidation of the subject. If it be a correct definition of true teaching that it is the conveyance of a thought from one mind to another, so that it may grow there, Andrew Fuller’s writings certainly deserve that description, for they ever suggest more than they state.

It will be readily imagined that such views, enforced at such a time, would provoke discussion and controversy; accordingly four or five champions quickly entered the lists. Controversy was, however, never desired by the author. “O peace!” he exclaims, ” thou most valuable jewel. The Lord grant I may never enter the polemical lists!” “Many misgivings of heart,” he says humbly, “about engaging in defence of what I esteem truth, lest the cause of Christ should be injured through me. Surely, if I did not believe that, in defence of which I write, important truth, I would hide my head in obscurity all my life.”

The views of Mr. Fuller were opposed in two opposite directions. The ultra-Calvinists, with Mr. Button as their champion, assailed his position as incompatible with the doctrine of predestination; while the Arminians, led by Philanthropos (Mr. Dan Taylor), agreeing with the greater portion of the treatise, declared its moderate Calvinism to “be fatal to the main argument. A third antagonist appeared in Scotland, in the person of Mr. Mc Lean, whose keen and ingenious criticisms proceeded on the assumption that faith in the Saviour was a purely intellectual exercise, – an opinion zealously and ably propagated in the North by Mr. Sandeman.

If the original treatise calls forth our admiration for its simplicity and clearness, these replies have a piquancy and power scarcely excelled in controversial writing. With calm strength, fallacy after fallacy is exposed, with sharp home thrusts at manifold inconsistencies and misrepresentations. The eager attacks of his opponents, while they called for a watchful and prompt defence, enabled him more clearly to set forth the points of agreement and difference with both their systems. While, however, it had this advantage, it was not without its drawbacks. It is impossible not to admire the quick-witted writing on the Arminian side, which in spirit and clearness far exceeded that of Mr. Button, yet it is hard to give it any higher praise than that of great ingenuity. Consequently it scarcely needed any other quality to follow it. Mr. Fuller’s metaphysical reading was almost confined to the writings of Jonathan Edwards, whose works are characterised by great yet most unsatisfying subtlety. It appears to the writer, and he offers his judgment with sincere diffidence, that the metaphysical part of these controversies, or the reasonings from the nature of things, are ‘the least conclusive. While nothing can exceed the manly candour and strength with which Mr. Fuller maintains his belief, on the one side, in the full accountability of man; and on the other, in the sovereign grace of God; the clearness with which he marshals his texts from Scripture, and the wisdom and fairness with which he generalises; yet, when he is following his opponents into their metaphysical subtleties, the limited range of his reading is constantly apparent.

The position maintained by Mr. Button, on the Calvinistic side, is not difficult to describe. He did not deny that God claimed obedience of all men, but this was an obedience of an external kind. All matters that belonged to “spiritual illumination,” and the exercise of faith in Christ, could not, he maintained, be classed under the category of duty or obligation. The reader will scarcely be prepared to learn the extent to which this view was carried. Such passages as. “Put your trust in the Lord,” are explained as a “natural duty,” having no concern with “evangelical trust.” When Mr. Fuller quotes the second Psalm, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,” Mr. Button replies, that kissing is not a spiritual act, but is nothing more than a token of allegiance. He even admitted that everything “that man was, in a state of innocence, might be required of him” and, therefore, was within his power, and yet all of it have nothing to do with salvation. Such obligations might rest on a doomed man: he might toil his way back to the gates of Paradise, and yet have no power whatever even to breathe the prayer for salvation through Christ!

This, Mr. Button truly declared, was placing man lower in the scale of being than Mr. Fuller’s system. On which Mr. Fuller remarks, with caustic power: “It is true Mr. B. does lay man lower than we do; but it is observable that, so far as this is the case, it is not in the character of a sinner, but of a creature of God, and not on account of what God has made him; and if this is the way in which we are to be humbled, it might be done still more effectually if we were reduced to the condition of a stock or a stone.”

All the invitations addressed by the Saviour to sinful man, Mr. Button limits according to the system of his school, referring them to what are called “sensible sinners.” Mr. Fuller thus describes and ably refutes his position:-

“Mr. B. thinks, it seems, that the declaration, ‘Whosoever will, let him come,’ is not indefinite, but limited, and so is not a warrant for any sinner to come to Jesus Christ. ‘All,’ says he, ‘have not a will; therefore it is not a warrant for every man,’ – p. 46. That multitudes of men are unwilling to forego self-will, self-conceit, and self-righteousness, and to venture their souls wholly upon the Lord Jesus, is a melancholy fact; but to conclude thence that they have no warrant so to do is a very extraordinary species of reasoning. If ‘whosoever will, let him come’ be not an indefinite mode of expression, Mr. B. should have pointed out what sort of language should have been used for such a purpose.

“A generous benefactor, in the hard season of the year, procures a quantity of provisions to be distributed amongst the poor of a country village. He orders public notice to be given that EVERY POOR MAN WHO IS WILLING TO RECEIVE IT SHALL IN NO WISE MEET WITH A REFUSAL. A number of the inhabitants, however, are not only poor, but proud, and cannot find in their hearts to unite with the miserable throng in receiving an alms. Query. Would it be just for such inhabitants to allege that they had no warrant to apply, or that the declaration was limited, seeing it extended only to such as were willing; and, for their parts, they were unwilling? If it were expedient to give such objectors a serious answer, they might be asked, In what language could the donor have expressed himself to have rendered his declaration more indefinite?”

On the Arminian side, Philanthropes maintained that the distinction made by Edwards and Mr. Fuller between moral and natural inability would not bear the weight of his argument. The strain of his reasoning was somewhat as follows: – “Whatever you call the inability, it is inability still: your ‘will not’ amounts to a ‘cannot;’ for you admit it is total and invincible, except by ‘the grace of God,’ which grace is only given to a few. If, therefore, you desire by it to make man accountable for his rejection of the Gospel, although he may receive no spiritual illumination, you do not give him enough. You but give him a power which is only a name; you bring him into the world with palsied faculties, which nothing has been ever known to remedy, but that which he cannot possess.” That Mr. Fuller at least did not shirk these difficulties, but looked them fairly in the face, will be seen from the following extract:-

“‘According to my principles,’ I am told, ‘ men’s moral inability is invincible,’ – p. 68. If I have used that term in the former treatise or the present, it is for want of a better. It is easy to see that my principles do not so much maintain that the moral inability of men is such as to render all their attempts to overcome it vain, as that sin hath such a dominion in their heart as to prevent any real attempts of that nature being made. If a whole country were possessed by a foreign enemy, and all its posts and avenues occupied by his forces, and all the inhabitants dead that so much as wished to oppose him; in that case, to say his power was become invincible by any opposition from that country would hardly be proper, seeing all opposition there is subdued, and all the country are of one side. Invincible is a relative term, and supposes an opposition made, though made in vain. But moral inability is of such a nature, where it totally prevails, as to prevent all real and direct opposition being made. It is the same thing as for the ‘hearts of the sons of men’ to be ‘fully set in them to do evil’ – to be ‘full of evil while they live;’ for ‘every imagination of the heart’ to be ‘only evil, and that continually.’ Now if we say this moral indisposition is invincible, it is for the want of a better term. What we affirm is this, rather: that, suppose it very conquerable, there is nothing of real good in the sinner’s heart to conquer it. If sin is conquered by any efforts of ours, it must be by such as are voluntary. It is not enough that we be ‘rational beings,’ and that conscience suggests to us what we ought to be (p. 66); we must choose to go about it, and that in good earnest, or we shall never effect it. But where the thoughts of the heart are only evil, and that continually, it is supposing a plain contradiction to suppose ourselves the subjects of any such volition or desire.”

Philanthropes declared that all men are enlightened by the Spirit, and that the difference between the saint and sinner is made by the one receiving, and the other rejecting, the mercy of Christ. So that the ultimate decision was referred to the will of the recipient If it were objected that this made his salvation his own act, it was replied: “There is no self-righteousness implied in receiving a gift of free grace; that such a charge might be correct, if it had been procured; and, further, that the guilt of rejection, which all admit, virtually refers the choice, one way or other, to the will.” On this matter, Mr. Fuller writes, not without a generous feeling, to his opponent:-

“That there is a difference between believers and unbelievers all will allow; but if the question be asked, ‘Who maketh thee to differ?’ what must be the answer? If the scheme of P. be true, I should think it must be a person’s own self, and not God. If he reply, ‘No, I do not maintain that man of himself can do anything spiritually good; it is all by the grace of God.’ Be it so: this grace is supposed to be given indiscriminately to mankind in general. This, therefore, does not in the least alter the case. However the grace of God may be a remote cause of the good that is in me, yet it is easy to see that, upon this supposition, it is no cause whatever of the difference between me and another. My unbelieving neighbour had, or might have had, as much grace given him as I, but either he did not ask it, or did not improve the stock imparted to him which I did. He resisted the Holy Spirit; but I was of a pliable temper, and yielded to His persuasions. I have, therefore, by a good improvement of the grace given or offered to me in common with my neighbour, to all intents and purposes made myself to differ. But who am I personating? – Philanthropes? – No, surely! It is the language of his creed, not of him: no, no, whatever may escape from the lip or the pen. his heart must unite with ours, ‘NOT UNTO US, O LORD, NOT UNTO US, BUT TO THY NAME GIVE GLORY!’ “

The reader will remember how Jonathan Edwards attempts to show that the will itself is moved by a chain of causes in the shape of prevailing motives, and. by arguing from the nature of things, seeks to rob the will of all independent power. Like many philosophers, however, he is more formidable in attacking the freedom of the will than in building up his own theory of its impotence; for if his reasoning be correct, there must be an infinite series of motives, which is in itself a contradiction; or else, where this set of influences from without have their rise, there must be some independent power of choice to give them their bias. So that, if we refer back to that which influences the will, we after all must find its action somewhere, in making these influences what they are. It may be conceded, on the other hand, that a difficulty equally formidable encounters the philosopher who attempts to reason out the full liberty of man. For on that side man is lost in the mystery of “absolute commencement;” while, on the other, he has proved an “infinitely dependent succession.”

The discussion on either side has at least shewn the problem to be insoluble. It is, at least, one of the great uses of all such investigations, that they have done much to fix what is comprehensible by the exercise of the reasoning powers. It has been well said that there are two conceivable ways in which philosophic research may help us in our attempts to understand God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom: either, first, through a comprehensible resolution of their apparent contradictions; or, second, through a demonstration that the apparent contradictions result from the very finitude of human knowledge, and that a finite intelligence must be content to live for ever satisfied with this incomprehensible and merely negative solution. The profound and interesting discussions of the last few years, in which Sir William Hamilton, his accomplished successor, and Mr. Mosley, have taken part, have led most men to be content with the latter alternative.

