Never have we had a task so distressing to our feelings, or that will produce so much sorrow in the hearts of our readers, as that of recording the lamented death of the wise, the zealous, and disinterested [?-jd] Secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society - Andrew Fuller. This eminent and laborious servant of the Lord Jesus, was called to his Master's joy, on Lord's day morning, the 7th of May, in the sixty-second year of his age, after only a few weeks' illness of a most distressing kind; but, under which, the grace and power of the Saviour mercifully preserved him from that despondency and despair, which, we understand, the nature of his complaint tended greatly to produce.
The following letters will give our Readers some information of the last days of this faithful minister, till a more detailed account can be prepared.
In prospect of his dissolution, Mr. Fuller thus writes to the Rev. Dr. Ryland:
Kettering, April 28th, 1815.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
We have enjoyed much together, which, I hope, will prove an earnest of greater enjoyment in another world. We have also wrought together in the Lord's vineyard, and he has given us to reap together in a measure in his vintage. I expect this is nearly over; but, I trust, we shall meet, and part no more. I have very little hope of recovery; but I am satisfied to drink of the cup which my Heavenly Father giveth me to drink! Without experience, no one can conceive of the depression of my spirits: yet I have no despondency. I know whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day. I am a poor guilty creature; but Jesus is an Almighty Saviour. I have preached and written much against the abuse of the doctrine of grace; but that doctrine is all my salvation, and all my desire. I have no other hope of salvation, than what arises from mere sovereign grace through the atonement of my Lord and Saviour: with this hope, I can go into eternity with composure. Come, Lord Jesus! Come when thou wilt, here I am; let him do with me as seemeth him good! If I should never more see your face in the flesh, I could wish one last testimony of our brotherly love and of the truth of the Gospel, to be expressed by your coming over and preaching my Funeral Sermon, if it can be, from Romans viii. 10. I can dictate no more;
But am, ever yours, very dear Sir, ANDREW FULLER.
Mr. W. Burls [Esq.] having witnessed the last hours of his highly valued friend, thus writes:
Kettering, 10th May, 1815.
The funeral of our departed friend, is to be on Monday next. Mr. Robert Hall is to speak at the grave, and Dr. Ryland to preach the Funeral Sermon. Respecting our dear friend, many will be disappointed as to his dying experience; so little being known of the feelings of his mind. While he was able to converse, the substance of what be said, was, - He had no raptitres, no despondency. His feelings were not so much in exercise as his judgment. A short time before he was so ill that he could not see, or converse with any one, he said to one of his deacons, "I am a great sinner, and if I am saved, it can only be by great and sovereign grace:" repeating the words very emphatically, "by great and sovereign grace!"
In the early part of the morning of the day, on which he died, he said to one of the family, just loud enough to be heard, "I wish I had strength to worship with you." By this he knew it was the Lord's day. He added, "My eyes are dim:" and he appeared to be nearly blind. For nearly half an hour before he expired he was thought to be in fervent prayer. Nothing could be made out of what he said,, except two words, which were supposed to be, "Help me!" He then struggled, sighed three times, fell back, and in five minutes expired. I have thought that the peculiar trait of his character was manifest in death. You know, that when he had an important object before him, he steadily pursued it, looking neither on this side nor on the other; but steady to that one object he pursued it with all his might. It was so with him, even in death. He had to grapple with the King of Terrors: he could think of nothing else: he felt he had nothing to do but to die; and, in his case, it was hard indeed: his sufferings were inexpressibly great: added to this, the lowering nature of the disorder, and that he suffered the more because of his great remaining natural strength to struggle with the fatal complaint. He was heard to say, putting his hand on his breast, "Oh, this deadly wound!" At another time, "All misery centres here." His son said, bodily misery, father?" "O yes," said he, "I can think of nothing else!" Well, my brother, it is over, all is over with him. The conflict is done. His rest and his reward were to be entered upon together. Of him it may be said:
"The labours of this mortal life
End in a large reward!"
I was the first person who announced his death to Mr. Robert Hall. He said, "A great man is fallen! I scarcely knew a man whose whole life has been so entirely, and laboriously devoted to the cause of God." - O, my brother, may our lives, through the divine blessing, be humbly, constantly, and zealously devoted to God, and our death we may well leave with him. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, whatever may be the circumstances attending their dying.
Yours, &c. W. B.
The remains of Mr. Fuller were interred on Monday, the 15th of May. The Rev. Mr. Toller, pastor of the independent church at Kettering, began in prayer; Dr. Ryland preached the funeral sermon according to the request of Mr. Fuller, from Romans viii. 10. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness:" and Mr. Hall delivered the oration.
At a meeting of the committee of the Baptist Missionary Society held at Luton, 17th of May, 1815, it was unanimously resolved, "That, in consequence of the lamented death of our invaluable secretary, the Rev. A. Fuller, Dr. Ryland be requested to discharge the business of secretary until the annual meeting of the society, to be held at Northampton in October next."
[From The Baptist Magazine, June, 1815, pp. 248-249.]
Obituary of Mrs. Andrew Fuller, 1825
Died, at Bristol, October 29, Anne, the Widow of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, aged 61 years. Her end was peace; possessing, as she emphatically said, "a good hope, through grace," of eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. By her own desire, her remains were removed to Kettering, and interred in the grave of her beloved husband.
[From The American Baptist Magazine, 1825, p. 522. Document from Google Books. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More on Andrew Fuller
Baptist History Homepage