The subject of this sketch occupied a prominent place among the group of distinguished men who at the close of the last and the commencement of the present century shed lustre on their denomination. Among such names as those of Pearce, Ryland, Sutcliffe, Carey, Marshman, Foster, and Hall, his fairly takes its place as the representative of massive intellect, of lofty piety and integrity, and of distinguished service to the cause of Christ. If he be not the foremost of the group, he is at least abreast of the greatest; not so lofty as some of them, nor of the same exquisite quality and finish, but the sturdiest and most enduring of them all. With little of the ornamental in his nature or productions, he is a man of rare serviceable qualities, which, with singleness of purpose and untiring zeal, he consecrates to noblest ends. With an intellect massive in its proportions, firm in its grasp, clear in its vision, if not very wide in its range, but showing something of the narrowness of insufficient culture, with strong common sense, a judgment generally sound, except when it becomes
the slave of a logic strong in its links, but insufficient in its premises; with a gravity of character which gave weight to his words, he was enabled, both by his ministerial and official labours as honorary secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, to exert an influence on his denomination greater than was wielded by any even of his more gifted contemporaries. The Mission at whose birth he ministered, and whose infancy he nursed, owes to his instrumentality not a little of the success with which God has crowned it. If Carey's zeal in the first instance, and afterwards his brilliant linguistic attainments, all employed more or less directly in the furtherance of the great work to which he had consecrated his life, kindled and kept alive the enthusiasm of its friends, Fuller's judicious, persevering, and self-denying labours established and conducted the organizations without which enthusiasm may be expended to little purpose. If the one nobly went down into the pit of heathenism to dig out of that deep, dark quarry living stones for the spiritual temple, the other has nobly and untiringly held the rope, never failing to respond to the expectations of the brethren who had gone out in simple reliance on the faithfulness of God and the co-operation and sympathy of His people. And did we now seek a revival of the spirit of former times, we hardly know which would be more conducive to its promotion - the raising up of Careys to labour abroad, or of Fullers to visit the churches at home.
It is not so much for his work as Mission Secretary, however, that we now call attention to this good and great man's life, as for the services he rendered to the churches of both his own and other denominations by his influence on the theology of his time. We do not attempt here to hold the balance between this and his services as Mission Secretary, nor do we pronounce the one superior to
the other. We select this for notice because, while there are others of our Worthies who are still more intimately associated with missions, and in connection with whose labours his cannot be altogether lost sight of, his influence as a theologian is unrivalled, whether among the men of his own or any other denomination, either during or since his time.
To whatever this influence may be owing, the fact of its existence - partially even now, though perhaps to a less extent than formerly, and it may be also in waning degree - will hardly be denied. Nor will it be questioned, by any whose opinion we care to dispute, that that influence, formerly, at least, was most salutary in its nature. His teaching shook to its foundations the hyper-Calvinism which forbade the preaching of the gospel to sinners, and practically, if not avowedly, denied the responsibility and free agency of man; and if it presented a too stern aspect to what it may have deemed an equally dangerous Arminianism, and failed frequently to understand that which it condemned, it only on that account gained the readier acceptance among those who would have taken fright at anything which appeared to be at variance with what they called "the doctrines of grace." Few preachers now can imagine the existence of trammels which would prevent their addressing unbelievers, and have difficulty, therefore, in properly appreciating the emancipation which was effected when it was shown that the free proclamation of the gospel to sinners was not at variance with the sovereignty of God in the salvation of men. Our theology may not be perfect yet; but in our opinion it presents a marvellous improvement on that which Fuller had to confront. And if we deem it an advantage that, except in obscure circles, into which the light slowly penetrates, our right to preach the gospel to all men is never
questioned, not a little of our gratitude is due to the man who boldly led the way to the light and freedom which it is our privilege to enjoy. The application of the term "Fullerism" to the moderate Calvinism which constitutes the orthodoxy of the day, and of "Fullerite" to those who preach it, is enough to show how largely we are indebted to his teaching and influence for the improvement that has taken place.
But it was not only as between one section of Christians and another that Fuller rendered service to theology, but as between Christianity and its infidel assailants. He not only helped to arrange and fix the articles; he strengthened the defences of the faith. He not only cleansed the courts of Zion from the errors which had found lodgment there; he built her walls, and repaired her bulwarks, and told the towers thereof, defending her against her foes, as well as correcting the mistakes and rebuking the follies of her friends. We have no wish to estimate the relative value of these services. With some the latter will be thought to deserve the highest meed of praise, and to present the strongest claim to the gratitude of the church. It was the most urgently called for because of the extent to which a heresy, which clothed itself in extremely orthodox forms, was choking up the channels of Christian life, and paralyzing all activity, and because the friends of Christianity are more capable of doing it harm than its avowed adversaries. With others the latter will probably be deemed the more efficient performance. The "Gospel its own Witness,"owing, it may be, to its being the production of his more practised pen and more matured judgment, takes higher rank, at least in the estimation of many, and is certainly more widely read, and we believe read with greater interest, than his "Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation." It deals with a more frequently
recurring evil; for while a heresy once thoroughly exploded will gradually lose its power, and of itself die away before increasing light, the natural enmity of the human heart is always prompting to fresh assaults on the foundations of our faith.
Fuller's early circumstances and training were such as, in the common estimation, would be little likely to fit him for rendering such distinguished service. Brought up as a ploughman's boy, following the plough until he has somewhat advanced into manhood, with few books and little opportunity for earnest or protracted study, with no access to intellectual circles, surrounded from his youth by the religious atmosphere which prevailed in the eastern counties of England, who could have imagined that he was the man who, above all others, was to leave his mark on the theology of the age: - that he would do more than any other to widen its range, as well as to define its boundaries and strengthen its defences; that he would liberalise so many of the churches, and wake up their slumbering members to originate and sustain one of the noblest evangelistic enterprises of modern times? Surely, it is to some of his compeers - the learned Rylands, or the philosophical and eloquent Halls, or the catholic and seraphic Pearces, or to some other of the great and gifted men of his time - that we should most naturally look for such achievements. Fuller, except for what he is in himself, is the last of all his associates to whom we should have thought them possible.
