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 2.
The Baptist Magazine, 1813
By one man's disobedience many were made sinners. Romans v. 19.
"Lo these are part of his ways, but how little a portion of them is known," must be the conclusion of our most accurate and diligent researches into the works and ways of God. In all of them we behold a mysteriousness most admirably calculated to manifest our ignorance, reprove our pride, check our presumption, and convince us of our littleness. The works of nature are full of mystery. To account for its commonest operations is beyond our power. The growth of a blade of grass presents enough to baffle and confound the most profound Philosopher. We are a mystery to ourselves; if we consider our bodies, "they are fearfully and wonderfully made;" but if from hence we rise to view the mind, the nobler part of man, we are lost in mystery. The union of the soul and body is inscrutable, their influence on each other is past our comprehension. Indeed the soul itself is a mystery of which we cannot even form an idea without the assistance of material images.
Such is the mysteriousness in which every part of the natural world is involved; how unreasonable then must it be to object to the same in the moral. If even the book of nature is full of it, how can we expect the book of revelation to be free? If even the common operations of God's providence are inscrutable to us, how can we think ourselves competent to decide upon his moral government? Such, however, is the folly, of human nature: "Vain man would be wise, though he be born like the wild ass's colt." Though he cannot account for the movement of his own finger, he thinks himself competent to decide upon the proceedings of divine providence, and dictate what is just or unjust on the part of his Maker. Under the influence of this spirit he has even dared to reject the plainest facts of the divine word, because he could not reconcile them to his narrow notions of justice and propriety.
From this source have arisen the principal objections to the doctrine of our text. It is indeed a doctrine equally mysterious and humbling, and if we come to its examination in a proud, caviling [sic], presumptuous spirit, we are not likely to meet with satisfaction. There are many enquiries which such a mind would make on which he could obtain no satisfaction, and which the scripture does not condescend to answer. Nothing is said on this subject, or indeed on any other, to gratify impertinent curiosity or satisfy presumptuous enquiry. It barely relates the fact, but does not seek to reconcile it with our ideas of propriety. If we object, its only answer is, "who art thou that repliest against God?" and this in fact is the only answer which it can with propriety make, for it is beneath the dignity of the great Lord of all to be arraigned at our tribunal. Nor does it relate any more of the fact than is necessary for us to know. If then we would examine this great doctrine with any degree of satisfaction or profit, we must carefully guard against the influence of such a spirit; we must be content with what the scripture has revealed, and keep those ends in view for which it is revealed. Instead of cavilling at the doctrine, it becomes us carefully to consider and improve it.
In directing your attention for a few minutes to this subject, I would have you briefly consider –I. The relation which Adam sustained;I. Then, we may briefly consider the relation which Adam sustained towards the rest of mankind. He was the head and representative of all his race, on whose conduct God saw fit to suspend their future character and condition. His perseverance in the path of righteousness would have insured their purity and happiness, while the consequence of his transgression was their depravity and misery. The enemies of this doctrine have been loud and violent in their objections to the justice of such a relation; nor need we wonder at it: a love of independence is natural to the human mind, we are fond of thinking ourselves independent, and lothe to admit any thing which opposes such a thought; but even without admitting this doctrine, are we in fact the independent creatures we suppose? On the contrary, is it not evident that a thousand circumstances, which we have no hand in determining, contribute their influence in the formation of our tempers, our habits, our characters? This is an undeniable fact, to attribute injustice to it, is to arraign the conduct of the great Governour of the universe? But if there be no injustice in the influence of these circumstances, how can we charge injustice on the influence of one in particular? The same answer may be given to another objection which has been frequently urged against it, that it is inconsistent with the free agency of a rational creature; for unless it can be proved that it is inconsistent with the free agency of man that his conduct should be at all influenced by any circumstances which he has no hand in determining, it will be impossible to show how the influence of this circumstance in particular should be inconsistent with our free agency. This relation therefore cannot be chargeable with injustice, nor is it at all inconsistent with our free agency. Nor was Adam an improper person for sustaining it, which will appear if we consider
II. The qualifications he possessed for sustaining it;
III. The manner in which he discharged his trust; and—
IV. The awful consequences of his failure.
II. The qualifications he possessed for sustaining such a relation. The situation in which he was placed as the first of our race, the father of mankind, made it peculiarly proper that, if any, he should sustain this relation; nor was he deficient in any thing necessary for the right discharge of the trust reposed in him; He possessed a mind capable of discerning what was the course he should pursue, and what he should avoid; he was not unacquainted with the consequences of his conduct. His mind was not under any evil bias, for the scriptures uniformly declare that. God made him upright, he formed him in the image of himself. In short, he wanted no advantage which was consistent with a state of probation.
