Andrew Fuller.

Dialogues, letters, and essays, on various subjects. To which is annexed, An essay on truth online

. (page 1 of 18)
Online LibraryAndrew FullerDialogues, letters, and essays, on various subjects. To which is annexed, An essay on truth → online text (page 1 of 18)
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3 3433 06824335







Jn Inquiry into its Nature and Importaiice










•»*r»« -^^;^! i



Dialogue I. Oa the Peculiar turn of the Present Age, - - 5 ,

II, Importance of Truth, 11

III. Connexion between Doctrinal., Experimental,

and Practical Religion, 17

. IV. Moral Character of God, 21

V. Free-agency of Man, . - - 25^

yi. Goodness of the Moral Law, - • - - - - 31

VII. Antinomianism, - - - - - -.34

VIII. Human Depravity, - - - - -38

IX. Total Depravity of Human N»iture, - - - - 43

I.ETTER I. Total Depravity of Human Nature, - - - - 47

II. Objections answered, 55

III. The same subject continued, ...... 5C>

IV. Consequences resulting from the doctrine of Hu-

man Depravity, 63

V, The Ean^e subject continued, C'6



Tlie Nature of Eegeneraiion considered, - 7§

Degrees in Glory proportioned to works of piety, ... - 86

On the Unpardonable Sin, - -. - 91-

On the Ministry, .101

ThAiightson the manner in which Divine Truth is communica-
jcdin iheUol/Scripnu-=. - 1G3


Connexions in which the dcctrine of Election is introduced in

the Holy Scriptures, 2,39

On Evil Things which pass under Specious Names, • - - 115
The Deity of Christ essential to Atonement, - - - - 122

The Sonship of Christ, 128

Obedience and Death of Christ, I35

Necessity of scekir.g those things first, which of the first

importance, 138

Proper and Improper Use of Terms, 142



Three Conversations on Imputation, Substitution, and Parlic-

lar Redemption, - - 146

Convers. I. Imputation, 146

II. Substitution 160

III." Particular Redemption, IT'S

Answer to Three Qjierie",, 187

A Meditation on the Nature and Pro^resaiveness of the Heav-
enly Glory, ISO

ESSAY on TPlUTH ; containing an Inquiry into its Nature
and Iniporiance, hcs - - - 227


Fundamental Principles.




On the Peculiar tnrii of the Present Age.

CRISPUS. Good morning, my dear Gaius : I am
glad to see you. The world Is busy in grasping
wealth, in discussing politics, and in struggling for
dominion ; all trifles of a moment : let us retire from
the tumultuous scene, and discourse on subjects of
greater importance.

Galus, I am glad, my dear Crispus, to find your
-mind exercised on such subjects. The present agitat-
ed state of the world is doubtless a great temptation
to many to let go their hold of heavenly things, and
to bend their chief attention to subjects which origin-
ate and terminate in the present life.

Crisp. My mind of late has been much engaged on

divine subjects. I find in them a source of solid satis-

faction. Yet I must confess I feel as well a variety
of difficulties which 1 should be happy to have remov-
ed. I have often found your conversation profitable,
and should wish to avail myself of this and every other
opportunity for improving by it.

Gai. Suitable conversation on divine subjects is
commonly of mutual advantage ; and I must say there
is something, I know not what, in the countenance of
an inquisitive serious friend, which, as iron sharpeneth
iroiiy Vv'hets our powers, and draws forth observations
where, otherwise, they had never existed. I think
I have been as much indebted to you for asking per-
tinent questions, as you have been to me for answering

Crisp. I have been lately employed in reading the
works cf some of our first Reformers : and on com-
paring their times wltli the present, I have observed
that a concidcrabic difference has taken place in the
stPtc of the public mind. At tlie dawn of the Refor-
mation, the bulk of mankind were the devotees of
Eupcrstitipn, and stood ready to extirpate all those who
dared ro avow any religious principles different from
theirs. Even :l:e Reformers themiSelves, though they
inveighed against the persecuting spirit of the Pa-
pist?, yet seem to have been very severe upon one
another, and to have exercised too little christian for-
bearance, and too much of a spirit tJiat savoured of
nncliriitian bitterness towards those whose ideas of
rc'fdrmatlon did not exactly coincide with their own.
A great deal of their language, and some parts of
their conduct, would in the present day be thought

very censurable. Hov/ do you account for this
change ?

Gat. Were I to answer that the rights of conscience
have of late years been more clearly understood, and
that the sacred duty of benevolenccj irrespective of
the principles v^-hich men imbibe, has been more fre-
quently enforced, I should so far speak the truth.
And so far we have reason to congratulate the present
age upon its iniprovernent.

Crisp. Do ycu suppose there are other causes to
which such a change may be attributed ?