A third opponent to Mr. Fuller appeared in one Dr. Withers, who announced his approach with a flourish of trumpets. “Some exercise of mind this week through an advertisement of Dr. Withers’s, in which he threatens to reduce my late publication to dust. I wish I may be kept in a right spirit. I find myself, in seeing what I have hitherto seen, much subject to a spirit of contempt; but I wish not to indulge too much of that temper. Doubtless I am wrong in some things. I wish I may be all along open to conviction. I found some desires go up to heaven for such a spirit as this. Some tremor of mind in hearing that Dr. Withers’s book is in the press.” When the book appeared, Mr. Fuller took no notice of it, except in a raking foot-note in another edition of his treatise

‘Besides these public opponents, he was regarded by many of his brethren as a sad heretic. A neighbouring minister, after having begged a sight of his manuscript, returned it with a most abusive letter, concluding with the following complimentary sentence: – “Time was when no such calf would ever have been suffered to be born or nourished at the little meeting at Kettering.” The reader may smile at this style of controversy, but it was a decided step in advance of the Reformation and Puritan discussions. Luther called Calvin a pig; and even John Milton thus writes to Salmasius: “Have you the impudence, you rogue, to talk at this rate of the acts and decrees of the chief magistrates of a nation?” John Bunyan, the divine dreamer, boldly advanced his creed on the matter of strong English. Writing to the Bishop of Gloucester, he says: “It cannot be worth our while to lay out any considerable matter of our heat, either for or against doubtful opinions, alterable modes, rites and circumstances of religion. It would be like apes blowing at a glow-worm, which affords neither light nor warmth.” Yet the moderate supply of heat he brought to bear upon the bishop, involved such appellations as a “brutish man;” a “clambering thief;” an “eel at an angle.”

Classing all such opponents with the one just noticed, Mr. Fuller writes: “Should any number of persons, instead of seriously attending to reason, take fire, call names, and set their churches in a flame; and should they after this upbraid me with having stirred up division in the churches, – for all, or any of this, I hope I shall never be thought accountable.”

In this place may be noticed the strictures on Sandemanianism, in twelve letters to a friend. Though these letters were not published till some years afterwards, the reader will perceive their relation to “The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation.” At the same time, he will readily see that any immediate reply to his brother critics was a matter of small importance. They could not be regarded as seriously affecting the real purpose of his book or interfering with its true work.

Mr. Sandeman and Mr. Mc Lean maintained the opinion that faith in Christ was a mere intellectual exercise – the “bare belief in the bare truth.” “Every one,” says Mr. Sandeman, “who obtains a just notion of the person and work of Christ, or whose notion corresponds to what is testified of Him, is justified, and finds peace with God simply through that notion.” Mr. Sandeman further maintained that the mind was utterly passive in its belief: it was simply the subject of irresistible evidence. He therefore set himself against all exhortations, warnings, and expostulations with the sinner to believe in Christ. If asked what he would say to the ungodly, he replies: “I would tell him to the best of my belief what the Gospel said about Christ. If he still doubted, I would set before him all the evidence furnished me by the same Gospel. Thus, and thus only, would I press, call, or invite him to believe.” It must be said, in justice, that Mr. Mc Lean, while enforcing Mr. Sandeman’s opinion, did not regard the mind as passive, but active, in its reception of the truth. The sinner might, therefore, seek to believe. It should, however, be remembered that, though these writers thus stripped faith of all moral or spiritual accessories, they believed that love and all other graces would follow in its track.

Mr. Mc Lean, and Mr. Sandeman likewise, were driven to maintain that sin was “simple ignorance,” – an opinion thus ably encountered by Mr. Fuller: “That voluntary blindness,” he says, “renders sinners estranged from God, I can easily understand; nor am I at any loss to conceive of its being ‘that by which Satan reigns and maintains his power over the minds of men;’ but I do not perceive in any of these facts the proof of an evil disposition, having its origin in ignorance. Two friends, whom I will call Matthew and Mark, were one evening conversing on this subject, when the following sentiments were exchanged: – ‘All sin,’ said Matthew, ‘arises from ignorance’ ‘Do you think, then,’ said Mark, ‘that God will condemn men for what is owing to a want of natural capacity?’ ‘Oh, no,’ said Matthew; ‘ it is a voluntary ignorance to which I refer, – a not liking to retain God in their knowledge.’ ‘Then,’ said Mark, ‘you reason in a circle; your argument amounts to this, All sin arises from ignorance, and this ignorance arises from sin, or, which is the same thing, from aversion to the light!’ “

It is needless to follow Mr. Fuller through his answers to these various positions. It must suffice to say, that these twelve letters are equal in force and point to any of his controversial writings. He compared their views with the Scripture statement, that repentance is needed before forgiveness, and with the general tenour of the Divine exhortations. The consequences of these errors, as they related to the responsibilities of man, are searchingly set forth. One cannot help mourning that so many pages should be wasted over mere word-catching problems and verbal quibbles. Mr. Sandeman, however, attached immense importance to his discoveries, and called the works of the elder Puritans “devout paths to hell.” There is no contest so fruitless as that which disputes concerning the priority of those powers or graces, with which the soul holds fellowship with God. Mr. Mc Lean was terribly afraid lest Mr. Fuller, by giving faith a spiritual character, should affirm that a man had some spiritual good in him before he believed, and then afraid lest there should be any love that was not founded on a clear perception of evidence. Surely, in the soul’s first spiritual exercises, there is the germ of all these graces; and the man trifles about heavenly things who worries his brain as to which finds an entrance first.

Before passing from this book, and the controversies it evoked, let us not forget the effect it had upon his own mind and its spiritual work in the church. As we read his Diary during the time this treatise was preparing for the press, and the storm which followed was raging, we are struck with the humble desires to know the truth, and to defend it becomingly, which he uttered before God; and yet more with the renewed tenderness it gave to his ministry. The Gospel was “worthy of all acceptation,” – then it was worthy the acceptance of those who were still far from God in his own congregation. It was the duty of all to embrace it; it was their duty, and he was their ambassador to proclaim it to them. But oh! how easy to lose sight of this home aspect of the truth in the bitterness of polemical strife. Let the reader read the following extracts from his Diary, and rejoice he was himself moved to renewed devotedness by the grand truths he had enunciated: “August 20, 1784. Many misgivings of heart about engaging in defence of what I esteem truth, lest the cause of Christ should be injured through me. Surely, if I did not believe that, in defence of which I write, to be important truth, I would hide my head in obscurity all my days. 2lst. The Lord direct my way in publishing. Assuredly He knows my end is to vindicate the excellence of His character, and His worthiness of being loved and credited. 23rd. The weight of publishing still lies upon me. I expect a great share of unhappiness through it. I had certainly much rather go through the world in peace, did I not consider this step as my duty. I feel a jealousy of myself, lest I should not be endued with meekness and patience sufficient for controversy. The Lord keep me! I wish to suspect my own spirit, and go forth leaning on Him for strength. 31st. Preached this afternoon on the dimensions of the love of Christ. Great delight at the Lord’s-Supper. Oh to know more of, and live upon, Christ! He must be our daily bread. Sweet pleasure to-night. Can hardly forbear singing as I go about,

“‘Oh! for this love let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break,’”

Its effects on the church at large, altogether apart from the discussions it evoked, must not be overlooked. It was a page in the great missionary story. Many who were afterwards engaged with him in the great work of his life, felt its power, and openly acknowledged their obligation. Following pages will show how it found its way to one servant of God, then preparing by other training to engage in the same work. Meanwhile we must turn aside and find Andrew Fuller overwhelmed with home sorrows, yet made strong in them by the same grace that had equipped him for battle.

 

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html

 

A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: Thomas Ekins Fuller


This is the second chapter of the above-titled book. The earlier chapters can be found via the categories listing at the end of the post.

 

Chapter 2: Searching for the Truth

AMONG those who were baptized with Andrew Fuller, was one Mr. Joseph Diver, a middle-aged man of about forty years of age. He appears to have been a quiet, retiring man, fond of reading, and “not less devoted to universal practical godliness.” He had, moreover, not only a great delight in reading the thoughts of others, but in comparing them with his own, and seeking for fresh light on old problems. With this man, Andrew Fuller formed an intimate friendship, which was interrupted only by death. It was just such a companionship as he needed. For what intercourse is more blessed than that of two souls knit together in seeking for more knowledge and light, and rejoicing in each new discovery? Andrew Fuller, at least, accounted it “one of the greatest blessings of his life.” One can imagine these two friends slowly searching for the hidden pearls, the unusual gravity of the youth at seventeen not ill assorting with the habits of the staid recluse of forty. Notwithstanding their disparity of years, they loved each other “like David and Jonathan;” and concerning one summer of happy communion, Andrew Fuller quotes Dr. Watts’s lines –

“The day glides swiftly o’er their head,
Made up of innocence and love,
And soft and silent as the shade
Their nightly minutes gently move.”

But what was there in the quiet life at Soham to stimulate the discussions of these two searchers? Their libraries were bat scantily supplied with books; lectures were scarcely known at that time; nor did they come into contact with other minds likely to aid them in their inquiries or suggest new themes of thought. There were none of these things to help them; yet in that out-of-the-world place there were two things about which all the solemn problems gather, over which acting heads have bent, – sin, with its sad courses; Divine grace, with its heavenly visitations.

It happened in the autumn of 1770 that one of the members of the church was guilty of drinking to excess, and that this was first known to Andrew Fuller. Accordingly, in obedience to what he deemed the Divine will, he went and remonstrated with him on his sin. Whatever he might have learned from the pulpit on the inability of man, he was startled with the reception he encountered. The man declared “it was not his fault that he could not save himself from sin, and that, though his accuser bore so hard upon him, he was not his own keeper.” “At this,” says Andrew Fuller, “I was indignant, considering it as a base excuse. I therefore told him that he could keep himself from such sins as these, and that his way of talking was to excuse what was inexcusable.” Acting thus on the practical instinct of the moment, he had righteously rebuked the man for charging God with his sin; but he went home burdened with a strange sorrow. A new problem had to be solved, which, though it cost him years of toil to master, even then began to exercise his mind; and, ere he reached his home, the sin of one man had widened into the mighty question of “the power of sinful man to do the will of God.”

Is is surely worthy of note, that in this long and earnest course of inquiry he started from the “living subject” It was no mere love of metaphysical speculation, but the dread realities of sin and responsibility, that forced such themes upon his attention. Those who are familiar with his life and writings will call to mind how thoroughly this same spirit appears in them both. He ever brought truth to the living test, casting aside a priori schemes of reasoning as out of his ken, and judging of the life from the fruit.

In this sore perplexity he had recourse to three councillors, – his minister, Mr. Eve; his friend, Mr. Joseph Diver; and the writings of Dr. Gill. Added to this, but scarcely sought, was the discipline of the church in conclave upon the sin of the offender. The question, opening, as the reader will easily perceive, into a much wider one, was, whether the culprit had the power to have abstained from the guilty act; and, if so, where this power was to be found, and whether it was within his reach? His pastor highly commended him for the rebuke he had administered, and suggested the following solution of the perplexity: – “We certainly could,” he said, “keep ourselves from open sins. We had no power to do things spiritually good; but, as to outward acts, we had the power both to obey the will of God and to disobey it.”

