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desire to “ Janeway's Token for Child- We regret not that he thus became ren,” which he was wont to peruse in acquainted with the forms of business his younger years. He was the child of in a large city. Observation convinces many prayers ; saw religion exhibited us that ministers are in general best daily in its most inviting forms; and qualified for the sacred office, who have thus prepared to receive the perma- acquired that practical knowledge of nent impress of Christian truth, he men and things, to which a few years was awakened to a vivid conscious- in mercantile life furnishes an easy ness of eternal things, under a dis- introduction. It was not a love of course preached at Chester, by the change, nor an inaptitude for the occulate Rev. William Thorpe, of Bristol, pation to which he had devoted himwho at that early period of his history self, which led Mr. Fletcher to relinpaid a visit to his native city.
quish his early calling ; but powerful Mr. Fletcher was now in his tenth convictions of duty and conscience, year, animated, energetic, and full of rendered imperative by the palpable hope ; but happily under the powerful intimations of Divine Providence. As control of those hallowed influences of his feelings of personal religion grew, Divine grace, which laid the basis of he became powerfully moved by the his future character, and which pre- desire of more extended usefulness pared the way for the eminence and to his fellow-creatures ; and though, usefulness to which he afterwards at- for a season, the shrinking modesty of tained. To say that he was attractive his nature, added to the awfulness of and intelligent among his youthful the pastoral function, held him back companions, would be to underrate the from an actual surrender of himself to real facts of the case—he was the mas- the work of the ministry, yet it became ter-spirit of the little circle which he every day more manifest to his friends enlivened and adorned, and exhibited that this would be his ultimate destinaindubitable signs of that mental vigour tion. and perspicacity by which he was per- In 1801, at the age of seventeen, he manently distinguished.
made a public profession of his faith in He received the elements of a sound Christ, and was received into the felclassical education under teachers emi- lowship of the Congregational church nent for their scholastic attainments; assembling in Queen-street Chapel, and made such rapid progress in Latin, Chester, where he will be long rememGreek, and other departments of useful bered by those of his own standing for knowledge, as might well have pro- the sweet promise of his early piety claimed his fitness for some of the and zeal, and where he devoted himlearned professions. Meanwhile, how. self to those labours of love which were ever, he was destined to follow the no incongruous preparation for the puroccupation of his revered father, as a suits of a theological student. clock and watchmaker ; and with this About this period, Hoxton Academy object in view, he was removed from (now Highbury College) was rising school at the age of fifteen, and en- rapidly in public esteem, under the tered on his apprenticeship in 1799. fostering care of Dr. Simpson and its
As might have been anticipated, his late devoted Treasurer. In 1803, in mental powers were not to be perma- the month of May, application was nently employed in the mere toils of an made for Mr. Fletcher's admission into ingenious handicraft ; though in prac- this valuable institution, to which the tical mechanics he showed no mean Congregational churches of England proficiency, and would doubtless have
are so deeply indebted ; and in the been a discoverer in his department, month of August following he became had Providence intended him to pro- an accredited inmate of the Establishsecute the science to which he de- ment. voted three or four of his early years. In his new sphere he speedily
evinced talents and energies of a to the pastoral office, on the 16th marked and elevated character. Quick- July, 1807, two months only after his ness of perception, elegance of thought, return from Scotland. His settlement and accuracy of composition --added in Lancashire was hailed by his brethren to most gentlemanly habits, friendly throughout the County, and by none dispositions, and correct deportment, more cordially than the late venerable were his characteristics as a theological Mr. Roby, of Manchester, who acted student. He was esteemed by all ; to him like a father, and regarded him and formed, while in college, some of as a real accession to the talent, those happy fellowships, which were learning, and piety, of the denomionly suspended in death, to be re- nation in that part of the kingdom. newed in that blessed world where Here, in the year following his settlesanctified friendship will be cemented ment in the pastoral charge, on the in eternal love.
