Rippon on Beddome Part 1
These extracts are taken from The Baptist Annual Register for 1794, 1795, 1796-1797, including Sketches of the State of Religion among Different Denominations of Good Men at Home and Abroad (vol 2) by John Rippon, DD
Rev. Benjamin Beddome,A.M.Bourton-on-the-water, Gloucestershire.
His walk so steady, and his hope so high,
He neither blushed to live, nor fear'd to die.
The Rev. Benjamin Beddome of Bourton-on-the-water, lately deceased, and the Rev. John Beddome of Bristol, his father, are names which have given celebrity to the Beddome family, through the chief part of this century, and derive respectability from a long line of descent in the ages which are past.
The maiden name of Mr. Benjamin's mother was Rachel Brandon. She was a daughter of Mr. Benjamin Brandon, a silversmith, who lived near the Royal Exchange, London.
The Brandon family was supposed to spring, in Harry the VIII's time, from an illegimate son of Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, whose arms the family bore. Mrs. Brandon, the mother, or Mr. Brandon, the father of Benjamin Brandon, and great grandfather of Mr. Benjamin Beddome, had a married sister of the name of Spilsworth, esteemed a very gracious and prudent woman, whose husband was a timber merchant, and left £2,100 to Rachel, the sister of Benjamin Brandon. Rachel's first husband was a salesman, named Hudson, at whose death she was possessed of six thousand pounds. She afterwards married Mr. Joseph Cope, a lapidary, who cut Pitt's Diamond, purchased by the King of France, for which he had a great sum, and the chips. Mrs. Cope was left a widow, and by a suit in Chancery which was intended to affect her jointure, she was put to the expense of £1,500, though the verdict was finally in her favour. She died without issue, at Hanham, near Bristol, March 2, 1731; and being fond of her niece, Miss Rachel Brandon, whom she had brought up at a boarding school at Nantwich, in Cheshire, she left most of her substance to this young lady, who afterwards became the wife of the Rev. John Beddome of Bristol.
This honoured man, sixty or seventy years ago, in the circle of his friends, used to speak of two ancestors, it is thought of the name of Barnet, in the civil wars. The father was a colonel in King Charles' army, the son on the opposite side. One day, the father, either on hoseback or on foot, met his son at the head of his company, and transported with anger, caned him; upon which some of the soldiers were going to fire, but the son commanded them to forebear, informing them it was his father, who had a right to treat him so, if he pleased.
Mr. John Beddome, of Bristol, was born in London; he was called to the work of the ministry by the church in Horsley Down, Southwark, then under the pastoral care of the Rev. Benjamin Keach, and afterwards of Dr. Gill. His dismission to the church at Alcester, in Warwickshire, is dated Sept. 19, 1697. On his removal to that country, he purchased a large house at Henly-in-Arden, which had formerly been an Inn, and fitted up one part of it for his residence, and the other part for a place of worship. Here he continued, enjoying the assistance of the Rev. Mr. Bernard Foskett as co-pastor from 1711, til 1719, when Mr. Foskett removed to Broad Mead church, at Bristol. To the Pithay church in that city the providence of God called Rev. John Beddome in 1724, where he succeeded the renowned puritan, Andrew Gifford, and Emmanuel his son, who did not long survive his father.
Mr. Benjamin Beddome was born at Henley, January 23, old style, 1717, and was about seven years of age, when the family removed to Bristol. In due time, having received an education suitable to the profession, he was apprenticed to a surgeon and apothecary. 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. We have no vestiges at all of his early piety; on the contrary, the bent of his mind affected and afflicted his parents several years - but at last divine mercy reached his heart. The date of it we learn from an obscure page which only contains these words, in his own hand writing; "Mr. Ware, of Chesham, uncle, I believe to Coulson Scottow, Esq. preached at the Pithay, Bristol, August 7, 1737, with which sermon I was, for the first time, deeply impressed. Text, Luke xv. 7" Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner than repenteth more than over ninety and nine persons who need no repentance. And a repenting sinner he now was. At his first awakening, he used to be greatly affected under the word. For though the winning ministry of his father had not effectually gained his attention before; at this time he felt it in a most impressive manner. That he might conceal his abundant tears in hearing, he would sit behind in the gallery, where he was not likely to be seen; alleging, when asked by his parents, why he chose such a place, That his profession sometimes obliged him to come in late, or to go out early, neither of which had a becoming appearance in a minster's son.
To this penitential frame of mind he indulged, and the language of one of his Hymns appears to have been 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!
In this condition, his resource was constant prayer, and, at his leisure hours, reading the scriptures;
He turned the sacred volume o'er,
And searched with care from page to page;
Of threatenings found an ample store,
But nought that could his grief asswage.
Assured, however, of the riches of the divine word, he persevered to read it, and perseverance was crowned with success. He was ready to exclaim,
'Tis done; and with transporting joy,
I read the heaven inspired lines;
There Mercy spreads its brightest beams;
And truth, with dazzling lustre, shines
Here's heavenly food for hungry souls,
And mines of gold to enrich the poor!
Here's healing balm for every wound:
A salve for every festering sore.
At the expiration of his apprenticeship, he became a student under the care of his father's bosom friend, the Rev. Mr. Foskett of Bristol; after which he removed to London, and finished his studies in the Independent Academy. He appears to have been baptized by the famous Mr. Samuel Wilson, a predecessor of Mr. Booth, either at the later end of September, or at the very beginning of October 1739, for, at a church meeting of the Goodman's-fields society, held Sep. 27, 1739, this minute was made; "Agreed to receive Benjamin Beddome of Bristol, upon his being baptized." His gift was tried before the same society, Jan. 9, and Feb. 25, 1739, 40, but their records do not mention the time when they solemnly called him to the work of the ministry.
