Andrew Fuller on the use of money

In a letter that Andrew Fuller wrote to William Carey on September 16, 1795, he has a noteworthy remark about money. Rhetorically, he asks Carey: “What shall we do with our money, but appropriate it to the service of our God?”

[Cited The Bengal Obituary (Calcutta: Holmes and Co./London and Calcutta: W. Thacker & Co., 1851), 338].

Beached whales and ministers of the gospel

Dr. Sean Michael Lucas has found a great statement in the Autobiography, Correspondence, etc. of Lyman Beecher, D.D., ed. Charles Beecher (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1864), I, 99—at the beginning of chapter 17—about the payment received by the first Puritan minister of East Hampton, Long Island. His annual support was to be ₤45 per annum (later raised to ₤50 and then ₤60 per annum), “lands rate free, grain to be first ground at the mill every Monday, and one fourth of the whales stranded on the beach” (italics added). As Dr. Lucas notes: this “is the only case I ever knew of a minister’s being paid in whales” [“Glad ministerial pay has advanced beyond this...”, reformation21, post December 20, 2010 (http://networkedblogs.com/c3AE3)]. Can you imagine? James’ successor was a Mr. Hunting, related to one of the Marian martyrs, and then came Samuel Buell (d.1798) (Autobiography, Correspondence, etc. of Lyman Beecher, 99-100), whose ordination sermon Jonathan Edwards preached in 1746, and under whose pulpit ministry Sarah Edwards had some remarkable experiences. I wonder if Buell was still being paid in beached whales during his pastorate. One could only imagine him and his mentor, America’s greatest theologian, when the latter visited him, going out to check the beach for stranded whales!

Call for Papers (and Schedule) for AFCBS Conference 2011

We are currently accepting paper proposals for next year’s conference (September 26-27, 2011). We have a limited number of spaces (only six this year) available for the parallel sessions.  These papers should be about 5,000 words in length and able to be delivered in approximately 30 minutes. Those interested in presenting need to e-mail the Center (andrewfullercenter@sbts.edu) with a title and brief outline of their proposal as well as a brief resume before January 31, 2011. The topic of papers for the parallel sessions must fall within the theme of the conference, namely, “Baptists and War.” The plenary session schedule is included below.  Parallel sessions may focus on biblical, theological, and/or historical approaches to the conference theme.  Submission of a proposal does not guarantee acceptance.  The presenters of papers accepted for the conference will be notified by the first of February, 2011.

THE ANDREW FULLER CENTER FOR BAPTIST STUDIES

5th ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Baptists and War

September 26–27, 2011

Monday, September 26

8:30am Plenary Session 1: Anthony Cross, (Regent’s Park College, Oxford University), “Anabaptists, Baptists, and Pacifism: An Overview”

10:00am Plenary Session 2: Larry Kreitzer (Regent’s Park College, Oxford University), “The ‘Valiant Old Lady’: The Story of the Eighth Whelp (1628–46) and her Baptist Chaplain John Pendarves”

11:30am Plenary Session 3: Keith Harper (SEBTS), “Baptists and the American Revolution”

1:00–3:00pm Banquet Lunch

3:00pm–4:30 pm Plenary Session 4: Paul Brewster (Pastor, SBC, & Junior Fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center), “Andrew Fuller and the War against Napoleon”

4:30–5:30 pm Parallel Sessions (six in total)

7:30pm–9:00pm Plenary Session 5 and panel discussion: George Rable (Univ. of Alabama), James Fuller (Univ. of Indianapolis), Tom Nettles (SBTS), and Greg Wills (SBTS, moderator), “Interpreting the American Civil War”

Tuesday, September 27

8:30am Plenary Session 6: Jamie Robertson (PhD student, McMaster University), “Baptists and the War of 1812”

10:00am SBTS Chapel

11:30 am Plenary Session 7: Gord Heath (McMaster Divinity College, McMaster University), “Canadian Baptists and the 19th century Wars of the British Empire”

2:00pm Plenary Session 8: Maurice Dowling (Irish Baptist College), “Russian Baptists and the Cold War”

3:30pm Plenary Session 9: Nathan Finn (SEBTS), “The Vietnam War and Baptist Witness”

Posted by Steve Weaver, Research and Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin.

"Our heavenly society": reflecting on a phrase from Richard Baxter

A commonality in late 17th and 18th century funeral sermons is the mention of the saints—often a few by name, usually the more famous figures of Protestant history with a few ‘local’ figures—with whom the deceased is now enjoying heaven. Richard Baxter captures the centrality of this thought in a remark he makes in a letter to Richard Sargeant on March 17, 1672: “Oh, for a seeing faith to behold the glory of our Father’s presence, and our heavenly society” [cited N.H. Keeble, A Subject Index to the Calendar of the Correspondence of Richard Baxter with another Baxter letter (Dr. Williams’s Library Occasional Papers, no.13; London: Dr. Williams’s Trust, 1994), 19].

A “seeing faith” is the paradox of the Christian walk is it not? It speaks of the certainty and assurance that faith needs. The “glory of our Father’s presence”—Baxter would not wish to exclude the Son and the Spirit, for surely the Son is the glory of the Father and the Spirit their mutual love. But my focus here is “our heavenly society”: in addition to the glory of the Triune God, surely the next greatest joy in heaven are the redeemed saints. To revel in them, their joy and redemption: why, ‘tis glory!

