[The Continuation of his Ministry at Sutton Coalfield - Erection of Chapel and Cottage - Providential Mercies - Account of his Mother's Happy End. 1846-1854.]
AT length the time for my journey arrived; and, to my surprise, I received intelligence that Mrs. Rose, who had been lying dangerously ill, and whose affliction had been much sanctified to the profit and comfort of us all, was dead, and that her husband was about to leave the tenement they had occupied next door to our friends above mentioned, and that we might have it furnished; and it further appeared that the same friends had a large upper room quite suitable for our meeting, which they had not mentioned before, and would keep it for that purpose. Thus everything unfolded according to the word of the Lord, and during my journey I found much of the comforting power of the Lord's love upon my heart, and arrived safely at my little habitation, 21st March, 1846.
The next day (Sunday) I began my preaching with this subject, "Except the Lord build the house, they labour but in vain that build it." This house I saw to be the renewed heart, an habitation he makes meet for himself. The Lord was with us. The following Sunday I preached Mrs. Rose's funeral sermon to a great many. Since then there have been many changes; but to my surprise, I have seldom spoken in public but the Lord has visited me with a wonderful sense of his love and mercy. The people attended very steadily, and increased both in numbers and steadiness, and several of them manifested a work of grace upon their hearts. I found repeated tokens of the Lord's presence and sweet approbation.
Some hearers who came from Aldridge, in Staffordshire, and appeared to profit much, prevailed upon me to go over to that place. In my meditation upon the subject of my preaching there (John xi.), I found these words came personally to me with a divine power - "The Master is come, and calleth for THEE." As soon as Mary heard that, it is said, she arose quickly, and came unto him and so did I. But I cannot describe the sweetness and power I felt when these words came, and I believe there were a few that received with much profit the things spoken. Several declared they had never heard such things before, and had long been looking for them, but had never found any either to describe their feelings, or to declare what they conceived to be the truth. I continued feelings, a time to make monthly visits to that place.
The anxiety expressed by the late Mr. Willoughby on his deathbed, that the truth should be preached in his town, induced one of his relations to offer 2001. towards building a chapel for me at Sutton; several friends at Hertford added to the gift, and we found a suitable piece of ground for the purpose. This made a beautiful opening for us; and I felt the blessing of God in it, favouring us in all directions. Besides this, it pleased God to move our kind friend Mr. Maddy to buy the ground adjoining the chapel, and build a cottage for our accommodation.
I know not how to express the goodness of God for such wonderful interferences; all this, together with a sweet sense of the Lord's presence in preaching. Though (while I write) there still appear many difficulties in prospect, yet such multiplied tokens in past favours encourage me to hope the Lord will yet provide. I have many times felt a sweet and heavenly power in preaching in our new chapel to a numerous congregation, a few of whom have manifested a true work upon the heart. I have also found the Lord very precious in my new house, which contains as many comforts as any could reasonably desire. I hope to retain in my thoughts that this is not my rest; I must shortly leave all these things, and am very anxious to keep a lively and clear sense of the love of God on my heart.
It has pleased God hitherto to send a supply which has been sufficient for us; yet I Often feared that if my life should be spared, I should find many difficulties, for my own personal property* would not meet all my expenses, and I dreaded debt. One day in particular these thoughts became a heavy burden, and I was led out in earnest prayer to know the way the Lord would help; and while in prayer it was remarkably impressed upon me, that I had come to the end of that trouble. I repeated the words several times, and both pondered and wondered how it could be. The next day a letter came to say my wife's brother was suddenly at the point of death; and that day week he breathed his last. The provision he had made in his will for my family cleared my income from many expenses which had necessarily fallen upon me, and I felt the relief very great, which caused a sweet spring of gratitude to the Lord. Six months after this my eldest brother died, from whom I had no expectations. Many things had caused a long separation of forty-five years; yet, to my surprise, he had made such a remembrance of my children as would amount to an ample provision for them. In these things I saw the Lord's answer to my prayer, and such an answer as had never once come into my mind.
* During the last half of his long life Mr. Bourne was not without a competence from private property, but such was his simplicity of character, that if he slightly exceeded his regular income even for a short time, he felt as if his pecuniary resources were at an end, and he wrote as he felt.
About the same time (1851) an account of my mother's death was sent to me; it had been written by her brother-in-law between seventy and eighty years ago, and is to the following effect -
Jan. 4, 1776. This day her situation began to appear to herself precarious, and she expressed an entire resignation to the divine will. She had been the last year under heavy afflictions, which brought her to be more thoroughly acquainted with her condition in the sight of God - her vileness and exceeding sinfulness, and the sweet hope the Lord had given her of his mercy under the consideration of what the Lord Jesus Christ had done for her, though surrounded with so much stupidity and ignorance. O how spiritual life was discerned by her exceeding earnestness to have clear work, and for those about her to be brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!
Jan. 5. Her brother was called up at three o'clock in the morning, she supposing herself to be just expiring, though the medical man was not so apprehensive of immediate danger. He found her full of joy and hope, full of a blessed immortality. She expressed great thankfulness to the Lord for his goodness and mercy to her soul, and blessed him for all her afflictions. There had been a time when she hoped she should have no more of them; but she now saw in them all the wisdom of God, who has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Of what then should she be afraid? Her brother quoted the verse, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." She replied, "He does, he does." She showed great zeal for the cause and honour of God, and warned all about her to flee from the wrath to come, and not to rest in a profession of religion short of the happy experience of the love of God in the heart. "Oh (said she) that all in my situation may experience the same good hope I now have, and upon as good ground - the same deep sense of sin, and know as I do, He is able to save to the uttermost." He read to her an account of the manner of Toplady's visiting the sick; she said, "What a happy and blessed state it is, to meet death disarmed of his sting through our Lord Jesus Christ. It comes then as a messenger of peace. O what a comfort in a dying hour! O blessed Lord Jesus, that thou shouldest thus prepare me for that awful event, that when I come to resign my breath, I may then be supported with that faith that is of the operation of the Spirit of God, and fixed on that sure foundation - Christ Jesus."
The following morning he was sent for again; she was supposed to be breathing her last. He found the fever ran very high, and her faculties became impaired. In this state Satan sorely perplexed her; doubts and fears poured in upon her like a mighty torrent, and her soul was overwhelmed with trouble. All her past comfort fled, her hope was removed like a tree, and she refused to be comforted. At length the Lord appeared again, and she expressed deep sorrow for the dishonour she had shown towards the Lord in mistrusting his goodness, so eminently displayed in her behalf.
Jan. 7. She was attacked by many fears; Satan seemed very busy, and she ready to give way; but she said, "Blessed be God, he gives me rest from my troubles."
Jan. 9. Her faculties were quite restored; she showed great composure, willing and ready to depart; and took leave of her husband, who had been very kind to her. "Yes," she could now say, "I am leaving him for a better Thy Maker is thy husband. This makes me freely to give him up, and I pray he may as freely give me up."
Thursday, Jan. 11, 1776. At half-past seven in the evening she drew her last breath. Ever since Sunday the Lord had not suffered Satan to buffet her, but she enjoyed much of the sweet presence of God, a perfect calmness of soul, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Though not able to say much this last day, she declared all her fears were departed, and her hopes of future blessedness firm in the righteousness and blood of her dear Redeemer. Just when she was departing, she said, "Tell my friends I am gone to Jesus, and my children shall follow me;" and then expired.