Apr 9, 2009

Campbell vs. Peck on Fuller

Under the heading "INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT - No. III," J. M. Peck wrote to Campbell regarding Campbell's assertion regarding Andrew Fuller's "antinomianism" or his putting of regeneration before faith and apart from the means of the word of God. The following are some excerpts of the correspondence between Peck and Campbell regarding Fuller and his views of regeneration preceding faith.

To Elder A. Campbell (by Peck - emphasis mostly mine - SG):

"In a former communication you called on me to endorse a particular dogma, that the Spirit, without the ward, regenerated the soul of the sinner. This you alleged to have been the old Baptist faith. This dogma you charged upon Gill, Fuller, and the old Baptist writers generally. In this you are certainly mistaken. None of these writers depreciated the value and importance of the gospel of Christ, or divine truth in conversion. Probably you have heard this dogma preached by some illiterate Baptists of antinomian cast of doctrine, during your connexion with the denomination; but you do great injustice to the fathers of the last age by such allegations. You will never find such a sentiment announced in the writing of Andrew Fuller. "The gospel worthy of all acceptation," was the earliest and most distinguished polemical writings of this great and good man, from the principles of which proceeded most of his other works, and this work in its whole process of argumentation taught the reverse of your allegation. The obligation of every sinner who hears the gospel, to believe it unto salvation, is the fundamental principle of Fuller's polemical writings. Surely you have never read his works; or, reading, you have forgotten, or you would not charge upon Andrew Fuller of teaching the dogma "that the Spirit without the word regenerates the soul!"

"The late Robert Hall, a man of transcendant abilities, wrote a tract on the work of the Spirit, which has had an extensive circulation.— Hall was the intimate friend and companion of Fuller, and accorded with him in principles of doctrine. He no where teaches the dogma of regeneration without the word."

With much respect, I am your friend,

J. M. PECK. Louisville, December 18, 1811.


Elder Peck:

"You next enter upon the dogma that the Spirit, Without The Word, regenerates the soul of the sinner. My controversy with the Baptists began on this dogma. You admit it was the dogma of some of them; but you say they were of an antinomian cast: yet you only except Andrew Fuller. Well, if the old Baptists were all or chiefly antinomians—and especially all those with whom I was associated; and if the new Baptists since Fuller's time have discarded this antinomianism, is it not time that, at least on this point, there should be an end of the controversy between the good Fullerite Baptists and us?

But have you read the discussion of the previous holy principle, or regeneration before faith, between Andrew Fuller and Archibald Mac Lean of Edinburgh? If not, you ought to read it before you endorse so freely for the "great and good" Mr. Fuller. But if you have read it, I wonder how you could write as you have done touching his views. You say, I "will never find such a sentiment announced in the writing of Andrew Fuller." I perceive, sir, you have never read the works of Andrew Fuller; or, having read them, you certainly have forgotten them. Do you recollect to have read the "Appendix to the Gospel worthy of all acceptation," in which he animadverts on Archibald MacLean's Treatise on the Commission? In this he certainly teaches "regeneration before faith"—regeneration without belief; and certainly that which is done without the word believed, is done without the word. The whole object and drift of the Appendix is to teach a change of heart before belief, or regeneration before faith and independent of it; that faith is an effect of regeneration. Mr. Fuller's views seem evidently to be formed after the model of Messrs. Hopkins and Bellamy, then of high esteem among some of Mr. Fuller's brethren. Mr. Hopkins says in a sermon on John i. 13., that the Spirit of God is the only and the immediate agent of regeneration. "The change," says he, "is wrought by the Spirit immediately; that is, it is not effected by any medium or means whatever. I would," says he, "particularly observe here that light and truth, or the word of God, is not in any degree a mean by which this change is effected: it is not wrought by light. Men are first regenerated to introduce light into the mind; therefore, they are not regenerated by light or the truth of God's word." Now hear Mr. Fuller:—"A spiritual perception of the glory of divine things appears to be the first sensation of which the mind is conscious; but it is not the first operation of God upon it." p. 212.

Again, in summing up his views on this subject, he says, "All that I contend for is, that it is not by means of a spiritual perception or belief of the gospel that the heart is for the first time effectually influenced towards God; for spiritual perception and belief are represented as the effects, and not the causes of such influence." p. 211. On this subject he is ample. He elsewhere says, "Every thing which proves spiritual perception and faith to be holy exercises, proves that a change of heart must of necessity precede them." p. 2-27. And on another page he says, "But if a spiritual perception of the glory of divine truth precede believing, this may be the same in effect as regeneration preceding it." Mr. Fuller certainly teaches regeneration without faith, and without the word, if language have any meaning. When you have fully disposed of these Fullerisms we may furnish you with a few more. Mr. Fuller, sir, great and good as he is esteemed, was very ably refuted and exposed by the Scotch Baptists of that day, at the head of whom deservedly stood Archibald MacLean of Edinburg. See his Reply to Fuller's Appendix above quoted."

"If, then, as you allege, the "transcendant Mr. Hall" (a name which I highly esteem, as well as that of Fuller, on various accounts,) was of the same views with Fuller, they both taught that very dogma which I oppose as making the word of God of non-effect. Hall's works stand on my shelf, but I have not time to open them now. I will believe you that he and Fuller both concurred in teaching the same views of regeneration "strict and general;" for Fuller has a strict regeneration, or regeneration proper, as well as regeneration general; and you, confounding these, may have wholly misconceived him—if, indeed, you have ever read his works. Mr. Fuller, my dear sir, was too much captivated with the American Divines of that day— Bellamy, Hopkins, and the great Edwards. He did not comprehend the whole tendency of their system as well as some of the American Baptists have since done." (pg. 72-77)

See here

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