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John William Fletcher


FLETCHER, JOHN WILLIAM (17 29-1 785), English divine, was born at Nyon, Switzerland, on Sept. 1 2, 1729, his origi nal name being DE LA FLECHIERE. He was educated at Geneva for the Church, but went to Lisbon and enlisted. An accident pre verited his sailing with his regiment to Brazil, and he went to Eng land, picked up the language, and in 17 5 2 became tutor in a Shrop shire family. Here he came under the influence of the new Metho dist preachers, and in 1757 took orders, being ordained by the bishop of Bangor. He often preached with John Wesley and for him. Refusing the wealthy living of Dunham, he accepted the humble one of Madeley, where for 25 years (176o-85) he lived and worked with unique devotion and zeal. Fletcher was one of the few parish clergy who understood Wesley and his work, yet he never wrote or said anything inconsistent with his own Anglican position. In theology he upheld the Arminian against the Calvinist position, but always with courtesy and fairness ; his resignation on doctrinal grounds of the superintendency (1768-71) of the count ess of Huntingdon's college at Trevecca left no unpleasantness. The outstanding feature of his life was a transparent simplicity and saintliness of spirit. Wesley preached his funeral sermon from the words "Mark the perfect man." Southey said that "no age ever provided a man of more fervent piety or more perfect charity, and no church ever possessed a more apostolic minister." It is said that Voltaire, when challenged to produce a character as as that of Christ, at once mentioned Fletcher of Madeley. He died on Aug. 14, 1785.

Complete editions of his works were published in i 803 and 1836. The chief of them, written against Calvinism, are Five Checks to Antinomianism, Scripture Scales to weigh the Gold of Gospel Truth, and the Portrait of St. Paul. See lives by J. Wesley (1786) ; L. Tyerman (1882) ; F. W. Macdonald (1885) ; J. Maratt (1902) ; also C. J. Ryle, Christian Leaders of the r8th Century (1869).

wesley, church and position