Of Dr. Gill’s solution he shall give his own account: – “I met with a. passage,” he says. “in Dr. Gill’s ‘Cause of God and Truth,’ in which he distinguishes between a thing being in ‘the power of our hand, and in the power of our heart.’ This, thought I, is the clue to our dispute. Every man has it in the power of his own hand to do good, and to abstain from evil; and this it is which makes us accountable beings. We can do, or forbear to do, this and that, if we have a mind; but many have not a mind, and none would have such a mind but for the constraining grace of God. We have it in the power of our hands to do good: but we are disposed to do evil, and so to do good is not naturally in the power of our hearts.

It will be seen that this explanation was kindred in some particulars with that offered by Mr. Eve; both involving a suspicious distinction between things external and spiritual, which may catch the ear, but cannot satisfy the judgment. In the first case it had respect to the sort of act; and in the second, to the instrument and power by which it was performed.

Mr. Joseph Diver’s comments, though scarcely touching the metaphysics of the matter, were, as a practical direction, just what was wanted. “We ought,” he says, ” to hate evil and love the Lord; but it is the grace of God alone that can make us what we ought to be.” He would often speak of the equity of the Divine requirements in the words of David: “I esteem all Thy precepts in all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” And, again, “Thou hast commanded us that we should keep Thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes!” “Thus it is,” said Mr. Diver, “that we should turn every precept into a prayer, instead of inferring from it a sufficiency in ourselves to conform to it All out conformity to the Divine precepts is of grace: it will never do to argue from our obligations against our dependence, nor from our dependence on grace against our obligations to duty. If it were not for the restraining goodness and persevering love of God, we should be a kind of devil, and earth would resemble hell.”

The majority of the church strongly censured their young member’s remonstrance, and even more severely their pastor’s defence of it. They excused the former, as being “a babe” in religion, but could not forgive the heresy of their teacher. He accordingly resigned, and left the church so divided into parties, that it was thought it would be dissolved.

In these disputes, Andrew Fuller at first took the same view as his pastor; but the more he considered the matter, the more unsatisfactory his explanation appeared, and the difficulties of the subject made him “more and more unhappy.” “I perceived,” he says, “that some kind of power was necessary to render us accountable beings. If we were like stocks and stones, or literally dead, like men in a burying-ground, we could with no more propriety than they be commanded to perform a duty; if we were mere machines, there could be no sin chargeable upon us. Yet, on the other hand, the Scriptures expressly affirm that ‘the way of a man is not in himself,’ and represent the godly as crying to heaven for preservation from evil, ascribing all the good that was in them ‘ to Him who worketh in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.’ “

The question still remains unsettled; but he has found some help in the practical wisdom of his chosen friend. He has at least fixed the attitude of the tempted saint, – seeking help of God, while he has accepted his full accountability. It is indeed to be doubted whether he ever got any nearer the truth than this, after examining the elaborate subtleties of Jonathan Edwards. Though the range of his practical duties widened as he more clearly comprehended the genius of the Gospel, at present his thinkings were narrowed to the question of man’s accountability and power, in his conflict with sin, without touching what afterwards became his favourite theme – “the duty of sinners to believe in Jesus Christ.” They proved a help, however, in leading him onwards.

“These pursuits,” he tells us, “though they were the ‘gall and wormwood’ of my youth, yet were the occasion of my turning my thoughts to most of the subjects on which I have since written, and so were the occasion of my engaging in the Christian ministry.”

The history of these inquiries must for a time be interrupted to narrate engagements which ended in his becoming “an able minister of Jesus Christ.” Never did a life seem led on more naturally to its true work and mission. There were no startling changes, no freaks of fortune; but he was as one waiting patiently for a guidance which never failed him, and which responded to his desires with a precision which sets us wondering how far our way is hindered, and our trust in those unseen agencies which gird and guide us enfeebled, by our feverish haste and impatience.

Never was more distinctly set forth the difference between morbid speculation and an earnest pursuit of truth. The mere speculator loses relish for all practical work, leaves the sin and sorrow which surround him, untouched, because he cannot solve Divine equations or pierce fully the mysteries of faith and providence; courts the miseries of a shattered faith, or else, if his hold in first principles mercifully abides, amuses himself “in cracking the nuts, which spoil the children’s teeth,” while the bread of heaven awaits the lips of the perishing, – like an emperor of notorious memory, scraping the well-worn strings while the city is burning.

“In reviewing some of these questions which occupied my attention,” says Andrew Fuller, “at an early period, I have seen reason to bless God for preserving me at a time when my judgment was so immature. When I have seen the zeal which has been expended on maintaining some such peculiarities, I have thought it a pity. They have appeared to me as a sort of spiritual narcotics, which, when a man once gets a taste for them, he will prefer to the most wholesome food. A man who chews opium or tobacco may prefer it to the most wholesome food, and may derive from it pleasure and even vigour for a time; but his pale countenance and debilitated constitution will soon bear witness to the folly of spending his money for that which is not bread.”

With Andrew Fuller, a doctrine was not a curiosity to be left to rust on the highway, but a weapon to be sharpened for battle; hence we must not be surprised that what little he knew soon found its way into practical discourse. The members who yet held together in the scattered church having no minister, met for singing and prayer, and the expounding of the Scriptures. Mr. Joseph Diver having the greatest reputation of the little band for “the gift of utterance,” “took up part of every Lord’s day in public exercises.”

How Andrew Fuller rejected a tempting offer to leave Soham and seek his own fortune in the world, and how he came to share the Sabbath exercises with Mr. Diver, maybe given in his own words.

“In November, 1771, as I was riding out on business, my mind fell into a train of interesting and affecting thoughts upon that passage of Scripture, ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ I never had felt such freedom of mind in thinking on a Divine subject before; nor do I recollect ever having had a thought of the ministry; but I then felt as if I could preach, in a manner, as I rode-along. I thought no more of it, however, but returned home when I had done my business. In the afternoon of the same day I went to meet my mother, who had been to London to see her mother, who was then very unwell. As we rode a few miles together, she told me she had been, thinking much about me while in town, and added: ‘My dear, – you have often expressed your wish for a trade. I have talked with your uncle, at Kensington, about it, and he has procured a good place in the city, where, instead of paying a premium, you may in a little while, if you give satisfaction, receive wages and learn the business. I thought,’ continued she, ‘that as we have lost the Gospel, and perhaps shall never have it again, you could have no reason for wishing to continue here.’ That which my mother suggested was very true. I had always been inclined for trade; but how was it? – I cannot tell, – my heart revolted at the proposal at this time. It was not from any desire or thought of the ministry, nor anything else in particular, unless it were a feeling toward the little, scattered society of which I was a member; – a kind of lingering to see what would become of the city. I said but little to my mother, but wished for a time to consider it. This was Saturday evening.

“The next morning, as I was walking by myself to meeting, expecting to hear the brethren pray, and my friend Joseph Diver expound the Scriptures, I was met by one of the members, who said: ‘Brother Diver has, by accident, sprained his ankle and cannot be at meeting to-day, and he wishes me to say to you, that he hopes the Lord will be with you.’ The Lord be with me, I thought; what does Brother Diver mean? He cannot suppose that I can take his place, seeing I have never attempted anything of the kind, nor have been asked to do so. It then occurred, however, that I had had an interesting train of thought the day before, and had imagined at the time I could speak it, if called to it. But though I had repeatedly engaged in prayer publicly, yet I had never been requested to anything further, and therefore thought no more of it.

“We walked on to the meeting and took our places, when, after singing, one of the brethren went to prayer. After which the eldest deacon asked me if I would read some part of the Scriptures, and if I found liberty, drop any remarks as I went on which might occur. At first I was startled, but conscious of what had passed in my own mind the day before, I thought, as Brother Diver was absent, it might be my duty to try; and, therefore, making no objections, which, as it appeared to me, would have been mere affectation, I rose and spoke from Ps. xxx. 5, for about half an hour, with considerable freedom.”

Shortly after this he was again invited by Mr. Diver to speak on the Lord’s day. But this time his “liberty of speech” forsook him, and he returned home sorely discouraged.

Consistently with the pausing habits of his life, he could not be persuaded to speak again for more than a year. Fortunately, however, his lay-brother was again absent through affliction, and he was induced to renew the attempt. He spoke from the words: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” On this occasion the question of his engaging in the ministry was settled once for all, for there “fell upon him,” as Bunyan has it, “the blessing of him that was ready to perish.” Several young persons of the congregation were so impressed by the earnestness of the preacher that they were constrained to cast in their lot with the little band. From that time forward the labours of the Sabbath day were divided between the two friends. In January, 1774, an elderly member of the church died, leaving a request, if the church did not think it disorderly, that Andrew Fuller should preach the funeral sermon. This dying wish seemed to lead the minds of the people to him, as one fitted to be their pastor.

A whole day previous to the funeral solemnities was set apart for fasting and prayer, after which they unanimously called him to the ministry, and from that time he “exercised from the pulpit.”

His settlement as a pastor, with all its new responsibilities and duties, gave a new impulse to his inquiries. The question, “What is truth?” widened to his view as he became a teacher of the “oracles of God,” and had the care of other souls in his keeping. In simple, manly language, he speaks of the new work before him: “Being now settled as a minister, I took a view of the doctrine I should preach, and spent pretty much of my time in making up my mind as to the various things relative to the Gospel. Impressed with the importance of the connexions I should probably form, both as a man and a minister, I earnestly besought the Lord to be my guide.”Once more the old words were very helpful to him: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” He thought of them not in vain, as “one would think of a friendly hint given in early life.”

He turned his attention first of all to the great questions involved in the Calvinistic controversy. Hitherto they had only occupied his thoughts as they affected the power of a saint to keep himself from sin, but now he began to wonder whether the doctrine in which he had been trained, “that nothing was to be addressed to the unregenerate but exhortations to external obedience, was a correct one,” and in some such way as this the subject reopened to his mind. Outward services might, according to his old teachers, be requested of all, such as attendance on the means of grace, and abstinence from gross evil might be enforced, but nothing was said to sinful men about Christ’s salvation, or fleeing from the wrath to come. Was not this distinction between external and internal actions most suspicious and untrustworthy? Was not one but the fruit of the other? Did not the will of God necessarily go beyond mere outward action, and extend to the inmost thoughts and intents of the heart? He had already recognised the utter blame-worthiness of the drinking professor’s sin, and his accountability to God for his transgression, – would not that principle lead him further? If accountable for a sinful act, why not for many? for a sinful state? But this reasoning, if correct, would affect the whole tenor of his preaching, therefore he moved with slow and trembling steps, “as one feeling his way out of a labyrinth,” so that for some years he did not address invitations to sinners as such.