It is a very noticeable fact that so many of his co-religionists, who have attained to highest distinction in their respective lines, have been men who were altogether destitute of what are called early advantages. The two in this gallery who have influenced beyond any other man the religious
feeling and thought of their denomination and their country - John Bunyan and Andrew Fuller - were both, in the technical sense of the word, unlearned men. Neither of them enjoyed the advantages of an academical or collegiate education. The latter statement is equally true of Carey, who, learned as he afterwards became, received none of his learning within college walls. John Foster, a profounder thinker than any of them, was very similarly situated: although he passed through a brief course of training, his academical attainments were almost nil.
We notice these facts, not in depreciation of a thorough and sound education, believing, as we do, that the work of Christ demands and deserves that His servants should bring to it all their powers in the highest state of efficiency. Some of the names in this series are sufficient to frown down any attempt to depreciate learning. The highest culture will not be thought incompatible with originality of conception and freedom of thought by any one who has but a scanty acquaintance with the writings of John Milton, albeit he had an imagination which no training could fetter, and the history of his college life is not without signs that its restraints were painfully felt. Robert Hall' fame as a preacher is enough to redeem a learned ministry from the imputation of dulness, even where conception and diction are alike faultless and majestic; although, in part owing to his fastidious taste, and partly to his nervous susceptibility, he influenced less than either Fuller or Foster the theology of his time.
Such facts may, indeed, suggest inquiry as to the possibility of securing the unquestionable advantages of a good college curriculum, combined with a more careful development of individual peculiarities - the promotion of well - regulated habits of thought with greater daring and independence on the part of the thinker - the impartation of culture and
polish along with the conservation of power; for unquestionably the advantages of early training in Fuller' case would have been too dearly purchased at the cost of destroying the mental independence which made him the greatest theological reformer of his time.
In Fuller's case, however, as in Bunyan's, the services he rendered are not traceable to his early circumstances, but to the fact that God had set His mark upon him, endowing him with a degree of mental strength which no training could impart, nor the want of it suppress. Possibly he might have done even better service had he enjoyed a more liberal education. It is not difficult to trace in him, a want of culture - we beg pardon - a want of "the higher culture," for that is the slang phrase used by the supercilious, who have read Matthew Arnold, and imbibed the spirit, and consider themselves entitled to look with contempt on all who are not devoted disciples, of that great apostle of "sweetness and light." Fuller's culture was defective. But, to use a figure borrowed from his early occupation, his mind was like a great tract of deep loamy virgin soil, capable, with slight cultivation, of producing a crop such as the higher culture of his time, or the still higher culture of our own, could not gather from those small minds which resemble the little patches of land that pass for gardens in a crowded city, or the still smaller window-sill flower pots and boxes of soil, on which so much culture is expended in vain.
Fuller's resemblance to Bunyan extended to his early religious experience. The subject of deep and powerful convictions, he wrote strong things against himself, which testify, however, more to the sensitiveness of his own conscience than to his pre-eminent wickedness. Although not free from the vices of boys of his class, the early age at which his conversion took place renders it impossible that he
could have gone very far in that direction. And the severe condemnation which he pronounces on himself, when he afterwards records his experience, shows what he was, not as tried by any human standard, but as he appeared to himself, under the convincing influence of the Divine Spirit.
Like Bunyan, he remained for a considerable time in a state of conviction, his painful sense of sin being sometimes relieved by gleams of hope, sometimes forgotten in the pursuit of worldly pleasures, but never altogether leaving him, from the time he was thirteen until he was about sixteen years of age; at which time he says, "My convictions revisited me, and brought on such a concern about my everlasting welfare as issued, I trust, in my real conversion." This happy change, he seems to think, might have been consummated sooner but for the defective religious teaching to which he had been accustomed to listen. That teaching, as may be supposed, seeing it was not intended for sinners, presented no clear exposition of the way of salvation. To this defect he bears touching testimony in the account which he gives of the great change: -
"I now found rest for, my troubled soul; and I reckon that I should have found it sooner if I had not entertained the notion of my having no warrant to come to Christ with out some previous qualification. This notion was a bar that kept me back for a time, though through Divine drawings I was enabled to overleap it. As near as I can remember, in the early part of these exercises, when I subscribed to the justice of God in my condemnation, and thought of the Saviour of sinners, I had then relinquished every false confidence, believed my help to be only in Him, and approved of salvation by grace alone through His death; and if at that time I had known that any poor sinner might warrantably have trusted in Him for salvation, I conceive I should
have done so, and have found rest to my soul sooner than I did. I mention this, because it may be the case with others, who may be kept in darkness and despondency by erroneous views of the gospel much longer than I was.
"From this time, my former wicked courses were forsaken. I had no manner of desire after them. They lost their influence upon me. To those evils, a glance at which before would have set my passions in a flame, I now felt no inclination. 'My soul,' said I, with joy and triumph, 'is as a weaned child!' I now knew experimentally what it was to be dead to the world by the cross of Christ, and to feel an habitual determination to devote my future life to God my Saviour, and from this time considered the vows of God as upon me." The genuineness of the change he had undergone was proved by his altered course of life. In March 1770, he witnessed the administration of the ordinance of baptism, and about a month afterwards was himself baptized, and admitted a member of the church at Soham. As was then expected of a professor of religion, and in accordance with his own convictions, he, although only sixteen years of age, relinquished the games in which he had formerly taken a distinguished part, and, in order that he might be free from temptation, left home while they lasted, and went on a visit to some friends, where he could spend his time in profitable spiritual reflection. And not only in this, but in his devout habits, and control of his temper, he gave evidence that he was the subject of Divine grace. This is illustrated in the following extract, which well reflects the character of the man: - "Within a day or two," he says, "after I had been baptized, as I was riding through the fields, I met a company of young men. One of them especially, on my having
passed them, called after me in very abusive, language, and cursed me for having been 'dipped.' My heart instantly rose in a way of resentment; but, though the fire burned, I held my peace; for before I uttered a word, I was checked with this passage, which occurred to my mind: 'In the world ye shall have tribulation.' I wept and entreated the Lord to pardon me; feeling quite willing to bear the ridicule of the wicked, and to go even through great tribulation if, at last, I might but enter the kingdom. In this tender frame of mind I rode some miles, thinking of the temptations I might have to encounter. Amongst others, I was aware of the danger of being drawn into any acquaintance with the other sex which might prove injurious to my spiritual welfare. While poring over these things, and fearful of falling into the snares of youth, I was led to think of that passage: 'In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.' This made me weep for joy; and for forty-five years I have scarcely entered on any serious engagement without thinking of these words, and entreating the Divine direction. I have been twice married, and twice settled as the pastor of a church, which were some of the leading ways in which I had to acknowledge the Lord; and in each, when over, I could say: 'My ways have I declared, and Thou heardest me.'"
