During the period we have now reviewed, Mr Beddome had repeatedly visited Bourton-on-the-Water. His first visit was paid in the Spring of 1740, and many persons were added to the church during the three years following. During this time his ministerial labours seem to have been divided between Bourton and Warwick. In July, 1743, the church at Bourton invited him to become their pastor. He had now to choose between Bourton and Warwick. Upon this subject his father writes
“As to the continuance of your journeys between Bourton and Warwick, you are the best judge. If your strength will permit, and the people's desire remains strong, and there is a prospect of serving the interests of religion at both places, to my judgement, it may be best to continue some time longer; and if you pray fervently, and commit your way to the Lord, you will see the leadings of his providence. 'The meek will he teach his way.' Take notice of the feelings you are subject to, and the assistance you obtain at each place, and consider where the gospel is most needed and most likely to be received, for that place will yield most satisfaction to a gracious mind. We are not so much to consult our own ease and pleasure, as to honour Him who made us, and promote His interests.”
Having received many very pressing invitations from the church at Bourton to become their pastor, he at length acceded to their request, and was ordained September 23, 1743. On that occasion, Mr Foskett, of Bristol, gave the charge to the pastor, (from 1 Tim iv 12 "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,") and offered the ordination prayer. Dr Joseph Stennett preached to the people, from Heb xiii 17; and other parts of the service were taken by Messrs Haydon, Cook, and Fuller, of Abingdon. His venerable father was not present on this interesting occasion, owing to his incapacity for travelling, but sent the following letter, expressing the feelings and desires of his heart
“I should have been glad to have attended your ordination, but cannot. I never expect to travel so far on horseback more. I hope what you are about to take upon you, will be a stimulus to you, to walk more closely with God than ever, and make you more sincerely and simply concerned for the good of the souls of men. I desire, with my whole heart, that an unction of the Holy Spirit may be poured out upon you at the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery; and that your faith therein may be strong.”
Our fathers were careful to state clearly, on such occasions, the engagement between the pastor and the church. In this case, a document was drawn up, adopted by the church, and signed by 18 of its members, in behalf of the whole, on the 16th day of September, 1743. The following is a copy.
“We, the church of Christ meeting at Bourton-on-the-Water, Having solemnly called, and set apart, our beloved brother, Benjamin Beddome, to the office of teaching elder to us, do hereby declare, that we don't intend to bring him under any such special obligation to us; but that if the providence of God calls him elsewhere, or he upon valuable considerations, doth desire his release from us, we will give up our right in him, as if he had never stood in any such relation to us. In witness whereof we have put our hands, etc.”
Well, it was something to know that they had not bored his ear through with an awl, and bound him to serve them for ever. It would be possible to get away.