We have spoken of the church, we regret that we cannot speak as certainly of the ministry of the same period. The only name that has come down to us is that of Mr Flower, and the only reference to him is connected with a list of subscriptions promised for his support. It reads as follows
“Whereas we hope the worthy Mr Flower purposes to settle with us as pastor, we whose names are underwritten do voluntarily and willingly subscribe to pay yearly for the support of his ministry, viz”
We know, from statements made subsequently, that the church was destitute of a pastor for many years; and, in 1750, they testify that many of them could then remember the death of two or three pastors who were very eminent and valuable men. Thus much, and this is all, we know of the ministry of that age. But there was mercy in store for this people. They tell us that “notwithstanding their many cries to Almighty God, he was pleased to withhold direct answers of prayer, till at length he graciously raised up, eminently qualified, and unexpectedly sent, our dearly beloved and Rev pastor, Mr Beddome, to our assistance, and inclined him, after our many solicitations and calls, to became our pastor”
This eminent man (the Rev Benjamin Beddome) was born at Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, January 23, 1717/18. His father, the Rev John Beddome, had purchased in that place a large house, which he fitted up partly for his own residence, and partly as a place of worship. When Benjamin Beddome was about seven years of age, his father removed to Bristol, where he became co-pastor with Mr Beazely, of the Pithay church, in that city.
The son, after receiving a suitable education, was apprenticed to a Surgeon-apothecary in that city. Some 20 years of his life had passed away, when his heart was opened to attend to the things belonging to his peace. He thus records the "event".
“Mr Ware, of Chesham, preached at the Pithay, Bristol, August 7, 1737, with which sermon I was, for the first, deeply impressed. Text, (Luke xv 7) 'Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.'”
He heard the character of the penitent described, and it at once became his own. So intense were his feelings, that he selected the most retired part of the chapel to conceal his tears. He found much relief, we are told, in reading the Scriptures and in prayer; and soon the tears of penitence were dried up by the “Sun of Righteousness”.
His own heart changed, he soon began to feel for the spiritual condition of others; and became desirous of devoting himself to the work of the ministry. With a view to this, at the close of his apprenticeship, he became a student in the Baptist College, Bristol, then superintended by the Rev Bernard Foskett, who was formerly co-pastor with his father at Henley-in-Arden. Having pursued his studies for some time at Bristol, he removed to London, for the purpose of completing his education under the tuition of Mr John Eames, at the Independent Academy, in Tenter Alley, Moorfields. Strange to say, he had not at that time became a member of any Christian church. Soon after his removal to London, however, he joined the Baptist church in Little Prescot Street, Goodman's Fields, under the care of the Rev Samuel Wilson, by whom he was baptized in September or October, 1739.