The church at Soham which Fuller joined, although very small, was not exactly characterized by the purity which is sometimes supposed to be the accompaniment of littleness. It was affected by the dry-rot of Antinomianism, which was then rampant in the eastern counties, where it still retains its hold, stubbornly resisting, and slowly retreating before, the advancing light. Shortly after Fuller joined the church, a member was found guilty of drunkenness. Fuller,
actuated by the sensibility of the young convert, and by a regard for the honour of Christ, remonstrated with the offending member, and was met with a reply which greatly shocked him, and started his mind on trains of thought that, fostered and stimulated as they were by subsequent proceedings, led to much. The man pleaded that his drunkenness "was not his fault — that he could not save himself from sin, and that though his accuser bore so hard upon him, he was not his own keeper." The plea was in strict accordance with the theology of the church, and became the subject of discussions more curious than edifying. The minister justified, and even commended Mr. Fuller highly for his remonstrance, and in vindication of his position propounded the ingenious theory that "we certainly could keep ourselves from open sins. We had no power to do things spiritually good; [but] we had the power both to obey the will of God and to disobey it." This compromise, however, between the pastor's sense of right and his theological fidelity, did not satisfy the church, the majority of whose members expressed their disapproval both of Mr. Fuller's remonstrance and the minister's defence, excusing the former on the ground of his youth, but censuring the latter in a manner which led to his resignation of his office, and threatened to dissolve the church.
These things are noticeable here chiefly because of their influence on Mr. Fuller's mind. They may be taken as an illustration of how "great events from trivial causes spring," and how Providence allows evil to go to excesses by which it destroys itself. Fuller's common-sense brushed away the cobweb arguments by which wrong was not only excused, but vindicated; and though it was some time before he found a satisfactory solution of some of the questions by which his mind was now agitated (for the man always moved with
cautious steps), the incident awakened those trains of thought which issued in clearer, sounder views of truth - in the productions which he afterwards gave to the world, and, though less directly, in the part he took in the formation and conduct of the Baptist Missionary Society, with much else which cannot be noticed here.
It says not a little for his personal character, that it was this very church, which he had been the means of agitating and partly scattering, that first invited him to assume the office of pastor. After the resignation of the minister above referred to, one of the members, a Mr. Dyer, with whom Fuller became exceedingly intimate, usually conducted the service, the devotional parts being sustained by the different members. In these Fuller took part, and soon became known to the members as distinguished for a gravity and thoughtfulness beyond his years: so that one day, when Mr. Dyer, who was indisposed, intimated to him that be expected him to take his place on the following Sunday, they all seem to have acquiesced in the arrangement. This first public effort was soon followed by others, which proved so acceptable, that the church began to think of securing his constant and permanent ministrations by inviting him to the pastorate. It was not very easy for a young man who had grown up among them, - had received no special training for the work, - had not even the prestige with which a short residence at college might have invested him, to fill such an office. He might well fear that our Lord's words would be verified in his experience, "A prophet is not without honour save in his own country." Nevertheless, after prayerful consideration, he accepted the office, and was enabled to fill it to the satisfaction of all concerned. Never did any one occupying a lofty and prominent sphere perform its duties with greater conscientiousness and fidelity
than he brought to the humble work of this village pastorate. The spiritual welfare of his people was the object of his most earnest solicitude, and was most laboriously and prayerfully sought. His intense devotion to their interests may be inferred from the fact that, though his income from the church was only fifteen pounds a year, which by attempting different occupations he in vain tried to supplement, so that he was forced to draw from his private resources, he declined for two years the most pressing invitations to leave; and only when, after much thought and prayer, he became convinced that it presented a field of greater usefulness, did he consent to enter on a larger sphere.
His removal to Kettering, the town which is now immortally associated with his name, and through him with one of the most important movements of modern times, the formation of The Baptist Missionary Society, took place in October 1782; and was soon followed by some of those events which made him known not only among his own people, but rendered him famous among the members of other denominations. The hyper-Calvinism of his time, which forbade the preaching of the gospel to sinners, and virtually denied the freedom and responsibility of man, was repugnant to his strong common-sense, and on examination was found to be not less at variance with the teaching of God's Word. The churches with which he had been more immediately connected were so overran with it, that any one in mental perplexity, as he himself had been, could receive no help or light from their teaching. It was not an easy thing to assail it in its stronghold. The Odium theologicum is never so fierce as in the defenders of orthodox error. To differ from them is to brave their bitterest anathemas. Immorality
of life may be excused by them, but unsoundness of creed never; and Fuller had to look for social ostracism, ecclesiastical excommunication, and desertion by his most intimate friends, if he dared to teach otherwise than they approved. But he was not the man to be deterred by such a prospect from giving utterance to the thing that was in him. The belief which he had embraced, after careful and prayerful investigation of the sacred oracles, he would dare to express, be the consequences what they might. Accordingly, shortly after his settlement at Kettering, he published his first important production, "The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation," in which he assails the ultra-Calvinist position, and proves that it is man's duty to believe whatsoever God testifies, - that his inability to believe is only moral, not physical, so that the only hindrance to his believing is his unwillingness; and that, therefore, to preach the gospel and exhort men to believe is the duty of every minister of Christ. The publication of this volume involved him in controversies not a few, with hyper-Calvinists on the one hand, and some who have been designated Arminians on the other.
It is not necessary that we should agree with all Mr. Fuller's theological views in order that we may see his merits as a controversialist. We may think that on some points the advantage in argument is with some of his opponents. We may regard his theology as not only an inadequate and imperfect, but, in some respects, inaccurate representation of God's relation to sinful men, and yet not the less we may recognise his clear vision, his keen logical acumen, his masterly grip of a subject, his candour towards his opponents -- no less remarkable than his power to seize the weak points in their position, and turn their blunders to account. It were easy to give specimens in
which these qualities appear, but as our space is too limited to admit of this, we must content ourselves with referring our readers to his published works.
