19/06/2008

Baptist Worthies by G Hester

In the Baptist Magazine for 1865 a minister called G Hester from Sheffield has an article headed "Baptist Worthies" and focusing on Benjamin Beddome. After a fairly lengthy introduction by way of biblical and church history he begins on Beddome by saying:

Among the worthies of the 18th Century is another name, probably less generally known, but equally deserving of Christian affection and esteem. Benjamin Beddome was one of the great and powerful characters of history. He originated religious influences which we still felt in the spiritual life of the Church. His hymns are of a soothing and elevating character. His sermons are models of chaste, pious thought, clothed in neat, compact and elegant expression. They are full of Scriptural instruction, and cannot be read without leaving the fragrance of much piety, and genuine godliness behind. Like Robert Hall and Samuel Stennett, Benjamin Beddome was the son of a Baptist minister. His father, the Rev John Beddome, was originally a member of the Baptist Church, under the pastoral care of the Rev Benjamin Keach, in Horsley-Down, London. His first settlement as minister was at Henley-in-Arden, in Worcestershire. Here he laboured as co-pastor with a Mr Wallis, from 1674 to l719. His last days were spent in Bristol. In 1724 he received an invitation to the College in Bristol, in which sphere of labour he succeeded Andrew Gifford, and his son Emanuel, and continued there till his death.
Benjamin Beddome, the son of the above, was born at Henley-in-Arden, in 1717. Very little is known of his early life. He was educated with a view to the medical profession; but during his apprenticeship, his mind was deeply impressed with religious things, and he became decided for God. He never relinquished his medical studies, but became a student of divinity, under the direction of Mr Foskett, of Bristol. In 1740, or at the age of 23, he became the pastor of the Baptist church at Bourton-on-the-Water, a village in Gloucestershire. The celebrated John Ryland became a minister of this church soon after Mr Beddome's retirement. Here he lived a retired, studious, pious, and useful life. Like some of his notable contemporaries he refused to change his sphere of labour. He was often invited to supply other churches much larger and more influential in position than his own, but he always declined to accede to the efforts put forth to draw him away from the people whom he loved. Among the churches which invited his services was the church in Goodman's Fields, then one of the largest and most important in London. He lived in the affection and esteem of his own people. They were near his heart; he dwelt in their hearts. They were married in the Lord, and refused to be separated. His pastorate extended over a period of 55 years. He died September 3, 1795, at the advanced age of 78.
Benjamin Beddome was a man of deep and devout piety, and possessed also of considerable classical attainments. There was nothing showy or ostentatious in his character. His writings impress us with the idea of meekness, gentleness, decision, and devoutness. "Mr Beddome" says Robert Hall "was on many accounts an extraordinary person. His mind was cast in an original mould; his conceptions were eminently his own though he spent the principal part of a long life in a village retirement, he was eminent for his colloquial powers, in which he displayed the urbanity of the gentleman and the erudition of the scholar, combined with a more copious vein of Attic salt than any person it has been my lot to know."

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