Hugh Bourne's Journal - On processioning, ministring to children, and other matters

From the Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838

Saturday July 21, 1838, late in the evening I arrived in the city of Hereford, and found the friends all well; and their new chapel nearly completed; and they have succeeded in begging about two hundred pounds in the city only.  The Lord has remarkably opened their way.  To his name be the praise.

Sunday July 22. — Our brethren, a few weeks ago, had an opening of the chapel, but to-day was fixed on for a further opening.  In the morning we processioned several streets; and sung to the chapel.  In the afternoon we processioned in other parts of the city; the chapel was crowded, and the service was powerful.  In the evening we traversed other streets, so that we processioned nearly the whole of the city.  The chapel was crowded; and the collections of the day were liberal.

I came here under much anxiety, doubtful whether I should be able to preach more than twice; as on Wednesday May 2, 1838, I was taken suddenly ill, and expected to die in a few days.  And, during Conference, I was indeed at Darlaston, but was on the bed or laid up nearly the whole time.  But by the mercy of God, I this day (July 22,) was enabled to preach three times in the chapel, besides taking an extensive part in the processioning.  It also fell to my lot to deliver out the instructions.  And as the knowledge of this work and labour of love, is not so extensive as it should be, it may be well here to insert a course of

Processioning Instruction.

The processioning should commence one hour before the preaching.  But if so much time cannot be obtained, then let it begin as soon as it can; if only half an hour can be had, it may be of considerable service.

Let all due diligence be used.  Let no time be whiled away.  Let all who preach or pray act promptly, and give over at the proper time.  The conductor must see to these things.  Proceed in as quick a pace as the women can walk without difficulty.  A very slow pace both wastes time, and requires additional singing.

The procession commences with singing; and usually prayer and sermon at the starting place.  The procession then proceeds with singing, stops where there are a number of inhabitants; and on stopping the people usually fall into a ring, have prayer for about one minute, and a sermon for about a minute and a half, or not to exceed two minutes.  Singing then commences promptly, and the brethren march on with diligence; stopping from time to time at suitable places; and taking care to arrive at the chapel, at least, five minutes before service time.

When a procession stops its service may be from four to five minutes, as there is often about a minute spent in singing.  The praying may either be before the sermon or after it, just as it falls in.  And it will be evident that the people will hear the gospel if they are in their houses or even in their beds.  And it will be evident too, that hundreds and thousands, and ten thousands, may, by means of processionings, be caused to hear the gospel, who cannot be caused to hear it by any other means now in existence.  And this should Induce every child of God to study the processioning;

and in particular every preacher to make himself fully acquainted with it; and every pious praying labourer too.

The Prayings.

The person who prays should do it in a full steady voice, so as to be sufficiently heard.  The praying to be plain and direct, and as fully in faith as possible.  And, as the processioning is mainly for the benefit of the inhabitants, they should be constantly prayed for; say in such expressions as, “Lord bless the inhabitants.”  “Bless all the families in the town.”  “Bless all the people.”  Here there should be an attempt to get fully into faith for the people, to bring down the grace of God upon them.  The children also should be mentioned before the Lord, as “Lord bless these children.”  “Bless these boys and girls.  Turn thine hand upon these little ones.”  And it might be well for no one to be called on to pray, but such as are capable of praying pointedly for the inhabitants, both for the children and the grown up people; as “Lord, bless all the families in the town.  May children and parents be blest of the Lord.”  Or some such pointed expressions.

United faith is powerful.  But if the person who exercises, does not pray pointedly for the inhabitants, he hinders the action of faith, and misses the main work, which is to benefit the inhabitants.  It would be well for the travelling preachers, at suitable times, to give lectures on this point, showing the propriety of making mention of the inhabitants before the Lord in prayer; praying directly and expressly for them.  As also to avoid all apologies and all round-about talk; showing every one the propriety of coming at once into the work, getting into faith as fully as possible, and closing in one min ute.  By these means they would be a more general blessing.

The Preachings.