Neither does our failure to accept all his theology imply any want of appreciation of the splendid services which he rendered to the Church of Christ. Great is the debt she owes to him for his clear exposition and able defence of a theology which freed her from the trammels that impeded her action, and roused her from her guilty indifference to the state of a perishing world. And if we cannot claim for him that his teaching contained the whole truth, and is therefore entitled to be made the standard of orthodox belief, our conclusion is only in harmony with the fact that God's truth is too vast to be fully grasped by any human intellect. Our own impression of him is, that he was more of a reasoner than a seer, more capable of exposing an error than discovering a truth, better able to demolish a false system than to frame a true; and that while he thus led the churches out of the Egypt of their bondage, he did not quite conduct them into the land of rest. Without giving less prominence to what are called the "doctrines of grace," it appears to us that his teaching might have set forth more clearly and fully the Divine yearning over the salvation of the lost as represented in the father waiting for the return of his wandering son, and the shepherd going into the wilderness after the lost sheep, and the Redeemer's tears over the doomed city of Jerusalem, and manifold other scriptures which need not be quoted here. We rejoice to believe that the theology which insists on this is spreading in the churches, because we take it to be more in harmony with Scripture than that which is generally called "Fullerism;" and although it does not get rid of all difficulty, nor profess to get rid of all difficulty, by the view which it takes of the
Divine procedure, it at least has this recommendation - that it does not accept of a solution which detracts from the Divine goodness, but is content to recognise the inability of man fully to understand the ways of God, and to wait until He Himself may be pleased to make them plain. It is more Calvinism than "Fullerism," in that it connects all things with the Divine purpose, and less so in that it refuses to set limits to the Divine love. It maintains that all gracious feeling in man originates with God -- does not even admit of -- the possibility of its existence without Divine influence; but at the same time attributes to the freewill with which God, in His wisdom and goodness, has endowed man, his fatal and final rejection of the Divine overtures; thus setting no limits to the Divine goodness, and neither leaving to the penitent ground for boasting, nor to the impenitent ground for complaint. This theology will yet supersede "Fullerism," because more in harmony with New Testament teaching, and with the character of the Infinite One.
Still, it would ill become us either to complain or to wonder that a man brought up, as we have seen him to be, in the narrowest school - situated in a locality where he had little opportunity of becoming acquainted with any broader theology than that school held and taught - limited in his reading to a very scanty library composed chiefly of books fitted to confirm him in the theology of his early years accustomed to associate with those who held that theology most tenaciously, and regarded any who differed from them as enemies or traitors to the truth - should not all at once have attained to those broader and sounder views of truth which have been arrived at by the thinking and intelligence of a later and more favoured age. It is no slight proof of his mental vigour, and independence, and courage, that he was able to break the trammels in which at first he was
compelled to move, and not only to think for himself when there was no one either to stimulate or to guide him, but to present his thoughts in such a clear and forcible manner, as to influence and almost to revolutionise the theology of his denomination, and to a large extent of his country, through his own and succeeding generations, - giving his name to a system of doctrine which men who had enjoyed a hundredfold his advantages were content to embrace. This honour no one can deny to him. Even those who object to "Fullerism," bear testimony, by their very use of the word, to the masterly qualities and the powerful and widespread influence of the man.
Nothing, as we have already intimated, can exceed Fuller's fairness to an opponent, - the clear and candid manner in which he presents the argument he is about to refute, or, his premises being conceded, the completeness of the refutation he offers. Although keen in his retorts, cutting in his sarcasm, and merciless in his exposure of fallacies and in turning the admissions of his opponents against themselves, he is, nevertheless, a fair and courteous - for his time, indeed, a remarkably fair and courteous - controversialist; so that if at any time he errs, it is not because he is carried away by the heat of controversy, but rather because the excellence of his logic serves to narrow, if not to cloud, his vision. A less clear and accurate reasoner might have a more penetrating insight into truth. Because the subject on which he reasons in his controversy with Mr. Sandemann, Mr. Maclean, and Philanthropos, being, in fact, the origin of the spiritual life, cannot be thoroughly comprehended by finite minds, nor presented in logical formulæ, his premises are necessarily imperfect, and the more close and sound his reasoning therefore, the more surely does it lead him astray, and at the same time the more inevitable do his conclusions appear to those
who agree with his postulates. Starting with him you can hardly fail to accompany him in every step he takes, and, ultimately, to arrive with him at his goal. A less certain might, in some instances, prove a safer guide.
