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'Yes! there is solace for those hearts which brood, -
Our last extract shall be taken from the dcscript: n. of the Dover's Prescience of an unknown mistress.
'Ah! what the pause of being can supply,
Vain all the loveliness which others wear,
'Yet o'er his search some hand unseen presides;
* Soon as her first light whisper steals around,
We may safely leave these quotations to bear their own testimony to the Author's talents.
Art. VI. Memoirs of tJu JJtfe and Writings of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, late Pastor of the Baptist Church at Kettering, and Secretary to the Baptist Missionary Society. By J. W. Morris. Svo. pp. viii. 496. Price 12s. Hamilton. 1816
addition to our stores of ecclesiastical biography, that is executed with tolerable ability, we deem highly valuable. It is not only as furnishing examples of excellence, that the memoirs of persons eminent for their piety or usefulness, claim to be made public; but on account of the light which documents of this description tend to throw on the religious history of the period to which they refer, and their importance as data to future writers, in tracing the progress of opinions, and illustrating their influence on Society. The minute record of circumstances and transactions which, but for their connexion with the immediate subject of such memoirs, would soou pass into oblivion, often proves of great value, when we carry our researches even for a little way back into the past, with a view to ascertain the intellectual and moral character of the Times. And how soon will the Present Times become history!
We think Mr. Morris has done the public a service, in compiling the present volume. The incidents of Mr. Fuller's life were few: his eminent labours and his numerous writings, supply, however, ample materials for interesting biography.
Andrew Fuller was born on the 6th of February, 1754, at Wicken, a small village in Cambridgeshire. He was not indebted either to eminence of birth, or to fortunate patronage, for any part of his subsequent reputation. His earlier years were diversified only by the commission of crimes and follies too common to childhood and youth; succeeded by those moral convictions, sometimes deepened into horror and remorse, which often result from the natural operations of conscience. In his sixteenth year, these convictions had assumed a more enlightened and commanding character, and they issued eventually, in his cordially embracing the doctrine and the promise of the Gospel.
He attributes to the preaching which he then heard, the prolongation of the terror and disquietude with which the deep consciousness of his guilt had filled his mind. 'If, at that time,1 to use his own impressive language, '1 had known that any 'poor sinner might warrantably have trusted in the Saviour • of sinners for salvation, I conceive I should have done so, 'and have found rest to my soul sooner than I did.' p. 14. The sufii'rings of his mind uuder the agitation by these distressing exercises, seem to have qualified him to state with distinctness, as he afterwards did, the errors and disadvantages of the system from which they emanated.
The following year introduced him to the Baptist church at Sohaui. Mr. F. entered into this connexion with all the ardent eagerness and affection of a recent convert. It afforded him considerable pleasure, but proved to be of very transient duration. A division in the church, amounting almost to a dissolution, shortly ensued. By slow and progressive steps, he was led to settle as their minister among the few members that remained. The first seven years of his pastoral labours were spent in the retirement and obscurity of Soham, and among a people who were few in number and whose means were incompetent to his support. It was during his residence here, that he imbibed those views which are conspicuous in "The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation." Hitherto, he had been the disciple of Gill and Brine; but perceiving a discordancy between some of their leading sentiments and the sacred writings, he sedulously prosecuted his inquiries concerning the points on which they differed, and they eventually terminated in his renouncing his adherence to the peculiarities of the opinions of these two writers. A corresponding change in the character of his preaching naturally resulted from the change his religious sentiments had undergone, and from the adoption of those views which in after life he maintained, and aWy 'defended.
In the year 1782, Mr. Fuller removed from Soham, to Kettering, in Northamptonshire. It would seem, that Providence had been wisely preparing him, in his former retreat, for this wider sphere of action. His judgement had been exercised and strengthened, and his powers of action had acquired a ripeness and maturity, which qualified him to discharge with success the arduous duties that attached to the distinguished situation in which he was about to be placed.
The year 1792 was a year replete with interest to Mr. Fuller and to India. In the office of Secretary to the Baptist Mission, which originated at that time, his energetic mind found an object commensurate with its almost boundless capacities and ardour. In the pursuit of the objects connected with the welfare of this Mission, he found his highest joy, and, eventually, his grave.
