By Michael A.G. Haykin
Last year, Bryntirion Press published my Ardent love to Jesus: English Baptists and the experience of revival in the long eighteenth century. The title comes from a phrase in one of the writings of Benjamin Francis, the friend of Andrew Fuller. Imagine my surprise recently when, reading a section of Fuller’s rebuttal of Joseph Priestley, I came across his statement that “the whole Epistle to the Hebrews breathes an ardent love to Christ” (Works, II, 190). I dearly wish I would have remembered this passage as I could have cited this statement in my book as further evidence of the Christocentric piety of the 18th century Baptists.
This is one of the key reasons I love Fuller and read him and recommend him: his writings are full of an ardent love to our Lord Christ. If you would see this in a very short compass: read his sermon on “The Choice of Moses” (Works, I, 426–428) today, a sermon preached on one of my favorite texts, Hebrews 11:24–26. And so, today, on Fuller’s 260th birthday, we thank God for the gift of this pastor-theologian to the Church.
PS Last year, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies also began a tradition of a few friends of the Center celebrating Fuller’s birthday by having a dinner and birthday cake on February 6 (we had it at the Bristol Bar & Grille on Bardstown Road and Steve Weaver brought the cake) in honor of Fuller. Because I cannot travel at present, we are going to postpone our celebration till Friday, April 25 (which is actually the birthday of Oliver Cromwell! a fellow East Anglian to Fuller): more details to follow!
____________________ Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.