This is the day that … Hugh Bourne preached his first sermon, in North Staffordshire, England. It was 1801, and he was 29 years of age.
Hugh had been converted through reading the Letters of Fletcher of Maddley – “I was born again in an instant, yea passed from death unto life,” he wrote.
By 1802 he had built a chapel and regular services were being conducted. They affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodists.
News of camp meetings in America stirred Hugh Bourne’s heart, and also that of a co-worker, William Clowes. And when Lorenzo Dow arrived from USA – a rather eccentric Methodist nicknamed “Crazy” Dow by his critics – Bourne decided he would organise a ‘camp meeting’ on 23 August, 1807.
It was the first such meeting on England’s green fields.
But the Wesleyan Methodists considered such a gathering ‘highly improper in England, and likely to be productive of considerable mischief.’ So the split took place after simmering for a while. On 13 February, 1812, the Primitive Methodist denomination was born. (Their enemies called them “the Ranters.”)
Hugh Bourne died in 1852 at the age of 80 years. He had lived to see thousands converted, and over 1000 ministers proclaiming the Wesleyan doctrines.
Today Primitive Methodists are on the decline in England and America. But it was in a Primitive Methodist Chapel that young Charles H. Spurgeon “looked to Jesus Christ” … and experienced the joy of sins forgiven.
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.