While this solemn matter was slowly moving to its true solution, his mind was directed to other subjects of inquiry. Men were writing pamphlets in those days on such subjects as “The Pre-existence of the Human Soul of Christ,” “The Eternal Worship of Christ,” “The Permission of Evil,” &c. One after another these subjects engaged his attention. On one of them – “The Pre-existence of the Soul of Christ” – the young Soham minister met some of his brethren in solemn conclave, one of them defending the dogma. Here is the “volunteer” whetting his sword for future battle, and obtaining an easy victory over the assembled polemical wisdom. ” I offered,” he says, “to prove that it led to Atheism, or relinquish the argument. They accepted my offer. I began by saying, ‘You suppose the human soul of Christ to “be a party in the everlasting counsels of God. Yet God could not counsel with Himself, for a counsel implies more than one; but God is one. Yet you do not suppose the soul of Christ to have always existed? No; it was created, and therefore could not be eternal. Then you must suppose that until the great God had a creature to take counsel with He had no plan; prior to the act of creation He was without counsel, without plan, without design. But a being without plan, purpose, or design, is not God !! Then you are landed on Atheism.’”

Slowly move the events which bring the fulness of that work which he performed in the world. A whole year of probation was passed at Soham before he is formally ordained as pastor of the church. Those wore not the days when men took churches by storm after a couple of Sabbath services. Andrew Fuller at least felt his way to see if he could do his work truly for his people, as well as to submit himself to their approval. There was much fasting and prayer before the union of pastor and people was fairly formed; but when once they were united, events proved how hard it was to separate.

In the spring of 1775 his ordination took place. Among the ministers present was one Mr. Robert Hall, of Arnsby, already known among the churches as breaking away from the narrow boundaries of an ultra-Calvinistic creed, and rejoicing in the freedom of a better faith. Concerning him, another of his name has written: “He appeared to the greatest advantage upon subjects where the faculties of most men fail them – for the natural element of his mind was greatness.” Between this minister and the chosen pastor of Soham a discussion took place on the controversy which had divided the church. It ended in Mr. Hall expressing his pleasure at the course of events, and recommending to Andrew Fuller “Edwards on the Will,” as the most able performance on the power of man to do the will of God. So little, however, was he acquainted with books at that time, that he confounded the work of Dr. John Edwards, of Cambridge, an Episcopalian Calvinist, with that of Jonathan Edwards, of New England. Though he liked the book, it did not seem to answer to Mr. Hall’s recommendation. In time, however, he lighted on the real Jonathan, and was much confirmed in his views by its contents. It is only fair to say that he had written out the substance of those views, which he permanently adopted, before this book came into his possession; and indeed, any one that has studied both the character and workings of his mind, must have thought this likely. It was not so much through metaphysical research that he reached the position afterwards defined in “The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation.” The value of these inquiries will be referred to when we come to speak of his controversial writings. It may suffice now to say that they have been, certainly, over-estimated.

Four things contributed to his hearty reception of those views of the full accountability of man, and the obligation to preach the Gospel to all men, from the adoption of which his life receives a new impulse, and takes a new direction:-

First, the examination of books unfolding the argument from Scripture.

Secondly, the persevering examination of the Scriptures themselves.

Thirdly, the success attending the preaching of the Gospel, in the missionary labours of Brainerd and Elliott.

Fourthly, the companionship of Sutcliffe and Ryland, men who became his co-workers in after days, and whose inquiries were then tending in the same direction as his own.

Two books he especially mentions as contributing to the settlement of his views in the way indicated. The one, a pamphlet by Dr. Abraham Taylor, which was called “The Modern Question.” There was little in the reasoning which attracted his attention, until he lighted on his reference to the preaching of John the Baptist, our Lord, and the apostles. That strange crowd on the banks of the Jordan seemed a fair representation of an ungodly world. To the tax-gatherer, in his injustice; to the soldier, in his rude violence; to the Pharisee, in his hypocrisy, the words came with smiting power: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Saviour himself came to seek and to save the lost; the “children’s bread’ was given to the ignorant and out of the way; and publicans and sinners pressed to hear the message of salvation. The preaching of the apostles completed the argument. With the dying commission of their Lord, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature,” they went to the very centre of the world’s busiest activity; they selected no chosen company, but wherever the people gathered, there they preached. So strikingly did Providence work with them, that the very persecutions of their enemies were but as rough winds which scattered the seeds they went forth to sow.

About the same time he met with a pamphlet on “The Causes and Consequences of not Submitting to the Righteousness of God.” The design of the discourse was to show that the rejection of the Gospel was not owing to the will of God, but to the “wilful ignorance, pride, prejudice, and unbelief” of man. He was equally unable to answer the argument; and to charge God with the guilt of the world seemed too awful a thing to contemplate. “I began to think,” he says, “on perusing these two books, that my views were unscriptural; I read, thought, and prayed. Sometimes I conversed with my friend Joseph Diver, and sometimes he was nearly as much at a loss as myself”

The diligent examination of the Scriptures with the commentaries of these pamphlets led to the same conclusion.

Most interesting is it to find a powerful influence in a like direction exerted by the simple and beautiful narratives of Elliott and Brainerd. Precisely the same result, he reasoned, which flowed from the apostolic labours, followed from the preaching of those who had been bold enough to be their successors. The embracing of those views which he afterwards so ably expounded, compelled him to his missionary labours; and those very labours, already commenced in scattered places in the field, contributed to the formation of his opinions! Thus it is that work and thought act and react upon each other. The influence of one of these books is thus referred to in his Diary: “I found my soul drawn out in love to poor souls, while reading Millar’s account of Elliott’s labours among the North American Indians, and their effect upon these poor barbarous savages. I found also a suspicion that we shackle ourselves too much in our addresses; that we have bewildered and lost ourselves in taking the decrees of God as the rules of action. Surely, Peter and Paul never felt such scruples in their addresses as we do. They addressed their hearers as men – fallen men; as we should warn and admonish persons who were blind and on the brink of some dreadful precipice. Their work seemed plain before them. O that mine might be so before me!”

Finally, help came in the “familiar and faithful” intercourse of men who, partly “by reading and partly by reflection,” had begun to doubt the system of false Calvinism to which they had been inclined when they first entered the ministry. As he then lived sixty or seventy miles from these brethren, and in those days such a distance was a serious obstacle to intercourse, he saw them but seldom. These are the men, Ryland, Sutcliffe, and Carey, with whom he stood shoulder to shoulder in the strife of after years. Good is it to know that they were a help to each other while yet struggling for more light. Such occasional glimpses as were permitted to them must have relieved their loneliness and stimulated their researches.

Moved by all these influences, yet toiling much in solitude, he wrote, in 1776, the substance of what he afterwards published under the title of “The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation; or the Obligations of man cordially to believe whatever God makes known.” He has now arrived at the turning point of his life. We have reached the position where we can survey and understand it, with all its varying incidents and chequered scenes. A great life, like a great work of art, has some grand yet simple principle underlying it. Whatever variety there may be in the building, the bending of its arches, the tracery of its windows, the wreathing of its columns, are all the following up of one thought of beauty. There is just such a oneness in the details of the life before us. It was a moving forward to grasp the infinite love of the Father in a Gospel of salvation to be preached in the name of the Redeemer to all men; thereafter it was a carrying out of that truth to its utmost consequences. As the fulness of the views were slowly wrought out and realised, so slowly are the full consequences they involved reached! But from the moment Andrew Fuller had fairly adopted them, his life and work began to widen, as a bank widens with the flow of a river. At first, the effect of the change is only seen in the fretting of the little church over which he presided, and in his removal to Kettering: then again afterwards when his heavy metal broke upon the Antinomian entrenchments at home; and finally, in the great missionary labours he sustained until his death.

In reading the history of these changes of opinion, how little can we enter into the solemn heart-searchings and mental sufferings they involved! So single was he in his desire to know the will of God, so mistrustful of himself, so eagerly seeking for more “light, and fuller,” yet so careful not to break carelessly away from old paths, and adopt opinions because they were new, we are often reminded of the “song from the higher choir:” “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God.” A few glimpses of these spiritual exercises are given in his Diary:-

“Jan. 10, A solemn vow or renewal of covenant with God. O my God (let not the Lord be angry with His servant for thus speaking), Thou knowest I have heretofore sought for Thy truth; I have earnestly entreated Thee that Thou would’st lead me unto it, that I might be rooted, established, and built up in it, as it is in Jesus. I have seen the truth of that saying: ‘ It is a good thing to have the heart established with grace;’ and now I would thus solemnly renew my prayer to Thee, and also enter a fresh covenant with Thee.”

“O Lord God! I find myself in a world where thousands profess Thy name; some are preaching, some writing, some talking about religion. All profess to be searching after truth; to have Christ and the inspired writers on their side. I am afraid lest I should be turned aside from the simplicity of the Gospel. I feel my understanding full of darkness, my reason exceedingly imperfect, my will ready to start aside, and my passions strangely volatile. Oh! illumine mine understanding; teach my reason, reason; my will, rectitude; and let every faculty of which I am possessed be kept within the bounds of Thy service.” . .

“Oh! let not the sleight of wicked men lie in wait to deceive, nor even the pious character of good men (who yet may be under great mistakes) draw me easily aside, nor do Thou suffer my own fancy to misguide me, Lord; Thou hast given me a determination to take up no principle at secondhand, but to search for everything at the fountain of Thy Word. Yet, Lord, I am afraid, seeing I am as liable to err as other men, lest I should be led aside from truth by mine own imagination. Hast Thou not promised, ‘The meek Thou wilt guide in judgment, and the meek Thou wilt teach Thy way’? Lord, Thou knowest at this time my heart is not haughty, nor are mine eyes lofty; ‘guide me by Thy counsel, and afterwards receive me into glory.’

“One thing in particular I would pray for, namely, that I may not only be kept from erroneous principles, but may so love the truth as never to keep it back. O Lord, let me never, under the specious pretence of preaching holiness, neglect to promulgate the truths of Thy word; for this day I see, and have all along found, that holy practice has a necessary dependence on sacred principle. O Lord, if Thou wilt open mine eye to behold the wonders of Thy Word, and give me to feel their transforming tendency, then shall the Lord be my God; then let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I shun to declare, to the best of my knowledge, the whole counsel of God.”

Would that all had waited at the ” Temple Gate” with a spirit such as this! Such words are the solemn litany of a reverent inquirer who enters to be taught of God. Not to the shallow empirics, with their affectation of originality, is the Divine will made known, but to those who wait, like the priest in the holiest of all, with the seeking breastplate, until the answering oracle kindles the gems with strange unearthly radiance!

With affectionate devotion, Mr. Fuller laboured for the little flock at Soham. His power out of the pulpit was felt by all his hearers, and sustained as only life can sustain, Sabbath ministrations. It was not his habit to pay a number of formal and meaningless visits, but to render real help when his sympathy was needed. Very few are the direct references made in his Diary to his work, but such as they are, they plainly reveal its character: “June 14. Went out to see some fallen brethren; convinced that there is no art necessary in religion, resolved to proceed with all plainness and openness: did so, and hope for good effects. I left each party with weeping eyes. But oh, how liable to sin myself! Surely, I do not study the cases of the people enough in my preaching. I find, by conversation to-day with one seemingly in dying circumstances, that but little of my preaching has been suited to her case. Visiting the sick, and conversing with the unconverted portion of my hearers about their souls, more especially with the godly, would have a tendency to make my preaching more experimental.”