Gai. I do. Scepdcisraf and a general indiiTrrenco
to religion appear torr.e to have succeeded the bliiid
zeal and superstition of former ages. It has btea
observed, I thir.kbyDi. Goodwin, on that reraarkabl-j
phrase of the apcsile P.iul, 7\^ ivatkt^d ac:orji:i^< tj .■•c
course cf ihlstvor'dy First, that there is a coiuse which
lo" general, and cpnymon to all ages and places, and
vohich incluJes tlie gr.i.ifylng of the lusc oFthe flebii,
he lust of the eye, and the pride of life, the laying up
treasures on earih instead of heaven, &c. Secondly,
that there is a ccuriie which is more particular, and
which is incesrja'ntly varying according to time?, pla-
ces, and circumstances. Like the tide, it is ever roll-
ing, but in ciifiXjrent direcLions. In one age or country
it is this, in another that, and in a third different from
them both. The course of this world in the early
ages was a. course cf id cktry* In this direction it ran
until the days of Constantine, at which period the
prince of darkness found It impracticable in the civih-
z^^ parts of the earth, any longer to support the pa-


gan throne. The leaders In th6 Roman empire re-
solved to become Christians, and great numbers from
various motives followed their example. The tide
had then changed its direction : the profession of
Christianity was fashionable, was honorable, was the
high road to preferment. Satan himself, if I may so
speak, could now have no objection to turn Christian.
The external prcfesoion of religion became splendid
and pompous; but religio-n itself was gradually lost,
and a system of ignorance, superstition, and persecu-
tion was Introduced in Its place. For many centuries
the course gf this world, (I speak of the European
part of it,) was a course of "cpery ; and so powerful
was it tirat those who ventured to resist it did so at
the expense cf every thing tliat was dear to them on
earth. In this direction it ran till the .Reformation.
Since that period there has been another turning of
tlie tide. Seveial nations have become protestaiU ;
and yet the course of this world goes on, and Satan
has great infiaence amongst us. He has no objection
to our laughing at ^upersiition, provided that in any
form \vc remain the slaves of sin. Th.e world of late
years has not directed its course so immediately to-
wards superitiilon, as towards a criminal carelessness
and InfiJelity. Formerly the minds of men were so
bent on uniformity in religion as to require It in civil
society. Now they tend to the other extreme ; and
are for admitting any kind cf sentiments even into r^-
a^kus society. In short, the propensity of the world
\si this day is, to consider all religious principles what-
ever, and all forms cf worship, even those whicli are

of divine institution, as of little or no importance. It
is from this cause, I am afraid, Crispus, and not mere-
ly from abetter understanding of the rights of con-
science, that a great part of the lenity of the present
age arises.

Crisp. Be it so : yet the effect is friendly to man-
kind. If mutual forbearance amongst men arose from
a good motive, it v^ould indeed be better for those
who exercise it ; but let it arise from wkat motive it
may, it is certainly advantageous to- society.

Gat, Very true : but we should endeavor to have
laudable behaviour, if possible, arise from the purest
motives, tliat it may be approved of God as well as ad-
vantageous' to men.

Crisp. But do you think we are to expect as much
as this from the apostate race of Adam ? In the apos-
tle John's time the whole world was represented as ly-
ing in wickedness ; and, in fact, it has been so ever
since. Formerly its wickedness operated in a, way of
Intemperance : now it works In a way oi indifference. Of
the two does; not. the last seem to be the least injuria
ous I

Gat. It is> indeed the least injurious to our proper-
ty, our liberty, and our lives ; but with regard to our
spiritual interests it may be the reverse. Fashion, be
it what it may, will always, in some degree at least,
diffuse its influence through the minds of men, even
of those who are truly religious. The intemperance
of past ages gave to the temper of pious people, as
weV as others, a tinge of unchristian severity ; and

the indifference of the present time has I fear operat^-


ed with equal power, though in a dliFerent manner.
We ought to be thankful for our mercies j but at the
same time we should take heed lest we be carried away
by the course of this world.

Crisp. What evidence have we that religious peo-
ple are influenced by a spirit of indifference ?

Gai. The crying up of one part of religion at the
expense of another. You may often hear of practical
religion as being every thing ; and of speculative
opinions, (which is the fashionable name for doctrinal
sentiments,) as rti alters of very little consequence.
Because they are not cognizable by the civil magis-
trate, t^hey treat ihem as if they were of no account ;
and by opposing them to practical religion, the un-
wary are led to conclude that the one has no depend-
ence on the other. The effect of this has been, that
others, from an attachment to doctrinal principles,
have run to a contrary extreme. ; They write and
preach in favour of doctrines, and what are called the
privileges of the gospel, to the neg'lecf- of subjects
\\'\yc\ immediately relate'to piraetice. '-In other cir-
cles you may hear experience or experim.ental religion
extolled above all things, even at the expense of
christian practice and of sound doctrine. But really
the religion of Jesus ought not thus to be mangled and
torn to pieces Takeaway the doctrines of the gos-
'piil,' and you take away the food of Christians. In-
sist on them alone, and yoU trart^form us into reli-
giou!i e})i cures. And you may as .well talk of the
pleiinire you experience in eating when you are actual-
ly deprived of tustenance, or . of the exquisite enjoy-


mcnts of a state of total inactivity, as boast of exper-
imental religion unconnected with doctrinal and prac-
tical godliness. The conduct of a man who walks
with God appears to me to resemble that of the in-
dustrious husbandman who eats that he may be
strengthened to labour ; and who by labour is prepar-
ed to enjoy his food.

