John Jones

The History Of Fullerism

Earthen Vessel 1861:

The Question Of Duty-Faith 

[The question on whether it be the duty of unregenerate sinners to believe on Christ to the saving of their souls] has been irrefutably, because scripturally, answered again and again, by most able writers in their day and generation. I have a treatise on the subject, written 123 years ago (1738), by Mr. Wayman, of Kimbolton, in reply to a Mr. Morris, of Rowell; which sets the question at rest. But the Baptist churches (generally speaking) were sound in the faith until about the year 1776, when three young men scraped an acquaintance, and became very intimate. Their names were John Sutcliffe, aged 24; John Ryland, jun., aged 23; and Andrew Fuller, Aged 22. This trio met together for the first time on May 28, 1776, at the Northamptonshire Association. Morris, in his “Memoirs of Fuller,” informs us that “then Mr. Andrew Fuller first saw Mr. Sutcliffe, and that his acquaintance then commended with Mr. John Ryland, jun. These young associates (Ryland and Sutcliffe) had lately drunk deep in the writings of President Edwards, and they introduced that excellent author (?) to the acquaintance of their new friend, Fuller.”

Woe and alas!, for the introduction of this American exotic, this New-England-School theology, into our churches. However, these three young lads became wonderfully taken up with their new Dolly. The father of one of them, the celebrated John Ryland, sen., wrote at the time as follows. He said, speaking of the “Modern Question” (the term then used to express the sentiment by), his son and Fuller were busied on it. The Devil threw out an empty barrel for them to roll about; while they ought to have been drinking the wine of the kingdom. That old dog, lying in the dark, has drawn off many good men to whip syllabub and to sift quiddities (‘a trifling nicety’), under pretense of zeal for the truth.—Extracted from Dr. Newman’s Rylandiana. 

What!, and is this Duty-faith sentiment but as frothed up whip-syllabub, compared to the old wine of the kingdom? And are the Lord’s people to be amused by Fullerian ministers rolling about an empty barrel, and listen to their sifting of quiddities (that is, caviling, captious questions), under a pretense of zeal for the truth? The good Lord forbid it.

But I proposed a glance at the history of Fullerism, I therefore proceed. It was in the year 1781 that Andrew Fuller published his work, entitled The Gospel Of Christ Worthy Of All Acceptation. A copy of the first edition I have now before me. Mr. William Button, who was for upwards of 40 years pastor of the Baptist church in Dean Street, replied to it, in a well-written and most conclusive pamphlet of more than 100 pages, now before me. In his preface he says, “Mr. Fuller’s treatise appears to me to be opposite to Scripture and experience; and tends to overthrow the distinguishing and glorious doctrines of the gospel. Yet I wonder not at its prevailing, as it is exceedingly pleasing to human nature, and very gratifying to a proud man to be told he can believe if he will. But it is too humbling and too degrading to tell a sinner he has neither will nor power. So that those ministers who maintain the hypothesis of the creature’s natural ability, will be sure to please the ear of men in general, and so gain what is so much sought after in the present day—vain popularity. [Mr. William Button was educated by Mr. Ryland, sen., and was very early called by sovereign grace. John Ryland, jun., and William Button, were both baptized on September 11th, 1767, in the river Nen, near Northampton. The former was not then fifteen years of age, and the latter not fourteen. On the death of Dr. Gill, a large minority of the members not profiting under his successor, withdrew, and built Dean Street Chapel, and Mr. Button became their pastor July 5, 1775.]

In the year 1788, Mr. John Martin, pastor of the Baptist Church in Keppel Street, published (in three parts) his Thoughts On The Duty Of Man, in reply to Fuller. This I have. This treatise vexed Mr. Fuller not a little; as his remarks were somewhat provoking, though his arguments were weighty. In the year 1803, that deep-thinking man of God, Mr. John Stevens, of Meard’s Court, Soho, published the first part of his Help For The Disciples Of Immanuel, in answer to Andrew Fuller. The third edition of this unparalleled work, comprising nearly 400 pages in octavo, was given to me by its author, and is now before me. Here Fullerian Duty-faith is ground to powder. Fuller is driven from every hiding place, and left without even the semblance of truth to defend himself. Mr. Steven’s deep-thinking powers are here powerfully displayed against this sad corruption of the truths of our most holy faith. 