As an illustration of the strength of his logical faculty, and at the same time of the defectiveness of his premises, we might refer to the position he takes in representing the belief of the gospel as a meritorious act, and, therefore, an act of which no unregenerate man is capable. We are not quoting his words, but only describing his position as it appears to ourselves. In that position there is no doubt much that is unassailable; and the logical manner in which he conducts his argument is much to be admired. But with all our admiration, there appears to us to be qualifying considerations which he does not sufficiently weigh. Although faith, including all that it involves, may fairly be designated a righteous or holy exercise, the mere crediting of a testimony which is the beginning of the exercise has nothing very holy or meritorious in it; and a good deal might be said to prove that it is from the influence of the testimony on the mind that receives it that the holiness which is involved in faith springs. Moreover, the Scriptures fairly interpreted do not teach that every action of an unregenerate man is necessarily sinful, any more than is every act of an imperfect believer. An unregenerate man may sacrifice his own life in attempting to save the life of another; and the most inexorable logic will never convince men that in doing so he is guilty of sin. It may be contended that the motive which actuates him is not the highest, and that the action is defective on that account, and, being defective, is sinful. It maybe contended further that as the man is so are his acts, and that be, being sinful, his acts are sinful also, - that a clean thing cannot be brought out of an unclean. But
might be applied to the actions of an imperfect believer, whose motives, to say the least, are mingled; and it might be contended that the action, being prompted by mingled motives, and springing from an imperfect source, was necessarily defective, and therefore sinful. This argument, thus applied, however, would be too much for Mr. Fuller's purpose, as it would prove that all imperfect regenerate men were equally, with the unregenerate, incapable of believing. We venture to think that if Mr. Fuller had not been contending with an opponent, his strong common-sense would have led him to take quite a different view of the passages he quotes. He would then have seen that the ploughing which is sin is ploughing with a wicked intent; and that the "prayer which is an abomination to the Lord" is the prayer of a man who, notwithstanding his prayer, persists in his wickedness, not the prayer of a man who is turning from sin, as is the case of one who believes the gospel. He would have seen that such a prayer, however great the wickedness from which it comes, and though it be only the cry of a soul that feels its own misery, so far from being an abomination, is music in the ears of God, and causes joy in the angelic ranks -- not indeed because there is any merit in it, but because it is the harbinger of the sinner's home-coming. He would have seen that the theory for which he was so strenuously contending was in direct contradiction to those scriptures which make the enjoyment of life contingent on faith, and trace the regeneration of a soul to the instrumentality of the truth believed; such as, "He that believeth not shall not see life." 'Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth." "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever; and this is the word which, by the gospel, is preached unto you." "In whom
also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe in His name." He would have seen that his theory placed him in a worse dilemma than that into which he attempted to force his opponent. He would have seen that, if men are regenerated before, and in order to faith, it follows that they are saved without the gospel, and that, for the purpose of salvation, therefore, the gospel may be dispensed with. He would have seen - and it is marvellous that a man so clear-minded did not see - the absurdity of the position that man's enmity to God must be overcome before he will believe the gospel, when, in fact, the gospel is represented as the means employed for overcoming his enmity, and is therefore called "the word of reconciliation." Had he taken a wider view of the data on which his arguments should have been based, his logical mind would have prevented his arriving at a conclusion so directly at variance with the teaching of the Word of God, and so stultifying to the Divine procedure. It seems scarcely possible that one capable of reasoning so well should have held that God had provided, for the purpose of reconciling men to Himself, an instrument which cannot influence them until they are reconciled; that while the Scriptures speak of their being reconciled to God by the death of His Son, they must be reconciled before they will believe in His death; that while by His cross the Saviour is to attract all men to Himself, they must be attracted before they will yield to His attractive influence. Such a conclusion, we fancy, would have appeared to him more revolting than anything he saw in his opponent’ theory, and was certainly at variance with his whole course of action. His work in connection with the Baptist Missionary Society would have been absurd on any theory which
made the spiritual life of men to precede, and therefore to be in its production independent of, their reception of the gospel of Christ.
It would have been better, in our estimation, had the controversialists on both sides been less metaphysical, and confined themselves more to the statements of God's Word - each side recognising those which favoured the other, and not confining themselves exclusively to those which favoured their own. Metaphysics supply no satisfactory settlement of the question relating to the Divine action on the one hand, and the freedom of the will on the other. Nor does either the Calvinistic or the Arminian system cover all the facts of the case. We may admit with Mr. Maclean that faith is simply a mental act, in its initiatory stage, at least, seeing it begins with crediting a testimony, and yet hold that moral qualities may precede and account for it. Or we may believe with Mr. Fuller that it is attributable to a certain state of mind, without admitting that that state of mind implies any moral virtue or excellence for which the man may take credit to himself. The motive which first moves to the reception of the gospel may be nothing higher than dissatisfaction with the present, or apprehension about the future. Present loss or disappointment, the dread of coming misery, may induce, and do very often induce, a readiness to give heed to the message which promises satisfaction in this world and enjoyment in the next. But though such readiness may betoken a regard for his own interests, it does not imply any moral virtue or excellence, or any feeling for which a man, whether he traces it to the grace of God or not, can credit himself with having acted a meritorious part in the matter of his own salvation. He cannot even say that he hath made himself to differ from others; for, without his having been the subject of any moral transformation, or any
work of grace, his dissatisfaction and dread may be the result of a line of outward events, near or remote, with which be has had, and could have had, nothing whatever to do.
On the other hand, Mr. Fuller, in pushing this question, "Who hath made thee to differ?" seems to us to overlook facts on the other side. It is a fact which he seems to overlook, that the Scriptures do speak of some men as acting a worse and more culpable part than others, without attributing that worse part to the withholding of the Divine grace with which those others were favoured. Some will rise up in judgment against others, and condemn them. Some would have repented had the means been used with them which were used with others who did not repent. The rejection of the gospel by the Pharisees, while the publicans received it, is attributed, not to the withholding of Divine grace, but to their greater stubbornness of will and hardness of heart. Salvation is attributed to Divine grace. Perdition is not attributed to Divine withholding, but to human resistance. Questions relating to the more remote or the primary springs of action, whichever view be taken, had better not be raised, because of starting difficulties about which Scripture is silent, and of which metaphysics confessedly supply no satisfactory solution.
As dealing with Deists, in his "Gospel its own Witness," and with Socinians, in his "Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Compared," and his rejoinders to the criticisms they called forth, his reasoning appears to us much more sound and satisfactory. Not only had he the right side of the question in both cases, but the subjects were of a nature which he was better able to handle. We do not say that he displays more ability in them than in his earlier productions; but the subjects, being more objective, furnished more exclusive
scope for the exercise of the logical faculty by which he was pre-eminently distinguished, and required less metaphysical discernment. Dealing less with mental processes which no one can satisfactorily analyze, least of all one whose knowledge of mental science is comparatively limited, they give less occasion for betraying the defects of his early training. On the broad ground of Scripture and of fact he treads with surer step than was possible to him when moving in the region of metaphysical subtleties. In admirable manner, in the "Gospel its own Witness," by an illustration which has often done duty since, he disposes of the Deistical and Socinian objection to the doctrine of mediation. The passage is much too long for our brief space, but we commend it to the perusal of our readers as a lucid and convincing justification of "the ways of God to men," well fitted to set at rest all questioning as to the reasonableness of evangelical teaching.