The length of a processioning sermon is a minute and a half, or not to exceed two minutes; but still each sermon must contain a body of divinity.  Each sermon must fully set forth the Atonement, which may be done in these words, “Jesus Christ hath died for you, and risen again.”  Each sermon must fully hold out salvation, as, “The Lord is able NOW to grant you repentance unto life.  The Lord is able NOW to pardon your sins, send his grace down into your hearts, write your names in heaven, and save you from the wrath to come.”  Or in some such words.  Further, “Feed my lambs” (John xxi. 15,) must dwell in the preacher’s heart; and, full in faith, he may proceed, “The Lord loves all you children, and can hear your prayers, (every word,) when you say your prayers to him.  He would not have any of you to go to the bad place, but would have you all to go to heaven.”  Or in some such expressions, with any agreeable variety.

If a processioning preacher dwells on these three points he hits his way.  But these positions may be brought forward in any way the preacher may choose; only all the three positions should be brought forward; and brought forward as fully in faith as possible.

The travelling preachers should be frequently lecturing and advising on these points, in order that the Brethren may be fully prepared for entering into this work and labour of love: be fully ready to begin promptly; speak in a full and steady voice; set forth the atonement; and offer immediate salvation; preach to the children; and close at the proper times.

The brethren should be so con versant with the work as to be able to procession when no travelling preacher can attend.  But it is desirable to have a travelling preacher if he be at liberty from other engagements.  And when he is present he must act prudently, and according to his line of duty.  He should sing but little, if any.  He may occasionally deliver a processioning sermon; bring forward others both in this duty, and also in the prayings.  But if he does not act prudently he may be so much exhausted as not to be able properly to fill up his duty in the pulpit or pulpits.

Walking sermons and walking prayings, introduced occasionally, make an agreeable variety, and are much taken to by some.  They are also valuable, when time is scarce.

If the processioning was fully in use, thousands and ten thousands would be caused to hear the gospel, who cannot be reached by any other means now in use; and of whom it might be said, “No man careth for their souls.”’

Further, during the week, the praying people, in their private devotions, should constantly spread the cause of the inhabitants before God.  Also the public exercises in processioning should be studied and paid attention to; and the more so, as at times, people unaccustomed to processioning are called upon to pray; and of such it has been noticed, that they are scarcely ever heard to make mention of the inhabitants, in their prayer to God.  And of the children the little ones, they are hardly ever known to make any mention in their prayers.  Now such omissions should be guarded against; otherwise the standers by might be induced to say, “These people pray for themselves, but they seem to care nothing about us, nothing about the inhabitants, nothing about the children.

If the ground be wet it is com­mon to stand up to pray, otherwise we kneel.

Monday July 23. — Preached at Cottage chapel in Cwm circuit.  The people here appear to be strong in faith, and it was a powerful time.

Prayer Answered.

Some years ago I received a letter without any name of person or place.  It was from a class-leader who could not prevail with the members to comply with the rule that relates to subscribing weekly, although they had the ability.  And the question was whether the leader could in point of conscience continue in the office unless they would comply with that rule.  The leader thought not, but would, nevertheless continue to lead the class till my advice was obtained.

I at once saw the dilemma.  If the leader gave up it would injure the cause of God.  If the leader continued with a scruple of conscience, that would be injurious; and if I wrote any thing which did not do well, that also might injure the cause of God.  I was quite filled with sorrow, and for some time durst not attempt to write.  But after some days of distress, I ventured to draw up a letter, advising prayer to God to put it into the hearts of the members to subscribe weekly according to rule.  And I noticed some instances in which important matters had been accomplished by means of prayer.  This was all I durst write, and I wrote even this with fear and trembling.  But after some weeks I had the satisfaction to be favoured with a letter from the same hand, to say that the advice had been taken; the leader made prayer and supplication to the Lord; and in answer to prayer, he put it into their hearts, they came forward, contributed weekly according to rule, and all went on in harmony.

This last letter being also without a name, I had no certain means of knowing who was the writer.  But now, Mrs. Lea, of the cottage, said she was determined to tell me; and she said the class-leader who wrote to me was one of her daughters.  And that when my letter arrived, her daughter was much tried with its contents.  She, however, followed the advice; and the people soon came forward to comply with that rule, and have continued to comply with it.  This daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lea, is now Mrs. Crowe of Weobly.

