‘Great Quotes’ Category

The choice of Moses: “the sweetest of all sweets”

November 11th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Michael A.G. Haykin

A text that I have long meditated upon and that has been profitable to my soul has been the description of Moses’ treasure in Hebrews 11:24–26. I never noticed until last night when I was perusing J.W. Morris, coll. and arr., Miscellaneous Pieces on Various Religious Subjects, Being the Last Remains of The Rev. Andrew Fuller (London: Wightman and Cramp, 1826) that Andrew Fuller preached a sermon on this very text entitled “The choice of Moses” (Miscellaneous Pieces on Various Religious Subjects, 293–297). Here is choice portion—very Edwardsean with the mention of “sweet”—from the sermon:

“The society of the people of God, though afflicted, reproached, and persecuted, exceeds all the pleasures of sin while they do last. It is delightful to cast in our lot with them; for the bond of their union is holy love, which is the sweetest of all sweets to a holy mind. If we have once tasted of this, every thing else will become comparatively insipid. How sweet a bond of union is the love of Christ!—How sweet is the fellowship of saints! Even when borne down with reproaches and afflictions, how sweet are the tears of sympathy!”

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Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

 

“The Best Sermon Upon Baptism That I Have Ever Heard”

October 17th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, William Carey

By Evan D. Burns

On September 6, 1812, at Lal Bazaar Church in Calcutta, Adoniram and Ann Judson were baptized by William Ward.  They departed the States as paedo-baptists, and through much Scriptural searching on their voyage, they arrived in India as convinced credo-baptists.  In a sermon at Lal Bazaar Baptist church, Adoniram contended for believer’s baptism.  His argument was so theologically articulate and textually faithful that the great missionary-theologian and linguist, William Carey, said it was the best sermon on believer’s baptism that he had ever heard.  In this portion of a letter written by Carey to Dr. Staughton on October 20, 1812, Carey recounts the Judson’s baptism in India:

 Since their arrival in Bengal, brother and sister Judson have been baptized.  Judson has since that preached the best sermon upon baptism that I have ever heard on the subject, which we intend to print.  I yesterday heard that brother Rice had also fully made up his mind upon baptism.

As none of us had conversed with brother Judson before he showed strong symptoms of a tendency towards believers’ baptism, I inquired of him what had occasioned the change.  He told me, that on the voyage, he had thought much about the circumstance that he was coming to Serampore, where all were Baptists; that he should, in all probability, have occasion to defend infant sprinkling among us; and that, in consequence, he set himself to examine into the grounds of Pedobaptism.  This ended in a conviction, that it has no foundation in the word of God, and occasioned a revolution in his sentiments, which was nearly complete before he arrived in India.[1]

What made Judson’s sermon on baptism the best that Carey had ever heard?  What made it worthy of publishing numerous editions on the Baptist press in India?  Moreover, what made the Judson’s risk losing their missionary support from the Congregationalists and risk joining the Baptists?

Adoniram Judson’s theological acumen and willingness to risk demonstrates his unswerving allegiance to the Word of God and his commitment to obey every command of God.  Ann records her thoughts on the transition from paedo-baptist convictions to credo-baptist convictions.  Her record demonstrates Adoniram’s dogged commitment to biblical exegesis over against denominational tradition.

Mr. Judson resolved to examine it candidly and prayerfully, let the result be what it would.  No one in the mission family knew the state of his mind, as they never conversed with any of us on this subject.  It was very fearful he would become a Baptist, and frequently suggested the unhappy consequences if he should.  He always answered, that his duty compelled him to examine the subject, and he hoped he should have a disposition to embrace the truth, though he paid dear for it.  I always took the Pedobaptists’ side in reasoning with him, although I was as doubtful of the truth of their system as he.[2]  After we came to Calcutta, he devoted his whole time to reading on this subject, having obtained the best authors on both sides.  After having examined and re-examined the subject, in every way possible, and comparing the sentiments of both Baptists and Pedobaptists with the Scriptures, he was compelled, from a conviction of the truth, to embrace those of the former.  I confined my attention almost entirely to the Scriptures, comparing the Old with the New Testament, and tried to find something to favor infant baptism, but was convinced it had no foundation there.  I examined the covenant of circumcision, and could see no reason for concluding that baptism was to be administered to children because circumcision was.  Thus, my dear parents and sisters, we are both confirmed Baptists, not because we wished to be, but because truth compelled us to be.  A renunciation of our former sentiments has caused us more pain than any thing which ever happened to us through our lives.[3]


 [1]James D. Knowles, The Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Wife of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, Missionary to Burmah, Including a History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire,  2nd ed. (London: Wightman and Cramp, 1829), 66.