Crhp. Well, you have opened a field fof discussion.
The next time we meet we may intjuire further int©
these subjects. Gaius, Farewell.


On tJie Importance of Truth,

CRISPUS. In our last conversation, Gaius, you
made some remarks on the indifference of the present
age, with regard to religious principles, which struck
me forcibly ; I should be glad to know what degree
oi importance you ascribe to the leading doctrines,
or principles of Christianity.

Gaius. If you mean to ask, whether I consider the
belief of them as essentially necessary to the enjoy-
ment of good neighbourhood, or any of the just or
kind offices of civil society, I should certainly answer
in the negative. Benevolence is good-will to men ;
and, as far as good-will to them can consist v.'ith the
general good, we ought to exercise it towards them as
men, whatever be their principles or even their prac-


ticcs. But if y©ur question relate purely to religion,
I acknowledge that I consider a reception of the great
doctrines of Christianity, (in those who have opportu-
nity of knowing them.) as necessary to holiness, to
happiness, and to eternal life.

Crisp. If your ideas be just, they afford room for
very serious reflection. But will you not be subject
to great difficulties in deciding what those truths are,
and to what degree they must be believed ? You can-
not deny that even good men entertain different opin-
ions of what truth is, nor that those who receive the
truth receive it in very different degrees.

Gai. The same objection might be made to the ex-
press decision of Scripture, that 'without holiness no man
shall see the Lord. It might be said, you will find
great difficulties in deciding what trus holiness is, and
what degree of it is necessary to eternal life : For you
cannot (Jbny that even good men entertain different
opinions of what true holiness isj nor that those who-
are subjects of it possess it in very different degrees.

Crisp. And what would you answer to this objec-
tion ?

Gai. I should say, that no upright heart can be so in
the dark respecting the nature of true holiness, as to
make any essential mistake about it. Whether I can
determine, with metaphysical accuracy, the different
component parts of it, or not, yet, if I be. a true Chris-
tian, I shall feel it, I shall possess it, I fhall practise
it. As to determining what degree of it will carry
a man to heaven, that Is not our business. We do
not know to what extent divine mercy will reagh in


the forgiveness of sin ; but this may be said, that a
person may be assured he has no true holiness in hirti
at all, who rests contented with any degree of it short
of perfection.

Crisp. Will this answer apply to truth as well as to

holiness ?

Gai. Why not ? If the way of salvation be so
plain, that a ivayfaring man^ though a f col y shall not err
therein^ What can it be but prejudice that renders the
truth difficult to be understood ? He who does the ivill
ef God shall knoav of his doctrine. Surely then I may
say, that no one who is in a right temper of mind can
be £0 in the dark respecting what truth is, as to make
any essential mistake about It. Whether I can deter-
mine the question with accuracy, or not, yet, if I be
a Christian, the truth dwslleth in me. As to the precise
degree in which we must receive the truth in order to
be saved, it is not our business to decide. But this rs
incontestible, that he v.ho does'not £eek after the whole
of revealed truth, and sit as a little child at the feet of
his divine Instructor, the truth is not in him.

Crisp. But is it not easier to discover what holiness
is, than what truth is ?

Gai. I grant that conscience assists in determining
betwixt right and wrong, which it does not in m.any
things respecting truth and error. But if we were
entirely of God's side, we should find the revealed dic-
tates of truth as congenial to our hearts, as those of
righteousness are to our consciences : and in that
case the one would be as easily determined as the
other, .


'Crhp. Bu: is there not a 4iff^rcnce between the
importance cf believing the tFUth cf God, and that of
complying with his commands ?

Gai. You would not think more fiivo.urably of a
child who should discredit your testimony, than cf one
who sould disobey your authority ; and the same
Being, who declares that 'Sv'uhojit holiness no man shall
see tht Lord, hath declared that hd who iclisvith not the
record that God, hath given of his Son, hath made him a
dlar — that, he zuhp lelieveth not shall be damned !

■ Crisp, But should, every error or mistake to which
^fallible mortals are liable, be considered as unbelief,
'and as sulijccting us to damnation ?

Cat. By no riieans. There is a specific difference
Jsetween error and unbelief. The one is a misapprc-
Jiension cf what the divine testimony contains, the

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Online LibraryAndrew FullerDialogues, letters, and essays, on various subjects. To which is annexed, An essay on truth → online text (page 1 of 18)