One of the largely unexplored areas of Andrew Fuller studies is the impact that his theology had upon North American Baptists. There is a good introductory paper by Dr Nettles on the subject that appeared in The Founders Journal 53 (Summer 2003): “Edwards and His Impact on Baptists.” But there is so much more to do.
One example: A few weeks ago I was reading in The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Archives and I looked at John Ryland’s The Work of Faith, the Labour of Love, and the Patience of Hope, illustrated; in the Life and Death of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (Charlestown: Samuel Etheridge, 1818). A student had alerted me to an interesting annotation in this copy owned by the seminary. This particular copy is the American edition of the second London edition of Ryland’s life of his dear friend. Southern’s copy was given to the seminary by Basil Manly, Jr. (1825-1892), one of the four founding professors of the seminary and who inherited the book from his father Basil Manly, Sr. (1798-1868), one of the leading Baptist ministers in the South during the ante-bellum period and through the Civil War.
The elder Manly had made a few check marks in pen in the book, but only one annotation of substance. Ryland quotes Fuller remark in his diary about the birth of a child at the close of 1781:
“Thought, to-day, on account of family circumstances, what a matter of importance is the birth of a child. Here its life begins; but where shall it end? Ah! no end to its existence! But, O that God would accept of my new-born child, and let its end be ‘to glorify God, and enjoy him for ever!’ ” (p.72).
Besides this diary entry, the senior Manly has these remarks about the birth of Basil Jr.: “Decr. 19-1825. My son was born. To this prayer I add my Amen.” God sovereignly answered that prayer and the younger Basil, like his father, was a burning and shining light for the gospel.
NOTE: this annotation has been used with permission by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Archives, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.