[2]Original spelling: “Pedobaptism”

[3]Robert T. Middleditch, Burmah’s Great Missionary:  Records of the Life, Character, and Achievements of Adoniram Judson (New York:  E.H. Fletcher, 1854), 52-53;  James D. Knowles, The Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Wife of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, Missionary to Burmah, Including a History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire,  2nd ed. (London: Wightman and Cramp, 1829), 62-63;  Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, D.D. (Boston: Phillips, Samson, and Company, 1853), 1:108.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

“A Large Portion Do Not Preach the Gospel at All”

October 3rd, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Evan D. Burns

In his eminent biography of Adoniram Judson, Francis Wayland carefully demonstrates how the Judson’s valued the preaching of the gospel in missions as opposed to doing other good “fruitful” ministries which seemed to bring in more immediate “fruit”.  The following account is very applicable to missions, especially today amidst our need-for-speed missions pragmatism.

During these long years of preparation, surrounded by heathen, not one of whom had ever received a single Christian idea, and, for the greater part of the time, destitute of any religious associations, except what they found in each other, Mr. and Mrs. Judson were never for a moment harassed with a doubt of ultimate success.  It never entered into their minds that it might be desirable to find a more promising field.  If the idea had once arrested their attention, he could not, he said, tell what the result might have been; but God preserved them from being tempted with it.  They never felt a single regret or misgiving, and hence their letters never even allude to it, except it be to encourage their friends at home, who, they feared, might despond, in consequence of their want of success.  They always enjoyed the most entire certainty as to the result of their labors, though occasionally doubting whether they should live to witness it.  Their confidence rested solely and exclusively on the word of God.  They believed that he had promised; they, doing, as they believed, his will, accepted the promise as addressed to themselves personally.  Their daily work was a transaction between God and their own souls.  It never seemed possible to them that God could be false to his promises.  Their confidence was the offspring of that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  By it they went forth, not knowing whither they went.  By faith, through many long years of discouragement, they endured, as seeing Him who is invisible; relying not at all on what they could do, but wholly on what God had promised to do for them.

….The direct way of securing the aid of almighty power, is to follow in the path marked out by omniscient wisdom. Mr. Judson therefore endeavored, first of all, to ascertain the manner in which Christ and his apostles labored to extend Christianity.  This seems plainy exemplified in the New Testament.  It is by the action of individual mind on individual mind.  It is by embracing every opportunity, which our intercourse with men presents, to tell them of the love of Christ, of their danger and their duty, and to urge them, in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled to God.  Thus did Christ, and thus did his apostles labor.  They had no plan, no sapping and mining, no preparatory work, extending over half a generation before they should be ready for direct and energetic effort.  As the apostles opened their commission, they saw that it commanded them to preach the gospel to every creature.  They obeyed the commandment, and God wrought with them by signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Mr. Judson followed these examples, and his labors were attended with signal success.  Hence it will be perceived that he addressed himself at once to adults, to those who denied the existence of an eternal God; and the Holy Spirit carried the message directly to their hearts.  Missionaries have sometimes said that we could scarcely expect men grown old in heathenism ever to be converted, since they were beyond the reach, at least, of our immediate efforts.  We must therefore begin with children.  We must establish schools, by our superior knowledge gain influence over the young, and with their daily lessons instill into their minds a knowledge of Christianity.  And more than this: as the religious systems of the heathen are indissolubly associated with false views of astronomy, geography, and physical science generally, if we can correct these errors, the religion resting upon them must by necessity be swept away.  As these views have been carried into practice, a change has naturally come over missionary stations.  Ministers of the gospel to the heathen have become schoolmasters.  Instead of proclaiming the great salvation, they have occupied themselves in teaching reading, spelling, geography, arithmetic, and astronomy.  While some are thus engaged as teachers, others are employed as book makers for the schools.  Thus it sometimes comes to pass, that of the men sent out for the express purpose of preaching the gospel, a large portion do not preach the gospel at all.[1]


[1]Francis Wayland, The Memoir of Adoniram Judson, 1:205-208.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Who’s Ultimately Converting?

