Fuller, Andrew

Fuller, Andrew perhaps the most eminent and influential of Baptist theologians, was born February 6, 1754, at Wicken, Cambridgeshire, England. His opportunities for education were scanty, and his subsequent attainments as a theologian resulted from the activity of a mind naturally vigorous working earnestly on no very ample materials. He was baptized in 1770, began preaching in 1774, and in 1775 became pastor of a church in Soham. His doctrinal system at this time was unsettled. The prevailing type of opinion then prevalent among the Baptists was an exorbitant Calvinism, verging to an Antinomian and fatalistic extreme. It was deemed necessary to a consistent orthodoxy for a preacher to avoid offering freely to all men the invitation of the Gospel. Dr. Gill (q.v.) was the standard of doctrinal soundness. Fuller states that Gill and Bunyan were authors to whom he was much indebted. He gradually found that they did not agree, and still more was he impressed with the practical difference between the accepted teaching and the New Testament. In 1776 he became acquainted with Messrs. Ryland and Sutcliffe, names to be afterwards honorably associated with his in the foreign missionary work. The works of the New England theologians, particularly Edwards and Bellamy, confirmed him in the views to which his ftind had been tending. The change in the spirit of his preaching awakened violent opposition. His congregation, however, increased, and the effects of his doctrine confirmed his faith in it. In 1782 he removed to Kettering, which was the scene of his labors to the close of life. Here, in 1784, he gave deliberate expression to his views in the treatise, The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation. In the same year he concerted with his friend Sutcliffe a meeting for united prayer for the revival of religion and the conversion of the world — the origin of the "Monthly Concert." Out of these counsels grew the missionary movement under the leadership of Carey (q.v.), in which, as secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, Mr. Fuller bore a laborious and responsible part. In 1793 appeared his celebrated treatise, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems compared. Princeton College in 1795, and Yale in 1805, conferred upon him the degree of D.D., which he modestly declined. He died May 7, 1815. His other works are, 3. The Gospel its own Witness (1800): — 4. Dialogues, Essays, and Letters: — 5. Exposition of Genesis: — 6. The Great Question answered (1806): — 7. Strictures on Sandemanianism (1809): — 8. Sermons on various Subjects: — 9. Exposition of the Revelation: — 10. Letters on Communion (1815). His writings are marked by solid force of reasoning, plainness and simplicity of statement, and an ingenuous candor. In reference to his unaffected style, he has been called "the Franklin of theology." Without the opportunity to become a critical student of the Scriptures, he is a better Biblical theologian than many whose scholarship he could not aspire to. For his theological position, see the article CALVINISM SEE CALVINISM. — Works, with Life prefixed, 5 volumes, London, 1831; also 1853 imp. 8vo; more complete edition, edited by Belcher, 3 volumes, Philadel. (L.E.S.)

 
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