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the terrible day of the Lord, when he suddenly paused. Every feature of his expressive countenance was marked with painful feeling; and, striking his forehead with the palm of his hand, he exclaimed,
wretched man that I am! Beloved brethern, it often cuts me to the soul, as it does at this moment, to reflect, that while I have been en. deavoring, by the force of truth, by the beauty of holiness, and even by the terrors of the Lord, to bring you to walk in the peaceable paths of righteousness, I am, with respect to many of you who reject the Gospel, only tying mill-stones round your neck, to sink you deeper in perdition! The whole church was electrified, and it was some time before he could resume his subject.”
But the labors of Mr. Fletcher were not confined to his public services. He was truly, and literally, a pastor, in the earliest and best acceptation of the term. In his daily intercourse with his people, he had “ a word in season” for each, adapted to his character and circumstances. When infectious diseases prevailed, and all others shrank from the bed-side of the sick, he fearlessly passed whole nights administering to the wants both of the body and the soul. A knock at his door, at midnight, in the depth of winter, brought him instantly to the window, and if told his assistance was needed, his invariable answer was, “ I will attend you immediately.” On such occasions, we are told," he administered advice with fidelity and affection according to the circumstances of his people, delivering the promises of the Gospel to those whom he considered prepared for them, and earnestly praying for others, that the mercy of God might be manifested to them, though it should be at the eleventh hour.”
His biographer, indeed compares him with Ignatius, the venerable Bishop of Antioch, in the acquaintance he had with almost every individual of his flock, and the parental tenderness with which he watched over their spiritual interests. He taught them from house to house, and so well fitted were his instructions, and so earnest his pleadings, that in some of his pastoral visits, we are informed that “a whole family has burst into tears, and with one accord expressed their desire to devote themselves unreservedly to the service of God.” The methods to which he resorted to arrest the attention or awaken the conscience, were often peculiar and strikingly characteristic of the man ;
“ A poor collier, now living in Madeley, and upwards of eighty years of age, relates that in the former part of his life he was exceed. ingly profligate, and that Mr. Fletcher frequently sought opportunities to converse with him on his awful state. Being, however, aware of his pious vicar's intentions, he was accustomed, as soon as he saw him, to run home with all speed, and bolt the door before Mr. Fletcher
could reach it; and thus, for many months together, he escaped his deserved reproofs. The holy man, however, still persevering in his attempts, on one occasion gained possession of the house of this determined sinner. The poor man, awed by the presence of his minister, and softened by the persuasive kindness of his manners, was greatly affected, and received those religious impressions which soon ended in a thorough change in his character, He is now nearly blind : and with numerous bodily infirmities, is evidently tottering over the grave; but he is still, in his humble station, walking consistently in the fear of the Lord.”
“ Another of his parishioners, who is still living, relates the following characteristic circumstance :- When a young man, he was married by Mr. Fletcher, who said to him as soon as the service was concluded, and he was about to make the accustomed entry,-- Well, William, you have had your name entered into our register once before this.' · Yes, sir, at my baptism,' “And now, your name will be entered a second time :--you have no doubt thought much about your present step, and made proper preparations for it in a great many different ways.' · Yes, sir." Recollect, however, that a third entry of your name,—the register of your burial, will sooner or later take place. Think, then, about death ; and make preparation for that also, lest it overtake you as a thief in the night.' This person is also now walk. ing in the ways of the Lord ; and states that he often adverts to this and other things which this holy man found frequent occasions to say to him.”
* Many similar anecdotes are related by the older of his parishioners, all tending to show how watchful he was to seize every occasion which might be turned into usefulness ; and with what readiness and versatility of powers he adapted himself to their various stations and feelings."
Thus, for ten years his life passed away, in the midst of his unwearied labors as a parish priest. At the end of this period he yielded to the reiterated desires of his relations in Switzerland, and determined to revisit his native land. We regret that our limits will not allow us to trace his steps during this journey of five months on the continent, for its history constitutes an exceedingly interesting portion of the work. We should like to portray him to our readers, as the Christian minister abroad, as well as at home—arguing with infidels, in whose company he happened to be thrown, until their scepticism was vanquished, and they were brought to the foot of the cross-visiting the remnant of the persecuted Huguenots, and with somewhat of a romantic feeling, performing this pilgrimage on foot,-bearing his bold testimony to the truth even in the midst of Papal Rome, -and, finally, in his own native land, delighting multitudes by his preaching, until on his departure, an aged minister exclaimed with tears in his eyes, “ 0, how unfortunate for this country! VOL. 1.-NO. I,
during my day it has produced but one angel, and it is our lot to be deprived of him.” But we hope that those who have accompanied us thus far, in the sketch of this eminent Christian's life, will be induced to procure the work, and read it for themselves. We assure them, it is a mine, from which we have selected here and there only single gems, as specimens of the whole.
The succeeding portion of the volume calls us to view Mr. Fletcher in a new character, that of a controversial writer; and we confess, that after beholding all his humility and gentleness, we were hardly prepared to see him enter the arena of polemical debate. He passed however uninjured even through this trial, which causes so many, in the ardor of the disputant, to forget the humility of the disciple. For some time previous to his journey on the continent, he had been acting as superintendent of the seminary at Trevecca in South Wales, established by the Countess of Huntingdon. His theological opinions however, differed widely from those entertained by that lady, and after his return to England, divisions arose in the College, which compelled him to withdraw, and at last ended in a painful discussion. We speak without regret of this period of his life, since it enables us to point out the spirit in which he acted, the example of which, we think might teach an useful lesson in this day of heated, and often angry controversy.