The reader cannot but observe how near was the pastor’s communion with God, and how well balanced was his devotional and active life. All his motives were subject to the severest scrutiny, and carried into the solitude of prayer and meditation, to be judged by another standard than that which prevailed among men. He saw clearly enough that judging of our own actions, we are too ready to take the verdict of admiring and attached friends, rather than to carry them to a truer but severer tribunal. His judgments his labours and preaching are full of fidelity and thoroughness. Indeed, his desire to keep a diary seems to have been prompted by the wish to write the “whole truth” about himself, so that he might not be led astray by conventional criticism. After he has written thus faithfully about himself and his doings, he exclaims with deep earnestness: What a difference between the book which I keep and the one which God keeps! Oh! what an awful black diary could He produce against me in judgment.” One extract will illustrate the searching character of these meditations. He is speaking of his temptations when in company with others: “Surely,” he exclaims, “I am unfit for any company. If I am with a superior, how will my heart court his praise, by speaking diminutively of myself, not forgetting to urge the disadvantages under which I have laboured, to excuse my inferiority; and here is a large vacancy, left in hope he will fill it up with something like this, – Well, you must have made good improvement of what advantages you have enjoyed. On the other hand, when in company with an inferior, how full of self am I, while I seem to be instructing him, by communicating my observations. How apt to lose sight of his edification, and everything but my own self-importance, aiming more to discover my own knowledge than to increase his!”

But even this fiery test does not satisfy the analyst. The crucible must be put to the fire once more. “While I make these observations,” he continues, “I feel the truth of them. A thought has been suggested to me, to write them not as having been working in my heart to-day, but only as discovered to-day. Oh! horridly deceitful and desperately wicked heart! If I am saved, what must the Son of Man have endured!” In the light of such inward wrestlings, we can understand that singular conscientiousness, that stern and unbending integrity, which frowned away all that was unreal and mean, and drew towards it all who had need of deeper wisdom and maturer judgment.

Meanwhile we are able to gather from a few scattered references, that he is possessing himself of such books as his scanty means will furnish, and perusing them eagerly. “Edwards on the Affections” follows “Edwards on the Will,” and after that is finished he goes through “Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History.” His short, pithy comments on the latter work are very characteristic. “Really,” he says, “I am sick of reading so much about monks, mendicant friars, &c. I could have wished the history had more answered to its title, a history of the Church, but it seems little more than a history of locusts.” The next day he comments in a somewhat happier mood: “Some sacred delight to-day, in reading more of Mosheim on the coming forth of the champions of the Reformation, – Luther, Melancthon, Zwingle, Calvin, &c., into the field; I think I feel their generous fervour in the cause of God and Truth. How were the arms of their hands made strong by the mighty God of Jacob!” He is not satisfied, however, when he reads a later chapter of the Reformation. “I was occupied to-day with Mosheim, whose partial account of the English Baptists would lead me to indulge a better opinion of various sects who have been deemed heretics.” The reader has found a flavour in these short criticisms with which he will grow more familiar.

In tracing the progress of this inquiry, we can see how this one belief in the Gospel as “worthy of all acceptation,” began to affect his reception of doctrinal truth generally. A very slight acquaintance with the theology of ultra-Calvinism will have taught the reader how all doctrines are cramped to its narrow issues. There is no sacrifice for the sins of the world; the justification of the believer is lost sight of in its aspect to the great redemption, and referred alone to the eternal counsels of the Almighty; its realisation being but the transient passage of the blessing from the Almighty to His child. The following criticism on a passage of Dr. Gill’s, will show how he was laying broader and deeper the foundations of his faith:-

“When I first set out in the ministry I had no other ideas of justification than those which are stated by Dr. Gill. ‘Justification,’ he says, ‘may be distinguished into active and passive. Active justification is the act of God. It is God that justifteth. Passive justification is the act of God terminating on the conscience of a believer, commonly called a transient act passing upon an external object. The former is an act internal and eternal, taken up in the Divine mind from eternity, and is an imminent, abiding one in it. It is, as Dr. Ames expresses it, a sentence conceived in the Divine mind by the decree of justifying.’

“In his Bod. Div. vol. ii., p. 797, the doctor speaks of justification as it ‘terminates in the conscience of a believer, and which (he says) the Scriptures style justification by faith.’

“These, till within a few years, were my views. But, thinking over these subjects, I felt dissatisfied; I felt that my views did not quadrate with the Scriptures; I endeavoured, therefore, to examine the matter closely. It occurred to me that, whatever disputes had arisen on this subject, all parties that I had read were agreed in considering justification as the opposite of condemnation. I found this idea also plentifully supported by the Scriptures, Deut. xxv. 1; 1 Kings viii. 32; Rom, viii. 33, 34. I therefore set myself to examine – What is condemnation? Is it, said I, the decree of God finally to condemn a sinner? No; for every unbeliever, elect or non-elect, is under condemnation, John iii 18, 36, ‘the wrath of God abideth on him.’ Believers ‘were by nature children of wrath, even as others:’ Saul, therefore, while a persecutor, was a child of wrath, or was under condemnation: yet God ‘had not appointed him to wrath, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ.’

“Hence, I concluded, if condemnation be not the decree of God finally to condemn, justification is not the decree of God finally to acquit. It also appeared to me inconsistent with the nature of things to conceive of justification as Dr. Ames expresses it, namely, as ‘a sentence conceived in the Divine mind;’ for, whatever purpose may be conceived in a judge’s mind in favour of a prisoner, it is not justification till it is declared in open court.

“Further, Does condemnation, said I, consist in any sense or persuasion which a sinner possesses that he shall be condemned? No; for many who are under condemnation according to the Scriptures have no such persuasion, but the reverse, as was the case with the Jews, who were persuaded that God was their Father, while in fact they were of their father the devil; and others, who are not under condemnation according to the Scriptures, are yet at times under apprehension that they are so. But if condemnation, continued I, consists not in a sense or persuasion that we are or shall be condemned, justification consists not in a sense or persuasion that we are or shall be justified.

“On the whole, it seemed evident that the sentence of justification was neither a purpose in the Divine mind, nor a sense or persuasion in the human mind. The question then returned, What is it? Still keeping hold of my clue, I proceeded to inquire, Is not condemnation that state or condition of a sinner in which, according to the revealed will of God in His holy law, all the threatenings and curses stand against him? Is it not the same thing as a being under the curse, which all are who are of the works of the law, whether they be elect or non-elect? And, if so, is not justification that state or condition of a sinner believing in Jesus, in which, according to the revealed will of God in the Gospel, all the promises and blessings of the new covenant belong to him? Is it not the same thing as a being under grace (Rom. vi. 14), and which is true only of believers? The sentence of justification is not a revelation or manifestation of something to the mind which was true before, though unknown to the party; but consists of the voice of God, in the Gospel, declaring that whosoever believeth shall be saved. In this court, believers in Jesus stand acquitted from all things from which they could not have been acquitted by the law of Moses.”

In the month of July, 1780, it pleased God to remove his beloved friend, Mr. Joseph Diver. The loss was a severe one to Andrew Fuller. Not only had he been his companion in all his mental perplexities, helping him with many a clear and forcible exposition of truth, but he had stood by him in all his church troubles. Mr. Fuller’s altered mode of preaching had alienated several of his hearers, whose conduct was most trying, not only in their personal antagonism to their pastor, but in their lax regard for the obligations of morality. Under date of July 17th he bitterly bewails his loss: – “Oh! my brother Diver, when shall we recover our loss in losing you? What disorders have we now in the church! Our hands, heads, and hearts, how full! Oh! my father, my father, the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof! Methinks I shall go all my days in the bitterness of my soul. Ah! we took sweet counsel together, and walked together to the house of God; but all is over; as he said on his dying bed, ‘ I have done with that life.’ Alas! he has done with all of us.” Very often is it that God in His providence sends us a trouble that is as a shadow of many more to come, shewing us in what direction our lot is to be cast. Andrew Fuller’s pilgrimage was full of solitude. Perhaps the severance of this first companionship prepared him thus early for the loss of many more.

To understand aright the hopes and fears of the last two years of his stay at Soham, we must bear in mind that he had received an invitation to become the pastor of the church at Kettering, in Northamptonshire. During this time he was perpetually agitated by conflicting convictions on the question of his removal, and yet there was never a case in which immediate compliance with such a request would have been more justifiable. The history of these two years gives us an insight into his character we cannot spare. It does not differ from that which we may find at any period of his life; but the desire to know and to do the will of God, – to act for the good of men, and for His glory, – is so utter, the sacrifice of his own interests so entire, that it is impossible to withhold a feeling of the deepest reverence. Let it be remembered, that he never had more than fifteen pounds per annum while he was at Soham, and that this scanty pittance necessitated inroads upon his little property, not yielding enough to save him from poverty, most ruinous to the prospects of his family. Yet so careful was he lest any ambitious motives should move him, that he repeatedly and absolutely refused this invitation; and but for the fact that the church at Kettering waited with unexampled patience, he would never have been their pastor. “Well may Dr. Ryland declare that “men who fear not God would risk the welfare of a nation with fewer searchings of heart than it cost him to determine whether he should leave a little dissenting church scarcely containing forty members besides himself and his wife.” The fact of his poverty, and the wearying anxieties thereby occasioned, are alluded to more than once in his Diary, – not, indeed, with any murmuring, but with an undertone of sadness, revealing with what determination it was borne, though its pressure was so heavily felt. “I have found my heart,” he writes, “tenderly afflicted several times, especially to-night, in prayer respecting my critical situation. Oh, Providence! how intricate! If rough roads are-marked out for me, may my shoes be iron and brass. I found a peculiar sympathy towards poor people under trying providences, thinking I may have to go that road.” He continues in the same strain, only a few days later: – “Dejected through worldly and church concerns, but had some relief to-night in casting all my care upon the Lord, hoping that He careth for me. The Lord undertake for me! Oh, Thou that managest worlds unknown without one disappointment, take my case into Thy hands, and fit me for Thy pleasure. If poverty must be Thy pleasure, add thereto contentment!” Yet while he was writing such words he was refusing an invitation to a larger sphere, the acceptance of which would have relieved him of his perplexities!

To add to his scanty means, he attempted to keep a school, and then a shop, but both enterprises failed. We can all imagine that one who gave his “absorbed” attention to higher problems, would find a continued mechanical employment most irksome. We who know him only through the distance of years can scarcely picture the grave divine, with his serious presence and his sombre look, dealing out articles over the counter, or plodding through the elements of knowledge with the youth of Soham.