We come next to consider - III. The manner in which he discharged his trust. The plain account of this matter we have recorded in the third of Genesis. Adam had been placed by his Creator in the midst of a beautiful garden. All the fruit of which he was permitted to enjoy, except of the tree which was in the midst of the garden, from which, as an acknowledgement of his dependence [sic] and a test of his obedience, he was prohibited. The whole he owed unto the divine goodness, to be debarred from one was but a very small acknowledgement to him who was the great proprietor of all. Nor could a milder test of his fidelity have been proposed. Satan, however, determined if possible to seduce him from his obedience, and alas! he was but too successful in the base attempt. There was but one small prohibition, and that prohibition he prevailed upon him to transgress. The woman first tastes the forbidden fruit, and then becomes the tempter to her husband; she gives unto her husband and he eats; the work is now complete, the great decision's past, man has violated his duty, revolted from his allegiance, and disclaimed the authority of his Maker; a sudden close is put to his original glory and innocence, he is become a fallen guilty creature. And now we come to view, lastly,
IV. The awful consequences of his failure. Awful indeed they were beyond description. Not only was this the introduction of natural evil into our world, not only have we by it been subjected to affliction, misery, disease, and death. It was also the introduction of moral evil, corruption, and depravity. Hence have we derived a spirit of alienation from God, of enmity to him, his character, his law and government. This lamentable spirit has not been confined to one dark age or people of the earth, it has displayed itself in every age and nation under heaven; it has not been confined to the most Ignorant and profligate; in every age and nation all have experienced its baleful influence; "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Nor has it had a partial influence on each, the whole frame has been corrupted by it, all the powers of the mind have been debased. "The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint." The understanding darkened, the conscience hardened, the will perverted, the passions enslaved to sin, earthly, sensual, devilish, the heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Here has been the origin of all that confusion and mischief which the history of mankind displays. Hence all their false religion, "men have changed the glory of God into the image of corruptible man,” forsaking the true God, they have formed to themselves gods after their own heart, abominable and depraved, to these they have paid a worship equally abominable. Hence have arisen all the corruptions of the gospel, "men have loved darkness rather than light because their deeds have been evil;" they have chosen error rather than truth because it has best agreed with their corrupt dispositions. Hence ail the atrocities men have displayed in their conduct toward each other. Man has stretched out his arm against the life of his fellow man. Earth has been deluged with human blood, one nation after another has arisen to butcher and tyrannize over the rest of mankind. Men and nations have even measured their own greatness by the number of enemies they have slaughtered, of armies they have conquered, of countries they have ravaged, of nations they have extirpated. Such are the awful consequences of the fall, such the dire torrent of iniquity and mischief it has introduced into our world. A torrent which long ago swept the old world to hell, and which is daily conveying its thousands to the same abode, a torrent the impetuosity of which tire power of divine grace alone is able to oppose.
Conclusion. Let us beware of abusing this representation of things, let us not lay our own fault upon Adam, and excuse ourselves by charging all on him. Whatever be the nature of our connection with Adam, we are not thereby compelled to sin contrary to our own will; on the contrary, it is the will, the heart itself which is the seat of our depravity; our transgression of the divine law is not from the want of any natural ability, but from the want of a holy disposition, we have hereby taken part with Adam in his rebellion, and we are justly exposed to condemnation for our own evil dispositions and actions, it is in vain for us to say we have derived them from Adam, these dispositions are in themselves radically sinful, and can never be made innocent by the manner hi which we come by them. I cannot close without directing your attention to Jesus, the second Adam, who came to repair the ruins of the first, he has opened a way by which we yet maybe restored to holiness and happiness; though guilty and defiled, his blood can wash away our stains; though unholy and depraved, his spirit can renew and sanctify us; let us then, convinced of our disease, apply to the great physician of souls for our cure; aware of our danger, let us flee to the rock of ages for shelter; sensible of our pollution, let us fly to the fountain that is opened for sin and uncleanness ; thus only can we recover from our ruin and be delivered from that dreadful state into which we have fallen.
[From The Baptist Magazine, London, April 1813, p. 138-143. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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