It is that which God has ever blessed to the salvation of sinners, and the edification of believers. The primitive Christians lived upon it. Times of great revival in the church have always been distinguished by a warm adherence to it. In the dark ages of popery, the schoolmen, as they are called, employed themselves in deciding curious points; but, at the time of the Reformation, the common salvation was the leading theme. Those ministers whose labours have been more abundantly owned for the promotion of true religion, have been distinguished by their attachment to the common truth; and those churches which have abounded the most in vital and practical godliness, are such as have not descended to curious researches, nor confined their approbation to elegant preaching; but have loved and lived upon the truth, from whomsoever it has proceeded. There are three things, in particular, from which we are in danger of neglecting the common salvation, both as preachers and as hearers:—
1. A pretended regard to moral and practical preaching, to the disregard of evangelical principle. All preaching, no doubt, ought to be practical; and there are no greater enemies to the cross of Christ than men who can bear nothing but what soothes and comforts them; but this is not the only extreme. Almost all the adversaries of evangelical truth endeavour to cover their dislike to it under an apparent zeal for “morality, the Christian temper, and Christian practice.” If we neglect the common salvation in our ordinary labours, morality will freeze upon our lips, and neither the preacher nor the hearer will be much inclined to practise it. To lose a relish for the common salvation is the first step towards giving it up; and the effects of this we are warned against from the example of “the angels who kept not their first estate.”
2. The love of novelty. Both preachers and hearers are in danger of making light of common truths, and of indulging in a spirit of curious speculation. This will render preaching rather an entertainment than a benefit to the soul. We are commanded to feed the church of God—not their fancies or imaginations; nor merely their understandings; but their renewed minds. It indicates a vicious taste, and affords a manifest proof of degeneracy, where the common salvation is slighted, and matters of refinement eagerly pursued. The doctrine of Christ crucified is full of the wisdom of God, and will furnish materials for the strongest powers; and here we may dig deep in our researches. But if this subject has no charms for us, what are we to do in heaven, where it is the darling theme?
3. A partial attachment to one or two particular truths, to the neglect of the great body of truth. It has frequently been the case, that some one particular topic has formed the character of an age or generation of men; and this topic has been hackneyed in almost every place, till the public mind has become weary of it; while other things of equal importance have been overlooked. Beauty consists of lovely proportion; and herein consists the holy beauty of religion. When every part of truth has its due regard, and every part of holiness its share in our affections, then will the “beauty of Jehovah, our God, be upon us,” and then will he “establish the work of our hands.”
Finally, The common salvation, though it affords grounds for a universal application for mercy, yet will be of no essential benefit to us, unless it be especially embraced. Notwithstanding the indefiniteness of gospel invitations, it is nevertheless true, that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Excerpt from: “The Common Salvation,” A Sermon delivered at the Association of Baptist Ministers and Churches at Oakham, June 3, 1801. Sermon XXXVII in Sermons and Sketches.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 412–413). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.