Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Fuller’
Two hundred years ago today, on the morning of Sunday 7th May 1815 dawned, the sixty one year old Andrew Fuller was grieved that he had not the strength to go and worship his God with his people. As his end approached, so his faith had increased. When his dear friend John Ryland Jr. heard that Fuller had testified to a brother minister, “My hope is such that I am not afraid to plunge into eternity,” he declared it the most characteristic expression his friend might have uttered.
Fuller spent his last half-hour seemingly engaged in prayer, though the only words which could be distinctly heard were, “Help me!” He died, said his friend Mr Toller, an Independent minister, “as a penitent sinner at the foot of the cross.”
Just a few days before going home, as Fuller considered his approaching death, he was able to write this to Ryland:
I know whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day. I am a poor guilty creature; but Christ is an almighty Saviour. I have preached and written much against the abuse of the doctrine of grace; but that doctrine is all my salvation and all my desire. I have no other hope, than from salvation by mere sovereign, efficacious grace, through the atonement of my Lord and Saviour. With this hope, I can go into eternity with composure. Come, Lord Jesus! come when thou wilt! Here I am; let him do with me as seemeth him good!
Scotland is heading to the voting booths. The people of Scotland will shortly declare whether or not they wish their country to remain part of the Union, or secede. It is, by all accounts, a momentous decision with consequences which can in some measure be accurately predicted, some which can at least be observed coalescing, and some which no-one will have expected. The campaigning, especially as the vote looms, has become strident, even violent. Impassioned pleas ring out from both “Yes” and “No” camps. And many Christians are making what seems to be a watertight case as to how they and others should vote. And some are saying, “Yes,” and others, “No.”
We can and should recognise with thanksgiving the peculiar heritage of the United Kingdom and its constituent parts, with the blessing of genuine Christian influence upon some elements of our national systems and structures. At the same time, I aver that the United Kingdom – in whole and in its parts – is not and never really has been a Christian country. At times, more “a people of the Book,” but not a Christian country. There are Christian individuals, and there are Christian churches, and there is Christian influence, but there are not Christian countries. It’s just not how it works.
So, what difference does this make? What difference might it make in Scotland? In the rest of the Union? In Europe (geographically and politically)? Across the globe?
Andrew Fuller’s brief sermon on “Christian Patriotism” from his collected works is always a helpful read at such a time, whether one considers oneself English, Scottish, Welsh or British. Whichever dog we think we have in the fight, Fuller puts it on a proper leash.
The outcome of the Scottish vote will, in some measure, in the shorter and longer terms, change the circumstances in which the saints go about their business. But our business will not change. We are all still citizens of a heavenly kingdom. When all these things are shaken, as they are in time and most certainly will be when the end comes, the kingdom of Christ remains. Our hopes for the kingdom are not shackled to any particular country or individual or system of government. Our fears need not rise or fall with any fall of rise of any person, party, policy or process, need not be yoked to any particular nation-state. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world – not absolutely of any part or portion of it, but throughout it and above it.
As Christian citizens and Christian patriots, we have genuine and legitimate interests in such questions as those now being posed. Our responsibilities and concerns as Christians in particular nations are many. There may be pains and pleasures, profits and losses, progress and retreat, as an apparent or untraced consequence of the vote in Scotland tomorrow, one way or the other.
However, when the voting is done, and the dust has settled, and the fallout begins, Christ himself remains our peace. He has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
While, of course, Paul is not speaking about the English and the Scots – whose enmity, it might be said, sometimes seems to rival that of the Jew and the Gentile – the principle surely stands. What saints from every country have in common transcends all that divides us. When the end comes, these will not be the things that last and they will not be the things that matter. There will come a time when we shall behold a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Until then, all our wrangling and wrestling, all our voting and investing, should be conditioned by these heavenly realities. After all, whatever afflictions we suffer here – up to and including being (un)shackled (together) – they are but for a moment, and they are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Fix your eyes there before the vote. Consider it well when you or others vote. Hold fast to it after the vote. For we do not set our minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
Through the rise and fall of nations
One sure faith yet standeth fast:
God abides, His Word unchanging,
God alone the first and last.
For those who might be in the vicinity of Bulkington in the UK (not far from Coventry and Leicester), I hope to be at Bulkington Congregational Church this coming Monday (Mon 03 Feb) at 7.30pm for the first of this year’s church history lectures. My subject is “Wrestling: The Life of Andrew Fuller.” I will be attempting an overview of the life and labours of this man of God, drawing some particular lessons for our own day. All are welcome.
Gary Brady offers us Benjamin Beddome here on what Jesus is doing now:
Christ is our advocate with the Father. His presenting his spotless sacrifice before the throne, is a powerful intercession. He also presents the prayers and supplications of the saints, without which, instead of being received with complacency, they must be rejected with abhorrence. But besides this, is there not a vocal intercession? The Scripture leads me to think that there is. Christ was that angel who pleaded for Judah and Jerusalem. “In the days of his flesh he prayed for Peter, that his faith might not fail” and he assured him, and the rest of the disciples, that he would perform the same office for them in heaven: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.” And as Job evidently speaks of Christ as a Redeemer in one place, so it is not at all improbable that he refers to him as an advocate in another: “O that one” says he, “might plead for a man with God as a man pleadeth for his neighbour.” “It is,” says Dr Owen, “no ways unbecoming the human nature of Christ, in its glorious exaltation, to pray to God; for this seems to be one condition of the advancement of his interest as mediator.” “Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” I have made the two last remarks chiefly because some translate the words of my text,—”Prayer shall be made by him, or through him, continually.”
And here Andrew Fuller on Scripture, of which an excerpt:
All I say, is, when the truth contained in any passage of Scripture is opened to the mind, and impressed upon the heart, this is Christian experience—this is the work of the Spirit; but it is not his work to make any new revelation to the soul, of things not provable from Scripture, which is the ease when he is supposed to reveal to us that we are the children of God, by suggesting some passage of Scripture to our minds, which expresses so much of some other person or persons, there spoken of.
Ah, this is what I love about Fuller: his balance—a profound embrace of sovereign grace coupled with a passion for the salvation of sinners. These doctrines are never at odds, but companions in the extension of Christ’s kingdom.
So says Michael Haykin in correcting some wrong-headed notions about the Particular Baptist theologian.
Steve Weaver continues his survey of Baptists you should know with a man I highly esteem, one of the first Baptists of the eighteenth century that I read with any kind of thoroughness, Andrew Fuller. Roll on the critical edition!