Upon the death of Thomas Flower, senior, pastor of the church at Bourton, whose son, of the same name, was afterwards settled at Unicorn-Yard, London, Mr. Beddome left the academy in London,, and was invited to supply the Burton friends. He went to them in July 1740, and having given full proof of his abilities, and received many solicitations and calls to become their pastor, he accepted the office, and was ordained September 23, 1743. Mr. Foskett gave the charge from 1 Tim. iv 12. Let no man despise thy youth, and Dr. Joseph Stennett preached to the people from Heb. xiii. 17. Obey them that have the rule over you &c. The ordination prayer was offered up by Mr. Foskett, with the laying on of the hands of the presbyters.
At Mr. Beddome's settlement, he resided at Lower Slaughter, where he continued till September 25, 1749, when, preparing for marriage, he removed to Bourton, a place of which he seems to have been fond, as may be inferred from lines, over which he has written, "Composed about the year 1742,"
Lord, in my soul implant thy fear,
Let faith, and hope, and love be there;
Preserve me from prevailing vice,
When satan tempts, or lusts entice!
Of friendships's sweets may I partake,
Nor be forsaken, nor forsake!
Let mod'rate plenty crown my board,
And God for all be still adored!
Let the companion of my youth
Be one of innocence and truth;
Let modest charms adorn her face,
And give her they superior grace;
By heavenly art first make her thine,
Then make her willing to be mine!
My dwelling place let Bourton be,
There let me live, and live to thee!
On December 21, 1749, New-style, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Boswell, one of the daughters of Mr. Richard Boswell, of Bourton, who was an honourable member and Deacon of the baptist church in that place. The nuptials were celebrated at Hamnet.
Mrs Beddome was then but in the 18th year of her age, for she was born in February 13, N.S. 1732. His connexion with this amiable woman was not more gratifying to himself, than his relation to the people was satisfactory to them. They were pleased and profited. But a threatening illness, of six weeks continuance, brought him to the margin of the grave. Prayer was made by the church continually unto God for him; and the gift for which they wrestled was granted; he considered his restoration as an answer to their importunate intercessions.
On recovery he wrote a pathetic hymn; but some time after reviewing it, and considering that this providence placed him nearer the grave than he was before, he inserted these lines on the same page where he had before written his effusion of gratitude for restoration:
If I must die, O, let me die
Trusting In Jesu's blood!
That blood which hath atonement made,
And reconciles to God.
If I must die, then let me die
In peace with all mankind,
And change these fleeting joys below,
For pleasures more refined.
If I must die, as die I must,
Let some kind seraph come,
And bear me on his friendly wing,
To my celestial home!
Of Canaan's land from Pisgah's top
May I but have a view!
Though Jordan should o'erflow its banks,
I'll boldly venture through.
The danger in which so valuable a life had been, endeared the pastor to his flock more than before; and their earnest prayers and solicitations for his recovery increasingly endeared his flock to their pastor. He had not, however, been long restored to his people and his pulpit, before another unexpected providence excited their fears. The Rev. Mr. Samuel Wilson, pastor of the largest Particular Baptist church then in London, finished his course. His church in Goodman's-fields employed the condescension of entreaty, and the force of argument - and so determined were they to secure their object that for awhile they would take no denial. Thus circumstanced, 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 would have consented to my removal (though I would have had much to sacrifice on account of the great affection I bear them, yet) I should have made no scruple in accepting 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 has placed me, than intrude myself into a higher without his direction."
The affection which the people of Bourton bore to their minister, for his personal worth and pastoral excellences, was far from being lessened by the regard which the bereaved church in London discovered for him. A fear of losing him also "more firmly united the people together, and stirred them up to pay off a debt of near a hundred pounds, under which they had long and heavily groaned. "The labours of this good man among his charge were unremitting and evangelical. He fed them with the finest of the wheat. No man in all his connexions wrote more sermons, nor composed them with greater care - and this was true of him to the last weeks of his life. In most of his discourses the application of a student, and the ability of a divine were visible. He frequently differed from the generality of preachers by somewhat striking either in his text or his method. If the passage were peculiar or abstruse, simplicity of interpretation, and familiarity in discussion, characterized the sermon: or if his text were of the most familiar class, He distributed it with novelty, discussed it with genius, and seldom delivered a hackneyed discourse. Indeed sermonizing was so much his forte, that at length when knowledge had received maturity from years, and composition was familiarised by habit, he has been known, with a wonderful facility of the moment, to sketch his picture at the foot of the pulpit stairs, to colour it as he was ascending, and without turning his eyes from the canvas, in the same hour, to give it all the finish of a master. One instance of this will long be remembered, which happened at a minister's meeting at Fairford, in Gloucestershire. After public service began, his natural timidity, it seems, overcame his recollection - His text and his discourse, for he did not preach by notes, had left him; and in the way from the pew to the pulpit, he leaned his head over the shoulder of the Rev. Mr. Davis, pastor of the place, and said, Brother Davis, what must I preach from? Mr. Davis, thinking he could not be at a loss, answered, Ask no foolish questions. This afforded him considerable relief. He turned immediately to Titus iii.9. Avoid foolish questions. and preached a remarkably methodical, correct, and useful discourse on it. Nor was he more remarkable for illustrating the divine word in general, than for the apposite quotation of its particular parts. being a good textuary, and admitting that scripture is the best interpreter of scripture, his proofs were given with an accuracy of selection, and received under the effect of an admirable conviction. When he placed a passage of Scripture by a particular of his discourse, intelligent auditors said, as David concerning the sword of Goliath, "There is none like it," or equally suitable through all the sacred volume.