'The labours/ says Mr. Morris, 'which the barren years of this mission, as well as its future periods of success and extension, occasioned to Mr. Fuller, it is not easy to enumerate. They were witnessed by others, and heard of from them, though he dwelt little upon them in his own conversation. But the consultations which he held—the correspondence he maintained—the personal solicitations which he employed—the contributions he collected—the management of these and other funds—the selection, probation, and improvement of intending missionaries—the works which he composed and compiled on these subjects,—the discourses lie delivered^—and the journeys he accomplished, to extend the knowledge and to promote the welfare of the mission, required energy almost unequalled.' 'In short, the history of Mr. Fuller's life for the last three and twenty years, was so completely identified with that of the mission, that all its principal transactions must be referred to his agency. He was of himself a host, and no one man can supply his place. The mission to India was in a great measure his own production; he formed and moulded it with exquisite skill, watched over and directed all its movements, and seemed to be present in every place where its effects were visible. It grew up with him, and was inwrought into the very elements and constitution of his mind; he seemed to have no thoughts, no cares, but what related to its interests. In serving the mission, he had no idea of sparing himself; but while his health was constantly impaired by the greatness of his exertions, he persevered in them with unabating ardour to the verylast. He appears indeed to have expected that these labours would have cost him his life, but it affected him not; and had it not been for the unusual strength and vigour of his constitution, he would have fallen a sacrifice much sooner than he did.**—Memoir, pp. 107,156^ 157.
After some months of previous indisposition, the arduous and truly honourable career of this excellent man, terminated on the morning of the Lord's day, May the 7th, 1815.
Although many of our readers must have read the statements of his last moments, which have been very extensively circulated, we cannot deny ourselves the melancholy pleasure of putting them upon record in our Journal.
'As his end drew near, he complained of great depression and sinking, saying he must die. A friend replied, ' I know of no person, Sir, who is in a more happy situation than yourself; a good man, on the verge of a blessed immortality.' Mr. Fuller humbly acquiesced, and hoped it was so. He afterwards lifted up his hands, and exclaimed, "I am a great sinner, and if I am saved, it must be by great and sovereign grace—by great and sovereign grace!"
* His mind continued full of hope; and though he felt nothing approaching to rapture, yet the closing scene was such as strikingly displayed the triumph of his faith. Dropping now and then a few words, he was heard to say that he had nothing to do but to die— and again repeated, "I know whom I have believed." At another time he expressed himself in his own energetic manner, saying, " My hope is such, that I am not afraid to plunge into eternity.''
'The general vigour of his constitution providing a resistance to the violence of the disease, rendered his sufferings peculiarly severe; and towards the last, the conflict assumed a most formidable aspect. Placing his hand on the diseased part, the sufferer exclaimed, " Oh, this deadly wound!" At another time, "All misery centres here-!*' Being asked whether he meant bodily misery; he replied, "Oh yes-: I can think of nothing else!" His bilious sickness becoming almost incessant, allowed but few opportunities of conversing with his friends; and of course, little could be known of his dying experience. The following detached sentences, which dropped at different intervals, indicate the general state of his mind during the lost days of his illness:
"I feel satisfaction that my times are in the Lord's hands. I have been importuning the Lord, that whether I live it may be to him, or whether I die it may be to him. Flesh and heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."
"Into thy hands I commit my spirit, my family, and my charge. I have done a little for God; but all that I have done needs forgiveness. I trust in sovereign grace and mercy alone. God is my supporter and my hope. I would say, not my will, but thine be done. God is my soul's eternal rock, the strength of every saint. I am a poor sinner, and my only hope is in the Saviour of sinners.*'
'He repeated more than once, "My breath is corrupt—my days are extinct." Frequently during his affliction, he said, "My mind is calm: no raptures—no despondency. At other times he said, "1 am not dismayed. My God, my Saviour, my Refuge, to thee I commit my spirit. Take me to thyself—Bless those I leave behind."
* At length, on the morning of the Lord's day, May 7, 1815, the summons came to call him to his rest, in the sixty-second year of his age. Aware that it was the sabbath, he said to an attendant, just loud enough to be heard, "I wish 1 had strength to worship with you." He added, " My eyes are dim:" and he appeared to be nearly blind. From eleven till about half past eleven o'clock, during the morning service, sitting up in bed, he was observed to be engaged in prayer; but only two words were distinctly audible—" Help me!' At the close of the prayer, he struggled—fell back—sighed three times—and in five minutes expired. His hands were clasped in death, as in the attitude of prayer.'—pp. 4-6(>, 462.
Reserving to the close of this article our general estimate of Mr. Fuller's character, and also of the obligations due from the public to Mr. M., as his biographer, we shall proceed to make some observations on two of the controversies in which Mr. F. was engaged. And of these, we select the first on account of the variety of discussion to which it gave rise, and the several points of light in which it was placed: the latter, as it stands foremost in importance among his controversial labours. Our notices much of necessity be brief, and can display only the prominent points in litigation.
In point of time, the controversy on Faith was the first in which Mr. F. engaged. The light which he diffused over this subject, and the effects which have arisen out of the controversy, are manifest and striking. For though, in the first instance, it was contemplated as an isolated topic of debate, in the progress of the discussion it was found to sustain an intimate and vital connexion with the duties of the Christian ministry, and with
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