Swineshead Bridge Methodist Church - William Booth (1852)

This was the first week of William Booth ministering officially.

'Although I was only twenty-three years of age and Lincolnshire was one of the counties that had been most privileged with able Methodist preaching for half a century, and I had to immediately follow in Spalding a somewhat renowned minister, God helped me very wonderfully to make myself at home, and become a power amongst the people.

I felt some nervousness when on my first November Sunday I was confronted by such a large congregation as greeted me. In the morning I had very little liberty; but good was done, as I afterwards learned. In the afternoon we had a Prayer- or After-meeting, at which one young woman wept bitterly. I urged her to come to the communion-rails at night. She did so, and the Lord saved her. She afterwards sent me a letter thanking me for urging her to come. In the evening I had great liberty in preaching, and fourteen men and women came to the communion-rail; many, if not all, finding the Saviour.

On the Monday I preached there again. Four came forward, three of whom professed to find Salvation. I exerted myself very much felt very deeply and prayed very earnestly over an old man who had been a backslider for seven years. He wept bitterly and prayed to the Lord to save him, “if He could wash a heart as black as Hell" By exerting myself so much I made myself ill and was confined to the house during the rest of the week. My host and hostess were very kind to me.

The next Sunday I started from home rather unwell I had to go to Donnington, some miles away, in the morning and evening, and to Swincshead Bridge in the afternoon.

But at night God helped me to preach in such a way that many came out, and fourteen names were taken of those who really seemed satisfactory. It was indeed a melting, moving time.

I was kneeling, talking to a penitent, when someone touched me on the shoulder and said, "Here is a lady who has come to seek the Saviour, and now she has come to hear you, and she wants Salvation too.'' The Lord had mercy upon her, and she went away rejoicing.

At Swineshead Bridge — the name gives some idea of the utterly rural character of the population — I was to preach on three successive evenings, in the hope of promoting a Revival there. Many things seemed to be against the project, but the Lord was for us. Two people came out on Monday evening, and God saved them both. This raised our faith and cheered our spirits, especially as we knew that several more souls were in distress.

On the Tuesday the congregation was better. The news had spread that the Lord was saving and that seldom fails to bring a crowd wherever it may be. That evening the word was with power and six souls cried for mercy. At the earnest solicitation of the people, I decided to stay the remainder of the week and urged them to pray earnestly, with the result that many sought and found Salvation, and the little Society was nearly doubled.

On the Saturday, just as I started home on the omnibus, a plain, unsophisticated Christian man came and said, "O sir, let me have hold of your hand" When he had seized it between both his, with tears streaming down his face, he said, “Glory be to God that ever you came here. My wife before her conversion was a cruel persecutor and a sharp thorn in my side. She would go home from the Prayer-Meeting before me, and as full of the Devil as possible; she would oppose and revile me; but now, sir, she is just the contrary, and my house, instead of being a little Hell has become a little Paradise." This was only one of a number of cases in which husbands rejoiced over wives, and wives over husbands, for whom they had long prayed.

I shall always remember with pleasure the week I spent at Swineshead Bridge, because I prayed more and preached with more of the spirit of expectation and faith, and then saw more success than in any previous week of my life. I dwell upon it as, perhaps, the week which most effectually settled my conviction forever, that it was God's purpose by my using the simplest means to bring souls into liberty, and to break into the cold and formal state of things to which so many of His people only too readily settle down.

'The Life of General William Booth', by Harold Begbie, Volume 1, pages 155-7.



Additional Information

I am assuming this is where the meetings were. The church was built a few years earlier.

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