Meanwhile the church at Kettering was patiently, yet importunately, renewing its invitation. The temper of his own mind in regard to it, is indicated in more than one passage, full of true and earnest feeling. “The thought of my situation now returns and overpowers me ! To-night I was exceedingly affected in prayer, earnestly longing that I might know the will of God. I have entered to-night into a solemn vow, which I desire it may please God to accept at my worthless hands. With all the powers of my soul, with the utmost effusion of feelings, I have vowed to this effect before the Lord. Oh! Lord, if Thou wilt give me so much light as plainly to see in this case what is my duty, then, if I do not obey the dictates of conscience, let my tongue for ever cleave to the roof of my mouth; let my ministry be at an end; let me be made an example of Thy displeasure against falsehood. The case of those who asked counsel of Jeremiah seemed to excite in me a jealousy of my own heart; but so far as I know anything of myself, I am resolved to stay or to go, as it should please God, did I but know His will.” In order to assist his own judgment, and to satisfy the church at Kettering, he sought the counsel of several brethren in the same Association. After being supplied with all particulars, they unanimously urged his removal to Kettering. This advice, however, he could not be prevailed on to adopt, and the matter was once more referred to the judgment of Mr. Robinson, of Cambridge, who advised him to try a year longer at Soham, the church being enjoined to raise his salary another ten pounds per annum.

The correspondence was conducted on behalf of the church at Kettering by a Mr. Beeby Wallis, who was afterwards one of Mr. Fuller’s most attached and valued friends. In one of his letters, urging the acceptance of the invitation, Mr. Wallis ventured on a little speculative argument. Was it likely, he asked, that God would have excited the desires of the church at Kettering only to be disappointed? Was not the fact that these longings were excited within their breasts a proof that they were meant to be realised? This was entering upon Mr. Fuller’s chosen field of inquiry, viz., the relation of man’s power to the will of God. He took up the question with eager yet affectionate interest. We are quite sure that Mr. Wallis never conceived that his reasoning would draw upon him such heavy artillery. Yet we are equally certain he would welcome his defeat, under the hope that he might see the same metal shiver stronger and more dangerous positions. Let the reader say whether there is any escape from the reply, and admire the simple yet effective generalisation with which it concludes.

“You ask in yours, ‘Will the Lord raise desires in His own people merely to disappoint them?’ You think not, seeing that God hath said, Tlte desires of the righteous shall be granted. Certainly if God doth excite desires, and then disappoint them, it is for some higher end than merely their disappointment. You will not think, dear sir, that I mean to discourage you, if I should say the above explanation of the text in Proverbs is inconsistent with truth. I once heard a sermon (Since ascertained to have been his own) from Psal. cxlv. 19. The minister proposed first to explain his subject, and in so doing he delivered something like this: – ‘God will not grant us every desire. That is our mercy; for, (1) Some of them are sinful. David desired to be revenged on Nabal and his innocent family. Jonah desired Nineveh’s ruin. (2) Others would not be for our good. David desired the life of the child he had by Bathsheba; David also desired the life of Jonathan; neither of which would have been for his good. (3) Nay, not every righteous desire. It is a righteous desire for a minister to desire the salvation of those that hear him. So Paul declared, I would to God that all present were altogether such as I am (Acts xxvi. 29). So, again, I could wish myself accursed from Christ, for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh (Rom. ii. 1). David desired to build a house for God, and it was a righteous desire, for God took it well at his hands; yet He did not grant it. Kings and prophets desired to see the Lord Messiah, and yet did not see Him. How, then, are we to understand it? Answer: The sum or substance of their desires shall be fulfilled. What is the main desire of a seaman? That he may arrive at the haven. So saints will be brought to their desired haven. What of a pilgrim? see Heb. ii. 16. So all the desires of a Christian are summed up in this – That he may eternally enjoy God and be like Him; see 2 Sam. xxiii. 2.’ Doubtless there is great mystery in these things. However, I think it certain that when God raises a spiritual desire in a person, it is often, though not always, with an intention to bestow the object desired.”

At length, after much importunity from the friends at Kettering, and much sorrow on the part of those at Soham, he removed to the former place in the October of 1782. During the latter part of his stay at Soham he had been much more comfortable and had enjoyed very tender intercourse with his church, and the removal was always referred to as one of the bitterest trials of his life. The cost to him, and to them, and, at the same time, his earnest desires towards the brethren at Kettering, appear in the following extracts from his letters, and his ordination address at Kettering: – On the 20th of August, 1782, after a visit, from Mr. Wallis, he thus addresses him: “Since I saw you, though it is but a little time, yet I have had great exercises. The day I parted with you, calling in the evening on one of my friends, my feelings were tried by what yon know is the most effectual battery on my heart of anything, – I mean bitter weeping. The Lords day following, the meeting, to say all in one word, was a Bochim.” The whole matter is summed up with much feeling at the close of his ordination address:-

“I imagine it will not be expected that I should enter upon a vindication of my conduct in that affair. I only say this: several things concurred to make me, first, hesitate whether it was my duty to abide where I was; and, afterwards, to think it was not. Desirous, however, of doing nothing rashly, I was determined to wait a considerable time before I did anything. My chief desire, I think, was to preserve a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. I had, all along, much jealousy of my own heart, and many fears. I frequently laid my case before God in prayer, with much more importunity than I usually feel. I sometimes devoted days on purpose for fasting and prayer, on the occasion. On some of those days, partly for the church at Soham, and partly for myself, I had, I think, the most earnest outgoings of heart to the Lord that ever I felt in my life. I consulted many friends, ministers upon the spot (who knew the case) and ministers at a distance. I think to nine of them, some of whom are here present, I told the case as impartially as I was able, and asked their advice. Still my heart felt reluctant at the thoughts of a removal. I submitted the case to three or four different persons, who heard the particulars on both sides. The issue was, I stayed another year. At that time, it was my purpose to remain for life. I told the church at Kettering, in a letter, to that effect. But I soon found that reproach – reproach unlamented – had broken my heart! The bond of my affection was dissolved. I could not feel a union of spirit, without which I could not continue. In proportion as I despaired of this, I felt my heart incline towards the church at Kettering. At length, impelled by several motives (of some of which, especially, I think I shall not be ashamed at the day of judgment), I removed! – a painful event to me. I have, however, one consolation remaining – that, as far as I know, I acted herein to the best of my judgment and conscience. Yet, after all, I have had many relentings, and many reflections upon some parts of my conduct; as well as fears lest the Lord should blast me in the future part of my life: for though I have never, to this day, thought the thing itself to be wrong, yet I have, upon review, seen a great deal of vanity mixing itself in my motives, and a great deal of folly in some parts of my conduct, for all which I desire to be ashamed.

“Since my removal hither, I have found much outgoing of heart for the welfare of Christ’s kingdom, particularly in this part of Zion. When repeatedly requested to take this office upon me, I have not been without my fears; and, might I have indulged that sort of feeling, I suppose I should not have accepted their invitation for the present. But I wish to attend to the voice of duty. Duty seemed to call for my compliance. I therefore applied for, and received, a dismission from the church at Soham to the church at Kettering; and have resigned myself up, to serve them in the Lord. I wish it may be for the glory of Christ and their good; though, I must own, the pleasure of this day is marred to me, because a union with the one church cannot be effected but by a disunion of the other.”

In another letter he says:  “How deep are the designs of Providence! ‘Too deep to sound with mortal line.’ Since I have been here, I have had various exercises of mind; but the state of the church at Soham has lain nearest of anything. Such has been the union of affection between them and me, that I suppose no events in time, and I hope none in eternity, will ever dissolve it. This, I know, some would think to be scarcely reconcilable with my conduct in leaving them; but, however it may appear, so it is. I can truly say, ‘Who among them is afflicted, and I burn not?’ My earnest prayers have been in their calamity. I have not yet seen any reason to repent of what I have done. The Lord, I think, has been with me hitherto, in my work and in my private retirements. But alas! poor people, they are destitute! This, after all, wounds me. Oh may He whose name is Jehovah-jireh see and provide for them! I trust in God they will be provided for. I hear that they keep together, and are in a good spirit. The Lord, who loves His cause better than we can, will not suffer, I think, people of such a spirit to fall to the ground. I have many other things to say to you; but I trust shortly to see you. Meanwhile, farewell. The Lord be with you!”

These are the first extracts from Mr. Fuller’s letters, though many more will be given before the Memoir closes. The reader will not fail to notice how fully they reveal the character of the writer. Perhaps it would be difficult in any remains to find letters more worthy of perusal. There is no great brilliance in them, – no sparkling points or laboured antithesis, – no effort at letter-writing: but they possess a fulness of feeling, a wisdom and a strength, and sometimes even a power of humour, that, no matter how incidental the occasion which called them forth, seldom fails to communicate itself to the reader. If ever they should be collected in a volume, they will do more to bring Mr. Fuller’s true character into prominence than the most carefully written memoir.

The year before he left Soham, Mr. Fuller had married Sarah Gardiner, a member of the church at Soham. She appears to have had a meek and gentle temper, and while she lived, quietly but worthily filled up her place, a solace to her husband in his many sorrows, and a helpmeet in his work. Her mind, so peaceful in its short activity, was tormented at its close by a fearful visitation.

The sad eclipse cast a shadow on her husband’s life, which well-nigh overwhelmed it.

Mr. Fuller left Soham with his mind calmly and firmly established in those truths with which his name is associated. His time of apprenticeship may be said to have been over; for though things both old and now were still drawn from the treasury, his opinions did not materially alter. He went to a wider sphere with a soul in full sympathy with the great message of salvation to a guilty world, and doctrinal views slowly harmonising with it; – a sympathy that ere long extended beyond the boundaries even of his “wider sphere,” and is felt even now ” far over land and sea.”

 

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html

 

A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: Thomas Ekins Fuller


Chapter 1: Early Days

ANDREW FULLER was born in the little village of Wicken, in Cambridgeshire, about eight miles from the town of Ely. His parents, Robert and Philippa Fuller, occupied a small farm, which they and their ancestors had tilled since the days of the Stuarts. They had but three children, of whom Andrew was the youngest. The other two kept to the occupation of their youth, and though they have not inherited the fame of their youngest brother, their names are remembered as associated with much usefulness and devotion to the cause of Christ.

If a “noble ancestry” be any advantage to those who can claim the inheritance, then, bearing in mind Andrew Fuller’s work in the world, he was not born without this advantage. In the days of Charles the Second, the woods of Cambridgeshire were the refuge and the sanctuary of many of the faithful. Two of the ejected ministers, Holcroft and Oddy, preached in their solitudes to the scattered brethren, and avoiding the larger towns, planted churches in the little villages, more hidden from the world. From one of them, it is said, an ancestor of Robert’s received the “words of eternal life.” Like the freedom for which they struggled, their simple piety was handed down from “sire to son,” and for two or three centuries, in the quiet homestead at Wicken, the same generation had served the “God of their fathers.”

