Popularity vs. plain dealing

John Fletcher died before John Wesley. Had he outlived Wesley, he might have taken over leadership of the movement upon Wesley’s death.

His Five Checks to Antinomianism was at one time essential reading for all Methodist preachers.

In this little passage, he laments the fact that too many preachers raise up Christians who ignore the law of God.

Some prefer popularity to plain dealing. We love to see a crowd of worldly-minded hearers, rather than a “little flock, a peculiar people zealous of good works.” We dare not shake our congregations to purpose, lest our five thousand should, in three years time, be reduced to a hundred and twenty. …

The old Puritans strongly insisted upon personal holiness, and the first Methodists upon the new birth; but these doctrines now seem to grow out of date. The Gospel is cast into another mould. People, it seems, may now be “in Christ,” without being “new creatures,” and “new creatures” without casting “old things” away. They may be God’s children without God’s image; and “born of the Spirit” without “the fruits of the Spirit.”

When I read these old out-of-date writers, I’m always amazed how little has changed over time.