September 20th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

Contextualization—in culture and on the mission field—has perennially been one of the most sensitive and complicated subjects for Christians interested in sharing their faith. To what degree should believers talk, dress, act, and think like their non-Christian community in order to effectively present the gospel to it? Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) offers a helpful test for Christians wrestling through these questions, simply ask: who’s ultimately converting? Are you seeing unbelievers embrace a new identity in Christ, or are your neighbors actually seeing you convert?

In his apologetic work against the Socinian Joseph Priestley (1733–1804), Fuller paralleled the compromise of doctrine to cultural trends to an example of a compromise on the mission field:

Nearly the same things might be observed respecting heathens and Mahometans. We may so model the gospel as almost to accommodate it to their taste; and by this means we may come nearer together: but – whether, in so doing, we shall not be rather converted to them, than they to us, deserves to be considered. Christianity may be so heathenized that a man may believe in it, and yet be no Christian. Were it true, therefore, that Socinianism had a tendency to induce professed infidels, by meeting them, as it were, half way, to take upon them the Christian name, still it would not follow that it was of any real use. The popish missionaries, of the last century, in China, acted upon the principle of accommodation; they gave up the main things in which Christians and heathens had been used to differ, and allowed the Chinese every favourite species of idolatry. The consequence was, they had a great many converts, such as they were; but thinking people looked upon the missionaries as more converted to heathenism, than the Chinese heathens to Christianity.[1]

Why would unbelievers even consider becoming a Christian when its representatives have nothing unique to offer, for what would they “do more, by embracing Christianity, than they already do?”[2] When Christians compromise their doctrine for the sake of reaching a certain demographic, they divest their mission of its life-source.  The missionaries that Fuller referenced “stripped the gospel of all its real glory” and “of all that is interesting and affecting to the souls of men.”[3] When identifying with unbelievers, be careful not to lose your own identity. Don’t be ashamed of the uniqueness of the gospel when evangelizing. The reality is that the gospel is different than us, and that’s exactly why we need it.


            [1] Andrew Fuller, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and Compared, As to their Moral Tendency, in The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller with a Memoir of His Life by Andrew Gunton Fuller, 3 Vols., ed. Joseph Belcher (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1845. Repr., Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle, 1988), 2:126.

            [2] Andrew Fuller, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined, in Complete Works, 2:127.

            [3] Andrew Fuller, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined, in Complete Works, 2:126–27.

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Ryan Patrick Hoselton is pursuing a ThM at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife Jaclyn, and they are expecting their first child in August.

“Truth Itself is of the Greatest Importance”

September 19th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Evan D. Burns

On September 27-28, 2013, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies will host its 7th Annual Conference on “Andrew Fuller & His Controversies” at Southern Seminary. (Register here).  In keeping with the theme of this conference, consider Andrew Fuller’s motivations behind theological controversy.  Near the end of his “Reply to Philanthropos” in Section IV, “On the Death of Christ,” Andrew Fuller discloses his heart for engaging in controversy.  Fuller is a great pastoral example of contending for truth without being contentious:

As I did not engage in controversy from any love I had to the thing itself, so I have no mind to continue in it any further than some good end may be answered by it. Whether what I have already written tends to that end, it becomes not me to decide: but, supposing it does, there is a point in all controversies beyond which they are unprofitable and tedious. When we have stated the body of an argument, and attempted an answer to the main objections, the most profitable part of the work is done. Whatever is attempted afterwards must either consist of little personalities, with which the reader has no concern; or, at best, it will respect the minutiæ of things, in which case it seldom has a tendency to edification. To this I may add, though I see no reason, at present, to repent of having engaged in this controversy, and, in similar circumstances, should probably do the same again, yet it never was my intention to engage in a controversy for life….

A reflection or two shall conclude the whole. However firmly any of the parties engaged in this controversy may be persuaded of the goodness of his cause, let us all beware of idolizing a sentiment. This is a temptation to which controversialists are particularly liable. There is a lovely proportion in Divine truth; if one part of it be insisted on to the neglect of another, the beauty of the whole is defaced; and the ill effects of such a partial distribution will be visible in the spirit, if not in the conduct, of those who admire it.