One more opponent I name; viz., Mr. William Ruston, of Liverpool, whose work on Particular Redemption is worth its weight in gold. Ruston incontestably proves that no man can maintain Particular Redemption in connection with the duty of men to believe, &c.

Now then, last, but not least, comes our well-known and well-beloved brother, John Foreman. Previous works on the subject having been long out of print, Mr. Foreman’s pamphlet became suitable and exceedingly well-timed. I have read it carefully throughout; it has my entire approval, and I am of opinion that it will take a more able polemic than Dixon Burn to answer it, even apparently, for a scriptural reply is quite out of the question.

I shall not condescend to enter into the arena of this controversy with Mr. Burn; but I just look at what he terms “the sum of his argument.” This he gives us in seven particulars. I take the first of them. He says, “That as all men by nature are under the law, and as the law is necessarily related to the gospel, so all men are, by the law, enjoined to hear the gospel, to believe its testimony, to receive it in the love thereof, and to call upon the name of the Lord that they may be saved.” 

Now I require chapter and verse from the sacred Word in proof of the above particulars (Is 8:20), but this can never be produced. There was a man of truth, the well-known Job Hupton, of Claxton, in Norfolk, who many years ago masterly handled this technical point; and he styled his work A Blow Struck At The Root Of Fullerism. This is also now before me. In his preface he says, “Let the axe be applied to the root. Let Mr. Fuller prove, if he can, that there is a natural man upon the earth who is not under the law as a covenant of works. To prove that the faith of God’s elect, with which their salvation stands connected, is not a duty of the law, is the end aimed at in the subsequent paged.” Mr. Hupton fully accomplished his aim. He tells Mr. Fuller, “By making the faith of God’s elect an old-covenant duty, you put a legal yoke upon the necks of the disciples of Jesus, you bring the free-born sons of Zion into bondage, and expose them to all the thunders of the ministration of death; for, ‘Whatsoever the law saith, it saith to those that are under it,’ and ‘As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.’ Gal 3:10. Your notion, therefore, robs both Christ and his people. 1. It robs Christ of the honor of making them free from the yoke of bondage. 2. It robs the people of their right to that liberty with which he has made them free.”

With these remarks I take my leave of Mr. Burn. I repeat it, that the Fullerian Duty-faith system, is opposite to scripture and experience, and tends to overthrow the distinguishing and glorious doctrines of the gospel. It has had my determined and unqualified opposition from the first day of my ministerial labor to the present hour. I consider it to be an heresy of the very first magnitude. It is a calling on the creature, while dead in trespasses and sins, to make himself alive; and to do that work which our Lord himself says is the work of God to perform. See John 6:29.

May I just add, that, in my printed Confession of Faith, as delivered by me at my ordination to the pastorate, nearly 46 years ago, my article therein on “Faith” is as follows:—“Precious faith is a grace wrought in the soul by the Spirit of all Grace. In its operation it is the goings forth of the soul afterlife and salvation by Jesus Christ; it is an humble, cordial, hearty reliance on the Lamb of God; it is a relying on the sacred record of God in his holy Word, concerning his dear Son. By faith, Christ is beheld as an all-sufficient Savior, he is looked to alone for salvation; believers come to Him, cordially accept of Him, freely receive Him, lay hold of Him, and rest and depend on Him alone for pardon, peace, complete salvation, and eternal life. I repudiate and reject the unscriptural Fullerian sentiments of Duty-faith. To enjoin and invite all to believe in Christ, and to inculcate it as their duty to do so, unless Christ died for all men, is, to say the least of it, a most thoughtless inconsistency. There can be no union between a limited provision for some, and an unlimited exhortation for all to partake of the same. If Christ died for all, then invite all. “The legs of the lame are not equal.” Prof 26:7

