John Fletcher and the Baptismal Flame

by | May 1, 2006

John Wesley considered John Fletcher the most blameless man he had found. Through a vivid dream concerning the Final Judgment, Fletcher had been first aroused to the condition of his heart.

For some days thereafter he was so harassed in his mind that he could not apply himself to the things of this life. About this time he heard about the Methodists whom someone told him were “praying all day and all night.”

Fletcher set out to find them; and after doing so, God opened his heart to his sinfulness. Yet he went on sinning, then repenting and calling on God’s mercy through Jesus Christ.

Night of Prayer

“I began to write a confession of my sins, misery, [and] helplessness, together with a resolution to seek Christ even unto death,” he wrote. He began to fast and pray; and during a night of seeking God, he opened his Bible to these words:

“Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.”

Filled with joy, he fell on his knees and asked the Lord that he might always cast his burden on Him.

Taking His Bible again, his eyes fell on these words: “The Lord…will be with thee…fear not, neither be dismayed.” These and other promises increased his hope, and he asked for perseverance and grace to serve God until death.

A Fuller Manifestation of God’s Love

After his conversion, as his widow later wrote,

“He still pleaded with the Lord to take fuller possession of his heart and to give a fuller manifestation of His love.”

Thus his soul was freed. He began to breathe the air of Heaven. Sin was beneath his feet. From that time on, he made it a rule of life to sit up two whole nights a week for reading the Bible, prayer, and meditation.

Fletcher taught that the Day of Pentecost was the opening of the dispensation of the Spirit, and he insisted that believers now are called upon to receive the same baptismal fire. He also taught that the latter-day glory should far exceed the first effusion of the Spirit.

“Seeing that they on the Day of Pentecost bare witness to the grace of the Lord, so shall we, and, like them, spread the flame of love.”

It is recorded that in the midst of singing a hymn, he cried out,

“O to be filled with the Holy Ghost!

 

I want to be filled!

 

O, my friends, let us wrestle for a more abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

 

…Jesus is my Prophet, Priest, and King—my indwelling holiness—my all in all….

 

O for the baptismal flame!

 

O for the fullness of the dispensation of the Holy Ghost!

 

Pray for this.

 

Pray for the gift of utterance to confess your royal Master….

 

Put on, therefore, your robes and wear ‘Holiness to the Lord!’”

A Perfect Saviour Makes a Perfect Saint

“Come! Jesus is offered to thee as a perfect Saviour,” Fletcher urged. “Take Him, and He will make thee a perfect saint…. Which of these will you hide in your bosom? Shall it be anger, pride, self-will, or accursed unbelief? Bring these enemies to thy Lord, and let Him slay them.”

This saintly man was famous for his gentleness. Yet he was so passionate by nature that he often pled and prayed the whole night to get victory over the tempter and sometimes lay prone upon the floor in an agony of grief as he pleaded with God for victory. Wesley notes,

“For twenty years and upwards before his death, no one ever saw him out of temper or heard him utter a rash expression on any provocation whatsoever.”

Commenting on the Lord’s promise in Joel to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, John Fletcher penned these words:

“A blessed promise this, of which our Lord gave an earnest on the day of Pentecost when He sent a glorious shower on His little vineyard, a pledge of the mighty rivers of righteousness which will by and by cover the earth as waters cover the sea.”

Condensed by the editor, this article is reprinted with permission from The IHC Messenger.

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