Further, Whatever difficulties there may be in finding out truth, and whatever mistakes may attend any of us in this controversy, (as it is very probable we are each mistaken in some things,) yet, let us remember, truth itself is of the greatest importance. It is very common for persons, when they find a subject much disputed, especially if it is by those whom they account good men, immediately to conclude that it must be a subject of but little consequence, a mere matter of speculation. Upon such persons religious controversies have a very ill effect; for finding a difficulty attending the coming at the truth, and at the same time a disposition to neglect it and to pursue other things, they readily avail themselves of what appears to them a plausible excuse, lay aside the inquiry, and sit down and indulge a spirit of scepticism. True it is that such variety of opinions ought to make us very diffident of ourselves, and teach us to exercise a Christian forbearance towards those who differ from us. It should teach us to know and feel what an inspired apostle acknowledged, that here we see but in part, and are, at best, but in a state of childhood. But if all disputed subjects are to be reckoned matters of mere speculation, we shall have nothing of any real use left in religion….

Finally, Let us all take heed that our attachments to Divine truth itself be on account of its being Divine. We are ever in extremes; and whilst one, in a time of controversy, throws off all regard to religious sentiment in the gross, reckoning the whole a matter of speculation, another becomes excessively affected to his own opinions, whether right or wrong, without bringing them to the great criterion, the word of God. Happy will it be for us all if truth be the sole object of our inquiries, and if our attachment to Divine truth itself be, not on account of its being what we have once engaged to defend, but what God hath revealed.[1]


 [1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 2: Controversial Publications, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 510-11.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Andrew Fuller on the Content of Saving Faith

September 6th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Great Quotes, Theology

By Nathan A. Finn

While lecturing in Church History I last week, I was asked by a student if I thought you had to believe certain doctrines to be saved. My answer was an unequivocal “yes.” While I do not believe one has to have extensive theological knowledge to be converted, I do believe there are some beliefs that are necessary for salvation. The gospel is news, and all news includes specific content.

Specifically, I believe there are certain things one needs to believe about the nature and character of God, the nature and destiny of humanity, and the person and work of Christ in order to be saved. I summarize these essential doctrines this way: 1) God created the whole world and human beings perfectly good, but we sinned against him by not trusting him and obeying his commands; 2) Jesus, the eternal Son of God, became a man and lived the perfect life we ought to live, but do not and cannot because we are captive to sin; 3) Though he never sinned, Jesus died the death we deserve to die, but do not have to, because he is our perfect substitute; 4) Jesus was raised from the dead to conquer the terrible consequences our sin has earned; 5) any person who repents of his sin and trusts in this amazing work of God through Christ as his only hope for salvation will be forgiven of his sin, adopted into God’s family, and given eternal life.

Obviously, this is a bare-boned presentation of the good news, the bare minimum of the gospel. Furthermore, there is little doubt that not all new converts understand even these baseline truths with the same degree of depth. Nevertheless, I believe a basic affirmation of these concepts is inherent to saving faith, even if a new convert understands far more than these core doctrines.

I am not alone in arguing that certain beliefs are essential to salvation. In 1801, Andrew Fuller published the second edition of his famous treatise The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. In this important work, Fuller challenged what he believed to be aberrant views found in three theological movements: 1) hyper-Calvinists, who denied the universal proclamation of the gospel to all people; 2) Arminians, who denied the monergistic nature of salvation; 3) Sandemanians, who denied that repentance is an element inherent to saving faith. In countering these movements, Fuller argued that some beliefs are necessary for one to be saved.

He that cometh to Christ must believe the gospel testimony, that he is the Son of God, and the Saviour of sinners; the only name given under heaven, and among men, by which we must be saved: he must also believe the gospel promise, that he will bestow eternal salvation on all them that obey him; and under the influence of this persuasion, he comes to him, commits himself to him, or trusts the salvation of his soul in his hands (italics in original).

I’m with Fuller: You cannot be saved if you don’t have some understanding of who does the saving, what we need to be saved from and why, and how it is that he has saved us. To be sure, this is not all we need to know if we are to be fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ. But we must know at least these truths if we are to begin a life of discipleship.

See Andrew Fuller, “The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation,” in The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, vol. II, ed. Joseph Belcher (1845; reprint, Sprinkle Publications, 1988), pp. 340–41.

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Nathan A. Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an elder at First Baptist Church of Durham, NC and a senior fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

“Determine to Stand by Christ”: Judson’s Letter to His Sons

August 22nd, 2013 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

Writing in a letter to his sons who were studying in Worcester, Adoniram Judson pled with them to relentlessly pursue God.  This warm letter exemplifies his affection for Jesus, his heavenly-minded spirituality, his consecrated piety, and his evangelistic spirit. Moreover, Judson’s earnest words serve as an extraordinary window into his fatherly heart, which is not always demonstrated clearly by his numerous biographers.  If I had one letter to write to my sons, would I say this?