20th Dec., 1808, Mr. Fletcher was In 1804, Mr. Fletcher, anxious to united in marriage to Miss France, enjoy the benefits of a university cur- a native of Blackburn, and a member of riculum, and having obtained, for clas- his own church,—and a lady, moresical merit, one of the late Dr. Wil- over, who, by a happy combination of liams's exhibitions, proceeded, with estimable qualities, was fitted to be the others, to Glasgow College, where, friend of his heart, the companion and under its then distinguished Professors, solace of his daily walk ; and who, for he prosecuted his studies with an assi. the space of thirty-six years, has proved duity and success, for three successive herself a devoted wife, and a gentle sessions, which raised him to the first and watchful mother. We mingle our rank among the young men of his tears with her's, while we reflect on the standing, and, on his return to England, sad loss she has sustained,-a loss fixed his reputation as a respectable
which the God of love can alone scholar, and an accomplished and repair. popular divine. Speaking of this In Blackburn, and throughout Lanperiod of our lamented friend's career, cashire, Mr. Fletcher's ministry was and classing him with other honoured acceptable and popular in a high deassociates, Dr. Wardlaw observes, “ For gree. He drew around him a large and the three successive sessions during prosperous congregation and church, which these three associates pursued and became the instrument of lasting their studies together at Glasgow Col- benefit to multitudes of his fellowlege,—and pursued them with high creatures. Here, in a district largely credit to themselves, as the subsequent
imbued with the spirit of popery, he career of each, as well as the testi. was induced to study with close attenmonials of eminence at the time, suffi- tion the Roman Catholic controversy, ciently evinces,—they frequented our and to prepare those Lectures for the house with the intimacy of brothers ; press, which, from that time to the and the friendship then formed with present, have been regarded by all the lamented dead continued, with un- competent judges as a standard deabated and uninterrupted stedfastness fence of Protestant principles. and fervour, from that time to the day Here, too, he became the resident of his death."*
and theological tutor of Blackburn Before Mr. Fletcher had terminated Academy (now Lancashire Indepenhis studies at Glasgow, he received the dent College), and for many years call of the Congregational church at efficiently discharged the duties conBlackburn, Lancashire ; and, at the nected with that responsible office, and early age of twenty-three, was ordained sent forth many youthful pastors, who * “ The Final Triumph of God's faithful
have well sustained the reputation of Servants," &c. p. 38.
their accomplished Instructer,
From the distinguished position oc- have been prolonged for a season ; but cupied by Mr. Fletcher in the town of it may well be questioned whether he Blackburn, and in the county of Lan- would have effected a greater amount caster generally, it might have appeared of real good. desirable that he should have finished In the year 1831, Mr. Fletcher had his course where it had been so auspi- the degree of D.D. conferred on him ciously commenced ; but Divine Pro- by the University of Glasgow, his alma vidence had otherwise determined. It mater, and few men have worn this was not unreasonable, perhaps, that honour more gracefully than he did. such a man, after labouring so long in For some years past, his health was a provincial town, should be disposed, rapidly declining ; and though there if a fair opportunity offered, to cast was a rallying power in his constitution himself upon the tide of this vast me- which threw off disease with wonderful tropolis. In 1823, such an opportunity ease, it was but too obvious to calm presented itself. After a residence for observers, that his days were numbered, sixteen years in Blackburn, he then and that his work was nearly done. received an invitation from the Congre- The attacks from which he suffered gational church at Stepney to become were so acute and painful, that they their pastor, which, upon mature re- exhausted the vital energy ; wbile his flection and prayer, he accepted, and anxiety to preserve his standing in the which he had no reason at any future work to which his heart so fervently period to regret. He did not come clung either retarded his recovery or to London as a stranger, but as one brought back the paroxysms of pain. who had acquired a settled reputation, The fondest persuasions of domestic and who was well known by his periodic love could not at all times prevail upon cal visits, as a