President’s Address

DR. RICHARD FULLER

Known as the “Prince of Preachers,” Richard Fuller (1804-1876) was elected SBC president in 1859-60. He baptized such people as Annie Armstrong and Joshua Levering. During the Civil War, he assisted foreign missionaries separated from the SBC Foreign Mission Board in Richmond by the fighting.

Born in Beaufort, South Carolina,  Fuller enrolled at age 16 at Harvard in 1820, where he excelled until tuberculosis forced him to leave school after little more than two years of study. His academic accomplishments caused the faculty to confer a degree anyway.

 

Message delivered May 10, 1861

Beloved Brethren: You require from me no expression of gratitude for the honor thus conferred upon me the second time. Were it proper, I could say much, for my burdened heart would, I know, be cheered by your sympathies. But there are times for brief speeches and vigorous action, and as I wish to impress the truth upon you, I will set the example.

Let me but utter this reflection: that, as we are in the midst of most exasperating time, so ought we to give the more earnest heed to ourselves, lest in any moment we forget the Spirit of Jesus, which ought to breathe in all our actions, and words, and feelings.

If any minor differences have unhappily insinuated themselves into this body, let the present strife and hostilities around us calm and heal these discrepancies and bind us more closely together. The world has never seen—Heaven has never wept over—a more mournful phenomenon than that now exhibited (I grieve to say it) at the North, where not only politicians and bad men, but Christian editors, and pastors, and churches are breathing out slaughter inciting to fury passions already terribly inflamed and seemingly thirsting for fratricidal carnage. Let us watch and pray, lest we forget the example and Spirit of Him who taught us to ‘bless them that curse us and ‘do good to them that hate us and despitefully use us.  As we hear the ministers and churches of the Prince of Peace crying out for food, let us exclaim, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’; let us say, ‘Into their secret, my soul, enter not thou; into their assemblies, mine honor, be thou not united.’

Above all, let these alarms and perturbation elevate our thoughts to that other world whither we are hastening, and with which we have more to do than with this present evil world; let me inspire us with more earnest aspiration for that rest which remains for the people of God, and into which we shall soon enter.