The 21st of September, 1803, was fixed upon, by several dissenting ministers in London, as a day of fasting and prayer on account of the state of the nation; and they expressed a wish that their brethren in the country would unite with them. Being at one of those meetings in the country, I was forcibly struck with an idea suggested in a passage of Scripture which was read on that occasion. It was Isa. 5:5, “And now, go to: I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.”
I had often heard it observed, from the intercession of Abraham in behalf of Sodom, and other scriptures, that God might spare a country for the sake of the righteous few; but never recollect hearing it noticed before that the sins of professing Christians might also be the principal cause of a nation’s overthrow. Certainly the church is here represented as God’s vine, the grand object of his care. He fences it by his providence, cultivates it by the means of his grace, and looks that it should bring forth grapes, or fruit to his glory. But if instead of this it bring forth wild grapes, what inducement can he have to continue the fence?
I am more afraid, said the minister on the above occasion, on account of the sins of my country, than from the threatenings of the enemy; and I am much more afraid for the sins of professing Christians in my country than I am for those who are openly profane. It is true they are wicked, and will not go unpunished; but God does not look to them for fruit in such a manner as he does to us. If the hedge be taken away, and the wild boar of the wood suffered to enter in and destroy, I fear it will be principally, though not wholly, on our account. Our ingratitude, lukewarmness, worldly-mindedness, animosities, divisions, scandals, and other evils, may be more offensive to God than all the wickedness of the land besides.
If these remarks be just, what a weight lies upon the religious part of a nation; who either prove, like Paul, the salvation of them that sail with them; or, like Jonah, the principal cause of the storm!
Excerpt from: “Influence of the Conduct of Religious People on the Well-being of a Country,” in Thoughts on Civil Polity.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 3, p. 675). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.