preacher of the first rank. him to abstain from efforts to which he He was heartily welcomed by his bre- had become unequal. To the last he thren in the metropolis, as well as by clung to his ministry, and to his flock. his new flock at Stepney. But here, The full current of his thoughts conperhaps, it may be proper to observe, tinued to roll onward in their accusthat he fell into the too common mis- tomed channel. He retained all the take of ardent and devoted minds, viz., sympathies of“ a good minister of Jesus that of suffering his mental and physi- Christ” to the closing scene of existcal powers to be overtaxed, by the ence. Since last Christmas, it was obincessant demands made in great cities vious to all that he was fast sinking upon men of decided power. For into the grave. In April he repaired, twelve or fourteen years, our lamented with his beloved partner, to the Rev. friend was doing the work of two or Joseph France's, at Ham, where it was three men of ordinary energy. And, hoped that change of air and scene with the labour,—the almost fastidious might be beneficial. But, alas! the labour,—which he was wont to bestow hope was delusive ! In a short time upon his pulpit exercises, he became he was seized with one of his most the victim of certain constitutional alarming attacks, and was with diffimaladies ; insidious, indeed, in their first culty removed, on the 1st of May, to approaches, but fatal in their result. his own home, never again to quit it, But we dare not censure our friend till his mortal remains were conveyed for his willingness to serve his God to the silent tomb. On the following and his generation, He was
day, he sat up in his study, with great ready, at what he regarded to be the pain to himself, for a few hours, and call of duty, either to advocate a then retired for ever from an apartment great and popular object, or to officiate which had been, for many years, the sancin a village chapel. Had he been more tuary of his thoughts,—“the house of sparing of his resources, his life might God, and the gate of heaven"to his soul.
His last illness had now commenced ; He seemed to triumph in the thought though the lamp of life continued to of the resurrection-body, and, in an burn faintly for the space of five weeks. energetic tone, quoted the words of His sufferings were great, and hope of Paul to the Philippians : “ Who shall recovery had ceased. All that medical
change our vile body, that it may be skill could effect was rendered, with fashioned like unto his own glorious the assiduity which only friendship can body," &c. exert. “Memory," observes Dr. Ward- On his last earthly sabbath he oblaw, in his funeral discourse,
served, “I wonder what my Lord's loves to dwell upon the patience and will is ; it may be for life, or it may be gentleness, and the calm resignation, for death. I wish I were away!” and, and the mental peace, and the triumph- soon after, “I shall be with my Lord ant faith and piety of the dear sufferer, this day!" rather than upon that which then was He felt great consolation in hearing so distressing.
of the united prayers of his flock on his • The chamber where the good man meets his
behalf; and though he seldom prayed fate
audibly for himself, he often did so for Is privileged beyond the common walk of life, his family, and for the universal triQuite on the verge of heaven ! "*
umph of Christ's gospel. Once, reAmidst bodily sufferings, sufficient to ferring to his beloved children, he appal the stoutest heart, the mind of our supplicated : “ The Lord bless them, departed friend was kept “ in perfect preserre them, guide them, comfort peace.” The utterances which fell from them. Father, I will that they also his lips, whether in prayer, or praise,
whom thou hast given me be with me or devout observation, all savoured of
where I am.” a mind emancipated from earth, and
Being asked by his dear wife if he filled with heavenly aspiration. Often
was afraid of death, he replied, “ Oh, did he repeat those touching and ap
no ; I know in whom I have believed, propriate lines
and am persuaded that he is able to
keep that which I have committed unto “ Yet a season, and we know
him until that day.” Happy entrance shall be given, All our sorrows left below,
Expressing some anxiety about his And earth exchanged for heaven." family, Mrs. Fletcher said, “ The Lord
will provide for us.” He replied, emOnce his beloved daughter gently asked
phatically and confidently, “He will." him if he wanted anything? His re
His interviews with his friends, and ply was, “ There wants nothing, my
particularly with Mr. Hankey, Mr. dear girl, but more conformity to the
Garman, (his medical attendant,) and mind and will of our best friend."
