By Evan D. Burns
In a sermon entitled, “On an Intimate and Practical Acquaintance with the Word of God,” Andrew Fuller meditated deeply on the piety exemplified in Ezra 7:10—“Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” Fuller made four outstanding observations about Ezra’s character, which Fuller strongly commended for Christian imitation. Here is what he gleaned so exquisitely from one verse:
- SEEK THE LAW, or will, of God
- Seek it.
- Seek it at the fountain-head.
- Seek the will of God in every part of the Bible.
- Seek it perseveringly.
- PREPARE YOUR HEART to seek the law of the Lord
- KEEP THE LAW.
- Dread nothing more than recommending that to your people to which you do not attend yourself.
- More is expected from you than from others.
- You will attend to practical preaching.
- Attend not only to such duties as fall under the eye of man, but walk with God—in your family, and in your closet.
- TEACH in Israel the statutes and judgments of God.
- Let Christ and his apostles be your examples.
- Give every part of the truth its due proportion.
- Dare to teach unwelcome truths.
- Give Scriptural proof of what you teach.
- Consider yourself as standing engaged to teach all that hear you—rich and poor, young and old, godly and ungodly.
- Teach privately as well as publicly.
One of the most perceptive and potent points Fuller argued from this verse was the preeminence of seeking the will of God in the Bible alone. Under the first point, Fuller contended:
Seek it at the fountain-head.—You feel, I doubt not, a great esteem for many of your brethren now living, and admire the writings of some who are now no more; and you will read their productions with attention and pleasure. But whatever excellence your brethren possess, it is all borrowed; and it is mingled with error. Learn your religion from the Bible. Let that be your decisive rule. Adopt not a body of sentiments, or even a single sentiment, solely on the authority of any man—however great, however respected. Dare to think for yourself. Human compositions are fallible. But the Scriptures were written by men who wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Human writings on religion resemble preaching—they are useful only so far as they illustrate the Scriptures, and induce us to search them for ourselves.
Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 483-486.
The Complete Works, 1: 483.
Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Thailand with his wife and twin sons. They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.