If you be truly the subjects of God’s work, there will be many ways which will be brought to your remembrance, and which you will reflect upon with bitterness; ways of open immorality,—ways in which you have thought there was little or no harm—ways that you have thought little about—and even ways which you have heretofore accounted good. 1. You will remember your ways of open immorality, odious to both God and man, and which have required some pains to stifle convictions while you pursued them. Such were the objects of bitter recollection to the penitent publican, and to the returning prodigal. Those evil courses which have distinguished your character may be supposed to have most interested your hearts; and consequently will generally be the first which occur to your remembrance. But these are not the only evils to be lamented. 2. You will remember things in which you have thought there was little or no harm.—Such are those pursuits which are common with the world. The principles, customs, and amusements of those people among whom you have lived, you accounted lawful; or if not quite lawful, yet nearly so. You have observed many to act upon this principle in trade, that we may get all we can; and may have thought you might do the same: but if you are brought to a right mind, you will remember these pursuits as Zaccheus did, and, like him, your hands will not be able to hold the ill-acquired gain. You saw little or no harm, it may be, in cards, dice, and other amusements of the kind, being kept in countenance by the example of people of fashion; but if brought to a right mind, you will remember such things with shame, being conscious that in many instances the desire of your neighbour’s property was your ruling motive: or if no property was at stake, it is an exercise on which you cannot ask for a Divine blessing before you engage, nor go with freedom upon your knees when you retire. 3. You will remember ways that you have thought nothing about.—This will be the case, especially, with respect to heart sins. Saul, the Pharisee, had no idea of God’s law taking cognizance of his heart; but when the commandment came in its spirituality, it opened to him an entirely new scene; it slew all his self-righteous hopes. Or if you should have had some convictions on account of secret sins, yet you were not aware of that awful load of negative sin of which you were continually guilty; I mean the want of love to God. But if you are brought to a right mind, you will remember and be confounded at the idea that a God of so glorious a character, and whose goodness to you has never abated, should have had no place in your heart; that you have never regarded him in any thing; but lived in wicked aversion against him. Finally, You will remember, and that with contrition, even ways that you counted good. Your very prayers, and tears, and alms, and the whole of your religion while unconverted, will appear odious to you. That of which you have made a righteousness, hoping at least that it would balance your evil deeds, will now appear as “filthy rags,” fit for nothing, unless it were to bind you hand and foot, in order to your being cast into utter darkness. Nor will these your views be at all exaggerating; for all this is but the truth. God requires the heart, the whole heart, and nothing but the heart. All those things which God requires as duties are but so many expressions of the heart; whatever, therefore, we have done without the heart can have no goodness in it in his sight, who sees things as they are; but must needs be evil. And that which is evil in the sight of God, if we become of God’s mind, will be evil in our sight.
Excerpt: “Nature and Extent of True Conversion” [Preached in the Circus, Edinburgh, Oct. 13, 1799.]
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 549). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.