The early life of great men always brings into more or less prominence those scenes and events which have influenced their training. We follow Robert Hall into the graveyard with his nurse, learning his first lessons from the tombstones, or lying on the grass between the graves on a hot summer day, surrounded by his books, studying Edwards on “The Will,” while yet under nine years of age, and conversing with the “metaphysical tailor” with startling and premature eagerness. These circumstances in the early history of Andrew Fuller are of the simplest kind. The village school and chapel-house, the group around the blazing village forge, the annual feast, shunned so stedfastly in after days, are the only things left in the memory after reading it. Though there was no such surprising development of genius as in his great contemporary, there seems to have been a presence and power about him even then. He tells us afterwards, when he settled at Soham (to which place he removed when he was six years of age), that he scarcely expected “to be much respected by the inhabitants,” since he had been among them from a child; but he had not much to complain of, and this was partly owing to the prevalence of an opinion of him when he was at school, that “he was more learned than his master;” “an opinion,” he says, “which I am certain was far from being true; but it indicated a partiality in my favour which was of some use in leading people to hear the word.” The picture helping us, we can easily understand how the flavour of a little learning in young Fuller would carry more weight to the rustic judges than the wider culture of the Soham schoolmaster.

His early habits and occupation continually remind us of John Bunyan’s life at Elstow. The reader will remember how section twelve of the “Grace Abounding” opens up Bunyan’s boyhood; and how among the list of mercies recorded in his youth, are such deliverances as “falling into a creek of the sea and hardly escaping drowning;” “falling out of a boat in the Bedford river, yet mercifully escaping;” “stunning an adder and plucking out her sting;” yet by God’s mercy preserved from bringing himself to an end by his desperateness.

In like manner Andrew Fuller tells us that, “being of an athletic frame and of a daring spirit, I was often engaged in such exercises and exploits as might have issued in death, if the good hand of God had not preserved me. I also frequently engaged in games of hazard, which, though not to any great amount, were very bewitching to me, and tended greatly to corrupt my mind.”

While leading this bold, lawless life, he was guilty of “lying, cursing, and swearing.” Like Bunyan, however, he left those habits off, long before he had any conscious interest in spiritual truth. There was a certain rough sense of true honour, not inconsistent with such a bold, free course, that made him cast away these things. He left off swearing, at ten years of age, because it was “an effort to appear manly without the reality;” and lying, some years afterwards, ” except in pressing cases,” because it was a “mean vice.”

The first awakenings of his soul were in singular harmony with its workings in after days. When he was about fourteen years of age, “there was nothing,” he tells us, “in the preaching upon which I attended, adapted to awaken my conscience, as the minister had seldom anything to say except to believers, and what believing was I neither knew nor was I greatly concerned to know.” ” I remember about this time,” he adds further, “as I was walking alone, I put to myself this question, What is faith? There is much made of it, – what is it? I could not tell, but satisfied myself in thinking it was not of immediate concern, but that I should know as I grew older.” That was the solemn question, which, to the profit and consolation of so many, he answered in later days – and it was the inquiry which, through the grace of God, led onwards to his conversion.

John Bunyan began his spiritual experiences by dreams of eternal things, and dreamed on until he was lost in the long unbroken vision of the “Pilgrim’s Progress” from the “City of Destruction” to the eternal gates. Andrew Fuller commenced them by a solemn and soul-searching inquiry into those problems with which he grappled afterwards with the full power of his manhood.

In this fourteenth year of his age, there came into his hands the book already mentioned, Bunyan’s “Grace Abounding,” together with the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and Ralph Erskine’s “Gospel Sonnets.” “These,” he says, “I read, and as I read, I wept. Indeed, I was almost overcome with weeping, so interesting did the doctrine of eternal salvation appear to me.” If he had not told us that the former of these books had “come into his hands,” we should have assuredly surmised it. Not that there is anything like copying in his Diary, but there are indications of a very tender communion with the spirit of the great dreamer.

No biographer of Andrew Fuller would be pardoned who omitted the accounts which he gives of his spiritual exercises, before he sought the fellowship of the church. There is a rich vein of enlightened judgment, a depth and tenderness of feeling, and a hallowed humility in these self-communings, which it would be hard indeed to read without profit. Closely following the reflections just described, he continues: “One morning about the year 1767″ (that would be when he was about thirteen years of age), “as I was walking alone, I began to think seriously what would become of my poor soul, and was deeply affected in thinking of my condition. I felt that I was the slave of sin, and that it had such power over me that it was in vain for me to think of extricating myself from its thraldom. Till now, I did not know but that I could repent at any time; but now I perceived that my heart was wicked, and that it was not in me to turn to God, or to break off my sins by righteousness. I saw that if God would forgive me all the past, and offer me the kingdom of heaven on condition of my giving up my wicked pursuits, I should not accept it. This conviction was accompanied with deep depression of heart. I walked sorrowfully along, repeating these words, ‘Iniquity will be my ruin! Iniquity will be my ruin!’ While poring over my unhappy case, those words of the apostle suddenly occurred to my mind: ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.’ Now the suggestion of a text of Scripture to the mind, ‘especially if it came with power, was generally considered by the religious people with whom I occasionally associated, as a promise coming immediately from God. I therefore so understood it, and thought that God had thus revealed to me that I was in a state of salvation, and, therefore, that iniquity should not, as I had feared, be my ruin. The effect was, I was overcome with joy and transport. I shed, I suppose, thousands of tears, as I walked along, and seemed to feel myself, as it were, in a new world. It appeared to me that I hated my sins, and was resolved to forsake them. Thinking on my wicked courses, I remember using those words of Paul: ‘Shall I continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!’ I felt, or seemed to feel, the greatest indignation at the thought. But strange as it may appear, though my face that morning was, I believe, swollen with weeping, yet before night all was gone and forgotten, and before night I had returned to my former vices with as eager a gust as ever. Nor do I remember that for more than half-a-year afterwards I had any serious thoughts about the salvation of my soul.”

Two years more of this hard strife, the spirit and flesh in warfare, but the flesh left conqueror; convictions seemed to deepen, and yet strangely deeper draughts of sin were taken all the while; at every fresh season of emotion the heart was submitted to the inexorable test of its being willing to leave the sins that pierced it, and was as often found wanting.

At length, in the autumn of 1769, he continues: “My convictions revisited me, and brought on such a concern about my everlasting welfare, as issued, I trust, in real conversion. It was my common, practice, after the business of the day was over, to get into bad company in the evening, and when there, I indulged in sin without restraint. But after persisting in this course for some time, I began to be very uneasy, particularly in a morning when I first awoke. It was almost as common for me to be seized with keen remorse at this hour as it was to go into vain company in the evening. At first, I began to make vows of reformation, and this for the moment would afford a little ease; but, as the temptations returned, my vows were of no account. It was an enlightened conscience only that was on the side of God; my heart was still averse to everything that was spiritual or holy. For several weeks I went on in this way, vowing and breaking my vows, reflecting on myself for my evil conduct, and yet continually repeating it.

“It was not, however, as heretofore; my convictions followed me up closely. I could not, as formerly, forget these things, and was, therefore, a poor, miserable creature; like a drunkard, who carouses in the evening, but mopes about the next day like one half dead.

“One morning, I think in November, 1769, I walked out by myself with an unusual load of guilt upon my conscience. The remembrance of my sin, not only on the past evening, but for a long time back, – the breach of my vows, and the shocking termination of my former hopes and affections, all uniting together, formed a burden which I knew not how to bear. The reproaches of a guilty conscience seemed like the gnawing worm of hell. I thought surely that must be an earnest of hell itself. The fire and brimstone of the bottomless pit seemed to burn within my bosom. I do not write in the language of exaggeration. I now know that the sense which I then had of the evil of sin and the wrath of God was very far short of the truth; but yet it seemed more than I was able to sustain. In reflecting upon my broken vows, I saw that there was no truth in me. I felt that, if God were to forgive all my past sins, I should again destroy my soul, and that in a day’s time. I never before knew what it was to feel myself an odious, lost sinner, standing in need of both pardon and purification. Yet, though I needed these blessings, it seemed presumption to ask for them after what I had done. What have I done? What must I do? These were my inquiries perhaps ten times over. Indeed, I knew not what to do. I durst not promise amendment, for I saw that such promises were self-deception. To hope for forgiveness in the course that I was in was the height of presumption; and to think of Christ, after having so basely abused His grace, seemed too much. So I had no refuge. At one moment I thought of giving myself up to despair. ‘I may,’ said I within myself, ‘even return and take my fill of sin. I can but be lost.’ This thought made me shudder at myself: my heart revolted. What, thought I, give up Christ, and hope, and heaven! Those lines of Ralph Erskine’s then occurred to my mind –

‘But say, if all the gusts and grains of love be spent, -
Say farewell Christ, and welcome lusts.
Stop, stop! I melt, I faint.’ “

There is an air of loneliness about these reflections, full of sadness, revealing what bitter strife any poor soul had to go through, in those days, who felt himself an outcast from his God. No word of encouragement, no ray of hope, from friend or minister, to lead him to the infinite love of the Father in Christ. True it is that in such sore travail the soul must be the more with its God; but how full of help are the “wise and winning” words of a friend who has trodden the same lonely track! There was, however, no such friend at hand: and perhaps the victory was greater, and the sense of rest sweeter, when they came, since none but unseen ministers had helped him in the struggle. That he felt this himself is clear from the manner in which he describes the happy days of peace and freedom which followed, and from an incident which he relates of his running miles to overtake a poor thresher, who came to the village meeting, though when he was with him he had nothing to say. Sometimes he would visit him in the barn, and try to make him talk, making up his lost time afterwards by threshing for him an hour or two.

“I was not then aware,” he says, ” that any poor sinner had a warrant to believe in Christ for the salvation of his soul, but supposed there must be some kind of qualification to entitle him to do it; yet I was aware I had no qualification. On a review of my resolution at that time, it seems to resemble that of Esther, who went into the king’s presence contrary to the law, and at the hazard of her life. Like her, I seemed reduced to extremities, impelled by dire necessity to run all hazards, even though I should perish in the attempt. Yet it was not altogether from a dread of wrath that I fled to this refuge; for I well remember that I felt something attracting in the Saviour. I must, I will – yes, I will trust my soul, my sinful, lost soul, in His hands. If I perish, I perish. However it was, I was determined to cast myself upon Christ, thinking, peradventure, He would save my soul; and, if not, I could but be lost. In this way I continued above an hour, weeping and supplicating mercy for the Saviour’s sake (my soul hath it still in remembrance, and is humbled in me); and as the eye of the mind was more and more fixed upon Him, my guilt and fears were gradually and insensibly removed.

“I now found rest for my troubled soul; and I reckon that I should have found it sooner if I had not entertained the notion of my having no warrant to come to Christ without some previous qualification. This notion was a bar that kept me back for a time, though through Divine drawings I was enabled to overleap it. As near as I can remember in the early part of these exercises, when I subscribed to the justice of God in my condemnation, and thought of the Saviour of sinners, I had then relinquished every false confidence, believed my help to be only in Him, and approved of salvation by grace alone through His death; and if at that time I had known that any poor sinner might warrantably hare trusted in Him for salvation, I conceive I should have done so, and have found rest to my soul sooner than I did. I mention this, because it may be the case with others, who may be kept in darkness and despondency by erroneous views of the Gospel much longer than I was.