On the whole, we like the treatise in which it appears the best of all Mr. Fuller's writings. And we know not which to admire most - the chapter which is devoted to this, or the following, in which he shows "the consistency of the Scripture doctrine of redemption with the modern idea of the magnitude of creation." This chapter is said to have suggested Dr. Chalmers' famous astronomical discourses; and it certainly contains in germ, and in form no less convincing, most of the thoughts which the great preacher has amplified and clothed with the hues of his glowing and exuberant imagination. Nor is the chapter without passages which, though they lack all the rhetorical gush for which the Scotch orator was so distinguished, are, for their chastened and dignified eloquence, not less attractive than his more gorgeous creations. How fine, for example, is the following often-quoted peroration: "And now I appeal to the intelligent, the serious, and the candid reader, whether there be any truth in what
Mr. Paine asserts, that to admit that 'God created a plurality of worlds, at least as numerous as what we call stars, tenders the Christian system of faith at once little and ridiculous, and scatters it in the wind like feathers in the air.' On the contrary, it might be proved that every system of philosophy is little in comparison of Christianity. Philosophy may expand our ideas of creation; but it neither inspires a love to the moral character of the Creator, nor a well-grounded hope of eternal life. Philosophy, at most, can only place us at the top of Pisgah; there, like Moses, we must die: it gives us no possession of the good land. It is the province of Christianity to add, 'All is yours.' When you have ascended to the height of human discovery, there are things, and things of infinite moment, too, that are utterly beyond its reach. Revelation is the medium, and the only medium, by which, standing, as it were, on 'Nature's Alps,' we discover things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and of which it hath never entered into the heart of man to conceive."
Such passages as this show that not only was he gifted with strong argumentative powers, but was by no means deficient in the imaginative faculty, although a sound judgment kept it always under proper restraint. Accordingly, it was not in controversy only that Mr. Fuller excelled. His power in presenting positive truth was not less conspicuous than his power in grappling with error. His sermons are distinguished by soundness of judgment, and by an eminently practical tendency. Some preachers may have been more original, and not a few may have been more brilliant; but few have surpassed him in the power of conveying sound scriptural instruction. His texts are not pegs on which to bang up his own speculations, nor pivots around which he gathers all kinds of curious and interesting matter from whatever source it may be drawn, nor puzzles which ingenuity tries
to solve, and exercises itself in discovering for them all kinds of fanciful meanings and applications; but Divine utterances, whose true meaning is to be prayerfully discovered and applied. Hence, with masterly hand, he lays hold of great principles, and so arranges and marshals them as to bring them to bear with concentrated force on the end he has in view. His manner of dealing with a text is indicated by three questions. What? Why? What then? What is its meaning? Why is this its meaning? What follows, if this be its meaning? That is to say, he first expounds or illustrates, then establishes, then applies, or improves. And in doing this, his strong common-sense and his earnest practical purpose are both conspicuously displayed. He objects to sermons in which the thoughts are presented without order, and is careful that his own shall never merit that censure. To a young preacher he says: "Now, having examined the force of every term of importance (in the text, that is) by comparing it with the opposite idea or ideas, you will find yourself in possession of a number of interesting thoughts, which you will consider as so many recruits, and having noted them down as they occurred, your next, business is to arrange them in order, or to give each thought that place in your discourse which it will occupy to the greatest advantage. Many sermons are a mob of ideas: they contain very good sentiments, but they have no object in view; so that the hearer is continually asking the preacher, Very true, very true; but what then? What is it you are aiming at? What is this to the purpose? A preacher, then, if he would interest a judicious hearer, must have an object at which he aims, and must never lose sight of it throughout his discourse. This is what writers on these subjects call a unity of design; and this is a matter of greater importance than studying well-turned periods, or forming pretty expressions.
It is this that nails the attention of an audience. One thing at once is a maxim in common life, by which the greatest men have made the greatest proficiency. Shun, therefore, a multitude of divisions and subdivisions. He who aims to say everything in a single discourse, in effect says nothing. Avoid making a particular of every thought. Unity of design may be preserved consistently with various methods, but the thing itself is indispensable to good preaching."
Still less tolerance has he for a kind of preaching which is now much resorted to by preachers of a certain type, and greatly liked by a large class of hearers - the preaching which exercises its ingenuity in discovering spiritual resemblances or analogies in historical facts. "Some godly men," he considers, are too much infected with this disease, and thus remonstrates with them - "Let me entreat you, then, my friend, to consider whether, when you turn plain historic facts into allegory, you treat the Word of God with becoming reverence. Can you seriously think the Scriptures to be a book of riddles and conundrums, and that a Christian minister is properly employed in giving scope to his fancy, in order to discover their solution? If we must play, let it be with things of less consequence than the Word of the eternal God.
"Consider whether the motive that stimulates you to such a manner of treating the Word of God be any other than vanity. If you preached to a people possessed of anything like good sense, they would consider it as perverting the Word of God, and whipping it into froth. Instead of applauding you, they would be unable to endure it. But if your people be ignorant, such things will please them; and they may gaze, and admire, and smile, and say one to another, it may be in your hearing, too, 'Well, what a man! Who would have thought that he would have found so much
gospel in that text?' Ah, very true: who indeed? But what would the Apostle Paul say? 'Are ye not carnal?' Is it for a man of God to 'court a grin when he should woo a soul.' For shame! desist from such folly, or lay aside the Christian ministry. . . .
"It is an easy thing for a man of luxuriant imagination, unencumbered by judgment, to make anything he pleases of the Scriptures, as well as any other book; but in so doing be destroys their simplicity, and, of course, their efficacy. Thus it is that characters abound who are full of scripture language, while yet they are awfully destitute of scripture knowledge or scriptural religion."
Preaching with such earnestness of purpose, and with such a just conception of what preaching ought to be, it is easy for us to understand that few sermons excelled his in their sound teaching and practical tendency.
