This post is the third in a series examining Fuller’s spirituality found in his written correspondence. The first post in this series may be accessed by clicking here, the second by clicking here.
Fuller’s recognition of his utter inadequacies as both a Christian and a Minister of the Gospel drove him to greater dependence upon the Holy Spirit and prayer. In a circular letter to churches in the Northamptonshire Baptist Association, Fuller ties together the need for the empowering of the Holy Spirit with the need for continual and earnest prayer:
Finally, brethren, let us not forget to intermingle prayer with all we do. Our need of God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to do any thing, and everything, truly good, should excite us to do this. Without his blessing all means are without efficacy, and every effort for revival will be in vain. Constantly and earnestly, therefore, let us approach his throne. Take all occasions especially for closet prayer. Here, if anywhere, we shall get fresh strength, and maintain a life of communion with God. (108).
Those who are truly aware of their own inabilities will naturally be driven to prayer for enablement from the Holy Spirit. For Fuller, Christians are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures and to preach Christ. In regard to understanding the Scriptures, Fuller wrote to a member of the Kettering church that “when the truth contained in any passage of Scripture is opened to the mind, and impressed upon the heart, this is Christian experience – this is the work of the Spirit” (120-121). In regard to preaching Christ, Fuller wrote to Christopher Anderson in 1813:
I have been thinking of late of the force of the petition, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” As spiritual things are spiritually discerned, if the Lord leave us to ourselves we shall lose sight of the gospel, and somehow get beside it. . . . Take not thy Holy Spirit from us! It is for want of spirituality of mind, surely, that there is so much orthodox, and at the same time so little evangelical preaching. (247).
The urgency with which Fuller calls out for the assistance of the Holy Spirit is a source of conviction for all who think they can preach or do anything of eternal value apart from the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
* All numbers in parentheses represent the corresponding pages in Michael Haykin’s The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller published by Joshua Press in 2002.