“I think also I did repent of my sins in the early part of these exercises, and before I thought that Christ would accept and save my soul. I conceive that justifying God in my condemnation, and approving the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, necessarily included it; but yet I did not think at the time that this was repentance, or anything truly good. Indeed, I thought nothing about the exercises of my own mind, but merely of my guilty and lost condition, and whether there were any hope of escape for me. But, having found rest for my soul in the cross of Christ, I was now conscious of my being the subject of repentance, faith, and love. When I thought of my past life, I abhorred myself, and repented as in dust and ashes; and when I thought of the Gospel way of salvation, I drank it in, as cold water is imbibed by a thirsty soul. My heart felt one with Christ, and dead to every other object around me. I had thought I had found the joys of salvation heretofore; but now I knew I had found them, and was conscious that I had ‘passed from death unto life.’ Yet even now my mind was not so engaged in reflecting upon my own feelings as. upon the objects which occasioned them.

“From this time, my former wicked courses were forsaken. I had no manner of desire after them. They lost their influence upon me. To those evils, a glance at which before would have set my passions in a flame, I now felt no inclination. ‘My soul,’ said I, with joy and triumph, ‘is as a weaned child!’ I now knew experimentally what it was to be dead to the world by the cross of Christ, and to feel an habitual determination to devote my future life to God my Saviour, and from this time considered the vows of God as upon me.”

Most characteristically, in reviewing these “early exercises” of mind, he draws a distinction between respect and love in his intercourse with good men. “I never knew the time,” he says, “when I did not respect good men; but I did not always love them for Christ’s sake.”

In the March of 1770 he witnessed with solemn interest the baptism of two young persons on profession of their faith, and about a month afterwards was himself baptized, “being then just turned sixteen years of age.” Most interesting is it to mark how, one after another, the practices of the church engaged his earnest and sustained attention, always leading to some action, yet always action slowly taken. Truly are the words illustrated in his history – ” He that believeth shall not make haste.” Yet it cannot be said that he either lost time or missed opportunities. His decisions, slowly taken, though they led to wider and greater ones, were never reversed; and perhaps it would be difficult to find one serious step in his life that he wished to retrace.

Soon after he had joined the “company of the faithful,” he had troubles from two sources – his old habits and the scorn of old companions. The Shrovetide shouts, and the merry sound of the village athletes, night after night on the summer evenings, struggling for victory, reached his quiet home, and “threw him into agitations” which made him “very unhappy.” His strong muscles yearned for a throw in the village ring; and even in after life, when in the agonies of diviner struggles, he could scarcely resist mentally measuring his strength with any stout and comely figure that seemed worthy to enter the lists with him. The religious teaching of that day, and, indeed, the grave and solemn character of his own reflections, utterly forbid, even to one so young, the thought of recreation without vice. All such things were included in that “world” with which the inheritor of the kingdom of heaven was to have no communion. As the spring-time came round, bringing the feasts and holidays, he was wont to go away to a neighbouring village to see some Christian, friends, “returning when all was over.” Thus, he says, by this step I was delivered from those mental participations in folly which had given me so much uneasiness; and these “seasons of temptation” became to me “times of refreshing from the Lord.” Yet so strong were these yearnings, that he had to continue this practice for several years before he felt safe from the temptation.

The other trouble he refers to in words never to be forgotten for their calm strength and tender beauty. Of help they may be to the young, and full of refreshment to those who have borne the “burden and heat of the day;” shewing, as they do, how that One presence by which we hold the shield for the first dart, still shelters us when the “much tribulation” rains its “fire and hail” upon the heavy-laden pilgrim. “Within a day or two,” he says, ” after I had been baptized, as I was riding through the fields, I met a company of young men. One of them, especially, on my having passed them, called after me in very abusive language, and cursed me for having been ‘dipped.’ My heart instantly rose in a way of resentment; but, though the fire burned, I held my peace; for before I uttered a word, I was checked with this passage, which occurred to my mind: ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation.’ I wept and entreated the Lord to pardon me; feeling quite willing to bear the ridicule of the wicked, and to go even through great tribulation if, at last, I might but enter the kingdom. In this tender frame of mind I rode some miles, thinking of the temptations I might have to encounter. Amongst others, I was aware of the danger of being drawn into any acquaintance with the other sex which might prove injurious to my spiritual welfare. While poring over these things, and fearful of falling into the snares of youth, I was led to think of that passage: ‘In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’ This made me weep for joy; and for forty-five years I have scarcely entered on any serious engagement without thinking of these words, and entreating the Divine direction. I have been twice married, and twice settled as the pastor of a church; which were some of the leading ways in which I had to acknowledge the Lord, and in each, when over, I could say: ‘My ways have I declared, and Thou heardeat me.’ “

 

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html

A MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ANDREW FULLER: PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION – Thomas Ekins Fuller


Preface

 IT may seem an unnecessary task to write a new Memoir of ANDREW FULLER when three have already appeared, each possessing great excellence, written by men who had the best of all qualifications for a biographer, – a personal knowledge of the life they pourtrayed. Besides these more lengthy memoirs, there have appeared lighter sketches, from the pen of familiar friends and warm admirers; so that, long ere this, the public has had ample means of forming its judgment on his character.

A new book, however, is sure to find new readers, and the life of such a man as Andrew Fuller is not one to pass away lightly from us. Anything that will revive the fellowship of old friends, and introduce new ones to a knowledge of his history, can scarcely be unwelcome.

I have tried to keep in view the supposition that many of my readers have only the most general notion of what Mr. Fuller said and did; and that some, at least, are scarcely likely to be tempted to a closer acquaintance by the uninviting folio of small print which contains his works. I have, therefore, endeavoured to give a careful summary of his labours and writings, and to define his position in reference to his various antagonists. Above all, I have been concerned to point out how his life, previous to the year 1792, was one solemn preparation for his great missionary work.

Many readers will find much in this volume with which they are already familiar: a life cannot be re-made, even if it be re-written. They may, however, possibly find old material so re-arranged as to enable them to trace clearly the growth of Mr. Fuller’s mind and the progress of his labours. A good part will certainly be new to almost all; and I can but hope, that for the sake of this, Mr. Fuller’s friends will pardon the repetition of what is already known, to them. As in the history of a country, old buried material will turn up to refresh the page of the historian, so is the biographer gladdened with memoranda which, a loving friendship has kept to itself as a sacred treasure, or which circumstances of an accidental kind have brought to his hand. Of Much a character are the Letters to the Serampore brethren, and some unpublished parts of the Diary, with other lighter gleanings.
The book has been written under circumstances anything but calculated to insure its accuracy and interest. It has, however, been compiled with a warm interest in the theme; and I can only hope it may be as pleasant and refreshing to the reader to peruse these memorials as it has been to me to collect them.

T. E. F.

LUTON,
August, 1863

 

INTRODUCTION
The Portrait

MOST men have a desire to know something of the outward appearance of those whom they have known only through books or public fame. They are curious to see how far the qualities they have learnt to love and appreciate will find their way into the face, or express themselves in the gait and form of the “whole man.” Though sometimes the personal appearance of one whom our affection has exalted into a hero, is a little disappointing, more frequently it revives our old acquaintance, and deepens the impressions we have received of his character from other sources.

Andrew Fuller cannot now be seen in the flesh, for nearly half a century has passed away since he died. Now and then an “old disciple” may be met with, having recollections of personal communion, but the number of those thus privileged is fast lessening. The reader may, nevertheless, be introduced to what can be told here of “his bodily presence.” As form helps to realize life, he may find, as he tracks the pilgrimage of this strong and holy man, the glimpse he has caught of the outward man, even, by description, may be of some service.

The writer may perhaps be tempted to this course, since, long before he knew anything about the life and writings of Andrew Fuller, he was familiar with a portrait of him, painted with no common power; which portrait, hanging over the mantelpiece, seemed to cast a solemn shadow over the room, imparting its grave and serious look to the very furniture. It was hard, indeed, to believe it was not alive, so searching was the deep and tender glance with which it chased the observer into every corner. It looked down on us like a silent judge, deciding our childish quarrels, and frightening back the angry word from the lip, with an expression of mute yet pleading sternness it would be hard to find on any other canvas. Nor was it in the room alone its power was felt. It seemed to haunt the house. Many and many a time it has been near in childish watchings in the night, as if conscience had taken bodily shape in the abiding presence of so stern a monitor.

This was the writer’s first acquaintance with Andrew Fuller; yet now that years have passed away, and another, and, it may be presumed, more matured estimate of him, has been formed from the perusal of his life and writings, all the old child feeling comes back again. The two impressions though received under such different circumstances, are much the same. Moreover, the remembrance of that picture has been like an interpreting companion in the study of his life. He has seemed ever at our side as we followed him in his stern, unbending way. Not only can we “well believe” all that we read of his loyal fidelity to conscience, his calm confidence in battle, and his unswerving constancy to his chosen toil, as he holds the home-link of the chain that bound the brethren in England to their messengers across the sea; but a glance at the picture tells us it must have been so.

The portrait thus referred to is that of a man. tall, broad-chested, and firmly-set, the whole figure well harmonizing with the expression of the face. Ponderous, and perhaps a little heavy, but surely not ungainly, for “not giants but monsters are ill-proportioned.” The hair is parted in the middle, the brow square and of fair height, the eyes deeply set, overhung with large bushy eyebrows, not giving you the idea of seeing quickly the surface of things, but of slowly penetrating to their depths. The whole face has a massive Johnsonian expression, which the accomplished author of “Rab and his Friends” characterizes as “sleeping thunder,” and to quote an expression from the same author, in describing his humbler hero, having about it the “marks of many battle-fields.” Shining through these sterner features there is a look of great tenderness, but not of tenderness weakly exercised – ‘very jealous for the “Lord God of hosts,” yet full of pity for the erring and the lost.

It would not be difficult, with the picture as our guide, to conjecture the mental and moral features of the man whom it portrays. We should surmise that he had made his own way in the world, through much toil and many sorrows. If we wished to add to it an illustration of his life, we should put an axe in his hand, and the clearings of a forest in the background, as representing one who had settled in strange lands and broken up virgin soil. We should further conclude, that he would be ruled by intense convictions, and, fearless of danger, would follow wherever they led him, and he would leave his mark on whatever he undertook. The lower part of the face looks as if his speech would faithfully interpret the meanings we have read elsewhere. There will be, we should say, neither eagerness nor haste in his words, but they will be few and weighty, and their utterance slow and pausing.

Such, indeed, were the features of the life which this picture realizes so faithfully. In its first stage we have the history of one slowly growing up to the great truth expounded in ” The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation;” and in its second, impelled by the principle he had reached, seeking the salvation of the world in the great missionary enterprise, in the service of which he lived and died The church reveres his memory, and would fain perpetuate it, because he made a great outline of truth and filled it up with his life.

It behoves the artist to spend his main skill on the face of the sitter, that the beholder may carry away that which it is most desirable he should remember. The biographer has the same task, filling up the happy outline which has been given him, once for all, by the author of the “Worthies of England,” when he declares his aim and task to be, (1) Giving some glory to God; (2) Preserving the memory of the dead; (3) Holding forth examples to the living; (4) The entertainment of the reader.

 

NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/library/memoir_fuller_contents.html