He excels as an expositor almost more than as a preacher. His pages, of course, do not bristle with the names of authors consulted, as do those of commentators who seem to think it desirable to let their readers know how much they have read, and, for this purpose, not only introduce the authorities with which they agree, but those also from which they differ. Nor do they present the air of learning for which some are so distinguished - his early training did not admit of that. But for a masculine grip of his subject, for a clear insight into its meaning, for the power of bringing out its prominent features, and presenting them in language forcible and concise, he will bear comparison with any whom we know. His lectures on the Book of Genesis are admirable specimens of expository discourse, fitted at once to interest and instruct an audience; and would of themselves suffice to give him a high place among the masters of pulpit discourse. Take the
following from his exposition of Genesis xliv. 1-: "The close of Judah's speech must have been succeeded by a solemn pause. Every heart is full; but every tongue is silent. The audience, if they understood the language, would be all in tears. The ten brethren, viewing the whole as the righteous judgment of God upon them, would be full of fearful amazement as to the issue. Benjamin would feel both for his dear father and his beloved brother, who had offered to give himself for him! But what saith the judge? How does he stand affected? I have no doubt but that he must have covered his face during the greater part of the time in which Judah had been pleading; and now this will not suffice. The fire burns within him, and it must have vent. 'Cause every man,' said he, 'to depart from me.' And then he breaks out in a loud weeping, so that the Egyptians from without heard him. Their minds, no doubt, must be filled with amazement and desire to know the cause of this strange affair; while the parties within would be still more confounded to witness such a burst of sorrow from him who, but a while before, was all sternness and severity. But now the mystery is at once revealed, and that in a few words - 'I AM JOSEPH!!! Doth my father yet live?' If they had been struck by an electric shock, or the most tremendous peal of thunder had instantly been heard over their heads, its effect had been nothing in comparison of that which these words must have produced. They are all struck dumb, and, as it were, petrified with terror. If he had been actually dead, and had risen and appeared to them, they could not have felt greatly different. The flood of thoughts which would at once rush in upon their minds is past description. No words could better express the general effect than those which are used: 'hey could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence.'" Vers. 4- : - "A little
mind amidst all its sympathy might have enjoyed the triumph which Joseph now had over those who once hated him, and have been willing to make them feel it; but he has made them feel sufficiently already, and, having forgiven them in his heart, he remembers their sin no more, but is full of tender solicitude to heal their wounded spirits. 'Come near unto me,' saith he, 'I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.' This painful event he does not seem to have mentioned but for the sake of convincing them that it was he himself, even their brother Joseph, and not another; and lest the mention of it should he taken as a reflection, and so add to their distress, he immediately follows it up with a dissuasion from overmuch sorrow. 'Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land, and yet there are five years, in the which there shall be neither earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you, to preserve a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God; and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh,' etc.
"In this soothing and tender strain did this excellent man pour balm into their wounded hearts. A less delicate mind would have talked of forgiving them; but he entreats them to forgive themselves, as though the other was out of the question. Nor did he mean that they should abuse the doctrine of Providence to the making light of sin; but merely that they should eye the hand of God in all, so as to be reconciled to the event, though they might weep in secret for the part which they had acted. And it is his desire that they should, for the present, at least, view the subject much in that point of light which would arm them against despondency
and a being swallowed up of overmuch sorrow. Their viewing things in this light would not abate their godly sorrow, but rather increase it; it would tend only to expel the sorrow of the world which worketh death. The analogy between all this, and the case of a sinner on Christ first manifesting Himself to his soul, is very striking. I cannot enlarge on particulars: suffice it to say, the more he views the doctrine of the cross, in which God hath glorified Himself, and saved a lost world by those very means which were intended for evil by His murderers, the better it will be with him. He shall not be able to think sin on this account a less, but a greater, evil; and yet he shall be so armed against despondency, as even to rejoice in what God hath wrought, while he trembles in thinking of the evils from which he has escaped."
The revolution which took place in his doctrinal views, as expressed in his "Gospel worthy of all Acceptation," found practical embodiment in his work in connection with the formation and conducting of the Baptist Missionary Society. The one was the natural consequence and corollary of the other. If, as he said, "the origin of the Society was found in the workings of Brother Carey's mind," it is certain that these workings were greatly helped and stimulated by the broad and enlightened teaching of Mr. Fuller. A sermon of his preached at Nottingham, before the Northampton Association of Baptist Churches, contained the following significant utterances, expressive of leanings and convictions such as find their natural embodiment in missions to the heathen; and show that, though William Carey was the first to form the conception of originating such a mission, he was likely to find in Mr. Fuller a sympathetic coadjutor: - "This may encourage and direct us in large concerns which respect the
whole interest of Christ in the world. If we compare the present state of things, or even the past, with the glorious prophecies of the Word of God, we cannot think, surely, that all is yet accomplished. By these prophecies the Christian church is encouraged to look for great things at some period or other of her existence. She is taught to look for a time when 'the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas;' when 'a nation shall be born at once;' when 'the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ:' and 'He shall reign from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.' But surely, for the present, though great things on the whole have been done in the world, yet nothing like this has ever come to pass. Instead of the world being conquered, what a great part yet continues to stand out against him! Heathenism, Mahommedanism, popery, and infidelity, how extensive still their influence? In all probability not a single country, town, village, or congregation, has ever yet been brought wholly to submit to Christ! Nay, is it not very rare to find, in any one of these, so many real friends as to make even a majority in His favour? May not the Christian church, then, for the present, adopt that language, 'We have been with child, we have, as it were, brought forth wind, we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen’ What, then, shall we despair? God forbid! 'he vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it shall surely come, it will not tarry;' and, meanwhile, 'he just shall live by faith.'
"Let us take encouragement, in the present day of small things, by looking forward, and hoping for better days. Let this be attended with earnest and united prayer to Him by
whom Jacob must arise. A life of faith will ever be a life of prayer. Oh, brethren! let us pray much for an outpouring of God's Spirit on our ministers and churches; and not upon those only of our own connection and denomination, but upon 'all that in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours.'"
Entries in his journal breathe a similar spirit and sentiment, and show how his mind is being gradually led up to the great work which he afterwards undertook. "Felt some tenderness of heart several times in the day, longing for the coming of Christ's kingdom, and the salvation of my hearers."
"Read part of a poem by John Scott, Esq., on the cruelties of the English in the East Indies, causing artificial famines, etc. My heart felt most earnest desires that Christ's kingdom might come, when all these cruelties shall cease. Oh for the time when neither the sceptre of oppression nor heathen superstition shall bear the sway over them! Lord Jesus, set up Thy glorious and peaceful kingdom all over the world! Found earnest desire this morning in prayer, that God would hear the right as to them, and bear our prayers, in which the churches agree to unite, for the spread of Christ's kingdom."
"Spent this day in fasting and prayer, in conjunction with several of my brethren in the ministry, for the revival of our churches and the spread of the gospel. Found some tenderness and earnestness in prayer several times in the day. Wrote a few thoughts on the desirableness of the coming of Christ's kingdom."