A Christian writing nonsense

Sometimes Christians, in their desire to uphold biblical truth, are led into strange statements, even remarks that are downright silly. Recently I was reading early 19th century issues of The Gospel Magazine when I came across a series of articles by an author who signed his name as Boanerges. This said author had a bee in his bonnet about another Christian periodical of the era entitled The Evangelical Magazine, which during this very time period was supported by a number of key Baptist figures, including Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, Jr., and John Fawcett (see, for example, the title page of The Evangelical Magazine for 1807). “Boarnerges” wrote a series of review pieces on The Evangelical Magazine during 1806 and was quite severe in his judgment on this Christian monthly. In one piece, he reviewed the “Memoirs of the Life of the Mr. Abraham Booth,” which appeared in The Evangelical Magazine  for August 1806. Booth, Boanerges was sure, was “a subject of God’s regenerating grace,” but as he got older he got “lost…in the maze of Arminianism” and “very much departed from the purity of the gospel” [“Review of the Evangelical Magazine for August 1806”, The Gospel Magazine, 2nd series, 1, no.10 (October 1806), 452]. I was amazed when I read this, though as I read more of the review, “Boanerges” sounded like a Huntingtonian and that made some sense as to why he would rank Booth as an Arminian. But if Booth be an Arminian, then terms have no sense at all and all is nonsense!

 Thankfully, a certain correspondent, who simply signed his name as “S.G.U.” wrote in to the editor on November 4, 1806, and stated forthrightly, “I was much surprised to find it asserted that Mr. Booth” was an Arminian. He then went on to quote a lengthy text from Booth’s Divine Justice essential to the Divine Character (1793), which S.G.U. was confident “satisfactorily shews that Mr. Booth was not an Arminian” [“Mr. Booth Not An Arminian”, The Gospel Magazine, 2nd series, 2, no.1 (January 1807), 33–34]. Grateful for S.G.U.'s defence of Booth, I could not help but wonder what kind of author could make such assertions as Boanerges did and still desire to be taken seriously as a Christian thinker!

Sarah Gibbard Cook's doctoral thesis on John Owen

I have been reading Sarah Gibbard Cook's doctoral thesis, "A Political Biography of a Religious Independent John Owen, 1616-83" (Unpubished PhD thesis, Harvard University, 1972). It really is very well written and filled a notable gap at the time, namely a substantial biography of Owen from the point of view of his politics. Peter Toon's biography of Owen was about to be published when Cook was writing and she references his unpublished manuscript. But, believe it or not, I am finding Cook a much better read than Toon, except in one particular, namely Toon's attention to theology, which Cook does not touch unless it bears on her examination of Owen's political views. We need a good biography of Owen that takes into account all of the recent research by such Owen experts as Trueman and the major amounts of work done on the era in which he lived.

A codicil on Christian unity

By the way, lest anyone think I am going soft on theological purity, let me add to the previous post on Christian unity this word: there is, of course, a time to break fellowship because true fellowship has ceased. "They went out from us but they were not of us." Of course, I believe that. But my concern was the far-too-hasty, and frankly sinful, breaking of fellowship over issues that could never be properly classified as primary or even secondary matters.

Thank you, brothers and sisters in Christ!

A big thank you for those who took the time to wish me a happy birthday: it reminded me afresh of the undeserved grace of being part of the Body of Christ. I hope I never take this privilege for granted. It is a precious privilege to be in unity with blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ. Had to drive to London, ON, today to meet with a dear brother, Stephen Mawdsley, an architectwe are doing a work together on architecture and Christianity. More on that as it develops.

Had an hour there and an hour back to pray and ponder. I rarely have the radio or podcasts or MP3s playing on such occasions. I simply love the silence. Spent some time thinking about the theme of my first paragraph above. Specifically, spent time thinking about the divisions that sometimes occur between true Christians. Whether it was power-brokerage or prickly temperaments or plain old sin that led to the breaks in the first place, so often far too many believers who have broken with other believers in the past seem quite happy with the status quo and are seemingly content to let the years go by without any attempt to reconcile. To be sure, theological purity is often adduced, but how rarely such is the real reason for the division. Maybe it is because I have been spending so much time reading Paul and his high view of the Church that such quarrels increasingly seem so petty to me and so foreign to the mindset of the Apostle.

It breaks my heart, though, to see the attitude of such brothers and sisters. And in the light of such, I understand better (though this too booggles the mind!) why one occasionally hears of true believers who, seeing such, give up on the local church. Shades of A.W. Pink!! Oh, for biblical balance and a willigness to confess sin and walk in the Light...

Robert Plant’s new CD Band of Joy

What versatility and diversity there is on Robert Plant’s new CD, Band of Joy (2010), from rock and folk to country (the latter never my favourite, but in this case, I make an exception. Apologies to certain friends!). The entire collection on the CD is a delight to listen to, especially the final two songs that are gems: “Satan your kingdom must come down” (a bit of a surprise I must confess) and “Even this shall pass away.” Highly recommended.

Truth will out!

Truth will out. And though the disciple of Jesus wants it to be now, she can wait, by grace, for the eschatological day of reckoning. Be wise, therefore, soldier of Jesus: love the truth, and never fear to own your faults, foibles, and failings. Don't be like the world: covering the truth with veneer and lacquer. For truth will shine through.