Tuesday July 24. — Bro. Hurd assisted me back to Hereford; and from thence one of our brethren kindly fetched me in a spring cart to Bromyard in Herefordshire, where I preached at night.

Wednesday 25, I preached at Leominster in Ludlow circuit, and saw Bro. Graham.  The work here is doing well, and so it is generally in the circuit.  But Bro. Graham regretted his not sufficiently opposing the taking in of a man here, who had been out and in several times, and who had been in another religious community several times.  But they have now got rid of him, and the work is prospering.

Thursday 26, preached at Dilwyn, in Cwm circuit.  The service was powerful.

Friday 27, preached in an ancient market hall at Weobly.  A large company, and much liberty; and the prayer meeting after was powerful.

On Ministring to Children.

There being in different circuits a wish that in ministring the word more attention might be paid to children, several conversations took place on the subject.  And it was remarked that, “Feed my Lambs,” was the first position laid down by our Lord, in John xxi. 15.  And that on every occasion, some part of every sermon ought to be preached expressly to the children, if there were children present.  And this too, is found to be useful in promoting variety, increasing faith and edifying parents and others.  Further, ” Honour all men”(Peter ii. 17,) belongs to children just the same as grown up people; they should therefore be treated with equal inward reverence; and in addressing them, the preacher should endeavour with all his might, to get into faith, and preach to them with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.  The diligent preaching to children, as well as to grown up people, dignifies the ministry, causing it to show a beautiful whole.  But when the ministring to the children is left out, the service shows a lameness or deficiency; and the direction of our blessed Lord (in John xxi. 15-17,) is not complied with.

In processioning the children are a main staff.  They will join in when others stand at a distance; and if able to sing, they will assist the best they can; and they will continue with the procession to its close.  So in all the preachings and prayings, the little ones should be distinctly noticed, and paid particular attention to.

At various camp meetings the children were preached to in the dinner hour.  But at the Conference camp meeting, in the year 1828, a sermon was preached to the children in the afternoon; and this sermon was attended with such power and effect as fully manifested the will of God in this matter.  And from that time various circuits adopted the practice of having one sermon to the children, in the afternoon of the camp meeting day.  And this has been so blest of the Lord that it has become very general in the connexion.  And it has been recommended by the conference.  The consolidated minutes, in page 38, in order to render each camp meeting more efficient and useful, say, “Let one sermon, at least, be preached to the children.”  But unhappily this has not yet been carried into effect in all parts of the connexion; but we may hope it soon will be; and that those preachers who have been behind their brethren in this matter will begin to show more zeal.  But in some instances there has been a forenoon sermon also to the children; two sermons in the day.

Saturday July 28. — Being assisted by our highly respected Brother, Mr. Crowe of Weobly, I returned to Hereford.  And in the course of the day, a gentleman kindly fetched me and Bro. Richards fifteen miles, to assist in holding a camp meeting, and in opening a chapel on a Common, the name of which I have forgot.  And on Sunday July 29, the opening and camp meeting services were powerful; and between ten and eleven at night I and Bro. Richards got back to Hereford.  On the Monday I took coach to Birmingham, and intended to have got home, but was unavoidably detained at Birmingham.

Tuesday morning, July 31, I set out by the railway; and found it easy to read in the carriage.  And one of the passengers put into my hands, “Osborne’s Guide to the Grand Junction Railway.”  And among other things I met with a description of Darlaston, where, in speaking of the places of worship, he notices the Primitive Methodist chapel, and says, “It is one of the largest, and best constructed edifices of the kind in the country.”

In the afternoon I arrived safe at home, thankful to God for all his mercies.

I undertook this journey with much anxiety on account of the state of my health.  But, through the mercy of God, it has been made a means of greatly improving my health.  And fully as I have been employed, I have stood the labour well; and at suitable times was occupied in editing.  I have not been so extensively employed as usual in ministerial family visitings.  This has arisen from the constant moving from place to place, and the great press of other things.  But I had a good time in family visiting with Bro. Predgen at Weobly, and the people received us kindly.  And I trust the Lord will remember them for their kindness.                                  H. B.


Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838.  Pages 417-421.

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