We believe that he merited the remark of his biographer, that “ neither polemical writing nor the accrimony of some of his opponents, was able to discompose his heavenly temper.” This moderation was a leading trait in his character; and the overflowing love he seemed to feel for every human being, must have been often sufficient to disarm the most bitter enmity. To give every instance where this feeling was exhibited would be impossible, without transcribing the whole volume, for it was interwoven most beautifully with all his actions." We will quote a few examples, to show “what manner of spirit he was of.” To Mr. Benson who had been discarded from the same college, he wrote :
“ So far as we can, let us keep the matter to ourselves. When you speak of it to others, rather endeavor to palliate than aggravate what has been wrong in your opposers. Remember that great lady has been an instrument of extensive good, and that there are inconsis. tencies attending the greatest and best of men. Possess your soul in patience; see the salvation of God; and believe, though against hope, that light will spring out of darkness.”
“On sending the manuscript of his first Check to Antinomianism to a friend much younger than himself, he says, “I beg, as upon my bend. ed knees, you would revise and correct it, and take off quod durius sonat, in point of works, reproof, and style. I have followed my light, which is but that of smoking flax : put yours to mine. I am charged hereabouts with scattering firebrands, arrows, and death. Quench some of my brands ; blunt some of my arrows;
and take off all my deaths, except that which I design for antinomianism.'”
Controversy seems not to have left behind it, in his mind, a single unpleasant or unchristian feeling. An affecting example of this is furnished by his interview with Mr. Berridge. They had not met before for nearly twenty years, during which period they had been arrayed against each other in theological warfare:
“ The instant we entered the room,” says Mr. Gorham, the good old vicar rose, and ran up to Mr. Fletcher, embracing him with folded arms; and then, with looks of delight and tears of affection, exclaim. ed, • My dear brother, this is indeed a satisfaction I never expected. How could we write against each other, when we both aim at the same thing, the glory of God, and the good of souls ! But my book lies very quietly on the shelf; and there let it lie.' I retired, leaving the pious controversialists to themselves for about two hours. On my return, I found them in the true spirit of Christian love, and mutually as unwilling to part, as they had been happy in meeting each other. • Brother,' said Mr. Berridge, we must not part without your praying with us.' The servants being called in, Mr. Fletcher offered up a prayer, filled with petitions for their being led by the Holy Spirit to greater degrees of sanctification and usefulness as ministers; and dwelt much upon that effusion of the Spirit which fills the pages of his tract called “The Reconciliation.' Mr. Berridge then began, and was equally warm in prayer for blessings upon his dear brother.' They were indeed so united in love, that we were obliged in a man. ner, to tear away Mr. Fletcher."
We will give one example more, because it is an occurrence too beautiful and touching to be omitted :
“When apparently in dying circumstances at Bristol, a dissenting minister called upon him. Though hc had been forbidden to converse, and the gentleman was a stranger, Mr. Fletcher admitted and receive ed him with his usual courtesy.
But the visitor, instead of conversing on such subjects as were suitable to Mr. Fletcher's christian character and afflicted circumstances, entered warmly on controversy ; and told him, he had better have been confined to his bed with a dead palsey, than have written so many bitter things against the dear children of God.' My brother,' said Mr. Fletcher, ' I hope I have not been bit. ter. Certainly I did not mean to be so : but I wanted more love then, and I feel I want more now. This mild answer silenced him; and sent him away, I trust, better acquainted with Mr. Fletcher's spirit and his own."
After Mr. Fletcher's return to England, he was permitted to continue his parish duties, only about three years, when it became but too evident, that his period of active usefulness was drawing to its close. His ardent mind had urged him forward to labors which he had not strength to sustain. United with these, was his intense application to study, in which he frequently spent fourteen or sixteen hours in the day. These together, had been for some time making perceptible inroads on his health. For the remaining ten years which he survived, it was a constant struggle against feebleness and disease. The spirit was willing, and desirous to labor, but the flesh was weak. He was well aware, however, of his situation, and the feeble tenure upon which he held his life. To Mr Ireland, he remarked : “How life goes! I walked, now I gallop, into eternity. The bowl of life goes rapidly down the steep hill of time. Let us be wise. Let us trim our lamps, and continue to give ourselves to Him that bought us, till we can do it without reserve.” He became, if possible, more insensible than ever to the charms of worldly applause, and when preferment in the church was offered him by the Lord Chancellor, he answered with characteristic simplicity, that “ he wanted nothing but an increase of grace."
It is this portion of the narrative, upon which we think the Christian will dwell with most interest. Every evidence of spiritual life seemed to ripen to such perfection, and to exhibit itself so prominently in his actions. He lived, “as seeing Him who is invisible.” He felt, that the shadows were lengthening in his path, and that the night of death might be drawing nigh. Truly may we say of him, that “while the outward man was perishing, the inward man was renewed day by day.” There was at this period an earnestness in his numerous letters to his friends, which shows that he wrote like one who felt that the time was short. One of these, to his brother, we cannot forbear giving. It displays so feelingly, his love stretching beyond the grave, and looking forward to that world of re-union, where no parting is ever known :
“ Do not reject, I conjure you, my brotherly counsels and supplications. Do not refuse to come where so much felicity awaits you, be. cause pressed to it by a person who is unworthy to bring you the invitation. We have passed our infancy, and our youth, beneath the same roof, and under the same masters. We have borne the same fatigues, and tasted the same pleasures. Why then should we be sepa. rated now? Why should they be divided, who by nature, habit, and friendship, have been so long united ? I have undertaken a journey to the New Jerusalem : 0, suffer me not to go thither alone.
Come, my dear brother; I am most unwilling to leave you behind. Come, sup. port me; go before me; encourage me; show me the way. I feel the want of a faithful companion, and a Christian friend. I desire