Dr. Burder, were all very touching, That bis views of affliction were the
and evinced the firmness of his faith, reverse of gloomy, was rendered obvi.
and the calm undisturbed tranquillity of ous by the following striking remarks :
his hope. After the last-named friend “ He has put that,” said he,“ into the
and college companion had prayed with cup of affliction which enables us to
him, he faintly remarked,
As one enjoy it;" and, after a short pause, “ He
whom his brother comforteth !” and, in has taken away all the gall, and all the
seeing him retire, he quoted the exbitterness, and has given us all the
pressive linessweetness and all the excellency."
“ One there is above all others, On one occasion, when obviously in
Best deserves the name of friend; deep thought, he exclaimed, emphati
His is love beyond a brother's, cally : “ It is a great thing to be ha- Costly, free, and knows no end." bitually right !"
In a great agony of suffering, but a *P. 41.
short period before he entered into glorious rest, he poured out the fol- throughout, it breathes the spirit of lowing tender and importunate prayer :
fervent and sanctified friendship-no"O Christ, forgive me! Immaculate thing cold, nothing reserved, and noJesus, help me !" On the night be thing unduly eulogistic. fore his decease, the storm of bodily It may be expected, perhaps, in anguish had subsided ; and on his closing this imperfect narrative, that daughter asking him if he were in we should attempt something like a much pain, he softly whispered, “ No !" faint portraiture of our departed friend. which was the last expression that fell But we are tremblingly alive to the from his mortal lips.
difficulty of doing justice to his many On Thursday morning, the 8th June, and rare qualities. The symmetry of his spirit fled peacefully, as on angel's Dr. Fletcher's mind appeared to us to wings, into the bosom of his Lord. be its prominent and distinguishing He fell asleep in the 59th year of his characteristic. His judgment was sober age, and the 36th of his ministry. and accurate, without a particle of cold
Such a death was suitable to the ness or torpor; and his fancy was life of one who had proved himself lively and excursive, without any apwilling “ to spend and be spent for proach to extravagance. He possessed, Christ.” It was deeply instructive to in an eminent degree, the power of his beloved family, edifying to his at- sound logical induction ; but he never tached flock, and animating to the forgot the relation in which every mofaith and hope of the Christian church. ral and religious appeal stands to the Through the dark cloud of his suffer- affections and consciences of account. ings, he was enabled ever to look upon able beings. There was great nicety the smiling countenance of a recon- often in his discriminations, but they ciled God and Father in Christ Jesus. were those rather of the Cbristian
Dr. Fletcher's interment took place teacher than of the mere metaphysion the 16th June, at Abney Park cian. His addresses from the pulpit Cemetery, and presented a scene of un- were truly commanding; and had they dissembled grief on the part of many been less refined and precise in phrasehundreds of spectators. The funeral ology, they would have been more services were conducted at Stepney penetrating. His theology was based Meeting-house, and at the place of se- on a decidedly scriptural model, and it pulture, by the Rev. J. A. James, the was so well adjusted and harmonized, Rev. Dr. Burder, the Rev. G. Smith, that it never exhibited symptoms of the Rev. W. Walford, and the Rev. self-contradiction and inconsistency. Dr. J. P. Smith.
He was a faithful preacher of the cross On Lord's day, the 18th June, the of Christ, and knew well the avenues to funeral discourse was preached by the the human conscience. As a man, a miRev. Dr. Wardlaw, of Glasgow, to a nister, a Christian, he was an individual crowded and weeping auditory, from whom most could admire, and few comthe pulpit of the deceased. For the paratively could censure. How rarely preceding sketch we are greatly in- are such men to be found! God grant debted to the Doctor's sermon, which that the church in our day may be we are happy to see in print, and blessed with many such! May his which, we doubt not, will realize that bereaved family be sustained in the extensive circulation to which its hour of their deep sorrow ; and may merits so richly entitle it.
It was a his flock be blessed with a shepherd, happy effort, on the part of one who who shall lead them into the green rarely fails to meet the expectations of pastures which Christ has prepared for the public. Eloquent and impressive them!