“Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”—Tit. 1:15.
The apostle had lived to see many who had bid fair to turn aside. Under the impression of these things he writes to Titus as he had done to Timothy, 2 Tim. 2:21.
The human mind is exposed to numerous influences—the world—the flesh—the devil; and according to the state of the mind, such is the influence exercised. The beams of the sun lighting on a garden of spices exhale the most pleasing odours, while they produce an opposite effect on a foul and unsavoury object.
I. Let us endeavour to ascertain the import of the terms.—By the pure is not meant the sinless. No such characters are to be found. If any think so, the Scriptures are decisive on this point, 1 John 1:8, 10. But as a defiled mind is connected with unbelief, and is attributed (ver. 14) to those who “turn from the truth,” so a pure mind must be a believing one—one that receives the “truth in the love of it.” Evangelical purity is connected with faith—thus Peter, 1 Pet. 1:22; Acts 15:9. The mind and conscience are the governing powers of the soul. If they be polluted, all is so. If the judgment be corrupted, there is no pledge for our retaining one correct view of ourselves, or of God. If conscience, God’s witness, be defiled, there is nothing to recall us. Faith is the principle that opposes these corruptions.
II. Illustrate the sentiment by a review of the different effects produced by the same things, according to the different state of the mind. 1. On a believing mind the doctrines of Christ will have a sanctifying effect, and the contrary on an unbelieving. Some parts of Christian doctrine have a warning tendency, particularly the omnipresence, omnipotence, and holiness of God—these beget holy fear. Others are of an encouraging complexion, as redemption, pardon, reconciliation, eternal life. Even in those doctrines to which unbelievers are ever objecting—sovereign, efficacious grace, personal election, &c.—the Christian finds the most powerful motive to purity. But on others they produce an ill effect, exciting dislike to religion, causing to raise objections. You never hear of them but in ridicule. Some believe in them, and hail them as that which frees them from restraint. Thus they are either “stumbling at the word, being disobedient,” or “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.” 2. On a believing mind, precepts, and even threatenings, produce a salutary effect. Considering the Divine commands as their rule, they fear to deviate, and are tender of conscience; but unbelievers dislike restraints, and there is a species of religion which proposes to leave them out. 3. Mercies and judgments humble, melt, and soften some, but harden others. Mercy, Eccles. 8:11. Judgments soften transiently only: Pharaoh—Saul. David says, Psal. 18:5, 6. But another returns to his sin for relief, so the means of grace and salvation produce no good effect, Isa. 26:10. 4. Evils which occur among men.—A pure mind gathers good from the wickedness that occurs around him—from the defection of apostates, (John 6:68,) and from the falls of good men. But others are carried away before these things. 5. Treatment from men.—It may be unkind—unjust, but we shall view it as coming from God. David turned the reproaches of Shimei into reproofs from God; but the lawyer mentioned in the Gospels turned reproof into reproach; thus the most faithful preaching gives offence.
From the whole we see the vast importance of the mind being purified by faith. There are those in the world that are neither believers nor unbelievers; but none such are here. Every one who has heard, or who has had opportunities of hearing, the gospel, is one of them. Some manifest their unbelief by making no pretension either to faith or purity, but ridicule both. Some pretend faith; but it does not purify the heart and life. O come to Jesus—purify your souls by obeying the truth! Wash in that laver. If found impure at the great day, all is over. Nothing unclean shall enter heaven, Rev. 22:11.
Excerpt from “Effect of Things Modified by the State of Mind” in Sermon and Sketches.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 553–554). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.