The change that gradually came over the Particular Baptists is not, to so great an extent, identified with the character and labors of a single man. It is still true, however, that to the influence of Andrew Fuller such change is largely due, especially the modification of the Baptist theology, that was an indispensable prerequisite to effective preaching of the gospel. Fuller was born in Cambridgeshire in 1754, and at the age of fourteen became deeply convicted of sin. It was long before the way of life became clear to him, but at length he reached a faith in Christ from which he never wavered. The witnessing of a baptismal service in March, 1770 - until then he had never seen an immersion - wrought immediate
conviction in his mind that this was the only form of obedience to the command of Christ, and a month later he was himself baptized. In the spring of 1775 he was ordained to the ministry, and in 1782 became pastor of the church at Kettering, which he served until his death, in 1815. He was a sound and edifying preacher, but not a great orator; nevertheless, few pulpit orators have had so wide a hearing, or so deeply influenced their generation.
Fuller was, first of all, mighty with his pen. He was mainly self-educated, and never became a real scholar, but he had a robust mind capable of profound thought, and he learned to express himself in clear, vigorous English. The result was to make him one of the most widely read and influential theological writers of England or America. Large editions of his writings were sold in both countries, and they bid fair to be still "in print" when much-vaunted works of a later day are forgotten. Fuller boldly accepted and advocated a doctrine of the atonement that, until his day, had always been stigmatized as rank Arminianism, viz., that the atonement of Christ, as to its worth and dignity, was sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and was not an offering for the elect alone, as Calvinists of all grades had hitherto maintained. Along with this naturally went a sublapsarian interpretation of the "doctrines of grace," and this modified Calvinism gradually made its way among Baptists until it has become well-nigh the only doctrine known among them.
But Fuller was also great as an organizer and man of affairs. He became secretary of the missionary society of the Baptists, and in pursuance of his duties traveled from one end of England to another many times; five times he traversed Scotland for the same object, and once he made a like tour of Ireland. He was a man
of splendid physique, tall and strongly built, and eyes deep-set under bushy brows lighted up a massive face that was a good index of his character. To his sturdy mind, enlightened zeal, and indefatigable labors, the Baptist cause in England, and in America as well, owes a debt that can hardly be acknowledged in words too emphatic.
[From Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists, 1907. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]
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