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Defending Field Preaching

Between four and five we set out from Roughlee. But observing several parties of men upon the hills and suspecting their design, we put on and passed the lane they were making for before they came. One of our brothers, not riding so fast, was intercepted by them. They immediately knocked him down, and how it was that he got from among them he knew not.

Before seven we reached Widdop. The news of what had passed at Barrowford made us all friends. The person in whose house Mr. B. preached, sent and begged I would preach there; which I did at eight, to such a congregation as none could have expected on so short a warning. He invited us also to lodge at his house, and all jealousies vanished away.

Sunday, 28.—I was invited by Mr. U., the minister of Goodshaw, to preach in his church. I began reading prayers at seven; but perceiving the church would scarcely contain half of the congregation, after prayers I went out, and standing on the churchyard wall, in a place shaded from the sun, explained and enforced those words in the second lesson, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” [Acts 26:38].

I wonder at those who still talk so loud of the indecency of field-preaching. The highest indecency is in St. Paul’s Church, when a considerable part of the congregation are asleep, or talking, or looking about, not minding a word the preacher says. On the other hand, there is the highest decency in a churchyard or field, when the whole congregation behave and look as if they saw the Judge of all and heard Him speaking from heaven.

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