By Evan D. Burns
In a sermon entitled, “The Future Perfection of the Church,” Andrew Fuller unpacked his meditations on Ephesians 5:25-27
Christ—loved the church, and gave himself for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The very first sentence of his sermon is a perceptive statement about the relationship between apostolic doctrine and apostolic instruction, particularly in this case, as it relates to Christian marriage. Fuller observed that moral imperatives are always rooted in and grow out of redemptive indicatives. Here is part of his introduction:
It is a distinguishing feature in the apostolic writings, that motives to the most ordinary duties are derived from the doctrine of the cross. Who but an apostle would have thought of enforcing affection in a husband to a wife from the love of Christ to his church? We are, undoubtedly, hereby taught to act, in the common affairs of life, from Christian principle; and I am inclined to think that our personal Christianity is more manifest in this way than in any other. It is not by a holiness put on on religious occasions, as we put on our Lord’s-day dress, that we shall prove ourselves to be Christians; but by that which is habitual, and which, without our so much as designing it, will spontaneously appear in our language and behaviour. If the apostle’s heart had not been full of Christ, he would have thought of other motives than this; but this, being uppermost, presented itself on all occasions. We may be thankful that it was so on this, especially; for we are hereby furnished with a most interesting and affecting view of the salvation of sinners—a salvation originating in the love of Christ, and terminating in their being presented to him without spot, and blameless.
Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 243.
Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 243-44.