Is it possible that I have letters from you at last?  I had waited so long that I began to think it would never be.  And I am so glad to hear of your welfare, and especially that you have both been under religious impressions, and that Elnathan begins to entertain a hope in Christ!  O, this is the most blessed news.  Go on, my dear boys, and not rest until you have made your calling and election sure.  I believe that you both and Abby Ann will become true Christians, and meet me in heaven; for I never pray without praying for your conversion, and I think I pray in faith.  Go to school, attend to your studies, be good scholars, try to get a good education; but, O, heaven is all.  Life, life, eternal life!  Without this, without an interest in the Lord of life, you are lost, lost forever.  Dear Adoniram, give your heart at once to the Saviour.  Don’t go to sleep without doing it.  Try, try for your life.  Don’t mind what anybody may say to the contrary, nor how much foolish boys may laugh at you.  Love the dear Saviour, who has loved you unto death.  Dear sons, so soon as you have a good hope in Christ that your sins are pardoned, and that Christ loves you, urge your pastor and the church to baptize and receive you into communion.  They will hold back, thinking you are too young, and must give more evidence.  But don’t be discouraged.  Push on.  Determine to do it.  Determine to stand by Christ, come what will.  That is the way to get to heaven. . . .  Will Elnathan tell me what little book it was that was so much blessed to him?  I have forgotten what I sent him.  I have sent you copies of your mother’s Memoir.  You will be delighted to read it, so beautifully and so truthfully is it written.  Ever love to cherish the memory of your own dear mother—how much she loved you to the last gasp—and prepare to follow her to heaven.

Your fond father,

A. JUDSON.[1]


[1]Edward Judson, The Life of Adoniram Judson, 523;  Quoted also in Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, 2:307-308.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Thailand with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Fuller’s Encouragement to Prayer

August 13th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Ian Hugh Clary

Without taking morbid fascination in the failings of another, we can learn from the struggles of other Christians. To observe an admired Christian wrestle against sins that beset even us, help us take heart that our trials are not uncommon. It should not surprise us, but we can forget that, yes, saints greatly used of God like John Piper or Joni Eareckson Tada fight against sin. This can encourage us, if taken rightly, when it comes to the mundane aspects of Christian discipleship like prayer or bible reading. To see that a hero of the faith struggled to pray keeps me from complacency, and encourages me to press on as they evidently did. Even more encouraging is to read about their victories over sin, and the joy they received from such victories.

I was struck by this as I read about Andrew Fuller. On May 2, 1785 he wrote in his diary about a monthly prayer meeting set up in his church in Kettering—part of the “Prayer Call” that began in 1784. I’ll quote the entry at length:

This evening, I felt tender all the time of the prayer-meeting for the revival of religion; but, in hearing Mr Beeby Wallis [a deacon in the church] pray for me, I was overcome: his having a better opinion of me than I deserve, cuts me to heart! Went to prayer myself, and found my mind engaged more than ordinarily in praying for the revival of religion. I had felt many sceptical thoughts; as though there were room to ask—What profit shall I have if I pray to God? for which I was much grieved. Find a great satisfaction in these monthly meetings: even supposing our requests should not be granted, yet prayer to God is its own reward.

There are a number of thoughts we can take away from such a quote. One is the inadequacy a pastor feels before his congregants. Wallis had a high view of his pastor, and Fuller, knowing his own heart, experienced conviction of sin. Another is that the prayers of one can spur another in the same. A third, and pertinent to this post, is that Fuller—a man with no mean theological abilities, and well used by God—doubted the value of prayer, if only in his own heart. This grieved him, because he knew his doubts were unfounded, real though they were. Yet Fuller encourages us by telling of us of the satisfaction he received in corporate prayer, even prayer that might not be answered in the way he hoped. Why? Because, in that great, pithy quote, he said: “prayer to God is its own reward.” Rooted in a tradition that stressed the importance of communion with God, Fuller was able to gain a biblical perspective on prayer that helped him—and us—see the real value in prayer. This is a rebuke to me when I languish in my own spiritual lethargy. I am thankful to read quotes like this.

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Ian Hugh Clary is finishing doctoral studies under Adriaan Neele at Universiteit van die Vrystaat (Blomfontein), where he is writing a dissertation on the evangelical historiography of Arnold Dallimore. He has co-authored two local church histories with Michael Haykin and contributed articles to numerous scholarly journals. Ian lives in Toronto with his wife and two children.

