(By: John Miller)
Last week we considered some of the shaping influences upon Andrew Fuller and his thinking. This week we will consider how these influences worked themselves out in Fuller’s life, especially in his contribution to bring Particular Baptists back to an evangelical Calvinism.
In 1781, Andrew Fuller began to write down his own refutation of High Calvinism, which was a much fuller and more detailed exposition of the topic. Though Fuller wrote the work for his own benefit and had no intention of publishing it, due to the urging of his friends he did end up publishing the work as The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation in 1785. From the very beginning of this work, Fuller refutes the High Calvinist notion that it is improper to exhort unconverted men to spiritual duties, though one can exhort them to unspiritual duties. As Fuller states:
God requires the heart, the whole heart, and nothing but the heart; that all the precepts of the Bible are only the different modes in which we are required to express our love to him; that, instead of its being true that sinners are obliged to perform duties which have no spirituality in them, there are no such duties to be performed; and that, so far from their being exhorted to every thing excepting what is spiritually good, they are exhorted to nothing else. The Scriptures undoubtedly require them to read, to hear, to repent, and to pray, that their sins may be forgiven them. It is not, however, in the exercise of a carnal, but of a spiritual state of mind, that these duties are performed.
It the first part of the work, Fuller shows the importance of the subject, and how one of the great errors of the High Calvinist position is that it makes the object of faith to be faith itself. In other words, it makes faith to “terminate principally on something within us; namely, the work of grace in our hearts,” rather than “terminating on something without us; namely, on Christ.” In the second part of the work, Fuller presents particular arguments to prove it is the duty of all men who hear the gospel to believe in Christ. In this section Fuller expounds various pertinent passages of Scripture: Psalm 2:11-12; Isaiah 4:1-7; Jeremiah 6:16; John 5:23, 6:29, and 12:36. He also displays his reliance upon Jonathan Edwards, by employing the distinction between natural and moral inability from Edwards’ Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will. In the third part of the work Fuller answers several objections. For example, some object to declaring faith in Christ to be the duty of sinners because they believe it is contrary to the Scriptural teaching of election. Fuller responds by showing that both concepts are taught in Scripture, and must be held together, even if we cannot fully understand how the two fit together. Fuller concludes by stating that it is certainly the duty of all men to repent and believe the gospel, and more pointedly that “it is the duty of ministers not only to exhort their carnal auditors to believe in Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls; but IT IS AT OUR PERIL TO EXHORT THEM TO ANYTHING SHORT OF IT, OR WHICH DOES NOT INVOLVE OR IMPLY IT.”
This contribution of Andrew Fuller was one of the key instruments God used to turn the Particular Baptists of England away from High Calvinism and back to the evangelical Calvinism they first held. The convictions expressed in this work “led directly to Fuller’s whole-hearted commitment to the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792 and his role as secretary of this society till his death in 1815.” From this Missionary Society, men like William Carey and John Thomson were sent to foreign countries to proclaim the duty of sinners to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the recovery of evangelical Calvinism that gave Particular Baptists the theological foundation from which to impact the world around them. For this reason, men like Andrew Fuller should not be forgotten. As Thomas Chalmers stated:
Let it never be forgotten of the Particular Baptists of England, that they form the denomination of Fuller and Carey and Ryland and Hall and Foster; that they have organized among the greatest of all missionary enterprises; that they have enriched the Christian literature of our country with authorship of the most exalted piety, as well as of the first talent and the first eloquence;…that perhaps there is not a more intellectual community of ministers in our islands, or who have put forth for their number a greater amount of mental power and mental activity in the defense and illustration of our common faith; and – which is far better than all of the triumphs of genius or understanding – who, by their zeal and fidelity and pastoral labor among congregations they have reared, have done more to swell the list of genuine discipleship in the walks of private society – and thus to both uphold and extend the living Christianity of our nation.
 Andrew Fuller, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 2, Controversial Publications (1845, reprint, Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 332.
 Ibid., 334.
 Ibid., 387.
 Michael A. G. Haykin, The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller (Dundas, Ontario: Joshua Press, 2001), 35.
Michael A. G. Haykin, One Heart and One Soul: John Sutcliff of Olney, His Friends and His Times (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1994), 7.