Saturday, July 1, 2006

A Plea For Old Books

Yesterday I read much of John Fletcher's book Christ Manifested. Originally the book was a series of letters that Fletcher wrote to a Christian in need of spiritual guidance. They were made into a book years after Fletcher's death.

John Fletcher is a significant figure in the Great Awakening. He so impressed John Wesley that Wesley wanted Fletcher to become the next leader of the Methodist societies. Sadly, Fletcher--though younger--died before Wesley.

Christ Manifested is a spiritual classic concerning the manifestation/revelation of Christ to the believer. In other words, it's all about the "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" that Christian preachers commend to the congregation. According to Fletcher, God can manifest himself to a believer in three ways:

a. Extraordinary
b. Ordinary
c. Mixed

Let me provide three quotations from Christ Manifested:

"The only way to avoid this precipice [of pride], is for us to follow in the light of the first manifestation, and to look daily for new visitations from Christ, until He makes His abode with us, and until we walk in the light as He is in the light. A manifestation of the Holy Spirit last year will no more support a soul this year, than air breathed yesterday will nourish the flame of life today. The sun which warmed us last week, must shine again this week; old light is dead light; a notion of old warmth is a very cold notion; we must have fresh food daily, and though we need not a new Christ, we need—perpetually—new displays of His eternal love and power."

"If you, reader, ever seek a personal knowledge of Jesus, never stop seeking Him until you witness your sun going down no more. However, in the meantime, never slight the least ray of the heavenly light; the least of these may open into the broad day of eternity. Cease from your own false wisdom, and become as a little child, or you will not enter the kingdom of heaven, nor see the King in His beauty."

"Unfortunately, many professors of religion in these days are satisfied with what did not satisfy the two disciples [of Emmaus]. They understood the Scriptures, their hearts burned with love and joy, Jesus was with them; but they knew Him not, until the happy moment when He fully opened the eye of their faith, and poured the light of His countenance on their ravished spirits. Happy are those who, like them, constrain an unknown Jesus—by mighty prayers—to tarry with them, until the veil is taken away from their hearts, and until they 'know in whom they have believed'."

It's not a long book but it is a fascinating one!

This blog isn't a plea to read just Christ Manifested. It's a plea to read the old books of Wesleyanism. Sure, their English seems quaint and stilted compared to today but with the Spirit's help you'll get the hang of it. If you want to know what a Wesleyan is, then why not read Wesley? Click on my link at the right for the Christian Classics Ethereal Library; find "The Library" on the left of the screen then click "All (by author)" to come up with an A-Z alphabet. Click on "W" and then scroll down to find Wesley's works.

Why take my word for it? Read him for yourself!