The promise was not accomplished, at last, but by means of ardent, deadly, and persevering struggles; and such must be the efforts of the church of Christ, ere she will gain the victory over the spiritual wickedness with which she has to contend. The Canaanites would not give up any thing but at the point of the sword. Hence the faint-hearted, the indolent, and the weak in faith were for compromising matters with them. The same spirit which magnified difficulties at a distance, which spoke of cities as “great, and walled up to heaven,” and of “the sons of Anak being there,” was for stopping short when they had gained footing in the land, and for “making leagues” with the residue of the people. Thus it has long been in the Christian church: the gospel having obtained a footing in the western nations, we have acted as though we were willing that Satan should enjoy the other parts without molestation. Every heathen and Mahomedan country has seemed to be a city walled up to heaven, and the inhabitants terrible to us as the sons of Anak. And even in our native country, an evangelical ministry having obtained a kind of establishment in some places, we have long acted as if we thought the rest were to be given up by consent, and left to perish without any means being used for their salvation! If God means to save any of them, it seems, he must bring them under the gospel, or the gospel, in some miraculous manner, to them; whereas the command of the Saviour is that we go, and preach it to every creature. All that Israel gained was by dint of the sword. It was at the expense of many lives, yea, many thousands of lives, that they at last came to the full possession of the land, and that the promises of God were fulfilled towards them. The same may be said of the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. It was by ardent and persevering struggles that the gospel was introduced into the various nations, cities, and towns where it now is; and, in many instances, at the expense of life. Thousands of lives were sacrificed to this great object in the times of the apostles, and were I to say millions in succeeding ages, I should probably be within the compass of truth. But we have been so long inured to act under the shadow of civil protection, and without any serious inconvenience to our temporal interests, that we are startled at difficulties which the ancient Christians would have met with fortitude. They put their lives in their hands, “standing in jeopardy every hour;” and though we cannot be sufficiently thankful, both to God and the legislature of our country, for the protection we enjoy, yet we must not make this the condition of our activity for Christ. “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” If ever God prosper us in any great degree, it will be in the exercise of that spirit by which the martyrs obtained a good report.
Excerpt from: “God’s Approbation of Our Labours Necessary to the Hope of Success,” Sermon VII in Sermons and Sketches.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, pp. 187–188). Sprinkle Publications.