The complete works of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) are now on the market, probably for the first time this century. They are strongly recommended by Sword and Trowel as “a magnificent collection of moving sermons and longer works,” and are sold by the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
It will be remembered that William Gadsby felt strongly moved to denounce “Fullerism,” and really the separation at the time of Gadsby, Warburton and Kershaw and their followers was in opposition to Fuller’s teaching.
What, then, was the teaching of Fuller?
Really he taught that redemption is indefinite, neither general nor particular, and emphasized man’s duty savingly to repent and believe: “If the satisfaction of Christ was in itself sufficient for the whole world, there is no further propriety in asking, Whose sins were imputed to Christ? or, For whom did He die as a substitute?”
We recommend William Rushton’s A Defence of Particular Redemption — whose sub-title is “Wherein the doctrine of Andrew Fuller relative to the atonement of Christ is tried by the Word of God.” (This little book is obtainable from Gospel Standard Trust Publications.)
It was against Fullerism that William Gadsby so strongly protested, and it was the infiltration of Fullerism into the old Particular Baptist denomination which, on the one hand, led to our churches coming into being as a separate group, and, on the other hand, the other churches moving towards generalism.
We were, therefore, very sorry to read a review (Evangelical Times, August) of a book on Baptist history (1688 to early 19th century) which, having spoken of “the deadening effect of ‘high Calvinism/ and the implications of the views of Dr. Gill . . . this deviation from biblical Christianity,” ended: “One thing is evident, the overall spiritual condition of the [Particular Baptist] churches was deplorable by the time that the Lord raised up Fuller, Booth, Carey, and their colleagues. Nowhere was the evangelical revival more needed than among the Particular Baptists.”
To say the least, this is a rash and doubtful statement.
It was gratifying, therefore, to read a reply which confirmed our opinion of the unsoundness of Fuller’s writings when we first read them many years ago. We wonder how many present day Reformed Baptists who exalt Andrew Fuller have ever actually read his Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation!
He comments on the disparaging statements concerning “that great saint John Gill,” and from his own study of the works of Fuller concludes:
“Gill preached the fallen nature of man, a holy and unchangeable God, free grace, a full redemption in Christ and a partaking of His imputed righteousness. Fuller believed these doctrines had made a ‘dunghill1 of the Baptist Movement and sought to make its theology ‘less contemptible. 1 How he did so can be read in his books The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation and Dialogues, Letters and Essays ….
Fuller denies the redemptive nature of Christ’s atonement and looks upon His death merely as a sign of God’s moral displeasure against sin. The shedding of Christ’s blood to pay the debt of sin is a mere “metaphor’ and not to be taken literally. Christ did not really become sin for the sinner’s sake and the elect sinner does not really become righteous through Christ’s indwelling in the new man.”
We have felt it right only to include those things we ourselves have personally observed.
We wonder if those who make so much of Andrew Fuller and exalt his position in church history know what he really did believe?
May our young people be warned and stick fast to Gadsby and Kershaw.
By B.A. Ramsbottom