23/02/2007

Life Story 02

Preparation for the ministry
No sooner was Beddome converted than he felt called to the Christian ministry. His apprenticeship was now coming to an end and he began studies at the Baptist Academy, which was not only based in Bristol but under the stern but effective leadership of Bernard Foskett (1685-1758).
It would seem that for some reason the arrangement lasted only a year and Beddome then moved to London where he studied under Mr John Eames (1686-1744), Principal of the Fund Academy, an Independent academy at Tenter Alley, Moorfields.
(The Academy was founded 1695. In 1697 Thomas Goodwin 1600-1679 was appointed first tutor, followed by Chauncey 1701, Ridgely 1712 then Eames, 1734-1744. Jennings followed, 1744-1762, when it moved to Hoxton, making use of Daniel Williams’ house. There a later academy from Mile End superseded it in 1790 under Robert Simpson. That academy moved in turn to Highbury 1825, then merged with Coward and Homerton to form New College, Finchley Road, 1850).
Eames trained for the dissenting ministry but found himself wholly unsuited to the task and so switched to teaching classics and science in the academy. He was active in the Royal Society and was a friend of Isaac Newton. Isaac Watts described him as ‘The most learned man I ever knew’. He is buried in Bunhill Fields. (Memoir, xii).
Beddome began to attend the Baptist church at Little Prescott Street, Goodman’s Fields, whose pastor at this time was Samuel Wilson (1702-1750). Perhaps strange to say, Beddome was still unbaptised at this point but this was remedied when Wilson baptised him on September 27, 1739. They used the baptistery of a church in the Barbican. (Haykin, BPB 1, 170). Thomas Brooks quotes from a letter sent from father to son at the time "I am pleased to hear that you have given yourself to a church of Christ, but more, in that I hope you first gave up yourself to the Lord to be his servant, and at his disposal. And now I would have you remember that when Christ was baptized, how soon he was tempted of the devil; and I believe many of his followers, in that, have been made conformable to their head. So also may you, therefore, of all the evils you may find working in your heart, especially beware of spiritual pride and carnal security." (Brooks, 23).
The following year, on January 9 and February 28, he preached before the church and was soon called by them to be a gospel minister. Another letter from Beddome Senior expressed concern that Wilson was acting with too much haste but added "The Lord, I hope, will help you to make a solemn dedication of yourself to him, and enter on the work of the Lord with holy awe and trembling." (Ibid).
It was in the spring of that same year, 1740, on his way back to Bristol, that Beddome Junior first preached at Bourton.
Puritans had met in the southern Cotswolds from the earliest times. (For a full and careful description of Bourton’s history before Beddome’s coming, cf Holmes, 1-19). A congregation seems to have been gathered before 1655 (the year that Bourton became one of 7 founder members of the West Midland Association) and came to be pastored briefly, on an open membership basis, by the local clergyman, Anthony Palmer (1618-1678), who left the established church in 1660.
(Even earlier there was a Thomas Paxford, according to Ivimey, Vol II, 161. According to Brooks, Palmer’s book A Scripture Rule to the Lord’s Table, was in Beddome’s Library. A copy [London, 1654] is still in the Beddome Collection at the Angus Library. Ivimey, Vol II, 163-167, says it was written against a J Humphrey’s Treatise of free admission. He says Palmer authored 4 or 5 other books, the major one being The gospel new creature of 1658. A native of Worcestershire or Warwickshire and Oxford educated, he later ministered in London [at Pinners Hall according to Calamy]).
Later pastors may have included a John Dunce, also known as Wolgrave. At one point there may have been two ministers, Collett, a Paedo-baptist, and Joshua Head, a Baptist ejected from the Church of England in 1662. A chapel was built in 1701 for the Baptists, the Paedo-baptists having left to form their own congregation. Head died in 1719 and was succeeded by Thomas Flower, who led the congregation to constitute itself as a baptised church. Some 50 people, 24 men and 26 women, signed the covenanting document on January 30, 1720.
By 1740 Flower was dead and the church was eagerly looking for a new pastor. Before his coming to the village in 1740, Beddome described the church as one that had been ‘for a long time … unsettled and divided’. (Haykin, BPB 1, 168, quoting a letter to Prescott Street Baptist Church quoted in an article by Thomas Brooks in The Baptist Magazine). The church wanted Beddome to preach regularly for them, which he agreed to do. For some time, however, he also continued to preach in Warwickshire.

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