It is most appropriate that the famous letters of the saintly John Fletcher should be re-published in 1968. For this year happens to be the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Countess of Huntingdon's College at Trevecca, for the training of preachers (later known as Cheshunt College). John Fletcher was the first president of the College, which was opened in 1768 by George Whitefield, who preached several sermons on that occasion.
Fletcher was one of that great and remarkable company of men raised up by God in the eighteenth century in connection with The Evangelical Awakening-a company which included George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, Daniel Rowlands, Howel Harris and John Cennick.
These men belonged to two main, groups, determined chiefly by their views on the subject of Free Will and Sanctification; at times the controversy between them was acute and even bitter. But at the first anniversary of the opening of the college at Trevecca in August 1769, the leaders of both parties were present and took part in the worship, the preaching, and the partaking of the Lord's Supper at a great Communion Service.
What made this possible was their common experience of the grace of God, their doctrine of assurance, but above all-their deep experimental knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what made them the men they were, and gave them their evangelistic zeal; and this accounts for the authority which was such a great characteristic of their preaching. This is what brought them together, in spite of their differences.
Nothing is more important than this : and it is the theme of these six letters on The Spiritual Manifestations of the Son of God.
They have been so long out of print, and almost impossible to obtain apart from the rare copies of the Complete Works of John Fletcher. It is particularly good to have them as a separate volume in this way.
I shall never forget my first reading of these letters and the benediction to my soul that they proved to be. They are undoubtedly a spiritual classic.
At a time like this, when many are preoccupied almost exclusively with questions of ecclesiastical organisation and realignment, and others are in danger of falling into a Corinthian and fanatical interest in spiritual phenomena, and the majority perhaps are just practising formal Christianity, nothing can be more salutary than the message of this book. It points us to the one thing that finally matters, and without which all else is more or less vain. It also points us to the highway to revival-both personal and general.
May God bless it and use it to that end.
D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
Westminster January 1968
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