John Beddome in Bristol

From The Rise and Progress of Dissent in Bristol; Chiefly in Relation to the Broadmead Church J G Fuller, 1840

In July, 1723, about three months prior to the decease of Mr. Emanuel Gifford, Mr. William Bazley was regularly ordained in the church as joint-pastor; and, in the following November, was joined by Mr. John Beddome, the father of the celebrated Benjamin Beddome, of Bourton-on-the-Water. Mr. Bazley died in August, 1736.
Mr. Beddome was the intimate friend of Bernard Foskett, and their friendship is described as resembling that of David and Jonathan, He died in 1757, in the eighty-third year of his age.
The following letter of dismission is equally creditable to Mr. Beddome and to the church from which he was dismissed to the Pithay.
To the church of Christ, meeting behind the Pithay, Bristol, under the pastoral care of Mr. William Bazley, the church of Christ, meeting at Alcester, in the County of Warwick, sendeth christian salutation.
Beloved in the Lord,
It is with great sorrow of heart, that we write unto you on this occasion. The thing that we have oft feared and long deserved is now come upon us. We have found it hard to digest your desire of our minister; and could not but take it very unkindly at first, that you should seek to remove from us such one as our worthy brother, and dearly beloved elder, Mr. John Beddome. We could not forbear remonstrating to you about it, and endeavouring to hinder the loss of so useful a minister, not only to us, but also to several other churches in these parts of the country. It is with much reluctance that we dismiss him to any other people : but seeing you, who are so considerable a people, have once and again, so unanimously chosen him to be your pastor, and he is willing to serve you in that capacity, we would hope such a spring as this bids fair for much fruit of mutual comfort, and in hopeful expectation thereof we submit. Our affection to him will not allow us to cross his inclination, and our gratitude to him for his many labours of love amongst us, excites our desires after his own and his family's greater comfort; and since it is so, as we believe it to be our duty, we would recommend him unto you. But in this respect we do not pretend to say of him the thing that is meet, or to characterize him answerable to his desert. We shall leave you to learn the knowledge of his worth in your own experience of him. It may suffice for us to inform you, that he was many years ago baptized into a church in London, [Mr. Piggott's church, Little Wild-street,] and from thence recommended to us; that after we had sufficient trial of his gifts, and had often tasted the sweetness of them, he of October, 1711, in conjunction with our beloved brother, Mr. Bernard Foskett, solemnly set apart with imposition of hands, to the office of a teaching elder; in the execution whereof, he hath ever since exhorted, comforted, and charged every one of us, as a father doth his children, and has walked in fellowship with us as became a gospel minister. He has exercised much lenity towards us, and his great aim has been to nourish our souls with the words of sound doctrine, and his manner of life hath been agreeable to it. It is with regret that we transfer our right in him to you; but yet 'tis our earnest desire that the Lord may make him a burning and shining light among you, and crown his labours with great success.
We do also dismiss and recommend unto your care, our beloved sister Rachel Beddome, his wife; who came to us from a church at Nantwich with an ho. nourable character, and has for several years walked with us as becometh the gospel.
We desire and hope you will treat him as an ambassador of Christ, and esteem him very highly for his works' sake; that by your peace and unanimity, respect to his person, and regard to his administrations, you may make him comfortable, and be his joy and crown in the day of the Lord Jesus. We hope he will be the spiritual father of many children among you, and that you will contribute all you can to make his way smooth through this thorny wilderness,
Brethren, receive them both in the Lord; and since you bereave us of so great a blessing, we can't but most humbly, earnestly, and unanimously, intreat two things at your hands, before we close this our epistle: one is, that Mr. Beddome may give us an annual visit whilst life and strength are continued; and this we are the more encouraged to hope both you and Mr. Beddome also will readily comply with us in, because it is agreeable to the apostles' custom to visit the brethren, and see how they do. The other favour we desire is, that you would make conscience of continued and earnest prayer for us, that we may be built up notwithstanding, and blest with our remaining helps. These are the easiest requests we can make, and we trust you'll not be unwilling to grant us our desire herein, it being the least you can do for
Your afflicted brethren in Christ, &e.
After the death of Mr. Bazley, Mr. Josiah Thompson, previously of Pershore, was co-pastor with Mr. Beddome, and on his leaving, Mr. Needham was chosen to succeed him. Mr. Beddome's infirmities requiring additional assistance, Mr. Joseph Anstie, previously a member of the church at Devizes, was, for some time, assistant minister. In 1752, the church invited Mr. Tommas, of Gildersome, to be co-pastor with Mr. Needham, which, though happy in its ultimate results, led to much unpleasantness.
From time immemorial, the congregation in the Pithay were accustomed to have two pastors. This, if not commenced, was continued for many years, from necessity--there being two branches of the church at a distance, to be supplied every Lord's-day - one at Keynsham, the other at Hanham - both which are now under the pastoral care of the Rev. Thomas Ayres. Still, the inconvenience of a co-pastorship had long been felt and complained of. Exclusive and rival attachments were formed : one was for Paul, another for Apollos; and the harmony which should subsist in christian communities was, not seldom, interrupted. The church therefore resolved, that if they could once get clear of co-pastorship, it should never, except in case of necessity, be re-admitter. Mr. Needham himself, in deference to this feeling, was not chosen to the pastoral office until Mr. Beddome was rendered in a measure incapable of service by age and infirmities. When this necessity came, Mr. Needham was ordained; but an entry was made in the church-book, and signed by Mr. Beddome, two of the deacons, and other leading men, that there should in future be no co-pastors except in a case of similar necessity; viz. that Mr. Needham might live to be unable to discharge the duties of the office by reason of age or infirmity.
But Mr. Tommas, no party, of course, to such an arrangement, declined their invitation, unless he should be chosen as pastor : and the people, rather than lose him, resolved on receiving him on his own terms. Mr. Needham, foreseeing the consequences of such a resolution, and apprehending, that, should it be accomplished, his life would be rendered uncomfortable, frankly unburdened his mind to Mr. Tommas, and remonstrated again and again with the church resting on the resolution that had been solemnly passed. Mr. Needham, at length, reluctantly agreed that Mr. Tommas should be co-pastor ; but a concession produced by threats of dismission could not be pleasant. This was in August; and in October, he was pronounced, by a person, not a member, but deputed by the deacons, to be no longer pastor or member of the church which he had hitherto served with fidelity and reputation; and this treatment they said he deserverl, because he was unwilling to resign a pastorship to which he had been unanimously called, and to forfeit which he had done nothing worthy of reprehension. This sentence being confirmed by the church, Mr. Needham removed to the church in Callowhillstreet (singularly enough) as co-pastor with Mr. Foot.
But that his objection to Mr. Tommas was not personal, is evident, from the fact that they were accustomed to visit on friendly terms.
Mr. Tommas became the pastor of the church in August, 1753, without a dissentient voice -- Mr. Beddome, at the same time, affectionately resigning his office into the hands of the church. It was a solemn day, the whole transactions being closed with the celebration of the dying love of Him, who, though dead, is alive again, and liveth for evermore.

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