Andrew Fuller Friday: Clarity for the Bewildered

To a young man whose mind he perceived was bewildered with fruitless speculations

“The conversation we had on our way to——so far interested me in your religious feelings, that I find it impossible to satisfy my mind till I have expressed my ardent wishes for the happy termination of your late exercises, and contributed my mite to the promotion of your joy in the Lord. A disposition more or less to ‘scepticism,’ I believe, is common to our nature, in proportion as opposite systems and jarring opinions, each supported by a plausibility of argument, are presented to our minds; and with some qualification, I admit Robinson’s remark, ‘That he who never doubted never believed.’ While examining the grounds of persuasion, it is right for the mind to hesitate. Opinions ought not to be prejudged, any more than criminals. Every objection ought to have its weight; and the more numerous and forcible objections are, the more cause shall we finally have for the triumph, ‘Magna est veritas et prevalebit;’ but there are two or three considerations which have no small weight with me in relation to religious controversies.

“The first is, The importance of truth. It would be endless to write on truth in general. I confine my views to what I deem the leading truth in the New Testament,—The atonement made on behalf of sinners by the Son of God; the doctrine of the cross; Jesus Christ and him crucified. It surely cannot be a matter of small concern whether the Creator of all things, out of mere love to rebellious men, exchanged a throne for a cross, and thereby reconciled a ruined world to God. If this be not true, how can we respect the Bible as an inspired book, which so plainly attributes our salvation to the grace of God, ‘through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus?’ And if we discard the Bible, what can we do with prophecies, miracles, and all the power of evidence on which, as on adamantine pillars, its authority abides? Surely the infidel has more to reject than the believer to embrace. That book then which we receive, not as the word of man, but as the word of God, not as the religion of our ancestors, but on the invincible conviction which attends an impartial investigation of its evidences—that book reveals a truth of the highest importance to man, consonant to the opinions of the earliest ages and the most enlightened nations, perfectly consistent with the Jewish economy as to its spirit and design, altogether adapted to unite the equitable and merciful perfections of the Deity in the sinner’s salvation, and above all things calculated to beget the most established peace, to inspire with the liveliest hope, and to engage the heart and life in habitual devotedness to the interest of morality and piety. Such a doctrine I cannot but venerate; and to the author of such a doctrine my whole soul labours to exhaust itself in praise.

‘Oh the sweet wonders of the cross,

Where God my Saviour loved and died!’

Forgive, my friend, forgive the transport of a soul compelled to feel where it attempts only to explore. I cannot on this subject control my passions by the laws of logic. ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Christ Jesus my Lord!’

“Secondly, I consider man as a depraved creature, so depraved that his judgment is as dark as his appetites are sensual, wholly dependent on God, therefore, for religious light as well as true devotion, yet such a dupe to pride as to reject every thing which the narrow limits of his comprehension cannot embrace, and such a slave to his passions as to admit no law but self-interest for his government. With these views of human nature I am persuaded we ought to suspect our own decisions, whenever they oppose truths too sublime for our understandings, or too pure for our lusts. To err on this side, indeed, ‘is human;’ wherefore the wise man saith, ‘He that trusteth to his own heart is a fool.’ Should therefore the evidence be only equal on the side of the gospel of Christ, I should think with this allowance we should do well to admit it.

“Thirdly, If the gospel of Christ be true, it should be heartily embraced. We should yield ourselves to its influence without reserve. We must come to a point, and resolve to be either infidels or Christians. To know the power of the sun we should expose ourselves to his rays; to know the sweetness of honey we must bring it to our palates. Speculations will not do in either of these cases, much less will it in matters of religion.—‘My son,’ saith God, ‘give me thine heart!’

“Fourthly, A humble admission of the light we already have is the most effectual way to a full conviction of the truth of the doctrine of Christ. ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of his doctrine whether it be of God.’ If we honour God as far as we know his will, he will honour us with further discoveries of it. Thus shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord; thus, thus shall you, my dear friend, become assured that there is salvation in no other name than that of Jesus Christ: and thus, from an inward experience of the quickening influences of his Holy Spirit, you will join the admiring church, and say of Jesus, ‘This is my Beloved, this is my Friend; he is the chiefest among ten thousand, he is altogether lovely.’ Yes, I yet hope—I expect—to see you rejoicing in Christ Jesus; and appearing as a living witness that he is faithful who hath said—‘Seek, and ye shall find; ask, and receive, that your joy may be full.’ ”

In another letter to the same correspondent, after congratulating himself that he had discovered such a mode of killing noxious insects as should put them to the least pain, and which was characteristic of the tenderness of his heart, he proceeds as follows: “But enough of nature. How is my brother as a Christian? We have had some interesting moments in conversation on the methods of grace, that grace whose influence reaches to the day of adversity and the hour of death; seasons when of every thing else it may be said, Miserable comforters are they all! My dear friend, we will amuse ourselves with philosophy, but Christ shall be our teacher; Christ shall be our glory; Christ shall be our portion. Oh that we may be enabled ‘to comprehend the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge!’ ”

Excerpt from Memoirs, Chapter 5, “General Outlines of His Character.”

Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 3, pp. 438–439). Sprinkle Publications.

Be sure to order your copy of David Prince’s newest book Preaching the Truth as it is in Jesus: A Reader on Andrew Fuller.

By |May 13th, 2022|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday, Blog|

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