Joseph Fuller, the nephew of Andrew Fuller, was eighteen years old when he died. His uncle, wrote a moving tribute to Joseph and provided this sermon sketch.
Sketch of a Sermon by Joseph Fuller, No. 1
The Baptist Magazine, 1813
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin. Galatians. iii. 23.
AWFUL conclusion! The mind shudders at the idea. What! all the inhabitants of this vast world a race of rebels under the condemning sentence of their great Creator! Our pride is shocked at the idea, our prejudices are alarmed and instantly rise in arms against it. But ah! in vain may pride revolt at this conclusion, in vain philanthropy may wish 'twas groundless, 'tis a conclusion too firmly established, and its evidence too strikingly apparent, to admit a doubt. Let us but closely and seriously examine the matter, and we shall find that however shocking to our feelings, however grating to our pride, 'tis a conclusion founded on the immutable basis of truth, and which it therefore becomes us rather seriously to consider than vainly to oppose.
According to the definition of the Apostle "sin is the transgression of the law," that is, the law of God, the universal and eternal standard of moral rectitude. Let us then take this law, and by a comparison of our conduct with its sacred precepts we must quickly be convinced of our deficiency, and be compelled to acknowledge that it is with justice "the scripture hath concluded all under sin."
I. As it respects our duty towards God. This is concisely yet very comprehensively summed up for us in the language of the Saviour, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." God must therefore have the supreme place in our affections, every other object, however near or dear, must be regarded only with a subordinate attachment. He only should possess our hearts, from him alone should we seek all our happiness, on him alone should we place all our dependance, and to his glory alone should we devote the whole of our lives. In short, attachment to him should be the governing principle of our whole conduct by which every action should be regulated. But has this really been the case? In fact, with the far greater part of mankind, instead of maintaining the supreme place in their affections, it may be truly said, "God was not in all their thoughts." Regard to him has never influenced any of their plans, or governed any of their actions. They have thought and acted as though there was no such a being, and the whole course of their lives has been a practical denial of his existence. And even the best of characters, when weighed in this balance, will be found awfully defective. In their best feelings has been mingled a great deal of imperfection, and they have never been able to act up to their principles. Firmly persuaded that God alone was worthy of their supreme regard, they have yet too often permitted other objects to engross their minds, and draw their souls from him, almost every object has thus proved an occasion of sin; those blessings which if rightly used, could only have inspired fresh sentiments of gratitude to their Creator, have proved the means of alienating their affections from him. Firmly persuaded that in him alone was the great fountain of their happiness, they have nevertheless been too prone to seek for it in other objects. "They have forsaken him, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which could hold no water." Firmly persuaded that his glory was the only object worthy their supreme pursuit, they have nevertheless been too frequently drawn away from its pursuit by other objects. Pleasure has allured them astray, difficulties have disheartened them, and dangers intimidated them, nor have they ever pursued it with half the ardor so noble an object demands.
And who is there that can plead not guilty? May I not appeal to each of your consciences as to the justice of this conclusion, as far at least as it respects yourselves? Instead of giving God the supreme place in your affections, have not a thousand objects been permitted to usurp his throne? Have not mere trifles been sufficient to draw away your minds from him, and even when prostrate before his throne, have they not been sufficient to interrupt your communion and pollute your service? Instead of looking to him for all your happiness, have you not been ready to seek for it in every other object? And if the Almighty, jealous of his honour, has taken away the object of your idolatry, have not your hearts rebelled against him, have not you thought and acted as though the only source of your happiness was dried up, has not the language of your conduct been "ye have taken away my gods, and. what have I more?" Instead of aiming to promote his glory in all your actions, can you say that in half of them you have so much as thought of it, and even when the thought has entered your mind, has it not been too frequently overruled by other considerations? .Are not these facts undeniable? In this respect therefore you must be compelled to acknowledge that justly has "the scripture concluded all under sin."
But if we come to the second table of the law and compare our conduct with its precepts -
II. As it respects our duty towards our fellow-creatures, we shall find this conclusion equally well established. The precepts, of the law upon this head are also briefly and conspicuously summed up for us in the language of our Saviour, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself" This rule as it applies to conduct is also expressed in another place, "therefore all things whatsoever ye would men should do unto, you, so do ye unto them, for thus is the Law and the Prophet*.'* Such is the precept of the law, a precept which from its perspicuity and justice we should [r]easonably have thought must have instantly recommended itself to the mind of every one. But ah! How widely different the conduct of mankind. If we take a view of public affairs, and look into the history of nations, the mind is struck with one continued scene of iniquity, bloodshed and desolation. Each state, each party, each individual, regardless of the general good, pursuing their own private end of ambition, avarice, or revenge. Countries ravaged, nations extirpated, to gratify the ambition of a tyrant, or the hatred of a rival. If tired with this scene, the mind retires to more private life, she meets with but tin: repetition of die same in miniature, the same opposition of interests, the same spirit of self-love, ambition, envy, and malevolence, is manifest.
And who is there that stands acquitted of these things? If we examine our own hearts, if we examine our own conduct, must we not be obliged to confess that the same evil tempers have too often raged in our bosoms, and been displayed in our conduct? Thus then, whether we examine our spirit and conduct towards God, or towards our fellow-creatures, we find ourselves justly condemned, and justly has "the scripture concluded all under sin."
Surely this is a truth which demands our most serious consideration. Do not content yourself with the bare acknowledgement of it: do not dismiss it with carelessly saying "well we are all sinners." Oh! remember and lay it to heart, that you yourself are a sinner, "concluded under sin." And what is that? Are you aware of the full import of this sentence? To be under sin is to be under the wrath of God - that God who is a consuming fire. If then you value your own soul, let not this subject be treated with lightness. If you have any regard to your immortal interests "flee from the wrath to come." Happily for you a way is opened for your escape, the Saviour stands with open arms ready to receive you; to him therefore flee and be saved. Nor let your anxiety be confined to yourself; "the scripture hath concluded all under sin." All therefore demand your sympathy, and it becomes your duty to exert yourself on their behalf, and to unite with your fellow-christians in every attempt to diffuse that blessed volume, which alone reveals, a way for their redemption.
[From The Baptist Magazine, London, March 1813, p. 100-103. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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