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7/25/2004

Timely Advice from 1785 

From Andrew Fuller, one of the most influential theologians/pastors in Baptist history.
Christians are said to be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth -- do we answer these characters?  Is the world enlightened by us?  Does a savor of Christ accompany our spirit and conversation?  Our business, as Christians, is practically to be holding forth the word of life.  Have we, by our earnestness, sufficiently held forth its importance, or by our chaste conversations, coupled with fear, its holy tendency?  Have we all along, by a becoming firmness of spirit, made it evident that religion is no low, mean or dastardly business?  Have we by a cheerful complacency in God's service, gospel, and providence sufficiently held forth the excellency of his government and the happy tendency of his holy religion?  Doubtless, the most holy and upright Christians in these matters will find great cause for reflection, and room for amendment; but there are not many who scarcely ever think about them, or, if they do, it only ammounts to this, to sigh, and go backward, resting satisfied with a few lifeless complaints, withouth any real and abiding efforts to have things otherwise?
from his letter "Causes of declension in religion, and means of revival

Fuller wrote that letter at a time of spiritual downturn for the church.  Attendance was low, membership was lukewarm, and nobody seemed to know what to do about it.  Sound familiar?  As I read the letter, it struck me that Fuller could be writing to us, today, about our situation.  We live in a time of increased learning, yet we learn little of the things of God.  What we do learn is rarely applied, as if God's Truth is for another time.  Fuller writes that if we are to make a difference in our world, we must take God's truth and make it real in our own lives.  Be salt.  Be light.

Salt doesn't only season a portion of a dish -- it lends its taste to the whole thing.  We cannot only be salt on Sunday.  We must be salt 24-7-365.  There are no furloughs in God's army; no three-day-passes.  We have been called to make a difference in this world, and there are a lot of people slacking.

I'd challenge everyone who reads this to thing about what Fuller wrote.  People listened to him in his day.  The immediate result was a time of concerted, dedicated prayer for souls, and for a revival of the church.  The long-term goal was a little something historians call the Second Great Awakening.  Sounds like Fuller knew what he was talking about.  I think he still has something to say to us, if we'd only listen to him.




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