The Question Of Universal Invitations

If you enquire in Ecclesiastical Historical concerning “the Introduction of Error into the Church of Christ,” you may invariably trace it to the Priesthood. And so it is now. Arminian pastors, men (as Dr. Owen calls them) of “subtle hearts,” by their preachings and writings, they harminianize the people. So also our Baptist Colleges, as they are now termed, they profess to teach Calvinism, but it is not so: they are Arminian Colleges: they train up and send forth Arminian preachers. These traverse the land, in the length thereof, and the breadth thereof; and by the mere meretricious tinsel of acquired eloquence, and fair speeches, they deceive the hearts of the simple ones. See Jer 5:31.

But, what is real Fullerism? I reply, it is the wide-spreading error, or rather heresy, of the present day. Its doctrine is—That it is the Duty of man to do and perform that which God alone can accomplish; and, if man does it not, his damnation is sure.

A Master of Arts, who is now a Baptist minister in London, has declared in print as follows:—God makes your future happiness or misery to turn upon an alteration of mind made by yourself, without any impulse from him. You can do it, and, if you will not, then the consequences are your own.”

Another celebrated Baptist minister in London, closes a sermon of his with—“It is for you to say. Devils, afraid of losing you, are waiting your answer. Angels, too, await your answer, ready, should it be favorable to bear the tidings to heaven. Yea, God himself, on high, awaits your answer.” 

I might multiply quotations ad infinitum. But the doctrine inculcated by many of our eloquent Dons now, is Fullerism run to seed; it out-herods Herod. It is such as Andrew Fuller would not own. He never went half so far; but he sowed the seed of the groundsel weed (as Dr. Hawker has it) that has now o’erspread the land. The late Andrew Fuller had a neighboring minister, good old Robert Twelvetree, the pastor of Ringstead Baptist Church for forty-three years. He favored this old veteran with a perusal of his treatise on Duty-faith while in MSS, desiring his opinion thereon; and he had that opinion in pretty round terms. I give the reader an extract, copied from an autograph letter of Twelvetree’s to Fuller in my possession. [I have some hundreds of foolscap folio pages in Twelvetree’s own hand writing, written to Fuller on the subject.] He says to him, “You desired my free remarks, and I have done it. They are free and honest too; and you are offended. Now don’t be over hasty with a man that deal honestly with you. What I have written, I have written. I see no just cause to change my mind, and believe I never shall. Now were you capable of conviction, there is enough in your own MSS to convince you that your pretended gospel scheme is a general scheme; a scheme of works, and not of grace; even as the Arminians build their covenant of works upon their imagined gospel foundation. This is your scheme which you are about to publish to the world; this is the voice and language of it—‘All you that hear the gospel (ministerially), it is your duty, the moral law requires it, not only to believe the report, and to credit what God says, as true; but to believe in Christ, and with that faith too which is solely the gift of God. And be it at your peril too, if you do not.’ You say to them, ‘It is your duty, the duty of you all; the law commands all and every one of you to come, and to believe in the Savior, whether you can or cannot; whether you see your need of a Savior or not. You must come to him, dead or alive, and exercise that living and spiritual act upon him, which is the sole and proper work of God, who is the author and finisher of faith; or else awful will be your damnation.’ Yes, sir, this is the divinity, this is the gospel of your MSS. Upon my word, it is divinity, it is gospel, it is doctrine indeed! The Lord deliver me for ever from such doctrine, such gospel, such divinity, such preaching, as this.”—R. Twelvetree

Reader! The above is Fullerism dissected and anatomized. Some persons may suppose that certain ministers hold the doctrine of Particular Redemption, because they occasionally speak of Christ’s dying for his people; but, no, for at bottom, they are general redemptionists. Let us attend to Mr. Fuller himself on this subject. He says:—“There is such a fulness in the satisfaction of Christ, as is sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe.” So that the atonement is a universal atonement; all the human race may be saved, provided they will but believe. So that general exhortations cannot harmonize with particular redemption. It amounts to this,—either that Christ died for all men, or, that he died only for some men, else that he died for no man. Now our Lord himself has decided this point. He says, “I lay down my life for my sheep.”—John 10:15. And he says to certain persons, “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.”—Verse 26. 