Fuller’s “Lively Hope”

August 8th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In a circular letter, entitled, “The Excellency and Utility of the Grace of Hope,” Andrew Fuller reasoned from Scripture to show that hope in eternal rest and reward energizes the minister today to be active in the Lord’s service.  In many ways, it sounds similar to John Piper’s call to faith in Future Grace.  The whole letter is excellent, and the two paragraphs below are especially encouraging excerpts:

HOPE, or an expectation of future good, is of so extensive an influence, that whether true or false, well or ill founded, it is one of the principal springs that keep mankind in motion. It is vigorous, bold, and enterprising. It causes men to encounter dangers, endure hardships, and surmount difficulties innumerable, in order to accomplish the desired end. In religion it is of no less consequence. It is claimed by almost all ranks and parties of men. It makes a considerable part of the religion of those that truly fear God; for though in all true religion there is and must be a love to God and Divine things for their own excellency, yet God, who knows our frame, and draws us with the cords of a man, condescends also to excite us with the promise of gracious reward, and to allure us with the prospect of a crown of glory….[1]

Moreover, as servants of God, you have a great work to do.—Though the meritorious part of your salvation has been long since finished, yet there is a salvation for you still to work out. By prayer, by patience, by watchfulness, and holy strife, you have to overcome the world, mortify sin, and run the race set before you. Hope is of excellent use in this great work. It is well denominated a “lively hope.” Its tendency is not to lull the soul asleep, but to rouse it to action. We trust, dear brethren, that the hope of which you are partakers will more and more animate your breasts with generous purposes, and prompt your souls to noble pursuits. For this you have the greatest encouragements surely that a God can give! God will employ none in his service without making it their inestimable privilege. They that plough for him shall plough in hope. Mansions of bliss stand ready to receive you, and crowns of unfading glory to reward you; therefore, beloved brethren, “be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”[2]

Fuller saw hope in future reward has eminently useful for active labour in the Lord’s service.  We labour heartily in our Master’s vineyard because he assures us that we will eat at table with him and enjoy the wine of his inheritance.  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24).


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 308-09.

[2] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 314.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Thailand with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Fuller’s “Lively Faith”

July 25th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In 1799, Andrew Fuller wrote, “The Importance of a Lively Faith, Especially in Missionary Undertakings.”  He illustrated the dangers of disobeying the Great Commission because of our disbelief in God’s promises to deliver us through adversity in our Great Commission labors.  He called for a “lively faith” in missionaries to enter the nations, believing in God’s promises despite seemingly insurmountable hardships and opposition, just as Joshua and Caleb did.  And, whereas the Israelites were to engage the nations with a mission of justice, armed with swords, missionaries ought to engage the nations with a mission of mercy, equipped with the sword of the Spirit.  Here is a great excerpt from what Fuller wrote:

When Israel went out of Egypt, they greatly rejoiced on the shores of the Red Sea; but the greater part of them entered not into the Promised Land, and that on account of their unbelief. The resemblance between their case and ours has struck my mind with considerable force. The grand object of their undertaking was to root out idolatry, and to establish the knowledge and worship of the one living and true God; and such also is ours. The authority on which they acted was the sovereign command of Heaven; and ours is the same. “Go preach the gospel to every creature.” The ground on which they were to rest their hope of success was the Divine promise. It was by relying on this alone that they were enabled to surmount difficulties, and to encounter their gigantic enemies. Those among them who believed, like Joshua and Caleb, felt themselves well able to go up; but they that distrusted the promise turned their backs in the hour of danger. Such also is the ground of our hope. He who hath commissioned us to “teach all nations” hath added, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” The heathen nations are given to our Redeemer for an inheritance, as much as Canaan was given to the seed of Abraham; and it is our business, as it was theirs, to go up and possess the land. We should lay our account with difficulties as well as they; but, according to our faith in the Divine promises, we may expect these mountains to become a plain. If the Lord delight in us, he will bring us into the land; but if, like the unbelieving Israelites, we make light of the promised good, or magnify the difficulties in the way of obtaining it, and so relax our efforts, we may expect to die as it were in the wilderness.[1]

Would that we, in our day, preserve such a lively faith that lays hold of the Divine promises in obedience to the Great Commission, lest we be like the unbelieving Israelites who died in the wilderness.


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 826.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Thailand with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.