Book Review: “Memoirs and Sermons of James Bourne”

Memoir and Sermons of James Bourne;

Hardback; 220 pages;

Published by and obtainable from The Huntingtonian Press, 72A Upper Northam Road, Hedge End, Southampton, Hants. SO30 4EB.

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James Bourne (1773-1854) was one of that remarkable group of people connected with the Gilpins and Sukey Harley and others at Hertford and Pulverbach.

The old accounts of these godly people have been deeply valued, and in more recent times their memory has been revived in the book More Than Notion.

It is James Bourne’s letters which have been specially valued by the church of God, being accounted worthy to stand alongside those of Rutherford and Newton in a former day.

This new book republishes James Bourne’s autobiography, which has been out of print for over a hundred years, and which always preceded the letters.

At the end is an account of his blessed death.

In many ways James Bourne’s life was an unusual one. We think of how, pondering what his career should be, the Lord said to him, “Draw,” and he became an eminent water colour artist.

Strange was his life, going among the nobility, teaching drawing – and then his much blessed ministry at Pulverbach, and his becoming a pastor late in life at Sutton Coldfield.

Along with his memoir sixteen sermons appear. Some of these have appeared in the Gospel Standard; others appear, from manuscript, for the first time. These are not the same as his short “Morning Readings” which were also published in the Gospel Standard.

We feel that The Huntingtonian Press has done an excellent service to the people of God in this welcome publication which we believe will be well received – though we think it only fair to say that to us the sermons are not of the same profit as the letters.

But then there is not much that comes up to the standard of James Bourne’s letters!

Mr. J.H. Gosden commented: “James Bourne’s sermons, like his letters, were far too weighty and spiritual to be popular. . . The same solidity and savour which distinguish his letters and sermons rested on his death-bed utterances, the account of which … is one of the most blessed we have ever heard.”

By B.A. Ramsbottom

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