Life Story 09

He died, as was his wish, ‘in harness’, missing only one Lord’s Day’s preaching before falling asleep in Jesus on September 3, 1795. Right to the very last he had continued not only to preach but also to write hymns. Six hours before he died he was composing a hymn. Its final unfinished lines include these,

God of my life and my choice
Shall I no longer hear thy voice?
O let that source of joy divine
With raptures fill this heart of mine!

With various and malignant storms,
With ugly shaped and frightful forms
Thou openedst Jonah’s prison door
Be pleased O Lord to open ours.

Then will we to the world proclaim
The various honours of thy name
And let both Jews and Gentiles see
There is no other God but thee.

(Quoted partly in Rippon but found in full in a ms notebook at the Angus Library).
He had left a note saying there should be no funeral discourse but this was not discovered until later and so Benjamin Francis (1734-1799) of nearby Horsley in Shortwood preached. His text was Philippians 1:21 For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. The body was laid to rest in the yard outside the meetinghouse near the door. A large plaque on the wall of the present Baptist church in Bourton remains as a memorial to Beddome and his wife.
On page 158 of the Old Church Book, William Palmer, a deacon records the death of his pastor.

'On Thursday morning about Three O Clock September the third 1795 departed this life after fifty five years faithfull labours and unblemisht carracter and useful Services both to saints and sinners, In the Seventy Ninth year of his age That Great and Worthy man of God and Minister and Pastor of the Baptist Church and Congregation of Dissenters at Bourton on the Water the Revd Benjamin Beddome of Blessed Memory … Some of his last words were In my Father’s House are many mansions &tc; Also Is not this a Brand pluckt out of the Burning; Then fell asleep Aged 79 years.
(Cf Old Church Book, 159 and Holmes, 82, 83. Palmer was, understandably, ashamed of his handwriting and so rather than carrying on in the newer church book where Beddome’s copper plate hand had been making the entries up until his death, he went back to the smaller old book where entries recommence.)
Following Beddome’s death there was a split over whether to call Wilkins back or for Reed to become the main pastor. In the end it was agreed that it was better to go for an outsider and in April 1797 a Mr Uppadene began preaching. Wilkins’ name continued to be promoted, however, until in October 1801, they called their own former member, Thomas Coles.
[Pic Regent's Park College, Oxford, and The Angus Library]

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