These sentences were spoken or written some eight years before the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society. But they sufficiently indicate the bent of Mr. Fuller's mind, and his preparedness to take part in such a work, although he
was not so ready as his friend Carey to recognise the practicability of the enterprise in the then state of the churches. They breathe a spirit, however, in perfect harmony with missionary work, and prepare us for finding him identified with the Society from its commencement.
The particulars connected with that event will be entered into more fully in our next sketch; and it may suffice to say, meanwhile, that it was in the scene of Mr. Fuller's ministry at Kettering that the Society was originated in 1792, when the famous amount of L13 2s. 6d. was collected for the great object; that Mr. Fuller was its first secretary, and continued to hold that office and perform its duties gratuitously up to the day of his death, which was no doubt hastened by his excessive, arduous, and self-denying labours in the cause.
How well he performed the duties of secretary, - with what devotedness and wisdom combined, now corresponding with the missionaries in a truly fraternal, and sometimes semi-paternal spirit, counselling them in their perplexities, and cheering them under their discouragements; now collecting money for them among the churches, and for this purpose making long journeys, sometimes in the dead of winter, at a time when travelling was not what it is now; now defending them against their adversaries both at home and abroad; in all these things nobly "holding the rope" for those who had "gone down into the pit," and serving the great cause, scarcely, if at all, less efficiently than they, - is it not all written in his own journals, and in the history of the Baptist Missionary Society?
There is one part of his work to which we cannot make more than the briefest reference. His "Memoir of the Rev. Samuel Pearce of Birmingham," with whom he was lovingly associated in work for the mission, is considered an admirable
specimen, of biographical writing, and indicates qualities of quite another kind from those which found scope in his theological and controversial works. Excellence in so many departments of effort, it need scarcely be said, betokens a very general ability, and all-roundedness, as it may be called, which stamps him as no ordinary man, but one on whom God has manifestly set His mark as one of the truly great, fitted both by nature and grace for rendering extra ordinary service to the cause of truth and righteousness.
We have said nothing of his domestic life, nor is there much to be said beyond this, that in his family relations he was very much tried, especially by the early death of his first wife, which was preceded by mental derangement that was still more painful, and by the misconduct of a son over whom he pours out lamentations as pathetic as those of David over the untimely death of Absalom. We refrain, however, from entering further into the details of his trials, because these do not in any way constitute the distinctive features of his life. Others have been tried as severely as he; and it is not with what his history presents in common with others, but with that which distinguished him from others, that our purpose requires us to deal. It may suffice to say that his severest trials were borne with the most exemplary patience and implicit submission to the Divine will, showing how much the consolations of the gospel which he so successfully ministered to others were realised in his own experience. With nothing are we more impressed, after the perusal of his history, than the amount of work which, in his circumstances, he was able to accomplish. Notwithstanding all that devolved on him as the secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, and its deputation as well, he continued pastor of the church at Kettering up to the time of his
death, and performed his pastoral duties in such an efficient and acceptable manner that his name is fragrant in the neighbourhood up to this day, and will continue to be so for many years to come; and yet was able to produce those published works, which for their voluminousness and excellence would seem to have been almost sufficient to fully occupy his time for many years of his life. Like others with whom he was associated, especially in the mission, as we shall see in our next sketch, he appears to have been no less diligent than he was able; and may fairly be held up to the young men in our churches, as a noble example of how much may be accomplished by a man who realises the solemnity of life, and acts as under his Master's eye. And we scarcely know whether it be the greater advantage to have a spiritual ancestry distinguished by great gifts, rather than by the devoted spirit which turns those great gifts to good account in the service of God and man. The latter is perhaps the greater advantage of the two, because, though all, cannot become possessed of their gifts, all may breathe their spirit. And where the two are combined, as in the case of Fuller and others, they ought to exert a most bracing and salutary influence on all who have the honour to be denominationally connected with them, and whose ambition it ought to be fitly to represent them, and to act a part which shall not be unworthy of their renown. We prove ourselves craven sons of noble sires -- mean followers of noble men, if we do not emulate the deeds of our fathers, and prove, so far as we can, that we, too, belong to the race of giants, and that some of their blood flows in our veins. May God make our mental contact with them the means of promoting in us some of the mental and moral qualities by which they were so eminently distinguished.
We have already hinted our belief that his labours shortened
his life, and there can be no doubt that this was the case. A few months before his death he took a journey into Lancashire and the North of England on behalf of the Mission; and in his last illness was planning, other journeys for the same object, although doubting his ability to undertake them; "but perhaps I may prove like Samson, who went out to do as at other times, and wist not that his strength was departed from him." Even when his illness was upon him, his work at home was scarcely less trying than if he had been journeying from place to place. "Within three or four months of his decease, while labouring under the most depressed state of body and mind, occasioned by a disordered liver, he sat at his desk upwards of twelve hours a day!" On parting with his friends at Leicester, on the journey we have referred to, "he intimated to them that he was very ill — that he should probably see them no more, that his work was nearly done, but that he could not spare time to nurse himself, and must labour on as best he could."
He died when he was but sixty-one years of age. We cannot say prematurely; for though he had not reached the allotted threescore years and ten, there, were crowded into his brief life more works that were fitted to prove a source of lasting good to men, and of glory to God, than are found even in many useful lives which are much more prolonged. He himself, if we may judge from some of his recorded conversations, did not regret that he was not to live longer. He regarded life more as a season for work than for enjoyment; and when he began to feel incapacitated for work, we do not fancy that life had any very great attractions for him. Then, the record which his life presented - even although he took the most humble view of it, and died not glorying in what he had done, but, to use his own words, "as a penitent sinner at the foot of the cross -" must have
contributed to the contentment with which he was prepared to go. He could not help feeling that he had not lived in vain; and we can well understand that, with his wearied body and depressed nervous condition, the prospect of rest and reward may have been more attractive to him than the prospect of continued labour. And if such were his feelings, we cannot but think he was right. Measured by its results, he had enjoyed enough of life to satisfy his most ardent desires and sanguine expectations. For
"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs.
He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest,
Acts the best."
[William Landels, Baptist Worthies, 1883, pp. 121-157. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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