21/04/2021

Swaine on Beddome

This is the piece by S A Swaine that appeared in Faithful Men: or Memorials of Bristol Baptist. College in 1884.

The third, who was admitted to the institution, about 1737, settled as pastor at Bourton-on-the-Water. He was about seven years of age when his father, the Rev John Beddome, removed to Bristol. He was apprenticed to a surgeon and apothecary, manifesting in his early youth apparently no desire for the ministry, ore even evidence of Christian decision. Indeed, the very contrary would seem to have been the case, for we are told that "the wit and vivacity which, in a measure, continued with him to the end of his days, accompanied his juvenile steps into the public walks of life," and that "the bent of his mind affected and afflicted his parents several years."

He was at length aroused to serious thought by a sermon on the words, "Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth," &c. The date is fixed by a memorandum in his own handwriting, as follows:- "Mr. Ware, of Chesham, uncle, I believe, to Coulson Scotton, Esq.. preached at the Pithay, Bristol, August 7, 1737, with which sermon I was for the first time deeply impressed. Text, Luke xv. 7." Although his father's ministry had not affected him before, it did afterwards much. That he might conceal his tears, he would sit behind in the gallery, where he was not likely to be seen and when questioned by his parents why he chose such a place, would reply "That his profession sometimes obliged him to come in late or to go out early, neither of which had a becoming appearance in a minister's son." The language of one of his hymns - for to him we owe some of our most devotional spiritual songs - appears, at least at this time, the dictate of his heart:-

Lord, let me weep for nought but sin,
And after none but Thee
And then I would, O that I might,
A constant weeper be!

At length he found peace, and at the expiration of his apprenticeship began his studies for the ministry. At his ordination the charge was given by Mr. Foskett from I Tim iv:12 "Let no man despise thy youth" and Mr Stennett preached to the church "Obey them that have the rule over you," &c. (Mt. xiii:7). Messrs. Haydon, Cook, and Fuller of Abingdon, prayed ; and the ordination prayer was offered by Mr. Foskett, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Mr. Beddome became soon very attached to the scene of his labours, as is shown by lines which he penned in 1742.

Lord, in my soul implant thy fear,
Let faith, and hope, and love be there;
Preserve me from prevailing vice,
,,,
Then make her willing to be mine!
My dwelling place let Bourton be,
There let me live, and live to thee!

The " companion of his youth," with the "modest charms," &c., proved to be Miss Elizabeth Boswell, one of the daughters of Mr. Richard Boswell, one of his deacons. His marriage took place in 1749. His wish that Bourton might be his dwelling place was fulfilled to the utmost, for there he dwelt and laboured to the end of his days, not, however, for lack of calls and inducements to leave it. In particular, he received a most pressing invitation to Goodman's Fields, the largest Particular Baptist Church in London at that time, on the decease of the pastor, the Rev. Samuel Wilson. He repeatedly declined but so pressing were the people that they would take no denial. In these circumstances Mr Beddome threw himself into the hands of his people, desirous of acting according to their wishes. They sent an absolute refusal to London; and he concluded the whole business in these words:-

"If my people had consented to my removal (though 1 should have had much to sacrifice on account of the great affection I bear them, yet) I should then have made no scruple in accepting of your call; but as they absolutely refuse it, the will of the Lord be done. I am determined I will not violently rend myself from them ; for I would rather honour God in a station much inferior to that in which He bath placed me than intrude myself into a higher without His direction."

Mr. Beddome's sermonising faculty seems to have been of the most striking kind ; his facility in this direction is described as surprising. As an example, he was appointed to preach at a ministers' meeting at Fairford, in Gloucestershire, on which occasion, after the service began, his natural timidity, it seems, overcame his recollection. His text and his discourse, for he neither read nor used notes, both left him. On his way from the pew to the pulpit he leaned his head over the shoulder of the Rev. Mr. Davis, the pastor of the place, and said, "Brother Davis, what must I preach from?" Mr. Davis, not supposing for a moment that he really was at a loss, replied, "Ask no foolish questions." He was at once delivered from his dilemma, and turning to Titus iii. 9, "Avoid foolish questions," he preached what was described as a remarkably methodical, correct, and useful discourse on it.

His academical degree was conferred upon him by the Fellows of Providence College, Rhode Island, in 1770 as a token of respect for his literary abilities. He lost by death several most promising sons, two of whom were trained to the medical profession, and one of them graduated both at Edinburgh and Leyden with great distinction. This talented young physician - whose Philosophico-medicum inaugurate de hominum varietatibus et carum causis, was at that time much admired - was only twenty-five when he died. On the very day his son died, the death taking place at Edinburgh, Mr. Beddome, not even knowing of his illness, preached from Ps. xxi.15 "My times are in Thy hand;" after which the following beautiful hymn, which he had specially composed to follow the sermon, was sung :—

My times of sorrow and of joy,
Great God, are in Thy hand;
My choicest comforts come from Thee,
And go at Thy command.
...

Here perfect bliss can ne'er be found,
The honey's mixed with gall;
'Midst changing scenes and dying friends,
Be Thou my all in all

It has been said that this hymn was specially composed for the occasion, and it ought to be added that, throughout the greater part of his life, Mr. Beddome prepared a hymn to be sung after his morning sermon every Lord's day.

This model village pastor reached the patriarchal age of seventy-nine years, fifty-five of which he spent as minister at Bourton. He departed this life September 23, 1795. So far as is known, he published nothing but a Catechism, and the Association Letter in 1765. but three volumes of his sermons were published after his death.

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