The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

John Fletcher’s self-examination

with 5 comments

The Wesleyan preacher and theologian John Fletcher of Madeley drew up a series of questions for self-examination. I found them a helpful stimulus.

  • Did I awake spiritual, and did I keep my mind from wandering?
  • Have I got nearer God this day in times of prayer, or have I given way to a lazy idle spirit?
  • Has my faith been weakened or strengthened this day?
  • Have I this day walked by faith?
  • Have I denied myself in all unkind words and thoughts?
  • Have I made the most of my precious time, as far as I was able to?
  • Have I kept my heart pure?
  • What have I done for God’s people?
  • Have I spent money on myself when I might have used it for the cause of God?
  • Have I governed well my tongue this day?
  • In how many instances have I denied myself?
  • Do my life and conversation adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 24 August 2015 at 08:18

5 Responses

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  1. Practically, do you know how did he go about this? That is, was this something he did every day? Did he record his answers?

    Doug Newell

    Monday 24 August 2015 at 14:33

    • I’m not sure, although I imagine this was, for him, a regular, even daily, practice. It would have been typical with something like this to review the list at the end of each day. Perhaps a good biography (I don’t know one off-hand) would help answer?

      Jeremy Walker

      Monday 24 August 2015 at 15:57

  2. Hard to find a good biography on Fletcher I’m afraid. his name and works deserve to be far more widely known.

    Matthew Jolley

    Thursday 10 September 2015 at 20:54

  3. […] Here is a list of questions to ask to keep us on the right track each day with God. Best done at the end of each day I suggest. […]

    Self-Examination | VENABLING

    Wednesday 23 September 2015 at 13:04

  4. I was looking for these questions because D M Lloyd-Jones mentions this history in his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. But what led up to this self inquiry? Archibald Alexander, Thoughts on Religious Experience – 1842, mentions a “dream” that he had. This is the account. John Fletcher of Madeley, 1729-1785, relates that he had a dream of the judgment day, the effect of which was a deep and abiding impression of eternal things on his mind. As the scene was vividly painted on his imagination, and the representation of truth was as distinct and coherent as if he had been awake, it may be gratifying to the reader to have the account of it set before him.

    Fletcher had been variously exercised about religion before this. “I was,” says he, “in this situation, when a dream, in which I am obliged to acknowledge the hand of God, roused me from my security. Suddenly the heavens were darkened and clouds rolled along in terrific majesty, and a thundering voice like a trumpet, which penetrated to the center of the earth, exclaimed, “Arise, you dead, and come out of your graves.” Instantly the earth and the sea gave up the dead which they contained, and the universe was crowded with living people who appeared to come out of their graves by millions. But what a difference among them! Some, convulsed with despair, endeavored in vain to hide themselves in their tombs, and cried to the hills to fall on them, and the mountains to cover them from the face of the holy Judge; while others rose with seraphic wings above the earth which had been the theater of their conflicts and their victory. Serenity was painted on their countenances, joy sparkled in their eyes, and dignity was impressed on every feature. My astonishment and terror were redoubled when I perceived myself raised up with this innumerable multitude into the vast regions of the air, from whence my affrighted eyes beheld this globe consumed by the flames, the heavens on fire, and the dissolving elements ready to pass away. But what did I feel, when I beheld the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, in all the splendor of His glory, crowned with the charms of His mercy, and surrounded with the terrors of His justice; ten thousand thousands went before him, and millions pressed upon his footsteps. All nature was silent. The wicked were condemned, and the sentence was pronounced—the air gave way under the feet of those who surrounded me, a yawning gulf received them and closed upon them. At the same time He who sat upon the throne exclaimed, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ (Matt 25:34) Happy children of God! I cried, You are exalted in triumph with your Redeemer, and my dazzled eyes will soon lose sight of you, in the blaze of light which surrounds you. Wretch that I am, what words can express the horrors of my situation! A fixed and severe look from the Judge, as He departed, pierced me to the heart, and my anguish and confusion were extreme, when a brilliant personage despatched from the celestial throng thus addressed me: ‘Slothful servant, what are you doing here? Do you presume to follow the Son of God, whom you have served merely with your lips, while your heart was far from Him? Show me the seal of your salvation and the pledge of your redemption. Examine your heart, and see if you can discover there a real love to God, and a living faith in His Son? Ask your conscience what were the motives of your pretended good works? Do you not see that pride and self-love were the source of them? Do you not see that the fear of hell rather than the fear of offending God, restrained you from sin?’ After these words he paused; and regarding me with a compassionate air, seemed to await my reply. But conviction and terror closed my mouth, and he thus resumed his discourse, ‘Withhold no longer from God the glory which is due to Him. Turn to Him with all your heart, and become a new creature. Watch and pray, (Matt 26:41; Mark 13:33) was the command of the Son of God; but instead of having done this by working out your salvation with fear and trembling, (Phil 2:12) you have slept the sleep of security. At this very moment—do you not sleep in that state of lethargy and spiritual death, from which the Word of God, the exhortations of His servants, and the strivings of His grace have not been sufficient to deliver you? Time is swallowed up in eternity. There is no more place for repentance. You have obstinately refused to glorify God’s mercy in Christ Jesus—go then, slothful servant and glorify His justice.’ Having uttered these words he disappeared, and, at the same time, the air gave way under my feet—the abyss began to open—dreadful wailings assailed my ears, and a whirlwind of smoke surrounded me. The agitation of my mind and body awoke me, the horror of which nothing can equal, and the mere recollection of which still makes me tremble. O how happy I felt on awaking to find that I was still in the land of mercy, and the day of salvation! O my God, I cried, grant that this dream may continually influence my sentiments and my conduct! May it prove a powerful stimulus to excite me to prepare continually for the coming of my great Master!”

    By this dream Fletcher was convinced that he had been indulging vain hopes, and that his mind was still unrenewed. His conviction of this truth, however, did not rest entirely nor chiefly on what had been told him in his dream—but he now set to work in sober earnest to examine his religious principles and motives by the Scriptures; and the more he examined the more fully was he convinced that he was yet in an unconverted state. From this time he began with all earnestness to seek for justification through the blood of Christ; and never rested until he found peace with God by a living faith in the truth and promises of God.

    Thomas Sullivan

    Monday 16 November 2015 at 10:40

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