“This is the Judge that ends the strife,

When men’s devices fail.”

The plain language of Fullerism, then, is, addressing the sinner, in substance thus: “Christ has died for you, provided you will only believe. He has paid your dreadful debt—that is, if you will but be kind enough to accept the receipt.” Acceptation then, or rejection, is the ground of salvation or damnation. Is this Scriptural? I trow not. This I do know, that Ryland was right, when he wrote as follows:—

“O may the Lord the Spirit, shew thy soul

Its wounds; and Jesus’ blood to make them whole,

In thee implant a principle divine,

Give thee a right to call Christ Jesus thine:

Else, I must attempt in vain to make thee think.

Yea, should Hell open, and its flames disclose,

Shouldst thou look in, and see the damned’s throes,

And hear their flaming tongues declare their woes,

’Twould drive the mad, perhaps, but leave thee still

With an unmelted heart, and unsubdued will.”

There are many preachers who are famous in using the alarm bell. I have read a statement, that when Mr. Spurgeon preached concerning Hell, the very air of the chapel seemed to grow sulphurous. I put this down as hyperbolical: but I have now in my possession a sermon, preached by him from Isaiah 30:33. True the text does treat of Tophet, and fire, and brimstone; the meaning of that text is one thing, but the whole of the sermon is one of alarm from beginning to end. It is a flaming discourse, all about brimstone and hell fire. “Let us,” said two young persons to each other, who were village preachers, “let us go to Shalford, near Guildford, and preach Hell and Damnation to them.” “No,” said the other, “let us rather proclaim Christ and salvation to them.” 

It is with pain of mind that I notice the sad erroneous views of that person, who seems, at present, to carry, as it were, all before him. His sentiments are far beyond those of Fuller. I could produce proofs by dozens from his sermons, in corroboration. I give but one as a sample; and if that does not satisfy the reader, then he is like the made himself, who is so elated with his great Babylon as to be callous and case-hardened to anything. I have now lying before me, “The London City Mission Magazine” for February, 1861. Eleven close printed pages are filled with Mr. Spurgeon’s address, as delivered by him to the City Missionaries on New Year’s Day. He says to them, “You missed opportunities of doing good; you passed by seasons when the heart was impressible, and when you might have driven home the truth; and—there they are in Hell! The thousands of your district—and there they are, weeping, and wailing, and gnashing their teeth! What will the unfaithful minister dare to say? Will not a double hell, a hell multiplied in proportion to the number of souls who, by his instrumentality, were damned, seize upon his soul at once?” Ah! My hand trembles! I forbear to transcribe more. Yes, this is ultra Fullerism. Here you have it fully developed, and no mistake. 

I have no words to express the abhorrence of my very soul to such statements; and it seems to incapacitate me to write more at present. But the following sarcastic lines are much to the point:—

Arminian Addresses To Sinners, By J. Ryland

“‘Arise ye dead,’ Arminius cries,

Arise ye dead in sin;

Unstop your ears, unclose your eyes,

And a new life begin.

Why will ye die, ye wretched souls?

Ye dead, why will ye die?

Quicken, and make your spirits whole,

To life eternal fly.

Deluded Seer! But man will lie

Still senseless as a stone,

And you yourself stand fooling by

Till both are quite undone,

Unless Almighty pow’r be moved

By God’s free-will, not thine,

To quicken both, and make his love

On both your hearts to shine.”

Reader! Prove all things; and mind, hold fast the Truth.

J. A. Jones

Jireh Chapel, East Road, City Road

August 1861

John Andrews Jones (1779-1868) was a High-Calvinist Particular Baptist preacher and author. He served as pastor for the churches meeting at (1) Stonehouse, Devonshire; (2) Beccles, Suffolk; (3) North Road, Brentford; (4) Brick Lane, Old Street. He is best known for authoring ‘Bunhill Memorials’.